US 3467370 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Sept. 16, 1969 P. GRANTHAM 3,467,370
LAUNDRY SORTING ACCORDING TO SIZE, AND FOLDING Filed Nov. 27, 1964 5 Sheets-$heet l INVENTOR PAULETTE GRANT/MM pt- 16, 1969 P. GRANTHAM 3,467,370
LAUNDRY SORTING ACCORDING TO SIZE, AND FOLDING Filed Nov. 27, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. PA ULETTE GRANTHA M Sept. 16, 1969 P. GRANTHAM LAUNDRY SORTING ACCORDING TO SIZE, AND FOLDING Filed NOV. 27, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet R O T N E V N .P/JUL E775 GR/J/VTHAM Sept. 16, 1969 P. GRANTHAM 3,467,370
LAUNDRY SORTING ACCORDING TO SIZE, AND FOLDING Filed Nov. 27, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 INVENTOR. PAUL 5775 6R4 NTHAM BY ww ngg u Sept. 16, 1969 P. GRANTHAM 3,467,370
LAUNDRY SORTING ACCORDING TO SIZE, AND FOLDING Filed Nov. 27, 1964 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 38a 4/ i 2/4 1mm United States ()fiice 3,467,370 Patented Sept. 16, 1969 3,467,370 LAUNDRY SORTING, ACCORDING TO SIZE, AND FOLDING Paulette Grantham, 1830 White Oak Drive, Menlo Park, Calif. 94025 Filed Nov. 27, 1964, Ser. No. 414,231 Int. Cl. B65h 45/18; B07c 1/10 US. Cl. 27085 22 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates to a laundry sorter and folder. The invention relates more particularly to a laundry sorter and folder adapted for use in commercial and industrial laundries and is utilized in sorting laundry pieces according to size.
A main object of the invention is to provide a laundry sorter of the foregoing character in which a number of pieces such as napkins, washcloths and towels of various sizes are placed on a conveyor successively and carried therealong. As they are so carried along the conveyor, they are sorted according to size and carried off the conveyor pursuant thereto, selectively according to size.
Another object of the invention is to provide a laundry sorter of the foregoing general character and folding apparatuses which are operative for folding the laundry pursuant to their being sorted, each apparatus folding a different size piece such as towel, washcloth, napkin, etc.
Still another object is to provide a laundry sorter of the character referred to above in which the pieces to be sorted are placed on a conveyor indiscriminately as to size and carried therealong, and the different pieces detected according to size at different locations along the conveyor, the pieces then being lifted from the conveyor at respective locations and folded in response to being so lifted from the conveyor.
A more specific object is to provide a laundry sorter and folder of the kind just referred to utilizing a novel means for detecting the laundry pieces of the different dimensions, which includes a plurality of sensing elements spaced apart a distance corresponding to the dimensions of the laundry piece to be folded and when they are sensed simultaneously a folding operation takes place which removes the respective piece from the conveyor; a series of such pluralities of sensing devices are provided, those of each plurality being at different spacing so as to sense the respective laundry pieces of different dimensions.
While the apparatus of the invention will find most use in sorting items according to length, and the sensing elements are spaced apart in the direction of movement of the conveyor, the invention is not limited thereto, and accordingly another object of the invention is to provide apparatus of the general character set out which is operable for sorting items according to dimensions in different directions, including thickness dimension.
A further object is to provide novel sorting apparatus operative for sensing items according to size by means of a timing control.
Another object of the invention is to provide combined folding and sorting apparatus including a novel arrangement enabling the combining selective ones of a variety of folding operations with a sorting operation.
Still another object is to provide combined folding and sorting apparatus of the character just referred to, wherein the laundry pieces may be folded in a plurality of directions in conjunction with a sorting operation.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following detail description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a semidiagrammatic view of the laundry sorter and folder made according to the present invention;
FIGURE 2 is a perspective view of that portion of the apparatus of FIGURE 1 that is located at one of the several sorting stations therealong;
FIGURE 3 is an enlarged detail view of one of the :itations of FIGURE 1, oriented according to the latter gure;
FIGURE 4 is a view taken from the right of FIG- URE 3;
FIGURE 5 is a large scale detail view of a portion of the apparatus shown in FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 6 is a view taken at line 6-6 of FIGURE 3;
FIGURE 7 is a view taken at line 77 of FIGURE 4;
FIGURE 8 is a diagram of an electrical circuit for operating one of the elements for performing a sorting and folding step;
FIGURE 9 is a view similar to FIGURE 8 but showing the electrical circuit for operating a folding element;
FIGURE 10 is a detail perspective view of means for adjusting the sensing elements of a pair utilized for sensing a laundry piece in a sorting step;
FIGURE 10a is a fragmentary perspective view of adjusting means, forming a modification of that shown in FIGURE 10;
FIGURE 11 is a detail view of an alternate form of folding element;
FIGURE 12 is a detail view of another form of folding element;
FIGURE 13 is a detail view of part of a stacking element;
FIGURE 14 is a detail view of another form of stacking element;
FIGURE 15 is a semi-diagrammatic view of apparatus embodying the invention arranged for producing a towel square fold;
FIGURE 16 is a view taken from the left of FIG- URE 15;
FIGURE 17 is a top view of the apparatus of FIG- URES 15 and 16;
FIGURE 18 is a semi-diagrammatic view of another form of apparatus embodying the invention and utilized for producing a French fold;
FIGURE 19 is a diagram of a circuit, similar to FIG- URE 8, for use in performing a timing control, in a modified form of the invention;
FIGURE 19a is a diagram of a circuit forming a modification of that of FIGURE 19;
FIGURE 20 shows an arrangement for use in sensing and sorting items according to both length and width;
FIGURE 21 is a diagram of a circuit for use in conjunction with the apparatus of FIGURE 20;
FIGURE 22 shows an arrangement for use in sensing and sorting items according to both length and thickness; and
FIGURE 23 is a diagram of a circuit for use in conjunction with the apparatus of FIGURE 22.
Referring now in detail to the accompanying drawings attention is directed first to FIGURE 1 showing the complete apparatus in more or less diagrammatic form. This ing to length, i.e., the dimension in the direction of movement along the conveyor. The apparatus includes conveyor means 20 which includes a series of individual conveyor sections 20a, 20b, 20c, 20d, and 20e. These individual sections may be in the form of web belts each mounted on rollers 22 and 24, the series of conveyors being driven by a suitable means such as a motor 26 with suitable drive transmission means interconnecting adjacent sections. The conveyors and the chain of elements for driving them may be conventional. A feed-board or lead-in conveyor 28 is also provided for placing the laundry pieces thereon for leading them onto the conveyor means 20. The conveyor 28 is preferably adjustable so that it can be selectively in clined downwardly as shown, or upwardly, in the direction of progress of the laundry pieces, i.e., from left to right as viewed in FIGURE 1.
The apparatus indicated in FIGURE 1 shows four stages 30 individually identified as 30a, 30b, 30c, and 30d, all substantially identical, except that they may include different size components to accommodate laundry pieces of different sizes.
The conveyor 20 is preferably made up of belts such as canvas providing moderate friction with the laundry pieces thereon. Each conveyor section includes a pair of laterally spaced belt elements 30 and 32 (FIGURE 2) with a gap or space 34 therebetween. Suitable means may be provided for supporting the belts on the rollers 22 and 24 in the desired manner and in the intended spaced apart relation.
A laundry piece such as a towel is indicated at 36 (FIGURE 1) shown diagrammatically and in position representing its placement on the lead-in conveyor 28. The towel is flattened out and centered on the conveyor 28 which feeds it onto the conveyor 20 which then carries it along in the direction noted i.e., from left to right as viewed in FIGURE 1.
Sensing means are provided for sensing the towel or other laundry piece as it progresses along the conveyor 20. These sensing means constitute the essence of the sorting phase of the apparatus. In the present instance they are in the form of switches, preferably microswitches identified generally at 38 and individually identified as 38a, 38b, 38c, 38d etc., the first two switches 38a and 38b, constituting one pair and the next two 380 and 3811 constituting a second pair, etc. Although switches are disclosed in the present instance, it will be understood that the equivalent of switches may be utilized as well, such for example as photoelectric cells, or other devices, so long as the laundry pieces activate them.
The switches 38 are mounted in the space 34 between the runs 30 and 32 of the belt with fingers 40 projecting through the space and above the conveyor. As the towel or other laundry piece 36 progresses along the conveyor 20 it rides over the switches in succession, 38a, 38b etc. If the towel is long enough to engage both switches simultaneously, the two switches are closed and they close a circuit for controlling a folding operation. This circuit is shown in FIGURE 8. The two switches 38a and 38b are arranged in series in a circuit 42 which includes a source of power 44 and a power device represented by a solenoid valve 46. The solenoid 48 of the valve is incorporated in the circuit 42, the valve controlling air flowing through conduits 52 and 54 leading from a suitable source of compressed air. The conduits lead to a cylinder 56 having a piston 58 therein connected to a folding blade 60. The valve 46 is normally closed but upon opening of the valve, air is admitted to the cylinder 58 below the piston and this raises the piston and the blade 60 for performing the folding operation. Other forms of power device for operating the folding blade may be used, if de; sired, such as shown in FIGURES l1 and 12, and in that case the controlling switch would be incorporated in the circuit 42.
53,467,376 up g As the towel passes over the gap 62 between the first two conveyors 20a and 20b, and if it is sufficiently long, the switches 38a and 38b are engaged as stated, and upon consequent energization of the circuit of FIGURE 8 the folding blade 60 is raised. The switches 38a and 38b are spaced apart the desired'distan'ce according to the length of the towel or laundry piece to be sensed. In the case of a laundry piece shorter than'the spacing between those switches, only one switch will be closed at a time, thus failing to energize the circuit and no folding function is performed. This shorter laundry piece passes onto the next station and if it is sufiiciently long to energize the next pair of switches 38c and 38d at one time, then the folding operation will be performed at the station 30b. The switches of all of the successive pairs are placed closer together and in the normal operation the long pieces will be folded first and then the successively shorter pieces at successive stations 30.
FIGURE-5 illustrates a detail construction utilized for carrying the laundry pieces past the gap-62 between adjacent conveyor sections 20. Shields 64 and 66 are mounted between adjacent rollers 24 and 22, these shields reducing the gap formed by the curvature of the rollers. Preferably the leading shield 64 is slightly higher than the next shield 66 so as to assure carrying the laundry piece across the gap and engaging the shield 66.
Upon the folding blade 60 being raised or projected it engages the laundry piece substantially at the midsection and produces a crease therein and carries the creased edge upwardly into the folding mechanism indicated generally at 68 at the respective station 30. The folding mechanism 68, best shown in FIGURES 2, 3, and 4, includes a conveyor 70 which includes a pair oflaterally spaced belts 72 and 74 with a space 75 therebetween, trained on a plurality of rollers 76, 78, 80, and 82. The arrangement pro duces an up run 7011 and a horizontal run 70b. Associated with the up run 70a is a pressure plate which may be of suitable size for substantially overlying the complete up run and is biased toward the up run by compression springs 86 reacting against fixed elements 88 of the frame of the machine. If desired this pressure plate may be forced into engagement with the conveyor in the absence of a towel therebetween. The lower end of the pressure plate may be curved outwardly as shown at 84a and the upper end curved as shown at 84b over the roller 78. As the folding knife 60 carries the creased towel upwardly. It forces the leading creased edge into the space between the pressure plate and the conveyor 70, and the conveyor in conjunction with the pressure plate carries'the towel upwardly and onto the top horizontal run 70b'of the conveyor.
Another limit switch 90 is mounted in the space 75 between the belts 72 and 740i the conveyor adjacentthe terminal end of the conveyor 70 or adjacent the roller 80. This switch is shown in the circuit of FIGURE 9 whichis operative upon closure thereof for energizing the circuit 92 which in turn controls an air cylinder 94, or other alternative operating means such as shown in FIGURES "11 and 12, which elevates another folding.
as just referred to, the knife1 produces another fold in the towel. In order tofacilitate a removal of the laundry pieces from the conveyor, it is proposed that'the conveyor 70 have a smooth and low friction surface so as' to eliminate or minimize drag on the laundry pieces as might otherwise occur due to the drawing effect of the laundry piece therealong. It will be noted that the circuit of FIGURE 9 includes only a single switch 90 since the second folding operation is not associated with a sorting operation.
FIGURE 6 shows a switch 90 located adjacent one side of the space 75 to accommodate the folding blade 96 beside the switch, it being preferred that the folding blade extend the full width of the towel and thus have one side edge adjacent the actuating finger of the switch.
Upon foldingthe towel in the second folding operation, the folding blade 96 carries the towel upwardly into operative engagement with another conveyor 98 (FIG- URES 2, 4 and 7) made up of .a plurality of transversely spaced elements or strands 99 trained on rollers 100, 102, and 104 and encompassing a triangular space. The belt includes an up run 98a in association with which a pressure plate 106 is mounted, functioning in the same manner as the pressure plate 84. The towel on being lifted by the folding blade 96 is carried upwardly by the up arm 98a and carried over the roller 102 and onto the diagonal down run 98b over a wicket 108. This wicket includes a plurality of rods1-10 mounted at one end on a transverse shaft 112 which is mounted for rocking movement in the frame of the machine, the rods 110 being disposed between the individual belts or strands 99. The lower roller 104 includes a series of large diameter segments 114 (FIGURE 7) mounted on a small diameter shaft 116 which in turn is mounted in the machine frame. The shaft 112 is located downwardly beyond the lower roller 104 and has a normal position in which the wicket rods 110 extend diagonally upwardly and in a position closely adjajent but below the diagonal down run 98b of the conveyor, the reduced shaft 116 accommodating the latter arrangement, enabling the rods to be disposed below the upper surface of the large segments 114 and thus of the conveyor belt. A microswitch 118 is provided adjacent the lower end of the diagonal down run 98b and upon actuation thereof by the leading edge of the folded towel movingdownwardly on the conveyor, the switch controls a circuit similar to that of FIGURE 9 which in turn controls actuation of a means for rocking the shaft 112 and throwing the wicket 108 in ejecting direction which is clockwise as viewed in FIGURE 4. This movement of the wicketcarries the towel from the conveyor 98 onto a table 120 which may include a conveyor table. If desired the table 120 may be lowered progressively to lower positions represented by the dot-dash line to accommodate corresponding stacking of towels thereon.
The apparatus thus described, produces a napkin fold, or quarter fold, i.e., two folds transverse to each other.
FIGURE illustrates a mechanism for adjusting the switches 38 of a pair relative to each other, and adjusting their position relative to the corresponding station 30. The switch 38a is mounted on a cross piece 124 of a carriage 125 which also includes a pair of laterally spaced longitudinally extending racks 126. Similarly the switch 38b is mounted on a cross piece 128 of a carriage 129 which also includes transversely spaced longitudinally extending racks 130. Pinions 132 carried by the racks 126 engage the teeth of the racks 130 and upon rotation of those pinions the carriage 129 is adjusted relative to the carriage 125, and thus the switch 38b is adjusted toward and from the other, to accommodate selected lengths of laundry pieces. In addition to adjusting the switches to ward and from each other, it is desired to have provision for shiftingthe two switches together relative to the station 30 between adjacent conveyor sections. For this purpose pinions 140, mounted in the frame of the machine, engage the teeth on the under side of the racks 126 and upon rotation of those pinions, they move the carriage 125 which carries the carriage 129 with it.
It is also desirable to provide for simple adjustment of the switches 38a and 38b toward and from each other in such a manner that an ordinary workman can easily and quickly so adjust them. An arrangement for this kind of adjustment is shown in FIGURE 10a. The same reference numerals of FIGURE 10 are utilized in this figure with prime subscripts. In this case the two racks 126 and are arranged with their teeth opposed and facing each other and the pinion 132' interposed therebetween, in mesh with both racks. The pinion is secured to a shaft mounted in a fixed portion of the frame of the machine, and upon rotation of the pinion in one direction or the other, the carriages 125 and 129' are moved correspondingly with consequent corresponding adjustments of the switches 38a and 38b toward and from each other. Thus upon simple manipulation of the pinion, the switches 38a and 38b are adjusted toward and from each other, these adjusting movements being symmetrical on opposite sides of the corresponding gap 62 between adjacent conveyor sections.
FIGURE 11 shows an alternate arrangement for operating the folding blade. In this instance the blade 60 is mounted on one end of an arm 142 pivoted intermediate its ends on-a fulcrum 144. Its other end is connected with a solenoid 146. Upon energization of the solenoid, its armature is retracted, rotating the lever arm 142 in a counterclockwise direction and raising the blade 60. A suitable spring may be utilized for returning the blade and armature.
FIGURE 12 shows still another arrangement for operating the folding blade 60. In the present instance the knife 60 is mounted on the upper end of a vertical rack 148 with which a pinion 150 meshes. The pinion 150' is mounted for conjoint rotation with another pinion 152 which is preferably of lesser diameter and meshes with another rack 154 which is connected with a solenoid 156. Upon energization of the solenoid, the rack 154 is drawn to the left, as viewed in FIGURE 12, rotating the pinions 152 and 154 and raising the rack 148 and thus the folding blade 60. In this instance also, the blade and armature of the solenoid may be returned by a suitable spring.
FIGURE 13 illustrates one form of device for actuating the wicket 108. The shaft 116 is provided with a pinion 158 which meshes with a rack 160. A solenoid 162 is provided and arranged so that upon energization thereof the rack is drawn, rotating the pinion 158 and swinging the wicket 108 in direction for carrying the towel thereon onto the stacking table 120. The wicket may be returned to normal position by a suitable spring.
' FIGURE 14 shows an alternative arrangement for operating the wicket 108. The shaft 112 on which the wicket is mounted is provided with a reel 164. A power device which may be an air cylinder, or solenoid, is provided, the moveable member 172 of which is connected to a flexible cord 174 which is secured to the reel 164. Upon energization of the power device 170, the movable member 172 is drawn upwardly which throws the wicket 108 forwardly. The wicket is normally biased to its inactive position or that shown in this figure.
Reference may now be made to FIGURES 15, 16, and 17 showing apparatus embodying the invention arranged for producing the type of fold known as the towel square fold which includes first a longitudinal fold followed by a transverse fold. In this instance a feed board or leadin conveyor 176 leads to a first conveyor 178 similar to the conveyor 20 but with only a single switch 180 for sensing the laundry piece, for producing the folding operation but not a sorting operation. A folding blade 182 forms a crease in the laundry piece and carries it to the folding mechanism 184 similar in all material respects to the folding mechanism 68. Preferably the conveyor is relatively smooth, and the blade has a roughened edge, as described in connection with the conveyor 70 and blade 96. A wicket 186 throws the folded laundry piece onto a second conveyor 188 which is disposed alongside and parallel with the conveyor -178 and runs in the same direction as the latter conveyor. The conveyor 188 is similar to the conveyor 20 and has a plurality of folding mechanisms 190 therealong. At each of those folding mechanisms is a pair of sensing switches 192 for controlling the sorting operation as described above, a blade 193 similar to the blade 60 being provided. A wicket 194 is utilized for throwing the laundry piece after being folded in the folding mechanism 190 onto a stacking deck 196 which may be any of various kinds. This stacking deck may be in the form of a conveyor for moving the stack of laundry pieces from the area, or it may be a member that is stationary as to location but lowering as the laundry pieces are deposited thereon. The details of this member do not enter into the present invention.
The present arrangement of FIGURES to 17 enables the laundry pieces to be folded longitudinally, i.e., along a lineextending in the direction of their movement. After the first longitudinal fold, the laundry piece is thrown sideways onto the second conveyor and the second fold is made transverse to the first fold. The present apparatus therefore is operable for sorting the laundry pieces after a first fold has been made therein and accordingly the sensing switches 192 for performing the sorting operation may be spaced apart the desired distance according to the dimension of the laundry piece in folded condition. The apparatus therefore is adapted to use with large laundry pieces where it may be found impractical to sort them in the fiat and full dimension condition, or it may be impractical to sort them in that condition for other reasons.
FIGURE 18 illustrates apparatus incorporating the present invention arranged for forming French folds and thereafter sorting the laundry pieces. In the present instance a French folding component 198 is utilized, this component being a standard and conventional form of apparatus. It includes conveyor means 200 arranged for moving the laundry pieces longitudinally, in conjunction with the folding of the pieces thereafter. A laundry piece having a French fold therein is shown at 202 and its position on the conveyor indicated in dotted lines-The laundry piece thus folded is transferred onto conveyor means 204 similar to the conveyor means 20. A pair of sensing switches 206 are associated with each of a plurality of stations, one for each of the sizes of the laundry pieces to be sorted. At each such station there is also a folding apparatus 208 similar to the folding apparatus 68. The laundry piece 202 with the French fold is again folded along a line transverse to the lines of fold in the French fold as indicated at 202a at the upper right hand corner of FIGURE 18. This laundry piece which is thus French folded and again folded transversely is deposited on a stacking member 210 which may be similar to that of FIGURE 4.
The present apparatus represents the invention adapted for sorting laundry pieces that have already been folded and again folding them. Thus the invention is adapted for use in conjunction with folding laundry pieces in a variety of ways.
While the first embodiment of the invention utilizes the conjoint closure of series switches for performing the sensing operation, the invention in its broad concept also encompasses a timing control for completing a sensing operation. Such an arrangement is illustrated in FIGURE 19 where the circuit 42 includes the switch 38a of FIG- URE 8 but instead of the cooperating Switch 38b, another switch 212 is arranged in series with the switch 38a. The switch 212 is incorporated in a timing device 214 which also includes a driving element such as a motor 216 which is connected across the circuit in parallel with the source of power 44.
This timing device 214, of known kind, is effective, upon energization thereof, for moving the switch 212 from its normally open position to its closed position. Upon a laundry piece such as a towel progressing along the conveyor as described above, its leading edge closes the swtch 38a and thereupon the timing device is energized. The energization of the timing device continues so long as the switch 38a remains closed by the towel and the switch 212 thereby progressively moves toward closed position. When it is closed, the circuit 42 is energized and the folding blade '60 is projected, as described above, and the towel lifted from the conveyor. Upon the occurrence of this last step, the switch 38a opens, and the timing device resets to its swich-open position. Thus it is not required that a pair of switches in series he closed by the physical engagement of the towel itself, but closed by a timing device pursuant to the passage of a predetermined time. The timing device may of course be adjusted as to its timing period.
The timing device 214 may also be utilized for safeguarding against simultaneous closure of the switches 38a and 38b by two short towels progressing in succession and positioned for separately actuating them. Such an arrangement is shown in FIGURE 19A which includes a fragment of the circuit 42 of FIGURE 19. This fragmentary circuit includes the timing device 214 and the switch 38a together with the switch 38b in series with the switches 38a and 212. Two towels 36a and 36b are shown, each towel being of insufficient length to actuate both of the switches 38a and 38b by itself. However it is possible for two such short towels to be positioned for separately and actuaitng the switches, as indicated. In such a case the folding blade would be actuated, if the circuit of FIG- URE 8 were utilized, and the folding blade may engage one of the towels near the end thereof and cause an improper fold.
The timing device 214, of known kind, includes not only means for adjusting its timing period in which it closes, but also a delay in which it resets. For example if the switch 38a should be momentarily open, the timing device will not immediately reset, but will reset only after a momentary delay, such for example as one-tenth of a second, one-fourth of a second, etc., to guard against accidental resetting upon momentary disengagement of the towel from the switch.
Towels in their normal progression through the sorter will be spaced apart, as indicated at 36', this spacing depending upon the speed at which the operator of the machine works, as well as other factors. So long as this spacing 36' is great enough that the time required for it to pass along a given point of the conveyor is as great as the resetting delay period, the timing device will be reset when that space is in register with the switch 38a. Thus such two short towels will be ineffective for closing the switch 212 and thus even though they should simultaneously close the switches 38a and 3811, the circuit will not be energized for operating the folding blade.
FIGURE 20 shows an arrangement for sensing laundry pieces according to both length and width. In this case the conveyor means 20 is illustrated, and in addition to the switches 38a and 38b, an additional pair of switches 218, individually identified as 218a and 218b, are provided in the gap 62 between adjacent belt sections 20a and 20b. The switches 218a and 218b are mounted for adjustment toward and from each other.
The latter switches 218a and 21 8b are incorporated in the circuit 42, as shown in FIGURE 21, in series with the switches 38a and 38b. If the towel moving along the conveyor is sufficiently wide to engage both switches 218a and 218b, these switches will be closed, and when they are closed together with the other two switches in accordance with the manner of sensing described above, the circuit 42 will be closed with the completion of the sorting operation, and a folding operation, will be carried out according to the description above. On the other hand if only one, or neither, of the switches 218 is closed, the circuit 42 will not be energized and the towel will pass on to another station;
The invention also encompasses the concept of sorting according to thickness of towels. Such an arrangement is illustrated in FIGURES 22 and 23. In the present case the two switches 38a and 38b are provided, as described above, and a third switch 220 is provided above the conveyor with an actuating finger 222 extending downwardly to a position closely above the upper surface of the conveyor.
FIGURE 23 shows the circuit 42 with the switch 220 in series with the switches 38a and 38b. When a towel passes along the conveyor that is thick enough to actuate the finger 222 of the switch 20, it closes that switch, and then when the same towel closes both the switches 38a and 38b, the circuit of FIGURE 23 is completed and the completion of the sorting operation, and the associated folding operation, are carried out, as described above.
It is also within the scope of the invention to incorporate the switch 220 in the arrangement of FIGURE 20, whereby to sort towels according to three dimensions, namely, length, width, and thickness. It is of course within the scope of the invention to have different arrangements of switches at successive ones of the stations 30 along the conveyor.
While I have disclosed herein certain preferred forms of the invention, it will be understood that changes may be made therein within the scope of the appended claims.
1. Apparatus of the character disclosed, comprising conveyor means having a plurality of longitudinally spaced and serially arranged stations therealong, the conveyor means being operative for conveying laundry pieces to the first of the stations, and for conveying them successively to the remaining stations unless they are removed from the conveyor means at a station anterior thereto as hereinafter set forth, sensing means operatively associated with each of said stations each including a pair of sensing elements spaced apart in a direction, longitudinal-transverse, relative to the conveyor means, and positioned for engagement by a laundry piece moving along the conveyor means when the laundry piece reaches a predetermined position relative to that station and thus relative to the corresponding sensing means, the sensing elements of each sensing means being adapted for simultaneous engagement by a. laundry piece which is of a dimension in the direction of the spacing of the sensing elements at least as great as that spacing, as the laundry piece is oriented in moving along the conveyor means, folding means operative for removing laundry pieces from the conveyor means and folding them pursuant thereto, control means responsive to said sensing elements of each sensing means being actuated simultaneously by a laundry piece for actuating the folding means, the folding means being operative for removing the laundry piece from the conveyor means at least as late as the laundry piece reaches its said predetermined position, the sensing means being ineffective for actuating the folding means Without the simultaneous actuation of both the sensing elements, the laundry pieces upon moving past each station without being removed from the conveyor means moving to a succeeding station, the sensing means at each succeeding station operating similarly to that at each preceding station in response to movement of a laundry piece thereto.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1 in which the sensing elements of the sensing means are spaced apart longitudinally of the conveyor means.
3. Apparatus according to claim 1 in which the sensing elements of the sensing means are spaced apart transversely of the conveyor means.
4. Apparatus according to claim 1 in which the sensing elements arev spaced more closely in successive ones of the sensing means progressing along the conveyor means.
5. Apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the conveyor means includes laterally spaced belt elements defining a longitudinal gap therebetween and the sensing elements of each sensing means are disposed in said gap.
6. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the conveyor means includes longitudinally spaced belt sections forming transverse gaps between adjacent sections and one such gap at each station, and the sensing elements of the sensing means are disposed in respective ones of said gaps.
7. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the conveyor means includes longitudinally spaced ,belt sections forming transverse gaps between adjacent sections and one such gap at each station, the folding means includes a blade at each station movable through the corresponding transverse gap for forming a transverse fold in the laundry pieces.
8. Apparatus according to claim 7 wherein the sensing elements of each sensing means are spaced apart longitudinally of the conveyor means, and the sensing elements of each sensing means are so spaced apart, and so positioned relative to the corresponding station, as to effect a fold substantially midway between the ends of the laundry pieces.
9. Apparatus according to claim 1 and including means mounting the sensing elements for adjusting movements toward and from each other for varying the responsiveness of the sensing means according to the size of the laundry pieces.
10. Apparatus according to claim 9 wherein the conveyor means includes longitudinally spaced belt sections forming transverse gaps between adjacent sections and one such gap at each station, the folding means includes a blade at each station movable through the corresponding transverse gap for forming a transverse fold in the laundry pieces, the sensing elements are spaced apart longitudinally of the conveyor means, and on opposite sides of the respective gaps, the adjustability of the sensing elements toward and away from each other being also toward and away from the gap.
11. Apparatus according to claim 10 wherein the sensing elements are also adjustable together longitudinally of the conveyor means without varying the spacing therebetween.
12. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein each sensing element includes an electric switch having a finger projecting into the path of the laundry pieces on the conveyor means, and including circuit means incorporating the switches and operative for controlling the folding means.
13. Apparatus according to claim 1 and including second folding means at each station operative for receiving the laundry pieces from the conveyor means and again folding them and conveying them from said conveyor means.
14. Apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the second folding means is operative for folding the laundry pieces in direction transverse to the fold effected by the first mentioned folding means.
15. Apparatus according to claim 13 wherein the second folding means includes a pair of transversely spaced belt elements forming a gap therebetween, and a blade operable for passing through the gap between the transversely spaced belt elements, and thereby operative for folding the first-folded laundry pieces at an intermediate position.
16. Apparatus of the character disclosed, comprising conveyor means having a folding station and operative for conveying laundry pieces therealong to the folding station, first switch means below the top surface of the conveyor means and projecting upwardly into the path of the laundry pieces on the conveyor means, second switch means above the conveyor means and projecting downwardly but spaced upwardly from the first switch means, the first switch means being engageable by all of the laundry pieces and the second switch means being engageable by laundry pieces having a thickness at least as great as the spacing between the first and second switch means, the actuation of any of the switch means being effected wthen a laundry piece reaches a predetermined position relative to said folding station, folding means at the folding station operative for removing laundry pieces from the conveyor means and folding them pursuant thereto, control means responsive to said first and second switch means being actuated simultaneously by laundry pieces for actuating the folding means, the folding means being operative for removing the laundry pieces from the conveyor means at least as late as the laundry pieces reach said predetermined position, the switch means being ineffective for actuating the folding means without the actuation of both the first and second switch means.
17. Apparatus according to claim 16 wherein the first switch means includes a pair of switches spaced apart in the plane of the top surface of the conveyor means.
18. Apparatus according to claim 17 wherein said pair of switches are spaced apart longitudinally of the conveyor means.
19. Apparatus of the character disclosed comprising conveyor means having a folding station and operative for conveying laundry pieces therealong to the folding station, sensing means having a sensing element engage able by a laundry piece being conveyed, a first switch controlled by the sensing element, timing means controlled by the first switch, a timed switch controlled by. the timing means, a circuit including said switches in series, said sensing means being so located that the sensing element is actuated by a laundry piece upon reaching a predetermined positive relative to the folding station, folding means operative upon simultaneous actuation of both switches for removing a laundry piece from the conveyor means at the folding station and folding it pursuant thereto, the timing means having such operative period relative to the speed of the conveyor means that the laundry pieces are removed that have a minimum length equal to the distance the conveyor means moves in that time period.
20. Apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the sen'sing means includes a pair of sensing elements spaced longitudinally along the conveyor means, a first and a second switch controlled by the respective. sensing element, all of the'switches are in series in and control the circuit, the operative period of the timing means is at least as long as the period in which the laundry pieces move between the sensing elements.
21. Apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the timing means contains self-resetting characteristics and is adjustable as to timing characteristics.
22. Apparatus according to claim 20 wherein the timing means contains self-resetting characteristics and is adjustable as to timing characteristics.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS EUGENE R. CAPOZIO, Primary Examiner PAUL V. WILLIAMS, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 270-67