US 3332530 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 25, 1967 Fi led March 17, 1966 M. A G REULICH MECHANICAL COMBINING APPARATUS 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 MAX A. GREQL/GH INVENTOR.
TTOR/VEY July 25, 1967 M. A. GREULICH I 3,332,530
MECHANICAL COMB INING APPARATUS Filed March 17, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 62' I l ulll hl """HNINII Mi" MAX A. GREUL/GH INVENTOR.
J y 1957 M. A. GREULICH 3,332,530
MECHANICAL COMBINING APPARATUS Filed March 17, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 dlllllll.
Iii m WIN l: Milli! MAXA. GREUL/Of/ INVENTOR.
July 25, 1967 M. A. GREULICH 3,332,530
MECHANI CAL COMB INING APPARATUS MAX A. GREUL/GH INVENTOR.
ATTORNEY-V July 25, 1967 M. A. GREULICH MECHANICAL COMBINING APPARATUS 5 Sheets-Sheet Filed March 17, 1966 MAX A. GREUL/GH INVENTOR B W- TORNEY United States Patent 3,332,530 MECHANICAL COMBINING APPARATUS Max A. Greulich, Montclair, N.J., assiguor to Wilhelm B. Bronander, Jr., Montclair, NJ. Filed Mar. 17, 1966, Ser. No. 535,100 8 Claims. (Cl. 198-32) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Apparatus for receiving randomly-spaced cartons from two conveyor supply lines and automatically discharging the cartons in a single line. Control members are actuated in a mutually-exclusive manner by the incoming cartons to prevent jamming of the cartons as they are moved to the in-line positions.
This invention relates to a mechanical combining apparatus and more particularly to apparatus for receiving objects carried in haphazard sequence on two conveyor lines and automatically discharging the objects in a single line.
Although apparatus made in accordance with this invention is adapted for operation with objects of any size and shape, it will be described specifically for use with cartons. In various packaging operations, cartons are transported through a production line on conveyors. Often, two conveyors run parallel to each other and the spacings between cartons carried by each conveyor are not uniform. At some other station in the production line, it is advantageous to combine the cartons from both conveyors into a single in-line flow. This is accomplished by apparatus generally referred to as a carton combiner.
Presently available carton combiners operate at relatively low speeds, are of complex construction and require considerable maintenance. 7
An object of this invention is the provision of a carton combiner of improved construction and increased operating speed.
An object of this invention is the provision of apparatus adapted to receive randomly-spaced objects from two conveyor supply lines and automatically discharging the objects in a single line, which apparatus includes control means actuated by movement of the objects and effective to provide a predetermined spacing between objects alternately received from the two lines, thereby to prevent jamming of the objects as they progress to the discharge end of the apparatus.
An object 'of this invention is the provision of carton combining apparatus comprising an endless belt for receiving cartons from two conveyor lines, a control station at the receiving end of said belt, means defining two parallel paths from the flow of the cartons through the control station, individual carton-actuated control members normally extending into the path of travel of the cartons as they pass through the control station, means effective upon actuation of one of the control members to mechanically lock the other control member in its normal position, and guide means for directing cartons which have passed through the control station into a single line at the other end of the belt.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description when taken with the accompanying drawings. It will be understood, however, that the drawings are for purposes of illustration and are not to be construed as defining the scope or limits of the invention, reference being had for the latter purpose to the claims appended hereto.
In the drawings wherein like reference characters denote like parts in the several views:
FIGURE 1 is a fragmentary top plan view showing 3,332,530 Patented July 25, 1967 apparatus of the class to which this invention is directed, with parts shown diagrammatically;
FIGURE 2 is a corresponding side elevational view;
FIGURE 3 is an enlarged, top plan view of the super structure carrying the various components constituting the control station in accordance with this invention;
FIGURE 4 is an end elevational view thereof, as viewed from the left end of FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 55 of FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 6 is an isometric view of a horizontal gate bar forming a part of one carton-actuated control arm;
FIGURE 7 is an isometric view of the associated gate having a curled end portion for engagement by a carton carried by the belt;
FIGURE 8 is a top plan view of the lock-out arm;
FIGURE 9 is a side elevational view thereof;
FIGURE 10 is an end elevational view thereof;
FIGURE 11 is a fragmentary, top plan view showing a modified construction of the control station;
FIGURE 12 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 1212 of FIGURE 11; and
FIGURE 13 is a corresponding side elevational view.
Referring now to FIGURES 1 and 2, the combiner apparatus comprises a base 10 carrying a synchronous motor 11 and a gear reduction unit 12 and having four upstanding struts 13-16 welded thereto. A pair of cross bars 17 and 18 are secured to the struts, said cross bars having ends welded to the parallel side frames 19 and 20. An endless belt 21 is disposed between the side frames and passes around the end rollers 22 and 23, the roller 23 having secured thereto a sprocket which is coupled to the gear reduction unit by a drive chain 24. In accordance with conventional practice, the upper surface of the belt is supported by a plurality of idler rollers rotatably carried by the side frames. A pair of inverted, U-shaped brackets 25 and 26 have ends welded to the side frames and serve as supports for the two guide rails 27 and 28 which are spaced above the belt. The central portions of the guide rails converge and terminate in parallel end portions at the delivery end of the belt, that is, the left end of the apparatus. The other parallel end portions of the guide rails are spaced apart a distance somewhat less than the width of the belt. Although not shown in FIGURES 1 and 2, these end portions of the guide rails are secured to a super structure generally identified by the numeral 30. Such super structure also has secured thereto a pair of short inner guide rails 31 and 32 to define parallel flow paths for the cartons passing through the control station.
The described apparatus may be mounted on the floor or it may be suspended from a ceiling by means of suitable suspensions. In either case, the belt 21 is aligned with two conveyor lines designated Line A and Line B in FIG- URE 1. In operation, cartons 35a and 35b are transferred onto the belt 21 in a haphazard sequence. The transferred cartons are guided in their movement under the super structure 30 by the guide rails 31 and 32 and the associated ends of the guide rails 27 and 28. Thereafter, the cartons converge into a single line, under the influence of the central portions of the guide rails 27 and 28, and are discharged onto a gravity conveyor 36, In order to prevent a jamming of the cartons as they are transported toward the discharge end of the apparatus, it is necessary to provide a staggered movement of the carbon as they are transported to and along the converging portions of the guide rails 27 and 28. This is accomplished by means of a control mechanism carried by the super structure 30 and constituting a control station, which mechanism will be described in detail hereinbelow, For the present, it is pointed out that a pair of pivotallymounted actuating arms are carried by the super structure, each arm having a downwardly-depending end normally extending into the path of travel of the cartons as they pass under the super structure, one such arm 37 being shown in the side elevational view of FIGURE 2. The control mechanism includes a lock-out arrange ment whereby the actuating arms operate in a mutually exclusive manner. Specifically, upon rotation of the actuating arm 37 by a carton 35a in Line A, the other actuating arm is locked in its normal position, thereby preventing a Line B carton from moving beyond the super structure. Upon passage of the Line A carton beyond the actuating arm 37, this arm is returned to its normal position, thereby unlocking the actuating arm associated with the Line B cartons. This permits the Line B carton to move with the belt, thereby rotating the associated actuating arm and simultaneously locking the actuating arm 37 in its normal position, thereby blocking movement of the next-following Line A carton. Thus, it will be apparent that the alternate release of cartons received from the two infeed conveyors results in a spacing of the released cartons, taken axially of the belt 21, which spacing exceeds the length of the particular cartons, thereby resulting in a single in-line flow of the cartons onto the conveyor 36. Such spacing of the cartons will depend upon the mechanical movement of the actuating arms to effect the described locking and unlocking action and the linear speed of the belt 21. It may also here be pointed out that when the cartons in one of the infeed lines are disposed back-to-back in a group, this entire group will pass through the combiner apparatus before the cartons in the other line are released.
The mechanism for automatically controlling the flow of the cartons through the control station will now be described with specific reference to FIGURES 3-5, FIG- URE 3 being a top plan view, FIGURE 4 an end elevational view as viewed from the left side of FIGURE 3, and FIGURE 5 being a cross-sectional view taken along the line 55 of FIGURE 3. The super structure 30 is an open frame structure formed of the upper horizontal angle irons 39-42, the four long vertical angle irons 43-46, the two short vertical angle arms 47 and 48, the front vertical plate 49 and the rear vertical plate 50. These members are welded together to form a sturdy, rigid structure. The lower ends of the four vertical angle irons 43-46 are secured to the spaced side frames 19 and 20 which carry the belt 21, as by means of angle brackets, bolts and nuts, whereby the entire super structure, as well as the control mechanism, readily may be removed from the belt assembly.
The horizontally-disposed angle irons 51 and 52, extending longitudinally of the belt 21, have their ends welded to the two vertical plates 45 and 50. These angle irons carry two sets of aligned bearings, namely, the bearings 53, 54 and 55, 56. Similar angle irons 57 and 58 carry the end bearings 59 and 60, see particularly FIG- URES 3 and 4. A shaft 61 is freely rotatable within the bearings 53 and 59, said shaft being provided with an axial keyway for securing thereto the horizontal gate arm 62, which gate arm has secured thereto the gate 63, as by the two bolts 64 and cooperating nuts. It is here pointed out that the assembled gate and gate arm are the members constituting the actuating arm 37 referred to above and shown diagrammatically in FIGURE 2.
As shown in the isometric view of FIGURE 6, the gate arm 62 comprises a hollow, metal housing 65, of rectangular configuration and open at both ends. Two metal tubes 66 span the housing and have ends disposed in aligned holes formed in the housing side walls. The ends of the tubes are welded to the housing walls. Disposed within the housing is a metal block 67 secured by four rivets 68 passing through aligned holes formed in the block and the top and bottom walls of the housing. A transverse keyhole 69 is formed in the housing side walls and the block, the circular portion of such hole having a diameter for receiving the shaft 61, see FIG- 4 URE 3. A steel key driven into the keyway of the shaft and the keyhole of the gate arm secures the arm firmly to the shaft. A flat, flexure spring 70 has an end clampingly secured to the gate arm 62 by a bar 71 and screws 72.
The construction and configuration of the associated gate 63 is shown in the isometric view of FIGURE 7. Such gate comprises spaced, vertical side walls 73 joined to a base portion 74 having an extended, curled end 75. The set of aligned holes 76, formed in the side walls, are aligned with the tubes 66, of the gate arm, when the gate is slidably positioned over the forward end of the gate arm so that these two members can be secured together by the two bolts 64 and cooperating nuts, as shown in FIGURES 3-5. When so assembled, the free end 75 of the gate extends into the path of the carton 35a carried by the belt 21, see particularly FIGURE 5. A second set of holes 77, formed in the side walls of the gate, provide a means for lowering the free end of the gate, thereby to adapt the apparatus for use with cartons of smaller height. Additional holes can be rovided to adapt the apparatus for operation with a wider range of carton sizes.
Referring to FIGURES 3 and 5, the free end of the flexure spring 70 is slidable between the horizontal arm of an L-shaped bracket and a flat bar 81 secured thereto by the two bolts 82 and cooperating nuts, the bracket 80 being welded or otherwise secured to a transverse flat bar 83 having its ends welded to the two short vertical angle irons 47 and 48. A locking lever 85, having a spacing bushing 86 welded thereto, is secured to the end of the shaft 61 by means of conventional keyways and a key. As best seen in FIGURE 3, formed in the free end of this lever is a detent 87 :defined by a semi-circular bottom wall. The described assembly of the gate 63, the gate arm 62, the shaft 61 and the locking lever is rotatable as a unit when the curled end 75 of the gate is engaged by the moving carton 35a. The assembly will remain in the rotated position until the carton passes beyond the gate end, after which the flexure spring 70 returns the assembly to the normal position, as illustrated.
The described construction of the gate and gate arms provides required strength with minimum weight. The weight of the members carried by the shaft 61 is counterbalanced by the flexure spring thereby to provide high sensitivity and speed of action.
It will be apparent the described gate and gate arm are associated with the cartons transported by the belt 21 and received from the infeed conveyor of Line A, see FIGURE 1. A similar, carton-actuated assembly is associated with the cartons supplied by the infeed conveyor line B, the individual components thereof being identified by corresponding, primed reference numerals. However, whereas the locking lever 85 is directed upwardly, the corresponding locking lever 85 is directed downwardly.
A lock-out arm 90, having spacing bushings 91 welded thereto, is mechanically keyed to the shaft 92 which is rotatable in the bearings 55 and 56. As shown in FIG- URES 8-10, the lock-out arm comprises a generally T-shaped member having a plurality of holes 93 formed therein for purposes of weight reduction. Secured to the integral side arms are two reversely-disposed pins 94 and 94'. Spaced sets of lugs 95 and 96 are welded to the end of the lock-out arm, the lateral spacing between the lugs corresponding to the width of a longitudinal slot formed in the end of the arm. One end of a fiat, flexure spring 97 is disposed within such slot and secured in place by means of the screws 98. Visible in FIGURE 9, is the keyhole 99 which extends through the lockout arm and the spacing bushings 91, such hole accommodating the shaft 92, see FIGURE 3, and a steel key by means of which the lockout arm is secured to the shaft.
As shown in FIGURES 3 and 5, the free end of the flexure spring 97 is slidable between the surface of an L-shaped bracket 100 and a fiat bar 101, the latter being secured to the bracket by bolts and cooperating nuts. It
will be apparent that the lock-out arm 90 is secured to the shaft 92 which is freely rotatable in the bearings 55 and 56, and that the arm normally is biased to the illustrated, horizontal position by the fiexure spring 97. The weight of the lock-out arm is counterbalanced by the fiexure spring to provide high sensitivity and speed of action.
As stated hereinabove, the incoming cartons, transferred onto the belt 21 from the two infeed conveyor lines A and B, enter the control station in a haphazard manner. Assuming, now, that the moving carton 35a, in Line A, is the first to engage the projecting end 75 of the overlying gate 63, such gate is rotated in a clockwise direction and remains in the rotated position until the carton passes beyond the gate. Rotation of the gate 63 results in a corresponding rotation of the locking lever 85. This causes the pin 94, carried by the lock-out arm 90, to move out of the detent 87 formed in the end of the lever 85. Simultaneously, the lock-out arm 90 is caused to rotate in a clockwise direction, thereby resulting in a movement of the pin 94 fully into the detent 87' formed in the end of the other locking lever 85. Since the pin 94 is locked in the detent by the cam action of the lock-out arm, the other gate 63', associated with the line B, remains locked in its normal position, that is, with the curled end of the gate projecting into the path of travel of the cartons. Thus, during the time the gate 63 is rotated out of its normal position by a carton 35a, the gate 63' will hold back any cartons reaching it, such as the illustrated carton 35b. Upon release of the gate 63, the fiexure spring 70 returns the lock-out arm 85 to its normal position, the two pins 94 and 94 again are partially disposed within the detents of the associated locking levers 85 and 85', whereby either lever is free to rotate. Assuming that carbon 35b has been pressing against the gate 63 during passage of the carton 35a through the control station, the carton35b now causes a clockwise rotation of the locking lever 85, thereby moving the pin 94 out of the detent 87' and simultaneously moving pin 94 into the detent 87. Now, the gate 63 is locked in the normal position to block the movement of line A cartons through the control station. Thus, cartons are alternately released from line A and line B, under normal operating conditions, with such spacing that they converge, without possibility of jamming, into a single line under the influence of the guide rails 27 and 28. When cartons arrive at the control station back-to-back in a group on one of the lines, the associated gate remains in the rotated position until the entire group has passed before allowing the release of cartons from the other line. As shown in FIG- URE 5, the maximum clockwise rotation of the locking levers 85 and 85 is limited by the setting of the stop screws 104 and 104' carried by brackets which are secured to suitable members of the super structure.
The described control mechanism is of simple construction and operation, resulting in low manufacturing cost and negligible maintenance. The counter-balanced arrangement of the lock-out arm and the two locking levers reduces the inertia of these members, thereby affording high speed operation without damaging cartons, or the outer carton wrapping, due to high impact of the cartons against the gate. The gates may also be provided with a resilient plate to further absorb shock and minimize carton damage.
For use with unstable cartons, or packages, top and bottom gates may be provided as shown in the fragmentary views of FIGURES 11-13. In FIGURES 11 and 12, there are shown the gate bar 62, gate 63, locking arm 85, the fiexure spring 70, bearings 53 and 59, shaft 61, the short guide rail 31 and the long guide rail 27, all of which are associated with the line A of the control station, see also FIGURES 3 and 4. In this construction, however, the shaft 61 extends beyond the bearing 59, and spaced belts 107 and 108 are provided for transporting the 6. line A cartons through the control station, one such carton C being shown in dotted lines. It is here pointed out a belt similar to the end belt 107 is disposed at the line B section of the control station with the center belt 108 also spaced therefrom. These three belts pass around the end pulley 109 and move at the same speed. A fourth belt 110, passing around the end pulley 111, has a width substantially equal to the other three belts plus the spacing and may be driven at the same, or somewhat increased, speed. Cartons passing through the control station are guided by the guide rails 31 and 27..
Positioned below the belts 107 and 108 is a shaft 112, which is rotatable within the aligned bearings 113 and 114. Secured to this shaft is a bushing 115, as by the set screws 116, which bushing has welded thereto a lower gate 117 having a curled end 118 normally extending through the space between the belts 107 and 108. The shafts 61 and 112 are mechanically-coupled together for simultaneous rotation but in opposite directions by the two crank arms 120 and 121 and a turnbuckle 122, each such crank arm being secured to the associated shaft by means of set screws.
Referring specifically to the fragmentary, side elevational view of FIGURE 13, wherein the bearings are omitted for clarity of disclosure, the cooperating gates 63 and 117 are shown in the normal position with the respective curled ends 75 and 118 extending into the path of travel of the carton C carried by the spaced, adjacently-disposed belts, only the end belt 107 being visible in this particular view. A clockwise rotation of the gate 63 and the supporting shaft 61, by the moving carton C, results in the simultaneous clockwise rotation of the locking lever and the counterclockwise rotation of the shaft 112 and the supported gate 118. As the carton moves to the left, it is transferred onto the belt 108 for transport to the discharge end of the apparatus. During such movement of the carton, the upper gate 63 slide along the top surface of the carton while the lower gate 117 slides along the bottom surface. In this arrangement, the fiexure spring 70 is designed to counterbalance the Weight of the entire rotatable assembly and the construction is such that the gates 63 and 117 exert equal pressure against the opposed carton surfaces. Such pressure balance permits high speed operation with tall, relatively narrow cartons which otherwise might be tipped over upon impact with the single, upper gate. A second control mechanism, similar to that shown in FIGURES 11-12, is operatively associated with cartons passing through the line B section of the control station.
Having now described the invention, those skilled in this art will be able to make various changes and modifications without thereby departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as recited in the following claims.
1. Apparatus comprising,
(a) a horizontally-disposed endless belt for receiving spaced row-s of objects,
(b) mean for moving the belt,
(c) means defining two parallel flow paths for the objects carried by the belt,
((1) a pair of gate members positioned above the belt and individually rotatable about a horizontal axis,
(e) flat flexture springs carried by the gate members and biasing the gate members to normal positions wherein a portion of each gate member extends downwardly for engagement by the objects carried by the belt, and (f) means effective upon rotation of one of the gate members to mechanically lock the other gate member against rotation.
2. The invention as recited in claim 1, wherein each of the said gate members comprises a gate arm secured to a shaft and carrying the fiexure spring; a gate having a curled end for engagement by the objects; and means securing the gate to the gate arm.
3. The invention as recited in claim 1, wherein the said belt comprises three laterally-spaced sections mounted for simultaneous movement in a common plane, and including a second pair of gate members rotatable about individual axes lying below the belts, each of said second pair of gate members being aligned with corresponding ones of the first pair and having portions normally extending through the space between the belts and into the path of travel of the objects; and individual means mechanically coupling together the aligned gates of each pair for simultaneous rotation in opposite directions.
4. The invention as recited in claim 1, including guide means for directing cartons which have passed the gate members into a single line flow.
5. Carton combining apparatus comprising,
(a) a horizontally-disposed endless belt for receiving two spaced rows of cartons at one end thereof,
(b) means for moving the belt,
(c) means defining parallel flow paths for the cartons carried at said one end of the belt,
(d) a pair of gate arms each having one end secured to one of a pair of axially-aligned, rotatable shafts positioned over the belt,
(e) a gate carried by each gate arm and having a downwardly extending end portion,
(f) spring means biasing each gate arm to a normal position wherein the end portions of the gates are engageable by cartons carried by the belt as they move along the said flow paths,
(g) a pair of spaced locking levers each having an end secured to one of said axially-aligned shafts, each lever having a detent formed in the free end thereof and terminating in an entrance wall,
(h) a vertically-disposed lock-out arm disposed between the said locking levers and rotatable about an axis parallel to that of the said axially-aligned shafts,
(i) a pair of pins carried by the lock-out arm and extending in opposite directions therefrom, each pin being adapted to be received in a detent of an associated locking lever,
(j) spring means biasing said lock-out arm in a normal position wherein each pin is partially-disposed within the associated detent, and
(k) guide means for directing cartons which have passed beyond the gates into a single line at the other end of said belt,
the recited arrangement being such that rotation of one gate causes one of the pins to move out of the detent of the associated locking lever and along the associated entrance wall, thereby effecting rotation of the lock-out arm in a direction to cause the other pin to seat with the detent of its associated locking lever.
, 6. The invention as recited in claim 5, wherein the said spring means biasing each gate arm comprises fiat fiexure springs each having an end secured to an associated gate arm, wherein the other end of each fiexure spring is restrained against displacement normal to the plane of the spring, and wherein each fiexure spring counterbalances the weight of the associated gate arm, gate and locking lever.
7. The invention as recited in claim 6, wherein the said spring means biasing the lock-out arm is a fiat fiexure spring having one end secured to the lock-out arm and the other end restrained against displacement normal to the plane of the spring, and wherein the fiexure spring counterbalances the weight of the lock-out arm and the pins carried thereby.
8. The invention a recited in claim 5, wherein the said belt comprises three laterally-spaced sections having upper surfaces movable in a common plane, and including a second pair of axially-spaced rotatable shafts disposed below the upper surfaces of the belts; a gate secured to each such shaft, each gate having an end portion normally projecting through the space between the belts; and individual means mechanically coupling together corresponding ones of the said two pairs of shafts for simultaneous rotation in opposite directions.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,853,787 4/1932 Twomley 19832 3,064,792 11/1962 Brolf 198-32 EVON G. BLUNK, Primary Examiner.
EDWARD A. SROKA, Assistant Examiner.