US 3625336 A
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United States Patent Inventors Yoshikazu Fuwa;
Yoslilo Sata, both of Nagoya; Tadaaki Ono, Inazawa; Shiro Kato, Nagoya Dec. 10, 1968, Japan, No. 43/90440 BOTTLE-LOADING APPARATUS 7 Claims, 13 Drawing Figs.
0.8. CI 198/22 Int. Cl 8653 47/57 Field of Search 198/22, 22 B, 23
References Cited FOREIGN PATENTS 75,946 ll/l949 Norway 198/22 Primary Examiner- Edward A. Sroka AtrarneyMcGlew and Toren ABSTRACT: A bottle-loading apparatus, for loading bottles, supplied from a bottle conveyor. into an apertured carrier of a bottle-processing apparatus, comprises guide means receiving and guiding a row of bottles, supplied from the bottle conveyor, into the carrier. Transfer means that are cooperable with the guided bottles, and include at least a pair of endless belts. such as chain belts, extending along the guide means. Push rods extend transversely of the guide means and are coupled to the belts for driving along the guide means to push bottles, supported on the guide means, toward the carrier. When the apertures of the carrier are arranged in laterally staggered rows, the guide means are cyclically reciprocated laterally to align with the apertures in the successive rows. Preferably a bridge member is provided between the carrier and the discharge ends of the guide means to support the lower surfaces of the bottle during transfer to the carrier. The carrier may be stopped periodically and cyclically when the transfer means engages the bottles on the guide means.
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INVENTORQFS BOTTLE-LOADING APPARATUS SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to bottle-loading apparatus and, more particularly to an improved bottle-loading apparatus for loading bottles, supplied from a bottle conveyor, into a carrier of a bottle-processing apparatus and without damage to the bottles, while loading the bottles speedily and efficiently.
In accordance with the invention, a primary feature is the provision, in a bottle-loading apparatus for loading bottles, supplied from a bottle conveyor, into the bottle carrier of a bottle-processing apparatus, of guide means for receiving and guiding a row of bottles, supplied from the conveyor, into the carrier. Transfer means are associated with the guide means, and include at least one pair of endless belts extending along the guide means. Push rods extend transversely of the guide means and are coupled to the belt for driving the push rods along the guide means to push bottles, supported on the guide means, toward the carrier.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the endless belts comprise three endless chain belts provided on the op posite sides and at the center of the array of guide members. These endless chain belts are supported in the form of a parallelogram to extend around driving sprockets arranged in parallel on a common driving shaft. Each endless chain belt also extends around three idler sprockets, and these sprockets are arranged in parallel on three idler shafts.
A number of guide members are associated with the guide means and are coupled to each other, while being supported on the frame of the apparatus, in such a manner that the guide members may be slid substantially perpendicularly to the direction of movement of the bottles. By thus sliding or oscillating the guide members, by means of a lever which may be rocked by a cam provided on the driving shaft, the rows of bottles are loaded alternately into the bottle receiver apertures which are provided in a staggered array on the carrier.
By virtue of the provision just mentioned, the bottles, conveyed successively from the bottle conveyor, may be loaded at high speed into the carrier of a bottle-processing apparatus.
In accordance with another feature of the invention, a bridge member is provided at the end of the guide means opposite the carrier, to bridge the gap between the guide means Preferably, the bridge member is rigidly secured to an idler shaft which is located in the vicinity of the discharge end of the guide means and rotatably supports the idler sprockets. This shaft is adapted to be rocked by a cam on the driving shaft, through the medium of a suitable cam follower and associated linkage. The bridge member is preferably constructed in such a manner that, when the greater portion of a bottle has been inserted into a receiving aperture of the carrier by means of a push rod, the bridge member is retracted from the extension of the guide means to permit passage of the push rod between the guide means and the carrier.
By virtue of the provision of the bridge member, damage to the bottles, and particularly at their neck portions, which often has occurred in the past due to the fact that the pushing operation was interrupted at a state where the bottles had not been loaded sufficiently into the receiving aperture of the carriers, can be prevented very effectively.
In accordance with still another feature of the invention, after the push rods on the continuously driven transfer means have engaged the foremost row of bottles on the bottle conveyor, movement of the bottle conveyor is interrupted for a predetermined period of time. This preferably is effected by a timing cam on the driving shaft of the transfer means, and which is operable to close or open a limit switch controlling the driving member of the bottle conveyor. By virtue of this provision, there can be very effectively prevented damage to the bottles such as has often occurred in the past due to the fact that, while the foremost row of bottles is engaged with the push rods of the transfer means, and is being pushed along the guide means, the succeeding row of bottles, supplied by the conveyor, collides with the first row of bottles.
An object of the present invention is to provide a bottleloading apparatus which can supply bottles to a bottle washer or other bottle-processing apparatus smoothly and efficiently without damaging the bottles and irrespective of the kinds of bottles.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a bottleloading apparatus which, during loading of bottles into the carrier of a bottle washer or other bottle-processing apparatus, can effectively prevent damage to the bottles, especially at the bottlenecks.
A further object of the invention is to provide such a bottle- Ioading apparatus which can prevent damage to the bottles, particularly at the necks, just after the bottles, continuously conveyed by a bottle conveyor, have been received by guide means and engaged with transfer means.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a bottleloading apparatus in which succeeding bottles, supplied by the same conveyor, are prevented from colliding with preceding bottles.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide such a bottle-loading apparatus which is efficient and fast in its operation, and capable of operation without damaging the bottles.
For an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference is made to the following description of typical embodiments thereof as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a partial plan view of a first form of bottle loading apparatus embodying the invention;
FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view along the line lI-II of FIG. 1 looking in the direction of the arrow;
FIG. 3 is a partial plan and sectional view on the line III-III of FIG. I, looking in the direction of the arrows;
FIGS. 4A through 4D are somewhat schematic partial side elevation views illustrating the manner of loading bottles into a carrier in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a partial plan view of a second form of bottle-loading apparatus embodying the invention and constituting an improvement over the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1,2 and 3;
FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 5;
FIG. 7A and 7B are partial side elevation views illustrating the operation of bridge members illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6;
FIG. 8 is a somewhat schematic side elevation view of a third form of bottle-loading apparatus embodying the invention, and constituting a further improvement of the invention, with only essential portions being illustrated; and
FIG. 9 is transverse-sectional view taken on the line Ix-Ix of FIG. 8 looking in the direction of the arrows.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring first to FIGS. 1,2 and 3, bottles B supplied by a bottle conveyor 10 are guided by a bottle-loading apparatus, generally indicated at 12, to a somewhat schematically illustrated carrier 14 of a bottle-processing apparatus, such as a bottle washer or the like, and which has not been shown.
Bottles B, loaded randomly onto bottle conveyor 10 at its feeding end, which feeding end has not been shown in the drawings, are aligned into a predetermined array by means of several stirring rods 16 suspended above conveyor 10 by any suitable means, and by means of partition plates 18 provided adjacent the stirring rods. Thereafter, the bottles are loaded into bottle receiving apertures 20 of carrier 14, by means of the loading apparatus 12, the details of which will be described hereinafter.
Loading apparatus 12 comprises guide means including a plurality of guide members 24, each having a sloping portion and a substantially horizontal portion. These guide members 24 receive, successively, the foremost aligned row of bottles on bottle conveyor 10. The bottles are tilted forwardly by tilting plates 22, each associated with the respective column of bottles at the discharge end of bottle conveyor 10. Guide members 24 guide the received bottles, while the latter maintain their forwardly tilted attitude, upwardly and then gradually tilt the bottles to a substantially horizontal attitude for loading the bottles from the discharge ends of the guide members into carrier 14. The loading apparatus further includes transfer means for pushing the row of bottles along the guide members 24 toward carrier 14.
The transfer means includes three endless chain belts 26, one arranged on each of the opposite outer sides and the other at the center of a group of guide members 24. Each endless chain belt 26 is arranged within a plane which is parallel with the vertical planes containing the respective guide members, and each endless chain belt 26 has, in elevation, substantially the form of a parallelogram. Push rods 28a, 28b, and 30a, 30b have their opposite ends and center portions fixedly secured to endless chain belts 26. Each belt 26 is trained around a relatively large diameter sprocket 34 rigidly secured on a common driving shaft, the three sprockets being in parallel with each other. Each chain 26 is further trained around three idler sprockets 40, 42 and 44 rotatably supported on respective idler shafts 35, 36 and 38 which are parallel with driving shaft 32. Each idler shaft rotatably supports three idler sprockets in parallel with each other.
Guide members 24 are coupled with each other by means of common connecting rods 46 and 48, and these connecting rods are, in turn, supported on a pair of tracks 52 and 54 forming a part of a frame 50 of the loading apparatus. The connecting rods are supported on the tracks in such a manner that they may slide freely in a direction substantially perpendicular to the direction of movement of conveyor 10.
The grooved earns 56 and 56 are secured to driving shaft 32, and cam followers 60 and 60' extend into the grooves of the respective earns 56 and 56'. These cam followers are mounted on respective levers 58 and 58' which are pivotally supported, at one end, on frame 50. The free ends of levers 58 and 58' are formed with elongated apertures into which extend pins 62 and 62, respectively, extending from connecting rods 46 adjacent the respective opposite ends of the latter.
A sprocket wheel 64 is fixedly secured to an end of driving shaft 32, and may be coupled, by a suitable chain drive, to the driving mechanism of the bottle-processing apparatus. By driving sprocket 64 and similarly driving bottle conveyor 10, the foremost row of bottles on conveyor tilt on to guide members 24 therebetween as they are tilted forwardly by tilting plates 22. The bottles are engaged by push rods 28a, owing to movement of endless chain belts 26, to be pushed upwardly, as shown in FIG. 2, so that the bottles B are pushed and transferred onto the horizontal portions of guide members 24. Meanwhile, the next succeeding row of bottles conveyed to tilting plates 22 to lean on guide members 24 are shortly thereafter engaged with the next succeeding push rods 30a, so that they are similarly pushed and transferred along guide members 24.
As best seen in FIG. 3, carrier 14 is formed with a plurality of bottle-receiving apertures arranged in two rows, one upper row and one lower row, and the two rows are staggered relative to each other. Since the distance between the upper and lower rows of a single carrier 14 is x, while the distance between adjacent rows of apertures in successive carriers 14 is y, it is necessary to set the ratio of the distance between push rods 28a and a, or between the push rods 28b and 30b, with relation to the distance between push rods 30a and 28b, or between push rods 28a and 30b, equal to the ratio xzy.
While the push rods are pushing the respective rows of bottles in contact therewith, as described above, cams 56 and 56' are simultaneously turned by rotation of driving shaft 32, so that levers 58 and 58 are reciprocated through the medium of cam followers 60 and 60, respectively. Thus, the group of guide members 24 is caused to slide, as a unit, perpendicularly to the direction of movement of the bottles, through the medium of the pins 62 and 62'.
During this period of time, a row of bottles pushed by push rods such as, for example, push rods 30a, have just reached the discharge ends of guide members 24 and are loaded into the lower row of receiving apertures 20 in a carrier 14. After loading of this row of bottles into the carrier has been completed, the group of guide members 24 is moved transversely, in a manner similar to that described, and when the next row of bottles, pushed by the next succeeding push rods 28b, have just reached the discharge end of guide members 24, the upper row of receiving apertures 20, in the next succeeding carrier 14 are located opposite to this row of bottles and the bottles are loaded into the apertures 20.
In this manner, the bottles successively supplied from conveyor 10 can be loaded row by row into carriers 14 of a bottleprocessing apparatus, very smoothly and rapidly. As will be readily understood by those skilled in the art, in the loading apparatus of the present invention, since the transfer operation is effected by means of push rods driven by at least one pair of endless belts extending along the guide means, an increase in speed of bottle transfer, and thus enhancement of processing capability, can be attained. Furthermore, since the guide means is adapted to be reciprocated in synchronism with the transfer means so as to make a particular row of bottles with a particular row of bottle-receiving apertures in a carrier 14, there is obtained the advantage that less power is required in comparison with known apparatus, for instance of the type shown in Meyer et al., US. Pat. No. 3,081,859 and in which a plurality of bottles on a bottle conveyor are moved transversely by rocking gate plates on the bottle conveyor and which are equivalent to the partition plates 18 mentioned above.
Referring now to FIGS. 4A through 7, in these figures components substantially identical with those shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 are designated by the same reference numerals with the addition of to each numeral. Considering first the operation of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, when the bottles are pushed along the guide means by the transfer means to be loaded into the carriers, a gap D is necessary between the discharge ends of the guide means and the carrier. This gap is necessitated for permitting push rods 28a, 28b, 30a and 30b of the transfer means to pass therethrough.
Accordingly, when a bottle B is being transferred from the guide means to the carrier, and more particularly at the moment when the center of gravity G of the bottle B has passed beyond the discharge end of guide means 24, bottle B is apt to tilt downwardly, as shown by the dotted outline in FIG. 48, until it has been loaded into the carrier. Thus the neck portion of the bottle possibly may collide against the lower surface of the aperture in the carrier, resulting in damage to the bottleneck if the timing relation between the push rods and carrier 114 is not properly maintained. On the other hand, if the timing relation between the push rods and the carrier 114 is changed, as shown in FIG. 4C, that is, if the phase of carrier 114 is somewhat advanced, so that, when the center of gravity G of the bottle B has just passed the discharge end of guide means 124 and bottle B begins to tilt, the aperture 120 of carrier 114 may contact the body of bottle B, the contact between the bottleneck and the lower side surface or edge of aperture 120 can be prevented. However, in this case, the supply of bottle B is relatively delayed, and the carrier is raised considerably before bottle B has been inserted sufiiciently into receiving aperture 120 of carrier 114. Thus, bottle B is pushed obliquely upwardly, and thus the bottleneck engages the upper edge of the receiving aperture 120 of the carrier, resulting in damage to the bottleneck.
In order to obviate this disadvantage, in accordance with the second embodiment of the invention, a bridge member 170 is fixedly secured to an idler shaft so as to support the lower side surface of a bottle B when this bottle is transferred from the discharge ends of guide members 124 to carrier 114, and thus effects smooth loading of the bottle into the receiving aperture 120 of the carrier. More particularly, at an end of idler shaft 135 there is fixedly secured a lever 172, and a roller 174 mounted at a free end of this lever projects into an elongated aperture 178 provided on the free end of another lever 176 pivotally mounted on a frame 150. A cam 180 is fixedly secured on driving shaft 132 for endless belt 126, and a roller 186, mounted on a lever 184 which is pivotally supported in frame 150 to a pin or pivot 182, is forced into pressure contact with cam 180 by the bias of a tension spring 188 connected to the free end of lever 184. Lever 184 and lever 176 are connected with each other by a connecting rod 190.
In the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, by appropriately selecting the positions of the push rods 128a, 128b, 130a and 130b, for pushing bottles B, as well as by appropriately selecting the contour of cam 180, lever 176 can be swung through cam 180, roller 186, lever 184 and connecting rod 190, when a bottle 13, pushed by any selected push rod, is about to enter the receiving aperture 120 of carrier 1 14. Lever 176 thus can turn idler shaft 135, through the elongated hole 178, roller 174 and lever 172, to cause bridge plate 170, fixedly secured on shaft 135, to project into the space between carrier 114 and guide means 124, as shown in FIG. 7A. Thus, the bottle B may be loaded by the push rod into the aperture 120 of the carrier while it is supported on bridge plate 170. When bottle B has thus been transferred into the carrier, idler shaft 135 is quickly turned, through lever 18 4, rod 190 and lever 176, in accordance with the contour of cam 180, in the reverse direction and thus bridge plate 170 is retracted from the locus of movement of the push rods, as shown in FIG. 7B. Thus a bottle B can be loaded into the aperture 120 of carrier 114 while maintaining its proper attitude, and thus damage to the bottleneck can be positively prevented.
Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, in the third embodiment of the present invention, components substantially identical to those of the first embodiment are designated by the same reference numerals with 200 added, and a detailed description of these parts will be omitted. Referring once again to the first embodiment of the invention, and particularly FIG. 2, at the beginning of that period of time when the foremost row of bottles on bottle conveyor 10 are pushed and raised by the push rods of the transfer means, the next succeeding row of bottles will COLLlDE against the rising row of bottles, when the succeeding row of bottles are moved forwardly by the conveyor and caused to tilt forwardly by tilting plates 22. In case the neck portion of the bottles to be processed is small and/or in case the bottles have screw threads around their neck portions, the neck portions are apt to be damaged. This tendency to damage will increase if it is attempted to increase the bottle processing capacity by increasing the speed of conveyor 10.
Now referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, a driving motor 292 for a bottle conveyor 210 is coupled to a driving sprocket assembly 296 through an endless chain 294. As shown in FIG. 9, sprocket assembly 296 comprises sprocket 302, rotatably supported on a driving shaft 298 through a sleeve 300, a clutch disk 304 fixedly secured to the hub portion of sprocket 302, a flexible clutch ring 306 extending around the outer periphery of clutch disk 304, with an appropriate radical spacing therebetween, and a fixed disk 308 for nonrotatably connecting clutch ring 306 to drive shaft 298.
By supplying pressurized air or other pressurized fluid to flexible clutch ring 306 through a pipeline 310, swivel joint 312, a passage 314 in fixed clutch disk 308 and a pipe line 316, to expand clutch ring 306, clutch ring 306 and clutch disk 304 are engaged with each other to connect sprocket 302 to the driving shaft 298. The driving connection can be released by deflating clutch ring 306.
A driving shaft 232 for endless belts 226 has fixedly secured thereto a cam 318 which is effective to operate a limit switch 320 mounted at a suitable position on frame 250. Limit switch 320 is connected to an electromagnetic valve 322 interposed in pipeline 310. Thus, when the push rods of the transfer means have been engaged with the foremost row of bottles on bottle conveyor 10, as described in detail with respect to the first embodiment of the invention, a projection of cam 318 is just engaged with limit switch 320 to operate the same to close electromagnetic valve 322. By exhausting the pressurized fluid from flexible clutch ring 306 to atmosphere, the power transmission to driving sprocket 302 of conveyor 210 is interrupted and thus the conveyor is stopped. By properly selecting the contour of cam 318, the duration of the time during which conveyor 210 is stopped may be set at a desired value. Thus, there can be completely eliminated the disadvantage that, while a row of bottles is rising along the guide means, the next succeeding row of bottles, supplied from conveyor 10, will collide against the first row of bottles and cause damage to the bottles.
As described in detail with reference to the preferred embodiments of the invention, it is possible smoothly and quickly to load bottles, supplied successively from a bottle conveyor, into the carrier of a bottle-processing apparatus such as a bottle washer or the like, while effectively preventing damage to the bottles. The present invention thus constitutes a very useful contribution to the art of bottle handling.
While specific embodiments of the invention have been shown and described in detail to illustrate the application of the principles of the invention, it will be understood that the invention may be embodied otherwise without departing from such principles.
What is claimed is:
1. A bottle-loading apparatus, for loading bottles, supplied from a bottle conveyor, into an apertured carrier of a bottleprocessing apparatus, said bottle-loading apparatus comprising, in combination, guide means receiving and guiding a row of bottles, supplied from said bottle conveyor, into said carrier; and transfer means cooperable with bottles guided by said guide means, said transfer means including at least a pair of endless belts extending along said guide means, and push rods extending transversely of said guide means and coupled to said belts for driving of said push rods along said guide means to push bottles, supported on said guide means, towards said carrier; said guide means comprising a plurality of guide members constructed and arranged for oscillation transversely of the direction of movement of said bottle conveyor in coordination with the movement of said endless belts.
2. A bottle-loading apparatus, as claimed in claim 1, including bridge means positioned between said carrier at the discharge end of said guide means and constructed and arranged to support the lower side surfaces of the bottles as the bottles are transferred from said guide means to said carrier.
3. A bottle-loading apparatus, as claimed in claim 2, in which said transfer means includes at least a pair of endless belts extending along said guide means, and push rods extending transversely of said guide means and coupled to said belts for driving of said push rods along said guide means to push bottles, supported on said guide means, toward said carrier.
4. A bottle-loading apparatus, as claimed in claim 3, in which each of said endless belts includes a plurality of supporting shafts; said bridging means being carried by one of said shafts for projection and retraction relative to the gap between the discharge end of said guide means and the carrier and in synchronism with a driving shaft for said endless belts.
5. A bottle-loading apparatus, as claimed in claim 1, in which said transfer means includes three endless belts, one provided on each opposite side and one provided at the center of said guide means; said push rods comprising a selected number of push rods fixedly secured to the respective endless belts in transverse alignment with each other and at preselected intervals along the periphery of said endless belts.
6. A bottle-loading apparatus, as claimed in claim 1, including control means for said bottle conveyor effective to interrupt drive of said bottle conveyor for a preselected period of time after said transfer means has engaged a row of bottles on said guide means.
7. A bottle-loading apparatus, as claimed in claim 6, in which said control means includes a cam rotatable in synchronism with said transfer means; a limit switch actuated by said cam; and a conveyor-driving means having clutch means controlled by said limit switch.