US 3618743 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent in] 3,618,743
 Inventors Victor Benatar FORElGN PATENTS 628.908 l l/I96l ltaly l98/33 R2 John H. Perry. Doravllle, both 0! Ga. I
 Appl. No. 874,326 Primary Examiner-Edward A. Sroka  Filed Nov. 5, 1969 Attorney-Walter M. Rodgers  Patented Nov. 9, 1971  Assignee The Mead Corporation [S4] ARTICLE-ORIENTING DEVICE 17 Claims, 9 Drawing Figs.
[52 use. 198/33, l98/2l0 [5n lnt.Cl. .v ,..B65g29/00. B65g47/24 i501 FleldolSearch l98/33R ABSTRACT: Where consumer-type primary packages such 88 cans and bottles are arranged and packaged in groups, it is desirable in many instances to orient the individual primary packages so that their labels face outwardly A device for this purpose is disclosed wherein relatively movable spinning elements are arranged to engage different parts of an article and are effective to rotate the article until a desired position is attamed. Article-positioning means prevent the article from toppling over during spinning and hold the article against undesired bodily movement in a direction transverse to its axis of rotation. Article-gripping means respond to sensing means and grip each article at the desired orientationv The primary packages or articles are fed into the device on an infeed conveyor and through a spacing device whereby the articles are arranged in groups and subsequently are individually oriented and fed, for example, into a packaging machine along an outfeed conveyor which itself is arranged with a pair of vertically spaced working reaches so as to receive therebetween and secure the articles in the desired orientation.
PATENTEDHUV 9 l97| SHEET 1 0r 5 IIII Il ll Imm INVENTORS VICTOR BENATAR JOHN H. PERRY BY ATTORNEY PAIENTEUuuv 9IE17| 3,618,743
sum 2 OF 5 ATTORNEY PATENTEUuuv 9 I97! SHEET 5 [IF 5 FIG.
. PERR FIG. 6C
ATTORNEY ARTICLE-ORIENTIN G DEVICE Where primary packages are arranged in groups and secured in such an arrangement by means of a transparent sheet of material such as so called shrink film, it is desirable to orient the primary packages with respect to each other so that their labels are clearly visible from the vantage point of the consumer when viewed for example in retail outlets such as supermarkets and the like. Furthermore where primary packages are enveloped in a wrapper-type container, made for example at their labels can be observed from the open ends of the wrappers since such packages frequently are stacked so as to inhibit a clear view of the secondary packages for one reason or another.
According to this invention, primary packages are supplied along an infeed conveyor to metering and spacing means which effectively groups the articles in alignment with each other with the groups spaced apart and at an overall velocity which is in synchronism with an associated machine such as a packaging machine. Thereafter the articles are supplied to a pair of relatively movable spinning elements which engage different parts of the articles and impart rotary motion thereto until a predetermined orientation is achieved. Thereafter gripping means responds to sensing means which is adapted to respond to a predetermined orientation-and then to impart gripping action to the gripping means so as to secure the articles in the desired orientation. The articles are then supplied to outfeed conveyor means which itself accepts and holds the articles in the desired orientation until packaging operations can secure the articlesin a group and in the desired orientation.
For a better understanding of the invention, reference may be had to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1A is an overall plan view of the various components which represent one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 1B is a side view of the arrangement shown in FIG. 1A;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged plan view of the orienting device constituting a portion of the arrangement of FIG. IA;
FIG. 3 is a side view partially in and taken generally along the line designated 33 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 and taken generally along the line designated 4-4 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken generally along the line designated 5-5 in FIG. 2 and in which FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a number of arrangements of primary packages arranged in individual groups and which schematically represent different applications of a device constructed according to this invention.
With reference to FIG. 6A, primary packages or articles designated at A are disposed within a wrapper-type package designated W." From FIG. 6A it is apparent that the articles A" when viewed in the direction indicated by the arrows could be identified readily if their labels were disposed to face in an outward direction.
FIG. 68 represents a so-called shrink-film package wherein the wrapper W1 is fonned of a transparent sheet of material and without any billboard space such as is provided with the arrangement of FIG. 6A. Thus identification in the case of the arrangement of FIG. 68 must of necessity depend on the labels of the individual articles A. Thus in the case of the arrangement of FIG. 63 it is desirable to orient the individual articles so that their labels could be readily observed and viewed from the vantage points indicated by the arrows disposed thereabout.
FIG. 6C represents a package wrapper in an opaque wrapper W2 on two sides so that it is desirable in this case to orient the articles so that their labels can be readily observed from the directions indicated by the arrows disposed at the ends of FIG. 6C.
As seen in the overall views designated FIG. 1A and FIG. 18, an infeed conveyor 1 is provided for conveying the articles A into a metering and spacing device designated by the numeral 2. The device 2 in reality comprises a star wheel having packets about its periphery and designated by the numeral 3.
Certain peripheral portions designated by the numeral 4, for example, on star wheel 2 are somewhat wider peripherally than portions designated by the numeral 5. Thus articles "A" which are received within the pockets 3 are automatically spaced apart in such manner as to provide in the case illustrated groups of packages of three each arranged in line with each other. The articles are fed in the direction indicated by arrow 6 to the spacer element 7 and inside the guide 7A and are spaced into groups by the peripheral portions 8 thereof which might be two or three times greater peripherally than the spaces 4 on star wheel 2. Thus after the articles A" are fed away from the spacer star wheel 7 they occupy groups which are spaced apart by a considerable distance as designated by the two-headed arrow 9. The articles A" are then fed into the orienting device generally designated by the numeral 10 and subsequently are fed out of the device 10 and into some other machine such as a packaging machine by means of the outfeed conveyor generally designated by the numeral 11.
As is best shown in FIGS. 2-5 inclusive, the article-orienting device generally designated by the numeral 10 comprises a vertically disposed main shaft designated by the numeral 12. This shaft is suitably mounted in conventional bearings one of which is indicated schematically at 12A. A sprocket 12B is secured to shaft 12 whereby the shaft is rotated. As shown in FIG. 2, the shaft 12 rotates in a counterclockwise direction as indicated by the arrow 13. A sprocket 12E is affixed to bearing 12C and is rotatable about shaft 12 and is driven by means not shown at speeds greater than shaft 12. Bearing 12D is mounted on shaft 12 and aids in supporting spinning element 14. For example sprocket may rotate twice as fast as shaft 12 or even faster for some applications of the invention.
Disposed on the shaft 12 is an article-spinning element designated by the numeral 14 and which preferably takes the form of a plate element 15 having circular side portions 16.
As is apparent in FIG. 3, article-spinning element 14 takes a portion of the weight of article A during spinning and fixed beveled ringlike spinning element 21 also supports a portion of the weight of an article. Spinning elements 14 and 21 being relatively movable cause an article to roll around the fixed element 21. It is noteworthy that both spinning elements engage difierent parts of the strong bottom chime of can A.
During spinning, articles "A" must be held against toppling and against undesired movement in a direction transverse to their axes of spin. Toward this end fixed guides 33 and 34 are disposed above spinning element 21 and prevent movement toward the right of articles A as is shown in FIG. 3. During spinning articles A" are disposed within pockets 17A formed in star wheel 17 mounted on and rotatable with shaft 12 at a speed substantially less than spinning element 14. A similar star wheel 18 is secured to star wheel 17 by pins 20 and is provided with pockets I9 in alignment with pockets 17A. Thus star wheels 17 and I8 and their article receiving pockets together with fixed peripheral guides 33 and 34 constitute positioning means for the articles which prevents toppling of the articles and precludes undesired movement of the articles in a direction transverse to their spin axes.
For the purpose of sensing a predetermined orientation of the articles A," any suitable known device may be employed. As shown in the drawings a toroidal fluorescent-type lamp designated by the numeral 22 is affixed by brackets 23 and a plate 24 mounted on shaft 12. Mounted about support plate 25 on shaft 12 is a plurality of phototubes such as are designated by the numeral 26. Thus light emanating from the fluorescent tube 22 is directed downwardly inside the ringlike star wheel element 18 and illuminates the sides of the articles A. Light is thus reflected from an article A to one of the phototubes 26. Thus a change in the reflectivity of a particular surface of article A" effects a change in current through the phototube 26. This signal by known means is employed to actuate gripping means provided according to this invention.
As is best shown in FIGS. 3, 4, and 5, the gripping device comprises a fixed gripping pad 27 mounted on a suitable pedestal 28 which in turn is supported on star wheel 37 together with a movable gripping pad 29 which is reciprocal vertically by a cylinder and piston mechanism generally designated by the numeral 30. Actuating fluid for the cylinder 30 is supplied from a suitable reservoir 31 through the tubular conduit 32 and solenoid valve 42. Thus when an appropriate signal is received by a particular phototube 26, a control action is initiated whereby a blast of fluid such as compressed air is supplied through solenoid valve 42 to cylinder 30 which imparts upward motion to gripping pad 29. When gripping pad 29 engages the bottom of the chime "C of can A, the article "A" is elevated and is thus gripped between the pads 27 and 29.
Elevation of the article causes the article to disengage the spinning element M, 16 and the fixed high-friction spinning element 21. This action eliminates friction between the article and the spinning elements after the desired orientation is achieved and facilitates retention of the article in the desired position. This operation also eliminates stress on the article and on the device and thereby aids in the high-speed operation of the machine.
The fact that the article is elevated as described makes it possible to feed the article easily onto the outfeed conveyor which is disposed slightly above the level of the infeed conveyor.
During spinning the articles A" are secured against outward displacement toward the right as viewed for example in FIG. 3 by means of the upper fixed peripheral positioning guide 33 and a lower fixed peripheral positioning guide 34 while positioning pockets 17A and envelope and secure the articles.
After an article A" is securely gripped by gripping pads 27 and 29, the article A is fixed in position against rotation about its vertical axis and hence may swing in an arc about shaft 12 as a center.
Gripping action is significantly facilitated due to the fact that the gripping pads 27 and 29 are provided with bevelled gripping surfaces 35 and 36 which diverge in a direction inwardly of the article positioning plate 17 toward the shaft 12 as is apparent from FIGS. 4 and 5.
In order to facilitate rotation of an article A relative to the rotatable positioning star wheels 17 and 18, a plurality of low-friction devices are mounted on the elements 17 and 18 and such devices are designated in the drawings by the numerals 37 and 38. As is best seen in FIG. 3, for example, roller 37 is mounted on and disposed underneath the star wheel ringlike positioning device 18 while the low-friction roller 38 is mounted on and disposed above the star wheel 17. As is apparent in FIG. 2 these low-friction elements are disposed at the junctions between the pockets such as are designated by the numeral 19. At a wide portion such as is designated as 19A between adjacent pockets, a pair of low-friction rollers such as 37 are mounted whereas at a narrow junction such as is designated by the numeral 198 a single roller 37 is mounted. Thus it is apparent from FIG. 2 that the articles .A" freely rotate relative to their associated positioning pockets 19 and are not normally in contact with the positioning guides 33 and 34. Thus by a feature of the invention damage to the soft sides of articles A" is prevented.
The fact that the rotatable spinning element 16 and the fixed spinning element 21 carry the weight of the articles "A" is advantageous because these parts engage the strong lower chime C" ofthe articles A.
After the articles A" are gripped as shown for example in FIG. 4, the articles are maintained in fixed relation about their vertical axes and are swung in an are about the shaft 12. to the point where the upper and lower working reaches 33 and 38A of conveyor 11 receive the articles A" and carry the articles out of the orienting device and into some other device such as a packaging machine. It should be observed that outfeed conveyor 1 1 comprises a pair of vertically spaced working reaches 38 and 38A which form portions of endless elements generally designated by the numerals 40 and 41 respectively. Since the working reaches 3b and 38A of these two endless elements are vertically spaced in such a manner as to grip frictionally the tops and bottoms of the articles A, the articles are maintained in the desired orientation until the next operation as for example that performed by a packaging machine. From FIGS. 4 and 5 it is apparent that gripping elements 27 and 29 extend but a short distance toward the center of an article .A." Thus a large exposed area of the top and bottom of the cans is available for engagement by working reaches 38 and 38A of the outfeed conveyor 11 thus to insure secure receipt and holding action by the conveyors.
From the description, it is apparent particularly in FIG. ID, that the infeed conveyor 1 and the outfeed conveyor 11 are arranged in alignment with each other thereby facilitating usage of in-line flow ofarticles which is generally desirable. Also the arrangement of this invention not only groups the articles "A" in spaced arrangement to each other but it also imparts desired orientation about the vertical axes of the articles and maintains this orientation by suitable gripping means in the form of gripping pads 27 and 29 and the endless elements 40 and 411. Furthermore, the fact that the elements such as 17 and 18 which engage the soft sides of the articles "A" are provided with low-friction means in the fonn of rollers such as 37 and 38 facilitates spinning of the articles A" about their own individual vertical axes without damaging the labels of the articles. In addition the weight of the articles is taken by the strong lower chime portion C" which rests on spinning element 16 and high-friction spinning ring device 21, so as to achieve positive and precise orientation of the individual articles A without risk of damage to the articles or their labels.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A spinning device for imparting rotary movement to a cylindrical article, said device comprising a pair of relatively movable spinning elements one of which engages a peripheral part of a chime of an article and the other of which engages and supports the bottom end of the article, positioning means engageable with side portions of the article for limiting movement of the article in a direction transverse to the axis of rotation of the article, said positioning means including star wheel means having article-receiving pockets movable in the direction of movement of a movable one of said articlespinning elements together with fixed guide means disposed alongside and about said pockets, and means for imparting relative movement to said elements.
2. A device according to claim 1 wherein said star wheel means moves at substantially less velocity than said movable article spinning element.
3. A device according to claim 1 wherein metering means are constructed and arranged to feed articles to said star wheel means are in synchronism with movement thereof and wherein said metering means adopted to separate the articles into spaced groups of articles.
4. A device according to claim 1 wherein metering means is arranged to supply articles in sequence to said relatively movable spinning elements and wherein said metering means is operable in synchronism with said star wheel means fonning a part of said positioning means.
5. A device according to claim 1 wherein low-friction means is associated with said star wheel means to facilitate rotary movement of the article relative thereto.
6. An article-orienting device comprising a pair of relatively movable article-spinning elements arranged to engage different parts of an article and operable to impart rotary movement thereto, movable article gripping means for engaging and moving the article out of engagement with said spinning elements thereby to arrest rotary movement of the article about its own axis, and sensing means responsive to a particular angular position of the article for initiating an article gripping operation of said article-gripping means.
7. A device according to claim 6, wherein article-gripping movement of said article-gripping means is in a direction generally transverse to the direction of relative movement of said elements.
8. A device according to claim 6, wherein one of said relatively movable elements is fixed in position and arranged with a high-friction generally bevelled surface in normal engagement with the article.
9. A device according to claim 8, wherein operation of said article-gripping means imparts movement to the article in a generally vertical direction thereby to cause the article to disengage said bevelled surface of said fixed one of said relatively movable elements.
10. A device according to claim 6, wherein a dimension of said other article-spinning element in one general direction is less than the corresponding dimension of the article so as to expose a portion of the article for gripping action by a part of said article-gripping means.
11. A device according to claim 6 wherein relative movement of said relatively movable spinning elements is in a generally horizontal direction and wherein one horizontal dimension of said other article-spinning element is less than the corresponding dimension of the article whereby a portion of the article is exposed for engagement by a part of said article-gripping means.
12. A device according to claim 6 wherein outfeed conveyor means is disposed adjacent said relatively movable spinning elements and arranged to receive the article from said gripping means and to maintain the article in a predetermined orientation alter release thereof by said gripping means.
13. A device according to claim 12 wherein said outleed conveyor comprises a pair of endless elements having parallel vertically spaced working reaches for frictionally engaging the top and bottom of the article.
14. A device according to claim 12, wherein infeed conveyor means are disposed in general alignment with said outfeed conveyor means and wherein spacer means interposed between said infeed conveyor means and said relatively movable elements are arranged to engage successive articles from said infeed conveyor means and to space such articles in a predetermined relation to each other.
15. A device according to claim 6, wherein said articlegripping means comprises a pair of relatively movable gripping pads having gripping surfaces which are bevelled in an inwardly generally horizontally diverging direction relative to said one of said relatively movable spinning elements.
16. A spinning device for imparting rotary movement to a cylindrical article arranged with its axis disposed vertically, said device comprising a pair of relatively movable spinning elements one of which constitutes a high-friction bevelled element which engages the bottom portion of an article about its periphery and which supports a portion of of an article and is disposed circumferentially about said other spinning element and the article and the other of which engages and supports the bottom end of the article, and means for imparting relative movement to said elements.
17. A spinning device for imparting rotary movement to a cylindrical article said device comprising a pair of relatively movable spinning elements one of which engages a peripheral part of a chime of ment and the other of which is rotatable and engages and supports the bottom end of the article, and means for imparting rotary movement to said other element.
! b i i i