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Publication numberUS3225891 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 28, 1965
Filing dateDec 3, 1963
Priority dateDec 3, 1963
Publication numberUS 3225891 A, US 3225891A, US-A-3225891, US3225891 A, US3225891A
InventorsHickin Robert J, Plough Edwin J, Steele Gerald H
Original AssigneePackaging Corp America
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of and apparatus for transferring articles
US 3225891 A
Abstract  available in
Images(7)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec. 28, 1965 R J. HICKIN ETAL METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES 1 m @N h S fir M7: m 4 s 7 ww wN Filed Dec. 5, 1965 MW Mari/ M MIPM 6% f J''a Dec. 28, 1965 R. J. HICKIN ETAL 3,225,891

METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES Filed Dec. 5, 1963 7 Sheets-Sheet 2 2-7 l lih ll PM, Java! .e WM

Dec. 28, 1965 R. J. HICKIN ETAL METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES 7 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed Dec. 5, 1965 Dec. 28, 1965 R. J. HICKIN ETAL 3,225,891

METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES Filed Dec. 5, 1963 i 7 Sheets-Sheet 4 Dec. 28, 1965 J HICKIN ETAL 3,225,891

METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES Filed D80. 5, 1965 7 Sheets-Sheet 5 7 %W; WM Mm Dec. 28, 1965 R. J. HlCKlN ETAL METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES 7 Sheets-Sheet 6 Filed Dec. 3, 1963 Dec. 28, 1965 R. J. HICKIN ETAL METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANSFERRING ARTICLES 7 Sheets-Sheet 7 Filed Dec. 5, 1963 I M N I l I g I l I I l wwN I Vhhl m U ||||||l o N H uh. A 610% V 5 N 1 UMN I M RN v Wn ION. hm, RN hW Q Y W Mg a .P. N ww viz m wk w United States Patent 3,225,891 METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR TRANS- FERRING ARTICLES Robert J. Hickin, Seville, Edwin J. Plough, Wadsworth, and Gerald H. Steele, Leroy, Ohio, assignors, by mesne assignments, to Packaging Corporation of America, a corporation of Delaware Filed Dec. 3, 1963, Ser. No. 327,609 12 Claims. (Cl. 198-31) This invention relates to a method and apparatus for automatically transferring one or more articles at a time from one location to another subsequent to such article, or articles, having assumed a predetermined position at said one location. The number, as well as the size and shape, of the articles to be transferred may vary over a wide range; however, to facilitate understanding of this invention it will hereinafter be described in relation to the packaging of comestibles. It is to be understood of course that the description in this regard is by way of illustration and not by way of limitation.

In the packaging of articles, such as candy bars or the like, for storage or shipment it is customary for a given quantity of such bars to be packaged in a box. Heretofore, the packaging of such articles into boxes involved a substantial amount of manual effort. As a result such packaging became a tedious and time-consuming operation usually requiring a large number of personnel possessed of a high degree of dexterity.

Prior efforts in perfecting mechanical apparatus to perform these manual operations have been beset with numerous problems such as high initial cost of such apparatus, inability of such apparatus to adapt itself for use with other existing equipment utilized in the production of such articles, inability of such apparatus to meet the demands for high production of such articles, and the susceptibility of such apparatus to repeated breakdown and repair and thus incurring a high maintenance cost.

Thus, it is one of the objects of this invention to provide an article-transferring apparatus which overcomes the aforenoted problems.

It is a further object of this invention to provide an article-transferring apparatus which is readily capable of accommodating one or more articles varying in size and shape over a wide range.

It is'a further object of this invention to provide an article-transferring apparatus which is adapted to accommodate in an expeditious and non-injurious manner one or more articles of a delicate or fragile character.

It is a further object of this invention to provide an article-transferring apparatus wherein the articles to be transferred are smoothly and gently moved to predetermined positions at a first location or station, whereupon after a predetermined number of articles have accumulated at such location, such accumulated articles are transferred en masse to a second location or station.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a method of transferring articles wherein the speed of handling such articles may be dependent upon the speed of production of such articles.

It is a further object of this invention to provide an apparatus which insures that a predetermined number of articles have been assembled at a first location before such articles are transferred en masse to a second loca tion.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide an article-transferring apparatus which is capable of continuous operation and may be readily utilized with existing article-producing facilities.

Further and additional objects will appear from the description, accompanying drawings, and appended claims.

In accordance with one embodiment of this invention 3,225,891 Patented Dec. 28, 1955 an apparatus for transferring simultaneously a given quantity of articles from one location to a second location is provided which includes an article-conveying means for successively conveying articles in one direction to said one location. The conveying means includes article-contacting means adapted to spot a predetermined number of articles at various selected positions at said one location prior to said predetermined number of articles being simultaneously engaged by article transfer elements and transferred thereby en masse to a second location. Control means are operatively connected to said article trans fer elements whereby the latter are rendered inoperative in transferring such articles until a predetermined number of such articles have accumulated at said one location.

For a more complete understanding of this invention reference should be made to the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of the improved apparatus taken from the article-transferring end thereof and showing two sets of article-transfer elements with one of said sets being aligned with a first location and engaging a given quantity of articles accumulated thereon, and with the second of said sets aligned with one of two second locations and showing the latter set of elements simultaneously depositing at said second location a like quantity of articles previously transferred from said first location.

FIG. 2 is similar to FIG. 1 but showing the given quantity of articles raised from the first location by the first set of article-transfer elements and the second set of articletransfer elements in raised position above the second location subsequent to the second set of elements having deposited a predetermined quantity of articles at said second location.

FIG. 3 is similar to FIG. 2 but showing the given quantity of articles engaged by said first set of elements disposed above the other of said second locations and the second set of elements disposed above the first location and poised for lowering into article-engaging relation with respect to the articles having accumulated at the first location.

FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 3 but showing the second set of article-engaging elements in article-engaging position and the first set of elements in a comparable lowered position where the articles have been released thereby for disposition within the open top box position at the second location.

FIG. 5 is similar to FIG. 4 but showing the second set of elements in a raised position relative to the first loca tion subsequent to the predetermined quantity of articles having been engaged thereby; the first set of elements simultaneously assuming a fully raised position with respect to the second location and after having released such articles at such second location.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1, but showing a predetermined quantity of articles, engaged by said second set of elements, approaching an aligned position with respect to the first mentioned of the two second locations; i.e. the second location disposed to the left side of the first location, as viewed from the article-transferring end of the apparatus.

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the article-transfer end of the improved apparatus and taken from below the plane of the sets of article-transfer elements, when the latter are in their fully raised positions.

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary end elevation View, partially in section, of the article-transfer end of the improved apparatus.

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary side elevational view of the article conveyor.

FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view of the article conveyor taken from above and looking toward the first 3 locationwhere the articles are deposited by such cn veyorl FIG. 11 is an enlarged fragmentary side elevational view of one set of fingers utilized in conveying a predetermined number of articles to a first location.

Referring riow to the drawings and more particularly to" FIGS. 1 and' 6, an improved apparatus 20 is shown which is adapted to continuously accumulate a predetermined number of articles 21 at a given (first) location or station I and then alternately transfer such articles to one of two second locations or stations HA and IIB. The apparatus 20 in the illustrated embodiment includes an elongated frame 22 having a horizontally disposed top surface 23. The surface 23 is formed into three guideways 24, 25, and 26whic'h are disposed in parallel spaced relationship and with guideway 25 disposed equidistant from guideways 24 and 26;. Each guideway in this instance, extends substantially the full length of surface 23. Guideways 24- and 26 are adapted to accommodate a plurality of open top boxes 27, which may be of a given size capable of receiving a predetermined number of articles (eg. twelve candy bars arranged in three layers of four articles per layer). As shown in FIG. the boxes 27 in guideways 24 and 26 are moved successively in a given direction toward second locations HA and HE respectively by power driven conveyors 28.

Each conveyor 28 is of like construction and, in the illustrated embodiment, consists of an endless chain being engaged and supported at opposite ends by suitable sprockets, not shown, disposed in spaced relation beneath the bottom surface 24a and 26a of guideways 24 and 26, respectively. One of the sprockets for each conveyor is power driven in a conventional manner. Each chain 28 is provided with a plurality of longitudinally spaced lugs 30, see FIG. 10, which are adapted to extend above bottom surface 24a or 26a of the guideway and contact the rear end Walls of the boxes 27 fed into the respective guideway from a source of supply not shown. As each box is engaged by a lug 39, the box is moved intermittently along the respective guideway toward the location IIA or IIB; The operation of each conveyor chain 28 in moving the boxes is dependent upon the speed at which the box, disposed at the second location, is completely filled with the desired number of articles; The means for controlling the actuation of such conveyor chain will be described more fully hereinafter.

Each guideway 24 and 26 in the illustrated embodiment is recessed from plane 23 and has the horizontal bottom surface 24a or 26a thereof provided with a centrally disposed longitudinally extending slot 24b or 26b through which the lugs 30 of the chain pass. A pair of side walls 246 or 266 extend upwardly from opposite sides of bottom surface 24a or 26a and are spaced apart a sufficient amount to permit the box to readily pass therebetween and yet serve to retain each box in a proper alignment as it is moved to location IIA or IIB. It will be noted in the embodiment of the apparatus, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 6, that the outer side walls 240 and Zen in guideways 24 and 26 are spaced inwardly from fixed outer walls 24d and 26d, and are held in such inwardly spaced positions by a plurality of U-shaped brackets Me and 262. Thus, by reason of this arrangement, different size brackets may be utilized to vary the spacing between side walls 240 and 260 so as to accommodate boxes of different widths. Upon a box reaching the second location IIA or IIB it will be in proper transverse alignment with the first location I and thus, readily receive articles subsequently transferred thereto from location I by a transfer mechanism 31; the latter to be described more fully hereinafter.

Guideway 25, as seen by the drawings, is interposed guicleways 24 and 26 and has the bottom surface 25a thereof coplanar with location I. A air of spaced parallel slots 25b are provided in surface 25a and extend substantially the full length of surface 25a and location I, as

well. Disposed beneath and aligned with slots 25b is an article conveyor 32, see FIGS. 89. Conveyor 32 in the illustrated embodiment consists of two sections of endless chain 32a and 32b arranged in spaced parallel relation beneath surface 23 and each section being aligned with the adjacent slot 25b. If desired, however, only one chain section may be utilized. Each chain section is power driven by suitable sprockets, not shown; the corresponding sprockets being mounted on a common horizontal shaft, so that such chain sections operate in unison with one another. Each chain section 32a or 32b has the upper run thereof formed into a horizontal run AA and a downwardly inclined run BB, see FIG. 9. An idler sprocket 33 is provided at the juncture of runs AA and BB. The angle of incline a, see FIG. 9, of run BB and its importance in properly positioning the articles 21 at location I will be discussed more fully hereinafter.

A pair of spaced, parallel, upwardly extending walls 250 are provided which extend substantially the full length of conveyor run AA. The walls are provided to prevent endwise movement of the articles as they are moved along surface 25a by the conveyor 32.

Each conveyor chain section 32a or 32b is of similar construction and consists of a plurality of finger sets 3% which are longitudinally spaced with respect to one another, see FIG. 9. In the illustrated embodiment, each set 34 consists of four longitudinally spaced fingers 35, 36, 37 and 38, see FIG. 11. Finger 35 is the leading finger of each set and has the greatest height and thus projects the greatest amount above the bottom surface 25a of guideway 25, see FIGS. 9 and 10. The succeeding fingers 36, 37 and 38 of a set are progressively shorter by a predetermined amount, see FIGS. 9 and 11. The reason for this height differential is to facilitate spotting of the articles at location I in a manner to be discussed more fully hereinafter.

The leading, or bar-contacting, surface of each finger of a set 34 comprises a lower portion C and an upper portion D, see FIG. 11. Surface portion C is disposed normal to the direction of travel of the chain in run AA and portion D is angularly inclined rearwardly of surface C and is disposed normal to bottom surface 25a of the guideway during travel of the chain section through run BB, see FIG. 9. Surface portion C is of sufiicient height so that an effective contact is made with the trailing side of the article as it is moved along guideway surface 25a by the chain during its run AA, see FIG. 9.

As each finger of a set 34 passes over the periphery of sprocket 33 and starts down run BB, finger surface D will automatically come into contact with the trailing side of the article disposed on bottom surface 25a. The length of time each finger of a set remains in contact with an article after the finger starts down run BB will depend upon the height of the particular finger. As the finger surface portion D moves out of contact with the trailing side of the article, the latter will come to rest at a predetermined position on location I. Thus, the height differential of each succeeding finger of a set will spot the succeeding articles in proper relationship with the previously spotted articles on location I. It is readily apparent that the number of fingers constituting each set may vary from that shown and will depend, in part at least, upon the size and shape of the articles being conveyed and the number of articles which are to be accumulated at location I before they are transferred en masse by transfer mechanism 31 to location IIA or IIB.

The angle of incline of chain run BB with respect to run AA and the angular disposition of finger surface portion D with respect to surface portion C are the same, so that disposition of the articles at location I will be smooth and gentle and thus produce no traumatic effect on the article outer wrapping or the contents disposed within the wrapping.

As seen more clearly in FIG. 11, the lower segment E of each finger is in the form of a chain link pivoted at opposite ends to conventional chain components 40. Thus, the location of a particular finger in the continuous chain may be readily effected by substituting such finger for one of the chain links. The spacing between sets 34 and between the successive fingers of a set is normally uniform and will depend upon the size of the article being transferred.

The movement of the article-conveyor 32 is continuous as opposed to the intermittent movement of the box conveyors 28. The articles 21 are introduced into the path of conveyor 32 by any suitable means, not shown. Because of the continuous operation of conveyor 32, the articles will continuously accumulate at location I, while the previously accumulated articles are being transferred by mechanism 31. If, however, every finger of a set 34 is not engaging an article as it approaches location I, then an improper number of articles will have been accumulated at station I by a set of fingers, whereupon such improper number of articles will not be further transferred by mechanism 31 for reasons to be explained more fully hereinafter. In such a situation, the article moved by the first finger 35 of the next succeeding set of fingers, will serve to clear location I of any articles which remain thereon, or, if desired, an automatically actuated sweeper element, not shown, may be employed which will operate to sweep clean location I of the articles, not transferred by the transfer mechanism 31, before the next group of articles are moved to location I by the succeeding set of fingers 34. The articles, so cleared, are directed down an inclined chute 41, see FIG. 6, disposed longitudinally of guideway 25.

The transfer mechanism 31, as seen more clearly in FIG. 6, is disposed above locations I, HA, and IIB and is positioned transversely with respect to guideways 24, 25, and 26. The mechanism 31 is supported by spaced upright places 50 mounted on the opposite outside surfaces of the frame 22. Spanning the distance between plates 50, are a pair of spaced guide rods 51, which are disposed in a plane substantially parallel to and above the surface 23. Mounted for reciprocatory sliding movement on rods 51 is a carrier unit 52. Unit 52, in the illustrated embodiment includes a substantially rectangular frame 53. Disposed at the four inside corners of frame 53 are upright bearings 54. Slidably mounted within each bearing 54 is a post 55, the lower end of which is secured to a horizontally disposed plate 56, see FIG. 8. The plate 56 is adapted to subtend frame 53 and is normally held against the underside of frame 53 by coil springs 57 which encompass the portions of the posts extending above bearings 54. The upper end of each spring 57 resiliently contacts a collar 58 which is afixed t0 the upper portion of the post. The lower end of each spring, on the other hand, resiliently contacts bearing 54.

Extending downwardly from the underside of plate 56 are two sets of article engaging elements 60 and 61, see FIG. 7. The spacing between the sets of elements 60 and 61 is equal to the distance between the longitudinal centerlines of guideway 24 or 26 and the longitudinal centerline of guideway 25. Both the centerlines for guideways 24 and 26 are equidistant from the centerline of guideway 25. Each set of elements 60 or 61 includes, in the illustrated embodiment, see FIG. 7, four suction cup units 6%, b, c, or d and 61a, 12, c, and 11, respectively, which are arranged in a row, the longitudinal axis of which is substantially parallel to the longitudinal centerline of guideway 25. Each suction cup unit is of like construction and includes a soft pliable disc-shaped article-engaging cup 62 which is provided with a central opening, not shown, through which a vacuum is drawn in a manner to be described more fully hereinafter. By reason of the pliable character of the cup 62, the latter is adapted to conform readily to the surface configuration of the article which is engaged by such cup, when the plate 56 is in certain predetermined lowered positions of adjustment. A fur- 'ther advantage occasioned by reason of the pliable character of cup 62 is that the latter will not scuff or otherwise damage the article wrapping when engaging same.

A pipe section, not shown, connects the central opening of each cup 62 to the underside of a manifold 56a, the latter forming a part of plate 56. Each manifold 56:: has extending upwardly therefrom a flexible hose or conduit 63 which terminates at a vacuum switch 64, the latter being afiixed to a cross member 65 secured at opposite ends to plates 50, see FIG. 10. A third flexible hose 66, extends from switch 64 to a suitable vacuum pump, not shown, disposed beneath surface 23. Mounted on the front face of switch 64, is a control lever 64a, see FIG. 6, which is adapted to be disposed in the path of movement of carrier unit 52. Thus, which set 61) or 61 of suction cups is to be under vacuum at a particular period of time will be determined by the direction of movement of carrier unit 52 at the time. It is to be noted that a vacuum sufficient to cause the articles to adhere to the suction cups of a given set is elfected only when all of the cups 62 of the set are in contact with the articles. Thus, by reason of this arrangement, only a predetermined number of articles sufficient to form a complete layer of articles in a box will be transferred en masse from location I to locations IIA or IIB.

Mounted on plates 50 for intermittent rotation about its longitudinal axis and disposed in spaced parallel relation above rods 51 is a cam-supporting rod 67. A keyway 68 is formed in the periphery of rod 67 and extends longitudinally for substantially the distance between plates Stl, see FIG. 6. One end of rod 67 terminates within a suitable bearing 70, while the other end of the rod extends through a bearing 71 and has a suitable sprocket 72 atfixed to the end of the rod projecting outwardly beyond the adjacent supporting plate 56. The sprocket 72 is intermittently driven by a suitable motor or the like which is mounted beneath surface 23.

The intermittent rotation of rod 67 is controlled by a pair of switches 73 and 74, see FIG. 6, which are positioned adjacent the end limits of the carrier unit travel. Each switch is provided with a projecting finger 73a or 74a, see FIGS. 1 and 10, which extends into the path of travel of carrier unit 52 and is contacted thereby, when the latter reaches a predetermined position of travel, whereupon the electrical circuit to the means for actuating the rod 67 is completed thereby causing a one turn clutch, not shown, to become engaged whereupon one complete rotation of the rod about its longitudinal axis results.

Slidably mounted on and keyed to rod 67 is a cam 75. The cam is disposed between a pair of upright bifurcated members 56b which straddle rod 67 and are affixed to plate 56 and are movable therewith both in the horizontal and vertical planes. Because of the eccentric mounting of the cam on rod 67, the outer periphery thereof, which is in continuous contact with the upper surface of plate 56, will cause the plate to move in a vertical direction as the rod makes one complete rotation.

To effect reciprocatory sliding movement of carrier unit 52 along rods 51, a drive wheel 76 is provided which is mounted adjacent the outside surface of one plate 50 and is adapted to rotate continuously in one direction about a horizontal axis, see FIG. 6. Mounted transversely on the face of the wheel and adjacent the outer periphery thereof is a stud 77. Connected to stud 77 is one end 78a of an elongated link or arm 78. The other end 78b of the link is pivotally connected to a stud 86, which is mounted on and projects from one side of carrier unit 52. Link end 78a is enlarged and is provided with an elongated longitudinally extending slot 78c in which stud 77 is permitted to slide. The slot 780 is provided so that carrier unit 52 will have periods of dwell-time or pause upon reaching each terminus of travel in one direction'along rods 51. During such periods of dwell-time, plate 56 is moved in a vertical plane by cam '75 so that one set of suction cups 649 or 61 is able to properly deposit a full layer of articles into the open top box disposed at location HA or IIB, while at the same time the other set of suction cups is engaging a like number of articles disposed at location I. It is when the plate 56 is moved by cam 75 to its fully down position that the vacuum switch lever 64a is tripped causing the one set of cups to release its hold on the full layer of articles whereupon they will fall by gravity into proper position within the 'box, while the other set of cups causes the articles at location I to adhere to the cups 62 of such set. Thus, by reason of slot 78b, the drive Wheel '76 may be driven continuously in one direction while the movement of the carrier unit 52 will be reciprocatory both in the horizontal and vertical planes. The length of slot 78b is determined by the speed of rotation of wheel 76 and the length of travel required for the plate 56 in the vertical plane.

As previously mentioned, the box conveyors 28, disposed within guideways 24 and 26, are mounted for intermittent operation. The movement of each conveyor is independently regulated by a sensing device 81 which is positioned adjacent location IIA or 118. The sensing device may take various forms other than that shown in FIG. 1, however, in any case such device is adapted to either engage or disengage a clutch mechanism, not shown, disposed beneath the surface 23, and which is mounted on the drive shaft of a suitable motor. In the illustrated embodiment, FIG. 1, the sensing device 81, only one being shown, comprises a rocker arm 82 which is mounted for movement about a horizontal axis transversely disposed with respect to the direction of travel of the boxes within guideway 24 or 26. To the upper free end of arm 82 is adjustably mounted a switch 83 having a spring biased projecting lug, not shown. When the arm 82 is pivoted to its down position, the lug is adapted to project into the open end of the box disposed at location IIA or IIB. The sector of travel of arm 82 is controlled so that the lug associated with switch 83 will only project a predetermined amount into the open end of the box. When the required layers of articles have been deposited in a box disposed at location IIA or IIB, the uppermost layer of articles will engage and move the projecting lug of the switch, when the arm 82 is moved to its down position, whereupon an electrical circuit is completed for energizing a clutching mechanism associated with a continuously operating drive motor, not shown, which will cause the box conveyor 28 to move about its supporting sprockets and in turn move the filled box away from location IIA or IIB onto a platform 84, while the next succeeding empty box is deposited at location HA or IIB.

The pivoting of arm 82 to its down position is timed with the vertical movement of the plate 56 of carrier unit 52, so that the movement of arm 82 in no way interferes With the movement of the plates 56 or vice versa. Obtaining of such a sequence of operation can be effected in numerous ways well understood by those skilled in the art.

As previously mentioned, the form of sensing device may vary from that illustrated and the actuation thereof may, if desired, be dependent upon the ultimate weight of the filled box which is positioned at location IIA or IIB.

By reason of the sensing device 81, the box will automatically remain at location IIA or IIB until it has been filled the desired amount. As a further assurance that each box at location IIA or HE is filled with the proper number of articles before it is moved away from such location, the sets of suction cups 6% and 61 will only transfer from location I to location IIA or IIB, at any time, the proper number of articles which will constitute a full layer of articles.

It will be noted in FIGS. 1-4 that the articles, when being transferred by either set of suction cups, remain in the same relative position and in a plane parallel to the horizontal. By reason of this fact, agitation of the articles is held to a minimum and furthermore, when released by the set of suction cups the articles will assume their proper relative position within the box thereby eliminating any manual arranging of the articles within the box. Once the filled box has been moved away from location IIA or IIB it may automatically be moved to a station where the cover for the box may be either manually or automatically placed over the top of the box.

By way of summarizing, the method of transferring articles from one location to another is as follows: (a) articles 21 are continuously fed onto the guideway bottom surface 25a at a point remote from the mechanism 31; (b) the articles are successively picked up by the conveyor fingers and moved continuously thereby toward location I; (c) upon the articles reaching location I, they are disengaged in a smooth and gentle manner by the conveyor fingers and assume predetermined positions at location I; (d) after a predetermined number of articles have accumulated at location I, the accumulated articles are engaged and automatically transferred en masse by a set of transfer elements 66 or 61 to a second location IIA or IIB which is spaced angularly from location I; and (e) upon reaching the second location, the predetermined number of articles is automatically deposited en masse at said second location. While the illustrated and heretofore described embodiment of the apparatus incorporates two second locations HA and IIB, it is to be understood, of course, that the novel concepts of the invention may be incorporated in an apparatus wherein only one second location is provided. Furthermore, while the invention is readily suited to the filling of boxes or similar receptacles, it is, however, also suitable for merely transferring a predetermined number of articles from one location to another. While conveyors 28 are shown as moving the boxes in the same direction toward locations HA and IIB, it is not essential that such be the case, so long as the boxes ultimately reach locations HA and HE.

Thus, it will be seen that an improved apparatus for transferring articles has been provided which is capable of readily transferring :a predetermined number of articles from one location to another even though such articles are of a fragile or delicate character. The improved apparatus is readily adapted to accommodate articles, which vary over a wide range of size and shape, and its capacity of operation is readily adapted to com pensate for any variations in the manner or mode in which the articles are fed initially to the improved apparatus. The improved apparatus is of compact and simple construction, requiring but a minimum of maintenance, and is readily capable of being used in conjunction with other types of equipment employed in the fabricating or handling of the articles. The improved apparatus supplants a large number of personnel and thereby reduces materially labor costs and permits the talents and skills of such supplanted personnel to be more effectively utilized.

While several embodiments of this invention have been described above, further modifications may be made thereto and it is contemplated, therefore, by the appended claims, to cover any such modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of this invention.

We claim:

1. An article transferring apparatus comprising a power actuated article conveyor, a first station aligned with said conveyor and upon said articles are successively deposited at a predetermined location thereon by said conveyor, second stations spaced from and disposed on opposite sides of said first station, and means operable between said .first and second stations for alternately transferring articles from said first station to said second stations; said means including a pair of relatively spaced article transfer elements, one of said transfer elements being aligned with one of said second stations when the other element is aligned with said first station, and said other element being aligned with the other of said second stations when said one element is aligned with said first station, said elements when in station-aligned positions being adjustable whereby the element aligned with said first station engages the article deposited at said first station while the other element simultaneously disengages at a second station the article previously engaged by said other element at said first station.

2. An article transferring apparatus comprising a power actuated article conveyor, a first station aligned with said conveyor and upon which articles are successively deposited at predetermined locations thereon by said conveyor, second stations spaced from and disposed on opposite sides of said first station, and means operable between said first and second stations for alternately transferring en masse from said first station to said second stations a predetermined number of articles which have accumulated at said first station; said means including a plurality of article transfer elements arranged in a pair of relatively spaced sets, one of said sets being aligned with one of said second stations when the other set is aligned with said first station, and said other set being aligned with the other of said second stations when said one set is aligned with said first station; said sets when in station-aligned positions being adjustable whereby the set of transfer elements aligned with said first station engages the predetermined number of articles deposited at said first station while the other set of transfer elements simultaneously disengages at a second station the predetermined number of articles previously engaged by said other set at said first station.

3. The apparatus recited in claim 2 wherein said conveyor includes sets of longitudinally spaced protuberances, each protuberance of a set having an article-contacting face; the leading protuberance of a set having an article contacting face of greatest projection and the article contacting faces of the succeeding protuberances of a set are progressively of lesser projection.

4. The apparatus recited in claim 2 wherein said conveyor includes sets of article contacting means, each set comprising a plurality of longitudinally spaced protuberances wherein the leading protuberance of a set projects the greatest distance above the plane in which such articles are moved by said conveyor and the succeeding protuberances of a set projecting a progressively lesser amount above said plane.

5. The apparatus recited in claim 4 wherein a segment of said conveyor subtends and is inclined with respect to the plane of said first station upon which such articles are deposited.

6. In an article transferring apparatus, a conveyor for successively tranferring in one direction a plurality of articles in a given plane and depositing such articles at predetermined locations on a surface disposed substantially coplanar to said given plane, said surface being subtended by a segment of said conveyor inclined to said given plane, said conveyor including sets of longitudinally spaced protuberances each protuberance of a set having an article contacting face, the distal portion of said face being angularly disposed with respect to the remainder of said face, the leading protuberance of a set having the article contacting face thereof projecting the greatest distance above said given plane and the succeeding protuberances of a set having the article contacting faces thereof projecting a progressively lesser amount above said given plane.

7. The conveyor recited in claim 6 wherein the face portion of each protuberance contacting an article remains normal to said given plane while in contact with such article 8. In an article transferring apparatus, a conveyor operating at constant speed for successively transferring in one direction a plurality of articles in a given plane onto a surface disposed substantially coplanar to said given plane and uniformly decelerating such tranferred articles on said surface whereby a group of a predetermined number of articles will come to rest on said surface and each article of a group will assume a different, yet predetermined, position on said surface, said conveyor having a segment thereof adjacent said surface extending divergently from the direction of transfer of such articles onto said surface, said conveyor including sets of longitudinally spaced protuberances, each protuberance of a set having an article contacting face, the distal portion of which is angularly disposed with respect to the remainder of said face, the leading protuberance of a set having an article contacting face of greatest projection and the article contacting faces of the succeeding protuberances of a set are of progressively lesser projection.

9. In an article transferring apparatus, a conveyor operating at constant speed for successively transferring in one direction a plurality of articles in a given plane onto a surface disposed substantially coplanar to said given plane and uniformly decelerating such transferred articles on said surface whereby a group of predetermined number of articles will come to rest on said surface and each article of a group will assume a different, yet predetermined, position on said surface, said conveyor having a first segment of travel substantially parallel to the direction of transfer of such articles in said given plane, and a second segment of travel adjacent said surface extending divergently from said direction of article transfer, said conveyor including sets of longitudinally spaced protuberances, each protuberance of a set having inner and outer article-contacting faces, the inner face being normal to the direction of article transfer when said protuberance is in said conveyor first segment of travel, and said outer face being normal to the direction of article transfer when said protuberance is in said conveyor second segment of travel; the article-contacting face of the leading protuberance of a set having the greatest projection and the article-contacting faces of the succeeding protuberances of a set are of a progressively lesser projection.

10. In an article transferring apparatus having a planar first station upon which a group of articles are successively fed and a pair of second stations spaced laterally from and disposed on opposite sides of said first station; a plurality of article transfer elements arranged in relatively spaced sets, said sets being mounted for reciprocatory movement as a unit in a given path between the first and second stations whereby, when one of said sets is aligned with the first station the other set is aligned with a second station, said sets, when aligned with said first and second stations, being movable as a unit in a direction angular to said given path whereby the set of elements aligned with said first station engages the group of articles deposited thereon to effect movement therefrom and the other set of elements simultaneously disengages at the aligned second station the articles previously engaged by said other set when the latter was aligned at said first station.

11. The plurality of article transfer elements recited in claim 10 including control means operatively connected thereto whereby the set of elements aligned with said first station engages the group of articles deposited thereon to effect movement therefrom only when a predetermined number of articles form the group.

12. A method of alternately transferring with sets of article transfer means mounted for unitary movement,

groups of a plurality of articles from a first station to a pair of spaced second stations disposed on opposite sides of said first stations, said method comprising successively assembling a group of articles at said first station, engaging With one set of article tranfer means the group of articles assembled at said first station for transfer to one of said second stations While a previously engaged and transferred group of articles is simultaneously dis engaged at the other of said second stations by a second set of article transfer means, and transferring the engaged group of articles to said one second station while the second set of article transfer means is returning to said first station.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS Alvey 198-468 Horn 198-168 Hitchcock.

McKee.

Socke.

Horner.

Steele 19834 Dalton 198-3O SAMUEL F. COLEMAN, Primary Examiner. EDWARD A. SROKA, Examiner.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification198/429, 53/251, 198/438, 53/537
International ClassificationB65B35/38, B65B35/30
Cooperative ClassificationB65B35/38
European ClassificationB65B35/38