US 3266626 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Aug. 16, 1966 L. G. SIMJIAN DOCUMENT HANDLING SYSTEM Filed Nov- 21. 1963 LUTHER G. SIMILVEN BY ATTORNEY /g' AGENT wNmN 4; o i 2 a, Q
United States Patent 3,266,626 DOCUMENT HANDLING SYSTEM Luther G. Simjian, Greenwich, Conn, assignor to Universal Match Corporation, St. Louis, Mo., a corporation of Delaware Filed Nov. 21, 1963, Ser. No. 325,387 4 Claims. (Cl. 209'75) This invention relates to document handling systems, and particularly to a system for extracting documents from sealed envelopes and for processing these documents.
The system of this invention is especially adapted to the handling of documents of uniform size bearing information which may be visual, punch or magnetic coded and which may be read by a machine. An example of this is the conventional proxy card. A proxy card is customarily sent to each shareholder of a corporation, prior to the election of the board of directors of the corporation, by the management backed slate of nominees, and by any other nominees who may be soliciting the shareholders vote. It is assumed that the shareholder will not personally attend the election, and that if he does, he will probably not revoke the proxy. The proxy card is customarily sent to the shareholder together with a return envelope by the corporations transfer agent, normally a commercial bank, or by some other central agency in possession of the mailing list of shareholders. The central agency may act on behalf of many corporations, and at any given time may be receiving proxy cards concerning'several different corporations. One or several proxy cards concerning the same or different corporations may be enclosed in a single return envelope. The central agency must open each sealed envelope, separate the cards from the envelope, sort the cards according to the corporation concerned, and finally tabulate the sorted cards.
The number of proxies per corporation can be quite large. According to a 1962 survey, of the approximately 1,300 corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange and having more than 25,000 shareholders, the average number of shareholders was 80,000; and of those having less than'25,000 shareholders, the average number of shareholders was 8,000. The average number of shareholders of all such corporations was 22,000. It is estimatedthat 66 to 70% of all proxy cards are returned 'to the transfer agent, accounting for 80 to 90% of the outstanding shares of the average corporation.
The first two operations of opening the sealed envelope, and separating the cards from the envelope are customarily performed manually and are very time consuming.-
The sealed envelopes are manually arranged singly or in relatively small groups in the feed means of a conventional envelope opening device which shears off a sliver of one edge of each envelope. Each sheared envelope is then individually handled for the manual extraction of the proxy cards from the envelope. The cards are then manually oriented and manually arranged in the feed means of a conventional card sorter and tabulator, which reads the visual, punch or magnetic indicia to sort and tahulate the cards.
An object of this invention, therefore, is the provision of a system for receiving and for opening sealed envelopes, and for processing the documents contained therein.
Another object is the provision of a system for automatically opening sealed envelopes, and for removing and sorting the contents of the envelope.
A feature of this invention is the provision of a fully automatic system for handling sealed envelopes, each envelope containing at least a document; including means for receiving a plurality of sealed envelopes; means for opening each sealed envelope and for separating the documents contained therein from the envelope; means for orienting the documents; and means for sorting and tabulating the documents.
These and other objects and features of this invention will become more apparent by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGURE 1 is an example of an indicia bear-ing document which may be read by a conventional sorting and tabulating machine; and
FIGURE 2 is a diagrammatic view of a system embodying this invention for handling documents such as shown in FIGURE 1 and initially received in sealed envelopes.
Turning now to FIGURE 1, the indicia bearing document is shown as a proxy card 10. The card is of the conventional size for use in automatic data processing equipment. Suitable verbiage may be printed on the first face of the card for subscription by the shareholder. The card is shown here as having visual indicia 12 identifying the corporation and nominees, which indicia may be read by a conventional sorting and tabulating machine. It will be apparent that the same data may comprise punched holes or magnetic indicia. An additional indicium, here shown as phosphorescent stripe 14 is provided on the front face along the top edge of the card for providing a means whereby the proxy cards may be rapidly distinguished from other documents, and also for providing a position reference to the card which may be used for automatically orienting the card.
One embodiment of the document handling system is illustrated in FIGURE 2. This systemmay be utilized by the transfer agent to fully automatically process the proxy card containing envelopes as they are received from the postal authorities. These envelopes have been segregated from the ordinary mail addressed to the transfer agent. This segregation may be accomplished by the postal authorities in response to the transfer agent giving these envelopes a unique code, such as a particular box number.
The envelopes are delivered to a means 16 to receive a plurality of sealed envelopes. This means includes a hopper 18 leading to a horizontal stacking tray 20 where in each of the envelopes is stacked on one of its long edges. Suitable vibrator means (not shown) may be associated with the hopper to assist this stacking of the envelopes.
A first feeding means 22 is coupled to the tray 20 to serially feed the envelopes from the tray into a main path. This feeding means comprises a conventional multibelt and roller system.
Associated with the first feeding means 22 is a conventional metal detection means 24 which is coupled to a deflection vane 26. The vane is normally biased to permit the flow of envelopes along the main path. When the metal detection means 24 detects metal in an envelope passing thereby, it actuates the vane 26 to deflect that envelope out of the main path.
A second feeding means 28 is disposed adjacent the means 22, and comprises a conventional multibelt and roller system. A conventional thickness gage means 30 is associated with the second feeding means and is coupled to a deflection vane 32. The vane is normally biased to permit the flow of envelopes along the main path. When the thickness gage means 30 detects an envelope of a greater than a preset thickness, it actuates the vane 32 to deflect that envelope out of the main path.
A third feeding means 34 is disposed adjacent the means 28, and comprises a conventional multibelt and roller system. A first indicium detection means, such as a means 36 to detect a postage stamp or indicium is associated with the third feeding means 34. This means 36 is disposed to detect a postage stamp or indicium on either face of the envelope adjacent its lower long edge.
The means 36 is coupled to a deflection vane 38. This vane controls the flow of the envelopes to either an in verting feeding means 40 or a non-inverting feeding means 42. The inverting feeding means comprises a conventional twisted belt and roller system to rotate a passing envelope 180 degrees about its long, or horizontal axis; such as is disclosed in US. Patent No. 2,947,406, granted on August 2, 1960. The non-inverting feeding means 42 comprises a conventional belt and roller system. A second indicium detection means 44 to sense a postage indicium is associated with the inverting feeding means 40, and is disposed to detect a postage indicium on either face of the envelope adjacent its lower long edge. This means 44 is coupled to a deflection vane 46 which is biased to normally permit the flow of envelopes fromthe means 40 to a buffer storage means 48. When the first detection means 36 detects a postage indicium adjacent the envelope lower edge it causes the vane 38 to move so as to deflect this envelope to the non inverting feeding means 42, from whence it passes to the buffer storage means 48. When the first detection means 36 does not detect a postage indicium adjacent the envelope lower edge, it causes the vane 38 to move so as to deflect this envelope to the inverting feeding means 40. After the envelope is inverted it is inspected by the second detection means 44. When the second detection means does not detect a postage indicium adjacent the envelope lower edge it causes the vane 46 to move to deflect the envelope from the main path; but if an indicium is detected, the vane is not moved, and the envelope passes to the buffer storage means. The buffer storage means comprises a conventional hopper having means to receive envelopes on edge and to stack them vertically, face up. The envelopes in the buffer storage hopper are now stacked with the same face up. This orientation of the envelopes is desirable when an envelope is used which has two plaited ends and an inner baffle panel, such as is disclosed in my copending application S.N. 314,945, filed on October 9, 1963, now Patent No. 3,187,986.
Associated with the buffer storage means 48 is a fourth feeding means 50 comprising a conventional multibelt and roller system. The fourth feeding means, upon demand, serially feeds envelopes to a means 52 for severing the envelope and for separating the contained documents from the envelope. Such a means is disclosed in my copending application for US. Letters Patent S.N. 315,016, filed October 9, 1963. This means 52 includes a means 54 for entering an envelope and for severing the four edges thereof; and a means 56 for receiving the severed envelope and the contained documents as a stack and for serially feeding each item of the stack past a camera 58. The camera photographs both sides of each item and thus provides a permanent record of each envelope and its contents as received from the postal authorities.
Associated with the means 52 is a fifth feeding means 60 comprising a conventional multibelt and roller system for providing each item received from the means 52 with a 90 rotation about its long axis. Associated with the fifth feeding means 60 are a front means 62 and a rear means 64 for sensing an indicium such as the stripe 14 on the lower edge of each card. Associated in sequence with the fifth feeding means 60 is a front deflection vane 66 and a rear deflection vane 68, an inverting feeding means 70 comprising a conventional twisted multibelt and roller system, a sixth feeding means 72, a front means 74 and a rear means 76 for sensing the stripe 14 on the lower edge of each card, a front deflection vane 78 and a rear deflection vane 80, and a conventional collection tray 82.
The vanes 66, 68, 78, and 80 are normally biased to pass an item along the main path to the collection tray 82. If none of the stripe detecting means 62, 64, 74 and 76 detects a stripe, the deflection vanes are not moved, and the item passes to the collection tray 82. Such an item is not a proper card, since it has not a strip on either face adjacent either long edge. These items are portions of the severed envelopes, or extraneous contained matter, and may be disposed of after a visual inspection to insure that no document of interest was erroneously enclosed by the shareholder in the special proxy envelope.
When the front stripe detector 62 detects a stripe 14 on the front face along the lower edge of the card, it causes the front deflection vane 66 to move to deflect the card to a conventional multibelt feeding means 84 which conveys the card to the feed means of a conventional card sorting and tabulating machine 86. When the rear stripe detector 64 detects a stripe 14 on the rear face along the lower edge of the card, it causes the rear deflection vane 68 to move to deflect the card to a conventional multibelt feeding means 88 comprising a multibelt and roller system. The card is thereby passed to a first suction drum 90, having a perforated annulus and a weak suction, and rotating clockwise. The card is pulled off the first drum 90 by a second suction drum 92, having a perforated annulus and a strong suction, and rotating clockwise. The card is pulled off the second drum 92 by a suction tube 94 having a stronger suction and passes to an associated conventional multibelt feeding means 96. The card has thus been rotated end-for-end about its short, vertical axis, and is conveyed to the feed means of the machine 86.
When neither the front detector 62 and the rear detector 64 detects the stripe 14, the card passes through the inverting means 70 to the sixth feeding means 72. When the front detector 74 detects a stripe, it causes the front vane 78 to move to deflect the card to a conventional multibelt feeding means 98 which passes the card to the feeding means of the machine 86. When the rear detector 76 detects a stripe, it causes the rear vane to move to deflect the card to a conventional feeding means 88, which passes the card to the first drum 90, from whence it passes to the second drum 92, being turned endfor-end thereby, and thence to the feeding means 96 and the feeding means of the machine 86.
The cards which reach the feeding means of the machine 86 are thus each oriented with the stripe 14 on the front face along the lower edge of the card. The visual indicia 12 on the cards are automatically read and sorted by the machine 86 with respect to the corporation concerned, and are then tabulated.
The transfer agent now has a tabulation of the proxies for each corporation slate of nominees, and may send this tabulation and the assorted cards to the parties concerned. This result has been accomplished entirely automatically, without human intervention.
While the information has been shown as an apparatus for handling proxy cards, it will be appreciated that it is equally applicable to the handling of other types of documents, such as bank deposits made through the mail.
The invention has thus been described, but it is desired to be understood that it is not con-fined to the particular forms or usages shown and described, the same being merely illustrative, and that the invention may be carried out in other ways without departing from the spirit of the invention and, therefore, the right is broadly claimed to employ all equivalent instrumentalities coming within the scope of the appendant claims, by means of which the objects of this invention are obtained and the new results are accomplished, as it is obvious that the particular embodiment herein shown and described i only one of the many that can be employed to obtain these objects and to accomplish these results.
What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus for handling sealed envelopes, each such envelope adapted to contain one or more documents and each such document having an indicium, comprising:
means for receiving envelopes and serially conveying such envelopes along a path to an envelope opening. station;
a first means disposed along said path for detecting an envelope having a metallic enclosure and for diverting such envelope from said path;
a second means disposed along said path for detecting an envelope having a thicknessgreater than a predetermined maximum and for diverting such an envelope from said path;
an envelope opening means disposed at said opening station for receiving envelopes which have passed said first and said second means and for dividing each received sealed envelope into a plurality of portions and erially passing on envelopes and documents, and
document feed means which include indicia detecting means, orienting means, and diverting means disposed for receiving the envelope portions and documents from said opening means, for detecting said indicium on such documents, for orienting such documents with respect to said indicium and for conveying such indicium bearing and oriented documents to a further station, and for diverting that which has been received from said opening means and not bearing such indicium.
2. A system for handling a plurality of sealed envelopes;
each envelope containing one or more documents; each document within said envelope having a first indicium for providing a reference orientation to the document and second indicia bearing code significance; comprising:
means for receiving an envelope; opening means, coupled to said receiving means, for
receiving the envelope and opening the envelope;
feeding means associated with the opening means for serially feeding the documents and the envelope;
sensing, separating and orienting means coupled to said feeding means for receiving the documents and the envelope, for sensing the presence of documents and envelopes, and in response to the sensing thereof separating the documents from the envelope and diverting the envelope from the path of the documents, and for inspecting the documents for the first indicium and for orienting the documents in accordance With the first indicium; and
sorting and tabulating means, disposed to receive the oriented documents, for sorting the documents and for tabulating the same in response to the second indicia thereon.
3. A system according to claim 2 wherein each of the sealed envelopes has an indicium providing a reference orientation to the envelope, and further including:
orienting means disposed to receive the sealed envelopes,
to inspect the envelopes for the associated indicium and to orient the envelopes in accordance with said associated indicium.
4. A system for handling a plurality of sealed envelopes, each such envelope having a first indicium for providing a reference orientation to the envelope and containing one or more documents, each such document having a second indicium for providing a reference orientation to such document and third indicia having code significance, comprrsrng:
first means for receiving envelopes and for serially conveying the envelopes along a path; means along said path for detecting an envelope having a metallic enclosure and for diverting such an envelope from said path; means along said path for detecting an envelope having a thickness greater than a predetermined maximum and for diverting such an envelope from said path; second means for receiving an envelope and for opening the envelope; third means for receiving an envelope from said first means and for detecting the first indicium on the envelope and for conveying such an envelope to said second means; and for rotating all other received envelopes; fourth means for receiving a rotated envelope from said third means and for detecting the first indicium on the envelope and for conveying such an envelope to said second means, and for diverting any other envelopes; said second means dividing each sealed envelope into a plurality of portions and serially passing on envelope portions and documents; sorting means; means for receiving envelope portions and documents from said opening means, and for detecting a second indicium, for orienting that which has been received having such an indicium according to such indicium and conveying the same to said sorting means, and for diverting that which has been received not having such an indicium; and said sorting means inspecting the oriented documents for said third indicia and in response thereto tabulating these documents.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS M. HENSON WOOD, JR., Primary Examiner.
ROBERT B. REEVES, Examiner.
R. A. SCHACHER, Assistant Examiner.