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Publication numberUS3055612 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 25, 1962
Filing dateAug 7, 1959
Priority dateAug 7, 1959
Publication numberUS 3055612 A, US 3055612A, US-A-3055612, US3055612 A, US3055612A
InventorsGlenn M Stout, Nellis William Merton
Original AssigneeStandard Conveyor Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Article transfer system
US 3055612 A
Abstract  available in
Images(5)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

P 1962 e. M. STOUT ETAL 3,055,612

ARTICLE TRANSFER SYSTEM Filed Aug. 7, 1959 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTORS I; Ski/1A an 41:40: BY $454M. .Sr 0r 0M4 zfl lrfamveys KEY 867 Sept. 25, 1962 G. M. STOUT ET AL ARTICLE TRANSFER SYSTEM 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed Aug. 7, 1959 INVENTORS Mann Nun A6441: 3y Glen/M 1. .Sroar CW 5 W liramru;

Sept. 25, 1962 G. M. STOUT ETAL ARTICLE TRANSFER SYSTEM 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed Aug. 7, 1959 A .mN h wm .w mnr 6 N o w 4 mm M United States Patent Ofifice 3,055,612 Patented Sept. 25, 1952 3,055,612 ARTICLE TRANSFER SYSTEM Glenn M. Stout, Golden Valley, and William Merton Nellis, Maplewood, Minn., assignors, by mesne assignments, to Standard Conveyor Company, St. Paul, Minn., a corporation of Minnesota Filed Aug. 7, 1959, Ser. No. 832,195 11 Claims. (Cl. 243-16) This invention relates to article transfer on conveying systems having semi-automatic article insertion and fully automatic routing, and more particularly to new and improved controls therefor utilizing magnetizable elements stationarily associated with the article.

Conveyor systems utilizing endless belts, pneumatic tubes and the like are well known for being used in intracompany or intra-operation communications to materially reduce the administrative operating costs, as well as providing faster communications. Additionally supplies may often be conveniently and quickly dispatched to the user through such systems.

In constructing large systems of the above type wherein a plurality of stations in different locations may be involved care has to be taken to prevent losing articles within the system and that the article is immediately transferred to the desired location. In such larger systems some form of address code which is mechanically detectable can be attached to the article for automatic routing.

This invention provides an address indicator for attachment to or association with an article to be conveyed consisting of a plurality of magnetizable elements exhibiting rectangular hysteresis characteristics along a preferred axis of magnetization and which are spaced apart to pro vide maximum isolation of each element from other elements in a minimum space or surface permitting system installation in cramped quarters. Each input to a transfer system constructed according to this invention is a keyboard operated magnetic encoder-recorder. After receiving the article to be transferred and keyboard selections have been made the encoder-recorder automatically records a destination code on an address indicator and ejects the article into a part of the conveyor system conveniently termed a source line. The terminus of each source line is at a line interchange unit which receives the article, statically reads an address code portion indicating which of several so-called destination lines is to be utilized and transfers the article to that line for transmission therein. The static reading permits a substantial backlog of input articles to be readily dispatched through the system with no overloading of any part, an important feature of this invention.

In each destination line the remaining address code portion not previously read is detected while the article is moving and gating means are employed to route the article to the correct destination on the selected line. In the latter a technique is utilized in which coincidence of the first and last magnetic record element appearing in the destination line is used to indicate when a detection is to be made, which technique saves a considerable amount of control equipment as will become apparent.

Each of the reading stations provided consists of a plurality of flux diverting magnetic bands which extend transversely to the element magnetization axis as it appears near the bands permitting reading of the element regardless of the displacement of the article in a direction parallel to the bands.

Accordingly it is an object of the invention to provide improved controls for an article transfer system utilizing magnetizable elements stationarily associated with the article or article carrier.

It is another object of this invention to provide an improved keyboard operated interlocked magnetic encoderrecorder which automatically records an address code in an article address indicator and ejects the article into a transfer system.

It is a further object of this invention to provide an improved address code indicator for use in an article transfer system wherein a plurality of separate magnetizable elements record each code bit.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide improved controls for a pneumatic tube article conveying system wherein the address code indicators are spaced apart on an article carrier in the direction of motion and around the carrier periphery and where the code is read in two distinct parts wherein the system controls in the first part prevent an overload to occur in the second part.

These and other more detailed and specific objects will be disclosed in the course of the following specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic showing of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an axial cross-sectional view of a typical pneumatic transmission line with an exemplary article carrier with address code indicators in horizontal elevation therein.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic and schematic diagram of the preferred magnetic encoder-recorder for use as an input device to the system.

FIG. 4 is a partial diagrammatic and schematic drawing of a preferred transmission line interchange unit for use with the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic partial end view of the FIG. 4 apparatus showing the motor control circuits.

FIG. 6 is a partial diagrammatic and schematic diagram of an exemplary static reading station for use with the FIG. 4 apparatus.

FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic and schematic illustration of an exemplary destination address code reading station and associated article gating means controlled thereby.

FIG. 8 is a schematic of a magnetic record element detector.

With reference now to the accompanying drawing like numbers denote like parts and structural features in the various views and diagrams. In the FIG. 1 article conveying system there are a plurality of source-destination locations 10 arbitrarily divided into three groups or address levels, A, B, and C, of three locations each. Each location 10 has an input station 12 and a destination or article receiving station 14 which are completely independent of each other and may be at spaced apart locations. The input stations 12 of each location group or address level share a common source line 16 which gravity feeds the inserted article carrier, which will be later described, from the input station to a transmission line interchange unit 18 preferably located in a building basement, or other suitable lowpoint in the conveying system. The terminus of each source line 16 consists of an article carrier receiver 20 which immobilizes the article carrier until a line transfer car 22 running on tracks 24 as directed by control 26 is ready to receive the article carrier and transfer it to a destination line input 28, pursuant to the address code thereon. Each unit 28 is connected to a destination line 30 each of which has a partial vacuum therein created by exhaust pump 32 and connected thereto through common header 34. In each pneumatic destination line 30- there are three gating units 36 for diverting the article carrier into a destination branch line 38 to the desired station 14. The end of each line 30 has a right angled turn 40 for preventing any loosed article carriers from entering header 34 to damage pump The preferred article carrier for use in the present invention is shown in FIG. 2 wherein there is a pneumatic tube casing 4-2 surrounding the carrier. An intermediate transparent tube 44 with a felt-leather radially outwardly extending end 46 engages the tube 42 sides for moving the carrier in the direction of air flow created by the pump 32 (FIG. 1). The other or trailing end has a pivotal pivotable cap 48 held in place by a snap holding leather thong 49. The thong 49 being unsnapped from cap 48 to permit cap 48 to pivot about the end for inserting and removing articles to and from the carrier. On the tube 44 there are inserted a plurality of magnetizable elements 50 each in the shape of a bar and exhibiting a rectangular hysteresis characteristics along the magnetization axis parallel to the length of the bar. The significance of the physical placement of the bars 50 on the tube 44 will become subsequently apparent.

With reference to FIG. 3 the article carrier is inserted through a funnel shaped receiver 52, thence falls through a steel tubing 54 into the non-magnetic brass tubular section 56. The carrier is held in magnetizing position by a gate arm 60 which pivotally extends through an aperture in the section 56 to engage the lower side of radially enlarged end 46. After the recording is completed the solenoid 68 is energized lifting armature 66 and depending pawl 64 for permitting the carrier weight on arm 60 to cause the arm to pivot outwardly about bracket 62. The carrier is thus released and ejected from the recorder by its own weight. The armature 66 may be spring biased to the downward or arm 60 carrier engaging position.

The recording portion of the FIG. 3 encoder-recorder includes a plurality of annular pole pieces 70 disposed about a section 56 in axial parallel spaced apart relation. Adjacent annular windings are collectively designated by numbers 71 and 72 and are disposed between adjacent polex pieces; even numbered windings are alternately spaced with odd numbered windings. A permeable shunt 74 is shared by all poles pieces and windings to substantially encircle the assembly.

Associated with the encoder-recorder is a keyboard unit which includes a connection to an alternating current power source 76 through a on-oif switch 78, and includes two key sets 80 and 82. Each key set has a set of eight keys 84 of usual construction, each with several electrical contacts. Since both key sets are preferably identical, only the set 80 which is shown in schematic diagram form below dashed line 81 will be described. Each of the eight keys 84 in set 80 is arbitrarily assigned a letter representation from A through G moving from left to right as viewed in FIG. 3. Each key has a set of interlock contacts 84A which are in parallel circuit with all other interlock contacts in the same key set and in series circuit with a like parallel connected interlock contacts in set 82. The interlock prevents power from being applied to the recorder until a selection has been made in both key sets indicating that a complete address for the carrier has been selected by an operator. The end of the interlock circuit at key set 82 is connected over line 85 to current limiting resistance 86, rectifier 88 and filter condenser 89 to provide half-wave rectified power to the timing control circuitry hereinbelow fully described.

The address code as selected by key 84 depressions may be defined as being in two column octal notation with each key set representing one of the two columns. As used in the first embodiment of this invention key set 80 keys 84 were alphabetically enumerated from the letter A through the letter H for selecting the groups as shown in FIG. 1, wherein only three of the groups are illustrated for brevity. Key set 82 was enumerated from zero through seven for indicating which station 14 in the selected group the article is to be conveyed to. In any event the enumeration is in an octal notation and is converted to binary notation by the remaining contacts in the eight keys 84 by appropriate connections to binary indicating relays 90, 92 and 94, as indicated in the 01- lowing table; wherein a 1 indicates the relay will be energized and a 0 it will not be energized for a depression of a key 84 in the same row.

All the keys in set corresponding to a l in the relay 90 column have one set of contacts for connecting rectifier 88 to line 96. The keys in the relay 92 column have one set of contacts for connecting rectifier 88 to line 98 and the keys in the relay 94 column have one set of contacts for connecting the rectifier to line 100.

Once the above described selections have been completed, depression of actuating switch 102 provides A.C. power to rectifier 88 and half-wave rectified power through the key 84 contacts to selected binary code indiacting relays 90, 92 and 94 as well as the binary code relays of the set 82 to provide a complete address code indication. Power is simultaneously applied to the holding relay 104 closing the normally open contacts 194A connecting power to the line in parallel circuit to actuator switch 102 permitting it to be released.

In all subsequent discussion concerning relays, the contacts are shown separate from the relay coils for convenience in understanding the control circuits. The contacts are indicated as being a part of the relay by a like number with a letter suffix, as contacts 104A are a part of the relay 104 with the energizing coil being associated with the relay number. Energization of the relay winding associated with its corresponding contacts serves to position such contact in the state in which it is shown in the drawings, that is normally closed or normally open.

Two timing control relays 106 and 108 acivate at a predetermined time after closure of the switch 102. An RC delay circuit consisting of resistance 110 and capacitor 112 delays the build up of relay activating voltage across the relay 108 coil to delay the energization of the recording windings 71 and 72 until after the code relays have completely switched.

Activating the relay 108 closes contacts 108A providing power through the contacts 106B to oppositely poled rectifiers 114 and 116 which respectively provide the socalled negative and positive half-cycles of an alternating current respectively to windings 71 and 72. By so providing the energization adjacent windings 71 and 72 are providing flux at different times and thus there is no flux addition in any of the shared pole pieces 70 which could provide a magnetic influence on an element 50 more than from a single winding.

The direction of current flow through the windings 71 and 72 is determined by the binary code selections indicated in the code relays, such as relays 90, 92 and 94. Four sets of contacts from each relay are associated with a single winding 71 or 72 to form a four-way switching element shown as contacts A, 90B, 90C and 90D in association with a winding 71. When the relay 90 is not activated, which is indicated in the above Table I as a zero, contacts 908 and 90D remain closed to permit current flow in a first direction through the winding. When the relay 90 is activated only contacts 90A and 90C are closed permitting current flow therethrough in the opposing direction, the uni-directionally provided current being from rectifier 114 in both cases. A second winding 71 is connected in series circuit with the first and is controlled through the four way switching element formed by the relay 92 contacts 92A, 92B, 92C and 92D in the same manner formed by the relay 90 contacts. Yet other windings are connected in series circuit with the two illustrated windings 71 in the same manner with the windings 72 being also connected in a like manner to the rectifier 116 and utilizing the so-called positive going half-cycle to provide a binary recording flux to the elements 50.

Relay 106 in combination with the timing delay circuit consisting of resistance 118 and capacitor 120 which begins charging upon closure of the switch 102 limits the recording time by opening the contacts 106A to remove power trom the line 85 and the relays 104 and 108. Also contacts 106B are opened to remove the power from the recording windings 71 and 72. Simultancously the contacts 106C are closed to energize the solenoid winding 68, moving the gate arm 60 to a nonobstructing relation to the carrier permitting it to fall into the source line 16. Solenoid 68 is energized only a very short period of time since relay 104 drops out to open the contacts 104A removing all power from the encoder-recorder. Once the end 46 has passed the gate arm 60 the carrier will continue to fall regardless of the energization of solenoid 68.

About ten electrical cycles are permitted to accomplish the recording which records like code bits on a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart elements 50 in a like axial position. As seen in FIG. 3, elements in a circumferential row 50A are under the magnetic influence of the winding 71A while the adjacent circumferential row 50B elements are under the magnetic influence of a winding 72. Each of the bar shaped ferromagnetic elements 50 is preferably press fitted into reformed grooves in the non-magnetic tube 44 and circumferentailly spaced from adjacent elements in the same row about sixty degrees, providing six elements in each row each recording the same code bit. Adjacent rows have elements staggered from each other thirty degrees such as the row 50A elements are staggered from the row 50B elements providing staggered or alternately spaced magnetic elements in adjacent circumferential rows. The fringing flux of each element, indicated by dotted lines 121 and which is strongest adjacent the element poles at either long end thereof, is not immediately adjacent the poles of other elements which provides maximum leakage for each element. This spacing provides for a maximum number of axially displaced elements in a given tube 44 length, yet permits a plurality of elements to be circumferentially spaced about the tube for providing a multiple indication of each code bit. The redundancy provides a stronger flux to be sensed as well as improved reliability in that an element being disasseciated from the carrier during movement in the system does not cause a misaddress to be indicated.

With particular reference now to FIG. 4 it diagrammatically illustrates a single interchange unit position, it being understood that where indicated by the ellipses there are comparable circuits for each position in the interchange nnit 18 corresponding to the three FIG. 1 groups or address levels.

As the article carrier leaves the source line 16 and enters receiving station 20 a normally open switch 122 mounted therein is closed for completing a power circuit to relay 124 which when pulled in or activated indicates, inter alia, that a carrier has been received in the associated receiver. An alternating current power source 126 has one terminal grounded with the other or hot terminal connected through normally closed contacts 128A and 130A to a line 13 1. The contacts respectively indicate that the transfer car 22 is not loaded with a carrier and that the car 22 is not ready to be loaded. The line 131 voltage is provided to all switches such as the switch 122 associated with each receiving station 20 as indicated by the ellipsis 131A. Also a switch 132 is closed which connects the AC source 126 to a gate solenoid 134 closing normally open gate 136 at the receiver 20 entrance. Subsequently arriving carriers remain in the line 16 until completion of present carrier transfer. The timing of the following described control apparatus is such that the next carrier search can be completed prior to the time that a subsequently arrived carrier enters the receiver 20 to actuate the switch 122, thereby forcing the system to accept carriers from all source lines and not permitting one source line to dominate the system.

The gate 136 consists of a transversely extending pivotally mounted gate bar 137 spring urged downwardly into a non-obstructing relation to the tube 16 as indicated by the lines 137A. The solenoid 134 moves the arm 237 into a carrier obstructing position, i.e., closes the gate.

Each relay 124 has its respective contacts 124A connected in parallel with like contacts from like function relays and being connected between the line 131 and a current limiting resistance 138. The other end of resistance 138 is connected to a rectifier 140 to provide a half-wave rectified voltage across a filter capacitor 142. Normally closed relay contacts 124B, one for each receiver 20 relay 124, have one contact connected to capacitor 142 as indicated by ellipsis 143 and with the other contact of each relay respectively connected to one terminal 144 of rotary stepping or selection switch 146 of the usual type and which includes a self-breaking contact 146A. Each one of the terminals 144 corresponds to a group or level of FIG. 1 as does each switch 122 and relay 124.

As power is provided to stepper 146 through any one of the parallel connected contacts 124A, stepper 14-6 moves arm 148 from one terminal 144 to another until a terminal is located at which a contact 124B has been opened by a relay 124 being activated to stop the stepping switch search. It is apparent that several carriers can be simultaneously received by the unit 18 causing several relays such as relay 124 to be simultaneously activated. In such a case stepper 146 selects the carrier associated with a terminal 144 first contacted by the arm 148.

Stepper switch 146 has a second bank of terminals 144A with a separate switch arm 148A which when a carrier has been located and selected provides a power from a source 126, which is shown as a separate source for convenience and in practice is the same as the first mentioned source 126, through the contacts 124C to activate the relay 150. There is one relay 150 for each relay 124, all being activated in the described manner and having one end of their respective coils commonly connected to normally closed stepper switch opened contacts 1463 as indicated by the ellipsis 151. The activated relay 150 indicates which receiver 20 contains the carrier to be transferred.

The relay 150 has a set of contacts 150A connected in parallel with like contacts indicated by the ellipsis 153 for connecting power from a source 126 to a relay 152 indicating that a carrier has been selected to be transferred without reference to any particular source line 16. The car 22 is now ready to be moved to the appropriate source line.

With reference now to FIG. 5 the transfer car 22 is shown as being aligned with the receiver 20 for the group B stations and for purposes of illustration assume that the carrier is in the group A receiver. Power is passed from a source 126 through contacts 152A to one side of all normally closed contacts collectively designated by numeral 154A of the car 22 position indicating switches 154. With the car in group B the contacts 154A of that group are opened. With group A being selected as the carrier source, the contacts 15013 of group A are closed providing power over the line 156 to motor 158 causing it to rotate screw 160 in a direction to move the car 22 to the group A receiver 20. The cars 22 dog 162 en- 7 gages the group A switch 154 opening group A contacts 154A to remove power from the motor 158 leaving the car in carrier receiving position.

With reference again to FIG. 4 the group A switch 154 when operated by the dog 162 closes normally open contacts 154B passing power from a source 126 through closed contacts 152B and 150C to activate a group relay 164 indicating that the car 22 has reached the group A receiver. Ellipsis 163 near the contacts 152B shows that each group has a like circuit. Each of the group relays, as the relay 164, has contacts having one side connected to the junction 165 and the other to the ungrounded end of the respective group relay coil to provide the following described hold circuit; power through contacts 164A pulls in the relay 130 to complete a hold circuit through the contacts 1308 from the power source 126 and the relay 164. The normally closed contacts 130A break power from the line 131 preventing any further carrier search sequences as just described as well as deactivating the relays 124, 150 and 152 and the stepper 146. Contacts 152A open to deenergize the motor 158 control circuits of FIG. while the contacts 152B break the pull in or activating circuit for the relay 164.

With reference now to FIG. 6, detection and indication of the destination line 30 address code on the carrier is described. The AC. power source 126 provides power through contacts 1288 which indicate the car 22 is not loaded, contacts 130C indicating the car is in the desired location, and through normally closed contacts 152C to a junction 167 for providing power to contacts 164B associated with each receiver and when closed indicate the car 22 is in carrier receiving position. At the selected group receiver 20 there is a voltage bus 168 providing power to a destination line address code decoder 170 hereinafter described.

The address code on the carrier is statically read by static magnetic reproducer 172 which includes three magnetic flux diverting bands 173, 174 and 175 wrapped about in contiguous relation to the tubular non-magnetic carrier receiver 20 and axially positioned thereon such that adjacent bands are adjacent the elements 50 ends at all circumferential positions thereof. The circumferential row 50C elements have their axial ends and magnetic poles respectively adjacent the bands 174 and 175 while the next row 50D elements have their ends and the magnetic poles respectively adjacent bands 173 and 174. The flux from the elements is diverted along the bands to a magnetic shunt between the bands including a slotted leg 176 between bands 173 and 174 and a second slotted leg 178 between the bands 174 and 175 to complete two magnetic circuits sharing a common branch in the band 174. The static reading circuit used with the first embodiment is of the flux gate magnetometer type wherein source 126 provides alternating drive current to opposingly wound windings 180 and 182 on each of the two slotted legs 176 and 178. Each winding is opposingly disposed about a leg portion as to provide no net flux in the magnetic circuit including the record elements while saturating each leg portion when adequately energized. Each leg 176 and 178 respectively has a sense winding 184 and 186 wound thereabouts outwardly of the drive windings 180 and 182 but schematically shown as being about the legs for circuit clarity. The sense windings are respectively coupled to amplifiers 188 and 190 which drive relay pullers 192 for activating relays 194 and 196 according to the sensed magnetization directions. An element 50 being between two flux diverting bands provides a magnetic bias in the legs the direction of which indicates the direction of residual magnetization along the preferred magnetic axis. As the source 126 drives the windings 180 and 182 to alternately saturate the slotted legs 176 and 178 the magnetic bias is alternately forced outwardly of the legs to link the sense windings inducing a signal therein. The phase of the induced signal with respect to the source 126 drive current phase is indicative of the direction of residual magnetization along the preferred axis. Amplifiers 188 and 190 are of the type that amplify only positive going signals with respect to a predetermined reference potential. By gating the induced signal with the drive source 126 voltage by activating the amplifiers during a small portion of the drive cycle, only signals indicative of a predetermined single residual magnetization direction are passed to the relay pullers 192. That is, by arbitrary selection only the reproduced signals having a phase indicative of a binary l are utilized to indicate the address code. The positive going portion of the oppositely phased signals (binary zero) are blocked by the amplifiers being forced into the current cut-off operating region by the source 126 drive signal.

The relay pullers 192 are respectively operatively connected to relays 194 and 196, one relay associated with each code bit to be indicated, for converting the binary code to a discrete indication of the complete code combination. For purposes of illustration assume that both element rows 50C and 50D contained residual magnetization indicative of a binary one. Both relays 194 and 196 are activated thereby closing both contacts 194C and 196C to activate the relay 198 for indicating the group C destination line. The groups A and B are similarly indicated respectively through series connected contacts 194A and 196A and the contacts 1943 and 196B to pull in the destination line indicating relays associated with each group and collectively indicated by numeral 200. Each receiver 20 has an identical circuit associated therewith, with the outputs of each decoder being respectively connected to like indicating relays, that is relay 198 is connected to and can be activated by a decoder from any receiving station as can the other relays 200 as shown by the ellipses 201.

Each of the destination line indicating relays have hold contacts 198A and 200A, respectively, which provides power to relay 166 closing the contacts 1668 for providing power to the relay 198 through hold contacts 198A. The relay 166 indicating that a destination line 30 has been selected by the decoder closes contacts 166D to activate a timing delay relay 199 opening the contacts 199A breaking the power from the decoder 170. Therefore as the carrier leaves the receiver the magnetic elements passing the static reading station cause no false indication to be registered by the decoder. The car 22 is now ready to be loaded.

With reference again to FIG. 4, power from source 126 is provided through the normally closed contacts 128C and 204A and previously closed contacts 166C and 164D to a solenoid 206. The solenoid 206 is operatively connected to front gate 208 in receiver 20 constructed in the same manner as the encoder-recorder ejector including the solenoid 68 and arm 60 for opening the gate permitting the carrier to slide into the car 22. Each receiver has such a front gate and control circuits connected as indicated by the ellipsis 209. The contacts 164C keep the solenoid 134 activated to maintain the gate 136 closed while the carrier is sliding into the car 22 and is being transferred to a destination line. Alternately the gate 136 may be closed by a contact closure substituted for the switch 132 and operatively connected to the gate 208 for closing when the latter opens.

As the carrier reaches the lower end of the car 22 a switch 204 is actuated opening the contacts 204A for reclosing the gate 208. The contacts 204B close to activate the relay 128 indicating that the car 22 has been loaded which causes several things to occur. Contacts 128A open to keep power from the receiver selection circuits including the relay 124 while contacts 128B (FIG. 6) open to keep power from the decoder 170 preventing a selection of a relay 200. Contacts 128C also open to keep the solenoid 206 deactivated during the following described sequences. Contacts 128E close to provide power to all switches 1548. Additionally contacts 1286 (FIG. and 128H (FIG. 6) close to respectively provide power to the motor circuits and to hold the relays 198 and 166 activated maintaining the destination line indication at least until the car 22 has reached a desired destination group sender 28.

The relay 198 indicates that the group C is the proper destination, therefore as seen in FIG. 5 power is applied to the motor 158 over the line 218 through the contacts 154A and contacts 198D. When the car 22 reaches the group C location the contacts 154A open to break the motor circuit and halt the car in carrier destination release position.

As noted in FIG. 5 the group B motor control circuit includes a single pole double throw switch 212 actuated by the depending dog 214 on the car 22 support 216 and which includes a worm gear (not shown) for transiating the screw 160 rotation into straight line travel for the car 22 along the screw axis. The purpose of the switch 212 is to provide proper direction of travel to the car 22 when it is on either side of the group B receiver or any intermediate group receiver or destination line. When the car 22 is to the left of such an intermediate location as the group B, switch 212 is moved to the contact 217 connected to the line 218. When the group B is selected the power is applied to the motor 158 for moving the car to the right as viewed in FIG. 5. Similarly when the car 22 is to the right of the group B location the switch 212 is moved to the contact 219 connected to a line 156 causing the motor 158 to rotate in the opposing direction moving the car 22 to the left.

As the car 22 reaches the group C destination line sender 28 the switch 154 is actuated closing the contacts 1543' (FIG. 4) providing power to interchange cycle terminating relay 202 through the contacts 198E. Other groups have like circuits sharing the relay 262. When a car 22 is being loaded and the destination line is in the same group as the source line the relay 262 is activated as soon as the relay 128 closes its contacts IZSH as heretofore described.

The relay terminates the interchange cycle by opening the contacts 202A (FIG. 6) to drop out the destination line indicating relay 198, closing the contacts 2028 (FIG. 4) to open the gate 220 by lowering the upwardly spring 224 (FIG. 5) urged gate bar 22 to a non-obstructing position indicated by dotted lines 223 allowing the carrier in the car to enter a sender 28 and thus a line 30, and to open the contacts 202C for deenergizing all relays, including 202, and returning all gates to their normal position. The transferred carrier has now entered the group C destination line. The transmission interchange unit 18 is not currently being used and immediately initiates a search for an immobilized carrier in a receiver for automatically routing the carriers within the transfer system. The search continues by stepper 146 continuously rotating until a carrier is immobilized by one receiver 26.

As the carrier is transferred along a destination line 30 it passes through the gates 36 which read an address portion thereon indicative of which station 14 the carrier is to be diverted. A preferred type of reading or sensing station for a gate 36 is shown in FIG. 7 and includes axially spaced apart parallel magnetic flux diverting bands 226, 227, 228, 229 and 230 constituting a sensing area around a non-magnetic line 30 section. As in the encoder-recorder each band is spaced to magnetically couple adjacent circumferential rows when the carrier is in the proper reading position, such as band 229 is coupled to adjacent element rows 50A and 50B. Bands 226 and 230 are spaced apart such that the last and first appearing element row 50F and 50A have their respective trailing and leading magnetic poles respectively coupled to said bands. The reading station sensing area brackets the record when in reading position for providing one and only one output signal as will become apparent.

Adjacent axially displaced bands 226 and 227 are magnetically coupled by a highly permeable shunt 232 having a winding 234 for sensing the residual magnetization in the row 56F elements as they pass through the annular bands. One end of the winding 234 is grounded while the other end is connected to the transistor 236 base electrode. Flux diverting bands 228 and 229 divert the flux from the row 50B elements through shunt leg 238 to common leg 240 linking the element row 50B elements flux with Winding 242. The signal therefrom drives the transistor 244. Similarly bands 229 and 230 divert the flux from the leading or first appearing circumferential row elements 50A through shunt leg 246 to common leg 240 to link winding 248 connected to a transistor 250. Each of the windings has a load resistance 251 for completing a low impedance output circuit. When the just described rows are linking the respective windings, simultaneously appearing positive voltages thereacross drive all three transistors 236, 244 and 250 into conduction indicating detection of a particular address code. The carrier whose elements 50 contain the recorded address is diverted into the branch line 38 corresponding to said gate 36. Each gate 36 is constructed in a similar manner with the polarity of the windings 234, 242, and 248 being oriented to correspond to the binary code indicating the branch line 38. In FIG. 7 each of the illustrated windings are for detecting a binary l, i.e., provide a positive voltage upon detection of residual magnetization indicative of a binary one. For detecting a binary 0 the connections to the windings are reversed.

It is seen that by utilizing both the first and last appearing circumferential record element rows that timing circuitry for detecting and indicating which element rows are to be read or sensed is eliminated. It is understood that the use of intermediate appearing circumferential element rows in the address indication is by arbitrary selection.

The transistors 236, 244 and 250 are series connected to provide a simple coincidence detector, coincidence being indicated by a low impedance between the transistor 250 collector and the transistor 236 grounded emitter electrode. A load resistance 252 connected to a battery 256 provides collector supply current to all three transistors with the proper address code indication being provided over a line 257 in the form of a voltage substantially less positive than the battery 256 voltage. A trigger circuit 258 of well known design and responsive to such a voltage is used to actuate a relay puller 260 which may be a transistor or thermionic vacuum tube connected to solenoid 262. Solenoid 262 may be downstream from the gate 36 at the juncture of branch line 38 and destination line 36. The distance between the juncture and the station 36 is such as to allow about 0.2 second for the described control circuits to operate to move a gate arm r 26 i from the illustrated position about pivot point 266 to the carrier diverting location indicated by the lines 268. Such a distance is the minimum spacing between two carriers in one line 30. The air ilow in line 30 indicated by arrow 270 is uninterrupted by the movement of the arm 264 while the carrier is diverted into the branch line 38 and a station 14. The trigger circuit 258 preferably has a timing delay such as provided by an RC delay circuit for time limitedly holding the gate arm 264 in diverting position, for example 0.25 second, after which solenoid 262 is deactivated permitting arm 264 to move back to the illustrated position. This may be accomplished by gravity or spring urging, the manner not being important to the present invention.

In certain systems it may be desirable not to utilize the first and last appearing row elements for indicating the station 14 address code. In such a situation the first or last appearing elements may be still simultaneously sensed without regard to direction of residual magnetization to still provide a reading station bracketing of the record In FIG. 8 there is shown exemplary means for detecting the presence of a record element 50 without detecting the magnetization direction. Therein the shunt leg portion 246 having a centertapped winding 272 is spaced between two adjacent bands for sensing the first appearing row. Load resistance 274 completes a load circuit while opposing ends of the winding 272 are respectively connected to the base electrodes of parallel con nected transistor elements 276 and 278. The transistor collectors are commoned to the load impedance 252 and provide the address indication over the line 257, while the transistor emitters are commoned to a line 279 for connection to a code bit indicating transistor such as transistor 244 in FIG. 7. It is apparent that any voltage developed in the winding 272 will cause one or the other of the transistors 276 or 278 to provide a low impedance and thus provide an address indication regardless of the information content of the first sensed record element. The FIG. 8 circuit could be provided to detect the first and last appearing record elements 50 by being coupled respectively to shunts 246 or 232 to form a magnetic record extremity detector with the address code being contained in the intermediate record elements.

When the article carrier has the preferred arrangement of record elements 50 as illustrated herein the reading bands 173, 174 and 175 of FIG. 6 and bands 226, 227, 228, 229 and 230 of FIG. 7 need not circumscribe the respective tubular section and line 30. The only requirement is that each band will be magnetically linked or coupled to at least one record element in each row to be sensed. Therefore with six elements evenly spaced in each circumferential row and with elements in adjacent rows being staggered each band need only extend sixty degrees of the circumference if all bands are axially aligned. In any event adjacent bands must be parallel over a sixty degree portion of the tube or receiver section to provide magnetization sensing for random rotation of the article carrier in the transfer system.

It is to be understood that the record provided with this invention, having the staggered magnetic record elements for greater element isolation in minimum space as well as the conveying or transferring mechanisms and reading heads, may assume several geometric configurations without affecting the operation of the present invention.

It is understood that suitable modifications may be made in the structure as disclosed, provided such modifications come within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. Having now therefore fully illustrated and described our invention, what we claim to be new and desire to protect by Letters Patent is:

l. An article transfer system comprising a plurality of source lines for randomly receiving varying numbers of articles, a like plurality of article receivers respectively forming the terminus of each line for receiving and immobilizing an article, a plurality of magnetic elements forming a record means containing an address code indicative of a unique destination line and station and being stationarily associated with the article, a plurality of destination lines including means for moving an article therethrough along a line of travel, interchange unit means for transferring an article from a receiver into a destination line and being operative to continuously search for an immobilized article when not transferring such an article, the unit means including static magnetization sensing means disposed adjacent to the receiver for being magnetically coupled to the record means to sense a destination line address indication and the unit being responsive to the indication to transfer the article into the indicated line, a plurality of magnetization sensing stations in each destination line and disposed along the article line of travel in the lines, each station including record extremity detecting means adjacent the line of travel for momentarily bracketing the recording means for simultaneously sensing the magnetization direction of all elements indicating member.

a destination station, a coincidence detector communicatively connected to the sensing station and responsive to a predetermined unique combination of element magnetizations indicating a particular destination station, and means responsive to the latter indication to route the article to said particular station.

2. For routing an article carrier through a transfer system wherein a destination address is recorded in magnetizable elements having substantially rectangular hysteresis characteristics along a preferred axis of magnetization and spaced apart circumferentially and axially on a carrier, means for conveying the carrier, a plurality of binary magnetization sensing and indicating means adjacent said conveying means and each including sensing means axially spaced apart along the direction of motion of said carrier and substantially the spacing between the carrier extreme spaced apart magnetizaole elements, each sensing means being disposed on the conveying means such that as the carrier is conveyed past each sensing means both extreme elements are momentarily and respectively magnetically linked to said included sensing means, a code detector electrically connected to each sensing and indicating menus for detecting and indicating a single destination address on the elements, and means responsive to the latter indication for being inserted into the conveying means for diverting the carrier through the transfer system.

3. The subject matter of claim 2 wherein the carrier extreme spaced apart elements record a part of said desti nation address code.

4. An article transfer system comprising a plurality of source lines for randomly receiving varying numbers of articles, a receiver communicatively associated with each line for receiving and immobilizing the articles, a plurality of magnetizable elements containing a recorded address code indicative of a destination line and a destination point and being stationarily associated with each article in a non-magnetic record area, a plurality of carrier transporting destination lines, interchange unit means including magnetic sensing means and responsive to said recorded code for transferring articles at a limited rate from a receiver to an address indicated destination line and being further operative when not transferring an article to search [or receiver immobilized articles, a plurality of magnetization sensing means stationarily associated with each destination line and each having a sensing area with magnetization sensing elements therein and corresponding in extent to the record area for momentarily bracketing same as a carrier is transported past, the carrier elements having a recorded destination point indication being momentarily magnetically coupled to all sensing elements in the sensing area when bracketed, and means responsive to the latter magnetization sensing for being inserted into the destination line for routing the carrier through the system.

5. For transferring an article from a first to a second place, a carrier for conveying the article to be transferred and having magnetic record means having two portions and stationarily associated therewith, a magnetic encoderrecorder means at a first place for receiving and temporarily immobilizing the carrier, a keyboard electrically connected to the encoder-recorder means for indicating thereto manually selected binary codes to be recorded, the encoder-recorder means being responsive to the indication for recording the codes on the record means and having control means for automatically ejecting the carrier therefrom upon completion of the recording, transmission means having a plurality of destination lines and a plurality of source lines for transferring the ejected carrier from the encoder-recorder means, a receiver terminating each source line for receiving and immobilizing an ejected carrier, control means in the transmission means for searching for and locating a receiver immobilized carrier, a static magnetic sensing device adjacent the receiver and responsive to the control means for sensing the magnetization in a located carrier first record portion, the control means being responsive to the sensed magnetization for causing the transmission means to transfer the carrier from the receiver to an indicated destination line for transmission therethrough, a plurality of carrier diverters in said indicated destination line and each including a magnetic sensing device having a sensing area with a plurality of sensing elements therein and substantially corresponding to the record means extent, the device being operative to detect the record extremities coinciding with the sensing area for simultaneously sensing the second record portion magnetization, and the divertors being responsive to the sensed second portion magnetization to route the carrier through the destination line.

6. For transferring an article from a first to a second place, a carrier for containing an article, a plurality of alternately spaced apart parallel aligned magnetizable elements stationarily associated with the carrier in staggered rows and columns and each having rectangular hysteresis characteristics along one magnetization axis, a magnetic recorder at a first place for receiving and temporarily immobilizing the carrier and including magnetic pole pieces sharing a common shunt and being respectively magnetically coupled to elements in adjacent rows of an immobilized carrier, a keyboard communicatively associated with the recorder for providing manually selected binary code indications thereto, the recorder being responsive to the keyboard indications for recording through said pole pieces a single binary signal in the elements of each row, control means in the recorder operative to automatically eject the carrier upon completion of the recording, means receiving the ejected carrier and having magnetic element magnetization direction sensing stations each with parallel spaced apart flux diverting bands respectively magnetically coupled to elements in adjacent rows and for sensing and indieating the residual magnetization directions of elements magnetically coupled to adjacent bands when all elements to be sensed are so disposed, and means responsive to the magnetization direction indications for transferring the carrier to a second place.

7. For transferring an article from a first to a second place, a tubular carrier for containing an article, a plurality of separate magnetizable elements stationarily associated with the carrier and being spaced thereon in staggered circumferential rows and axial columns, each element having rectangular hysteresis characteristics along a preferred magnetization axis, a plurality of tubular source and destination lines including means for moving the carrier therethrough, magnetic recording means receiving and immobilizing the carrier at a first place and including keyboard operated control means for causing the recording means to magnetize the carrier magnetic elements according to a keyboard selection and being further operative after a predetermined recording time to automatically eject the carrier into a source line, a line interchange and control unit operatively associated with all the source and destination lines for transferring carriers therebetween and having receivers with static magnetization sensing means and respectively terminating each source line for immobilizing the ejected carrier, the unit being operative when not transferring a carrier :to search for immobilized carriers in receivers and being further operative upon location of a carrier to cause the sensing means to statically sense some elements magnetization and to transfer the carrier to the sensed magnetization designated destination line, a plurality of gating units in every destination line and each including binary magnetization sensing and indicating means disposed axially along the line the length of said axial element columns for bracketing the carrier held elements once as the carrier moves through the line for providing only one indication from each carrier, and the gating unit being responsive to the latter indication for routing the carrier through the destination line.

8. An article transfer system comprising a plurality of source and destination lines including means for moving an article carrier therethrough, a plurality of article carriers each having magnetizable elements arranged in several axially spaced apart circumferential rows with the elements in adjacent rows being staggered with respect to each other and all the elements in each row being for recording the same signal, semi-automatic input means receiving and immobilizing a carrier and having keyboard operated means for recording destination address signals in said element rows and including time limiting means for automatically ejecting the carrier into a source line after a predetermined recording time, an interchange unit for transferring the ejected carrier from the source line to an address indicated destination line, the carrier being received and immobilized by said unit, control means in the unit for locating an immobilized ejected carrier and having static magnetization sensing means adjacent the immobilized ejected carrier for sensing a portion of the recorded address code, the control then causing the unit to transfer the carrier to the indicated line, the unit being operable at a rate providing carrier separation of a predetermined minimum distance in each destination line, a plurality of carrier divertors in each destination line, a plurality of magnetization sensing and indicating stations on the line for sensing and indicating a second portion of the recorded code and each being interposed between each divertor and the unit and displaced therealong said minimum distance, the station including sensing means spaced along the line substantially the spacing between the axially extreme element rows on the carrier for backeting the element rows once and indicating the bracketing as the carrier moves along the line, a coincidence detector in the station controllingly associated with the divertor and being responsive to the bracket indication for indicating whether or not the station indicated second portion of the address code is a particular unique code, and the divertor being responsive to the latter indication for respectively removing the carrier from the line when a unique code is indicated and permitting the carrier to remain in the line when a unique code is not indicated.

9. For transferring an article from a first to a second place, a carrier for containing an article, a plurality of magnetizable elements stationarily associated with the carrier, a magnetic recorder at a first place for magnetically recording an address signal on said magnetizable element in response to signals from a control means therefor said control means being operative to release the carrier upon completion of the recording, means receiving the carrier and having magnetizable element sensing stations for sensing and indicating the residual magnetization of said elements, and means responsive to said magnetization for transferring the carrier to a second place.

10. An article transfer system comprising a plurality of source lines for receiving and holding an article to be transferred, a plurality of magnetizable elements stationarily associated with the article, a plurality of destination lines including means for conveying an article therethrough, means for transferring an article from a receiver into a destination line, said means including means for sensing an address code on said magnetizable elements and operative in response thereto to transfer the article into a predetermined destination line and means for sequentially and continuously checking each of said article receivers when not transferring an article, a plurality of sensing stations in each of said destination lines said sensing stations including means for detecting a discrete address code on said magnetizable elements, and means responsive to the output of said sensing station to route said article to a particular station.

11. For transferring an article from a first to a second place, a tubular carrier for containing an article, a plurality of individual magnetizable elements stationarily associated with said carrier, a plurality of tubular source and destination lines including means for moving the carrier therethrough, magnetic recording means receiving and immobilizing the carrier at a first place and including means for causing said recording means to magnetize said elements with a predetermined address code and for automatically ejecting said carrier into a source line, a line interchange and control unit operatively associated with all the source and destination lines for transferring carriers therebetween said control unit including receivers having magnetization sensing means and respectively terminating each source line for immobilizing said carrier and said unit being operative to continuously search for immobilized carriers and upon sensing an address code on a carrier to transfer the carrier to a predetermined des- 1 6 tination line in accordance with said code, and a plurality of gating units in each of said destination lines including means for detecting a code recorded on said magnetizable elements for routing said carrier through a destination line.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,983,342 Chambers Dec. 4, 1934 2,085,265 Mauch June 29, 1937 2,241,917 Mehlis May 13, 1941 2,336,934 Hornsby Dec. 14, 1943 2,815,183 Hauer Dec. 3, 1957 2,865,578 Hennessy Dec. 23, 1958 2,900,146 Hafner et al Aug. 18, 1959

Referenced by
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US3223353 *Dec 27, 1963Dec 14, 1965Siemens AgApparatus for destination control of a conveyance by means of hall generators
US3410501 *Apr 12, 1967Nov 12, 1968Power Regulator CompanyFluid signal addressing system
US6708385Dec 31, 1990Mar 23, 2004Lemelson Medical, Education And Research Foundation, LpFlexible manufacturing systems and methods
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US20080180225 *Feb 6, 2008Jul 31, 2008Kenneth Michael HogansonSystem and method for carrier identification in a pneumatic tube system
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Classifications
U.S. Classification406/5
International ClassificationB65G51/44
Cooperative ClassificationB65G51/44
European ClassificationB65G51/44