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Publication numberUS3214880 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 2, 1965
Filing dateJan 17, 1962
Priority dateJan 17, 1962
Publication numberUS 3214880 A, US 3214880A, US-A-3214880, US3214880 A, US3214880A
InventorsBerg Eldon L
Original AssigneeContinental Can Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for packaging products in cartons
US 3214880 A
Abstract  available in
Images(5)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

E. L. BERG 3,214,880

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING PRODUCTS IN CARTONS Nov. 2, 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Jan. 17, 1962 INVENTOR ELDON L.E E2C1 BY V m M ATTORNEYS Mau u mm.

um m? Nov. 2, 1965 E. L. BERG 3,214,880

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING PRODUCTS IN CARTONS Filed Jan. 17, 1962 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR IQ ELDOH LBEEG ATTORNEYS E. L- BERG Nov. 2, 1965 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING PRODUCTS IN GARTONS 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed Jan. 17, 1962 5 m6 m we m 6 Wm w I A a k. x 1 w G D w M f T E J J. m m@; .w E E m m f 5 2 -5 R a H m N f a 4| I ll. l4 L l 4 H1111 4 f fi E. L. BERG Nov. 2, 1965 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING PRQDUCTS IN CARTONS Filed Jan. 17, 1962 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 S m Q Ma m s i m G S A 1 L. z, E (c 8 M II M O J ,D H I V S W ww V 73 1 f IU S m e 4 o 1. 28 5 11! Nov. 2, 1965 E. L. BERG 3,214,880

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING PRODUCTS IN CARTONS Filed Jan. 17, 1962 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 K a 31s.: A 71 f 95 INVENTOR '23" ELDON L..BE2G- 24 f FWWX ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,214,880 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PACKAGING PRODUCTS IN CARTONS Eldon L. Berg, La Habra, Calih, 'assignor to Continental Can Company, Inc., New York, N.Y., a corporation of New York Filed Jan. 17, 1962, Ser. No. 166,816 19 Claims. (Cl. 5323) This invention relates in general to new and useful improvements in the packaging field, and more particularly to a new and useful method and apparatus for packaging products in cartons.

At the present time, there are numerous articles, particularly stemmed articles, which are packaged in bundles and then placed in crates for shipment. The bundles of such articles are not protected either during shipment or subsequent to the shipment where they are subject to handling during the retailing thereof. A primary example of such articles is asparagus, which heretofore has been shipped in the form of suitably tied together bundles, with the bundles being placed in crates and then removed from the crates for individual sale. Such bundles are handled and subject to bruising with the resultant deterioration of the asparagus. This invention particularly relates to the packaging of asparagus, but is not so limited. For example, many of the problems occurring in the packaging, shipping and handling of asparagus also occur with respect to other food products, including broccoli. In addition, similar problems arise with respect to flowers, such as roses, daffodils, carnations and other flowers having long stems.

In view of the foregoing, it is the primary object of this invention to provide a novel method of packaging articles having stems and which articles are normally shipped in bundles, the method including the steps of placing the articles within a tray with the tips or heads of the articles engaging a rear wall of the respective tray, then moving the tray past a cut-off device whereat the stems of the articles are all cut to the same length, then applying a carton over the articles with the tips or heads of the articles projecting from the carton, and dumping the carton and articles from the trays, after which the articles are secured in the cartons and the cartons are packaged in cases or larger cartons for shipment.

Another object of this invention is to provide a novel method of packaging articles having tips or heads and elongated stems, the method utilizing moving trays which are tiltable, the trays being supplied in downwardly tilting positions with the rear walls thereof disposed lowermost, placing the required amount of the articles Within a tray, tilting the tray back to a horizontal position and moving the filled tray past a cut-off blade which trims the stems of the articles so as to make all the articles of the same length, telescoping a container or carton over each tray and the contents thereof, and then suddenly tilting each tray in sequence downwardly to discharge the carton and the contents of the tray with the contents of the tray being disposed within the carton.

Another object of this invention is to provide a novel method of packaging articles in cartons as stated above, together with the added steps of securing the articles within the carton, and packaging the cartons in larger cartons or cases.

A further object of this invention is to provide a novel apparatus for the packaging of articles, including asparagus, in cartons, the apparatus including a continuous conveyor member having a plurality of trays pivotally connected thereto for pivoting about axes disposed gen erally coextensive with the conveyor member, guides associated with the trays for controlling the tilting thereof, the conveyor member having an upper run, and a plurality Patented Nov. 2, 1965 of stations spaced along the upper run, the stations including a loading station where random lengths of articles are placed in the trays, an article trimming station having cut-oil? means for trimming the stems of all articles to the same length, a container applying station whereat cartons are telescoped over the trays and the articles contained therein, and a filled container discharge station whereat the filled cartons are discharged from the trays in upright position.

Another object of this invention is to provide in an apparatus of the type set forth above the guide means so arranged to tilt the trays downwardly and rearwardly at the ioading station wherein when the articles are placed in the trays, the tips or heads thereof engage the rear. walls of the trays, and wherein the trays are suddenly released at the discharge station to effect the sudden down ward tipping of the trays and the discharge of the cartons and articles in substantially a vertical path.

A still further object of this invention is to provide a novel article conveying apparatus which includes a series of trays carried by an endless conveyor member, the trays being pivotally carried by the conveyor member for pivoting about axes disposed generally coextensive with the conveyor member, the conveyor member having upper and lower runs and end run portions, and there being guide means extending substantially coextensive with the conveyor for engagement with the trays to control the tilting of the trays.

With the above and other objects in view that will hereinafter appear, the nature of the invention will be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description, the appended claims and the several views illustrated in the accompanying drawings:

In the drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a plan view of the packaging apparatus of this invention, and shows the general details of the various components thereof.

FIGURE 2 is a schematic perspective view showing the details of the article conveying apparatus.

FIGURE 3 is a fragmentary elevational view of the apparatus of FIGURE 1 in the area designated see FIG. 3.

FIGURE 4 is a vertical sectional view taken along the line 44 of FIGURE 3, and shows the specific details of the packaging apparatus at the tray loading station thereof.

FIGURE 5 is a fragmentary elevation view of an intermediate portion of the apparatus of FIGURE 1 in the area designated by see FIG. 5 in FIGURE 1.

FIGURE 6 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken along the line 6-6 of FIGURE 5, and shows the specific details of the apparatus at the article trimming stat-ion.

FIGURE 7 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken along the line 7-7 of FIGURE 1, and shows the general details of the apparatus at the carton applying station.

FIGURE 8 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken along the line 8-8 of FIGURE 7, and shows further the details of the apparatus at the cart-on applying station.

FIGURE 9 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken along the line 9-9 of FIGURE 1, and shows the specific details of the apparatus at the tilled carton discharge station. 7

FIGURE 10 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken along the line 1010 of FIGURE 9, and shows further the details of the apparatus at the filled carton discharge station. 1

Referring now to the drawings in detail, it will be seen that the packaging apparatus is generally referred to by the numeral 15, and the over-all details thereof are illus- 3 trated in FIGURE 1. The packaging apparatus includes an elongated frame, generally referred to by the numeral 16, which extends substantially the full length thereof.

The frame 16 is formed of a pair of upper longitudinal frame members 17 and 18 which are of channel crosssection and which are best shown in FIGURES 4, 6, 8 and 10. As is shown in FIGURE 3, at the left ends of the frame members 1 7 and 1 8, there are a pair of standards 19 in the form of angular cross-sectional members. The standards 19 have the upper ends thereof secured to outer surfaces of the frame members 17 and '18. The lower portion of each of the standards 19 is provided with a tubular member 20 in which there is telesc-oped a leg 21 having a foot 22 at the lower end thereof. In this manner, the length of each of the standards 19 may be adjusted.

At the right ends of the frame members 17 and 18, as is best 'shown in FIGURES 9 and 10, there .are other standards 23. Like the standards 19, the standards 23 are of an angular cross-section and are secured to the outer faces of the frame members 17 and 18. The lower portionsc of the standards 23 carry tubular members 24 in which there are telescoped upper portions of legs 25 which, in turn, carry feet 26.

Reference is now made to FIGURES 5 and 6, wherein it will be seen that the central portion of the frame 16 includes two pairs of standards 27 and 28. The standards 27 and 28 are of a similar construction to the standards 1-9 and 23. However, the standards 27, which are both disposed on one side of the frame 16 and are attached to the frame member 18, extend considerably above the frame members 1 7 and 18, as is particularly shown in FIGURE 6. The standards 27 and 28 are provided at their lower ends with adjustable legs 29 carrying feet 30 in the manner described with respect to the standards 19 and 23. v

The lower portions of the several standards are connected together by lower longitudinal frame members 31 of angular configuration, as is shown in FIGURE 4, for example.

Reference is now made to FIGURE 2 in particular, wherein there are illustrated the details of a conveyor assembly, generally referred to by the numeral 32. The conveyor assembly 32 includes an endless conveyor memher in the form of an endless chain 33. The conveyor chain 33 includes a top run 34, a lower run 35 and end run portions 36 and 37. It is to be noted that the lower run 35 is of a lesser length than the upper run 34, with the end run portions 36 and 37 converging downwardly.

The conveyor chain 33 is supported by a pair of upper large diameter sprockets 38 and 39, and by a pair of smaller diameter lower sprockets and 41. The sprocket 39 is a drive sprocket, with the sprockets 38, 40 and 41 being idler sprockets.

Referring now to FIGURES 9 and 10 in particular, it will be seen that angle extensions 42 are secured to the standards 23 and project beyond the right end of the main portion of the frame 16. The angle members 42 carry bearings 43 positioned beyond the standards 23 and in transversely aligned relation. The bearings '43 support a transverse drive shaft 44 which, in turn, carries the drive sprocket 39.

The frame 16 also includes a pair of upstanding frame members 45 which are disposed adjacent to, but spaced from, the standards 23. The upright frame members 45, as is best shown in FIGURE 9, carry angle members 46 which, in turn, support bearings 47. The bearings 47 support an idler shaft 48 which carries the sprocket 41.

The frame 16 also includes a pair of upright frame members 49 which are disposed to the left of the upright frame members 45, as is viewed in FIGURE 9. The upright frame members 49 support bearings 50 which, in turn, support a shaft 51. The shaft 51 carries a pair of sprockets 52 and 53, as is best shown in FIGURES 2 and 9. The sprocket 53 is aligned with a sprocket 54 carried by anelectric motor 55 and is coupled to the sprocket 54 by means of a drive chain 56, The electric motor 55 is carried by a support 57 which, in turn, is supported by the frame members 31, as is best shown in FIGURE 9.

A reduction gear unit 58 is suitably carried by the frame 16 and has an input sprocket 59 which is aligned with the sprocket 52 and connected thereto by means of a drive chain 60'. The reduction gear unit 58 also has an output sprocket 60 which is aligned with a drive sprocket 61 carried by the drive shaft 44. The sprockets 60 and 61 are connected together by a drive chain 62.

Referring now to FIGURE 3 in particular, it will be seen that the standards 19 carry bearings 63 which support an idler shaft 64. The idler shaft 64, in turn, carries the sprocket 38.

The frame 16 also includes a pair of upright members 65 which are disposed to the right of the standards 15, as is shown in FIGURE 3. The upright members 65 are supported by the frame members 17 and 18 at their upper ends, respectively, and by the frame members 31 at their lower ends. The lower portions of the upright members 65 carry bearings 66 which, in turn, support an idler shaft 67. The idler shaft 67 carries the sprocket 40.

The longitudinal frame member 17 is provided with a plurality of support brackets which extend away from the main portion of the frame 16. These support brackets are divided into two groups including support brackets 68, as is shown in FIGURE 8, for example, and support brackets 69, as is shown in FIGURE 4, for example. It is to be understood that the support brackets 68 are disposed along the central portion of the longitudinal frame member 17 and the support brackets 69 disposed at the two ends thereof. The support brackets 68 and 69 carry an upwardly open channel guide member 70, as is best shown in FIG- URE 8. The upper run 34 of the conveyor chain 33 rides in the guide 70 and serves to support the upper run 34 of the conveyor chain 33 intermediate the sprockets 38 and 39.

The conveyor assembly 32 includes a continuous series of trays, with each tray being generally referred to by the numeral 71. As is best shown in FIGURE 2, each tray 71 includes a bottom wall 72, a pair of side walls 73 and a rear wall 74.

The trays 71 are carried by the endless chain 33 for pivotal movement about an axis disposed generally coextensive with the chain 33. In order to accomplish this mounting of the tray 71, spaced links of the endless chain 33 are provided with brackets 75 to which are pivotally connected brackets 76 by means of pivot pins 77. The brackets 76 are secured to the undersides of the bottom walls 72 of the trays 71.

Attention is directed to FIGURE 1 wherein it is shown that the trays are disposed in closely spaced, side-by-side relation.

As is best shown in FIGURE 1, the packaging machine 15 includes a plurality of individual stations. The first of these stations is a tray loading station, generally referred to by the numeral 78 and disposed at the left end of the frame 16. The tray loading station 78 includes a platform or table 79 which is carried by the frame 16. It is to be understood that the articles to be packaged are received from a suitable supply source at the tray loading station 78, and proper quantities of the articles are placed in the trays 71 at this station. In order that the articles. placed in the trays 71 may abut against the rear walls 74 thereof, the trays 71 are tilted slightly rearwardly while they are in the vicinity of the tray loading station 78.

The packaging apparatus 15 also includes an article trimming station, generally referred to by the numeral 80.. The details of the article trimming station 80 will be set forth with more particularity hereinaften However, it is pointed out that at the time the articles.- carried by the trays 71 are being trimmed, it is desirable that t e trays 71 be horizontally disposed.

The packaging apparatus also includes a carton positioning station, generally referred to by the numeral 81. The carton positioning station 81 is disposed to the right of the article trimming station 80, and it is here that cartons or containers C are applied to the filled trays 71 in telescoped relation to the trays and the articles carried by the: trays. During the positioning of the cartons or containers C, it is desirable that the trays 71 remain in their previous horizontal positions.

The packaging apparatus 15 is provided adjacent the right end of the frame 16 with a filled carton discharge station, generally referred to by the numeral 82. In order to facilitate the removal of the cartons or contains C with the articles previously carried by the trays disposed there in, it is desirable that the trays be rapidly pivoted at the station 82 to facilitate the sliding of the cartons and the articles disposed therein from the open ends of the trays 71.

In order to facilitate the proper positioning of the trays 71 as they pass around the path of the conveyor assembly 32, the conveyor assembly 32 includes a suitable guide assembly, generally referred to by the numeral 83. The guide assembly 83 includes a main upper guide member 84 which extends along the upper run 34 of the conveyor chain 33, particularly in the central portion thereof. The guide member 84 is of a channel-shaped construction, as is shown in FIGURE 8 in particular, and is telescoped over the free ends of the support brackets 68. The height of the guide member 84 is the same as that of the normal position of the bottom 72 of each tray 71 so that the trays 71 are horizontally disposed as they pass along the guide member 84.

The guide assembly 83 also includes a guide member 85 which is disposed to the left of the guide member S4. The guide member 85 is in the form of a rod and is supported by brackets 85 extending from the guide 7 0 and the associated support brackets 69. The guide member 85 includes an elongated main portion 87 which is straight and which is of a height so that when'it is engaged by the underside of the bottom of a tray 71, the tray 71 is tilted downwardly and rearwardly, as is clearly shown in FIG- URES 2 and 4. The left end of the guide member 85 is referred to by the numeral 88 and is in the form of a curved ramp portion extending generally around sprocket 38 to control the positioning of each tray 71 as it passes from the end run portion 36 to the upper run 34. The guide member 85 also includes a terminal ramp portion 89 which slopes downwardly and is connected to the left end of the guide member 84 so as to gradually lower the trays 71 as they pass from the guide member 85 to the guide member 84.

At the right end of the guide member 84 is a guide member 90. The guide member 90 is carried by the support brackets 69 disposed at the right end of the frame 16, and includes a leg 91 which is disposed substantially at right angles to the guide member 84 and is secured to the right hand end thereof. In this manner, when the trays 71 move off of the guide member 84, they are permitted to freely drop from their previous horizontal positions to downwardly tilting positions so as to discharge the contents thereof.

The guide member 90 includes a next portion 92 which is connected to the end portion 91 and which extends generally parallel to the top run 34 of the conveyor chain 33. The guide portion 92 arrests the downward pivoting of the trays 71, as is clearly shown in FIGURE 2.

The guide member 90 includes a right hand end portion 93 which is also disposed parallel to the top run 34, but is elevated above the guide portion 92. The guide portion 93 is connected to the guide portion 92 by means of a ramp. Thus, after the trays 71 have discharged the articles carried thereby, they are upwardly tilted a slight amount.

Referring to the bottom portion of FIGURE 2, it will be seen that there is illustrated an elongated guide 95 which corresponds generally to the guide 84, but is associ- 5. ated with the lower run 35 of the conveyor chain 3-3. As is best shown in FIGURES 4 and 8, the lower guide member 95 is supported from the various standards of the frame 16 and is secured thereto by means of angle brackets 96. The lower guide member 95 is of an inverted channel cross-section. The relative position of the lower guide member 95 with respect to the trays 71 is such that the trays 71 may assume upright positions with the rear walls 74- thereof disposed lowermost.

The guide assembly 83 also includes a guide member, generally referred to by the numeral 97. The guide member 97 extends generally along the end run portion 37, and includes an upper arcuate portion 98 which extends generally around the sprocket 39. The guide member 97 also includes a downwardly sloping portion 99 which terminates in a horizontal bottom portion 100 which is secured to the lower guide member 95. The shape and position of the guide member 97 is such that as the conveyor chain 33 moves around the sprocket 39 and down along the end run portion 37 thereof, the trays 71 are swung to positions lying in a plane generally parallel to the plane of the conveyor chain 33 so that the trays 71 are delivered to the bottom guide member 95 in the inverted position shown in FIGURES 2 and 4. It is to be understood that the guide member 97 will be suitably supported from the frame, as is shown in FIGURES 9 and 10. The upper end of the guide member 97 is secured to the guide 70, as is shown in FIGURE 10. Further, an intermediate portion of the guide member 97 will be secured to the associated one of the standards 23.

The guide assembly 83 includes still another guide member 101 which is disposed at the left end of the guide member 95 and extends upwardly along the end run portion 36. The guide member 101 includes a lower horizontal portion 102 and an upstanding portion 103 which extends generally along the end run portion 36. The guide member 101 also includes an offset portion 104 which is connected to the left end of the guide member 95. It is to be noted that the upper end of the upstanding guide por tion 103 is disposed generally coplanar with the lower end of the portion 88 of the guide member 85, but is longitudinally offset therewith to provide for the passage of trays 71 between the two ends of these two guide portions. Attention is also directed to FIGURE 3 wherein it is shown that the guide member 101 is supported from the associated one of the standards 19 by a bracket 105.

It is to be understood that when the trays 71 pass along the guide member 95, they have a tendency to swing from their upright positions to inverted positions. When the trays 71 pass off of the guide member 95, engagement with the bottoms 72 of the trays 71 is discontinued and the trays 71 are free to swing to their upside down positions. The inverted trays 71 then engage the guide member 101 so as to retain them in their inverted positions. The guide member 101 guides the trays 71 as they pass around the sprockets 40 and move up the end run portion 36 and continues to support the trays 71 until they start to pass around the sprocket 38.

Reference is now made to FIGURES 5 and 6 of the drawings, wherein the details of the packaging apparatus 15 at the article trimming station 80 are illustrated. It is to be noted that the standards 27 project up above the longitudinal frame members 17 and 18 and the upper ends of the standards 27 have connected thereto overhead" bridge members 106 which extend transversely across the packaging machine 15. The overhead bridge members 106 have the ends thereof remote from the standards 27 connected to standards 107. The standards 107 may be provided with the usual legs 29 and feet 30, or may terminate short of the ground, as is desired. The lower portions of the standards 107 are braced by means of a chute, generally referred to by the numeral 108. The chute 108 includes a rear wall 109 which is secured to the guide member 84, as is best shown in FIGURE 6. The rear wall 109 terminates at its lower edge in a downward- 7 1y sloping bottom wall which, in turn, terminates in a vertical flange III which may be suitably secured to the flanges of the standards 107. The chute 108 also includes a pair of side plates 112 which are suitably secured to the rear wall 109 and the bottom wall 110 as well as to the standards 107.

An angle member 114 extends between the upper portions of the standards 27. A second angle member 115 is transversely spaced relative to the angle member 114 and extends parallel thereto. The angle member 115 is supported from the bridge members 106 by means of hangers 116. It is to be noted that the hangers 116 are formed integral with the ends of the angle member 115, as is best shown in FIGURE 5.

Guide rods 117 extend between the angle members 114 and 115. The guide rods receive support sleeves 118 of an electric motor 119 so that the electric motor 119 may be shifted transversely of the path of the moving trays 71. The guide sleeves 118 are provided with set screws 120 to facilitate the clamping of the electric motor 119 in a transversely adjusted position.

The electric motor 119 has an armature shaft 121 which is coupled to a second shaft 122 by means of a flexible coupling 123. The shaft 122 is supported by a suitable bearing 124 which is, in turn, supported by a hanger 125 secured to the angle member 115. A suitable cut-off blade 126 is carried by the shaft 122. It is to be understood that the shaft 122 and the blade 126 carried thereby are adjustable with the motor 119 so as to adjustably transversely position the cut-off blade 126.

The article trimming station 80 also includes a spray pipe 127 which extends horizontally between the bridge members 106 immediately adjacent the standards 107. A plurality of spray nozzles 128 depend from the spray pipe 127 for the purpose of directing spray water both on the ends of the articles carried in the trays 71 and onto the cut-off blade 126. In the illustrated form of the invention, the left end of the spray pipe 127 is capped, as at 129, and the opposite end thereof has an angle fitting 130 which is connected to a pipe 131 carrying a flow control valve 132. A supply pipe 133 is connected to the spray control 132, as is best shown in FIGURE 1.

Reference is now made to FIGURE 6 in particular, wherein it will be seen that the diameter of the cut-off blade 126 is sufficient so that it will cut through all articles carried by the tray 71. In this manner, articles, such as the articles A shown in FIGURE 6, may have end portions 134 thereof trimmed off, with the end portions 134 dropping down into the chute 108 and being discharged into a suitable receptacle (not shown). In this manner, the ends of all of the individual articles A carried by the trays 71 are trimmed so as to be even.

Reference is now made to FIGURE 7 and 8, wherein the details of the packaging apparatus 15 at the carton applying station 81 are shown. The carton applying station 81 includes a carton supplying means, generally referred to by the numeral 135. A is best shown in FIG- URE 1, the carton supplying means 135 includes a carton erecting machine 136 which erects cartons C from fiat blanks B. A conveyor apparatus, generally referred to by the numeral 137, delivers erected. cartons C from the carton erecting machine 136 to an attendant at the carton applying station 81.

The conveyor 137 includes a frame, generally referred to by the numeral 138. The frame 138 is formed of a first pair of standards 139 at one end of the frame and a second pair of standards 140 at the opposite end of the frame 138. Each of the pairs of standards are provided with sleeves 141 in the lower portions thereof. The legs 142 are adjustably telescoped into the sleeves 141 and carry at the lower ends thereof feet 143. In this manner, the height of the frame 138 may be vertically adjusted.

The upper portions of the standards 140 and 139 are connected together by angle members 144 which extend longitudinally of the frame 138 and transversely of the frame 16. The upper portions of these standards 139 are also connected together by a transverse angle member 145 which underlies the angle members 144. A similar trans verse angle member (not shown) connects together the upper portions of the standards 140.

The standards 139 are also connected to the standards 140 by lower angle members 146. In addition, the standards 139 are connected together by a transverse angle member 147 which underlies the ends of the angle members 146. A similar transverse angle member (not shown) connects together the lower portions of the standards 140.

The frame 16 includes suitable upright members 148 generally aligned with the standards 139. The upright members 148, if desired, may be in the form of standards and have bearing on the support surface for the packaging apparatus 15, or may be solely supported by the angle members 31 and the frame members 17 and 18. The ones of the upright members 148 opposing the standards 139 are coupled to upper portions of the standards 139 by means of generally horizontal brackets, 149, as is clearly shown in FIGURE 8.

The brackets 149 carry bearing members 150 which, in turn, support a transverse shaft 151. The transverse shaft 151 carries a drum or roller 152.

The opposite end of the frame 138 from the roller 15?. is not shown. However, it is to be understood that a similar roller will be mounted at the opposite end of the frame 138 and that this roller will be driven in a suitable manner. An endless conveyor belt 153 is entrained over the roller 152 and the driven roller (not shown). The conveyor belt 153 has an upper run 154 which rides on the angle members 144, as is best shown in FIGURE 7. The erected cartons C are moved from the carton erecting machine 136 to the line of movement of the trays 71 by the conveyor belt 153 in the manner best shown in FIGURE 8. It is merely necessary for the operator at the carton applying station 81 to pivot and slightly lift a carton for the purpose of telescoping the carton over a filled tray 71 to the position clearly shown in FIG- URE 8.

Reference is now made to FIGURES 9 and 10 in particular, wherein the details of the packaging apparatus 15 at the filled container discharge station 82 are shown. The filled article discharge station 82 includes a conveyor 155 which is of the same construction as the conveyor belt 137. The conveyor 155 includes a frame 156 which is substantially identical with the frame 138, and therefore will not be described in more detail. The frame 156 is connected to the frame members 45 and 49 of the frame 16 by suitable connecting straps 157 which support transversely aligned bearings 158. A shaft 159 is carried by the bearings 158 and supports a drum 160. An endless conveyor belt 161 is entrained around the drum or roller 160 and has the opposite end thereof (not shown) entrained around a driven drum or roller (not shown) suitably supported at the opposite end of the frame 156. The endless conveyor belt 161 has a top run 162 which is suitably supported by the frame 156 so as to bear the weight of filled cartons.

As is clearly illustrated in FIGURE 10, when the trays 71 move off of the guide member 84 and are suddenly downwardly tilted, the cartons or containers C with the articles A therein are discharged from the trays 71 and set on the top run 162 of the conveyor belt 161 in upright positions. An attendant at the station 82 then places a suitable retainer, such as a rubber band 163, around the upper portion of the articles A and the carton C.

The filled cartons deposited upon the endless conveyor belt 161 are moved away from the frame 16 to the opposite end of the conveyor 155 where they are packed in suitable cartons or crates 164.

Operation In the operation of the packaging machine 15, the articles to be packaged are delivered to an attendant at the tray filling station 78. The attendant then places a predetermined amount or the articles in each of the trays 71. Since the trays are tilted downwardly and rearwardly, the articles may be readily placed within the trays with the heads, buds, tips, etc., as the case may be, of the articles engaging the rear walls 72 of the trays so that the articles are all aligned with each other and that the variations are only in the lengths of the stern portions of the articles.

After the filled trays 71 pass from the tray filling station 78, the trays 71 are tilted back into horizontal positions and the filled trays are delivered to the article trim rning station 80. Here, the cut-off blade 126, which has been previously adjusted transversely of the frame 16 to provide for a predetermined length of stem portion on each of the articles, cuts off the excess stem portions and makes all of the articles of the same length.

The trays 71 continue to transport the trimmed articles to the right, as viewed in FIGURE 1, until the articles reach the carton applying station 81. At this station, carton blanks B are automatically assembled by the carton erecting machine 136 and the erected cartons C are delivered to the attendant at the carton applying station 81 in orderly relation so that all that is necessary for the attendant to do is to pick up the carton and slightly tilt the carton so that it may be readily telescoped over one of the trays 71 containing the trimmed articles.

The trays 71 with the cartons C telescoped thereover continue along the upper run 34 of the conveyor belt 33 until they are aligned with the conveyor 155, at which time the trays 71 drop off of the guide member 84 and are suddenly tilted downwardly and forwardly, as is clearly shown in FIGURES 2 and 9. This sudden tilting of each tray 71 sets the associated carton C on the conveyor belt 161 in an upright position. The attendant at the filled carton discharge station 82 then places the rubher band 163 around the upper portion of the carton C and the articles contained therein so that the package is completed. The filled cartons C are then manually packed in the cartons or cases 164.

It will be readily apparent that although the article illustrated in the drawings is asparagus and the carton C is particularly adapted for the reception of asparagus in a manner so as to clearly display the contents of the carton, the use of the packaging apparatus 15 is not so limited. For example, as stated above, the packaging apparatus 15 may also be utilized for packaging such produce as broccoli, or may be used for the purpose of packaging flowers. It is also feasible that the same machine could be utilized for the purpose of packaging other stemmed articles, including balloon sticks, stems for corn cob pipes, and the like.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that novel and advantageous provision has been made for carrying out the desired end. However, attention is directed to the fact that variations may be made in the example method and apparatus disclosed herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-d means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying container, at filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled con- 10 tainer discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path between said product trimming station and said container applying station.

2. The machine of claim 1 wherein said tray loading station being disposed on one side of said path and the remaining ones of said stations being disposed on the opposite side of said path.

3. The machine of claim 1 wherein said tray carrier being in the form of an endless conveyor member disposed generally in an upright plane and including an upper generally horizontal run with said stations extending along said upper run.

4. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-off means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, each tray having a bottom, side walls and a rear wall, and said guide means tilting said trays rearwardly at said tray loading station to inclined position thereof to assure the engagement of ends of products with said tray rear walls.

5. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut ofl during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-01f means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, at filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, said cut-ofi means being in the form of a rotary blade disposed in a generally vertical plane, and said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions at said product trimming station and pivoting said trays to a generally vertical position at said container applying station.

6. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading sta tion and including cut-off means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions approaching said discharge station and suddenly moving away from a previous line of contact with said trays to suddenly tilt said trays to discharge the filled containers therefrom.

7. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-01f means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, said cut-oil means being in the form of a rotary blade disposed in a generally vertical plane, and said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions at said product trimming station and spray means for directing water onto projecting ends of products carried by said trays and onto said rotating blade.

8. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut oif during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-off means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, each tray having a bottom, side walls and a rear wall, and said guide means tilting said trays rearwardly at said tray loading station to inclined positions thereof to as sure the engagement of ends of products with said tray rear walls, said cut-off means being in the form of a rotary blade disposed in a generally vertical plane, and said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions at said product trimming station and pivoting said trays to generally vertical positions thereof at said container applying station.

9. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut oil? during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-01f means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, each tray having a bottom, side walls and a rear wall, and said guide means tilting said trays rearwardly at said tray loading station to inclined positions thereof to assure the engagement of ends of products with said tray rear walls, said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions approaching said discharge station and suddenly moving away from a previous line of contact with said trays to suddenly tilt said trays to discharge the filled containers therefrom.

10. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-off means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, each tray having a bottom, side walls and a rear wall, said guide means tilting said trays rearwardly at said tray loading station to assure the engagement of ends of products with said tray rear walls, said cut-01f means being in the form of a rotary blade disposed in a generally vertical plane, and said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions at said product trimming station, said guide means holding said trays in generally horizontal positions approaching said discharge station and suddenly moving away from a previous line of contact with said trays to suddenly tilt said trays to discharge the filled containers therefrom.

11. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut-01f means, a container applying station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container take-away means, said carrier and said line of trays extending along said predetermined path at least from said tray-loading station to said filled container discharge station, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when travelling along said path, said tray carrier being in the form of an endless conveyor member disposed generally in an upright plane and including an upper run, a lower run and end run portions, and said guide means extending substantially the full extent of said conveyor member.

12. A method of packaging products of uneven length utilizing a pivotally mounted tray having a back wall comprising the steps of tilting the tray with the back wall being disposed lowermost, placing the products in the tray with first ends of the products engaging the rear wall to align the product first ends, cutting off projecting second end portions of the products whereby the products have equal lengths, telescoping an open ended container over the tray and the product, and then removing the packaged products.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the tray is continuously moved during the association thereof with the products.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein the tray is moved to a horizontal position prior to the cutting off of the end portions.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein the tray is tilted with the rear wall being disposed uppermost to remove the packaged product.

16. In a product packaging machine, a plurality of trays disposed in side-by-side relation, a carrier for said trays in the form of an endless conveyor member, means pivotally connecting said trays to said conveyor member for movement about axes disposed generally coextensive with said conveyor member, means supporting said conveyor member in a generally upright plane with said conveyor member having an upper run, a lower run, and end run portions, guide means extending substantially the full extent of said conveyor member and being engaged by said trays to control tilted positions of said trays, said guide means including a first guide portion adjacent one end of said upper run engaged by trays with the engaged ones of said trays being tilted with the rear walls thereof facing downwardly whereby contents of said trays are urged towards said rear walls, a second guide portion extending along an intermediate portion of said upper run and being engaged by ones of said trays with the last mentioned trays being horizontally disposed, and said second guide portion abruptly terminating at an intersection with a third guide portion disposed adjacent the other end of said upper run whereby trays moving from said second guide portion onto said third guide portions are suddenly downwardly tilted with said rear walls being disposed uppermost to discharge the contents thereof.

17. The device of claim 16 wherein said guide means includes a fourth guide portion extending from said third guide portion along one of said end portions for holding trays generally parallel to the plane of said conveyor member, a fifth guide portion extending along said lower run to hold trays in upstanding positions with said bottom walls disposed lowermost, and a sixth guide portion extending along the other of said end run portions for holding trays in inverted positions.

18. The device of claim 16 wherein said end run portions slope downwardly in converging relation and said upper run is longer than said lower run.

19. A machine for packaging products of uneven lengths and having stems to be cut off during a packaging process, said machine comprising a line of trays, a carrier for continuously moving said line of trays along a predetermined path, a tray loading station where random length products may be placed in said trays, a product trimming station spaced along said path from said tray loading station and including cut ofi means, a container applling station spaced along said path from said product trimming station and including means for supplying containers, a filled container discharge station spaced along said path from said container applying station and including container-take-away means, said trays being pivotally mounted on said carrier for pivoting about an axis corresponding generally to said path, and guide means for controlling the pivoting of said trays when traveling along said path between said product trimming station and said container applying station.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,810,864 6/31 Vogt 5323 2,180,349 11/39 Deback 53123 2,190,936 2/40 Deback 53-23 2,518,757 8/50 Coley et al 53123 2,580,599 1/52 Rogers 53--391 2,642,212 6/53 Currivan 53-252 3,027,699 4/62 Miller et al. 53236 FRANK E. BAILEY, Primary Examiner.

ROBERT A. LEIGHEY, TRAVIS S. MCGEHEE,

Examiners.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4159611 *May 31, 1977Jul 3, 1979Mail-Ex CorporationEnvelope processing machine and method
US4464879 *May 28, 1982Aug 14, 1984At&T Technologies, Inc.Methods of and apparatus for transferring retractile cords
US20040172920 *Mar 3, 2003Sep 9, 2004Garcia Jose LuisProduce harvesting and wrapping apparatus and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/435, 53/515, 53/473, 53/414
International ClassificationB65B25/02, B65B25/04
Cooperative ClassificationB65B25/04
European ClassificationB65B25/04