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Publication numberUS3410403 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 12, 1968
Filing dateMar 27, 1967
Priority dateMar 27, 1967
Publication numberUS 3410403 A, US 3410403A, US-A-3410403, US3410403 A, US3410403A
InventorsL D Adcox
Original AssigneeAdcox Smith Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Separating and sorting apparatus
US 3410403 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Nov. 12, 1968 L D. ADCOX SEPARATING AND SORTING APPARATUS 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed March 27, 1967 INVENTOR. L0. ADCOX My/WW Nov. 12, 1968 L D. ADCOX 3,410,403

SEPARATING AND SORTING APPARATUS Filed March 27, 1967 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. L D. ADCOX Nov. 12, 1968 a. D. ADCOX 3,410,403

SEPARATING AND SORTING APPARATUS Filed March 27, 1967 5 Sheets-Sheet I5 INVENTOR.

L 0. ADCOX ZVWa W ATTYIZ United States Patent 3,410,403 SEPARATING AND SORTING APPARATUS L D. Adcox, Shelley, Idaho, assignor t0 Adcox-Smith Company, Shelley, Idaho Filed Mar. 27, 1967, Ser. No. 626,208 13 Claims. (Cl. 209-73) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The disclosure describes a preferred embodiment of my invention concerning a separating and sorting apparatus for non-uniform articles such as potatoes having a rotating transfer ring 30 overlying a plurality of conveying surfaces 16-18 and 20-22. Sorting stations 41-45 are angularly spaced about the transfer ring 30 for grading successively spaced potatoes carried on the transfer ring 30 and ejecting the potatoes inwardly from the transfer ring 30 onto the conveying surface 16-18 and 20-22 according to their size and shape. A separator 66 is tangentially mounted within the transfer ring 30 for receiving the potatoes from a supply 11, aligning the major axes of the potatoes along their line of movement, successive spacing potatoes and progressively discharging the potatoes onto the transfer ring 30. The separator has a conical rotating surface '67 eccentrically overlaid by a guide 75 for guiding the movement of the potatoes as they proceed on the rotating conical surface 67.

Body of the specification My invention relates to a machine for separating and sorting non-uniform articles such as potatoes.

In many situations it is desirable to have a compact and inexpensive apparatus capable of efficiently sorting nonuniform articles such as potatoes. United States Letters Patent No. 3,204,765, dated Sept. 7, 1965, describes a machine for separating and sorting potatoes that is presently widely used for fairly large operations. Such a machine is quite large in size and requires a substantial floor space for operation. It is also quite expensive. There has been a need in the potato industry for a compact, inexpensive, and eflicient separating and sorting apparatus for use in relatively small processing operations in order to make the small processor more competitive.

One of the objects of my invention is to provide a new separating and sorting apparatus'that is compact, eflicient and inexpensive.

A further object of my invention is to provide an apparatus for receiving a flow of articles of different sizes and shapes, successively spacing the articles, aligning the major axes of the articles along the line of movement, progressively discharging the articles onto a transfer ring that moves the articles to angularly spaced sorting stations and progressively removing the articles from the ring according to their size and shape.

An additional object of my invention is to provide angularly positioned sorting stations for progressively ejecting the articles from a rotationg transfer ring inwardly toward the ring center and onto divided conveying surfaces according to the size and shape of the articles.

A further object of my invention relates to the economical positioning of a transfer ring above a conveying surface and positioning a circular separator within the transfer ring.

With these and other objects in mind, my invention contemplates a separating and sorting apparatus for processing non-uniform shaped articles received from a supply in which the apparatus has a separator with a cone shaped rotating surface eccentrically overlaid by a stationary curved article guide having a point of closest approach to the cone apex angularly spaced from the supply, and an encircling rotating transfer ring for receiving the articles from the separator at a point spaced from the point of closest approach of the article guide. The ring moves the articles to sorting stations angularly spaced about the ring operable to progressively remove the articles from the ring according to their size and shape. More particularly the sorting stations eject the articles from the ring inwardly toward the ring center and onto divided conveying surfaces according to the size and shape of the articles.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent by reference to the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings illustrating the preferred embodiment thereof, in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of the separating and sorting apparatus showing a separator, an encircling transfer ring, and a plurality of sorting stations angularly positioned about the ring embodying the principal features of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view taken along line 2-2 in FIG. 1 showing a side view of the separator with a to tating cone-shaped surface overlaid by an eccentrically positioned article guide and further showing a cross section of the transfer ring;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 1 showing a side view of the sorting stations angularly spaced about the ring;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view taken along line 44 in FIG. 1 showing the cross section of the separator and the transfer ring emphasizing the positioning of the article guide to the rotating cone surface and the transfer ring; FIG. 5 is a front view of the separating and sorting apparatus showing the vertical placement of the sorting stations and conveying surfaces lying there below; and

FIG. 6 is a detailed cross sectional view taken on the line 6-6 in FIG. 1 showing a pivotally mounted gate positioned adjacent to a conveying surface.

Referring now in detail to the drawings, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a separating and sorting apparatus for processing non-uniform articles 10-10 such as potatoes supplied from a feed or supply 11. The operating elements of the separating and sorting apparatus are principally mounted on a frame 12.

Two horizontal conveyor belts 13 and 14 are mounted parallel near the base of the frame 12. Overlying the conveyor belts 13 and 14 and extending substantially longitudinally thereto are stationary dividers 15-15 dividing the conveyor belts into moving conveyor surfaces 16, 17, 18,20, 21 and 22.

Individual gates 23-23 are pivotally mounted on the frame 12 adjacent the downstream end of the conveyor conveying surfaces 16-18 and 20-22. As shown in FIG. 6, each gate 23 is pivoted from a downwardly extending position to a substantially vertical position to block the path of the article on the conveying surface, thus causing the articles 10-10 to accumulate on the conveying surface. Individual latches 24-24 are mounted to the frame 12 above the gates 23-23 for locking engagement with the gates 23-23 when they are pivoted. upwardly.

A circular support structure 26 is mounted on the frame 12 overlying the conveying surfaces -18 and 20-22. Support bearings 27-27 and radial positioning bearings 28-28 are mounted to and angularly spaced about the support structure 26 for supporting and. radially positioning a rotatable transfer ring 30 that moves articles 10-10 positioned thereon in a circular path.

Thetransfer ring 30 has a shallow grooved upper surface 31 for facilitating the transfer of the articles 10-10, as shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3. A circumferential V- shaped groove 32 is formed in the outer periphery of the transfer ring 30 to accommodate a V-belt 33 engaging a substantial portion of the ring periphery. The V-belt 33 passes over a drive pulley 34 rotatably mounted on frame 12 near the transfer ring 30. The pulley 34 is rotated through a variable speed transmission 35 by a motor 36. It has been found that in the processing of potatoes the apparatus is particularly effective when the transfer ring 30 is rotated with a tangential velocity of between 350 and 400 feet per minute.

A cylindrical stationary barrier 38 made of sheet metal is mounted about the transfer ring 30 to the circular support structure 26, for preventing the outward or centrifugal movement of the articles from the transfer ring 30.

Sorting stations 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 associated with conveying surfaces 16, 17, 18, and 21 are angularly spaced about the transfer ring operable to selectively remove articles 10-10 from the transfer ring 30 in accordance with their size and shape. The sorting stations 41-45 have means for progressively determining the size and shape of the articles 1010 and means for selectively ejecting the articles 1010 from the ring in response to the determining means. As part of the determining means, aperture patterns 47, 48, 49, 50 and 51 are formed in the barrier 38 at sorting stations 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 respectively. At each station the aperture pattern defines a standard pattern of predetermined article size and shape with which to compare the articles moving on the transfer ring. In this particular embodiment aperture pattern 47 defines the largest desired article pattern with aperture patterns 48, 49, 50 and 51 defining successively smaller article patterns.

Each sorting station has a photoelectric sensing device for determining whether an article moving on the transfer ring 30 in front of the aperture pattern is larger than the article standard pattern. The photo-electric device comprises a light source 54 mounted to the circular Support structures and a light sensor 55 mounted outside the barrier in alignment with the light source 54 and the station aperture pattern.

Adjacent to each photo-electric device at a sorting station is an ejecting device 56 mounted to the barrier 38 for selectively removing or ejecting the articles 1010 from the transfer ring 30 in response to the light sensor 55. The ejector device 56 has an L-shaped arm 57 pivotally mounted on a shaft 58 with one end 60 of the arm 57 extending downwardly on the inside of the barrier 38 adjacent to the transfer ring 30. The other end 61 of the arm 57 extends horizontally over the barrier 38 and is electrically responsive to the light sensor 55 so that when the light intensity received by the sensor 55 decreases below a predetermined value, the sensor will energize the solenoid 63 to swing arm end 60 transversely across the transfer ring 30.

A deflector 65 is mounted to the barrier 38 angularly spaced from the sorting station 45 overlying conveying surface 22. The defiector 65 projects over a sector of the transfer ring 30 and into the path of the articles that are not ejected at the sorting stations 4145. When the articles engage the deflector 65 they are forced inwardly from the transfer ring 30 and onto conveying surface 22.

A separator 66 is mounted to the frame 12 tangentially within the transfer ring 30 for receiving articles 1010 from the supply 11, aligning the major axes of the articles along their line of movement, successively spacing the articles and progressively discharging the spaced articles onto the transfer ring 30. The separator 66 includes a cone 67 overlying a sector of the transfer ring 30 which is supported by a rotatably mounted shaft 68. Shaft 68 is rotated by a variable speed drive comprising variable speed pulleys 7070 and motor 71. The cone 67 is rotated with a peripheral tangential velocity equal to or less than the tangential velocity of the rotating transfer ring 30 so that as the articles are discharged from the separator 66 onto the transfer ring they will maintain or increase their spacing. It has been found that in processing potatoes a tangential velocity differential of approximately 56 feet per minute between the tangential velocity of the transfer ring and the cone is particularly effective. If the velocity differential is substantially increased above 56 feet per minute, the potatoes begin to tumble as they engage the transfer ring.

The separator 66 further includes a circular article guide 75 stationarily mounted to the frame 12 which is positioned eccentrically to and overlying the rotating cone 67 for guiding the movement of the articles as they proceed on the rotating cone 67. The eccentrically positioned guide has a point 76 thereon angularly spaced from the supply 11 that is the closest approach to the axis and apex of the cone 67. The guide 75 recedes angularly from the point 76 and passes over a sector of the transfer ring 30 and tangentially engages barrier 38. The guide 75 is supported by brackets 7777 mounted to the frame 12 and by bolts 7 878 connected to the barrier 38.

In operation, non-uniform articles such as potatoes are fed from the supply 11 onto the rotating cone 62 upstream of point 76 of the guide 75. In the initial advance of the articles 1010 on the rotating cone 62, they move inwardly and upwardly along the guide 75 toward point 76 gradually reducing speed. Because of the tendency of nonuniform articles to roll on an inclined cone surface, they also begin to align their major axes along their line of movement. As the articles move past point 76, they move progressively outwardly and downwardly gaining speed and further aligning themselves along their line of movement. As the articles progressively gain speed they also successively space themselves along the guide 75. When the spaced and aligned articles reach the periphery of the cone, they are progressively discharged onto the transfer ring 30. Because of the tangential velocity differential between the cone 67 and the transfer ring 30, the spacing between successive articles are increased as they are discharged onto the transfer ring 30.

The articles are then conveyed in a curved path by the transfer ring 30 to the sorting staions. If an article because of its size and shape projectively covers the aperture pattern 41 so that the light intensity received by the sensor 55 falls below a predetermined value, then the sensor 55 actuates a solenoid 63 associated with sorting station 41 to swing an arm end 60 across the transfer ring 30 ejecting the article inwardly and onto conveying surface 16. If the article does not projectively cover the aperture pattern 41, it continues to move on to sorting station 42 where the process is repeated. If the article projectively covers aperture pattern 48, it will be ejected onto conveying surface 17. This process is repeated at sorting stations 43, 44 and 45 with successively smaller articles being ejected onto conveying surfaces 18, 20 and 21 respectively. If the article does not projectively cover the last aperture pattern 51 at sorting station 45, it moves on and engages deflector 65 and falls inwardly onto conveying surface 22.

The conveying surfaces 16-18 and 20-22 transfer the sorted articles from beneath the sorting stations to the edge of the separating and sorting apparatus. If it is desired to accumulate the sorted articles on the conveying surface, the gates 23-23 may be raised to their vertical position and into the path of the articles. When the gates 2323 arelowered, the articles pass over the gates 23-23 and into respective receptacles placed beneath the gates to receive the sorted articles.

One may appreciate from the above description that the separating and sorting apparatus is a very compact and efficient unit. It has been found that such an apparatus is capable of sorting between 6,000 and 9,000 pounds of potatoes per hour. It also costs much less than many presently available machines for sorting potatoes.

It is understood that the above described embodiment is simply illustrative of the application of the principle of my invention. Numerous other arrangements may be devised by those skilled in the art which will embody the principle of my invention and fall within the spirit and the scope thereof.

What I claim is:

1. In an apparatus for sorting non-uniform articles fed from a supply comprising:

(a) a rotating horizontal transfer ring for moving articles in a curved path;

(b) a separator tangentially mounted within the transfer ring, including a rotating cone and a stationary curved guide eccentrically positioned to and overlying the cone having its point of closest approach to the cone apex angularly spaced from the supply, for receiving the articles from the supply, aligning the major axes of the articles along their line of movement, successively spacing the article-s and progressively discharging the successively spaced articles onto the transfer ring; and

(c) sorting stations angularly spaced about the transfer ring operable to remove articles progressively therefrom according to their size and shape.

2. The combination in accordance with claim 1 wherein said sorting stations have means for progressively sizing the articles and means responsive to the sizing means for selectively ejecting the articles inwardly from the ring.

3. The combination in accordance with claim 1 wherein the transfer ring has a shallow grooved upper surface for facilitating the carriage of the article.

4. The combination in accordance with claim 1 wherein the curved guide is circular and extends from the cone over a sector of the transfer ring.

5. The combination in accordance with claim 1 further comprising a circular support structure having bearings for supporting and radially positioning the transfer ring.

6. The combination in accordance with claim 1 further comprising a cylindrical barrier encircling the transfer ring for preventing the outward movement of the articles from the transfer ring.

7. The combination in accordance with claim 1 further comprising a first drive means for rotating the transfer ring at a preselected tangential velocity and a second drive means for rotating the cone at a peripheral tangential velocity of approximately 56 feet per minute less than the ring tangential velocity.

8. The combination in accordance with claim 1 further comprising a plurality of divided conveying surfaces positioned beneath the transfer ring and associated with the sorting staions for receiving articles removed from the transfer ring and conveying the article into receptacles according to their size and shape.

9. The combination in accordance with claim 8 further comprising a plurality of pivotally mounted gates adjacent the downstream ends of the conveying surfaces for restricting the movement of the articles from the conveying surface into the receptacles.

10. A machine for separating and sorting potatoes according to their size that are fed from a supply comprising:

(a) a frame;

(b) a plurality of parallel divided conveying surfaces mounted on the frame for conveying potatoes received thereon into receptacles placed at the ends of the conveying surfaces;

(c) a circular supporting structure mounted to the frame above the conveying surfaces having support bearings and radial positioning bearings angularly spaced about the structure;

(d) a rotatable transfer ring mounted on the support bearings and engaging the positioning bearings for moving potatoes positioned thereon in a circular path;

(e) means for rotating the transfer ring at a preselected tangential velocity;

(f) a cylindrical barrier encircling the transfer ring and mounted to the circular supporting structure for preventing the outward movement of the potatoes as they move on the transfer ring; said barrier having a plurality of aperture patterns formed therein angularly spaced along the barrier with each aperture pattern associated with a preselected potato size;

(g) a plurality of photo-electric devices associated with the aperture patterns, each device having (1) a light source capable of projecting light rays across the rotating transfer ring and through an aperture pattern and (2) a light sensor aligned with the light source and aperture pattern to sense the intensity of the light rays passing through the aperture pattern.

(h) a plurality of ejectors angularly spaced about the transfer ring adjacent and responsive to the photoelectric devices for selectively ejecting the potatoes inwardly from the transfer ring onto the conveying surface;

(i) a deflector mounted to the barrier angularly spaced from the ejectors and overlying a corresponding conveying surface for deflecting the potatoes inwardly from the transfer ring onto the corresponding conveying surfaces that are not removed by the ejector;

(j) a separator mounted to the frame: tangentially within the transfer ring comprising a rotatable cone and a stationary circular guide eccentrically positioned to and overlying the cone having its point of closest approach to the cone apex angularly spaced from the potato supply and descending from said point over the transfer ring, for receiving potatoes from the supply, aligning the major axes of the potatoes along the line of movement, successively spacing the potatoes and progressively discharging the potatoes onto the transfer ring; and

(k) means for rotating the cone at a peripheral tangential velocity less than the preselected tangential velocity of the transfer ring.

11. The combination in accordance with claim 10 wherein the transfer ring has a shallow grooved upper surfacefor facilitating the carriage of the potatoes.

12. The combination in accordance with claim 10 wherein the cone rotating means rotates the cone at a peripheral tangential velocity approximately 56 feet per minute less than the tangential velocity of the transfer ring.

13. The combination in accordance with claim 10 further comprising a plurality of gates pivotally mounted to the frame adjacent the conveying surfaces for selectively restricting the movement of the potatoes on the conveying surfaces.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,204,765 9/1965 Adcox 209-lll.7 X

ALLEN N. KNOWLES, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3204765 *Dec 30, 1963Sep 7, 1965L D AdcoxSorting machine for potatoes and the like
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3517807 *Jul 11, 1968Jun 30, 1970Neil Van GaalenApparatus for sorting fish eggs
US4039081 *Apr 9, 1974Aug 2, 1977Brandt Manufacturing Company, Inc.Method and apparatus for sizing and distributing produce
US4928014 *Oct 3, 1988May 22, 1990Futrex, Inc.Near-infrared apparatus and method for determining percent fat in a body
US6635840Oct 30, 1998Oct 21, 2003Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.Method of sorting and categorizing seed
Classifications
U.S. Classification209/545, 209/586, 209/652, 209/934
International ClassificationB07B1/22
Cooperative ClassificationY10S209/934, B07B1/22
European ClassificationB07B1/22