US 3320717 A
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May 23. 1967 APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOXES, TRAYS OR THE LI AND FEEDING DEVICES THEREFOR KEJ Filed May 15, 1964 6 Sheets-Sheet 1 [Owl 3. 3am W xmzm w D. w. MOLINS ETAL 3,320,717
May 23. 1967 D, w. MOLINS ETAL 3,320,717
APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOXES, TRAYS OR THE LIKE AND FEEDING DEVICES THEREFOR Filed May 15, 1964 6 Sheets-Sheet 2 Malia/WM. Q WZW May 2 19 7 D. w. MOLINS ETAL 3,320,717
APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOXES, TRAYS OR THE LIKE AND FEEDING DEVICES THEREFOR Filed May 15, 1964 6 Sheets-Sheet 3 Hg. /d
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APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOXES TRAYS OR THE LIKE AND FEEDING DEVICES THEREFOR Filed May 15, 1964 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 I 22 22 222 5 IB 225 g //7 /2/ #5 229 226' "1 226 .h 2 Z 257 250! 2,? 5 H 559 j; 247 227 Z-+2fl 250 245 252 245 730 lamm' 'zzi w M, 2 2
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APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOXES, TRAYS OR THE LIKE AND FEEDING DEVICES THEREFOR Filed May 15, 1964 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 M wwm United States Patent 3,320,717 APPARATUS FOR FILLING BOXES, TRAYS OR THE LIKE AND FEEDING DEVICES THEREFOR Desmond Walter Molins and James George Edward Hillman, London, England, assignors to The Molins Organisation Limited, a British company Filed May 15, 1964, Ser. No. 367,826 Claims priority, application Great Britain, May 21, 1963, 20,195/ 63 Claims. (Cl. 53151) This invention relates to apparatus for filling boxes, trays or the like with cigarettes or other rod-like articles, and more particularly to feeding devices for use therein.
'While apparatus and devices embodying the invention may be employed to handle a wide variety of rodlike articles, particular problems arise in the handling of cigarettes because they are of relatively low density, their paper wrappers are of low mechanical strength, and their quality and value may readily be reduced by rough handling which tends to cause loss of tobacco from their open ends. Cigarette-making machines, however, now operate at high speeds, e.g. 2,000 cigarettes per minute, so that high-speed handling of the cigarettes produced 1s necessary.
It is an object of the present invention to provide improved apparatus for filling boxes, trays or the like with cigarettes or other rod-like articles and feeding devices for use therein.
According to the invention, there is provided a feeding device for cigarettes or other rod-like articles, comprising a plurality of parallel shafts having their axes in a common, substantially horizontal plane, each of said shafts being of polygonal cross-section and being separated from each neighbouring shaft by a space of sufficient width to allow articles to be fed to pass therebetween, driving means connected to all said shafts and adapted to produce rotation thereof, and a plurality of movable blocking members, at least one for each of said spaces, said blocking members being connected to common actuating means operable to move said blocking members between blocking positions in which they block said spaces against passage of articles and withdrawn positions below said shafts.
It will be appreciated that the optimum cross-sectional shape of the shafts is related to the nature of the articles to be fed, e.g. a square or triangular section shaft would have edges sufficiently sharp to introduce a risk of damage to cigarettes although suitable where the articles to be fed were less easily damaged. Where cigarettes are to be fed, we therefore prefer to employ shafts of pentagonal or hexagonal section; in two preferred embodiments of the invention described in detail hereinafter, the shafts are respectively of regular hexagonal and of pentagonal section. In the latter case, the five faces of each shaft are not plane but slightly concave i.e. in the form of shallow flutes.
In general, all the shafts should rotate in the same sense as this secures substantially uniform feed of articles through all the spaces between neighbouring shafts, whereas if alternate shafts were rotated in opposite senses, then alternate spaces would be bounded by two downward-moving and two upward-moving surfaces, tending respectively to promote and discourage passage of articles. However the sense in which the shafts rotate also has an influence on the distribution of articles across the whole area immediately above the shafts. If one visualises a device embodying the invention, viewed horizontally looking towards the ends of the shafts, then there will be a tendency for articles lying above the shafts, prior to the passage therebetween, to move to the right if all the shafts rotate clockwise, or to the left if the roation is anticlockwise. It is therefore appropriate to cause all the shafts to rotate in one sense if articles are to be delivered to the upper face of the shaft assembly from one side, as the rotation can then be made to distribute the articles across the whole assembly of shafts from the point of de1iveryviewing the device as before, clockwise rotation would be appropriate if delivery is effected at the left. It may however be convenient to deliver articles from above to an area above the central shafts of the assembly and in such a case the shafts to one side of the centre may be rotated in the opposite sense from the shafts on the other side of centre; as viewed before, the shafts to left and right of centre would respectively be rotated anticlockwise and clockwise.
Such a feeding device is in use supplied with articles from above and delivers them below the shafts, feeding taking place whenever the shafts are rotating and the blocking members are in their withdrawn positions, and being stopped whenever the shafts are stopped and the blocking members in their blocking positions. It is preferred therefore to provide a common control for the common actuating means of the blocking members and the driving means for the shafts, as this enables feeding to be stopped and started simply and abruptly, which is of advantage if it is desired to feed articles in batches of predetermined size.
Feeding devices embodying the invention may be used in a variety of types of apparatus but are notably convenient to use in apparatus for filling boxes, trays or the like.
Further according to the invention, there is provided apparatus for filling boxes, trays or the like with cigarettes or other rod-like articles, including a feeding device as defined above, including means for delivering articles to a supply hopper immediately above the shafts of the feeding device, a platform below said shafts to receive articles falling therebetween, and elevating means arranged to move said platform vertically between a lowered position and a raised position separated by a distance corresponding to the height of a box, tray or the like to be filled, said elevating means being operable in synchronism with the driving means for the shafts and the common actuating means for the blocking members of the feeding device, so that the shafts rotate and the blocking members are in their withdrawn positions only while the platform is descending from its raised position to its lowered position.
With such apparatus it will be understood that each time the platform commences a descent from its raised position to its lowered position, the shafts commence rotation and the blocking members move to their withdrawn positions. Articles start falling through the spaces between the shafts, from the supply hopper to the platform. As the platform is initially in its raised position, when feeding of articles commences as the blocking members are withdrawn the articles fall only a short distance, and as the platform descends, the accumulation of articles upon the platform tends to decrease the distance of fall, offsetting the increase of that distance due to the platforms descent. Preferably the elevating means is arranged to give a rate of descent of the platform which substantially balances the rate at which the height of articles accumulated on the platform increases so that the distance through which articles fall remains sensibly constant and in feeding cigarettes we prefer to keep this distance zero, so that during most of a tray filling operation there is a continuous mass of cigarettes from the platform up between the shafts to the topmost layer of cigarettes in the supply hopper. It is preferred to stop feeding of the articles shortly before the platform reaches its lowest position, to ensure that the tray is not overfilled and once feeding has been stopped, the rate of descent of the platform may be increased.
A box, tray or the like open at'the top and over its two long sides may be placed below the feeding means so that the platform descends into it carrying the articles accumulating thereon. With such an arrangement, it is preferable also to provide pusher means operable. as soon as the platform attains its lowered position, the shafts have ceased to rotate and the blocking members have assumed their blocking positions, said pusher means being arranged to move horizontally across the path of the platform to engage the articles thereon and push them off the platform. The box, tray or the like requires to be pushed laterally in similar fashion and in handling cigarettes it is preferred to provide for engagement of part of the pusher means directly against the box, tray or the like but in handling articles more robust than cigarettes it may be sufficient for the pusher means simply to engage the articles and allow the box, tray or the like to be moved by thrust transmitted through the articles to a side wall of the box, tray or the like opposite the open side thereof through which the platform and pusher means enter.
In order thatthe invention may be well understood, preferred forms of device and apparatus embodying the invention will now be described, reference being made to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a sectional view of the essential parts of one form of feeding device embodying the invention, while articles are passing therethrough;
FIGURE 2 is a view similar to FIGURE 1 but showing the parts in the position they occupy when the feed of articles is stopped;
FIGURE 3 is a sectional elevation of a tray filling apparatus including a filling devices as shown in FIGURES 1 and 2;
FIGURE 4 is a further sectional elevation of the apparatus of FIGURE 3, the plane of section being at right-angles to that of FIGURE 3;
FIGURES 5 and 6 are views, similar to FIGURES l and 2 respectively, of another device embodying the invention;
FIGURE 7 is a sectional elevation on the line VII VII of FIGURE 8 and generally similar to FIGURE 3, but showing another form of tray filling apparatus including the device of FIGURES 5 and 6;
FIGURE 8 is an elevation of the apparatus of FIG- URE 7, with parts broken away to show underlying members in section;
FIGURE 9 is a partial sectional plan of the apparatus of FIGURES 7 and 8, on line IX-IX of FIGURE 8, drawn to a larger scale; and
FIGURE l0 is asection on the line XX of FIG- URE 9.
First considering FIGURES 1 and 2, the feeding device shown comprises a plurality of parallel hexagonalsection rotatable shafts 1, all of whose axes lie in a common horizontal plane, and associated with each shaft 1 is a blocking bar 2 which may occupy either a withdrawn position below its associated shaft 1,, as illustrated in FIGURE: 1, or a blocking position substantially midway between its associated shaft 1 and one of the adjacent shafts as shown in FIGURE 2. The bars 2 are all carried by a common frame (not shown) so that they are all simultaneously movable between their blocking and withdrawn positions.
The spacing between adjacent shafts 1 is such that cigarettes 3 to be fed through the device may only pass one at a time between each pair of adjacent shafts; more specifically, where adjacent shafts are in the positions shown in FIGU'RES l and 2, so that each space between adjacent shafts is bounded by two parallel faces of the shafts, the spacing should not exceed and preferably is less than, twice the diameter of one cigarette 3, while when the spacing is at a minimum, i.e. when the shafts have rotated to such positions that edges of adjoining shafts are in the common plane of their axes, that spacing is not less than the diameter of one of the cigarettes 3.
Drivingmeans (not shown) are provided for rotating all the shafts 1 in the same sense, preferably anti-clockwise to assistant distribution of cigarettes over the width of the hopper 11, and such rotation produces a steady flow of cigarettes between the shafts whenever the bars 2 are in their withdrawn positions (FIGURE 1). It will be understood that due to the hexagonal section of the shafts 1, said shafts do not provide a positive feed of the cigarettes but rather tend to assist the passage of the cigarettes between the shafts and, more important perhaps, serve to impart a certain agitation to cigarettes above the shafts which prevents jamming of the cigarettes as would occur were the shafts not rotated and the feed accomplished solely by gravity. However, the shafts being of hexagonal section do not present edges of sulficient sharpness to damage the cigarettes, especially if as is preferable the spacing between adjacent shafts is sensibly greater than the minimum.
Turning now to FIGURES 3 and 4, the tray-filling apparatus shown includes a feedingdevice 10 similar to that of FIGURES 1 and 2, including shafts 1 andblocking bar 2. Above the device 10 is a hopper 11 supplied with cigarettes by a supply conveyor 12 from which a ramp 13 leads into said hopper. Below the device 10 a plinth 14 provides a support for a tray 15 to be filled, the said plinth 14 being so far below the device 10 that the top edge 16 of the tray 15 is only a short distance below said device 10. The tray 15 "has an open top and one open side-the side which is to the right as seen in FIGURE 3iand into the tray there project a platform. 17 arranged for vertical movement from top to bottom of said tray.
A pusher plate 18 extends'vertically alongside the tray 15, lying just outside the open side of said tray, and is movable in a horizontal path across the plinth 14, the lower edge of the plate 18 being at a level slightly higher than the inside of the bottom of tray 15. Connected to and movable with the pusher plate 18 are a pair of pusher rods 19, these rods being at a lower level than the lower edge of plate 18 so as to be engageable with the bottom of the tray 15 Which has depending flanges 20 serving to strengthen the tray and which flanges provide an angle surface for engagement by the rods 19. The platform 17 is supported by arms 21 past each. end of the plate 18.
A tray filling operation proceeds as follows: with the platform 17 in its highest position, the bars 2 of the feeding device 10 are moved to their withdrawn positions (FIGURE 1) and the shafts 1 are all caused to rotate anticlockwise. Cigarettes start passing through the spaces between theshafts 1 and accumulate upon the platform 17, which itself commences to descend at such a speed that the stack of cigarettes forming on the platform extends up to the lower side of the shafts 1. The tray 15 accordingly fills with cigarettes from the top downwards, and at no time do the cigarettes fall freely.
Shortly before the platform 17 reaches the bottom of the tray, bars 2 are moved to their blocking positions and rotation of shafts 1 is stopped. The speed of descent of the platform is increased for the remainder of its travel, and as during this time no more cigarettes are fed to the stack in the tray, no overfilling can occur. As soon as descent of the platform 17 is complete, the pusher rods 19 and the pusher plate 18 move to the left (FIG- URE 3), pushing the tray 15 and the cigarettes stacked on the platform 17 before them. The platform 17 however does not move, so that as the tray and cigarettes move clear of the left-hand (FIGURE 3) edge of the platform 17, the cigarettes drop by a small distance, equal to the thickness of the platform plus any clearance between the platform and the bottom of the tray, and rest within the tray which is then moved away; plate 1 8 and rods 19 are withdrawn and the platform 17 raised, at a higher speed than employed during descent, an empty tray is moved on to the plinth 14, and the whole sequence of events is repeated to fill this further tray.
While it will be apparent that the various parts of the apparatus may be driven in a variety of ways to obtain the required movements, the drawings include one suitable layout of driving means to which brief reference will now be made. A pair of chains or belts 22 having projections carrying a common pusher bar 23 are arranged below a support plate 24 adjoining the plinth 14, the pusher bar 23 projecting above the plate 24, serves to propel trays to and from the plinth 14, prior to and after completion of filling operations. Said belts or chains 22 are carried by wheels or sprockets 25 secured on a driving shaft 26 and by idler wheels or sprockets 27 freely rotatable on a shaft 28; the shaft 28 serves as a second drive shaft, having secured to it sprockets 29 engaged with another pair of chains 30 extending to sprockets 31 secured to a transfer shaft 32. Also secured to shaft 32 is a further pair of sprockets 33 which mesh with chains 34 which each pass over three idler sprockets 35 and are connected to the top of the pusher plate 18 by a bar 36. Chains 30 are connected to rods 19 by means of frames 19a which are also secured to the lower edge of plate 18.
It will be seen that the required horizontal movements of the plate 18 and rods 19 will be obtained by simple rotation of the shaft 28, and that this shaft will need to be rotated to a certain extent in one sense when a filled tray is to be removed to the left (FIGURE 3) and then to the same extent in the opposite sense before a further, empty, tray is placed on the plinth 14 for filling.
A further drive shaft 37 carries a pair of sprockets 38 meshed with chains 39 which pass around idler sprockets 40 and each is secured at both ends to one of a symmetri- (rally-disposed pair of sliding blocks 41 which are engaged in slots 42 in a pair of end-plates 43 of the apparatus. The arms 21 supporting platform 17 are scoured to the sliding blocks 41, hence rotation of the shaft 37, first in one sense, then the other, at appropriate times secures the required descent and ascent of said platform at the desired speeds.
The several drive shafts 26, 28, 37 are driven in shitably timed relation with one another and with operation of actuating means for the shafts 1 and bars 2 of the feeding device 10 so as to obtain the sequence of opera tions explained above.
It will be noted that in one side wall of the hopper 11 there is provided a photo-electric cell unit 44, aligned with a hole 45 in the opposite wall outside which hole a lamp 46 is mounted. During use of the apparatus, the lamp 46 is lit and therefore the unit 44, in conjunction with electrical circuits (not shown) will in known manner produce an electrical output indicating Whether or not the light from the lamp is blocked from reaching the photo-electric cell unit. As the passage of light will only be affected by the presence or absence of cigarettes at the level of the lamp 46 and unit 44, the said electrical output will indicate whether or not the cigarettes in the hopper extend above the said level and the said circuits are connected to control the drive of the apparatus, which preferably is an electric motor, so as to stop the apparatus whenever light reaches the unit 44. This is desirable as a certain minimum height of the stack of cigarettes above the shafts 1 is required to ensure a proper feed of cigarettes between said shafts.
Just below the shafts 1 and bars 2, an agitator is provided, comprising a number of parallel bars 47, extending parallel to shafts I, mounted in a rectangular frame 48. The frame 48 with its bars 47 is arranged to reciprocate horizontally at right angles to the length of bars 47 whenever the bars 2 are withdrawn and shafts 1 rotating so that the bars 47 cross and recross the paths of cigarettes falling from between shafts 1 and thus the distribution of cigarettes on the platform 17 is assisted.
Turning now to FIGURES 5 to 10, for convenience of comparison those parts which correspond closely to parts of the device and apparatus of FIGURES 1 to 4 will be given a reference number one hundred higher than that applied to the latter parts, while those parts shown in FIGURES 5 to 10 not so corresponding will be given reference numbers not less than two hundred; for example in FIGURES 1 to 4 the hexagonal shafts carry the reference 1 and in FIGURES 5 to 10 corresponding shafts are indicated by reference 101; but the parts marked by reference 201 in FIGURES 5 to 10 are not however so related to the shafts 1.
First considering FIGURES 5 and 6, the feeding device illustrated comprises parallel rotatable shafts 101 and associated blocking bars 102. Cigarettes 103 pass between the shafts whenever bars 102 are in their Withdrawn positions, i.e. as shown in FIGURE 5. In this form of feeding device, it will be seen that the shafts 101 are basically of regular pentagonal section, but the faces of the pentagon are slightly concave, in the form of very shallow flutes, also the corners of the pentagon are chamfered off to remove sharp edges which could damage the cigarettes 103.
The shafts 101 are provided with driving means, as shown in FIGURES 7 and 9, comprising coupling shafts 201, bevel gears 202, 203, a common cross-shaft 204, bevel gears 205, 206, 207 and a driving shaft 208. More specifically, each shaft 101 has one of its ends coupled by a tongue-and-slot joint to one end of an associated coupling shaft 201 which is aligned with and forms an extension of the shaft 101. The other end of the shaft 201 carries a bevel gear 202 which meshes with a bevel gear 203 secured to the common cross-shaft 204. One end of the cross-shaft 204 carries a bevel gear 205 which meshes with two bevel gears 206, 207, carried on the driving shaft 208 which, during operation of the apparatus, is rotated by any convenient prime mover (not shown), preferably an electric motor.
The two bevel gears 206, 207 are not secured directly to the shaft 208 but are connected to the shaft via freewheels (i.e. unidirectional clutches) 209, 210 and driving rings 211, 212 respectively, the driving rings being secured to the shaft 208. The freewheels are arranged in opposition, i.e. so that upon rotation of shaft 208 in one direction the freewheel 209 provides a driving connection between ring 211 and gear 206 while freewheel 210 allows the ring 212 to turn without transmitting any drive to gear 207, rotation of the shaft 208 in the opposite direction serving to drive gear 207 but not gear 206. Thus so long as shaft 208 rotates, one or other of gears 206, 207 is driven and hence drive is transmitted to gear 205. As gears 206, 207 mesh with the gear 205 at diametrically opposed positions, rotation of gear 206 in one direction and rotation of gear 207 in the opposite direction produce similar rotation of gear 205. This arrangement of the gears and freewheels, therefore, causes shaft 204 (and hence shafts 101) to rotate in a desired direction whenever shaft 208 is rotating, irrespective of the direction of rotation of the latter shaft.
The shaft 208 also carries a further pair of freewheels 213 and 214 associated with a driving ring 215 and a cam 216. The cam 216 is rotatable upon and relative to the shaft 208 and has a projecting integral central boss 217 on which the freewheels 213 and 214 are mounted. The freewheel 213 is also secured to the ring 215 (which is itself secured to the shaft), while the freewheel 214 is also secured to a fixed bracket 218. The two freewheels 213 and 214 are so disposed that when shaft 208 rotates in one direction, freewheel 213 provides a driving connection between ring 215, rotating with the shaft, and cam 216, but when the shaft rotates in the opposite direction the cam 216 is not driven. In the latter condition, frictional drag in the freewheel 213 may exert a small driving torque on the cam 216 in the said opposite direetion but movement of the cam is prevented by freewheel 214 which then provides a driving connection between the cam 216 and the fixed bracket 218 thus preventing undesired return movement (often termed creep) of the cam 216. This latter condition, in which freewheel 213 provides no driving connection while free- Wheel 214 holds ca-m 216 stationary, exists whenever shafts 101 are being driven normally via freewheel 209 and bevel gear 206, while the opposite condition (freewheel 213 affording a driving connection to earn 216, freewheel 214 allowing the cam 216 to move relative to bracket 218) exists when the direction of rotation shaft 208 .is such that shafts 101 are driven via freewheel 210 and bevel gear 207.
The shaft 208 also carries a three-lobed cam 219 (FIG- URES 8 and 9) which is fixedly secured to said shaft so as to be rotated whenever the shaft rotates, in either direction. A follower roller 220 rides on the cam 219 and is carried by an arm 221 which is pivoted at its upper end to a fixed stud 222, carries the roller 220 at about its mid-point, and at its lower end is bifurcated to embrace a rod 223 connecting two horizontally reciprocable bars 148. Said bars 148 are also connected by a plurality of further rods 147; the rod 223 and rods 147 extend parallel to shafts 101, while bars 148 extend at right-angles to said shafts, the bars 148 and rods 223, 147 all being horizontal and lying somewhat below the level of shafts 101. The rods 223, 147 all project through the bars 148 and therefore have projecting end portions such as 223a (FIGURE 9) which are received in a pair of horizontally-extending grooved members 224 forming part of the frame of the apparatus.
It will be apparent that, whenever shaft 208 rotates, the bars 148 willbe reciprocated horizontally due to the action of cam 219, transmitted through follower roller 220, arm 221, and rod 223, causing rods 147 to move in sympathy, crossing and recrossing the paths of cigarettes falling between shafts 101 to assist the distribution of such cigarettes on a platform 117 (FIGURES 7 and 8) below said shafts.
The said platform 117 is horizontal and is carried by a frame 121 secured to two vertically slidable blocks 141; each of said blocks 141 is associated with 'an endplate 143 of the apparatus and constrained to move vertically by guides (not shown) carried by the associated end-plate. Each of the blocks 141 has both ends of a chain 139 secured to it, the chains 139 passing round idler sprockets 140-and drive sprockets 138, the latter being carried by drive shafts 137 of electric motors 225. The motors 225 are energised whenever cigarettes are falling between shafts 101 so as to produce a relatively slow downward movement of the platform 117, whereby as cigarettes collect on said platform the top of the growing stack of cigarettes is always just below the level of the lowest points of shafts 101.
A plinth 114 is provided directly below the shafts 101, just below the lowest level that the platform 117 can reach, to carry a tray 115 to be filled. The tray to be filled preferably has no side walls, as shown, but in any event must be open on one side (the left as viewed in FIGURE 7) and at the top, so that the platform 117 may descend into said tray.
The plinth 114 is carried on supports 226 which are horizontally slidable on support rods 227. The supports 226 are connected by links 228, arms 229, and a sleeve 230 journalled on a shaft 231 to a double-armed lever 232 carrying two cam followers 233, one riding on a cam 234 and one on a cam 235. It can readily be seen (FIGURE 7) that rotation of cams 234 and 235 produces horizontal reciprocation of the plinth 114.
A pusher plate 118 stands vertically alongside tray 115, and is carried by a support 236 which is horizontally slidable on a support rod 237. Tilting of the plate 118 is prevented by projecting flanges 238 (FIGURE 8) ofangle-section horizontal members of the apparatus frame, which flanges are engaged by the ends of the lower edge of the plate 118. Said plate 118 has a projecting web 239 on the face remote from the region traversed by platform 117, said web 239 being connected by a pin-andslot connection indicated at 240 to a double-arm lever 241 pivoted on a shaft 242 and carrying two cam-followers 243 riding on the cams 234 and 235. The cams 234, 235 are both secured to a common shaft 244, and it will be apparent that rotation of cams 234, 235 will produce horizontal reciprocation of the plate 118 in timed relation to the aforementioned reciprocation of plinth 114.
The shaft 244 also carries a third cam 245 against which a cam follower 246 carried by one end of a lever 247 bears. Said lever 247 is pivotally mounted partway along ,its length and its other end engages a yoke 248 secured to the outer ends of the support rods 227 associated with the plinth'114. The other ends of said rods 227 are carried by a mounting block 249 pivotally secured at 250 to the frame of the apparatus. The cam 245 is so shaped as to allow the yoke 248 to drop slightly for a short period once per revolution of the shaft 235, this movement naturally taking place in timed relation to the horizontal reciprocation of plinth 114 and plate 118 due to the fact that cams 234, 235 and 245 are all carried by and rotatable with the same shaft 244.
Returning to the vicinity of the shafts 101, the blocking bars 102 require to be moved between the position of FIGURE 5 and that of FIGURE 6; referring again to FIGURES 9 and 10, this is accomplished in response to the movement of the cam 216 previously described. Two cam followers 251, 252 ride on said earn 216 and are both carried by a block 253 from which two bars 254, 255 extend horizontally above and below the coupling shafts 201 and at right-angles thereto. The bars 254, 255 have rack teeth formed in lower and upper faces respectively, as indicated at 256 (FIGURE 10) which mesh with a series of pinions 257 carried by, but rotatable relative to, the coupling shafts 201. Each pinion 257 carries, eccentrically, one end of the blocking bar 102 associated with the shaft 101 coupled to the coupling shaft 201 on which that pinion is carried, the other end of said bar 102 being similarly carried by a similar pinion 258 carried by, but rotatable relative to, the ends of shafts 101 remote from the coupling shafts 201.
The bars 254, 255 each carry rack teeth over only approximately half their lengths. Referring to FIGURE 8, it will be seen from the relevant sectioned parts thatthe upper bar 254 has teeth meshing with pinions 257 in the left-hand half of the apparatus while the lower bar 255 has a complementary arrangement; thus when rotation of cam'216 causes both bars to move to the right (still as seen in FIGURE 8), say, the pinions 257 in the left half will rotate clockwise, and those in the right half will rotate anticlockwise.
Pinions 258 mesh with rack teeth on a similar pair of upper and lower bars, but in this case the upper bar has its teeth on its right-hand part, the lower bar has its teeth on its left-hand part. Each of the pinions 258, however, move in the same sense as its corresponding pinion 257 because the bars meshed with pinions 258 always move in opposition to the bars 254, 255, the former bars being connected tothe latter by a centrally pivoted lever 259.
It should be noted thatthe shafts 101 are not all driven in the same direction. As seen in FIGURE 9, the bevel gears 203 lie to the right of the gears 202 with which they mesh, and this is true of all the gears 203 contained in the left half of the assembly of shafts 101 (as seen in FIGURE 8), but in the right half, the bevel gears 203 lie to the leftof their associated gears 202; thus the shafts 101 in the left half all rotate in one direction while the shafts 101 in the right half rotate oppositely, the respective directions of rotation being anticlockwise and clockwise, as seen in FIGURE 8.
Finally, at 260 (FIGURE 8) there is indicated the delivery end of a conveyor belt which may be provided to deliver trays to the plinth 114, and at 261 there are indicated the delivery ends of two conveyor belts for bringing cigarettes to the apparatus. The belts 261 deliver cigarettes via bridges 262 (over which cigarettes foll due to their acquired momentum) to chain conveyors comprising pairs of chains interconnected by rods 263 (FIG. 7). The spacing between adjoining rods 263 is of course somewhat less than the diameter of a cigarette, and tensioning devices generally indicated at 264 are provided between the upper and lower runs of each pair of chains.
A platform 265 (FIGURE 7) is provided to receive filled trays from the plinth 114.
The sequence of operation of the apparatus is that an empty tray is delivered by conveyor belt 260 to the plinth 114 at a time when said plinth is in the position shown in FIGURE 7 and the platform 117 is in its highest position (i.e. slightly higher than any part of the tray), and the bars 102 are in their blocking positions so that no cigarettes are falling between shafts 101, although cigarettes are being fed to the apparatus by belts 261 and hence accumulating above shafts 101. As soon as the tray is symmetrically positioned on the plinth 114, the shaft 208 (which has hitherto been rotating in such direction that the shafts 101 were turning but not the cam 216) is caused to rotate in the reverse direction for a halfrevolution. This causes cam 216 to rotate through a halfrevolution also, and through rack bars 254 and pinions 257 the bars 102 are moved to the positions shown in FIGURE 10. Cigarettes commence falling between shafts 101 on to platform 117, and simultaneously motors 225 are energised so that platform 117 starts to descend, its rate of descent being equal to that at which the depth of cigarettes stacked on the platform 117 increases. Shaft 208, after it half-revolution in the reverse direction, continues forward rotation so that shafts 101 are turning to assist passage of cigarettes therebetween and bars 148 are reciprocated by cam 219, causing rods 147 to cross and recross the paths of the falling cigarettes to produce even distribution on the platform 117.
The above conditions persist until platform 117 reaches its lowermost position, whereupon shaft 208 again reverses for a half-revolution, causing bars 102 to move their blocking positions and this stops further feed of cigarettes to increase the height of the stack on the platform 117, and motors 225 cease to be energised so that descent of said platform stops. Shaft 244 now, however, starts to turn and the cams 234, 235, 245 carried on it cause plinth 114 and plate 118 to move to the right (FIG- UR E 7); as plinth 114 reaches its extreme right-hand position, it tilts (due to the action of cam 245) and the tray 115 slides on to platform 265. During the first part of the movement of plate 118 it crosses the platform 117 and therefore pushes the cigarettes stacked on said platform 117 on to the tray 115 which is moving with the plate 118.
Shaft 244 continues to turn until it has completed one revolution, whereupon it stop, plinth 114 and plate 118 having then returned to the positions shown in FIG- URE 7; thereupon motors 225 are again energised, to run at higher speed and in the reverse direction, causing platform 117 to ascend quickly to its highest position. Motors 225 then cease to be energised, conveyor belt 260 feeds another tray on to the plinth 114, and the described sequence of operations is repeated.
The desired sequence described may be obtained by various means forming no part of the present invention. For example, we may provide microswitches or the like arranged to be operated when a tray 115 reaches a symmetrical position on the plinth 114 and/ or when the platform 117 reaches its lowest and highest positions, and such switches may be connected in electrical circuits controlling motors 225 and/or other motors (not shown) driving shafts 208, 244, and conveyor belt 260. If desired, a photo-electric device (corresponding to the photocell 44 of FIG'URES 3 and 4) may be provided above 10 the shafts 101 and may exercise control over the conveyor belts 261.
It will be seen that the invention provides a simple but effective form of feeding device and of filling apparatus including such a device. The specific embodiments shown in the accompanying drawings and hereinbefore described in detail are of course only preferred forms of the invention and many modified or alternative forms may be produced without departure from the scope of the invention. For example, in the feeding devices described we may provide two or more blocking members for each space between adjoining shafts, while in a filling apparatus embodying the invention we may for example arrange for the platform to descend alongside an opensided tray to be filled and then to move horizontally into and out of said tray in timed relation to a pusher plate such as plate 18 so as to leave its load of cigarettes or other articles in said tray.
What we claim as our invention and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:
1. A feeding device for rod-like articles such as cigarettes, comprising a supply hopper for said articles, an outlet in said hopper, a plurality of shafts of polygonal cross-section rotatably mounted below said hopper outlet for assisting discharge of said articles, said outlet being common to each of said shafts, said shafts having their axes disposed parallel to one another in a common, substantially horizontal plane and being spaced apart to allow said articles to pass through spaces therebetween, driving means connected to each of said shafts for ro tation thereof, a separate blocking member for each of said spaces, each of said blocking members comprising a rotatable member, a bar carried eccentrically by said rotatable member, and means connected to each of said rotatable members for eifecting rotation thereof, whereupon said bar moves from a withdrawn position below one of said shafts into a blocking position in one of said spaces alongside one of said shafts wherein said bar and said articles are in direct contact, said spaces being capable of passing said articles at all times when said bars are in said withdrawn position.
2. A device as claimed in claim 1, in which said shafts are of regular hexaonal cross-section.
3. A device as claimed in claim 1, in which said shafts are of substantially pentagonal cross-section, with faces formed as shallow flutes.
4. A device as claimed in claim 1, in which the driving means is arranged to rotate all said shafts in the same direction.
5. A device as claimed in claim 1 including at least one pinion for each of the blocking members and at least one rack member in mesh with the pinions, the blocking members comprising bars carried eccentrically by said pinions so as to be moved whenever rotation of the pinions is produced by reciprocation of the rack members.
6. A device as claimed in claim 1, including a plurality of rods disposed parallel to and generally below said shafts and said blocking members, and means for driving said rods so as to cross and recross the paths of articles falling through said spaces between said shafts.
7. Apparatus for filling containers such as boxes and trays with rod-like articles such as cigarettes comprising: a supply hopper for said articles, means for delivering articles to said supply hopper, an outlet in said hopper, a plurality of shafts of polygonal cross-section rotatably mounted below said hopper outlet for assisting discharge of said articles, said outlet being common to each of said shafts, said shafts having their axes disposed parallel to one another in a common, substantially horizontal plane and being spaced apart to allow said article to pass through spaces therebetween, driving means connected to each of said shafts for rotation thereof, a separate blocking member for each of said spaces, each of said blocking members comprising a rotatable member, a bar carried 'eccent-rically by said rotatable member, means connected to each of said rotatable members for effecting rotation thereof, whereupon said bar moves from a withdrawn position below one of said shafts into a blocking position in one of said spaces alongside one of said shafts wherein said bar and said articles are in direct contact, said spaces being capable of passing said articles at all times when said bars are in said withdrawn position, a platform below said shafts to receive articles falling therebetween, and elevating means arranged to move said platform vertically between a lowered position and a raised position separated by a distance susbtantially corresponding to the height of a container to be filled, said elevating means being operable in synchronisrn with the blocking members so that the latter are in their withdrawn position only while the platform is descending from its raised position to its lowered position.
8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7, in which the elevating means is arranged to give a rate of descent of the platform which substantially balances the rate at which the height of accumulated articles on the platform increases.
9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7, including pusher means operable as soon as the platform attains its lowered position and the blocking members have assumed their blocking positions, said pusher means being arranged to move horizontally across the path of the platform to engage the articles thereon and push them off the platform.
10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 9 including a plinth arranged to provide a support for the container during descent of the platform, the pusher means comprising means for moving said plinth horizontally and for tilting said plinth and a pusher plate with means for moving said plate horizontally in synchronism with the movement of'said plinth.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,179,448 4/1916 Milmoe et al. 53-151 1,668,693 5/1928 Molins 53151 2,826,883 3/1958 Pollrnann 53236 2,919,529 1/1960 Hil-lman 53148 TRAVIS'S. MCGEHEE, Printary Examiner.
FRANK E. BAILEY, Examiner.
R. I. ALVEY, Assistant Examiner.