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Publication numberUS3068989 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 18, 1962
Filing dateApr 3, 1959
Priority dateApr 3, 1959
Publication numberUS 3068989 A, US 3068989A, US-A-3068989, US3068989 A, US3068989A
InventorsMorton David Charles, Packman Percival James
Original AssigneeBaker Perkins Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for handling substantially flat articles
US 3068989 A
Images(4)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

P. J. PACKMAN ET AL 3,068,989

Dec. 18, 1962 APPARATUS FOR HANDLING SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT ARTICLES 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed April 3, 1959 Dec. 18, 1962 P. J. PACKMAN ETAI. 3,063,989

APPARATUS FOR HANDLING SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT ARTICLES Filed April 5, 1959 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Dec. 18, 1962 P. J. PACKMAN ET AL 3,068,989

APPARATUS FOR HANDLING SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT ARTICLES 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed April 3, 1959 P. J. PACKMAN ET AL 3,068,989

Dec. 18, 1962 APPARATUS FOR HANDLING SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT ARTICLES 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed April 5, 1959 -6I'a. 8': an ,5 em TC 179 short side of the rectangle.

United States Patent D 1 3,068,989 APPARATUS FOR HANDLING SUBSTANTIALLY FLAT ARTICLES Percival James Packman, Twyford, and David Charles Morton, Woodley, England, assignors to Baker Perkins Limited, Peterborough, England, a British company Filed Apr. 3, 1959, Ser. No. 803,925 14 Claims. (Cl. 198-33) The present invention relates to apparatus for orientating a plurality of non-circular substantially-similar flat articles, for example square, rectangular, oval or other non-circular biscuits. I

In the manufacture of biscuits by mass-production methods the baked biscuits leave the oven on a band conveyor and are allowed to cool before passing to further handling processes such as sandwiching or enrobing processes, packaging or machine wrapping. This cooling usually is efiected by passing the biscuits backwards and forwards through a cooling room or chamber employing a number of band conveyors. r

The biscuits leaving the oven are usually arranged in a plurality of substantially straightrows lying parallel to the direction of advance of the band conveyor which transports the biscuits through the oven and, in the case of non-circular biscuits, the individual biscuits are each orientated in a regular manner with respect to the direction of advance of the conveyor. For example in the case of square or rectangular biscuits two sides of each biscuit may be disposed parallel to the direction of advance of the band conveyor, and in the case of oval biscuits the major or minor axis of each biscuit may be disposed parallel to said direction of advance. During the above mentioned cooling process, however, this regular orientation of the biscuits is disturbed and this has the drawback that it makes further handling of these biscuits more difficult.

The present invention provides an apparatus for orientating a plurality of disorientated non-circular substantially-similar flat articles.

If a non-circular flat article is placed on a horizontal plane surface between two parallel vertical plane surfaces with the peripheral edge of the article touching the two vertical planes, the spacing apart of the two vertical planes will vary for different angular positions of the article relative to a straight line drawn on the horizontal plane. There will be at least two angular positions of the article in which the spacing apart of the two vertical planes will be a maximum and for the sake of simplicity in the ensuing description and claims this maximum distance will be referredto as the major transverse'dirnension of 3,068,989 Patented Dec. 18,

"ice

ranged substantially parallel to one another and being spaced apart. a distance slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that only when an article is orientated with a minor transverse dimension substantially at right angles to said side members can it I be received on the base member between said side memveyed away.

the article. There will also be at least two angular positions of the article in which the spacing apart of the two vertical planes is a minimum and for the sake of simplicity in the ensuing description and claims this minimum distance will be referred to as the minor transverse dimension of the article. In the case of a rectangular article the major and minor transverse dimensions correspond, respectively, to the lengths of the diagonal and In the case of an elliptical article they correspond, respectively, to the lengths of the major and minor axes of the ellipse. In the case of a triangular article they correspond, respectively, to the length of the longest side of the triangle and the length of the perpendicular from said longest side to the opposite vertex of the triangle. p

According to the invention apparatus for orientating a plurality of disorientated non-circular substantially-similar flat articles comprises an upwardly open channel upon which the disorientated articles are deposited, said chanarate from the base member, the side members being ar- The expression efiective relative movement is used in this specification to define the condition existing between two members in which, although there may not be a perceptible relative movement between them, an article restng on one of the members is caused to move relative to lhe other member, for example through suitable vibration of said one member.

When the articles are fed on to the channel they will take up positions which fall into one of three categories. In the first category are articles which are fed on to the channel orientated in such a manner that they will pass between the side members and be received on the base member. In the second category are articles which are fed on to the channel orientated in such a manner that they will be received partly on the base member and partly on the upper edge of one of the side members. A

In the third category are articles which are fed on to the channel orientated in such a manner that they will be received on the upper edges of the two side members completely out of contact with the base member. The articles in the second category will be rotated by the actual or effective relative. movements between the side members and the base member and the articles in the third category will be rotated by the actual or effective relative movement between the two side members. As a result of such rotation the articles of the second and third categories are brought into positions in which they too can pass between the two side members and rest entirely on the base member.

If the articles are symmetrical about two axes at right angles to one another lying in the plane of the article, e.g. rectangular, square or oval, then apparatus according to the invention will orientate all the articles in substantially the same way. If the articles are not symmetrical about such two axes, then each article will be orientated in one of a number of ways. For example, an article of equilateral triangular shape will be orientated in one of two ways, and an article of isosceles triangular shape will be orientated in one of four ways.

Preferably the base member moves at a substantially constant speed in one direction between the two side members to carry away the articles falling thereon, the speed of the base member preferably being such that there is no tendency for the articles to pile up on the base member. In cases where there is an actual relative movement between the base member and the side members, one side member may be stationary and the other may travel in the same direction as the base member but at a faster speed than the latter. Again, one side member may travel in the opposite direction to the base member while the other travels in the same direction as the base member at a faster speed than the latter. Preferably however, both side members travel in the same direction as the base member, both at a faster speed than the latter.

In a preferred form of apparatus according to the invention each side member of said channel is separated from the base member by a stationary member, and the actual or effective relative movement between the side members and the base member is such that an article deposited on a side member is moved by the latter in the same direction as that in which articles are advanced by the base member. In this form of the apparatus it is preferred to provide an actual relative movement between the base member and each side member, each side being arranged to travel at a higher speed than the base member. The main advantage of this form of apparatus in accordance with the invention is that the stationary member associated with each side member has no adverse turning effect on an article in the second category mentioned above by attempting to rotate that part of the article in contact therewith in a direction opposite to that in which the article is being rotated by the upper edge of the other side member of the-channel. On the contrary, the stationary member imparts a slight drag on the article which assists in orientating the article in the desired way. Another advantage of this form of apparatus is that the stationary members can serve as guide means for the side members to maintain the spacing apart of the side members as constant as possible. Yet another advantage of this form of the apparatus is that the stationary members can be made of a different material from the side members. This makes it possible to choose a material for the side members having a high coeflicient of friction and a material having a lower coeflicient of friction for the stationary members. The side members then have a strong turning effect on articles deposited thereon, yet when the articles are correctly orientated and received on the base member, frictional drag through contact of the edges of the articles with the stationary members is reduced to a minimum.

According to a further feature of the invention an auxiliary base member is disposed after the main base member in the longitudinal direction of the side members, the auxiliary base member being arranged to travel at a higher speed than the main base member. The two base members are arranged so that as an article passes from the main base member on to the auxiliary base member it is tilted momentarily in its direction of advance. If two articles arrive at the point of transfer from the main base member to the auxiliary base member with one article lying on top of the other, the tilting of the superimposed articles causes one of the articles to make contact with the auxiliary base member before the other. Since the auxiliary base member is travelling faster than the main base member, the article which first makes contact with the auxiliary base member is drawn away from the other article and the two articles are separated from one another. Whether the upper article is drawn off the top of the lower article, or the lower article is drawn from underneath the upper article, depends on the position of the upper article in relation to the lower article at the moment the superimposed articles are tilted. Preferably, each of the base members is formed by the upper flight of a flat band conveyor with the upper surfaces of the two conveyors disposed in the same plane. At its receiving end the downstream conveyor is deflected under the discharge end of the upstream conveyor so that a narrow transverse depression is formed between the two base members. As an article travels off the upstream conveyor the leading edge of the article moves down into the depression until it makes contact with the downstream conveyor and this produces the above described tilting of the article. The main base member should have such a length that this tilting of the articles takes place after the articles have been orientated and lie on the main base member between the side or stationary members of the channel.

Three embodiments of apparatus in accordance with the invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which FIGURE 1 is a schematic side elevation of the first embodiment of the apparatus,

FIGURE 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line IIII of FIGURE 1,

FIGURE 3 is a plan of part of the conveyor assembly of FIGURE 1,

FIGURE 4 is a schematic side elevation of the second embodiment of the apparatus,

FIGURE 5 is a plan of part of the apparatus of FIGURE 4,

FIGURES 6 to 8 are views, on an enlarged scale, taken along the lines VIVI, VIIVII and VIIIVIII, respectively, of FIGURE 4,

FIGURE 9 is a side elevation, on an enlarged scale, of one of the stationary members of the apparatus of FIGURE 4,

FIGURE 10 is a plan corresponding to FIGURE 9,

FIGURE 11 is a section, on an enlarged scale, taken along the line XI-XI of FIGURE 9, and also showing the side member associated with the stationary member,

FIGURE 12 is a detail view, on an enlarged scale, of a part of the apparatus of FIGURE 4,

FIGURE 13 is a partly sectioned plan, taken along the line XIIIXIII of FIGURE 12, showing a strip supporting member,

FIGURE 14 is a section, on an enlarged scale, taken along the line XIV-XIV of FIGURE 12,

FIGURE 15 is a schematic side elevation of the third embodiment of the apparatus, and

FIGURE 16 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line XVI-'-XVI of FIGURE 15.

Referring to FIGURES 1 and 2 the apparatus shown is intended primarily for handling non-circular biscuits which in the following description will be assumed to be of rectangular shape and to be advancing towards the apparatus in the direction of the arrow A in four rows on a conveyor 1. The four rows of biscuits are assumed to lie generally in the direction of advance of the conveyor 1 and the individual biscuits are assumed to have their side edges orientated at various angles to the said direction of advance. In this apparatus the biscuits are discharged from the conveyor 1 down a chute 2 on to the upper flight of a band conveyor 3. The conveyor 3 is mounted on substantially horizontal rollers 4 and 5 arranged in parallel spaced relationship, the roller 4 being an idler roller and the roller 5 a driving roller. The upper flight of the conveyor 3 is constrained to move along an upwardly curved path in any suitable way (not shown), for example by means of a suitably shaped supporting surface or a plurality of rollers bearing against the underside of the upper flight of the conveyor. Three endless V-belt conveyors 6, 7 and 8 mounted on pulleys 9 and 10 are arranged in spaced parallel relationship with their upper flights in contact with the upper surface of the upper flight of the conveyor 3. The upper flights of the conveyors 6-8 are adapted to move in a direction substantially parallel to the direction of advance of the upper flight of the conveyor 3. Midway between the upper flights of the conveyors 6 and 7 there is arranged a stationary strip 11a and midway between the upper flights of the conveyors 7 and 8 there is arranged a stationary strip 11b, these strips being arranged parallel to the V-belt conveyors 6-8 and in contact with the upper flight of the conveyor 3 along the major part of the upwardly curved portion of the latter. The V-belt conveyors 6-8 and the strips 11a, 11b all have their upwardly directed surfaces at substantially the same height above the upper surface of the upper flight of the conveyor 3, this height being equal to, or a little greater than the maximum thickness of the biscuits being handled. The V-belt conveyors 6-8 are made to advance in the same direction as the conveyor 3 at a speed approximately equal to twice the speed of the conveyor 3, each V-belt conveyor being spaced from the adjacent strip 11:: or 11b, transversely of the conveyor 3, by a distance slightly greater than the length of a short side (i.e. the minor transverse dimension) of the rectangular biscuits being handled. The conveyors 3 and 6 and the strlp 11:: form an upwardly open channel, the channel base member being provided by the conveyor 3 and the side members by the conveyor 6 and the strip 11a. In like manner the conveyor 3 forms the base member of three other similar upwardly open channels the side members of which are formed, respectively, by the strip 11a and the conveyor 7, the conveyor 7 and the strip 11b, and the strip 11b and conveyor 8.

In use of this first embodiment of the apparatus the biscuits discharged from the conveyor 1 pass down the chute 2 and are deposited on to the upwardly open channels formed by the conveyors 3, 6, 7 and 8 and the strips 11:; and 11b. The biscuits which are fed on to the conveyor assembly are received on the latter in positions which fall into one of three categories. In the first category are biscuits which are received on the conveyor 3 between one of the strips 11a, 11b and one of the conveyors 6-8, for example the biscuit 12 shown in FIGURE 3. In the second category are biscuits which are received resting partly on the conveyor 3, and partly on one of the strips 11a, 11b or on conveyors 68. The biscuits 13 and 15 shown in FIGURE 3 rest on conveyor 3 and on conveyors 7 and. 8, respectively. In the third category are biscuits which are received on one of the strips 11a, 11b and one of the adjacent conveyors 6-8, completely out of contact with the conveyor 3, for example the biscuit 14 shown in FIGURE 3.

The biscuits of the first category are carried along by the conveyor 3 in the direction of the arrow B and are discharged from the latter on to a chute 16. Thus the biscuit 12 is carried by the conveyor 3 between the strip 11b and the conveyor 6 through the positions designated 12a and 12b and is then transferred by the chute 16 on to a conveyor 17 without its orientation being changed from that existing in the position 12b.

The biscuits of the second and third categories are all subjected to a rotary movement as they are carried along by the conveyor assembly, owing to the fact that one corner of each of these biscuits is caused to move at a greater speed in the direction of the arrow B than the opposite corner of the biscuit. Thus the corner 13 of the biscuit 13 is moving in the direction of the arrow B at approximately the speed of the conveyor 3. The corner 13 however, is being moved by the conveyor 7 in the direction of the arrow B at approximately twice the speed of the corner 13'. Consequently the biscuit 13 rotates in the direction of the arrow C. Under the influence of this rotary movement the biscuit 13 first takes up the position 13a and finally the position 13b in which the .biscuit rests on the conveyor 3 between the conveyor 7 and the strip 11a. In like manner the biscuit 15 is subjected to a rotary movement in the direction of the arrow C since the peripheral velocity of the conveyor 8 in the direction of the arrow B is twice that of the conveyor 3. The corner 14' of the biscuit 14 rests on the conveyor 7 which is moving in the direction of the arrow B whilst the corner 14 of the biscuit rests on the stationary strip 11b. As a result the biscuit 14 conveyor 17 then moves the regularly orientated biscuits away in the direction of the arrow E.

In this first embodiment of the apparatus it is a simple matter to arrange the V-belt conveyors 6-8 and the strips 11a, 116 so that their positions transversely of the con- 6 veyor 3 can be adjusted. In this way the apparatus can be adjusted to handle biscuits of difierent sizes. I In a modified form of the apparatus shown in FIG- URES l to 3 the V-belt conveyors 6-8 may be replaced by suitably vibrated strips. The conveyor 3 may also :be replaced by one ormore suitably vibrated plates.

The second embodiment of the apparatus shown in biscuits. Although the apparatus is capable of orientating square, oval, rectangular, triangular and other noncircular biscuits, it will be assumed in the following description that the apparatus is orientating rectangular biscuits which are assumed to be advancing towards the apparatus in the direction of the arrow F in a number of rows on a conveyor 18 (shown only in FIGURE 4). The rows of biscuits are assumed to lie generally in the direction of advance of the conveyor 18 and the individual biscuits are assumed to have their side edges orientated at various angles to the said direction of advance. In this apparatus the biscuits aredischarged from the conveyor 18 down a chute 19 (shown only in FIGURE 4) on to the upper flight of a band conveyor 20. The conveyor 20 is mounted on substantially horizontal rollers 21-24, and a guide 25, the rollers 21-23 being idler rollers and the'roller 24 being a driving roller. Downstream of the conveyor 20 is a second band conveyor 26 having its upper flight disposed in substantially the same plane as the upper flight of the conveyor 20. The conveyor 26 is mounted on substantially horizontal rollers 27-31 and guides 3234, the rollers 27-30 being idler rollers and the roller 31 being a driving roller. The roller 24 is driven by the roller 31 by a chain 35 and sprocket wheels 36, 37. The roller 31 is driven by an electric motor 38 via belt 39, pulley 40, sprocket wheel 41, chain 42, sprocket wheels 43, 44, chain 45 and sprocket wheel 46. Conveyor 26 travels at twice the speed of conveyor 20.

The guides 32, 33 at the upstream end of the upper flight of conveyor 26 are arranged so that there is a narrow transverse depression 47 between the downstream end of conveyor 20 and the upstream end of conveyor 26.

Immediately above the upper flights of the conveyors 20 and 26 is a plurality of stationary members in the form of straight metal strips 48 of rectangular cross-section. These strips are received in a support 49 adjacent to the upstream end of conveyor 20 and in a further support, generally designated by the numeral 50, adjacent to the downstream end of conveyor 26. As will be seen from FIGURE 8 the support 49 is provided with a number of slots 51 along its upper edge, each of which is adapted to receive one of the strips 48'. The slots 51 are spaced apart a distance slightly greater than the minimum transverse dimension of the biscuits being handled. At one end of the support 49 two further slots 52 are provided in the upper edge of the support 49 which receive two spare strips 48'. The support 50, which has been omitted -from FIGURE 5, but which is shown in detail in FIG- to the rod 53 by a bolt 55 and comprises a plate 56 provided with a slot 57 which receives a strip 48- and locates it in the transverse direction. Each support member 54 also comprises two side plates 58 secured to the plate 56 by screws 59. A pin 60 passing through the side plates 58 and the strip 48 locates the latter in the longitwdirral direction; The support members are spaced along the rod 53 the same distance apart as the slots 51 and 52 in the support 49 so that the strips 48 are parallel to one another and parallel to the direction of advance of the upper flights of the conveyors 20 and 26.

Each of the strips 48 supports the upper flight of a round belt conveyor 61a or 61b. The round belt conveyors 61a are mounted on substantially horizontal rollers 62-64 the rollers 62 and 63 being idler rollers and the roller 64 being a driven roller. Roller 64 is driven from a pulley 65 secured to the shaft of sprocket wheel 41 by a belt 66 and a pulley 67. The round belt conveyors 61b are mounted on substantially horizontal rollers 68- 71, the rollers 68 70 being idler rollers and the roller 71 being a driven roller. The roller 71 is driven from the roller 64 by a chain 72 and sprocket wheels 73 and 74. The pulleys and sprocket wheels 65, 67, 73 and 74 are so dimensioned that the conveyors 61a travel faster than the conveyors 61b and so that both the conveyors 61a and 6112 travel faster than the band conveyor 20.

The conveyors 61a and 61b are arranged alternately in the transverse direction of the main band conveyors and 26, as is best seen in FIGURE 5. At the upstream end of conveyor 20 the upper flight of each of the round belt conveyors 61a, 61b is guided in a slot 75 in the support 49. At the downstream end of conveyor 26 the upper flight of each of the conveyors 61a, 61b is guided between the two side plates 58 of one of the support members 54, as is best shown in FIGURE 14. Intermediate the supports 49 and 50 the upper flight of each conveyor 61a, 61b travels along the upper surface of one of the strips 48, the latter being provided with guide blocks 76 at intervals throughout its length for the purpose of locating the conveyors 61a, 61b in the transverse direction.

Each block 76 is located in a recess in the upper surface of a strip 48 and is held in position by screws 77 (see FIGURE 11). The upwardly directed surface 78 of each block is concave. On the upstream side of the rollers 62 and 69 the conveyors 61a, 61b are maintained at the correct transverse spacing by a guide 79 (see FIGURES 4 and 6). The latter comprises a tube 80 to which are secured pairs of polished metal fingers 81 to receive the conveyors 61a and further pairs of polished metal fingers 82 to receive the conveyors 61b. The tube 80 is rotatably mounted in bearings (not shown) in the frame of the apparatus so that the fingers 81, 82 may be swung out of engagement with the conveyors 61a, 61b. On the upstream side of the rollers 63 and 68- the conveyors 61a, 61b are maintained at the correct transverse spacing by a further guide 83 (see FIGURES 4 and 7). The latter comprises a tube 84 to which are secured pairs of polished metal fingers 85 to receive the conveyors 61a and further pairs of polished metal fingers 86 to receive the conveyors 61b. The tube 84 is rotatably mounted in the frame of the apparatus in the same way as tube 80.

Biscuits discharged down the chute 19 on to the band conveyor 20 and round belt conveyors 61a, 61b again fall into three categories as in the case of the apparatus described above with reference to FIGURES 1 to 3. In the first category are biscuits, such as the biscuits 87 in FIGURE 5, which are received on the band conveyor 20 between two strips 48. In the second category are biscuits, such as the biscuits 88, which have one corner resting on the band conveyor 20 and a diagonally opposite corner resting on the upper flight of one of the conveyors 61a, 61b. In the third category are biscuits, such as the biscuit 89, which rest on the upper flights of a conveyor 61a and a conveyor 61b, entirely out of contact with the band conveyor 20. The biscuits of categories two and three are rotated by the relative movement between, on the one hand, the band conveyor 20 and each of the round belt conveyors 61a, 61b, and on the other hand, between the conveyors 61a and 61b.

By the time the biscuits have been conveyed to the downstream end of conveyor 20 they will all have been orientated into a position in which their minor transverse dimension is disposed substantially transversely of the direction of advance of the conveyor 20. It may happen, however, that some bscuits are resting entirely, or partly on top of another biscuit, for example the biscuits 90,

'91 and the biscuits 92, 93. The biscuit 90 rests partly on top of the biscuit 91, the leading edge of the latter biscuit being downstream of the leading edge of biscuit 90. When this pair of biscuits reaches the downstream end of conveyor 20 the leading edge of biscuit 91 first tilts down into the depression 47 between the conveyors 20 and 26 and makes contact with the upstream end of the band conveyor 26 (as indicated by the biscuit 94 in FIGURE 4). The conveyor 26 is travelling at twice the speed of conveyor 20 and consequently the biscuit 91 is drawn by the conveyor 26 from underneath the biscuit and the two biscuits become separated. The biscuit 92 rests on top of the biscuit 93, the leading edge of the former being downstream of the leading edge of the biscuit 93. When this pair of biscuits reaches the downstream end of the conveyor 20 the pair of biscuits tilts downwardly into the depression 47 and the leading edge of biscuit 92 first makes contact with the upstream end of conveyor 26. Consequently the biscuit 92 is drawn ofl the top of the biscuit 9'3 and the two biscuits become separated. At the depression 47 each of the strips 48 has a triangular guide plate 95 secured to its undersurface (as shown in FIGURE 9) to prevent lateral displacement of the bisciuts as they are transferred from conveyor 20 to conveyor 26.

At the downstream end of conveyor 26 the orientated biscuits are guided between the plates 56 of the support members 54 and discharge onto a further flat band conveyor 96. In order to prevent the biscuits contacting the conveyors 61a, 61b as they pass onto the conveyor 96, thin shims 97 are secured to the plates 56 to embrace the conveyors 61a, 61b. Guide plates 98 may be arranged immediately above the upper flight of conveyor 96 between which the orientated biscuits are received.

The main advantage of the apparatus shown in FIG- URES 4-14 compared with that of FIGURES l to 3 is that the strips 48 have no adverse turning effect on a biscuit in the second category mentioned above by attempting to rotate that part of the biscut in contact therewith in a direction opposite to that in which the biscuit is being rotated by one of the conveyors 61a, 6111.

In one particular appratus constructed in accordance with FIGURES 4-14, the band conveyor 20 travelled at 162 feet per minute, the band conveyor 26 at 324 feet per minute, the round belt conveyors 61a at 264 feet per minute and the round belt conveyors 61b at 236 feet per minute. The apparatus could be used for orientating square, rectangular, oval, triangular and other non-circular biscuits.

It is a simple matter to adjust the apparatus of FIG- URES 4 to 14 to handle biscuits of different sizes. Thus the support members 54 can be adjusted along the tube 53 and the support 49 and guides 79, 83 can be replaced by similar members which space apart the strips 48 and conveyors 61a, 61b to suit the spacing of the support members 54.

It will also be appreciated that the number of conveyors 61a, 61b employed may be varied. This variation of the number of the conveyors 61a, 61b is facilitated by the provision of spare conveyors 61a, 61b associated with the strips 48' (see FIGURES 5 to 8).

The third embodiment of the apparatus shown in FIG- URES 15 and 16 is again intended primarily for handling non-circular biscuits which in the following description will be assumed to be of rectangular shape and to be lying on a band conveyor 101 in four rows disposed generally in the direction of advance H of the conveyor and with the edges of the biscuits lying at various angles with respect to said direction of advance.

The apparatus illustrated comprises a rotating drum assembly, generally designated 102, having a width substantially equal to the width of the four rows of biscuits on the conveyor 101. The drum assembly 102 is arranged with its longitudinal axis substantially horizontal and at right angles to the direction of advance of the conveyor 101.

The drum assembly 102 comprises four flat-rimmed pulleys 103-106 all having the same diameter, which pulleys are secured rigidly side by side on the horizontal shaft 107 of the drum assembly. The edges of each pair of adjacent pulleys are separated by a circular disc 109, 110 or 111 which is rotatably mounted on the shaft 107 by means of a bearing 113. The discs 109-111 have a diameter which is greater than the diameter of the pulleys 103-106 by an amount equal to, or a little larger than, twice the thickness of the biscuits being handled. Similar discs 108, 112 are rotatably mounted on the shaft 107 at each end of the series of pulleys 103-106. Each pulley and the disc mounted on each side of it form a channel as mentioned above, the base of the channel being formed by the pulley. rim and the sides of the channel being formed by the portions of the discs which project beyond the pulley rim.

The discs arranged on each side of a pulley may bear lightly against the edges of the pulley rim or there may be a small gap between the pulley rim and the discs, as shown in FIGURE 16. The distance between the inwardly facing surfaces of the two discs associated with a pulley is slightly greater than the length of the short side (i.e. the minor transverse dimension) of the rectangular biscuits being handled.

The discs 109 and 111 are held stationary by any suitable clamping device 114 and the remaining discs 108, 110 and 112 are adapted to be driven by friction wheels 115 mounted on a shaft 116. The shaft 116 is driven from a shaft 117 by means of pulleys 118, 119 and a belt 120 and the shaft 107 is driven from the shaft 117 by means of pulleys 121, 122 and a belt 123. The pulleys "118, 119, 121 and 122 are so dimensioned and the belts the discharge end of the conveyor 101 and the shaft 117 is set in rotation so that the pulleys 103-106 and the discs 108, 110 and 112 rotate in the direction of the arrow J, FIGURE 15. The biscuits discharged from the conveyor 101 "are fed on to the rotating drum assembly 102, for example by means of a suitably positioned chute 124. The biscuits are fed on to the drum assembly at points located between the conveyor 101 and the highest point of the drum assembly and they travel with the latter in the direction of the arrow J to a point where they are discharged on to a further chute 125. The latter chute is arranged to transfer the biscuits, without altering their orientation, on to a further band conveyor 126 the upper flight of which moves in the direction of the arrow K. The speed of rotation of the pulleys 103-106 is such that the biscuits are moved by the drum assembly at a speed not less than the speed of advance of the biscuits on the convey-or 101. In this way a build-up of biscuits on the drum assembly 102 is prevented.

The biscuits which are fed on to the drum assembly are received on the latter in positions which fall into one of three categories. In the first category are biscuits which are received on a pulley 103-106 between the two discs associated with the pulley. In the second category are biscuits which are received resting partly on one of the pulleys 103-106 and partly on one of the discs associated with the pulley. In the third category are biscuits which are received on two adjacent discs, completely out of con- .tact with the pulley 103-106 lying between the discs.

The biscuits of the first category are carried along by the pulleys 103-106 between the discs associated with the pulleys and are dischargedon to the chute 125.

The biscuits of the second and third categories are all subjected to a rotary movement as they are carried along by the drum assembly 102, owing to the fact that one corner of each of these biscuits is caused to move at a 10 greater speed than the opposite corner of the biscuit as previously described above with reference to FIGURE 3 and the biscuits of all three categories will be orientated in substantially the same direction before they are discharged on to the chute 125.

The peripheral surfaces of the pulleys 103-106' and the peripheral edges of the discs '108-112 may have either a smooth or roughened surface, depending on the surface of the biscuits being handled. For example if the biscuits have a rough surface there may be sufiicie'nt frictional resistance between the biscuits on the one hand, and the pulleys and discs on the other hand, for the latter to have smooth surfaces. If, on the other hand, the biscuits have a smooth surface it may be necessary to provide the petripheral surfaces of the pulleys and/ or discs with a roughened finish, or to cover them with a frictional material, to ensure that the rotary movements of the biscuits referred to above take place.

Of course the relative speeds of the pulleys 103-106 and discs '108-112 mentioned above may be varied. The important thing to ensure in the apparatus of FIGURES 15 and 16 is that the pulleys 103-106 rotate at such a speed that the biscuits received on the drum assembly are conveyed forwardly at the desired speed, i.e. not slower than the speed of advance of the conveyor 101. It is also desirable that the algebraic sum of the peripheral velocities of the two discs associated with each of the pulleys 103-106 should be approximately twice the peripheral velocity of the pulley.

The apparatus shown in FIGURES 15 and 16 can of course be made to handle any desired number of rows of biscuits other than the four rows mentioned particularly above. To this end the fiat-rimmed pulleys and the friction wheels 115 may be removably mounted on the shafts 107 and 116, respectively so that any desired number of the pulleys and their associated discs may be mounted side by side on the shaft 107. By suitably spacing apart the flat-rimmed pulleys on the shaft 107 the apparatus can be made to handle any one of a range of different sizes of biscuits. In this case a number of sets of fiat-rimmed pulleys may be provided with the apparatus the pulleys of each set having a different rim width from the pulleys of the other sets. Alternatively, the pulleys may have easily removable rims so that the pulleys can be provided with rims of a width suitable for the biscuits being handled.

The apparatus of FIGURES 15 and 16 may of course be varied in several ways. For example each of the pulleys 103-106 may be associated with two discs neither of which is associated with another pulley. In other words, two discs arranged side by side may be provided between adjacent pulleys. Again the stationary discs 109 and 111 may be replaced by arcuate stationary strips mounted between the pulleys 103 and 104 and between the pulleys and 106, said strips projecting radially beyond the surface of the pulleys by an amount equal to, or a little greater than, the thickness of the biscuits being handled.

Although the handling of rectangular biscuits has been referred to in detail above, it will be appreciated that apparatus according to the present invention may be employed equally well for handling any non-circular biscuits or similar flat articles. It must be appreciated, however, that in the case of some articles, e.g. of triangular shape, the articles may leave the apparatus orientated in a number of well defined different angular positions.

It should be noted that in addition to orientating the articles in a regular manner the apparatus according to the invention has the property of producingone or more substantially straight rows of articles on the outlet side despite the fact that the row or rows of articles entering the apparatus may not be straight. This again greatly facilitates subsequent handling of the articles.

What we claim is: e

1. An apparatus for orientating a plurality of articles,

comprising means for forming at least one upwardly open channel in which the disorientated articles are deposited, said means comprising a base member and two side members, said side members being substantially parallel to each other and spaced apart a distance adapted to be slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that any article can rest in its entirety on said base member between said side members only if the article is orientated with a minor transverse dimen sion extending substantially at right angles to said side members; and means for moving said base member and each of said side members in the same direction at difierent speeds whereby articles positioned with the major transverse dimension transverse to said side members, and partly or fully resting on the same are turned to drop on said base member while moving in said direction.

2. An apparatus for orientating a plurality of articles, comprising means for forming at least one upwardly open channel in which the disorientated articles are deposited, said means comprising a base member and two side members, said side members being substantially parallel to each other and spaced apart a distance adapted to be slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that any article can rest in its entirety on said base member between said side members only if the article is orientated with a minor transverse dimension extending substantially at right angles to said side members, and two stationary members respectively located between said base member and said side members and forming with the latter the side Walls of said channel; and means for moving said base member and each of said side members in the same direction at different speeds whereby articles positioned with the major transverse dimension transverse to said side members, and partly or fully resting on the same are turned to drop on said base member while moving in said direction.

3. An apparatus for orientating a plurality of articles, comprising means for forming at least one upwardly open channel in which the disorientated articles are deposited, said means comprising a base member and two side members, said side members being belt conveyors substantially parallel to each other and spaced apart a distance adapted to be slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that any article can rest in its entirety on said base member between said belt conveyors only if the article is orientated with a minor transverse dimension extending substantially at right angles to said side members, and two stationary members respectively located between said base member and said belt conveyors, said stationary members having grooves for guiding said belt conveyors in said direction and forming with the latter the side walls of said channel; and means for causing an effective relative movement between said two belt conveyors, and between each belt conveyor and said base member whereby articles positioned with the major transverse dimension transverse to said side members, and partly or fully resting on the same are turned to drop on said base member while moving in said direction.

4. An apparatus for orientating a plurality of articles, comprising means for forming at least one upwardly open channel in which the disorientated articles are deposited, said means comprising a base member and two side members, said side members being substantially parallel to each other and spaced apart a distance adapted to be slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that any article can rest in its entirety on said base member between said side members only if the article is orientated with a minor transverse dimension extend-ing substantially at right angles to said side members; means for causing an effective relative movement between said two side members, and between each side member said base member whereby articles positioned with the major transverse dimension transverse to said side members, and partly or fully resting on the same are turned to drop on said base member while moving in said direction, a second base member located downstream of said first-mentioned base member and having an upstream end portion forming with the downstream end portion of said first-mentioned base member a depression; and means for moving said second base member in the same direction and at a greater speed than said firstmentioned base member whereby superimposed articles are separately engaged in said depression by said second base member whereby the first engaged article is moved away at a greater speed from the respective other article and separated from the same.

5. An apparatus as set forth in claim 4 wherein said base members are constituted by the upper runs of two band conveyors having main portions extending substantially in the same palne, said upstream end portion of said second base member being a downwardly inclined portion of the respective band conveyor.

6. An apparatus as set forth in claim 4 wherein said side members extend over said second base member.

7. An apparatus for orientating a plurality of articles, comprising means for forming at least one upwardly open channel in which the disorientated articles are deposited, said means comprising a base member and two side members, said side members being substantially parallel to each other and spaced apart a distance adapted to be slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that any article can rest in its entirety on said base member between said side members only if the article is oriented with a minor transverse dimension extending substantially at right angles to said side members, and two stationary members respectively located between said base member and said side member and forming with the latter the side walls of said channel; means for causing an effective relative movement between said two side members, and between each side member and said base member whereby articles positioned with the major transverse dimension transverse to said side members, and partly or fully resting on the same are turned to drop on said base member while moving in said direction; a second base member located downstream of said first-mentioned base member and having an upstream end portion forming with the downstream end portion of said first-mentioned base member a depression; and means for moving said second base member in the same direction and at a greater speed than said first-mentioned base member whereby superimposed articles are separately engaged in said depression by said second base member whereby the first engaged article is moved away at a greater speed from the respective other article and separated from the same.

8. An apparatus for orientating a plurality of articles, comprising means for forming at least one upwardly open channels in which the disorientated articles are deposited; said means comprising a base member and two side members, said side members being substantially parallel to each other and spaced apart a distance adapted to be slightly greater than the minor transverse dimension of the articles but less than the major transverse dimension of the articles so that any article can rest in its entirety on said base member between said side members only if the article is orientated with a minor transverse dimension extending substantially at right angles to said side members, and two stationary members respectively lo cated between said base member and said side member and forming with the letter the side walls of said channel; means for causing an effective relative movement between said two side members, and between each side member and said base member whereby articles positioned with the major transverse dimension transverse to said side members, and partly or fully resting on the same are turned to drop on said base member while moving in said direction; a second base member located downstream of said first-mentioned base member and having an upstream end portion forming with the downstream end portion of said first-mentioned base member a depression; and means for moving said second base member in the same direction and at a greater speed than said first-mentioned base member whereby superimposed articles are separately engaged in said depression by said second base member whereby the first engaged article is moved away at a greater speed from the respective other article and separated from the same, said stationary members extending over said second base member.

9. An apparatus as set forth in claim 8 wherein said side members extend over said second base member above said stationary members.

10. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein both side members travel at a faster speed than said base member.

11. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1 comprising a plurality of substantially similar channels arranged side by side.

12. An apparatus as set forth in claim 11 wherein a single side member serves as a side member for two adjacent channels.

13. An apparatus as set forth in claim 11 in which all said channels have a common base member.

14. An apparatus as set forth in claim 13 wherein said common base member is the upper run of a band conveyor.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,459,367 Hawes June 19, 1923 1,931,114 Olney Oct. 17, 1933 2,671,550 Schultz Mar. 9, 1954 2,769,522 Pfeifier NOV. 6, 1956

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3329310 *Aug 9, 1965Jul 4, 1967Ramsay Leonard DPlanter including a seed orienting assembly
US4019620 *Feb 23, 1976Apr 26, 1977Coors Container CompanyMethod and apparatus for separating a palletized array of containers into single file line
US4058201 *Dec 20, 1974Nov 15, 1977Elmendorf Research, Inc.Method and apparatus for orienting wood strands into parallelism
US4376481 *Mar 18, 1980Mar 15, 1983Wentcroft Engineers LimitedDevice for arranging in order a random supply of articles
US4440287 *Apr 5, 1982Apr 3, 1984Board Of Control Of Michigan Technological UniversityFlake aligner including baffles supported on continuously moving conveyor
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US4872545 *May 16, 1988Oct 10, 1989British Nuclear Fuels PlcApparatus for handling bodies of generally cylindrical configuration
US5871080 *Sep 21, 1995Feb 16, 1999Planet Products CorporationProduct aligning system
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US8312982 *Apr 8, 2011Nov 20, 2012United Bakery Equipment Company, Inc.Apparatus for conveying and arranging bakery products
US8573382 *Jan 19, 2012Nov 5, 2013United Bakery Equipment Company, Inc.Apparatus for conveying and arranging bakery products
US20110180369 *Apr 8, 2011Jul 28, 2011Bastasch Paul MApparatus for conveying and arranging bakery products
US20120111696 *Jan 19, 2012May 10, 2012Bastasch Paul MApparatus for conveying and arranging bakery products
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Classifications
U.S. Classification198/382, 198/415
International ClassificationA21C15/00, B65G47/244
Cooperative ClassificationA21C15/00, B65G47/244
European ClassificationA21C15/00, B65G47/244