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Publication numberUS3584434 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 15, 1971
Filing dateMay 16, 1968
Priority dateMay 16, 1968
Publication numberUS 3584434 A, US 3584434A, US-A-3584434, US3584434 A, US3584434A
InventorsJames R Ellis
Original AssigneeM & E Machinery Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Carton handling and loading method and machine
US 3584434 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventor James R. Ellis Covina, Calif. [21] App1.N0. 729,712 [22] Filed May 16, 1968 [45] Patented June 15, 1971 [73] Assignee M & E Machinery Corp.

Covina, Calif.

[54] CARTON HANDLING AND LOADING METHOD AND MACHINE 6 Claims, 14 Drawing Figs.

[52} 11.8. C1 53/159, 53/186, 53/374, 53/388 [51] Int. Cl B65b 35/52. B65b 43/32 [50] Field of Search 53/29, 152, 186, 381, 382, 388, 159, 162 [561 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,134,309 5/1964 Weber et a]. 53/186 X 3,107,013 10/1963 Euwe 53/152 X 3,236,027 2/1966 Schmermund 53/388 3,299,611 1/1967 Hendrick et al... 53/186 3,323,283 6/1967 Johnson et al. .1 53/186 3,343,335 9/1967 Pearson.... 53/252 X Primary ExaminerTheron E. Condon Assistant Examiner-E. F. Desmond Attorney-Boniard I Brown ABSTRACT: A carton handling and loading method and machine are provided wherein the cartons to be processed are initially folded to a flat condition and then erected into the configuration of a generally tubular carton structure open at its ends, the articles to be packaged are loaded into the carton structure through one of its open ends while its opposite open end is blocked by a removable closure member, the ends of the carton structure are then closed by folding end flaps of the carton across these ends, and the end flaps are finally sealed to provide a completed package.

PATENTED JUN] 5197! PATENTED JUN 1 5 SHEET 2 [1F 4 flirvs /roe CBFIMES 19. 2.03,

flrraRA/Ey CARTON HANDLING AND LOADING METHOD AND MACHINE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to the packaging art and more particularly to a novel method of and machine for erecting folded cartons, loading articles in the cartons, and sealing the cartons to provide completed article packages.

2. Prior Art A wide variety of methods and machines have been devised for packaging all sorts of articles in containers of various types. As a general rule, the design of a packaging machine is dictated, in large part, by the shape, size, and other characteristics of the articles to be packaged, by the type of container in which the articles are to be packaged, and by the manner in which the articles are to be arranged in the containers. In some cases, for example, the articles to be packaged may have random shapes and sizes, while in other cases the packaged articles may be of generally uniform shape and size. Relative to the containers, the latter may comprise preformed cartons which are merely filled or loaded with the articles to be packaged and then sealed, or the containers may be stored in a folded or other compact condition and then erected, filled, and finally sealed. In some instances, each container may receive a single article and in other cases a number of articles. Actual packaging of multiple articles in containers may involve simply, introducing the articles into the containers in generally random fashion, or loading of the articles in the containers in some predetermined arrangement, or other packaging technique.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION One important aspect of the present invention is concerned with a total article packaging concept involving the loading of a number of essentially identical articles, such as ice cream bars, in a predetermined arrangement into cartons having sidewalls which are mutually joined along intervening fold lines extending endwise of the cartons and hinged end flaps along the ends of the sidewalls. According to this inventive aspect, the cartons are initially collapsed or folded to a flat condition wherein the adjacent carton sidewalls are disposed in face to face contact and the carton end flaps are disposed in the planes of their respective sidewalls. In the course of the present article handling and loading method, each carton is erected by folding of its sidewalls about their fold lines to positions wherein the adjacent walls are generally perpendicular to one another so as to form a generally rectangular tubular carton structure open at its ends. One open end of the structure is then blocked, as by placement of the closure member within this end, and the articles to be packaged are loaded into the carton structure through its opposite open end until the carton is filled to capacity. According to the preferred practice of the invention, this loading step is accomplished by reciprocating a loading plate along the axis of the tubular carton structure into and from its open end, and periodically feeding a number of the articles to be packaged into the region between the carton and the loading plate, in timed relation to reciprocation of this plate, in such a way that each stroke of the plate in the direction of the carton structure is effective to transport or load a group of the articles into the carton structure. After filling, the carton flaps are folded across the open ends of the carton structure to close the ends, after which the flaps are sealed to provide a finished package.

The packaging machine of the invention is designed to perform this packaging operation. To this end, the machine is equipped with a frame having a carton storage station, a carton erecting-loading station, a flap folding station, and a flap sealing station spaced therealong. Mounted on the frame at the carton storage station is a hopper for containing a stack of the folded cartons. Carton feed means are provided for extracting the folded cartons edgewise in succession from the hopper and then transporting each carton through the several stations of the machine along a direction line transverse to the carton sidewall fold lines. Located at the carton erecting-loading station are carton erecting means for erecting each carton arriving at this station into the configuration of the open ended tubular carton structure referred to above. The station is also equipped with carton loading means, such as the loading means mentioned above in connection with the present packaging method, for loading the articles to be packaged into each carton after its erection into a tubular carton structure. The filled cartons are then transported laterally along the machine frame through the flap folding station where the carton flaps are closed to the flap sealing station where the closed flaps are sealed. A feature of the sealing station resides in an elevator mechanism for vertically transporting the sealed cartons stepwise in a vertical stack from the infeed level at which the cartons arrive at this station to an outfeed level to allow the carton sealing means to drive or set without horizontal movement of the cartons which would require additional horizontal extension of the machine frame. The completed cartons or packages arriving at the outfeed level are then transferred to an outfeed conveyor or the like.

It is evident at this point that the present packaging machine embodies separate carton erecting, loading, and sealing means which cooperate to accomplish the total article packaging method of the invention. However, it will become evident as the description proceeds that each of these means may be utilized by themselves or in other packaging methods and machines. For example, the carton erecting means may be employed as an independent mechanism for simply erecting folded cartons of the character described which can then be filled and sealed by hand or by machines other than the packaging machine of the invention. The same applies to the carton loading means, which may be employed in conjunction with various carton erecting and sealing means, and to the sealing means, which may be utilized with various carton erecting and loading means.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a packaging machine according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a semidiagrammatic perspective view of the machine;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view, on enlarged scale, of one of the cartons which are handled and filled in the packaging machine, the carton being illustrated in its flattened condition;

FIG. 4 is an edge view of the carton in FIG. 3 erecting-loading in broken lines, the manner in which parts carton is erected;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the carton erecting-loading station of the machine with certain parts omitted for the sake of clarity;

FIG. 6 is a section taken on line 6-6 in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a section taken on line 7-7 in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary perspective view, on reduced scale, of a portion of the carton erecting means of the machine;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary perspective view on reduced scale, of a portion of the carton loading means of the machine;

FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view, on reduced scale, of a portion of the carton flap folding means of the machine;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged perspective view of one of the articles which the illustrated machine is designed to package;

FIG. 12 is a sectional view taken on line 12-12 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of a portion of the structure shown in FIG. 12; and

FIG. 14 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of a horizontally movable carton infeed carriage of the machine.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to these drawings, there is illustrated a packaging machine 10 according to the invention for packaging essentially identical articles 12 into cartons 14. Each carton 14 has sidewalls 16a, 16b, 16c, and 16d which are mutually joined along intervening fold lines 18 extending endwise of the carton. For convenience, the sidewalls 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d are hereafter referred to in places as leading trailing, top, and bottom sidewalls, respectively. Along the ends of these sidewalls are hinged end flaps 20a, 20b, 20c, and 20d which are hereinafter referred to in places as leading, trailing, top, and bottom flaps, respectively. It is significant to note here that the width of the bottom flaps 20d, measured endwise of a carton 14, is substantially greater than the corresponding width of the remaining flaps. The cartons 14 are initially collapsed or folded to a flat condition, illustrated in solid lines in FIG. 4, wherein the adjacent carton sidewalls are disposed in face to face contact, and the carton end flaps extend from and in the plane of their respective sidewalls. Each folded carton is designated in the drawings by the reference character F. During the packaging operation of the machine 10, each folded carton F is erected by folding of its leading and trailing sidewalls [6a, [6b upwardly relative to the bottom carton sidewall 16d to positions wherein the adjacent sidewalls are generally perpendicular to one another so as to form a generally tubular rectangular carton structure S open at its ends. At the conclusion of the packaging operation, the carton end flaps 20a, 20b, 20c, 20d are closed by folding the flaps inwardly across the open ends of the carton structure S to close these ends. The end flaps are then sealed to one another to provide a completed carton or package C.

Returning now to the packaging machine 10, the latter has an elongate frame 22 with a carton storage station 24, a carton erecting-loading station 26, a flap folding station 30, and a flap sealing station 32 which are spaced along the frame, as shown. Located at the carton storage station 24 is a hopper 34 for containing a stack 36 of the folded cartons F. The cartons in the stack are arranged one on top of the other with their fold lines 18 extending transversely of the frame 22. Extending longitudinally along the top of the frame 22 and across the under side of the hopper 34 are rails 38 on which rest the lowermost carton F in the stack 36. The side of the hopper 34 between the carton stack 36 and the carton erecting-loading station 26 is provided by an upright plate or wall 40. The lower edge of this wall is spaced above the frame rails 38 to define therebetween an intervening gap having a width just slightly greater than the thickness of the folded carton F.

Mounted on the frame 22 below the rails 38 are carton feed means 42 for extracting the lower folded carton F from the hopper 34 and transporting the carton laterally, i.e., along a direction line extending longitudinally of the frame and laterally of the carton fold line 18, to the carton erecting-loading station 26. In this instance, the carton feed means comprises a pneumatic linear actuator 44 having a cylinder d6 mounted on the frame 22 below and extending longitudinally of the frame rails 38. The cylinder is located below the flap folding station 30 and contains a plunger 48 having a rod 50 which extends from the cylinder through the carton erecting- Ioading station 26 to the carton storage station 24. Fixed to the end of this rod is a crosshead 52 attached to a carriage I70 mounting a pair of resilient catches 54. Carriage 170 mounts rollers 180 which support the carriage on the machine frame for rolling movement along the frame. Catches 54 are situated between the frame rails 38 and are resiliently biased in the upward direction to the normally extending positions of FIGS. 2 and 4, wherein the shoulders project above the rails to engage the lower carton in the hopper. The thrust shoulders have upper cam faces 56.

During operation of the packaging machine 10, the cylinder 46 of the carton feed actuator 42 is periodically pressurized to extend the actuator plunger 48 to the left in FIG. 2 to its illustrated position, wherein the plunger extends across the underside of the hopper 34, and then retract the plunger to the right toward the carton erecting-loading station 26. In the course of extension of the plunger, the cam faces 56 of the catches 54 engage the lower folded carton F in the carton stack 36 and are thereby cammed downwardly to clear the lower carton,

thus to permit movement of the catches across the underside of the lower carton. As the plunger approaches its fully extended position of FIG. 2, the catches snap upwardly behind the adjacent edge of the lower carton, as shown. During subsequent retraction of the actuator plunger 48 toward the carton erecting-loading station 26, the catches engage the lower carton F and push this carton edgewise from the carton stack 36, through the gap between the frame rails 38 and the hopper sidewalls 40, to the carton erecting-folding station.

Mounted to the frame 22 between the carton erecting-folding station 26 and the hopper 34, adjacent the hopper sidewall 40, are a pair of flap folding members 57. These flaps folding members engage the projecting bottom side flaps 20d on each folded carton F as the latter emerges from the hopper 34 and fold these flaps downwardly against opposite sides of the frame rails 38, as illustrated in FIG. 2. These flaps are urged downwardly by taps 50, are further pressed downwardly and retained by tabs 57, and are retained by rails 57a.

Mounted on the frame 22 are a pair of retractable carton stops 55. These stops normally project above the frame rails 38 so as to arrest each folded carton F arriving at the station in a predetermined carton erecting and loading position. FIG. 4 illustrates a carton in this position. Mounted on the frame 22 at the carton erecting-loading station 26 are carton erecting means 58 which are actuated upon arrival of each folded carton in this position to erect the carton to its open ended tubu lar configuration S.

The illustrated carton erecting means 58 comprises an initial carton erector 59 which partially erects each folded carton and a final carton erector 60 which completes the erection of each carton. The initial carton erector 59 comprises a pneumatic actuator having a cylinder 62 mounted in a vertical position on the frame 22 below the frame rails 38. Movable in the cylinder is a plunger 64 having a carton erector rod 66 projecting from the upper end of the cylinder. Referring to FIGS. 3, 4 and 8, it will be observed that the bottom sidewall 16d of each carton 14 has an opening 68 which is vertically aligned with the erector plunger 66 when the carton arrives in its erecting and loading position at the erecting-loading station 26. Actually, all of the sidewalls of the illustrated cartons are provided with openings which serve as ventilation openings and one of which provides the lower erector rod opening 68. Normally, the erector plunger rod 66 is retracted into its cylinder 62 to a position wherein the upper end of the rod is located below the frame rails 38 to permit unobstructed movement of the folded cartons F from the hopper 34 to the carton erecting-loading station 26. Immediately following arrival of each folded carton in its erecting-loading position at the station 26, the erector cylinder 62 is pressurized to extend the erector rod 66 upwardly. During this extension of the rod, the latter passes through the lower carton opening 68 to initially engage the currently folded leading carton sidewall 16a and thereafter to rotate this sidewall upwardly to its inclined position of FIG. 4. This action effects partial erection of the folded carton from its flat solid line condition of FIG. 4 to its broken line condition of that figure.

The final carton erector 60 has a cylinder 70 mounted on the frame 22 at the carton erecting-loading station 26 and in a generally horizontal position over the frame rails 38. Cylinder 70 extends generally longitudinally of the frame and contains a plunger 72 having a rod 74 which extends from the end of the cylinder facing the hopper 34. Mounted on the outer end of this rod is a depending carton erector flange or finger 76. The erector plunger 72 is extended to its position of FIG. 4, wherein the erector flange 76 permits initial erection of each folded carton F at the station 26 to its partially erected condition of the figure by the initial carton erector 59. In this partially erected condition, the upper edge of the trailing carton sidewall 26b is located in the path of retraction movement of the erector flange 76 with the final carton erector plunger 72. Immediately following erection of each carton to its partially erected condition, the final carton erector cylinder 70 is pressurized to retract its plunger 72. During this retraction, the

erector flange 76 engages the trailing carton sidewall 16b and rotates the latter wall to a vertical position, thereby completing erection of the carton to its fully erected condition of FIG. 9 to form the tubular carton structure S. It will be understood that during both the initial and final stages of this erecting operation the carton being erected is restrained against forward movement along the frame 22, in a direction of the following flap folding station 30, by engagement of the leading carton sidewall 16a with the carton frame stops 55.

Also mounted on the frame 22 at the carton erecting-loading station 26 are carton loading means 77. These carton loading means are actuated after the erection of each folded carton F to its tubular configuration C to load a number of the articles 12 into the carton structure. The particular loading means illustrated comprise a carton backup or closure plate 78 and an article infeed plate 80. These plates are located at opposite sides of the carton erecting-loading station 26 in longitudinal vertical planes of the machine frame 22 in such a way that the plates are aligned crosswise of the frame with the tubular carton structure S currently situated in carton loading position at the station. The dimensions of each plate approximate, and are preferably slightly less than, the internal dimensions of the carton structure. Associated with the plates 78, 80 are a pair of plate actuators 82, 84. The closure plate actuator 82 has a cylinder 85 extending crosswise of and mounted on the machine frame 22 over the station 26. Movable in this cylinder is a plunger 86 having a rod 38, the outer end of which mounts a depending arm 90 secured to the outer side of the carton closure plate 78. Similarly, the article infeed plate actuator 34 has a cylinder 92 extending crosswise of and mounted on the machine frame 22 over the station 26. Movable in this cylinder is a plunger 94 having a rod 96 mounting at its outer end a depending arm 98 which is secured to the outer side of the infeed plate 80. It is now evident, therefore, that the actuator cylinders 85, 92 may be pressurized to extend the plates 78, 80 inwardly toward one another and retract the plates outwardly away from one another along the longitudinal axis of the intervening tubular carton structure S currently situated in loading position at the carton erecting-loading station 26.

Normally, the plates 78, 80 are in their outward positions of FIGS. 5, 7 and 9, wherein the plates are spaced to permit unrestricted movement of each folded carton F to and erection of the carton to its tubular configuration S at the carton erecting-loading station 26. Following erection of each carton, the cylinder 85 of the closure plate actuator 82 is pressurized to extend the carton closure plate 78 inwardly to a position wherein this plate fits within and closes the adjacent open end of the tubular carton structure S. The cylinder 92 of the article infeed plate actuator 84, on the other hand, is periodically pressurized in such a way as to drive the article infeed plate 80 in a reciprocating motion along the axis of the tubular carton structure S between an inner extended position wherein the plate fits within the adjacent open end of this carton structure and its outer position of FIGS. 1, 5, 7 and 9, wherein the plate is spaced from the latter carton end.

Also embodied in the carton loading means 77 are article infeed means 100 which operate in synchronism with the reciprocating motion of the article infeed plate 80 to feed a group of the articles 12 into the region 102 between the carton structure S and the plate each time the latter retracts. The plate feeds a plurality of groups of articles together into the carton structure S, in a manner which is described later herein. The filled carton structure is advanced laterally to the following flap folding or closing station 30.

The article infeed means 100 comprises a laterally projecting platform 104 on the machine frame 22 opposite the carton erecting-loading station 26. This platform is located at the side of the frame adjacent the carton infeed plate 80 and has an upper bed 106 which is located approximately at the level of the upper surfaces of the frame rails 38. Opening through this bed, directly below the region 102 between the tubular carton structure S and the infeed plate 80 when the latter is retracted,

is a rectangular opening 108. Rigidly secured to the upper side of the platform bed 106, along the edges of the bed opening 108 which extend transversely of the frame 22, are a pair of parallel upstanding walls 109. These walls, then, are disposed in parallel vertical transverse planes of the frame 22. The spacing between the walls 109, and the corresponding dimension of the platform bed opening 108, are substantially equal to the internal dimensions of each tubular carton structure S measured normal to its leading and trailing sidewalls 16a, 16b. The platform walls 109 are so located that the intramural space between the walls is aligned with and opens toward the adjacent opening end of each carton structure S in loading position at the loading station 26. This intramural space defines, and is hereafter referred to as, the article receiving region 102.

Mounted on the frame 22 directly below the platform 104 is an article elevator 110. This elevator has a vertical cylinder 112 fixed to the frame on the center line of the platform bed opening 106. Movable in the cylinder is a plunger 114 having a rod 116 which extends from the upper end of the cylinder. A horizontal plate of slightly smaller dimensions than the bed opening is mounted on the upper end of the plunger rod 116. This plate is oriented with its edges parallel to the edges of the opening 108 so as to be capable to vertical movement into and from the opening. The article elevator 110 is operable to move the elevator plate 118 vertically between an upper position, wherein the plate is located within the opening 108 substantially flush with the upper surface of the platform bed 104, and its lower position of FIGS. 6 and 7, wherein the plate is situated a distance below the opening.

Depending from the under side of the platform bed 106, along the sides of the bed opening 108 which extend lengthwise of the machine frame 22, are walls 120. These walls are disposed in parallel longitudinal vertical planes of the frame. Angles 122 are fixed to the inner confronting sides of these walls, a distance below the platform bed 104, to define a pair of upwardly facing shoulders or ledges 124. Ledges 124 are disposed in a common horizontal plane which is located at a slightly higher elevation than the elevator plate 118 when the latter is retracted to its lower position of FIGS. 6 and 7. The platform bed 106, depending walls 120, and shoulders 124, together define an article receiving chamber 126 directly below, of approximately the same size as, and opening upwardly to the bed opening 108. One of the upper platform walls 109, namely the right-hand wall in FIG. 6, depends below the platform bed 106 to close the adjacent end of the chamber 126. The opposite end of the chamber is open.

Frame platform 104 has an extension 128 located opposite the open end of the article receiving chamber 126. This platform extension defines a rectangular guideway 130 of approximately the same cross section as, and opening toward the chamber. It is to be noted that the angles 122 which define the lower chamber shoulders 124 extend beyond the open end of the chamber and along the lower side of the guideway 130. The open end of the chamber and the confronting open end of the guideway are spaced to define therebetween an intervening article receiving space 132. This space is bounded at its lower side by the shoulders 124 and opens upwardly to the outfeed end of the article feed chute 134. The article feed chute has an opposite infeed end (not shown) into which are delivered the articles 12 to be packaged. In this instance, the articles (FIG. 10) comprise generally flat and rectangular articles, such as ice cream bars. It will become evident as the description proceeds, however, that the invention is not limited in application to packaging of these particular articles. Referring particularly to FIG. 6, it will be seen that the articles 12 move laterally through the feed chute 134 in abutting edge to edge relation and finally emerge from the outfeed end of the chute into the article receiving space 132. This space is dimensioned to receive a single article in such a way that the ends of the article rest on the shoulders 124 and the vertical sides of the article face the article receiving chamber 126 and guideway 130, respectively. Referring to FIG. 7, it will be seen that the dimensions of the receiving chamber 126, in crosssectional planes parallel to the plane of the paper, approximate or are just slightly larger than the corresponding dimensions of the article 12.

Mounted on the frame portion extension 128 is an article infeed ram 136 having a cylinder 138 which is located on the longitudinal axis of the article receiving chamber 126. Cylinder 138 contains a plunger 140 having a rod 142 which extends from the cylinder into the guideway 130. Fixed to the inner end of this plunger is a pusher plate 144. A horizontal gating plate 146 is rigidly secured to and extends rearwardly from the upper edge of the pusher plate 144. Normally, the ram plunger 140 is retracted to its position of FIG, 6 wherein the pusher plate 144 clears the article receiving space 132 to permit entrance into this space of an article 12 from the article feed chute 134. During operation of the packaging machine 10, the ram cylinder 138 is periodically actuated to drive the pusher plate 144 is reciprocating motion between its retracted position of H6. 6 and an extended position wherein the plate is disposed within the adjacent open end of the receiving chamber 126. Each time the pusher plate is retracted, an article 12 drops from the article feed chute 134 into the article receiving space 132. Each time the pusher plate is extended, it pushes or feeds this article from the space 132 into the article receiving chamber 126. During this extension of the pusher plate, its upper gating plate 146 moves across the lower outfeed end of the feed chute 134 to block entrance into the space 132 of the next article 12 in the chute. It is now evident, therefore, that reciprocating motion of the pusher plate 144 is effective to feed the articles 12 into the receiving chamber 126 in intermittent fashion in such manner that each article pushes the preceding article through the chamber. This article infeed action of the ram 136 is continued until the chamber is completely filled with the articles 12, as it is illustrated in FIG. 6. During this article infeed action of the article infeed ram 136, the article elevator plate 118 is retained in its lower retracted position of FIG. 6. When the article receiving chamber 126 has been filled to capacity with the articles 12, the operation of the infeed ram is terminated and the elevator plate cylinder 112 is pressurized to move the elevator plate 118 upwardly. During this upward movement of the plate, it engages the under sides of the group of articles 12 within the receiving chamber 26 and elevates this group of articles upwardly through the opening 108 in the frame platform bed 106 to a position wherein the under surfaces of the articles are located just slightly above the upper surface of the bed.

Mounted on the frame platform 104, at opposite sides of the article receiving chamber 126, are a pair of article gating devices 148. Each of these gating devices comprises a pneumatic linear actuator 150 having a cylinder 152 which is rigidly mounted on the underside of the platform bed 106. Cylinders 152 extend horizontally, in a crosswise direction of the frame 22, and are located approximately midway between the ends of the article receiving chamber 126. Movable within the cylinders 152 are plungers 154 having rods 156 which extend from the ends of the cylinders adjacent the chamber. Fixed to and rising from the ends of the plunger rods 156 are cross heads 158 which extend upwardly through slots in the platform bed 106. The slots are elongated transversely of the machine frame 22 so as to permit extension and retraction movement of the gate actuator plungers 154. Rigidly fixed to the upper ends of the cross heads 158 are gating plates 160 which slide on the upper surface of the platform bed 106. Normally, the gate actuating plungers 154 are extended outwardly to positions wherein the adjacent edges of the gating plates 160 are in positions wherein their adjacent edges are in their positions shown in FIG. 7. In the retracted positions, therefore, the edges of the gating plates 160 are substantially flush with the inner surfaces of sidewalls 120 of chamber 126, thereby permitting upward elevation of a group of the articles 12, by the article elevator 110, from the article receiving chamber 126, through the platform bed opening 108, into the article receiving region 120, in the manner previously ex plained. After each group of articles has thus been elevated into the region 102, the gating actuators 150 are operated to extend the gating plates 160 inwardly to their positions of FIG. 7. In these positions, the gating plates engage under and support the group of articles within the region 102.

During operation of the packaging machine 10, the article elevator 110, article infeed ram 136, and gating actuators 150 are operated in timed relation in such a way that the infeed ram initially feeds a group of the articles 12 into the article receiving chamber 126 while the elevator is retracted. The operation of the ram is then terminated momentarily and the elevator is operated to raise the group of articles from the chamber 126 into the article receiving region 102. At this point, the gating actuators are operated to extend the gating plates inwardly to support the group of articles within the region 102, and the elevator is again retracted. After retraction of the elevator, the article infeed ram 136 is again operated to'feed a second group of articles into the article receiving chamber 126. Thereafter, the gating actuators 150 are operated to retract the gating plates 160, and the elevator 110 is again operated to raise the second group of articles from the chamber 126 into the article receiving region 102. During this elevation of the second group of articles, the latter engage and raise the first group of articles currently within the region 102. At this point, the gating plates 160 are again extended to support the two groups of articles within the region 102 and the elevator 110 is again retracted. This procedure is repeated until the region 102 contains a desired number of layers or tiers of the articles 12. In this instance, each carton 1% is designed to receive 24 articles or ice cream bars arranged in three tiers each containing eight articles. Accordingly, the above described cyclic operation of the article elevator 110, article infeed ram 136, and gating actuators 150 is continued until the article receiving region 102 contains three tiers of articles, as shown in FIG. 7. It should be noted here that the elevator plate 118 may be provided with a depending gating plate 1180 for blocking the open end of the article receiving chamber 126 during elevation of the plate through the chamber, in the manner just described, thus to prevent entrance of an article 12 from the article receiving space 132 into the chamber during elevation of the plate.

During the above described operation of the article elevator 110, article infeed ram 136, and gating actuators 150, the article infeed plate 80 is retained in its extended position of FIGS. 1, 5, 7, and 9. After three tiers or groups of articles have been elevated into the article receiving region 102, the infeed plate actuator cylinder 92 is pressurized to retract the infeed plate 80 inwardly. This retraction of the infeed plate feeds the three groups of articles from the region 102 into the adjacent, open end of the tubular carton structure S currently in loading position at the carton erecting-loading station 26 until the articles abut the closure plate 78. The plates 78, 80 are then extended.

At this point, it is significant to recall that the lower flaps 20d of each carton 14 are folded downwardly against the sides of the frame rails 38 during transfer of the carton, in its flattened condition, from the hopper 34 to the carton erectingloading station 26. Engagement of these downwardly folded flaps within the sides of the rails prevents endwise movement of each carton structure 8 during loading of the carton structure at the station 26. Pivotally mounted along the inner edges of the upstanding platform walls 109 are hinged baffles 162. Associated with these baffles are torsion springs 164 which urge the baffles to their solid line positions of FIGS. 5 and 7. When the infeed plate 80 is driven inwardly to feed a group of articles 12 into a carton structure S, the advancing articles engage the baffles 162 and swing the latter to their broken line positions wherein the baffles retain the carton flaps in their illustrated unfolded positions to prevent the flaps from obstructing loading movement of the articles into the carton structure. Mounted on the outer ends of the baffles are brackets 164 which engage the upper carton flaps 201: to retain these flaps in their illustrated unfolded positions and thereby prevent these flaps from obstructing loading movement of the articles into the carton structure.

Mounted on the machine frame at the loading station 26 is a flap folding mechanism 230 which operates to fold inwardly the carton side flaps b following filling of the carton with the articles 12. This mechanism comprises an actuator 236 having a cylinder 232 containing a plunger 236. Plunger 236 is formed with rack teeth which mesh with a pinion 238 rigid on a rock shaft 240. Rock shaft 240 is joumaled on the machine frame on an axis transverse to the frame. Fixed to the ends of the shaft are flap folding arms 242. It is evident, therefore, that extension and retraction of the actuator plunger 236 oscillates the folding arms 242. Normally, the arms are retained in their broken line positions of P16. 4. When loading of the carton is completed, it is advanced while the arms are rotated downwardly through their solid line positions of P16. 4 to fold forwardly or inwardly the carton flaps 20h.

Mounted on the carton feed carriage 170 are carton feed means 166 for feeding the filled carton from the loading sta tion 26 to the flap folding station 30. Feed means 166 comprise a pair of drive fingers 172 which are pivotally mounted at 176 on the carriage and are yieldably urged to their erect feed positions of FIG. 14 by springs 1174. Assuming a carton has just been filled at the loading position, the feed ram 44 is pressurized to drive the carriage 170 in its feed stroke back to the hopper 34 to extract the next carton from the hopper. During this return stroke of the carriage, the carriage drive fingers 172 engage the carton at the loading station and are thereby rotated against spring tension to permit the fingers to pass beneath the carton. Upon arrival of the carriage at the end of its return stroke, the fingers clear the carton at the loading station and thus return to their erect positions under spring action. During the following feed stroke of the carriage, the erect fingers engage the latter carton and feed this carton from the loading station 26 to the flap folding station 30. The folding station is equipped with flap folding members or shoes 224, 226, 227 which act to first fold inwardly the leading carton side flaps 20a and to inwardly the fold inwardly the top and bottom carton flaps 20c and 20d and thereby close the ends of the carton. The flaps are sealed in any convenient way, as by a heat sealing action involving the use of heat sealing means at the sealing station 32, as described below. The flap folding shoes 224, 226 and 227 are generally conventional and thus need not be explained in detail.

After leaving the flap folding station 30, the carton is delivered to the sealing station 32. To this end, the carton feed carriage 170 mounts a second pair of pivoted spring loaded drive fingers 172. During each return stroke of the carriage to the hopper 24 to extract the next carton from the hopper, the fingers engage the carton currently at the folding station and are thereby retracted against the action of their springs 174 to permit the fingers to move across the bottom of the carton. Upon arrival of the carriage at the end of its return stroke, the fingers spring back to their erect positions so as to feed the carton from the flap folding station to the sealing station during the following feed stroke of the carriage.

The carton sealing station 32 has a vertical carton extending and stacking mechanism 189 (FIGS. 12 and 13) including four corner posts 189a which are rigidly secured to and rise vertically from the machine frame. Extending horizontally between the posts at the sides of the frame are a pair of carton supporting bars 190. These bars have inner carton supporting flanges 190a and outer reinforcing flanges l90b. Welded to the ends of the bars 190 are pivot shafts 192 which are journaled in the posts to pivotally support the bars for rotation on their longitudinal axes. Springs 194 are connected between the bars and the posts to yieldably urge the bars to their normal solid line extended positions of E10. 12, wherein the inner carton supporting flanges 190a project inwardly in horizontal planes, as shown. Stop means 198 are provided to arrest the supporting bars in these positions. The stop means are arranged in such a way as to permit rotation of the carton supporting bars from their normal extended positions to their broken line retracted positions of FIG. 12. It will be observed that in the course of retraction of the bars, the carton supporting flanges 19011 on the bars rotate upwardly in H0. 12 to generally vertical positions, Each sealing unit 200 extends between and is secured to the posts 1890 at opposite sides of the frame for heat sealing the carton end flaps, as hereinafter explained.

Mounted on the machine frame, directly below the carton sealing station 32, is a carton elevating ramp 202 having a vertical cylinder 204 containing a plunger 206. Plunger 206 has a rod 208 to the upper end of which is fixed a horizontal plate 210. During each forward feed stroke of the carton feed carriage 170, the latter transports a filled carton from the flap folding station 30 to the sealing station 32 to a position wherein the carton is centered between the posts 109a and over the carton elevating ram 202. The ram plunger 206 is retracted downwardly to its lower position of H6. 12 at this time to permit feeding of the carton to the sealing station. During this movement of the carton to the sealing station, the carton enters between the heat sealing units 200, which are disposed to heat seal the carton flaps 20a, 20b, 20c, 20d in their folded or closed positions. The carton elevated ram 202 is then pressurized to extend its plunger 206 upwardly. In the course of this extension, the plunger engages the carton currently at the sealing station and elevates the carton to a position wherein the bottom of the carton is located slightly above the level of the carton supporting bars 190. During this elevation of the carton, the latter engages the carton supporting flanges a on the bars and rotates these flanges upwardly against the action of the bar return springs 194 to permit the carton to pass between the bars. The bars are then returned to their normal extended positions by the springs. At this point, the carton elevating ram plunger 206 is returned to its retracted position, The carton currently supported on the plunger lowers with the latter until the carton engages the bar flanges 190a. The carton then remains supported on these flanges during the remaining downward retraction stroke of the plunger.

The above action of the carton elevating mechanism 189 is repeated following arrival of each filled carton at the sealing station 32. This repeated action of the elevated mechanism creates a vertical stack of cartons at the sealing station, as shown best in FIGS. 2 and 1d. The lowermost carton in the stack is supported on the flanges 190a of the carton supporting bars 190. The above stacking operation permits effective setting of the carton flaps in their closed positions without the necessity of horizontally extending the machine. Mounted on the machine frame at the level of the upper carton in this carton stack is a carton outfeed ram 212 including a cylinder 214 containing a plunger 216. Plunger 216 has a rod 218 mounting at its end a pusher plate 220. The ram 212 is periodically pressurized to extend its plunger 216 against the uppermost carton in the carton stack for ejecting the latter horizontally from the stack to an outfeed conveyor (not shown) along the horizontal direction line of the machine frame indicated by the broken line arrow in FIG. 2.

While the invention has been described in what is presently conceived to be one of its most practical embodiments, it will be evident to those versed in the art that various modifications of the invention are possible within the spirit and scope of the following claims,

I claim:

1. A machine for packaging articles in cartons having sidewalls joined along intervening fold lines extending endwise of the cartons about which the cartons are initially folded to a flat condition wherein adjacent sidewalls are disposed in face to face relation, one sidewall of each carton having a hole, and hinged end flaps along the ends of the sidewalls, said machine comprising:

a frame having carton infeed, erecting, loading, flap folding,

and sealing stations spaced therealong,

hopper means on said frame at said infeed station for containing a stack of said folded cartons with said one sidewall of each carton lowermost,

conveyor means on said frame movable through said stations for extracting said cartons in succession from said hopper means and feeding said cartons in succession through said erecting, loading, flap folding and sealing stations,

carton erecting means at said erecting station for unfolding each carton about its respective fold lines to an erect position wherein the adjacent sidewalls of the respective carton are disposed in generally mutually perpendicular relation so as to define a tubular rectangular carton structure having open ends, said carton erecting means comprising initial carton erecting means including a carton erecting plunger which registers with said hole in each carton erecting position at said erecting station, means for extending said plunger through said hole in each carton in erecting position in such a way that said plunger engages the opposing carton sidewall to initially unfold the respective carton to a partially erect position, and final carton erecting means engageable with each partially erected carton for finally unfolding the respective carton to a fully erect position wherein adjacent sidewalls of the respective carton are disposed in generally mutually perpendicular relation,

loading means at said loading station for blocking one open end of each erect carton structure arriving at said loading station and feeding articles into the respective carton structure through its opposite open end to fill the respective carton structure,

flap folding means at said folding station for folding said flaps of each filled carton structure to closed positions, and

means at said sealing station for sealing the folded end flaps of each carton structure in their closed positions.

2. A packaging machine according to claim 1 wherein:

said final carton erecting means comprise a carton erecting member mounted on said frame over said plunger for movement along a direction line generally parallel to the path of movement of said cartons along said frame, said carton erecting member being spaced from said plunger a distance such that initial partial erection of each carton by said plunger locates the carton within the path of movement of said erecting member, and means for reciprocating said erecting member along said direction line in such a way that during each stroke in one direction, said erecting member initially engages the partially erected carton at said erecting station and rotates the carton to its fully erect position.

3. In a machine for handling cartons having sidewalls joined along intervening fold lines extending endwise of the cartons about which the cartons are initially folded to a flat condition wherein adjacent sidewalls are disposed in face to face relation, one sidewall of each carton having a hole, and hinged end flaps along the ends of the sidewalls, the combination comprising:

a frame having a carton erecting station,

conveyor means on said frame for feeding the folded cartons in succession through said station with said one sidewall of each carton lowermost, and

carton erecting means at said erecting station for unfolding each carton about its respective fold lines to an erect position wherein the adjacent sidewalls of the respective carton are disposed in generally mutually perpendicular relation so as to define a tubular rectangular carton structure having open ends, said carton erecting means comprising initial carton erecting means including a carton erecting plunger which registers with said hole in each carton in erecting position at said erecting station, means for extending said plunger through said hole in each carton in erecting position in such a way that said plunger engages the opposing carton sidewall to initially unfold the respective carton to a partially erect position, and final carton erecting means engageable with each partially erected carton for finally unfolding the respective carton to a fully erect position wherein adjacent sidewalls of the respective carton are disposed in generally mutually perpendicular relation.

4. The machine combination according to claim 3 wherein:

said final carton erecting means comprise a carton erecting member mounted on said frame over said plunger for movement along a direction line generally parallel to the path of movement of said cartons along said frame, said carton erecting member being spaced from said plunger a distance such that initial partial erection of each carton by said plunger locates the carton within the path of movement of said erecting member, and means for reciprocating said erecting member along said direction line in such a way that during each stroke in one direction, said erecting member initially engages the partially erected carton at said erecting station and rotates the carton to its fully erect position.

5. A machine for packaging articles in cartons having sidewalls joined along intervening fold lines extending endwise of the cartons about which the cartons are initially folded to a flat condition wherein adjacent sidewalls are disposed in face to face relation, and hinged end flaps along the ends of the sidewalls, said machine comprising:

a frame having carton infeed, erecting, loading, flap folding,

and sealing stations spaced therealong,

hopper means on said frame at said infeed station for containing a stack of said folded cartons,

conveyor means on said frame movable through said stations for extracting said cartons in succession from said hopper means and feeding said cartons in succession through said erecting, loading, flap folding, and sealing stations,

carton erecting means at said erecting station for unfolding each carton about its respective fold lines to an erect position wherein the adjacent sidewalls of the respective carton are disposed in generally mutually perpendicular relation so as to define a tubular rectangular carton structure having an open end, loading means at said loading station for receiving each erected carton in a loading position wherein the open end of the respective carton opens horizontally to an article infeed region opposite the open carton end and feeding articles into each carton in loading position through its open end in a manner such as to fill the respective carton with articles arranged in a given number of layers stacked one on top of the other, said loading means comprising an article infeed chamber directly below said region, infeed means for periodically feeding a group of said articles into said chamber to provide a layer of articles within said chamber, elevator means for elevating each article group from said chamber to an elevated position within said region wherein the bottom side of the respective group is located substantially flush with the bottom wall of the carton in a loading position, retractable supporting means engageable with the article group in said elevated position for supporting the respective group in said elevated position, means for operating said infeed means, elevator means, and supporting means in timed relation such that each article group arriving at said elevated positions contacts the bottom of and elevates the previous article group currently in said elevated position to accumulate within said region a stack of said article groups containing said given number of layers arranged one on top of the other, and means operable in timed relation to said infeed means, elevator means, and supporting means for feeding said stack horizontally from said region into the carton in loading position through the open end of the respective carton.

6. in a machine for packaging articles in cartons each having an open end, the combination comprising:

a frame having a carton loading station,

conveyor means on said frame for feeding said cartons in succession to a loading position at said station wherein the open end of each carton open horizontally to an article infeed region opposite the open end of the respective carton, and

loading means at said loading station for feeding said articles into the carton in loading positions through the open end of the respective carton comprising an article infeed chamber directly below said region, infeed means for periodically feeding a group of said articles into said chamber to provide a layer of articles within said chamber, elevator means for elevating each article group from said chamber to an elevated position within said region wherein the bottom side of the respective group is located substantially flush with the bottom wall of the carton in a loading position, retractable supporting means engageable with the article group in said elevated position for supporting the respective group in said elevated position, means for operating said infeed means, elevator means, and supporting means in timed relation such that

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3724185 *Sep 8, 1970Apr 3, 1973J BerneyPacking station for foldable carton handling apparatus
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EP1225128A2 *Jan 23, 2002Jul 24, 2002L.A.J. Van Lunteren Beheer B.V.Packaging apparatus
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Classifications
U.S. Classification313/161, 53/376.8, 53/387.4, 53/564
International ClassificationB65B43/32, B31B5/78, B65B43/26
Cooperative ClassificationB31B2201/281, B31B2201/027, B31B1/06, B65B43/325, B31B2201/29, B31B1/78, B31B2203/003, B65B43/265
European ClassificationB31B1/78, B31B1/06, B65B43/32C, B65B43/26C