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Publication numberUS3516220 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 23, 1970
Filing dateAug 26, 1968
Priority dateJan 11, 1965
Publication numberUS 3516220 A, US 3516220A, US-A-3516220, US3516220 A, US3516220A
InventorsBuford Charles Gilbert, Buford Wesley Ellis
Original AssigneeBuford Charles Gilbert, Buford Wesley Ellis
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Container filling apparatus
US 3516220 A
Images(6)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

1m 1970 c. G. BUFORD ETAL 3,515,220

CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS Original Filed Jan. 11, 1965 6 Sheets-Sheet 1 CHARLES 6/4352? .BU

was/45v EL Bur-02D INVENTORS ATTORNEY June 23, 1970 c. a. BUFORD ETAL 3,516,220

CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS Original Filed Jan. 11, 1965 6 Sheets-$heet 2 IN VENTORS (Li/924.55 611.5221- Bap-02D was/Nev ILL/s Bur 2o A TORNEY June 23, 1970 c. G. BUFORD ETAL 3,516,220

CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS Original Filed Jan. 11. 1965 6 Sheets-Sheet 4 CHARLE s GILBERT B uFoPn I I wzszev Ews Bax/ 020 2| l I N VENTORS ATTORNEY June 23, 1970 c. G. BUFORD ETAL 3,516,220

' CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS Original Filed Jan. 11, 1965 e Sheets-Sheet 5 El gall.

39 40 E 1. 2n I72 I65 #153 l r I I48 we Q M 1'12 I8l\ I A74, I67 I68 r75 r73 T H H il m. I, T I47 I46 H T J3 I65 v i 13 '52 I52 :54 I g 2 M PM CHARLES GILBERT Bur-"0R WESLEY ELL/S Ba -om:

INVENTORS ATTOQHE V June 23, 1970 Original Filed Jan. 11,

C. G. BUFORD ETAL CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 "Ill! k 127 H4 33 k "29 PL I26 l8o I20 N6 N0 -|2I H8 I23 I34- uv 2 CHARLES Gasser BUFORD =0 WE EY ELL/5 .BUFOED INVENTORS ATTORNEY Patented June 23, 1970 3,516,220 CONTAINER FILLING APPARATUS Charles Gilbert Buford, 17727 Laxford Ave., Azusa, Calif. 91702, and Wesley Ellis Buford, 1045 N. Azusa, Covina, Calif. 91722 Original application Jan. 11, 1965, Ser. No. 424,610, now Patent No. 3,403,826, dated Oct. 1, 1968. Divided and this application Aug. 26, 1968, Ser. No. 755,339

Int. Cl. B65b 57/06 US. Cl. 53-59 15 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A machine for filling liquid into a flexible bag, including a scale on which the bag is placed and carrying a holder for gripping a filling neck of the bag, with a filling nozzle being movable into engagement with the neck, and being adapted to fill liquid into the bag until the filling operation is automatically halted by the scale when the bag and contained liquid reach a predetermined weight. In moving to its filling position, the filling spout swings generally horizontally about an axis, and also moves downwardly to properly contact a filling neck of the bag.

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION This application is a division of our co-pending application entitled Power Actuated Dispensing Valve, filed Jan. ll, 1965, Ser. No. 424,610, now Pat. No. 3,403,826 granted Oct. 1, 1968.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to improved apparatus for filling a predetermined product into a container. The invention is in certain respects especially adapted for the filling of milk into flexible plastic bags, and will be described primarily as applied to that use, though it will be apparent that certain of the inventive features are equally applicable to other container filling situations.

It has recently become popular in many areas to package milk in plastic bags, rather than in bottles, cartons, or the like, especially for uses in which several quarts or gallons are to be packaged in a single container. These bags are formed of fully flexible polyethylene film, and usually carry near one corner of the bag an inlet fitting which may be formed of a more rigid polyethylene or similar material. In view of the flexibility of the bag, most conventional types of filling equipment are not easily applicable to the filling of such bags.

There have been some previously devised types of filling equipment which are intended to fill flexible bags of the discussed type, but none of these prior machines with which I am familiar has proven adequate. More specifically, the previous bag-filling units have been incapable of filling bags as rapidly as would be desired, or with sufficient accuracy of measurement, and have required excessive time consuming manipulation of the bags and equipment by an operator, with a resultant low overall efficiency in the filling procedure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A filling machine constructed in accordance with the present invention can be utilized more effectively than the above discussed prior equipment for the filling of milk or other liquids into a flexible bag, or other container, and can do so rapidly and with little manual effort, and in a manner very accurately measuring the quantity of fluid filled into each bag. The apparatus is desirably also adapted to apply closures to the bags Or other containers as they are filled, so that in a very short interval a bag maybe filled with a metered amount of liquid and capped to a sealed condition for removal to a delivery or storage location.

In order to facilitate filling of the desired product into a flexible bag of this type, I utilize a holder structure which is adapted to engage and hold the inlet fitting of the bag, and locate that fitting at a predetermined position in spite of the inability of the fully flexible walls of the bag to themselves properly support or locate the inlet fitting. In conjunction with this holding structure, I employ a filling unit or fitting which is so located as to fill the milk or other product into the container when its inlet is located by the holder. Preferably, the filling unit is mounted for retracting movement between an active filling position and an offset retracted position. This movement may be a generally horizontal swinging motion, about a generally vertical axis, combined preferably with an axial generally vertical movement toward and away from the inlet fitting, so that the filling unit may retract in two different directions toward the retracted position.

The filling unit or nozzle may be mounted for its horizontal swinging and vertical movements by a swinging arm, which preferably contains a passage through which the material being dispensed is fed through the nozzle. This arm may be mounted to a support shaft, which is journaled to turn about the vertical axis of motion of the nozzle, and to move upwardly and downwardly along that axis, with the shaft being power actuated vertically by a piston and cylinder mechanism or the like, and being cammed rotatively upon such vertical movement to elfect the swinging motion of the nozzle. In conjunction with the nozzle, the swinging arm may carry a control valve, acting to commence and terminate the fiow of liquid from the nozzle in timed relation to the movement of the nozzle.

The fluid discharge nozzle may comprise or include a flexible spout, which is engageable with the filling neck of the bag in sealed filling relation, and which is adapted to flex in a manner maintaining its sealed relation with respect to the neck while avoiding the exertion of any substantial force against the neck which might tend to affect or alter the weighing operation of the scale. For this purpose, the flexible element may be of an outwardly bulging or bowing shape, presenting a generally radially extending lower edge which engages the filling neck and is flexible for limited vertical movement therewith.

A further feature of the invention resides in the provision of an improved holder for receiving and locating the filling neck of the bag during a filling operation. Specifically, this holder desirably includes a plurality of relatively movable jaws which are actuable toward and away from one another, to grip the neck and retain it in fixed position during a filling operation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The above and other features and objects of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of the typical embodiment illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a bag filling machine constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view similar to FIG. 1, but showing the apparatus in its cap applying position;

FIG. 3 is a vertical section taken primarily on line 33 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary plan view, partially broken away, of the FIG. 3 apparatus;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view taken primarily in the plane of FIG. 3, with certain portions of the apparatus broken away to illustrate their interior construction;

FIG. 6 is a transverse vertical section taken primarily on line 66 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6a is a view showing the two units of FIG. 6 after separation;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged horizontal section taken on line 77 of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged horizontal section taken on line 8-8 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary enlarged vertical section taken on line 99 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 10 is a greatly enlarged fragmentary vertical section taken on line 1010 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 11 is a reduced fragmentary plan view taken on line 11-11 of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a fragmentary view taken on line 1212 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 13 is a fragmentary vertical section taken essentially on line l313 of FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged fragmentary vertical section taken primarily on line 14-14 of FIG. 12;

FIG. 15 is a view showing the capping mechanism in its cap applying position;

FIG. 16 is a section on line 16-16 of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a diagrammatic representation of the electrical and pneumatic control apparatus;

FIG. 18 is a section on line 18-18 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 19 is a section on line 19--19 of FIG. 10;

FIG. 20 is a view on line 2020 of FIG. 4; and

FIG. 21 is a perspective View of the cap.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring first to FIG. 1, I have shown at 10 a bag filling machine constructed in accordance with the invention, and having a main stationary housing 11 supported on suitable legs 12. The housing has an upstanding portion 13 at the rear of the machine, which contains certain of the pneumatic, electrical, and other parts of the apparatus. In front of this upstanding portion 13 of the housing, there is provided a platform 14 on which a bag 15 to be filled is located during the filling operation. Platform 14 is supported movably by a weighing scale 16 (see FIG. 3), which responds to the attainment of a predetermined bag weight to automatically close off the admission of milk into bag 15 through a filling valve unit 17. This unit 17 is mounted to swing between the active position of FIG. 1 and retracted position of FIG. 2, to coact with the inlet fitting or neck 18 of the bag (FIG. 3) which is held at a predetermined filling location by a holding assembly 19. After the filling operation has been completed, capping mechanism 20 may be actuated to apply a closure cap to neck 18 to complete the filling and closing operation.

As seen best in FIG. 3, the side walls 21 which define the forward lower portion of housing 11 terminate upwardly at a location 22, along the front and opposite sides of the forward portion of the housing. Scale 16 is located within this forward portion of the housing, and has a stationary body portion 23 which is suitably secured in fixed position relative to bottom wall 24 of the housing, as by fastening legs 25 of the scale to wall 24. At its upper side, weighing scale 16 has a top work supporting element 26 forming an inner platform, to which an elongated element 27 extending in a front-to-rear direction, and two or more transverse elements 28 extending from side to side, are rigidly secured, as by fasteners represented at 29 in FIG. 4. The top platfrom 14 on which bag 15 is directly positioned rests on transverse elements 28, and may have a horizontal work engaging portion 30 and depending skirts 31 and 32 extending along its front and two opposite sides of the housing. This entire platform 14 is thus supported on element 26 to move up and down therewith in weighing the bag 15 and its contents.

Holding structure 19, for holding the filling neck of bag 15, is supported by the previously mentioned part 27 (FIGS. 3 and 4) for up and down movement with the weighing platform 14. For this purpose, part 27 may have an upwardly projecting portion 32' adjacent the upstanding portion 13 of housing 11. At its upper end, portion 32 carries a forwardly projecting horizontal sheet metal part 33 to which gripping structure 19 is mounted. Element 33 contains near its forward edge a circular opening 34, about which the metal of part 33 may be turned slightly upwardly, annularly, as indicated at 35 in FIG. 5. The filling neck 18 of the bag is tubular, and of an external diameter to pass upwardly through opening 34 and be confined relatively closely therein, with an upwardly projecting externally threaded portion 36 of neck 18 extending upwardly above the level of the gripping apparatus 19.

The gripping structure includes two jaws 37 and 38 (FIG. 11) which are individually pivoted at 39 and 40 to part 33 for horizontal swinging movement toward and away from one another between the full line gripping positions of FIG. 11 and the broken line open positions of that figure. In the full line positions, portions 41 of the jaws which are shaped non-circularly in correspondence with the lower portion 42 of filling neck 18 (FIG. 5) tightly grip that filling neck to accurately locate it in a desired filling position, and hold it against removal from that position. The jaws 37 and 38 are actuable by a manually operated lever 43 (FIG. 11), which is pivoted by a screw 145 for pivotal movement about a vertical axis 45, with parts 37 and 38 being cut away at the location of screw 145 to pass the screw upwardly from plate 33 by which it may be rigidly carried. A nut 44 is removably threaded onto screw 145, and engages the upper surface of lever 43 to hold the parts in assembled positions. Element '43 has two spaced parallel slots 46 shaped as shown in FIG. 1, and receiving camming pins 47 rigidly attached to parts 37 and 38, to cam jaws 37 and 38 toward and away from one another in response to swinging movement of lever 43.

The filling valve unit 17 includes a T-shaped body 52 having a horizontal tubular portion 48 (FIG. 5), containing a passage 49 communicating with a vertical cylindrical passage 50 formed in a vertically extending tubular forward portion 51 of body 52. Passage 4-9 is open at its rear end, and connected to an inlet hose 53 through which milk to be dispensed is admitted to body 52 from an appropriate supply source, typically a tank at an elevation high enough above body 52 to cause gravity flow into and through that body. Front passage 50 may be directly vertical and open downwardly into a flexible annular seal element 54, desirably formed of rubber or other resilient material. Part 54 may be bonded to a carrier ring 55, which with part 54 is frictionally retainable on a lower reduced dimension portion 56 of body 52. Ring may have an edge 57 forming a trough for receiving any materials which may fall downwardly thereonto, and having a down turned portion 58 at a localized rear portion of part 55, to discharge those materials, if any, downwardly at that location.

Part 54 may be relatively thick at the top, and thin progressively as it curves downwardly and inwardly to form a very flexible lip 59 dimensioned to annularly engage the upper annular surface 60 of the part 18, about opening 61 within part 54 and about the fluid passage through part 18. The resilience of lip 59 is such as to avoid the exertion of any substantial downward force by that part against inlet neck 18, which force might introduce an inaccuracy into the operation of the scale.

The discharge of milk from passage 50 is controlled by a valve element 61 which may be a cylindrical rubber element fitting tightly within passage 50, but movable upwardly and downwardly therein between the full line closed position of FIG. 5, and an elevated broken line position designated 61" in that figure. In its lower position, valve element 61 engages downwardly against an annular seat shoulder 62 formed in and by portion 51 of body 52. Element 61 is carried by a vertically extending shaft 63, typically formed of metal, and which passes through and is a tight fit within a passage 64 formed in a seal or gasket element 65 fitting closely within passage 50. Seal element 65 may be bonded to a metal disc 66 which engages downwardly against the upper end of portion 51 of body 52. As will be understood, the annular engagement of rubber seal element 65 with body 52 and shaft 63 prevents any upward flow of milk from body 52.

The valve is operated by an actuating unit 67, which preferably takes the form of a piston and cylinder mechanism whose vertically extending cylinder is represented at 68, and whose contained vertically movable piston is shown at 69. Actuating air is introduced into the cylinder at the underside of piston 69 through an inlet 70 (FIG. to actuate the piston upwardly against the influence of a compression spring 71 acting upwardly against a wall 72 rigidly carried by the cylinder. The lower end of spring 71 bears downwardly against a part 73 which is rigidly attached to tubular piston rod 74. Wall 72 contains an appropriate O-ring seal element 75 held in place by spring 71 and a fibre washer 175, and forming an annular seal with the shaft or piston rod 74 to prevent leakage therepast. Air from above piston 69 may be vented to atmosphere through the interior of piston rod 74, and through a vent opening 275 leading therefrom toatmosphere.

The lower end of cylinder 68 has a terminal portion 76 which is cut away at 77 to extend only partially about the main vertical axis 78 of piston 69 and valve element 61. This portion 76 extends about the outside of the upper extremity of portion 51 of body 52, and has an arcuate inwardly extending projection or shoulder 78' disposed about axis 71 and receivable within an annular groove 79 formed in the outer surface of body 52. This groove and projection 78 lie in a horizontal plane. Preferably, portion 76 and its projection 78 extend about portion 51 of body 52 through slightly more than 180 degrees, relative to axis 78, so that portion 76 must be forced into groove 79, and must be expanded slightly during such connection of the parts together. More particularly, the cylinder body 68 is connected to body 52 by moving body 68 leftwardly from the position of FIG. 6a to the position of FIG. 6, during which movement shoulder 78, of portion 76 of body 68 slides horizontally into groove 79, transversely of axis 78, to the FIG. 6 assembled condition in which the parts are retained by virtue of the slightly more than 180 degrees encirclement of the groove by portion 76. The parts may subsequently be separated by forcing portion 78 out of groove 79. The metal of cylinder body 68 must of course have sufficient slight resilience to on able this frictional locking engagement between parts 68 and 52.

The same movement between the positions of FIGS. 6 and 6:: acts to connect part 73 to valve stem 63 for actuation thereof. For this purpose, part 73 has a horizontally extending portion 80 having the bifurcated shape illustrated in FIG. 7, to form two fingers or arms 81 having diverging edges 82 receivable within an annular groove 83 formed in valve stem 63 above plate 66. As the cylinder housing 68 is moved to the left from the FIG. 6a position to the FIG. 6 position, fingers 81 are received within the opposite sides of groove 83, and act to interfit with that groove in the FIG. 7 condition in which upward and downward movement of piston 69 is effectively transmitted to the valve 61 to open and close it. In order to maintain fingers 81 in proper orientation with respect to portion 76 of the cylinder housing, so that the same leftward movement will interconnect the piston and valve, and also the two housing parts 68 and 52, element 73 has an upper portion 84 which is connected rigidly to stem 74, and also has a tab 85 projecting into a vertical slot 86 formed in cylinder wall 68, to always key part 73 against turning movement about axis 78 relative to cylinder housing 68.

As seen best in FIG. 5 and 9, valve body 52 is rigidly mounted to a vertically extending shaft 87 for vertical movement therewith along a vertical axis 88, and for swinging movement with the shaft about that axis. Shaft 87 may be formed of a rigid metal, and projects upwardly through a bushing element 89 which is rigidly attached to top wall 90 of the housing, and which journals and guides shaft 87 for the desired axial and rotary movement. A part 91 is rigidly brazed to body 52, and projects downwardly therefrom (FIG. 5), and contains a cylindrical recess 92 into which the upper end of externally cylin drical shaft 87 projects. One or more set screws 93, (FIG. 9) extend through the side wall of element 91 and are tightenable against the upper end of shaft 87 to Secure body 52 removably to the shaft. The part 52 is located in fixed rotary position relative to the shaft by extension of a rigid air outlet tube 94 carried by shaft 87 through a locating notch 95 formed in the side wall of part 91. As will be apparent from FIG. 5, the tube 94 communicates with a passage 96 in shaft 87, which passage extends downwardly through the Shaft and communicates at its lower end with another tube 97 rigidly connected into shaft 87 and projecting rearwardly therefrom. Air is conducted from tube 94 to the inlet fitting 70 of piston and cylinder mechanism 67 through a flexible hose 98.

Shaft 87 is actuable upwardly and downwardly by a piston and cylinder mechanism 99 (FIG. 5), whose cylinder is fixed stationarily within the housing, and whose piston 100 is movable vertically along axis 88. Shaft 87 is attached to piston 100 to be moved upwardly and downwardly thereby.

Shaft 87 is surrounded by a vertical tube 101, centered about axis 35, which tube contains a cam slot 102 having a vertical lower portion 103 (FIG. 9), and a helically extending upper portion 104. The previously mentioned air supply tube 97 which is connected into the lower portion of shaft 87 (FIG. 5) has disposed about it an internally and externally cylindrical bearing sleeve 105, having an external diametercorresponding approximately to the width of cam slot 102, to be guided thereby and turn shaft 87 as sleeve 105 moves upwardly or downwardly within the helical portion 104 of cam slot 102. Outwardly beyond sleeve 105, tube 97 connects to a fitting 106 which is receivable slidably within a vertical guideway 107 formed within a part 108 connected to tube 101, to assist in guiding shaft 87 and tube 97 for only vertical movement when the tube is within the lower vertical portion 103 of guide slot 102. Tubular fitting 106 is connected to another tubular air conducting fitting 108', which is engageable with a vertically movable actuating element 110 of a bleed valve assembly 111, to actuate its valve element 110 to closed position as shaft 87 approaches its lowermost position of FIG. 5. Fitting 108 is connected to another fitting 112 which, in the lowermost position of FIG. 5, actuates a swinging arm 113 (FIGS. 5 and 9), which operates a microswitch 114. Air is supplied to fitting 112 through a flexible hose or tube 115, whose opposite end is connected to an air controlling solenoid valve 116.

The main compressed air inlet to the apparatus is illustrated at 117 in FIGS. 3, 9 and 17. This line connects into an electric pilot valve 118, containing a solenoid which is operable to selectively admit compressed air from line 117 into a line 119 going to the bottom end of cylinder 99 or a line 120 connecting into the upper end of the cylinder. The solenoid is connected to ground at 121, and can be supplied with signals from either of two input leads 122 and 123. If current is supplied to valve unit 118 through leads 121 and 122, the valve is actuated to admit air from line 117 through line 120 into the upper end of cylinder 99, to move its piston and shaft 87 downwardly, while line 119 discharges to atmosphere through an adjustable bleed outlet 119. Similarly, current supplied to leads 121 and 123 actuates the valve 118 reversely to admit air to the lower end of the cylinder, through line 119, to actuate its piston and shaft 87 upwardly, While line 120 discharges to atmosphere through an adjustable outlet 120'. Line 120 communicates with the previously mentioned bleed valve assembly 111, and is also in communication with a line 124 leading to the inlet side of the solenoid valve 116. When solenoid valve 116 is supplied with air through line 124, and is then energized through leads 125 and 126 (FIG. 17), it passes air from line 124 through the valve to line 115 (FIGS. 3, 9 and 17) to shaft 87.

Current is supplied to the circuit diagram of FIG. 17 through a power line 127, connected to the primary side of a transformer 128, under the control of a main power switch 129. The secondary of the transformer is connected to ground at 130, and to a common side of microswitch 114. A normally closed side of this microswitch is connected through a lead 131 to a push button start switch 132, whose opposite side is connected to lead 122 to valve 118. A normally opened contact of microswitch 114 is connected through a lead 133 to the common side of a scale operated switch 134. The normally opened contact of this switch is connected to lead 123, while the normally closed contact of switch 134 is connected to lead 126. Switch 134 is actuated magnetically from its normal condition to the opposite condition by movement of an actuating lever 135 of the switch when the scale responds to the attainment of the predetermined desired weight of fluid in bag 15. More particularly, arm 135 may be formed of a magnetic material, and may be actuable downwardly when a magnet 136 carried by conventional balance arm 236 of the scale moves upwardly upon the attainment of a desired weight (FIG. 9). Balance arm 236 may be pivoted to body 23 of the scale for swinging movement about an axis 237 (FIGS. 3 and 9), with the critical weight being settable by shifting movement of one or more scale arm weights 238.

The cap applying mechanism 20 of FIG. 1 includes a vertically extending tubular magazine 137 having an internal diameter corresponding approximately to the external diameter of the circular caps 138 to be applied to bags 15. These caps are stacked within magazine 137 as shown in FIG. 1, and may be shaped as illustrated in FIG. 18, having generally cylindrical side walls 138 closed at their upper sides by top walls 140, and containing internal threads 141 for engaging the threads of fitting 18 of the bag. The caps are positioned in magazine 137 with their inner threaded recesses facing downwardly. The lower end of the magazine is secured rigidly to an elongated mounting member 142, which extends outwardly from one side of the rear portion 13 of housing 11, and which is detachably secured thereto by a wing nut 143 (FIGS. and Element 142 takes the form of a flat horizontal metal member received on the upper surface of housing 11 (FIG. 13), and having a pin 144 at one of its ends projecting horizontally through a mating aperture in a vertical mounting portion 145 of the magazine, and coacting with a screw 146 passing vertically through a horizontal second mounting portion 147 of the magazine to securely but removably attach the magazine to member 142. The mounting portions 145 and 147 of the magazine may be formed integrally with the magazine or may be separate sheet metal elements welded to and projecting downwardly from two opposite sides of the magazine. Along one of its sides, magazine 137 may have a vertical slit or opening 137 of a size smaller than the caps, to allow access to the interior of the magazine but effectively retain the caps therein.

Rigidly secured to the outer end of member 142 is a cap supporting element 148, taking the form of a rigid metal plate of the configuration shown, and having an upper horizontal surface 149 (FIG. 14) on which the lowermost one of the caps 138 is supported. Slidably connected to element 148, at its upper side, is a feed structure 150, including a strip of sheet metal 151 extending across and along the upper surface of element 148. This part 151 has guide flanges 152 extending downwardly at opposite sides of element 148 (FIGS. 13 and 14), and guiding plate 151 for horizontal sliding movement between the retracted position of FIG. 16 and the displaced position of FIG. 14. This movement is in a leftward and rightward direction in FIGS. 14 and 16, and is in the direction indicated by the axis 153 in FIG. 12. Plate 151 contains a circular opening 154 of a diameter to receive and locate the lowermost one of the caps 138, and acting to shift that cap leftwardly from the FIG. 16 position at the bottom of the magazine to the leftwardly displaced FIG. 14 position. Above plate 151, the structure includes an upper sheet metal element 155 having a slightly down turned leading portion 156, and supported in spaced relation to plate 151 by a support member 157. When the structure 150 shifts to the left, the leading portion 156 of element 157 is received beneath the next to bottom one of the caps 138, and supports that cap against downward movement while the lowermost cap is being shifted leftwardly to the FIG. 14 position, and until the entire structure 150 returns to the right far enough for opening 154 to be received beneath and accept the next successive cap. Thus, structure 150 acts upon each reciprocation to shift the lowermost cap from the magazine to the FIG. 14 position. The lower end of the magazine is cut away at its left and right sides (as viewed in FIGS. 14 and 16), to pass the sliding structure 150, but at a level low enough to provide lower edge portions 237 and 238 which are low enough to engage the next to bottom cap in the magazine, and prevent it from being shifted laterally with structure 150 and the lowermost cap.

The shifted cap is taken from the FIG. 14 pick-up position by means of a carrier 158 which may be formed as a simple cylindrical metal part 159 having a slightly flaring lower end 160 which can move downwardly about a cap 138, so that the cap extends upwardly into the cylindrical portion 159 of the element, and is frictionally retained therein. This part may have one or more small lugs projecting radially inwardly from its inner usrface, as at 161, to engage irregularities on the periphery of the cap in a manner keying the cap to carrier 158 for rotation therewith. Carrier 158 is mounted for rotation about a vertical axis 162 by extension through and confinement within a circular opening 163 formed in an annular end portion 164 of a mounting arm 165. Lugs or pins 166 may project outwardly from side wall 159 of the carrier at circularly spaced locations, to engage the upper side of portion 164 of the arm in a manner supporting the carrier 158 against movement downwardly relative to the arm any farther than the FIG. 14 position. However, the arm itself is free for downward movement, with corresponding movement of carrier 158, far enough to contact plate 151, and effectively engage and pick up a cap 138 carried within opening 154. To enable this downward movement of arm 165, the arm is pivotally mounted to a pin 167 projecting upwardly from part 142 (see FIGS. 12, 13 and 15), and is yieldingly urged downwardly relative to pin 167 by a coiled spring 168. This spring 168 has one end fastened to the upper end of pin 167, and has its opposite end turned into engagement at 169 with one side of arm (FIGS. 12 and 13), to yieldingly urge arm 165 from its FIG. 15 position to its FIG. 12 position about axis 167. Spring 168 also urges the arm downwardly at the location of pin 1 67, and about a location 171 as a fulcrum point, to normally retain the end portion 164 of arm 165 in the FIG. 14 position, while allowing that portion to be deflected downwardly manually into engagement with plate 151 against the tendency of spring 168.

A second elongated arm 172 is provided for automatically actuating the cap feeding plate 151, and for this purpose, arm 172 is pivoted to member 142 at 173. This arm is also pivotally connected at 174 to plate 151, and slidably carries a member 175, which is received about arm 172 and slidable therealong. Member 175 carries an upwardly projecting pin 176 which extends through an opening in the other arm 165 to pivotally connect member 175 thereto, with the result that when member 165 is manually swung between its FIG. 12 and FIG. 15 positions, the part 175 acts to simultaneously swing arm 172 in the opposite direction from its FIG. 12 position to its FIG. 15 position. Also, as will be apparent from FIG. 13, the engagement of arm 165 with member 175 allows for the discussed fulcrumming movement about point 171 of FIG. 13, to lower carrier 158 into engagement with a cap. During this fulcrumming movement, the sliding member 175 itself may swing slightly with arm 165, and for this purpose may engage only the top and opposite sides of member 172, and not its underside.

To now describe the operation of the discussed apparatus, assume first of all that the scale has been properly set for a particular desired bag weight, and caps have been inserted in magazine 137. Initially, cap carrier 158 is in its retracted position of FIG. 1, and the filling valve assembly 17 is in its retracted position of FIG. 2. With the parts thus retracted, lever 43 of FIG. 11 is actuated to open jaws 3 7 and 38, so that an empty bag 15 may have its inlet fitting 18 clamped in the jaws, with the bag extending forwardly on platform 14 as shown in FIG. 1. After the filling fitting of the cap has been thus clamped by the jaws of holder 19, with the filling neck '18 extending vertically about axis 177 of FIG. 3, the operator presses start button 132 of FIG. 17 to place the apparatus in operation. Such closure of switch 132 closes an energizing circuit from the secondary of transformer 128 through lead 180 to the common contact of switch 114, then through the normally closed contact of that switch to lead 131, then through switch 132 and lead 122 to a first side of electrically operated valve 118, Whose opposite side is permanently connected to the other side of the secondary of transformer 128 through ground connections 121 and 130. Such energization of valve 118 causes that valve to admit air from inlet 117 to line 120 leading to the upper side of cylinder 99. The resultant admission of air to the upper end of this cylinder causes downward movement of the contained piston 100, and the connected upwardly projecting shaft 87. As the shaft moves downwardly, it is caused to also turn in a clockwise direction as viewed from the top of the apparatus, by virtue of the movement of cam roller 105 along the helical upper portion 104 of cam slot 102 (FIG. 9). This turning movement of shaft 87 is just sufficient to swing the carried body 52 (FIG. forwardly and leftwardly from the FIG. 2 position to the FIG. 3 position. Thus, when roller 105 has reached the beginning or uppermost extremity of the vertical portion 103 of slot 102, element 54 is then directly above and in vertical alignment with filling neck 18 of the bag. Further and continued downward movement of shaft 87 by the connected piston 100 causes the shaft and its carried parts, including flexible nozzle element 54, to move directly downwardly, without turning or swinging movement, so that the lower lip 59 of part 54 lightly engages and forms an annular seal with the upper surface of neck 18. This sealed relation is attained as the shaft 87 and carried parts reach their lowermost position of FIG. 5. The final portion of the downward movement, just as the seal with the filling neck is formed, also swings arm 113 of FIG. 9 downwardly, by engagement with fitting 112 carried by shaft 87, and against the tendency of a return spring 213, to actuate microswitch 114 to open its normally closed contact and close its normally open contact. This actuation of the microswitch closes a circuit to solenoid valve 116, to admit air through that solenoid valve and line 115 into the interior of shaft 87. The air for this purpose is supplied to line 124 through its communication with line 120 and fitting 111. The defined circuit to solenoid valve 116 is completed from the secondary of transformer 128 through lead 180, the normally open contact of switch 114, lead 133, the common contact of switch 134, the normally closed contact of that switch, and lead 126, with the second side of solenoid valve 116 being connected to ground through lead 125 and the grounding connection represented at 185. The air from solenoid valve 116 and line 115 enters shaft 87 through fitting 112, 108, 106 and 97 of FIG. 5, then flows upwardly through passage 96 in the shaft, and outwardly through tube 94 and hose 98 to enter cylinder body 68 beneath piston 69. This actuating air forces piston 69 uprwardly, to correspondingly move valve element 61 upwardly away from its seat 62 and to the broken line position 61 of FIG. 5, to allow milk to flow through horizontal passage 49 and downwardly through vertical passage 50 of part 52, and to discharge through element 54 into the bag. This filling operation continues until the weight of the filled liquid reaches a predetermined value, representing the amount of liquid which is to be metered into the bag, at which time the weight on platform 14 moves element 26 of scale 16 downwardly just sufficiently to swing balance arm 28 of the scale upwardly to a position indicating that the preset weight has been attained. This upward movement of arm 28 and its carried magnet 136 (FIGS. 9 and 17) magnetically actuates switch 134 to stop the filling operation. This is effected by closing a circuit to the second side of electrically operated valve '118 as follows: from the secondary of transformer 128 through lead 180, the normally opened contact of switch 114, lead 133, the common and normally open contacts of switch 134, and lead 123 connecting into the right side of electrically operated valve 118. The second side of the valve is of course grounded. At this point, it may be stated that valve 118 is of a type acting to automatically remain in whichever of its two positions it has last been actuated to. Consequently, even though the initial circuit through lead 122 is broken almost immediately after closure of the actuating switch 132, the valve 118 will nevertheless be actuated to its filling position when switch 132 is closed, and will remain in that position until the just discussed circuit through scale operated switch 134 is closed to lead 123. When this circuit is closed, the valve 118 is returned to its initial condition, to admit air to the lower end of the cylinder 99 through line 119, and relieve the pressure from the upper end of cylinder 99 so that the piston 100 within that cylinder is actuated upwardly, to move shaft 87 and its carried parts upwardly. The first portion of this movement is directly vertical, and the last portion combines rotary or swinging movement with the vertical movement, as bearing sleeve or roller of FIG. 9 passes along the upper helical portion 104 of slot 102. Thus, filling valve 17 is retracted upwardly and laterally to its initial FIG. 2 position. Also, the magnetic actuation of switch 134 opens the normally closed contact of that switch to break the circuit to valve 116, and thereby close 011 that valve, and the flow of milk from valve 17.

When valve 118 is actuated to the above discussed condition for admitting air to the lower end of cylinder 99 through line 119, such actuation of the valve also serves to simultaneously connect line 120 from the upper end of the cylinder to outlet 120", to release the pressure at the upper end of the cylinder to atmosphere. However, outlet 120' is adjusted to a restricted condition in which it releases the pressure only very slowly, and thus allows only very slow upward movement of piston 100, shaft 87 and dispensing unit 17. After these parts have moved upwardly a predetermined distance, preferably to the point at which cam slot 102 commences the lateral swinging movement of unit 17, the bleed valve 111 suddenly opens automatically to allow discharge of air from line 120 much more rapidly than had theretofore been possible, so that the unit 17 completes its upward and lateral travel at a greatly increased rate. Valve element is, in the FIGS. 5 and 18 condition of the apparatus, held downwardly against its seat 212 by a compression spring 312 interposed between elements 110 and 110'. As parts 109 and 110 commence their upward movement, the spring 312 continues to hold element 110 closed, but with reduced force, until ultimately, as unit 17 commences its lateral swinging motion, valve element 110 suddenly pops open to release air to atmosphere through passages 212' and 412, which in the open position of element 110' are much less restricted to air discharge than is outlet 120'. The purpose of the initial period of slow upward movement of shaft 87 is to allow ample time for any excess milk in unit 17 to drip from that unit into the bag, during such slow directly vertical movement of unit 17, and prior to the more rapid lateral retraction of that unit. The down ward movement of unit 17, on the other hand, may be rapid throughout that downward travel, and for this purpose outlet 119', through which air from line 119 and the lower end of cylinder 99 discharges upon downward movement, may be much less restricted than outlet 120' and typically as unrestricted as the passages 212' and 412 in their open condition. Any leakage of air through valve 111 during the downward movement of unit 17 is insufficient to substantially reduce the actuating pressure above piston 100.

After the above discussed filling operation, a cap is applied to the filling neck 18 of the bag by manual actuation of carrier 158. More particularly, this carrier which is normally retained in the retracted position of FIG. 14 by spring 168 of FIG. 13, is pressed downwardly to engage, surround and frictionally retain and lift a cap which is positioned directly therebeneath within opening 154 of FIG. 14. Carrier 158 is then allowed to return upwardly under the influence of spring 168, and is manually swung from the FIG. 1 position to the FIG. 2 position directly above filling neck 18. Carrier 158 is then again pressed downwardly, so that the carried cap surrounds neck 118, following which carrier 158 is turned in a clockwise direction to screw the cap onto neck 118 in closing and sealing relation. The carrier 158 is then released for automatic return to the FIG. 1 position, and

' jaws 37 and 38 may be opened to enable removal of the filled and closed bag and positioning of a next successive bag for filling.

When it is desired to clean the apparatus, this may be effected very easily and rapidly by virtue of the unique construction of the milk contacting portions of the machine. More particularly, the body 52 through which milk is dispensed may be detached by merely loosening the screw 93 of FIG. 9, and then lifting portion 91 of body 52 upwardly away from shaft 87. This body 52 may be detached from the piston and cylinder actuating unit 67 by leftward movement of unit 67 from the FIG. 6 position to the FIG. 6a position, as has been discussed previously. After such quick detachment of part 52 from shaft 87 and unit '67, valve 61 then may be pushed upwardly through and from portion 61 of the T-shaped body 52, to leave the two intersecting passages in that body very open for thorough cleansing. The removed valve 61 and its connected shaft 63 and associated seal element 65 may also be cleaned thoroughly and reassembled with the other parts. Similarly, element 54 and its connected part 55 may be pulled off of the lower end of body 52, to which they are merely frictionally secured by engagement of the rubber of part 54 with body 52, and after cleansing may be replaced. Magazine 137 may be detached by merely unscrewing the single fastener 146 as has been discussed before, after which plate 151 and its attached parts may be removed for cleaning and to expose part 148 for cleaning. In this connection, it is noted that the pivot pin 174 of arm 172 is not connected directly into an opening in the structure 150, but is merely confined within a front-to-rear guideway 181 (FIG. 14), from which it may slip when part 151 is lifted off of element 148. Even member 14 2 of FIG. 15 can be removed for cleaning. With regard to the gripper mechanism 19, this may be separated into its component parts and detached by merely removing the nut 44, whose undersurface engages part 43, so that this part 43 is free for upward removal after detachment of the nut. The slots 46 are free for removal upwardly away from their mating pins 47, following which jaws 37 and 38 may be removed upwardly by movement off of their pins 38 and 40, which are secured to and project upwardly from plate 33. After cleaning, all these parts may be replaced to the condition illustrated in FIG. 11.

Desirably, all of the metal parts of the apparatus, including especially those parts which may contact milk, such as part 52, are formed of stainless steel, to avoid any adverse effect on the milk being handled or on the parts themselves.

The various air actuated parts may be internally lubricated by introducing atomized oil into the air stream through a conventional lubricator represented diagrammatically at 300 (FIG. 9). Also the portion of this air which is discharged from valve 116 and the parts controlled thereby upon closure of valve 116 may be utilized to lubricate roller and slot 102 (FIGS. 5 and 8) by directing such air from valve 116, with its contained lubricant, through a discharge line 301 onto the roller and slot.

At all times when the scale is not actually being used for a milk weighing operation, the scale platform 30 and its connected parts may be locked against unwanted shifting movement, preferably by engagement of a turned portion 313 of a swinging arm 413 (FIGS. 10 and 19) upwardly within and against a notch 513 in a part 613 rigidly carried by element 32. Arm 413 may be rigidly connected to the previously discussed switch actuating arm 113 (FIGS. 9 and 19), to swing about a horizontal axis therewith, and to be urged by spring 213 upwardly against notch 513 except when downward actua-. tion of arm 1 13 to the FIG. 9 position correspondingly swings arm 413 to its broken line released position of FIG. 10, just as element 54 engages the bag in filling relation.

To allow easy adjustment of the capping structure relative to the housing, in order that a carried cap may be located precisely above the neck of a bag being filled, element 142 of the capping mechanism may be mounted adjustably to the housing. More particularly, element I142 may have a vertical flange 343 (FIGS. 15 and 20) received adjacent a side wall 11' of housing 11, with this side wall carrying a screw 143' projecting through an adjusting slot 243 in flange 343 and having the previously mentioned wing nut 143 removably connected to the screw to secure element 142 in place. Thus element 142 can be adjusted horizontally or longitudinally by shifting slot 243 relative to screw 143.

The form of the invention shown in FIG. 1 and the other figures is designed for use in situations in which access to the machine can best be had from its left side. For this reason, the filling and capping parts swing to rightwardly retracted positions. However, it is of course contemplated that opposite-handed machines may be provided in which the capping mechanism is located at the left side of the machine, and both it and the filling unit 17 retract to the left.

We claim:

1. Apparatus comprising a holder for holding a filling neck of a container with the neck facing and opening generally upwardly at a predetermined filling location, a filling nozzle for filling a fluid downwardly into said neck, power actuated means for swinging said nozzle generally horizontally about a generally vertical axis between a retracted position offset laterally from a neck retained by said holder and a filling position of vertical alignment with the neck, said last mentioned means being operable to shift the nozzle downwardly into filling relation with the neck in predetermined timed relation to the horizontal swinging movement of the nozzle, and valve means for passing fluid through said nozzle and 13 into said neck retained by the holder in said filling position.

2. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a swinging arm carrying said nozzle for said generally horizontal swinging movement and containing a passage through which said fluid is delivered to the nozzle.

3. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a swinging arm carrying said nozzle for said generally horizontal swinging movement and also carrying said valve means for swinging movement with the nozzle.

4. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a swinging arm carrying said nozzle for said generally horizontal swinging movement and also carrying said valve means for swinging movement with the nozzle, said arm being essentially a tube containing a passage for delivering said fluid to said valve means and nozzle.

5. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means are operable to shift the nozzle downwardly simultaneously with its generally horizontal swinging movement.

6. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means are operable to first shift the nozzle downwardly simultaneously with its generally horizontal swinging movement and to then shift the nozzle directly downwardly into said filling relation with the neck and without further swinging movement.

7. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a generally vertical shaft mounted to turn about said generally vertical axis, and an arm projecting generally horizontally from said shaft to swing about said axis therewith and carrying said nozzle for said swinging movement at a location offset from said shaft.

8. Apparatus as recited in claim 11, in which said power actuated means include a power unit operable to displace said nozzle downwardly, and cam means for causing said swinging movement of the nozzle about said generally vertical axis in response to said downward movement.

9. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a power unit operable to displace said nozzle downwardly, and cam means for causing said swinging movement of the nozzle about said generally vertical axis in response to a first portion of said downward movement but then allowing the final portion of said downward movement without corresponding swinging movement.

10. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a generally vertical shaft mounted to turn about said generally vertical axis, an arm projecting generally horizontally from said shaft to swing about said axis therewith and carrying said nozzle for said swinging movement at a location offset from said shaft, a tubular structure disposed about said shaft and containing a cam slot, powered means for actuating said shaft vertically, and cam follower means connected to said shaft and received in said slot and guided thereby in a relation causing horizontal swinging of the arm and nozzle in response to said vertical movement of the shaft.

11. Apparatus as recited in claim 10, in which said cam follower means contain a passage for conducting a control fluid into a passage within said shaft, there being a conduit connected to an upper portion of said last mentioned passage within the shaft, and a unit for actuating said valve means and carried by said arm for swinging movement therewith and connected to said conduit to receive valve operating control fluid therefrom.

'12. Apparatus as recited in claim 1, in which said power actuated means include a swinging arm carrying said nozzle for said generally horizontal swinging movement and also carrying said valve means for swinging movement with the nozzle, said arm being essentially a tube containing a passage for delivering said fluid to said valve means and nozzle, said power actuated means including a generally vertical shaft mounted to turn about said generally vertical axis and carrying said arm for said swinging movement therewith, a piston and cylinder unit for actuating said shaft downwardly and upwardly, cam means about the shaft for causing horizontal swinging movement of said shaft and arm and nozzle and valve means in response to initial downward movement of the shaft, and guiding the shaft and arm and nozzle and valve means for only directly downward movement, without swinging motion, during a final portion of the downward movement of the shaft.

13. Apparatus as recited in claim 12, in which said cam means include a tube about the shaft containing a cam slot having a first helical portion terminating in a vertical portion, there being a cam follower structure connected to said shaft and extending through said slot in guided relation and containing a passage. for conducting a control fluid into a passage in the shaft, there being a conduit connected to an upper end of said passage in the shaft, and a powered unit carried by said arm and actuable by control fluid from said conduit to actuate said valve means.

14. Container filling apparatus comprising a weighing scale structure having a support for receiving and supporting a container which is to be filled and weighed and which has a filling inlet, a holder for releasably holding said inlet at a predetermined location, a filling unit operable to fill a predetermined product into said container through said inlet while the latter is held by said holder and while the container is on said support, automatic control means responsive to said scale structure to halt said filling of said product into the container when the weight of the product in the container reaches a predetermined value, means for simultaneously swinging said filling unit about an axis and shifting it axially to shift the filling unit between an active position in filling relation to said inlet and an axially and rotatably retracted position, closing means for applying a closure to said inlet, means mounting said closing means for swinging movement between an active position for applying a closure to said inlet and a retracted position, a magazine for holding a supply of said closures, and means operable in response to said swinging movement of the closing means to feed an individual closure from said magazine to a pick-up position at which said closing means can receive it.

15. Container filling apparatus comprising a weighing scale structure having a support for receiving and supporting a container which is to be filled and weighed and which has a filling inlet, a holder for releasably holding said inlet at a predetermined location, a filling unit operable to fill a predetermined product into said container through said inlet while the latter is held by said holder, and while the container is on said support, automatic control means responsive to said scale structure to halt said filling of said product into the container when the weight of the product in the container reaches a predetermined value, power actuated means for swinging said filling unit generally horizontally relative to the support between an active position for filling into said inlet while held by said holder at said predetermined location and a retracted position, said power actuated means being operable to shift said filling unit vertically in timed relation to said horizontal swinging movement thereof, closing means for applying a closure to said inlet after filling, and means mounting said closing means for generally horizontal swinging movement relative to the support between an active position for applying a closure to the inlet while held by said holder at said predetermined location and a retracted position.

(References on following page) References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Valerius 141-250 Manas 141269 X Scholle 14183 Anthon 14-1269 X Weikert 141114 X Stewart et a1 141-392 X TRAVIS S. MCGEHEE, Primary Examiner R. L. SPRUILL, Assistant Examiner US. 01. X.R v 53 167, 268, 300; 141 313

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4120134 *Jul 5, 1977Oct 17, 1978Scholle CorporationApparatus for and method of filling flexible containers
US4250691 *Jun 12, 1979Feb 17, 1981Aci Operations Pty. Ltd.Feeding apparatus
US4351692 *Jan 7, 1981Sep 28, 1982Ouellette Machinery SystemsApparatus and method for automatically filling and heat weld sealing lengths of plastic tubing
US4363203 *Aug 19, 1980Dec 14, 1982Aci Operations Pty. Ltd.Liquid fill apparatus
US4481753 *Dec 17, 1981Nov 13, 1984Champion International CorporationBag filler-capper
US4494363 *Aug 20, 1982Jan 22, 1985Franrica Mfg. Inc.Method and apparatus for aseptically filling containers
US4574559 *Jan 4, 1985Mar 11, 1986Rutter Christopher CFlexible bag automatic filling and capping apparatus
US4676285 *Jun 19, 1986Jun 30, 1987Liqui-Box CorporationUncapper for containers having friction caps carrying flexible tubes
US4911553 *Nov 25, 1987Mar 27, 1990House Food Industrial Co., Ltd.Method and apparatus for feeding solid-liquid mixture
WO2013175220A1 *May 23, 2013Nov 28, 2013Miriad Cs LimitedContainer, container blank, and filling apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/502, 141/313, 53/167, 53/300, 53/268
International ClassificationB65B3/00, B65B43/42, B65B43/54, B65B3/28
Cooperative ClassificationB65B43/54, B65B3/28
European ClassificationB65B43/54, B65B3/28