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Publication numberUS3242827 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 29, 1966
Filing dateJul 10, 1963
Priority dateJul 10, 1963
Publication numberUS 3242827 A, US 3242827A, US-A-3242827, US3242827 A, US3242827A
InventorsJohn D Winters
Original AssigneeFibreboard Paper Products Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus and method for opening cartons
US 3242827 A
Abstract  available in
Images(11)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING GARTONS ll Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed July 10, 1963 INVENTOR.

BY JOHN D. WINTERS W v A TT'OZNEYS March 29, 1966 WINTERS 3,242,827

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS Filed July 10, 1963 ll Sheets-Sheet 2 IN V EN TOR.

0 N D. WINTERS BY J H g Z ATTORNEYS March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS 3,242,827

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS Filed July 10, 1963 ll Sheets-Sheet 3 fly- 3 INVENTOR.

JOHN D. W/NTERS BY 4 r W /7Lb ATTORNEYS March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS 3,242,327

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS Filed July 10, 1963 ll Sheets-Sheet 4 INVENTOR.

JOHN D. W/NTERS A TTOENEYS March 29, 19 J. D. WINTERS APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS ll Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed July 10, 1963 INVENTOR.

JOHN D. W/A/TERS ATTORNEYS March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS l1 Sheets-Sheet 6 Filed July 10, 1963 INVENTOR.

JOHN D. WINTERS March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS 3,242,827

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS Filed July 10, 1963 11 Sheets-Sheet 7 INVENTOR.

' lNTE/ES BY JOHN D W ATTORNEYS March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS 11 Sheets-Shet 8 INVENTOR.

JOHN D. WINTERS ATTORNEYS Filed July 10, 1963 March 29, 1966 .1. D. WINTERS 3,242,827

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS Filed July 10, 1963 11 Sheets-Sheet 9 v I INVENTOR.

J'OHN 0. W/NTERS ATTORNEYS March 29, 1966 J. D. WINTERS 3,242,827

APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS Filed July 10, 1963 ll Sheets-Sheet 1O INVENTOR.

JOHN D. WINTERS BY 122C j ATTORNEYS 4 7 APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR OPENING CARTONS John D. Winters; Oakland, Calif., as'signor to Fibrebear'd' Paper Products Corporation, San Francisco, Calif., a-

corporation of Delaware Filed July 10, 1963, Ser. No. 294,803 25 Claims. (Cl. 9353) This invention relates to an apparatus and method for opening cartonsand more particularly relates to an apparatus and method whereby collapsed tubularly-shaped cartons are positively subjectedto a series of continuous operations effective to open the collapsed carton and precisely deliver same to a conveyor wherefrom a packaging operationmay be completed.

Various methods and apparatuses have been proposed for efiiciently opening collapsed tubular cartons which are later filled with foodstuffs and the like. The frozen food industry, for example, requires a packaging operation which is highly efiicient in nature and yet capable of achievement by a minimum number of unskilled Workers. One of the major problem areas apparent with'such operations centers around the'attemp'ts to provide an apparatus and method whereby a collapsed carton may be picked upfrom a carton magazine, opened and transported to and precisely delivered to a conveyor priorjto'completion' of the packaging operation; Patent No. 3,060,654 for a Carton Setting-Up Machine and Method, assigned to the assignee of this invention, sets forth many's'uch problems.

Conventional carton setting-up apparatuses are generally of the reaction type, i.e., the collapsed carton is urged against an abutment member which reacts against the cartonfor opening purposes. Such conventional apparatuses oftentimes cannot adapt themselves to the problerns of varied paperboard caliper, carton Warpage due to extended storage, secondary vacuum conditions within the carton, etc. The secondary vacuum condition occurs when two' opposed panels of a carton tend to remain together when'an attem'ptis made to open the carton. Such a condition results in a distorted and oftentimes unusable carton.

Conventional operations generally necessitate a prebreaking of thecolla'psed carton in an effort to overcome the secondary vacuum andrelated problems. There is a'fu'rther problem, generally encountered in this packaging art,'of not being able 'to preciselyposition the opened carton in a conveyor prior to completion of the packaging operation. Although the problems with'conventional feeders'have'only been briefly described, such discussions will afford an insight as to the problems this invention ha'sove'rcor'ne;

This interior provides an apparatus and method whereby collapsed tubularly-shaped cartons are positively subjected to acontinuous opening operation. Generally, novel aspects of this invention provide that a first panel of the collapsed carton is grasped by a first suction cup, whereafter a second suction cup grasps a'se'cond'panel of the carton. tively'away from each other to' open the carton. Oneof the "suction cups then disengages the carton and'the other cup precisely positions the cartononto a conveyor prior to completion of the packaging operation;

The apparatus is of the turret-type and comprises a rotatable bowl assembly whereori a'selected number of pod-assemblies are detachably secured. The above-mentioned suction cups are mounted onto each pod assembly in a'manner whereby they'can readily achieve the above briefly described functions. 7 on pivot arms which receive their pre-selected motions' by means of a cam assembly. Further novel aspects of this invention comprise avacuum means arranged to func- The suction cups'are then moved rela-1 The cups are each mounted 3,242,827 Patented Mar. 29, I966 tion in apredeterrniried manner to subjectthesuctioncups to the desired amount of vacuur'n'or air pressure depending upon which phase of the operationthe cupspass through.

Furthermore, a novel shuttle mechanism is arranged to aid in the precise discharge of a carton" from a cartonmagazine to one of the suction cups.

In accordance with the above discussions, an object' of this invention 'is to provide an apparatus and method for efiiciently opening cartons.

Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus and method for opening cartons wherein suction discrepancies such as varied paperboard caliper, warpage and the like are effectively compensated for during all phases of the opening operation.

A still further object of this inventionis to provide a durable and compact apparatus for opening and feeding cartons to a conveyorby means of vacuum cups arranged to receive their predetermined motions from a uniquely arrangedcam assembly. i

A still further object of this invention is to provide an apparatus comprising a uniquely arranged shuttle mecha: nism for precisely positioning a collapsed carton prior to the opening thereof. V

A still further object of this invention is to provide an apparatus for opening and feeding cartons to a conveyor, comprising a uniquely arranged vacuum system'for assuring the desired vacuum or air pressure to vacuum cups thereof. 7

Further and more specific objects of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken'in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein) FIG. 1 is a view illustrating the apparatus of this inven closing the turret assembly of the apparatus of FIG. 1"

with two suction'cup pod'assemblies mounted thereon;

FIG. 4 is a view illustrating a lower cam of the apparatus;

FIG. 5 discloses a mid-cam in its arrangement in combination with the lower cam' of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 discloses an upper camv arranged-in combination with the cams shown in FIG. 5; i i v FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view through the major portion of the turret assembly of FIG. 3; I

FIG. 8 discloses the lower portions of the pod assembly shown in FIGS. 1 and 3; v I

FIG. 9 is a view similar to FIG. 8, but discloses the top portion of the pod assembly;

FIG. 10 is an exploded View disclosing theelements of a vacuum valve assembly shown in its assembled posi-. tio'ninFIGS. 3 and7; H I

FIG. 11 is a sectional view disclosing a shuttlemeehanism of FIG. 1 which functions in conjunction with one of the suction cups to aid'in a precise discharge of a carton from a carton magazine; and

FIG. 12 is a schematic 'view'pa'rticularly disclosing the various passages and chambers of the vacuum valve assembly of FIGS. 3, 7 and 10.

General description conveyor 22. The feeder comprises a stationary center 3 column 23 which rotatably mounts a continuously rotating bowl assembly 24 on which seven pod assemblies 25 are detachably secured. For illustration purposes, only one complete pod assembly is shown in this figure.

Each pod'assembly comprises an inboard suction cup 26 having'a face 26 (FIG. 9) which picks up a collapsed tubularly-shaped carton from magazine 21 and thereafter opens the carton a predetermined amount in conjunction with the face 27' (FIG. 9) of an outboard suction cup 27. Continuous rotation of the bowl assembly functions to carry the pod assembly and thus the gradually opened carton to conveyor 22. The conveyor comprises an endless be-lt member 28 on which is mounted a plurality of spaced abutments 29. The cartons are received between these lugs or abutments whereafter the packaging operation is completed in a conventional manner. As will be hereinafter more fully understood, the suction cups are arranged to grasp and subject each carton to a continuous operation whereby the carton is positively opened and precisely delivered to the conveyor.

FIG. 2 more clearly discloses the relative movements afforded to the suction cups during each phase of operation., The path of movement of inboard cup 26 is depicted by line I whereas movement of outboard cup 27 is depicted by line 0. At point A, the inboard cup moves towards carton magazine 21 and picks up a carton by grasping a first panel thereof. At point B, the outboard cup engages a second panel of the carton. Thereafter, relative movement occurs between the cups to effect an opening of the carton throughout area C. At point D, the outboard cup is relieved of vacuum and simultaneously moves away from the carton. Throughout area E the carton is positively retained by the inboard cup whereafter it is delivered to the conveyor at area F. The suction cups then move towards the carton magazine in substantially the paths shown to again repeat the method of operation.

Feeder assembly -Reference will now be made to FIG. 3 and a more specific explanation of the feeder. The feeder comprises bowl assembly 24, preferably comprising a two-part aluminum construction, rotatably mounted on center column 23 by means of spaced bearing assemblies 31 and 32. The bowl is preferably completely sealed to retain a constitutent therein for lubrication and dynamic dampening purposes as will be hereinafter more fully explained. Sprocket means 33 is suitably secured to a lower portion of the bowl and is adapted to be driven by conventional variable speed motor means (not shown) to rotate the bowl at a selected speed.

Cam and suction cup pod assemblies Suitably attached to column 23 and arranged in the bowl is a cam assembly comprising three layers of cams or cam means: a lower cam 34, a mid-cam 35 and an upper cam 36. The cams are suitably secured togther so that they may remain stationary relative to movements of the bowl assembly about the center column. Cams 34 and 35 are segmented, as more clearly shown in FIGS. v

4-6, with the cam tracks thereof staggered at various height levels for entry and re-entry of cam followers which impart the desired motions to cups 26 and 27 during a carton-opening operation.

Referring first to inboard cup 26 and a first actuating means therefor as more particularly disclosed in FIGS. 3-5, 8 and 9, a rotor 37 has a plurality of followers 38 rotatably mounted thereon for engagement and re-engagement with the lower cam tracks. A shaft 39 is suitably secured at its lower end to the rotor and extends upwardly through the main housing of pod assembly 25. Suitable bearing means (not shown) may be employed in the housing to afford free rotative movement to the shaft. The shaft is connected at its upper end to a bellcrank 40 which imparts a number of desired motions to cup 26.

'"sgsasar In order to complement the movements imparted to cup 26 by means of bellcrank 40, a second driving mechanism is employed. This mechanism comprises rotor 41 having cam followers 42 rotatably mounted thereon for selective engagement with the cam tracks of mid-cam 35. As more clearly illustrated in FIG. 3, such cam tracks are also arranged at different levels. ,Rotor 41 connects at its lower end to shaft 44 which is rotatably mounted in the pod assembly housing by suitable bearing means (not shown). The shaft connects at its upper end to a second bellcrank 45.

In order to impart reciprocating motion to cup 26, bellcrank 40 is pivotally attached at floating pivot 46 to a housing 47 which mounts suction cup 26. Selected pivotal motion is imparted to housing 47 by a horizontally disposed shaft 48 which is slidably mounted at a first end in suitable bearing means (not shown) retained in the housing. This shaft is secured at its second end in a clamping portion 49 pivotally mounted at floating pivot 50 on bellcrank 45. Due to this arrangement, selected pivotal movement of bellcrank 45 will in turn impart rotary movement to housing 47.

Thus, it can be seen that the motions of inboard cup 26, during the continuous carton opening operation, are positively controlled by means of segmented earns 34 and 35 and the other interrelated driving elements. As will be hereinafter more fully understood, the cam tracks of mid-cam 35 comprise cam track means 35a for permitting cup 26 to dwell for a predetermined period of time at the carton magazine.

Vacuum cup 26is spring loaded with respect to its mounting on housing 47'. As shown in FIG. 3, for example, a compression spring 54 is mounted between the housing and the reciprocally mounted cup with the out ward movements of the cup, away from column. 23', being limited by stop collar 55. This spring-loaded-arrangement wherein cup 26 is permitted to be slightly depressed functions to prevent damage to a carton or the cup due to misadjustment of the related parts when the carton is picked up at magazine 21 (FIG. 2).

Also, such an arrangement further aids in the provision of a dwell period wherein the carton may be efiiciently grasped by the cup due to the fact that the cup will be slightly depressed when it engages the carton. In this connection, it should be understood that carton contacting portions of the cup comprise a standard resilient or rubber-like material which will effect an efficient sealing function. As will be hereinafter more fully explained, a flexible tubular line 56 is attached to a suitable fitting arranged at the backside of cup 26 to communicate selected vacuum or air pressure to the head of the cup in a conventional manner.

Referring now to the construction and arrangement of suction cup 27 and a second actuating means wherefrom it receives its movements, FIGS. 3 and 6 disclose upper cam 36 arranged to have the cam track thereof engage with cam follower 57, rotatably mounted on a connecting link 58. The link is connected at a first end thereof to the housing of pod assembly 25 by means of pivot pin 59 which is suitably supported in a bushing arrangement (not shown) secured at a lower, internal portion of the housing. A second end of link 58 is pivotally connected to a rod 60- which is in turn pivotally mounted at a bifurcated first end 61 of a fulcrum arm 62.

Arm 62 is clamped to a pivot pin 63 (FIG. 6) which is mounted in suitable bearing supports 64, adapted to be secured to the housing of the rod assembly. Pin 63 is further arranged to project through the housing of the pod assembly and into clamped relationship with an. end of a pivot arm 65 onto which is attached cup 27. A flexible, tubular line 66 is attached to a suitable fitting arranged at the backside of cup 27 to communicate se lected vacuum or air pressure to the head thereof.

From the above description of cup 27 and its related actuating means, it should become apparent that as cam follower 57 moves in the cam track of cam 36 that a reciprocating movement will be imparted to rod 60 which in turn functions to oscillate pivot pin 63. Such oscillation has been found in an actual operation to pivot arm 65 and cup 24 through an arc of approximately 80 with arm 65 moving between the lower position shown in FIGS. 6 and 9 and the upright position shown in FIG. 3. Referring again to FIG. 2, it can be seen that cam 36 functions to move cup 27 in a substantially smooth path about center column 23 to maintain its preselected and desired relationship with inboard cup 26 throughout the carton opening operation.

Although the specific constructions and arrangements of cam means 34 and 35 have only been briefly described, it should become apparent to those skilled in the art that these arrangements function to maintain dynamic loading effects between the cam tracks and engaging rollers at a desired minimum. The fact that the cams are substantially immersed in an oil constituent, maintained at a predetermined level in the sealed bowl, also provides for dynamic dampening effects.

In this connection, it should be noted that rotor 37 at times has to turn a complete revolution about its axis of rotation and is at the same time subjected to tremendously high speeds along the cam track. The novel cam arrangements of this invention provide that the pressure angle occurring between the cam track and the rollers will be held at a desired minimum at any particular time to overcome dynamic loading problems which could function to destroy the apparatus. In FIGS. 3 and 4, for example, it should be noted that the cam tracks of cam 34 are segmented and arranged at various levels so that a particular roller 38 will be released from the cam during which time at least one other roller will engage another segment thereof.

Since the movement of cup 27 is essentially one of moving in a plane which substantially intersects the axis of column 23, whereas the pivotal and reciprocating movements of cup 26 substantially lie in a plane normal to the axis, the track of cam 36 need not be segmented. However, it should be understood that novel cam aspects of this invention contemplate that by following the teachings of this invention, one skilled in the art could arrange cam 36 in a manner similar to cams 34 or 35 for a particular application. Thus, when the movements of the cups are herein broadly defined as relatively away from each other, it should be understood that these teachings may be employed to provide a movement of cup 27 away from cup 26.

To describe the specific manner by which the individual followers 38 and 42 engage and re-engage particular cam track segments of earns 34 and 35, respectively, would necessitate a rather lengthy and unneeded discussion. It should be understood that FIGS. 3-6 substantially illustrate a specific cam assembly embodiment which could be followed by one skilled in the art when viewed along with the description set forth in this specification to achieve the desired carton opening functions. Also, as suggested above, the teachings herein set forth could be followed to provide cam arrangements affording motions to the suction cups which are different than those herein explained, but yet well within the spirit of this invention.

Vacuum valve assembly The vacuum means whereby a predetermined vacuum or air pressure is communicated to vacuum cups 26 and/or 27 will now be explained with particular reference being made to FIGS. 3, 7, 10 and 12. FIG. 10 is an exploded view of the components which comprises the vacuumyalve assembly shown its assembled position in FIGS; 3 and 7. This assembly essentially comprises two integrated passage and chamber systems, the first system controlling the vacuum or air pressure to inboard cup 26 and the second system controlling the vacuum or air pressure to outboard cup 27. This overall arrangement is schematically illustrated in FIG. 12.

FIG. 7 discloses a valve main body 70, comprising a non-rotating component of the valve assembly, as having cylindrical cut-out portions 71 arranged to seat on mating shoulder portions formed on center column 23. A lock nut 72 is threaded to the column and secures the body thereto. The column has a plurality of axially spaced flanges 73 projecting therefrom which are adapted to retain standard O-ring seals 74 between the column and body. The seals function to isolate the chambers 700, 70c and 70h of main body 70 from each other for purposes hereinafter more clearly explained.

Once the main body is properly positioned in its nonrotating relationship with the center column, a first ring 75 comprising a corrector ring for regulating the vacuum or air pressure to outboard cup 27 is positioned on the body. Ring '75 has seven upstanding, radially-spaced tubular posts 76 secured in passages 75a with O-ring seals 77 arranged on the posts for sealing purposes, Thefirst ring further comprises three apertures 75b formed therein for purposes hereinafter more fully explained.

A second ring 78, employed to regulate the vacuum or air pressure to inboard cup 26, is then positioned on body '70 in surrounding relationship by ring 75. Ring 78 has seven radially-arranged tubular posts 79 secured in passages 78a thereof with O-ring seals 80 positioned at the upper portion of the posts. The second ring further comprises three apertures 78b.

A third ring 81 is then positioned onto an upstanding cup-shaped portion of bowl 24 and over ring '75. The third ring comprises seven radially-spaced passages 81a for receiving posts 76 of ring 75 and three arcuate slots 81b. Three driving lugs 82 are preferably press-fitted into apertures formed in the ring and are arranged to extend into driving relationship with respect to apertures 75b of ring 75. Passages 81a communicate with vacuum cups 27 through lines 66 which are connected to ring 81 by means of a suitable fitting as illustrated in- FIG. 7.

Compression springs 83 are arranged on the lugs between the first and third rings in order to maintain a sealing relationship between the contacting surfaces of ring 76 and body 70. To facilitate this sealing function lugs 82 are preferably loosely mounted in apertures 75b. Bolts 84 extend through arcuate slots 81b to secure ring 81 to bowl 24.

Lastly, a fourth ring 85 is arranged to have three driving lugs 86 thereof engage apertures 78b of ring 78- in a manner similar to the above discussed arrangement of lugs 82. Coil springs 87 are positioned onthe lugs to maintain the mating surfaces of the second ring and body member in sealing contact. The fourth ring has a plurality f radially-spaced passages 85a formed therethrough, arranged to receive the extremities of tubular posts '79 of ring 78.

Suitable tubular fittings are radially arranged at the upper ends of chambers 85a and communicate with lines 56 which in turn communicate with inboard cups 26. Bolts 88 are arranged to extend through a flange portion of a hollow post member 89, through arcuate slots 85b of the fourth ring (FIG. 10) and into secured rela tionship with the third ring. Arcuate slots 81b and 85b are employed for adjustment purposes as will appear obvious to those skilled in the art.

As more clearly shown in FIG. 3, a spider assembly 90 is secured at the upper end of post 89 and has seven radially arranged abutments 91 secured thereto. The abutments are arranged closely adjacent to inboard cups 26 and provide a stay-open function to prevent the carton from collapsing when the outboard cup disengages the carton, as schematically illustrated in FIG. 1.

From the above description, it can be seen that the four rings are attached together and rotate as a unit with the bowl assembly, on body member 70 and about center column 20, during all phases of operation. Since the vacuum or air pressure system for the suction cups of each pod assembly is identical, only an explanation of one such system will be made.

Referring more particularly to FIGS. 7, 10 and 12 for a discussion of a second vacuum means for outboard. cup 27 effective to either subject the cup to a vacuum. or positive air pressure, it should be noted that passage 70a in the body member constantly communicates a vacuum to arcuate chamber 7% by means of passage 23a, formed through the center column. Passage 23a in turn communicates with a vacuum pump. When ring 75 is: rotated to communicate chamber 75a thereof with cham ber 70b, such vacuum will be communicated through fitting 76, passage 81a and line 66 to cup 27.

In a like manner, passage 700 communicates with an air passage 23b of the center column and further com-- municates with air chamber 70d of the body member upon further rotation of ring 75. Thus, positioning of passage 75a over chamber 70d will function to transmit a selected air pressure to cup 27. As. will be here inafter more fully understood, such transmission of air pressure to the cup will function to release a carton therefrom.

Referring now to FIGS. 10 and 12 and a description; of a first vacuum means effective to either subject the cup to a vacuum or positive air pressure, a port 70a conimunicates a vacuum condition from chamber "iiib to arcuat-e chamber 70 When a passage 78a of ring 78 is positioned over chamber 70 such a vacuum condition is communicated to cup 26 by means of tubular post 79,. chamber 854: and line 56. The vacuum is held until ring 78 is sufficiently rotated to communicate passage 78a with air pressure chamber 70g. Chamber 71); then communicrates with passage 23b by means of passage 76th of the body. At this point, the vacuum is relieved and the carton will be released from the cup.

A port 70i (FIG. 10) comprises passage means for providing lubrication to contacting faces of body 70 and rings 75 and 78. In the preferred embodiment, a conventional wick member (not shown) is arranged in this port and is further arranged to extend below the level of the lubricating constituent retained in the bowl. Thus, the lubricating constituent will be transported to the rings by means of capillary act-ion.

Arcuate chamber 7iij performs a dual function during; the carton opening operation in that it will either allow a vacuum'to be communicated to cup 26 or permit an air pressure thereto. Referring briefly to FIG. 2, it should be understood that at point A chamber 7 would ordinarily function to draw a vacuum on cup 26 by communicating this chamber with chamber 78a so that the cup may effect a carton pickup step in the operation. During this phase of the operation a threeway valve 92 is positioned to normally communicate vacuum from passage 23a to passage 230 of the center column. Passage 230 in turn communicates with chamber 70 A land 70k, arranged between the chambers 70f and 70 is then jumped subsequent to the carton pickup step and the vacuum is maintained at the cup during the remainder of the operation.

- However, there are times when it is not desired to pick up a carton such as when a malfunction of the machine is noticedby the operator. Pursuant to this condition, valve 92 is manually con-trolled by switch 93 to communicate passage 2% with passage 20c. Chamber 79] is in turn pressurized and such air pressure is transmitted to cup 26 so that additional cartons will not be picked up thereby. This control means is schematically shown in FIG. 12 wherein manual actuation of switch 93 functions to permit a cam means 24a, preferably strategically arranged on a lower portion of bowl 24, to actuate valve 92 through a conventional holding circuit 94. Since such a control means, per se, does not comprise novel aspects of this invention, a further and more specific discussion will not be made'thereon. However, it should be understood that by following the teachings presented, one skilled in the art would encounter no difficulty in achieving the herein discussed functions.

As further schematically illustrated in FIG. 12, two air pilot valves 95 and 6 are arranged to be actuated by second cam means 24b, also preferably mounted on an exterior portion of bowl 24. As will be hereinafter discussed, the air pilot valves are arranged in a conventional timed manner with respect to rotation of the bowl to selectively actuate an air cylinder employed in a shuttle mechanism of the carton magazine.

Shuttle mechanism Referring more particularly to FIGS. 1 and 11, carton magazine 21 has a shuttle mechanism comprising a pistontype air cylinder 190 arranged to selectively reciprocate a blade 101 which is operatively connected therein. This mechanism functions to precisely position a carton prior to the time it is picked up by means of inboard cup 26. The carton magazine or hopper 21 of FIG. 1 comprises a generally conventional construction wherein weight means or the like (not shown) may be employed to impart a force against the backside of the cantons, as illustrated by the arrow in FIG.'11.

In timed relationship with the rotation of the turret assembly and movement of the inboard cup through the illustrated carton pickup path I and towards the carton magazine, a blade portion 102 of reduced thickness is moved in a leftward direction in FIG. 11 by cylinder to push one edge of the carton into a slot 163. This action of the blade thus functions to move a forward one of the cartons laterally relative to the magazine and other cartons. The force applied against the backside of the cartons will function to snap the other end of the carton to substantially the dotted line position shown, whereafter the inboard cup picks up the carton.

As above suggested, cam means 24b (FIG. 12) functions to mechanically trip a suitable lever (not shown) of valve 95 to pressurize that end of cylinder 100 to move the piston and blade 161 in a leftward direction. Continuous rotation of the bowl will effect a return of blade 101 to its normal, rightward position in a conventional manner due to engagement of cam means 24b with a lever (no-t shown) of valve 96.

One of the novel features of this arrangement is that the mechanism is non-sensitive to total carton thickness in that portion 102 of the blade is slightly thinner than such a variable thickness. It should be understood that conventional clip means 104 (schematic-ally shown in FIG. 1) or the like may be positioned at the upper and lower peripheral portions of the carton magazine to aid in the precise retention of the cartons.

Method of operation Referring more particularly to FIGS. 1, 2 and 12, the first step of the carton opening method comprises grasping a first panel of a collapsed carton from the carton magazine by moving cup 26in an arc to point A. In the preferred method, a conventional collapsed carton having two opposed faces or major panels and two opposed end or minor panels are arranged to open in a conventional manner. The shuttle mechanism functions to precisely position the carton to aid in an efficient completion of this step in the above-discussed manner. Primarily due to the spring loaded manner by which cup 26 1s mountedon housing 47 and the construction and arrangement of cam portion35a of cam35 (FIG. 5), cup 26 is permitted to dwell for a short, predetermined period of time at the magazine to enable the cup to be subjected to an efficient vacuum for carton holding purposes.

Thereafter outboard suction cup 27 moves in an arc towards the first suction cup and grasps a second carton panel, opposed to the first panel, at point B in FIG. 2. The cups thereafter move relatively away from each other, relative to the axis of center column 23, to effect an opening of thecarton throughout area C. In the pre- 9. ferred method, the distance of outboard cup 27 with respect to center column 23 remains relatively constant in area C and the inboard cup slo wly moves towards column 23 during its rotation thereabout.

In an actual application, cams 34 and 35 and the interrelated actuating mechanisms were constructed and arranged to permit movement of the inboard cup so as to separate the opposed panels of the carton at a distance of approximately one inch. In such application, area C approximated 180 of turret revolution, whereas the area through which the inboard cup remained in contact with the carton approximated 2.70". However, it should be understood that the novel concepts of this invention may be employed to open the carton to any desired magnitude throughout an area different than that mentioned above.

At point D the outboard cup disengages the carton and abutment 95 of the spider assembly 94 is arranged to constantly abut the outer edge of the carton so as to prevent a collapse thereof. The inboard cup then moves through area B to precisely position the carton between adjacent lugs 29 of the conveyor at area F.

It can be seen in FIG. 1 that the arcuate path of conveyor 22 relative to linear path P of the inboard cup is such so as to initially present a space between the carton holding lugs which is greater than the carton width, but which is thereafter narrowed to close about the carton. Thus, in order to assure precise positioning of the carton in the conveyor lugs, the movement of cup 26 throughout area F constitutes a substantially straight line function to provide that the vacuum timing release is not critical and complete control over the carton is maintained throughout the positioning step.

Thereafter the feeder mechanisms automatically rearrange themselves so that the inboard cup will be in a position to swing back to the carton magazine to again afford the desired dwell time for efficient carton pickup in the manner above described. The carton opening operation is then repeated with the suction cups again moving in closed paths I and about the axis of center column 23.

As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the turret has been found capable of feeding cartons at a rate ofover 500 cartons per minute while yet aifording a precise carton depositing step in the operation.

I claim:

1. An apparatus for opening a carton comprising first and second vacuum cup means arranged to simultaneously rotate about a vertical axis; for picking up and opening a collapsed carton, each of said cup means including a face, the faces of said first and second vacuum cup means arranged to be substantially bisected by a vertical plane passing through said axis, said. cup means being operatively associated with cam means to receive selected motions therefrom for moving said first and second vacuum cup means relatively away from each other to open said carton said cam means further operative to maintain the faces of said first and second vacuum cup means-in substantial parallel relationship during all phases of carton opening, and vacuum valve means for selectively subjecting said first and second vacuum cup means to a vacuum or air pressure.

2. The invention of claim 1 further comprising a carton magazine arranged to precisely position a carton prior to the time it is picked up-by one of said vacuum cup means, said carton magazine having a shuttle mechanism comprising a reciprocally mounted blade member arranged to move a carton laterally of said carton magazme.

3. An apparatus for opening cartons comprising a bowl assembly mounted for rotation about an axis, cam means arranged in said bowl assembly, at least one pod assembly arranged on said bowl assembly, said pod assembly comprising first and second suction cups each suction cup including a face, said cups being arranged for selective movements away or towards each other substatitially in a plane passing vertically through said axis and bisecting the faces of said suction cups, actuating means operatively connecting said cups to said cam means for imparting said selective movements thereto and vacuum means operatively associated with said first and second suction cups for selectively subjecting said suction cups to a vacuum or air pressure for picking up, opening and discharging a carton in response to rotation of said bowl assembly said cam means further operative to maintain the faces of said first and second suction cups in substantial parallel relationship during all phases of carton opening.

4. An apparatus for opening cartons comprising a bowl assembly mounted for rotation about an axis, cam means arranged in said bowl assembly, at least one pot assembly arranged on said bowl assembly, said pot assembly comprising first and second suction cups arranged for selective movements away or towards each other, actuating means operatively connecting said cups to said cam means for imparting said selective movements thereto and vacuum means operatively associated with said first and second suction cups for selectively subjecting said suction cups to a vacuum or air pressure for picking up, opening and discharging a carton in response to rotation of said bowl assembly, said cam means comprising stationary lower, mid and upper cams having cam tracks formed thereon, said first suction cup being operatively connected to said actuating means for movement in a first plane which is substantially normal to said axis and said second suction cup operatively connected to said actuating means for movement in a second plane which substantially intersects said axis while said second suction cup is simultaneously being moved with said bowl assembly about said axis.

5. The invention of claim 4 wherein said first suction cup is mounted on a housing operatively connected to said actuating means for pivotal and reciprocating movements in said first plane and spring means mounting said first suction cup on said housing for permitting a slight depression thereof when said first suction cup engages a carton.

6. The invention of claim 4 further comprising a carton magazine having a shuttle mechanism forprecisely positioning a carton prior to the time it is picked up by said first suction cup, the cam tracks of said mid-cam having cam track means for permitting said first suction cup to dwell for a predetermined period of time at said carton magazine to assure an efficient pickup of a carton by said first suction cup.

7. The invention of claim 6 wherein said shuttle mech anism comprises a reciprocating blade member arranged to have an end thereof having a thickness slightly less than the total thickness of a carton to be picked up move an engaged carton laterally of the carton magazine.

8. The invention of claim 4 wherein said vacuum means comprises a valve assembly comprising a stationary body member and a plurality of attached ring members arranged to rotate with said bowl assembly, on said body member, passage means formed through a center column. on which said bowl assembly is rotatably mounted, said passage means arranged to communicate a vacuum or air pressure to said first and second vacuum cups through passage means formed through said valve assembly dependinguponthe rotational position of said ring. members on said body member.

An apparatus for picking up, opening and delivering a tubular carton to a conveyor comprising first actuating means for moving a first suction cup towards a carton magazine, said first suction cup including a face, first vacuum means for subjecting said first cup to a vacuum at said carton magazine to grasp a first panel of a carton thereat, second actuating means for moving a second cup towards said first vacuum cup, said second cup including a face, second vacuum means for subjecting said second vacuum cup to a vacuum to grasp a second panel of said carton, said first actuating means further effective to move said first suction cup relatively away from said second suction cup, said second vacuum means further effective to release the vacuum after the carton is opened, said second actuating means further effective to move said second suction cup relatively away from said suction cup and conveyor means adjacent said first suction cup for receiving said carton therefrom, said first actuating means further effective to deliver said carton to said conveyor means and said first vacuum means further effective to release the vacuum at said first suction cup after said carton is delivered to said conveyor said first and second suction cups arranged to simultaneously rotate about a vertical axis, the faces of said cups being so arranged to be substantially bisected by a vertical plane passing through said axis, said first and second actuating means further operative to maintain the faces of said first and second suction cups in substantial parallel relationship during all phases of carton opening.

10. In an apparatus for opening tubularly-shaped cartons, cam means and means responsive to said cam means for grasping opposed panels of said carton and moving said panels relatively away from each other to open said carton said means including vacuum cups having faces, said cups being arranged to simultaneously rotate about a vertical axis, the faces of said cups being so arranged to be substantially bisected by a vertical plane passing through said axis, said cam means further operative to maintain the faces of said vacuum cups in substantial parallel relationship during all phases of carton opening.

11. The invention of claim 1! wherein said apparatus further comprises a rotatable bowl assembly arranged to rotate about an axis, said cam means arranged about said axis and further arranged in a stationary member relative to rotational movements of said bowl assembly.

12. In an apparatus for opening cartons, the combination of a stationary column having a vacuum valve assembly arranged therearound, said assembly comprising a body member non-rotatably arranged on said column and a plurality of ring members attached together and arranged to rotate as a unit on said body member, said column having first and second passage means formed therethrough adapted to be subjected to vacuum and air pressure, respectively, said body member having first chamber means formed thereon constantly communicating with said first passage means and second chamber means formed thereon constantly communicating with said second passage means, said ring members having first passage means formed therethrough arranged to communicate with said first or second chamber means depending upon the rotational position of said ring members on said body member.

13. The invention of claim 12 wherein said first chamber means is arcuately shaped and said first and second chamber means are arranged at a first predetermined radial distance from said column.

14. The invention of claim 13 further comprising a third, arcuately shaped chamber means and a fourth chamber means each arranged at a second predetermined radial distance from said column which is less than said first predetermined distance and second passage means formed through said ring members arranged to communicate with said third or fourth chamber means depending upon the rotational position of said ring members on said body member.

15. The invention of claim 13 further comprising a fifth chamber means formed on said body member and arranged at said second predetermined radial distance, third passage means formed in said column and arranged to communicate with said fifth chamber and valve means for selectively communicating said third passage means of said column with either the first or second passage means thereof.

16 The invention of claim 12 further comprising spring means arranged between selected ones of said ring members for urging surface portions of certain of said ring members into sealing contact with surface portions of said body member.

17. An apparatus for opening cartons comprising a stationary center column, a cylindrical bowl rotatably mounted on said center column, stationary lower, mid and upper cams mounted to said center column and each having cam tracks formed thereon, a plurality of pod assemblies mounted on said bowl, each of said pod assemblies comprising a first rotor having a plurality of cam followers thereon arranged to engage and re-engage selected segmented cam tracks of said lower cam, first means operatively connecting the first rotor to a housing mounting an inboard suction cup for imparting selected reciprocating motions thereto, a second rotor having a plurality of cam followers thereon arranged to engage and disengage selected segmented cam tracks of said midcam, second means operatively connecting the second rotor to said housing for cooperating with said first means for imparting selected pivotal motion to said housing whereby said housing and inboard suction cup may be selectively moved relative to said center column, a third rotor having a cam follower thereon arranged to engage a cam track of said upper cam, means operatively connecting said third rotor to an arm pivotally mounted in said pod assembly for selectively moving said arm towards and away from said center column, an outboard suction cup attached to said arm and arranged to selectively move towards or away from said inboard cup and a vacuum valve assembly mounted about said center column, said vacuum valve assem'blycomprising a stationary body member attached to said center column, a first ring arranged for rotation on said body member, a second ring arranged for rotation on said body member and further arranged to surround said first ring, a third ring attached to said bowl for rotation therewith and drivingly connected to said first ring, a fourth ring drivingly connected to said second and third rings for rotation therewith and passage means formed through said center column, body member and ring members for selectively subjecting said inboard and outboard cups to a vacuum or air pressure whereby said cups may pick up, open and deliver a carton to a conveyor.

18. The invention of claim 17 further comprising a carton magazine arranged adjacent said bowl comprising a shuttle mechanism having a reciprocally mounted blade member arranged to have a reduced end portion thereof move a carton laterally relative to the magazine prior to the time it is picked up by said inboard suction cup.

19. The invention of claim 18 wherein said conveyor is arranged to have a belt thereof form a path substantially tangential to a path formed by outer portions of the bowl, said belt having spaced abutments thereon for closing about a carton when it is delivered to the conveyor and a spider assembly attached to said bowl and having a plurality of radially arranged iabutments, each of said abutments arranged adjacent said inboard cup for preventing a carton from collapsing once it is opened.

29. A rotary method for opening cartons comprising the steps of grasping a first panel of a carton with the face of a first suction means, rotating the first suction means in a first closed path about an axis, grasping a second panel of said carton with the face of a second suction means, rotating the second suction means in a second closed path about said axis and said first path and continuously moving the first and second suction means relatively away from each other, relative to said axis, to

open said carton while maintaining the faces of such suction means in substantial parallel relationship,

21. The method of claim 20 further including the step of permitting the first suction means to dwell for a predetermined period of time prior to the step of grasping the first panel-of said carton.

22. The method of claim 20 wherein the first suction means grasps the first panel throughout approximately 270 of rotation thereof about the axis and the second suction means grasps the second panel throughout approximately 180 of rotation thereof about the axis.

23. The method of claim 20 further including disengaging one of the suction means from said carton and positioning the carton in a conveyor with the other of said suction means.

24. The method of claim 23 further including the step of holding the carton in open position immediately subsequent to the step of disengaging one of the suction means from the carton.

25. The method of claim 23 wherein the conveyor is moved in an arcuate path adjacent to the other of said suction means, said last mentioned suction means being moved in a substantially linear path substantially tangential to the conveyor path whereby the cartonmay be precisely positioned in the conveyor.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,217,784 10/1940 Bennett et al. 9344.l 3,060,654 =l0/l962 Lubersky et a1. 95-'53 XR FRANK E. BAILEY, Primary Examiner.

B. STICKNEY, Examiner.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification493/315, 271/132
International ClassificationB65B43/30, B31B5/80
Cooperative ClassificationB65B43/305, B31B2203/003, B31B2201/288
European ClassificationB65B43/30C