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Publication numberUS3027023 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 27, 1962
Filing dateJul 10, 1958
Priority dateJul 10, 1958
Publication numberUS 3027023 A, US 3027023A, US-A-3027023, US3027023 A, US3027023A
InventorsMcgrath Earle J
Original AssigneeFmc Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Warehousing apparatus
US 3027023 A
Abstract  available in
Images(5)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 27, 1962 E. J. M GRATH WAREHOUSING APPARATUS Filed Jul INVENTOR a m EARLE J. MO GRATH BY )fiww ATTORNEY March 27, 1962 E. J. M GRATH 3,027,023

WAREHOUSING APPARATUS Filed July 10, 1958 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 F IE Ei I59 IIO Ml l W INVENTOR EARLE J. MC GRATH ATTO RNEY March 27, 1962 E. J. MCGRATH WAREHOUSING APPARATUS 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed July 10, 1958 ATTORNEY March 1962 E. J. MCGRATH 3,027,023

WAREHOUSING APPARATUS Filed July 10, 1958 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 I35 ll? I3! I40 I42. 135 H? ZIO 210 E'IE. IE

INVENTOR EARLE J. MC GRATH BY AM ATTORNEY March 27, 1962 E. J. MCGRATH WAREHOUSING APPARATUS nmOm omom mufl m-H-Hi NNM 06 @NM di -will! Filed July 10, l

United States Patent Office 3,027,023 Patented Mar. 27, 1962 3,027,1i23 WAREHOUSING APPARATUS Earle .I. McGrath, San Bernardino, Calif., assignor to FMC Corporation, a corporation of Delaware Filed July 10, 11958, Ser. No. 747,695 2 Claims. (Cl. 214-116) This invention relates to methods of handling articles in warehouses and to an improved system for storing and dispensing articles from a warehouse.

In warehouses operated by large wholesale organizations, articles must be classified, grouped and stored in large quantities in such a manner as to be readily accessible for order-filling purposes. In warehousing operations involving perishable goods, the articles must not only be accessible, but they must be arranged so that they are not held in storage too long. Preferably, the perishable articles that are put into storage first should be the first to be dispensed.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved method of handling articles in a warehouse.

Another object is to provide a warehousing system wherein articles of a particular classification are taken out of storage in the sequence in which they were put into storage.

Another object is to provide a warehousing system in which articles received in unsorted lots may be sorted, classified and put into storage in the sequence in which they are received at the warehouse.

' Another object is to provide an improved warehousing system that is adapted to handle pallet loads of containers filled with articles to be stored, or to handle individual containers of articles.

Another object is to provide a warehousing system wherein orders for quantities of individual containers, as well as orders for pallet loads of containers, may be efliciently filled.

Another object is to provide a warehousing system particularly adapted to handle perishable articles such as eggs.

Other and further objects will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIGURE 1 is a diagrammatic plan of a warehousing system embodying the present invention.

FIGURE 2 is a diagrammatic section taken on line 22 of FIG. 1, with parts broken away.

FIGURE 3 is a fragmentary plan, with parts broken away, of a typical live roll conveyor section which may be used in the system of FIG. 1.

FIGURE 4 is a fragmentary section taken on' line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIGURE 5 is a fragmentary plan of a typical 90 turn conveyor section which may be used in the system of FIG. 1.

FIGURE -6 is a diagrammatic side elevation, taken looking in the direction of arrows 6-6 of FIG. 1.

FIGURE 7 is a diagrammatic side elevation, taken looking in the direction of arrows 77 of FIG. 1.

FIGURE 8 is a diagrammatic plan of a portion of the conveyor of FIG. 7.

FIGURE 9 is a diagrammatic section taken on line 9-9 of FIG. 8, and illustrating loaded pallets supported on the conveyor.

FIGURE 10 is a diagrammatic section taken on line 1tl10 of FIG. 8.

FIGURE 11 is a diagrammatic side elevation of the depalletizer used in the warehousing system of FIG. 1.

FIGURE 12 is a diagrammatic front elevation of the depalletizer of FIG. 11.

FIGURE 13 is a fragmentary diagrammatic plan of a second embodiment of the warehousing system of the present invention.

FIGURE 14 is a diagrammatic side elevation, taken looking in the direction of arrows 14-14 of FIG. 13.

The warehousing system of the invention disclosed in the present application is schematically illustrated in FIG. 1 and comprises a building 21 having walls defining a cooling room 22 and a processing room 23. The rooms are separated by a transverse wall 25 having openings 26 and 26a therein. A dock 27, which is provided at one side of the building, has a loading section 27a and an unloading section 27b. A dock carriage 28 is disposed at the unloading section of the dock 27 and is arranged to move along the dock on rails 30 so that the carriage 28 may be selectively positioned in alignment with incoming conveyors 31, 32 or 33 which are disposed in the cooling room.

The dock carriage 28 (FIG. 2) comprises a central bed 28a which is supported on four wheels 34, only two of which are shown. The Wheels 34 are driven by a power unit 35 through a suitable transmission mounted on the bed at one side thereof. The bed is provided with a conveying surface in the form of one or more sections 36 of transverse, driven rollers such as the conveyor section 37 partially shown in FIGURES 3 and 4. The section 37 comprises a plurality of upper rollers 4d rotatably mounted on shafts 41 that are supported between spaced side plates 42 and 43. The upper rollers are driven by a belt 45 which is disposed around guide rollers 47 and around a pulley 4-3 keyed to a shaft 49 driven by the carriage power unit 35.

The dock carriage has a pivotally mounted end section 28b (FIG. 2) which is equipped with a plurality of freely rotatable rollers 52 and is arranged to be swung to an extended position inside a truck T that is to be unloaded. The truck has a bed formed of freely rotatable rollers 54 on which are disposed pallets P loaded with field containers FC filled with unsorted articles, such as eggs received from farmers. The dock carriage also has a pivotal end section 280 which is arranged to be swung to a position of alignment with one of the three incorning conveyors 31, 32 or 33. When both the end portions 281; and 280 are in operative position they form a continuous conveyor extending from the truck to the conveyors.

The loaded pallets are discharged from the truck by placing a bulkhead 56 behind one of the pallets and attaching two cables 57 and 58 (FIG. 1) to the bulkhead. Exteriorly of the truck, the cables are attached to a bar 59 which is provided with a cable 60 extending around a winch 62 which is driven from the power unit 35. When the winch is operated, the loaded pallet is pulled out of the truck, over conveyor section 28b and onto the central bed 28a of the dock carriage. Power is then applied to the roller conveyor section 36 of the carriage bed 28a, and the loaded pallet is moved onto the aligned incoming conveyor 31, 32 or 33 for movement into the cooler 22.

The incoming conveyors are designed to slowly move the entire load toward the opening 25 in the transverse wall 25 which is approximately feet away from the dock 27. The incoming conveyors 31, 32, and 33 are identical in construction except that the conveyors 31 and 32 are designed to handle pallet loads, while the conveyor 33 is designed to handle single containers. It will be understood, of course, that the containers need not be assembled on pallets in the truck but may be individually stacked therein and be pulled out of the truck and positioned on a conveyor that is adapted to handle single containers, such as the incoming conveyor 33. Since all of these incoming conveyors are of identical construction a description of one will be sufiicient to disclose the com struction and operation of all three. As seen in FIGS. 7, 8, and 9, the incoming conveyor 31 comprises two parallel runs 75 and 76, each run consisting of two spaced channels 77 which rotatably support a plurality of transverse idler rollers 80. The channels are supported on a plurality of posts 81 which have foot portions 81a disposed on the floor of the building. The posts are so designed that the conveyor 31 slopes downwardly from its elevated end 31a (FIG. 7) adjacent the dock to its end 31b adjacent a discharge conveyor section 82 which is positioned in the processing room 23 near the wall opening 26. The slope of the conveyor 31 is such that the articles or loaded pallets thereon will not move by gravity down the conveyor, but will require an external push to effect such movement. However, the slope is such that, when the load is started downwardly, only a minimum amount of push is required to keep the load moving slowly toward the lower end 31b. With this arrangement the load on the conveyor will not move in an uncontrolled manner toward the lower end of the conveyor, and thus objectionable collisions between articles being held at the lower end and an advancing load is avoided.

The required external push is given to the pallets on conveyor 31 by means of a series of transverse drive rollers 83 which are disposed at spaced points between adjacent transverse idler rollers 80' of the two parallei runs 75 and 76 of the conveyors, as seen in FIGURES 8 and 9. The drive rollers 83 are spaced apart longitudinally of the conveyor by a distance that is less than the length of a pallet. Also, the upper surface or each driveroller is disposed at an elevation slightly above the elevation of the idler rollers. Accordingly, each pallet will always be in contact with one of the drive rollers. A ratchctdrive mechanism 84 is connected between each drive roller 83 and an actuator arm 85, which is arranged to .be contacted by a roller 86 as the roller 86 is moved to the right .(FIG. 9) by a reciprocating rod 87 on which the roller is mounted. When contacted by the roller, the arm 85 will be pivoted counterclockwise against the resistance of a tension spring 38. During this counterclockwise movement of the arm 35, the drive roller 83 is not rotated by the ratchet mechanism 84. When the reciprocating roller 86 is moved to the left, the spring 88 pulls the arm 85 in a clockwise direction and causes operation of the ratchet mechanism whereby the roller 83 is rotated in a clockwise direction, thereby advancing the pallet toward the right (FIG. 9). The lower ends of the incoming conveyors 31, 32 and 33 provide a holding zone 90 (FIG. 1) in the cooling room 22 where the articles are temporarily retained until needed in the processing room 23. The discharge conveyor unit 82 disposed at the lower end .of each of the incoming conveyors includes three lines of rollers 92,, 93 and 94. The central line 93 of rollers includes a large d1- arneter driven roller 91 and a pivotal actuating arm 95 which is arranged to be depressed by a pallet moving across the discharge unit 82. When the actuating arm 95 is depressed, a power cylinder 96 (FIG. is activated to draw a piston rod 97 inwardly to the position of FIG. 10. In this position, the levers of a pivotal linkage 98 are disposed in an aligned relation and a stop 99 car- .ried by the linkage is raised in front of the loaded pallet next behind on the incoming conveyor 31 to retain said next pallet on the conveyor 31 until the pallet on the discharge unit 82 is removed. A door (not shown) is arranged to close the opening 26 in the Wall.

The construction and operation of the incoming holding conveyor 31 is described and claimed in my copending application for patent S.N. 747,762 filed of even date ierewith.

A loaded pallet is removed from the discharge unit 82 by means of a fork lift truck 100 (FIGS. 8 and 10), the

fork of the truck is raised upwardly, the loaded pallet and 102 of which fit on opposite sides of the will be lifted from the discharge unit for transporting to a classifying, sorting and packaging station 105 (FIG. 1) in the processing room 23. As seen in FIG. 1, the incoming conveyor 31 is illustrated as being adapted for use with a fork lift truck while the incoming conveyors 32 and 33 are adapted for use with typical power driven conveyors 106 and 107 which are arranged to take loads from the incoming conveyors 32 and 33 and deliver them to the classifying, sorting, and packaging station 105.

In one embodiment of the warehousing system of the present invention, egg candling and packaging apparatus may be positioned at the station 105 (FIG. 1). With this arrangement eggs are removed from the field containers, candied, sorted and placed in containers and delivered to a distributor conveyor 108 which is arranged to take the packages of sorted eggs back into the cooling room 22 and to carry the containers on a closed loop 108a past a distributing zone or station 109. The conveyors 106, 107 and 108 may be typical live roll conveyors such as those shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. In FIG. 5, a 90 turn of one of the conveyors is illustrated as comprising two spaced arcuate frame members 111 and 111a and a plurality of rollers 114 mounted between the members. One of the rollers is keyed to a shaft 113 that is driven by a motor 113a through a sprocket and chain drive 113b, and the other rollers are driven by the drive shaft 113 by means of a flexible drive member, which is indicated schematically in FIG. 5 as centerline 1130. This flexible drive member may be disposed in driving engagement with small sprockets keyed to the shafts of the rollers 114. Other types of 90 turns may be used if desired, as for example, turns having gravity roller units only.

At distributing station 109, operators inspect the con- .tainers on the loop 108a, remove each container from the loop, and place it on storage conveyors which will be referred to generally by reference numeral and specifically by numerals 110a to 110p, inclusive. All of these conveyors are of the controlled gravity flow type described in connection with incoming conveyor 31. The conveyors 110a, 110b, 1100 and 110d are arranged to handle one container at a time. If desired, additional sets of four conveyors may be mounted above the four conveyors 110a through 110d to form a second layer of storage conveyors. Four layers of such storage eonveyors may be provided thus establishing a bank of 16 storage conveyors, each adapted to receive single con- --tainers at the distributing station 109, and move them immediately across the room, and store them adjacent a 'U-shaped order-filling conveyor 112. V

The storage conveyors 110e and 110, are illustrated as also being arranged to handle single containers. The conveyors 110g and 110]: are arranged to handle pallets P1 which are half as wide as standard pallets and will be referred to as half pallets. The conveyors 110i through 110p are arranged to carry full size pallets P2. All of the storage conveyors 110g through 110p slope downwardly from the distributing station 109 toward an order picking zone 115 in which a depalletizing machine 116 is mounted on rails 117 for movement adjacent the lower ends of the conveyors.

When an operator at the distributing station 109 has accumulated a load of a predetermined size on one of the pallets, he actuates afoot pedal 120 to withdraw a stop 121 from in front of the pallet, permitting the pallet to be advanced slowly toward the order picking zone 115.

The linkage interconnecting the foot pedal 120 with the stop 121 may comprise any suitable lever system whereby downward movement of the pedal 120 will cause downward movement of the stop 121 to a position. below the effective surface of the associated storage conveyor.

It will be understood that each of the conveyors 110a through 110 are identified with an article having a different classification. For example, conveyor 110p may be arranged to handle eggs of the large AA-grade while conveyor 110m will handle eggs of the medium AA grade.

Pallets loaded with eggs are stored on the ends of the storage conveyors 110 adjacent the order picking station 115. The foremost pallet abuts a fixed stop 122 (FIG. 6) while the pallet next behind engages a retractable stop 123. The depalletizer 116 is arranged to be selectively I positioned adjacent each storage conveyor to remove containers from the foremost pallet on the conveyor and deliver the containers to an associated order-filling conveyor 125. It will be noted that there is one order-filling conveyor 125a through 125p associated with each of the storage conveyors 11012 through 110p. The order-filling conveyors 125e and 125 are disposed in alignment with and closely adjacent the ends of storage conveyors 110a and 110]. Due to the fact that the discharge section of the depalletizer is offset from the section at which containers enter the depalletizer, each order-filling conveyor 125g through 125p is offset from a position of alignment with the associated storage conveyor. It will be understood that containers accumulated at the ends of the storage conveyors 110a, 110b, 1100 and 110d are lifted manually therefrom and placed on the short U-shaped orderfilling conveyor 112 which has a discharge 112a adjacent a portion of a discharge conveyor 126 which is also arranged to receive containers from the order-filling conveyors 125e to 125p, inclusive. An electrically actuated stop 128 is disposed at the discharge end of each orderfilling conveyor to control the release of containers therefrom.

The depalletizer 116 is particularly shown in FIGS. 11 and 12 and comprises a frame structure 130 having two drive shafts 131 and 132 rotatably mounted below a platform 133. Two wheels 135 are keyed to each of the shafts 131 and 132 and are disposed on the rails 117. A gear 140 is also keyed to the shaft 131 and is in mesh with a rack 142 which is anchored to the floor of the building. The drive shaft 131 is driven by a motor 137 through a chain and sprocket 138. It will be evident that when the motor 137 is energized, the drive shaft 131 will be rotated causing the wheels 135 to carry the depalletizer along the rails 117. The engagement of the gear 140 on the shaft 131 with the rack 142, which is secured to the floor, has a braking action which prevents the depalletizer from continuing movement after the rotation of thedrive shaft 131 is stopped.

The depalletizer is provided with a fork unit 150 having two projecting arms 150a and connected to a frame 151 that is suitably journalled for guided vertical movement in the frame 130. This vertical movement is effected by means of a power cylinder 152 which has a crosshead 155 mounted on the end of its piston rod 156. Two sprockets 157 are rotatably journalled on a rod 158 which projects from either side of the crosshead 155. A chain 160 is disposed around each sprocket 157 and has one end secured to a rigid stationary frame member 161 (FIG. 11) and the other end secured to the frame 151 which carries the fork arms 150a and 15%. When power is applied to the power cylinder 152, the piston rod 156 moves out of the cylinder, causing the crosshead 155 to force the sprockets 157 upwardly, whereby to cause the chains 160 to lift the fork unit 150. When the power cylinder is de-energized, the fork unit will move downwardly by gravity to its lower position.

The fork 150 (FIG. 6) of the depalletizer is adapted to be inserted under the discharge end of each of the storage conveyors 110, each conveyor being provided at its discharge end with spaced lines of rollers similar to the lines of rollers of the discharge unit 82 (FIG. 8). When the fork is moved upwardly, the loaded pallet is lifted off the conveyor and raised until the uppermost containers of the load are close to the undersurface of a boom 159 of the depalletizer and are disposed between the reciprocating suction head 165 and a transverse stop plate 170 that is secured to and projects downwardly from the boom 159. The suction head includes three suction members 166 which are supplied with air at a suction pressure from any suitable source. When the containers are held in the above-mentioned elevated position, the suction head is moved forwardly to bring the three suction members into gripping engagement with the containers of the upper layer that is closest to the suction head. The transverse stop plate 170, that depends from the outer end of the boom 159, prevents the containers from moving away from the suction head. When the suction head is subsequently moved rearwardly to its initial position, it draws with it the containers which are gripped by the suction contact members 166. When the suction head reaches its rearward position, the suction is released and the containers are allowed to drop on a power driven roller conveyor which takes the containers out of the machine one at a time and deposits them on the order picking conveyor 125 to which the depalletizer is delivering containers at that time.

Reciprocation of the suction head 165 is carried out by means of a pair of chains 187 and 188. The chain 187 is trained around a sprocket (not shown) freely rotatable on a drive shaft 186 which is carried by a crosshead 190 that is secured to the end of a piston rod 191 of a double acting power cylinder 192 which is mounted in the fixed boom 159. One end of the chain 187 is fixed to a rigid frame member 194 and the other end is fixed to one end 195a of a carriage 195 which is supported for guided horizontal movement in the frame and carries the suction head 165. The second chain 188 is disposed around a sprocket 193 which is freely rotatable on the shaft 186, The chain 188 has one end connected to a fixed member 199 of the boom 159 and, at its opposite end, is connected to an end 195b of the carriage 195. When fluid under pressure is supplied to the one end of the double acting power cylinder 192, the piston rod 191 is moved inwardly of the cylinder, causing the crosshead 190 to move the carriage 195 and the suction head 165 toward the right (FIG. 11) to cause the three suction members to engage containers on the pallet. When fluid under pressure is supplied to 'the other end of the power cylinder 192, the crosshead will move the carriage 195 and the suction head 165 to the left (FIG. 11), bringing the containers to a position above the discharge conveyor 175 of the depalletizer.

The discharge conveyor 175 is driven by an electric motor 200 (FIG. 12) through any suitable mechanism such as a chain and sprocket drive 202. Electric power is supplied to the motors 290 and 137 from conductors 210 through a trolley 2413 provided with suitable electrical connections.

If it is desired to transfer containers from several layers of a pallet from one of the storage conveyors 110's through 119p, the depalletizer 116 is moved to a position wherein its fork lift unit 150 is disposed under the lower end of the selected conveyor as shown in FIG. 6. The machine is then operated to cause the fork lift unit to move upwardly lifting the pallet and the containers thereon off the conveyor 11!) and moving them upwardly until the uppermost layer of containers is close to the undersurface of the boom 159 and in front of the stop plate 170. The suction head is moved forwardly to grip the containers of the nearest row, and is then moved rearwardly to discharge the containers onto the conveyor 175 which delivers them to the order-filling conveyor 125 in alignment therewith. The suction head 165 is reciprocated as many times as is necessary to remove all the containers row by row from the uppermost layer of containers on the pallet. The fork lift unit is then actuated once more to elevate the pallet and bring the next layer to a position in the path of the suction head which is again reciprocated to remove the containers of that layer row by row. This operation is repeated until all of the containers have been removed from the pallet. After the pallet has been unloaded it may be removed manually by the operator. i

The boom 159 and the conveyor 175 are secured together by suitable'rigid members so that they form a unit that is mounted for vertical reciprocating movement on two vertical posts 205 and 206. This vertical reciprocating movement may be effected by means of a combined power cylinder. and chain and sprocket arrangement such as the arrangement by which the suction head 165 is reciprocated on the boom 159. It will be recognized that, since the conveyor 175 may' be raised and lowered, the depalletizer may discharge containers at several levels it desired.

The order-filling conveyors 125 are flat, horizontally extending live roll conveyors similar to that shown in FIG. 4 and are arranged so that when the rollers are actuated, the containers will be deposited one by one onto the discharge conveyor 126, which is a typical live roll conveyor and is arranged to deliver the containers to the loading section 27a of the dock 27.

In certain merchandising systems, articles of a particular grade are more in demand than other articles and it is advantageous to move them in pallet loads directly from the distributing station 109 (FIG. 1) to the dock 27. Accordingly, two conveyors 240 and 241 are provided between the storage conveyor 110p and the incoming conveyor 31. The conveyors 240 and 241 are of the same construction as the incoming conveyor 31 and are arranged to carry pallet loads ofarticles of particular classifications with a power-aided gravity flow directly from the distributing station 109 to the dock 27.

In summary, in the warehousing system of the present invention, pallets loaded with field containers of unsorted articles are discharged from a truck T onto a dock carriage 28 which is arranged to deliver the pallet loads to the incoming conveyor 31. Each loaded pallet is progressed across the cooling room 22 under controlled gravity flow to a holding zone 90 in the cooling room, and the several pallet loads are held at zone 90 in the order in which they were unloaded from the truck. The pallets are removed one by one from the forward end of the incoming conveyor 31 and delivered to the classifying, sorting, and packaging station 105 wherein the unsorted articles are removed from the field containers and are classified and are put into shipping containers. Each shipping container being arranged to carry articles of one classification and the particular classification of the articles being marked'on the outside of the container.

If pallet loads of containers of unsorted articles are delivered to and stored at the holding zone 90 on incoming conveyor 32, they will be carried from the holding zone in a predetermined sequence by a power driven conveyor 106 tothe classifying, sorting, and packaging station 105 for processing' From the station 105, the marked containers are carried back into the cooling room 22 and pass before operators at the distributing station 109. The operators place each marked container on a full size pallet P2 of one of the storage conveyors 110i to 110p provided for the particular class of articles or on a half size pallet P1 on conveyors 110g or 11%, or'on one of the conveyors 110a through 110 The conveyors 110a to 110 inclusive, are adapted to receive single containers and immediately move them away from the distributing station. When a predetermined load is formed on a pallet on one of the storage conveyors 110g to 110p, inclusive, .the operator actuates the associated foot lever 120 to release the pallet and permit it to be advanced slowly .toward the order picking zone 1 15. i

In assembling orders for several containers of several different classifications of articles, containers are removed individually from the order filling'conveyors 125 and are ,directed onto the discharge conveyor 126. When the supply of containers of a particular classification on one ,of the order-filling conveyors reaches a predetermined minimum, the depalletizer 116 is moved to a position in alignment with the end oi the storage conveyor 110 associated with that particular order-filling conveyor, The" depalletizer is then put into operation to remove the required number of containers from the storage pallet and deliver the containers to the order-filling conveyor.

Referring again to the unloading portion 27b of the dock it will be understood that, if containers are not palletized in the truck but are loaded individually therein, the carriage 28 may be aligned with the incoming conveyor 33 so that the containers may be taken one by one from the truck and moved to the holding zone where they are stored on conveyor 33 in the particular sequence in which they were unloaded from the dock. They are then moved to the classifying, sorting, and packaging station in that same sequence by the conveyor 107.

In FIGURES 13 and 14 is illustrated an embodiment of the present warehousing system which is operable to simultaneously deliver selected containers of classified articles to two trucks. In this arrangement containers are stored on pallets at an order picking zone 300 on storage conveyors 305g to 305p, inclusive. A depalletizer 316 is disposed in the order picking zone and is arranged to remove containers from the pallets and deliver them to order-filling conveyors 325. It will be noted in FIG. 14 that the order-filling conveyors are arranged in two levels. The conveyors 325 of the upper level are arranged to discharge containers onto an upper discharge conveyor 326 which carries the containers out of the building to a truck T3. The order-filling conveyors 325 of the lower level discharge containers onto a lower discharge conveyor 327 which delivers the containers to another truck T4.

It will be understood that the depalletizer, the storage conveyors, the order-filling conveyors and the discharge conveyors of the system of FIGURES 13 and 14 are constructed and operated in exactly the same manner as the corresponding apparatus of the system of FIG. 1.

In the system of FIGURES 13 and 14, the ability of the depalletizer 316 to discharge containers at several levels is put to use; The depalletizer has a fork lift unit 329 (FIG. 14) and a vertically movable carriage 330 which includes a boom 331, a suction head 332 and a discharge conveyor 333. When the number of containers on any one of the upper or lower'order-filling conveyors 325 reaches a predetermined minimum, the depalletizer 316 is aligned with that particular conveyor, and the carriage 330 is raised or lowered, depending upon whether that 'particular'order-filling conveyor is in the upper or the lower layer, to bring the discharge conveyor 333 into operative connection therewith. When the discharge conveyor is in place, the depalletizer is put into operation to remove containers from the associated storage conveyor and deliver 'them to the order-filling conveyor.

In FIGURE 14 an arrangement is shown for automatically removing an empty pallet from the order picking zone and returning it to the load-receiving end of the associated storage conveyor. After the lowermost layer' of containers have been removed from the pallet, the fork lift' unit 329 of the depalletizer 316 is raised once more, as shown in FIG. 14, to bring'the empty pallet into the path of movement of a pusher bar 336 carried by the suction head 332. When the suction'head moves outwardly along the boom 331, it engages the edge of the empty pallet and forces it otf the fork lift unit 329 and onto an upwardly inclined belt conveyor 342. One conveyor 342' is mounted above each storage conveyor on a support structure 344 in alignment with an oppositely inclined gravity rollerconveyor'346, which is arranged to receivethe empty pallet from conveyor 342 and automatically'carry it back to the load-receiving end of the associatedstorage conveyor to a position against a stop The belt conveyor 342 maybe driven by an electric motor 350 through any suitable drive mechanism.

'The various conveyors 'shown and described in this an entire order.

warehousing system are power driven, preferably by separate electric motors provided with manually operable switches. Likewise, the motors of the depalletizer 116 may be manually controlled by an operator through appropriate switches located on a switch board of the depalletizer next to which an operators platform or seat may be provided. Likewise the discharge gates or stop members 123 of the ordenfilling conveyors 125 may be manually controlled to effect the discharge of the desired number of containers of articles of a certain classification therefrom.

In the event that the operation of the Warehousing system from a central station should be desired a central control panel 358 may be provided on which the switches controlling the operation of the various units are located. Automatic operation of the discharge gates 123 of the order-filling conveyors 125 and the depalletizer 116 to replenish the articles on the order-filling conveyor may also be accomplished by a special control system on the panel 353 which permits setting of the switches of a plurality of order-filling conveyor control gates 128 for subsequent successive operation thereof to automatically fill In this latter system the controls for the depalletizer 116 are under the influence of the containers on the order-filling conveyors to effect automatic operation of the depalletizer so as to replenish the containers on the order-filling conveyor in such a way that a sufiicient supply of containers for filling orders is always maintained on the conveyors 125.

The construction of the gates 128, the order-filling conveyors 125, the depalletizer 116 and the automatic controls for the same are the subject matter of my separate application, S.N. 655,047, filed April 25, 1957.

From the foregoing description it will be noted that the warehousing system of the present invention provides means whereby containers of unsorted articles are temporarily held at a holding zone in a cooling room in the same order in which they were unloaded from the truck, and are moved from the holding zone to the classifying, sorting, and packaging station in that same order. After being sorted and classified the articles are again palletized in pallet loads and stored or, in the case of storage conveyors 110a through 110 the articles are stored in individual containers in the particular order in which the articles were classified. As a result, for any one classification of articles, the articles of that classification that were first brought into the warehouse will be the first to be carried out of the warehouse by discharge conveyor 126 and delivered on the awaiting trucks T.

It will be understood that modifications and variations of the embodiments of the invention disclosed herein may be effected without departing from the scope of the concepts of the present invention.

Having thus described the invention, what I claim as new and desire to protect by Letters Patent is:

1. A warehousing system for perishable articles comprising an unloading and loading dock, a cooling room and a classifying and packaging room; said cooling room having a wall disposed along said dock with an article receiving and a delivery opening therein, unloading conveyor means disposed at said dock outside said cooling room and at the delivery opening in said wall for receiving containers of unclassified articles one by one as they are removed from a vehicle, holding conveyor means in said cooling room having a loading end at said delivery opening for receiving the containers one by one from said unloading conveyor means and moving the containers in a line into said cooling room, means for removing containers one by one from the delivery end of said holding conveyor means and positioning the containers in said classifying and packaging room, distributor conveyor means for receiving containers of classified and packaged articles from said classifying and packaging room and delivering them to said cooling room, a plurality of storage conveyors in said cooling room for individually receiving a line of containers of a given classification from said distributor conveyor means, said storage conveyors having discharge ends in the cooling room, and delivery conveyor means in said cooling room for receiving containers of classified and packaged articles from said storage conveyors and delivering them through the delivery opening in said wall to said dock.

2. A warehousing system for perishable articles com prising an unloading and loading dock, a cooling room and a classifying and packaging room; said cooling room having a wall disposed along said dock with an article receiving and a delivery opening therein, unloading conveyor means disposed at said dock outside said cooling room and at the delivery opening in said wall for receiving containers of unclassified articles one by one as they are removed from a vehicle, holding conveyor means in said cooling room having a loading end at said delivery opening for receiving the containers one by one from said unloading conveyor means and moving the containers in a line into said cooling room, conveyor means for removing containers one by one from the delivery end of said holding conveyor means and positioning the containers in said classifying and packaging room, distributor conveyor means for receiving containers of classified and packaged articles from said classifying and packaging room and delivering them to said cooling room, said distributor conveyor means including an article cooling loop disposed in said cooling room, a plurality of storage conveyors in said cooling room for individually receiving a line of containers of a given classification from said distributor conveyor means, said storage conveyors having discharge ends in the cooling room, and delivery conveyor means in said cooling room for receiving containers of classified and packaged articles from said storage conveyors and delivering them through the delivery opening in said wall to said dock.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification414/276, 414/286
International ClassificationB65G37/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65G37/00
European ClassificationB65G37/00