US 3294257 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 27, 1966 M, A. DAvlEs ETAL 3,294,257
PACKAGE-HANDLING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 2, 1963 4 sheetsksheet 1 L@ El LL INVENTORS Miles Davies Y' By Louie B.M1`Il1" @m7, /MAc NNE.
Dec. 27, 1966 M, A. DAvlEs ETAL 3,294,257
PACKAGE-HANDLING APPARATUS y Filed Dec. 2, 1965 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTORS Miles' Davies By Louie B. Miller- Dec- 27, 966 M. A. DAvu-:s r-:TAL 3,294,257
PACKAGE-HANDLING APPARATUS Filed DSG. 2, 1963 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 IN VEN TORS Dc- 27, 1966 M. A. DAvn-:s ETAL 3,294,257
PACKAGE-HANDLING APPARATUS 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed Deo. 2, 1963 INVENTORS MeS Den/fes By Louie VIUEJ lqff United States Patent Oiiice 3,294,257 Patented Dec. 27, 1966 3,294,257 PACKAGE-HANDLING APPARATUS Miles A. Davies and Louie B. Miller, Vancouver, Wash., assignors to Columbia Machine, Inc., Vancouver, Wash., a corporation of Oregon Filed Dec. 2, 1963, Ser. No. 327,200 2 Claims. (Cl. 214-6) This invention relates to package-handling apparatus, and more particularly to apparatus of such a description operable to receive packages traveling from a source, such as a conveyor, and then to arrange such packages in stacked tiers. Such apparatus is sometimes referred to as a cuber, in that it arranges plural packages in a relatively large, rectangularly shaped stack, roughly corresponding to a cube (such stack however, not always having equal dimensions along all sides).
In forming a stack from a plurality of unit packages, where such packages are rectangular and have greater length than width, it is desirable that packages in adjacent tiers be disposed at angles and be offset relative to each other, rather than be in exact vertical alignment, as such produces an interlocking of the packages in the completed stack. Various patterns for the packages in any given tier are possible, and the pattern selected depends to a certain extent upon the particular dimensions lof the unit packages being handled.
A general feature and object of this invention is to provide package-handling apparatus of the above general description, which features novel means whereby packages in successive tiers in a stack are suitably offset and oriented so that an interlocked stack results.
When forming an interlocked stack from rectangular packages, the pattern of packages in one tier is not the same as the pattern of packages in another tier. Further, as already indicated, the package patterns selected for different tiers is subject to change, depending upon particular package dimensions. A further object of the invention, therefore, is to provide package-handling apparatus which is flexible in operation, and can be readily changed to produce different package patterns in a tier of packages.
Many packages contain fragile article, such as glass containers, etc. With fragile articles, breakage results if the packages are subjected to excessive jarring, which obviously is undesirable. A further object of the invention is to provide package-handling apparatus, for producing tiers of interlocked packages, where proper orientation and offset of packages `in the tiers is obtained by means which handles the packages smoothly, and with .substantially no jarring thereof.
Packages in the usual instance when traveling from a delivery point or source are oriented in the same direction. For example, they may all be traveling end to end. Thus, in forming a tier where packages in different rows have different orientations, some packages may be placed in the tier without changing their relative orientation, while others must be turned so that they lie at right angles to the first-mentioned packages. This invention features novel mechanism for producing such a reorientation of selected packages, which includes a transfer conveyor with means defining two paths of travel for packages moving therealong. Along one of said paths of travel packages move without a change in their orientation or relative angular position. Along the other path of travel, the transfer conveyor engages the bottoms of packages while imparting through the bottoms of the packages forward motion at two different speeds. The speeds are related in such a manner as -to produce turning of successive packages about upright axes as they travel forwardly along the conveyor. The mechanism contemplated is fast, operates substantially without jarring, and is entirely reliable.
With the mechanism, two rows of packages may be formed in a make-up station, where one row contains aligned packages oriented in one direction, and the other row contains -aligned packages oriented at right angles to the packages in the first-mentioned row.
It has already been indicated that flexibility in operation is desirable. According to this invention, various package patterns may be produced easily, while maintaining an exact total count of the packages handled. It is by counting successive packages that the apparatus of this invention determines the make-up of a tier of packages, more specifically, the orientation of packages in successive rows. The apparatus lends itself to control by automatic means.
In package-handling apparatus, obviously savings in space are important. This invention features means for forming properly arranged rows of packages in successive tiers, which is substantially more compact than many prior known devices. l
A further object of the invention is to provide means for stacking packages of the type contemplated, which is fast acting, and capable of handling a substantially continuous tlow of packages. More specifically, according to this invention, packages are accumulated to form a tier, and during the time that such accumulation of packages takes place, an already formed tier is stacked on a pallet. During the time that rows of packages are being accumulated n a tier, rows of packages are also being made up. Package rows are made up from a reserve of already properly oriented packages. Thus, many operations are performed concurrently with the performance of other operations in the apparatus.
Other objects and advantages are attained by the invention, and the same is described hereinbelow in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. l is a diagrammatic view, illustrating a typical ow of packages such as may be produced in apparatus construct/ed according to one embodiment of the invention, and how such packages are arranged in different tier patterns;
FIGS. 2 and 3 are side and'end elevations of a completed stack containing tiers of packages of the type illustrated in FIG. l;
FIG. 4 is a simplified plan view, of the package-handling apparatus contemplated, such apparatus including a pair of elongated conveyor legs set at right angles to each other, along which packages travel during the process of their being arranged in Ia completed stack;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view, taken along the line 5 5 in FIG. 4, and somewhat enlarged;
FIG. 6 is a plan view, somewhat enlarged, of a feed conveyor provided adjacent the feed end of the apparatus illustrated in FIG. 4;
FIG. 7 is a side elevation of the feed conveyor illustrated in FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a plan view, on a somewhat enlarged scale, of a collecting station provided in the apparatus shown in FIG. 4;
FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken generally along the line 9 9 in FIG. 8, further illustrating the collecting station;
FIG. l0 is a cross-sectional view, on a somewhat smaller scale than FIG. 8, taken along the line 10-10 in FIG. 8;
FIG. 1l is a cross-sectional view, taken along the line 11-11 in FIG. 4, and on a somewhat larger scale than FIG. 4, showing further details of a make-up station in the apparatus;
FIG. l2 is a plan View, on a somewhat larger scale than FIG. 4, sho-wing a loading platform and palletizing station provided in the apparatus;
FIG. 13 is `a side elevation, partly broken away, of the loading platform and palletizing station illustrated in FIG. 12; and
FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view, along the line 14-14 in FIG. 12.
Referring no-w to the drawings, and drst of all more particularly to FIG. 4, wherein one embodiment -of the invention is illustrated, the package-'handling apparatus shown comprises an elongated supply-conveyor leg, indicated at 10, which is operable to transport packages from left to right in the tigure. Extending at right angles to the supply-conveyor leg, and adjacent the otfbearing end thereof, is an accumulator-conveyor leg, indicated generally at 12. Packages Ihandled enter the apparatus at the feed end of supply-conveyor leg 10, which is shown in the upper left hand porti-on of the ligure, and after traveling on the supply-conveyor fleg are deposited on accumulator-conveyor leg 12. Thence the packages travel down the accumulator-conveyor leg where they end up Ias an interlocked stack on a pallet, as will hereinafter be described.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a package such as may be handled-with the apparatus of the invention is represented by the rectangular carton 20 shown at the left of the figure. Such cartons may travel from a supply or source, with successive cartons all oriented in the same direction. In FIG. 1, car-ton 20 is shown extending longitudinally of the Idirection of its travel, which is generally from left to right in the upper portion of the ligure. For explanation purposes, it will be assumed that all cartons traveling from the supply or source thereof are oriented in this direction, although it should be obvious that they could all be oriented in a different direction, such as a direction extending transversely of their direction of travel.
According to this invention, cartons so oriented travel `forwardly 4from the feed end of supply-conveyor leg 10, and are thence directed into one of two different paths of travel dened along the supply-conveyor leg. Along one patlh of travel, the cartons move without any change in their orientation, i.e., they lcontinue to travel endo, as illustrated by cartons '20a in FIG. 1. Along the other path of travel, the cartons are turned approximately 90 about upright axes. These cartons, therefore, end up extending transversely of their direction of travel, or at right angles to cartons 20a, as illustrated by car-tons 20h. With such an arrangement of the cartons, a row of cartons may be taken from the supply-conveyor -leg `and deposited on the feed end of the accumulator-conveyor leg, consisting ei-ther of two car-tons disposed end-to-end, as indicated by row of cartons 20c, or three cartons disposed side-by-side, as indicated by row of cartons 20d.
In FIG. 1, a tier -of cartons produceable with the apparatus of the invention is indicate-d at 22a, comprising two rows of cartons disposed side-by-si-de, with the same orientation -of cartons 20d, and one row of cartons disposed end-t-o-end, with the orientation of cartons 26C, this row being directly above the rst-mentioned two rows of car-tons in the ligure. A tier l2lb of cartons may also be prepared, to be placed over tier 22a, comprising one row of cartons disposed end-to-end nearest the bottom of the page in the figure, and two rows of cartons, each comprising three cartons `disposed side-by-side, above this row -of end-to-end cartons in the ligure.
If a tier of cartons such as tier 22h is placed over tier 22a, the cartons in adjacent tiers will not be in exact 4vertical alignment or have uniform orientation. Certain cartons will be oset `fro-m and cer-tain cartons will be at right angles to cartons directly below. An interlocked stack may be formed of the type illustrated at 2S in the side and end elevations shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. With the apparatus of the invention, tiers resembling tiers 22a and 22b may lbe readily prepared from rows of cartons 20c, 20d, by feeding the appropriate number of cartons from the tw-o paths of travel defined on the supply-conveyor leg onto accumulator-conveyor leg 12. The manner in which such is done, and a completed stack is produced, will become more fully apparent with the following more detailed description of supply-conveyor leg 10 and accumulator-conveyor lleg 12.
Considering rst of all supply-conveyor leg 10, and referring again to FIG. 4, in the upper Ileft hand portion of the drawing the-re is illustrated a conveyor 26, which transports packages such as cartons 20 to the feed end of the apparatus, and constitutes a source of packages. The conveyor typically may include a belt 2S trained over suitable pulleys such as pulley 30. The cartons may travel on such a conveyor while oriented in the same direction, for instance, while traveling endo, as described in connection with carton 20.
Adjacent the ofbearing end of conveyor 26 is a feedconveyor section 32. Feed-conveyor section 32 is shiftable between the positions indicated in -full and dashed outlines in FIG. 4, to change the place at `which packages are discharged from the offbearing end thereof. Feedconveyor section 32 is illustrated in more detail in FIGS. 6 and 7, and reference is now made to these gures.
As can be seen in FIGS. 6 and 7, 34 indicates a frame which supports the .feed-conveyor section above the ground. The feed-conveyor section itself comprises an elongated frame 36 which is pivotally mounted at one end, by pivot means 38, to frame 34. Journaled on the underside of conveyor-section frame 36, adjacent the end opposite pivo-t means `38, is roller ymeans 41, which is supported on a bearing plate 40 secured to a plate 42 which is part of Iframe 34.
The conveyor section is swung periodically to change the direction of its feed by a motor 44 disposed under conveyor-section frame 36, said motor being mounted on `frame 34 through a clutch and transmission housing 46. Iournaled on the top of housing 46 isa disc 48 driven by motor 44. A pitman arm 50 pivotally connected at 52 to a margin of disc 48 is pivotally connected adjacent its other end, at 54, to a bracket 56 which is secured to conveyor-section frame 36. With the mechanism described, the conveyor-section frame may be swung about pivot means 38, with the disc and lpitman arm constituting eccentric means interconnecting the motor and the conveyor-section frame. With motor 44 energized continuously, Imovement of the conveyor section occurs upon engagement of the clutch within clutch and transmission housing 44.
Cartons are moved along the feed-conveyor section by means of a pair of belts 58, 60. Belt 58 is trained over pulleys 62, 63, and the upper run of the ybelt is supported between these pulleys on rollers 64 journaled on the conveyor-section frame. Belt i60 is trained over pulleys `66, 67. Between pulleys 63, 66, and supporting packages as they travel along the feed-conveyor section, are freely rotatable rolls `68 journaled on frame 36.
A motor 70, supported on a bracket 72 extending out to one side of conveyor-section frame 36, is provided for moving 'belts 58, 60. Drive from the motor to the belt is through drive chains 74, 76. Chain 74 drives pulley 63 directly, through a sprocket assembly 77 secured to its pulley shaft 75. C-hain 76 conne-cts sprocket assembly 77, through sprocket 73 (see FIG. 7), to sprocket 79 and pulley shaft 78 of pulley 67. Sprocket 79 is somewhat smaller than sprocket 73, and thus belt 60 runs at a slight-ly faster speed than belt S8. Belts 58, 60 are driven intermittently, through engagement of a clu-t-ch provided within clutch housing 71.
Inclusion of the two belts 58, 60, and the means whereby 'belt 6G is driven at a faster speed than belt 58, is important, since this assures a spacing between any two adjacent packages which travel off of `belt S8. Electric eye devices are shown at 86a, 80b, and these are connected into the control circuit for the clutch within housing 46, whereby motor 44 is prevented from swinging the conveyer section whenever a package blocks the passage of light between eye devices a, Sub. In this way, a change in the feed direction of feed-conveyer section 32 when a package is partially beyond but still supported by the feed-Conveyer section is prevented, for such a partially supported package would lblock light from passing between electric eye devices 80a, 80h.
Referring again to FIG. 4, supply-Conveyer leg includes what is referred to herein as a transfer-Conveyer section 82 disposed at the discharge end of feed-Conveyer section 32. Transfer-Conveyer section 82 receives packages traveling od the feed-Conveyer section, and then transfers these packages to the feed end of accumulator-conveyer leg 12. Transfer-Conveyer section 82 includes means defining two separate paths of travel for packages extending side by side along the `Conveyer section, and means producing reorientation of packages travelingalong one of these paths, as will now be described.
Referring still to FIG. 4, transfer-Conveyer section 82 includes a roll-Conveyer portion 84, comprising rolls 86, 87, 88, at the unlit end of this roll-Conveyer portion discharging upon a lbelt-Conveyer portion 90, comprising -belts 92, 94 at the discharge end of this belt-Conveyer portion 90 is another belt-Conveyer portion 96 comprising belts 97, 98.
Roll-Conveyer portion 94 of the transfer-conveyer section 84 includes a frame 100 suitably supported in a stationary position 1above the ground at approximately the level of feed-Conveyer section 32. Rolls `88 of roll-conveyer portion 84, which may be smooth-surfaced steel rolls, extend substantially entirely across frame 80, `and are suitably journaled at their ends in side members 102, 103 of frame 100. Rolls 86 are shorter than rolls 88, and are disposed in a row along one side of the roll-conveyer portion 84. These rolls 86 are journ-aled at their ends between side member 102, and a lon-gitudinal 105, which is part of frame 100 and parallels side members 102, 103. Rolls 87 are even shorter than rolls S6, and are disposed in a row along the opposite side of the rollconveyer portion. Rolls 87 are journaled in the frame between longitudinal 105 and side member 103. Rolls 86, 87, like rolls 88, may also `be smooth-surfaced steel rolls.
Rolls 86 and 88 are rotated under power, by means of a belt 107 (see FIG. 5 which extends substantially the en- `tire length of frame 100, and which has an upper reach 107a contacting the undersides of these rolls. The Vbelt is trained at its ends over pulleys, such as pulley 109. In FIG. 5, pulley 109 is shown connected to a motor 110 which provides a means for moving belt 109 and rot-ating the rollers under power. With the motor energized, rolls 86, 88 (which have substantially the same diameters) are rotated at a uniform speed.
Rolls 87 are also rotated under power, by means of a belt contacting the undersides of these rolls similar to belt 107 discussed in connection with rolls 86, 88. This belt is trained at its ends over suitable pulleys, similar to pulley 109, and is moved under power by a motor 114. With the apparatus operating ordinarily, motors 110, 114 are running constantly, with the result that rolls 86, 87, 88 are rotated constantly.
Extending along the top of roll-Conveyer portion 84, adjacent either side thereof, are fences 111, 112. Dividing the roll-Conveyer portion into 'two separate paths of travel, indicated at A and B, is a fence 116. Packages traveling otf the feed-conveyer section, with the feed-conveyer section in the position shown in solid outline in FIG. 4, travel into path A, Whereas packages traveling olf the feed-conveyer section, with the latter in the position shown in dashed outline, travel into path B.
Packages upon moving down path B and over rolls 86, 88 move down the transfer conveyer without any substantial change in their orientation. Thus, with packages traveling endo into the transfer conveyor, such packages leave path B while traveling in the same direction. Packages upon moving down path A and over rolls 86, 87 are turned about vertical axes, to be reoriented into positions approximately at right angles to their original positions, as indicated diagrammatically in FIG. l for packages h. This reorientation occurs by reason of the fact that rolls 87 are driven at a faster speed than rolls 86. This results in marginal portions of the bottoms of the packages closer to fence 112 moving forwardly at a faster speed than mar- -ginal bottom portions of the packages disposed closer to fence 116. Roll speeds are selected whereby upon -a package in path A reaching rolls 88, this package then has attained a proper transverse position. It will :be noted that packages are turned while moving forwardly, and that turning is without jarring of the packages.
Conveyer belt 92 of belt-conveyer portion 90 occupies a position where it receives packages traveling along the left side of fence 116 in FIG. 4, and thus this Conveyer belt constitutes a continuation of path B. Belt 97 of -beltconveyer portion 96 is aligned with 4belt 92, and constitutes a further continuation of path B for the packages. Conveyer belt 94 and conveyer belt 98 receive packages traveling along the right side of fence 116, and constitute a continuation of path A.
Belts 92, 94, 97, 98 may be moved under power, in any suitable manner. In the drawings, motors including clutches 118, 120 are shown which drive lbelts 92, 97, and motors including clutches 122, 124 are shown which drive `belts 94, 98.
In operation of the apparatus, the flow of packages along either path A or path B is not continuous. That is to say, with packages moving out of path B and onto accumulator-Conveyer leg 12, belts 94, 98 are stopped, as Iby disengaging the clutches of motors 122, 124, and with packages moving out of path A, belts 92, 97 are stopped, -as by disengaging the clutches of motors 118, 120. With a continuous feed of packages into the apparatus, packages may accumulate in paths A and B, to produce a backlog extending back into roll-conveyer station 84 and over rolls 88 thereof. With rolls 88 always rotating, this results in tight abutment of packages in both paths A and B where these paths extend over rolls 88.
The number of packages fed from a given path at any one time onto accumulator-Conveyer leg 12 is determined by counting the packages, using electric eye devices a, 115b. This is a factor in obtaining flexibility in operation. Further, with counting of the packages, it is possible to know at all times the total number of packages handled. To insure that proper counting takes place by the electric eye devices, it is important that there be a certain spacing between packages prior to their leaving paths A and B of the transfer-Conveyer section. It is for this reason that two belts (belts 92, 97) are provided in path B, whic-h are driven by separate motors, and that two belts (belts 94,
98) are provided in path A, driven by separate motors.`
With this construction, and considering for explanation purposes path B, belt 97 may be driven at a somewhat faster speed than belt 92, with the result that should packages traveling on Ibelt 92 be closely packed, such are spread apart on traveling onto :belt 97 (such functioning therefor as a spreader means).
Freely journalled rolls 128 support packages passing between belts 94, 98, and freely journalled rolls 126 between belts 92, 97 support packages flowing between these two belts.
Electric eye devices 11561, 115b are in control circuits for the clutches of motors 118, 120, and motors 122,`
124. A control circuit is provided whereby if two packages are desired to be fed onto accumulator-conveyor leg 12 from path B, Conveyer belts'92, 97 are driven long enough to deposit such two packages on the accumulator- Conveyer leg, after which they stop. If it is next desired to have three packages delivered onto the accumulator- Conveyer leg from path A, the control circuit produces movement of belts 94, 98 until said three packages are deposited on the accumulator-Conveyer leg, and then these belts are stopped. It should be obvious that the number of packages delivered from any given path onto the accumulator-Conveyer leg, and the sequence with which the respective paths are actuated to produce delivery of the packages, may readily be changed with proper change of programming.
Referring still to FIG. 4, a pair of electric eye devices are indicated at 117:1, 11711 which are also in the control circuit for the clutches of motors 118, 120, 122, 124. These electric eye devices may function to prevent the conveyer belts in a given path from stopping prematurely, as when a package is half supported by a conveyer belt and half supported by the accumulator-conveyer leg fed by the belt.
In FIG. 4, midway between the ends of the roll-conveyer portion 84, an electric eye device 119 is shown which is spaced above roll-conveyer portion 84 and which cooperates with a mating electric eye device directly below it, and below roll-conveyer portion 84 (such being obscured in the drawing) to determine if the backlog of packages present in the apparatus along path B extends back as far as the electric eye devices. Also shown is a similar electric eye device 121 over path A, which performs the same function for packages in path A. These sets of electric eye devices may be connected to the control circuit for motor and clutch assembly 44, 46 (which swing feed-conveyer section 32) and the control circuit for motor and clutch assembly 70, 71 (producing movement of conveyer belts 58, 60 in the feed-conveyer section), whereby a suitable backlog is maintained at all times in path A and path B.
Accumulator-conveyer leg 12, and referring again to FIG. 4, includes a receiving station indicated generally at 136, where rows of packages from either path A or path B are deposited on the accumulator-conveyer leg, collecting or make-up station, indicated generally at 138, where successive rows of packages are abutted side by side to form a tier, loading platform or station 140, where a formed tier of packages is deposited prior to its being placed in a stack, and a pal'letizing station 142 where successive tiers of packages are placed on a pallet, thus to form a complete stack. These various stations will now be considered in more detail.
That part of the accumulator-conveyer leg which constitutes receiving station 136 is illustrated in more detail in FIGS. 8, 9, and 10, and reference is now made to these figures in addition to FIG. 4.
Receiving station 136 comprises a series of elongated rollers 150 extending transversely of supply-conveyer leg 10 and longitudinally of accumulator-conveyer leg 12. The rollers are suitably journaled at one set of their ends on brackets 152 supported on receiving-station framework 154. An elongated, substantially rectangular, hollow casing 156 is secured through one of its side walls 158 to framework 154, and rollers 150 are journaled at their other set of ends in this side w-all of casing 156. Packages upon leaving the supply-conveyer leg are carried forwardly by rollers 150,V with these packages extending as a roW across the rollers.` Movement of the packages stops when they come up against a fence 160.
The rollers are rotated under power, in a direction whereby they move packages 'deposited thereon away from the supply-conveyer leg and toward fence 160, by a normally constantly energized motor 162 (removed from the drawing in FIG. 8, and thus shown in this drawing in dashed outline only) supported on a table 164. A pair of pulleys 166 are journaled within casing 156, one adjacent each end thereof, Iand a belt 168 is trained over these pulleys. Motor 162 is connected to one of the pulleys 166 by a drive chain 170. With the motor energized, belt 168 drives rollers 158 by reason of a lower run thereof moving over the upper surfaces of these rollers, as shown in FIG. 10. Idler rollers 172 journaled in the casing are effective to hold lthe belt in rm contact with the rollers 150.
Intermittently operated ejector mechanism 176 is provided for clearing the receiving station, more specifically, rollers 150, of any row of packages deposited thereon from paths A or B of the supply-conveyer leg.
Further describing mechanism 176, a series of dog arms are shown at 178 which, in the position shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, have ends 178a projecting above the plane defined by the tops of rollers 150. These dog arms are secured, adjacent their bottom ends, to a bar extending transversely of rollers 150. Projecting rearwardly of bar 180, or to the right of 'this bar in FIGS. 8 and 9, are arms 182. These arms are pivotally connected at 184 to lugs 186 joined to an upstanding Wall 188 which is part of a movable carriage 190.
Also joined to wall 188 of carriage 190 is a lug 192 which has pivotally connected thereto the cylinder end of a ram 194. The rod end of ram 194 is connected through a clevis 196, and pin 198, to arms 182. With ram 194 extended as shown, dog arms 178 occupy the raised position shown, i.e., their ends 178:1 project above the plane defined by the tops of rollers 150. Contraction of ram 194 is effective to swing arms 182 and dog arms 178 downwardly, whereby ends 178:1 of the dog arms move below the plane defined by the top of rollers 150.
Carriage 190, already mentioned above, further includes opposed side sections 200 joined to wall 188. Journaled on each of the side sections are grooved rollers, such as rollers 202, 204, 206, and 208 shown in FIG. 9. A pair of rails 210, 212 are secured to framework 154 which these grooved rollers ride on, and these rails thus provide a track accommodating the movement of carriage 190 to and fro in a direction paralleling rollers 150.
Carriage 190 is shifted to and fro under power by an extensible ram 214. The ram has its cylinder end pivotally connected at 216 to framework 154. The rod end of ram 214 is pivotally connected, through clevis 218, to an ear 220 rigidly joined to a tube 222.
Tube 222 extends transversely of rollers 150, and interconnects a pair of laterally spaced arms, such as arm 226 shown in FIG. 9 (in FIG. 9 the arm corresponding to arm 226 nearest the viewer has been removed). Each of these arms is pivoted adjacent its lower end, at 228, to framework 154. The upper end of each Iarm is pivotally connected, as at 230, to a link, such as link 232. Each link is pivotally connected, as at 234, to one of the side sections 200 of carriage 190.
From this Iit will be seen upon extension of ram 214, farms 226 are pivoted about pivots 228 in a counterclockwise direction in FIG. 9. With such pivoting of the arms, carriage 190 is shifted to the left, which shifts dog arms 178 to the left. With the dog arms in the-ir raised position, and upon shifting of the carriage to the left, they engage the sides of packages deposited on rollers 150 `and :slide them off the left end of the rollers, thus to clear the receiving station.
The dog arms are returned by returning carriage 190 to its original posit-ion. In order to accommodate the flow of packages into the receiving station during return of the dog arms, the dog arms are lowered prior to their return by contraction of Iram 194. This lowers their ends 178s, so that these ends do not impede the flow of other packages onto the receiving station.
Referring to FIGS. 4 and 11, collecting station or make-up station 1138, which is in advance of receiving station 136, comprises 'a table 236 suitably supported above the ground at substantially the level of the top of rollers 150 just described. The table is slotted with elongated slots 238 along the length thereof, and these slots expose the upper reaches of a series of chains 240 which extend along the table underneath the table. As can be seen in FIG. ll, each of these chains is trained over sprockets, such as sprockets 242, 244, and these sprockets are joined to shafts 246, 248 extending transversely 4of table- 236. Shaft 246 is yrotated under power, by a chain 250 and motor and clutch assembly'252.
Each of the chains includes a pair of dogs joined to it adjacent opposite extremities thereof, as shown by dogs 260, 262 for the chain illustrated in FIG. l0. The dogs for all the chains correspond-ing to dog 260 are aligned with each other in a direction extending transversely of the chains, and so also are the dogs corresponding to dogs 262. With the chains having the position of the chain shown in FIG. 1l, successive rows of packages are easily slid onto table 236, after being ejected from the receiving station by dog arms 178 previously discussed.
During operation of the apparatus, plural rows of packagescontaining properly oriented packages are collected in the make-up or collecting station, until a complete tier is formed. Motor an-d clutch assembly 252 may then be actuated, to produce movement of all the chains. Dogs 260 adjacent the feed end of table 236 as a result swing upwardly and engage the rear side of the rearmost row of packages on table 236. With forward movement of dogs 260, the tier of packages on table 236 is advanced -forwardly, and moved into loading station 140, with clearing of the make-up station.
Loading station 140 and palletizing station 142 are illustrated in more detail in FIGS. 12, 13 and 14, and reference is `now made to these gures, in addition to FIG. 4.
As seen in FIGS. l2 and 13, a pair of elongated, substantially horizontal and laterally spaced, frame side sections are shown .at 270 and 272. These side sections may be rigidly interconnected, as by transverse members 274 extending between and joined to the side sections. Each side section has an upright 276 joined thereto between its ends (the upright for side section 270, which is nearest the viewer in FIG. 13, having been broken away). Uprights 276 are joined together -adjacent their top ends by a transverse beam 27 8.
The two uprights are mounted for vertical movement in tracks, such as track |280, provided in the opposed upright legs 282 of a standard 284. Standard 284 is part of the frame of the apparatus,and legs 282 thereof exten-d downwardly on either lside of side sections 270. 272, and are rigidly mounted in place. A chain 286 connected to each upright '276 is taken up yby means (not shown) to raise the two uprights, together with transverse Ibeam 27S connecting the uprights and side sections 270, 272 connected to the bottom ends of the uprights. Thus, the side sections and uprights constitute an elevatable assembly in the apparatus.
Mounted for movement on each side section 270, 272, and extending along the length thereof, is a chain 288. Chains 288 adjacent the feed end of loading station 140 are trained over sprockets 290. Opposite extremities of the chains are trained over sprockets 292. Sprockets 290 are secured to a shaft 294 extending between rear end portions of side sections 270, 272 and journaled thereon. Sprockets 292 are journaled directly on side sections 270, 272.
yReferring more particularly to FIG. 14, chains 28S are moved so as to move their upper reaches from left to right in FIGS. 12 and 13 by a chain 298 which extends from a driving connection with shaft 294 over a sprocket 302 journaled on the elevatable assembly between its side sections 270, 272. A pinion 304 joined to sprocket 302 is engaged by the teeth of a rack 306. Rack 366 is joined to the rod of a ram 308 which is also mounted on the elevatable assembly between its side sections. With contraction of the ram, the upper reaches of the chains 288 move from right to left, and upon extension of the ram, the upper chain reaches move in the reverse d-irection.
Referring again to FIGS. 12 an-d 13, disposed above the upper reaches of chains 288 is a loading plate or platform 318. Loading plate 310 is fastened to chains 288 through elongated members 312, one of which is located beneath and fastened to each side margin of the loading plate. Lower marginal portions of each member 3.12 are joined to the chain 288 below it by spaced anchoring connections 314, 316.
As best illustrated in FIG. 12, side sections 270, 272 have ends (shown at the right of FIG. 12) which straddle an intermittently-operated conveyer 318. Iournaled on side sections 270, 272, on these ends that straddle conveyer 318, are a series of wheels 320. These wheels have upper surfaces substantially at the level of the bottoms of members 312 (see FIG. 13). Upon movement of the upper reaches of chains 288 to the right in FIGS. 12 and 13, the loading plate is shifted to the right and over the projecting ends of side sections 270, 272. With the loading plate so positioned, wheels 320 serve to support members 312, and plate 310 which is fastened to the top edges of these members.
Conveyer 318 is driven by a motor 322 and chain 324. The conveyer is part of palletizing station 142, and is included for the purpose of supporting a pallet, such as pallet 326 shown in dashed outline in FIG. 13, as tiers of packages are stacked thereon. The conveyer is actuated to move such a pallet, and any packages supported thereon, out of the palletizing station and onto an offbearing conveyer 328.
Pallets are shifted onto conveyer 318 by means of a pallet loader indicated generally at 325 in FIG. 12. The pallet loader includes mechanism (not illustrated) for depositing a pallet one at a time on conveyer 318.
Referring again to FIG. 13, holding mechanism is indicated at 330, which may be actuated to hold a tier of packages in place over a pallet, such as pallet 326, after such packages have been shifted over the pallet by movement of platform 310 over the pallet. Holding mechanism 330 comprises a bar 332 which extends across the apparatus between uprights 276 of the elevatable assembly. Joined to the bar at locations distributed yalong the length thereof are arms, such as arm 334, and these arms are journaled on a shaft 336 extending between an-d mounted at its ends on uprights 276.
Bar 332 and arms 334 are lswung from the position shown in solid outline in FIG. 13, to the position indicated in dashed outline, by a ram 338 having its cylinder end pivotally mounted at 340 on a bracket 342, which is mounted on transverse beam 278. The rod end of ram 338 is connected to an arm 334 by a link 344 pivotally oonnected at 345 and 346 to the rod and arm, respectively. An arm 348 journaled on a shaft 350, which is mounted on upright 276 and parallels Shaft 336, is also pivotally connected by pivot mean-s 345 to the rod of ram 338.-
With the linkage described, upon extension of the ram, bar 332 swings downwardly to its holding position, indicated by the dashed outline for the bar in FIG. 13, and upon contraction of the ram, the bar is returned to its original inoperative position, shown in full lines in FIG. 13.
In general terms, the loading and palletizing stations operrate as follows: On a tier of packages being collected in make-up or collecting station 138, such tier is shifted forwardly and onto loading plate 310 of the loading station, by actuation of chains 240. A set of dogs mounted on chains 240 operate to slide the tier of packages onto the loading plate, with the packages in the tier having the same orientation on the loading plate that they did in the makeup station. With a tier of packages deposited on the loading plate, the tier is deposited on a pallet by shifting the loading plate to the right in FIGS. 12 and 13, to place the loading plate over the pallet. This also places the tier of packages 4over the pallet. The loading plate may then be withdrawn out from under the tier, with the packages sliding off the plate, by rst lowering bar 332 against the back side of the tier of packages, 'and then shifting the loading plate to the left in the figures. This leaves a tier of packages on the pallet, such as the tier shown in dashed outline at 352.
The operation may be repeated, to place another tier of packages -on top of the tier already resting on the pallet. In this instance, however, before the loading plate is shifted over the pallet, the elevatable assembly (which includes the loading plate) is lirst raised to place the bottom of the loading plate at a slightly higher elevation than the top of the tier of packages supported on the pallet. With this done, when the loading plate is then shifted to the right, the plate will clear the top of the lower tier. Using this procedure, multiple tiers may be loaded on the pallet, the only limitation bein-g the maximum height to which the elevatable assembly may be raised.
Describing the operation of the ,apparatus as a whole, packages move into the apparatus with the packages oriented in the same direction on conveyer 26. Upon moving into feed-conveyer section 32, the packages are directed into either path A or to path B defined along the transfer-conveyer section, the particular path selected depending upon which path is the most depleted of packages. Packages moving down path B move down the transfer-conveyer section without a change in their orientation, whereas packages moving down path A are turned at right angles. Packages are collected on belt-conveyer portion 90 of the transfer-conveyer section, and on rolls 8S of the roll-conveyer portion, with the packages in eac path aligned and in a row.
Upon operation of belt-conveyer portions 90, 96 of the transfer-conveyer section, that is, actuation of either belts 92, 97 or belts 94, 98, a rowvof packages is deposited in receiving station 136 of accumulator-conveyer leg 12. The orientation of the package in the row depends upon which of the two sets of belts is actua-ted. The packages are spread apart during movement into station 136, but become tightly abutted upon coming up against fence 160.
Upon a row lof packages being collected in the receiving station, feed into thestation is stopped, and the row is then shifted into the collecting or make-up station, where the tier is made up. The orientation of the packages may be changed for successive tiers, to produce an interlocking arrangement, by changing the ty-pe of rows fed in succession into the make-up station. Upon a tier being finally completedQthe tier is shifted onto the loading platform, which immediately frees the make-up or collecting station for the reception of further rows of packages and the forming of another tier. From the loading platform, tiers are stacked in the palletizing station, as just described. The particular pattern of packages in a tier may be varied readily. An accurate count is provided on all packages handled. 1t is through counting of the packages that the number of packages making up a row, and the number lof rows making up a tier, is controlled.
The packages are handled with a minimum amount of jarring. The apparatus accommodates substantially la continuous flow of packages into the apparatus.
We claim: 1. Package-handling apparatus comprising feed-conveyer means for feeding packages into the apparatus,
package-transfer means adjacent the offbearing end of said feed-conveyer means for moving packages forwardly from the feed conveyer means,
said package-transfer means including means defining two paths of travel for packages disposed side by side along the package-transfer mean-s,
said package-transfer means along one of said paths of travel including means whereby packages are turned about upright axes conjointly with being moved forwardly,
receiving means adjacent the offbearing end of said package-transfer means operable to receive packages traveling from each of said travel paths with said package-s being deposited on the receiving means as rows of packages,
said receiving means including intermittently actuated ejector mechanism operable when actuated to lclear a row of packages from the receiving means by shifting the row in a lateral direction,
collecting means adjacent said receiving means in position to receive successive rows of packages shifted from the receiving means with said rows accumulating in side-by-side position on the collecting means to form a tier of packages,
a transfer platform adjacent said collecting means,
said -collecting means including clearing means for shifting an accumulated tier of packages from the collecting means to the transfer platform,
a palletizing station adjacent said collecting means including means for supporting a pallet, and
intermittently-operated means for'shifting said transfer platform to a position over a pallet supported in said palletizing station and then sliding said platform while loaded with packages out from under any tier of packages deposited thereon.
2. Package-handling apparatus comprising first and second elongated conveyer legs disposed at substantially right angles and with the offbearing end of said first leg in feeding relation to the feed end of said second conveyer leg,
said first -conveyer leg including a package-transfer section with means defining two elongated paths of travel for packages extending along the leg,
said package-transfer section along one of said paths of travel being constructed and arranged to move packages forwardly without substantial change in their orientation and along the other of said paths -of travel being constructed and arranged to move packages forwardly while applying simultaneously two speeds to the packages so related asl to produce turning of successive packages about upright axes and a reorientation of the packages,
said first conveyer leg further including a feed-conveyer section operable selectively to feed packages rst into one and then into the other of said paths of travel,
said second conveyer leg including a receiving station directly adjacent the offbearing end of the first conveyer leg where packages are deposited as rows on traveling from said transfer-conveyer section,
a collecting station forwardly in the second conveyer leg from the receiving station,
intermittently-actuated ejector means for 4shifting successive rows of packages deposited in said receiving station into said collecting station with said rows beg ing stacked side by side to form a tier,
a transfer platform disposed forwardly in said second conveyer leg from said collecting station,
intermittently-operated means for shifting a tier of pack ages from said collecting station forwardly and onto said transfer platform,
a palletizing station disposed forwardly in -said second conveyer leg from said transfer platform having means for supporting a pallet, and
intermittently-operated means for shifting said transfer platform while loaded with packages into said palletizing station and over a pallet supported therein and then sliding said platform out from under any tier of packages deposited thereon.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,703,182 3/ 1955 Broberg.
2,971,659 2/ 1961 Miller.
2,987,251 6/1961 Alexander.
3,047,123 7/1962 McKay 198-33.2 3,063,542 11/1962 Boller 1955-332 3,195,739 7/1965 Hein et al 214-6 3,247,981 4/1966 Johnson 214-6I GERALD M. FORLENZA, Primary Examiner. MORRIS TEMIN, Examiner.
I. E. OLDS, Assistant Examiner.