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Publication numberUS3414126 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 3, 1968
Filing dateMay 23, 1966
Priority dateMay 23, 1966
Publication numberUS 3414126 A, US 3414126A, US-A-3414126, US3414126 A, US3414126A
InventorsVincent N Vulcano
Original AssigneeVincent N. Vulcano
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Book-sorting machine
US 3414126 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Dec 3, 1968 v. N. VULCANO BOOK-SORTING MACHINE 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed May 23, 1966 Fig.1

m Vincem N. Vulcano INVENTOR.

BY RF 0 r i x GU Attorney Dec. 3, 1968 v. N. VULCANO BOOK-SORTING MACHINE 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed May 23, 1966 o D O 4 n 5 s m w I. UT. 1 5 N s Y 5 TN o 2 m 3 M, g u m -u m \A i w. "m m WK 5 v w u r F 5 4 L. 9 I all .In S I m X F 2 n 5 MM 3 .6. 7 3 5 u m z a r \1 y 0 0w 2 F a f m Dec. 3, 1968 v. N. VULCANO BOOK-SORTING MACHINE s Sheets-Shet 3 Filed May 23, 1966 3.2300 uMB Vincenf N. Vulcno I N VEN TOR.

United States Patent 3,414,126 BOOK-SORTING MACHINE Vincent N. Vulcano, 136 E. 55th St., New York, N.Y. 10022 Filed May 23, 1966, Ser. No. 552,278 8 Claims. (Cl. 20973) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Books stacked in a hopper are successively deposited on a conveyor and are photoelectrically scanned by a plurality of sorting stations along the conveyor path, recognition of a particular type of book by a corresponding sorting station resulting in the actuation of an associated ejector which discharges the book into an assigned receptacle.

My present invention relates to a machine for sorting books particularly (but not exclusively) paperbacks, which are received in random succession at a collection point and are to be distributed into different channels according to their titles.

A machine of this description is particularly useful to booksellers who periodically must return unsold copies to the respective publishers or wholesalers.

It is, therefore, an object of my present invention to provide a machine for the purpose described which will efficiently and dependably discriminate between different types of books, on the basis of distinctive markings on their covers, and will properly channel these books to their respective destinations.

It is also an object of this invention to provide means in such machine for registering the number of books in each category recognized and sorted by the system.

A further object of this invention is to provide simple means for supplying the books in stacked condition to a conveyor which thereupon delivers them to a succession of sorting stations.

In accordance with this invention I provide along a conveyor a plurality of sorting stations each including a photoelectric detector which is positioned above the conveyor to ascertain the presence of a particular marking, individual to the respective station, on the cover of an oncoming book, this marking being preferably an element of the picture or lettering normally appearing thereon; a monitoring device at each sorting station determines the arrival of a book in testing position and actuates a circuit for triggering the detector which operates momentarily, at a predetermined instant with reference to the operation of the monitoring device, to energize an ejector for removing the book from the conveyor if its marking corresponds to that to which the detector is adjusted.

Advantageously, the detector is of a type sensitive to specific colors and, for this purpose, includes at least one photocell or equivalent photoelectric pick-up means which scans the book cover through the intermediary of a color filter interposed in the path of radiation from a suitable light source.

The motoring device of each sorting station, according to another feature of my invention, is also of the photoelectric type and includes a light source on one side of the conveyor and a confronting photocell or equivalent transducer on the other side thereof. I prefer to dispose the photocell at a stationary lateral guide rail toward which oncoming books are deflected upon being delivered to the conveyor, this guide rail also having a cutout at each station through which the head of an injection plunger may pass. The operation of this plunger, triggered 3,414,126 Patented Dec. 3, 1968 'ice counter to indicate the number of books ejected at each station. In order to insure positive entrainment of the books up to the point of ejection, the conveyor may be fitted with a series of cleats aligned with one or more bottom slots in a hopper to which the stacked books are delivered by an operator and from which they emerge, preferably with their backs facing forward, by way of a front opening which may be guided by yieldable detent means designed to restrict the discharge through this opening to a single book at a time.

These and other features of my invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment, reference being made to the accompanying drawing in which:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a sorting machine according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken on the line II-- II of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional detail view taken on the line III- III of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is another crosssectional view taken on the line IV-IV of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged side view (parts broken away) of a detector assembly shown in the detail View of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 6 is a circuit diagram of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1-5.

The sorting machine shown in the drawing comprises an endless conveyor 10 which is mounted in the usual manner on a pair of supporting rollers 15 (one shown in FIG. 4) driven by an electric motor 11 (FIG. 6). Conveyor 10 has the shape of a flat belt and is provided on its outer surface with longitudinally spaced pairs of cleats 12 which fits into longitudinal slots 13 On the bottom of a hopper 14 at the input end of the conveyor. Hopper 14 has the shape of a prismatic box with a flared top 14', conforming to the rectangular shape of a stack of books B adapted to be deposited in the hopper as indicated in dot-dash lines in FIGS. 1 and 2. To facilitate such deposition, the rear wall of the hopper is split into two spacedapart portions 16a, 16b so that an operator may reach in and hold both the upper and the lower end of a stack of books which is being lowered into the hopper. An opening 17 in the front wall of the hopper given clearance to the cleats 12 and allows the stacked books to be individually entrained thereby past a pair of yieldable detents 18 and 19 overhanging that opening from the outside, these detents having the form of U-shaped wires which are swingably mounted on a rod 20 and are urged into a vertical blocking position by respective coil springs 21, 21'. The shorter, higher-level detent 19 may be more strongly biased than the lower-hanging detent 18 so as to yield only in the case of books having greater-thanordinary thickness.

The books successively released from the hopper 14 and entrained by respective pairs of clea ts 12, with their backs facing in the direction of conveyor motion, are moved past a series of sorting stations 21 which are all substantially identical and of which one will be particularly described with reference to FIGS. 3 to 5.

A horizontal rod 22 extends spacedly across the upper surface of conveyor 10 and is mounted in a pair of stationary frame members 23, 24 which are substantially coextensive with the two longitudinal conveyor edges. An arm 25 is swingably mounted on rod 22, with its free end pointed away from that rod in the direction of conveyor motion (arrow, FIG. 3), and has an extremity 25 hingedly connected therewith at 26 (FIG. 5). This extremity, which is recessed at the bottom as seen in FIG. 5, carries a light source 27 and a photocell 28 trained upon a common point in the plane of the lower surface of detector carrier 25. When a book b moves past on the conveyor 10, it raises the arm from its normal downwardly sloping position, in which the extremity 25' may actually or almost contact the surface of belt 10, into a more nearly horizontal position in which the extremity 25 rests flat on the cover of the book so that, at a given instant during passage, a certain spot characteristically identifying the book will move into the field of light source 27 and pickup head 28. A short time prior thereto, the leading edge of the book b has interrupted the light path between another radiation source 29, supported on frame member 24, and a photocell 30 mounted on a rail 31 which extends underneath frame member 23 slightly inwardly of the edge of belt 10. The rail 31 is formed with a series of cutouts 32, one at each station, which each receive the head of a plunger 33 controlled by an ejection solenoid 34 individual to the particular station. When this solenoid is actuated, in a manner more fully described hereinafter, it pushes sharply against the confronting book b which is thereby thrust across the opposite conveyor edge into a bin 35.

A shaft 36, disposed close to the rod 22 and lying parallel thereto, swinga-bly carries a pair of guard fingers 37 which lie just below the level of the supported end of swingable arm 25 and can be deflected upwardly by an object of inordinate height approaching the arm 25. When the fingers 37 are thus tripped, the shift 36 is rotated counterclockwise (as viewed in FIG. 3) and actuates an associated sensitive switch 38 to cause an alarm, e.g. by arresting the entire machine; this prevents the occurrence of possible pile-ups in the event that, by accident, two or more books may not have been properly separated at the hopper outlet 17.

In order to insure that the books b should move next to rail 31 when passing the several sorting stations, thereby effectively interrupting the light beam from source 29, a resilient blade 39 (FIG. 1) deflects them toward the rail 31 as they leave the hopper 14. Two leaf springs 47 slope down from the front wall of the hopper to hold down the book which is thus being deflected. Smooth passage of the books along rail 31 is insured by the fact that the heads of plungers 33, when retracted, lie flush with the rail in their cutouts 32.

Reference will now be made to FIG. 6 for a description of the time sequence of operations at any sorting station 21.

As seen in FIG. 6, the monitoring light source 29 of each station comprises a lamp 29a and a focusing objective 2%, here shown as a simple lens, which normally directs a sharp beam of light upon the cathode of the confronting photocell 30. Similarly, the detecting light source 27 comprises a lamp 27a and a lens 27b to focus a beam on a spot s of the cover picture of a passing book b; the associated photoelectric receiver 28 includes a photocell 28a, an objective 28b and a color filter 28c so that the cell 28a conducts only when, at the instant of energization of lamp 27a, the spot s is of a predetermined color passed by the filter 28c.

A power supply 40, shown diagrammatically as a battery, energizes not only the aforedescribed circuit elements but also the drive motor 11 by way of a pair of bus bars 41, 42, the latter bus bar being connected tothe positive terminal of battery 40 via all the protective switches 38 connected in series. The output of photocell 30 is connected across the input of an amplifier 43 which, upon interruption of the beam of the associated light source 29 by the leading edge of book 12, actuates a pulse generator 44 with an adjustable lag determined by the setting of an interposed delay circuit 45. The adjustability of this delay circuit, together with a shiftability of arm 25 (FIG. 1) on rod 22 and a limited displaceability of this rod together with shaft 36 along its supporting members 23 and 24, enables the selection of any desired region of the book cover for scanning by the director 27, 28.

The pulse produced by generator 44 is fed to lamp 27a which lights up momentarily and, under the stated conditions of recognition, causes the photocell 28a to conduct for a brief instant and to trigger an amplifier 46 which in turn briefly energizes the solenoid 34. Plunger 33 operates in the aforedescribed manner to push the book b off the conveyor, thereby restoring the light path between source 29 and receiver 30.

If one of the normally closed switches 38 had opened prior to this operation, all the circuit elements referred to would have been de-energized and the system would have come to a halt.

If a book is not recognized by the detector of any station 21, it will move on to the remote end of the conveyor and be dumped into another receptacle not shown.

While in many instances it will be sufficient to have a single color-responsive detector at each station to discriminate between the different types of books to be sorted, it is of course possible to utilize a combination of serially connected photocells, each with its own color filter, so that the system will respond only to a particular grouping of spots of predetermined coloration at specified locations of the book cover; this would minimize the possible ambiguities arising when a large number of books with partly similar cover sheets are to be handled by the machine.

It will be understood that the invention is equally applicable to the sorting of substantially any stack of relatively flat object or objects having at least one flat surface. These surfaces can then be sorted in accordance With the color, configuration or markings thereon in the manner previously described. Of particular interest are record albums or jackets, generally containing the records, and indeed such record albums can be considered to be books for the purposes of the instant application. Record jackets have distinct color patterning and require no modifications of the apparatus described except to compensate in the stacking device for the greater size of the units. Such modifications in the system of the instant invention will, of course, be readily apparent to those skilled in the art and are intended to be included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A book-sorting machine comprising a conveyor; input means adjacent said conveyor for delivering successive bOOks thereto with covers facing up and distinctive markings on said covers; and a plurality of sorting stations disposed along said conveyor beyond said input means, each of said stations including photoelectric detector means above said conveyor positioned to ascertain the presence of a particular marking individual to the respective station, monitoring means for determining the arrival of a book at the station and circuit means responsive to said monitoring means for triggering a momentary operation of said detector means at a predetermined instant with reference to the operation of said monitoring means, and ejector means controlled by said detector means for removing from said conveyor a book scanned by said detector means, said monitoring means comprising a light source on one side and a confronting photoelectric receiver on the other side of said conveyor, the latter being provided with a stationary lateral guide rail supporting said photoelectric receiver, said input means including resilient deflector means urging oncoming books into contact with said guide rail.

2. A machine as defined in claim 1 wherein said guide rail is formed with a cutout at each station, said ejector means including a plunger aligned with said cutout and provided with a head normally withdrawn into a position flush with said rail.

3. A machine as defined in claim 1 wherein said detector means comprises a color-filter means interposed in the light path between said source and said receiver.

4. A machine as defined in claim 1 wherein each of said stations is provided with counting means controlled by said circuit means for registering the number of operations of the associated ejector means.

5. A book-sorting machine comprising a conveyor; input means adjacent said conveyor for delivering successive books thereto with covers facing up and distinctive markings on said covers; and a plurality of sorting stations disposed along said conveyor beyond said input means, each of said stations including photoelectric detector means above said conveyor positioned to ascertain the presence of a particular marking individual to the respective station, monitoring means for determining the arrival of a book at the station and circuit means responsive to said monitoring means for triggering a momentary operation of said detector means at a predetermined instant with reference to the operation of said monitoring means, ejector means controlled by said detector means for removing from said conveyor a book scanned by said detector means, a support extending across said conveyor, an arm mounted on said support for swinging movement in a vertical plane, said arm having a free extremity pointing away from said support in the direction of conveyor movement, and mounting means holding said detector means in position on said extremity, the latter being engageable with the upper surface of a passing book lifting said arm from a normal downwardly inclined position.

6. A machine as defined in claim 5, further comprising a guard element positioned in the vicinity of said arm for engagement by an improperly positioned book on said conveyor, and alarm means responsive to a tripping of said guard element by a passing book for indicating improper functioning.

7. A machine as defined in claim 5 wherein said input means comprises a hopper above said conveyor with a bottom having at least one slot extending in the direction of conveyor motion and a front opening just above said bottom, said conveyor being provided with upstanding cleats aligned with said slot for entraining the lowest book of a stack placed in said hopper.

8. A machine as defined in claim 7 wherein said hopper is provided with detent means yieldably overhanging said front opening from the outside for restricting the discharge therethrough to a single book at a time.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,799,430 7/1957 Kintzel 221253 X 3,066,798 12/ 1962 Toulmin 209111.6 3,207,909 9/ 1965 Laks et al. 3,245,533 4/1966 Rottmann 209--111.7

ALLEN N. KNOWLES, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2799430 *Jan 10, 1952Jul 16, 1957Nordendale Mfg Company IncCoin controlled vending machine
US3066798 *Jan 25, 1961Dec 4, 1962Ohio Commw Eng CoArrangement for reading out cards and sorting device therefor
US3207909 *Nov 22, 1961Sep 21, 1965Lakso Company IncSmall photosensitive article counter
US3245533 *Dec 19, 1963Apr 12, 1966Owens Illinois Glass CoInspecting glass container for horizontal checks
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3525518 *Sep 9, 1968Aug 25, 1970IbmSelf-adjusting and repositioning card gate
US4042113 *Jun 18, 1976Aug 16, 1977Standard Alliance Industries, Inc.Sorting device for magazine or the like
US4447715 *Nov 20, 1981May 8, 1984Vincent VulcanoSorting machine for sorting covers
US4519523 *Aug 26, 1982May 28, 1985Tokyo Shibaura Denki Kabushiki KaishaSheet packet discharging apparatus
U.S. Classification209/539, 209/653, 221/253, 209/546, 209/551, 221/267, 209/910, 209/583, 209/580, 209/912
International ClassificationB65G47/49
Cooperative ClassificationY10S209/912, Y10S209/91, B65G47/493
European ClassificationB65G47/49A