US 3626662 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 14, 1971 o. w. GRAVELEY BAG OPENING APPARATUS 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Jan. 14, 1970 INVIIN 10R. 056,4? W. GRfH ELEY ATTORNEYS Dec. 14, 1971 o. w. GRAVELEY 3, 6 6
BAG OPENING APPARATUS Filed Jan. 14, 1970 3 Sheets-Sheet I T h Q 1, I: w E: H 5 m H m A m W m H \m m NN:I::::222:2: T 1 1 m N lan H W n A INVENTOR. 05cm? w. 02/) 1/54 Y 14, 1971 o. w. GRAVELEY BAG OPENING APPARATUS 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed Jan. 14, 1970 l N VliN TOR. OSCAR W. GEQVE'LEY ATTORNEYS United States Patent O 3,626,662 BAG OPENING APPARATUS Oscar W. Graveley, Sanborn, N.Y., assignor to Niagara Frontier Services, Inc., Buffalo, N.Y. Filed Jan. 14, 1970, Ser. No. 2,784 Int. Cl. B65!) 43/30 US. Cl. 53-188 11 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A stationary plate for engaging one face of a folded bag and a pivotal plate for engaging the other face of the bag are provided with suction means for securing the respective bag faces thereto. A lip portion adjacent the lower end of the stationary plate engages over the forward edges of the bottom folded portion of the bag as the bag is fed into position against the plate. The pivotal plate is swung away from the stationary plate to spread the opposite faces of the bag apart and the bottom folded portion of the bag is cammed beneath the lip to completely open the bag.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a bag opening apparatus and, more particularly, to apparatus for opening a bag and positioning the same to receive articles of merchandise.
One of the critical problems confronting retail establishments such as supermarkets handling a large volume of business is the time required for checking out the individual patrons. One of the main drawbacks to supermarket shopping is the time actually taken up by the checking out process and very often long lines of customers are queued up behind the available checkout counters during rush periods. A major reason for this is the inefficiency in which the articles of merchandise are bagged. Generally, the merchandise is handled twice by the cashier, once in recording the cost of the individual items on the cash register and once in bagging the merchandise. Even in those instances where a separate person is employed to manually open the bags and place the merchandise therein, time is required to package the items purchased thereby increasing costs and decreasing the speed in processing customers through the checkout counter. One solution to these problems is found in pending application Ser. No. 755,139, filed Aug. 26, 1968, now Pat. No. 3,564,814, and assigned to the same assignee as the present application, and which discloses a check-out arrangement employing two bagging lanes and mechanism automatically operable to open and feed bags to one end of each lane so that the cash register attendant continuously is presented with a choice of two open bags into which articles to be checked may be disposed.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved apparatus for opening a folded bag and presenting the same in position for the reception of articles of manufacture.
It is another object of this invention to provide a mechanism for feeding a bag singly from a stacked supply of such bags.
The bag opening apparatus of this invention is characterized by the provision of a stationary plate for engaging one face of a folded bag and a pivotal plate adapted to engage the other face of the folded bag. A lip portion is provided adjacent the lower end of the stationary plate for engagement over the forward edge of the bottom folded portion of the bag. As the pivotal plate swings away from the stationary plate, the opposite faces of the bag are pulled apart and the folded bottom portion pulled from beneath thelip portion to unfold the bottom and completely open the bag.
The foregoing and other objects, advantages and characterizing features of the present invention will become clearly apparent from the ensuing detailed description of an illustrative embodiment thereof, taken together with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference characters denote like parts through the various views.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative checkout counter incorporating a bag opening apparatus of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the checkout counter shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view taken about on line 33 of FIGS. 1 and 2;
FIG. 4 is a transverse vertical sectional view taken about on line 44 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view showing a portion of the bag opening apparatus and a folded bag in position thereagainst;
FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 illustrating the bag opening apparatus in an intermediate position, the bag being partially opened;
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6 but showing the bag opening apparatus in its bag-open position, the bag being fully opened;
FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic view illustrating the various drive arrangements incorporated in the present invention; and
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary horizontal sectional view taken about one line 9,9 of FIG. 3.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Although the bag opening mechanism of the present invention can have utility in various environments, it will be convenient to refer to its use in conjunction with a merchandise checkout counter such as is commonly found in supermarkets and retail stores. Referring now in detail to the drawings, there is shown in FIG. 1 a checkout counter, comprehensively designated 10, with the cashiers position indicated generally by the reference character 12 being in front of the cash register mechanism indicated by the reference character 14. Checkout counter 10 comprises an enclosure 16 having opposite side walls 15 and 17 and housing various of the component parts hereinafter more particularly described. Enclosure 16 is provided with an elevated platform 18 at one end thereof with an endless conveyor belt 20 trained about a pair of spaced rollers 22 and 24. Articles of merchandise can be placed on conveyor belt 20 by the customer for continuous or intermittent advancement to a stop rail 26 located on platform 18 adjacent the operators station 12.
Immediately beyond stop rail 26, counter 10 is provided with a recessed portion defined by vertical partitions 28 and 30 into a lane, generally designated 32, which is adapted to receive a bag and which is provided with a bag opening mechanism, hereinafter more fully described, so as to continuously present opened bags ready for filling adjacent the operators station 12. The bottom wall of lane 32 is provided with an endless conveyor belt 36 trained about a pair of longitudinally spaced rollers 35 and 37 which, when operated, is effective to convey bags therealong for ultimately being discharged to lane extension 38 whereat the bagged articles may be picked up by the customer. Of course, lane 32 can be extended to some external point for outside pickup either by attendants or by the customers themselves. Also, it should be understood that more than one lane can be provided, if desired, with the lanes extending in a side-by-side relation and each being provided with a bag opening mechanism and a discharge conveyor mechanism.
An important feature of the present invention is the bag feeding and opening apparatus. The area beneath elevated platform 18 of counter provides a hollow space in which at least one bag magazine assembly, generally desig nated 40, is disposed. Bag magazine assembly 40 comprises a U-shaped channel 42 having parallel side walls 44 for receiving a supply 46 of disposable bags in an upright folded compressed condition. Magazine assembly 40 also includes a suitable pusher device comprising a pusher plate 48 adapted to engage against the rear side of said supply 46 of bags and urged thereagainst by a spring coil 50 extending between pusher plate 48 and side wall 15.
Each bag is identified by reference numeral 52 (FIGS. 5-7) and comprises a front face 53, a rear face 54, and in the folded condition, a bottom folded portion 55 having a forward edge 56 projecting upwardly as will be readily understood by those skilled in the art. The bags are placed in magazine channel 42 with their folded bottom portions 55 facing toward side wall 17 of counter 10, each being folded fiat against the front face 53 of the bag body. A door panel 57 in wall provides access to magazine assembly 40 for handling and filling the same with a supply 46 of bags.
Means are provided for feeding bags 52 singly into lane 32. Such means comprises an endless conveyor belt 60 (FIGS. 2, 3 and 9) guided for movement on vertically extending rollers 62 and 64 in an orbital path generally parallel to side wall 17. The active run of conveyor belt 60 picks up each leading bag 52 as it is urged thereagainst and moves it at right angles relative to the magazine feed toward cashiers station 12. In order to preclude the feed of more than one bag at a time into lane 32, an elongated roller 66 spaced from roller 62 a distance approximating the thickness of one bag 52 rotates in a clockwise direction as shown in FIG. 9, opposite the direction of magazine bag feed movement. Thus, roller 66 tends to move bags 46 laterally in a direction opposite to the active run of conveyor belt 60 to prevent more than one bag being fed into lane 32.
A significant feature of this invention is the means for automatically opening each individual bag 52 as it is admitted into lane 32 for presenting an open bag to the operator for the placement therein of articles of merchandise. The bag opening means comprises, in the illustrated embodiment, a stationary vertical plate 70 mounted against partition of lane 32 and having an elongated lip 72 extending outwardly and downwardly from plate 70 as shown in FIGS. 4-7. Lip 72 of plate 70 is positioned relative to the oncoming bag so as to engage over the forward edge 56 of bottom folded portion 55 and tends to separate such bottom folded portion 55 from the body of bag 52 as shown in FIG. 5. Plate 70 can be provided with one or more suction cups 74 connected to a suitable source of vacuum, schematically indicated in FIG. 8, for holding front face 53 of bag 52 thereto.
In order to spread bag 52 apart, a pivotal plate 78 is suitably secured on an upstanding pivotal .pin or shaft 80 ('FIG. 3) for swinging movement therewith toward and away from stationary plate 70. A cover plate 79 is provided on plate 78 for precluding dirt and other debris from entering into enclosure 16 between plate 78 and conveyor belt 20. Pivotal plate 78 is provided with a plurality of suction cups 82 also connected to a suitable source of vacuum, which can be the source shown in FIG. 8, and is adapted to engage the rear face 54 of bag 52. With vacuum applied to suction cups 82 of plate 78, rear face 54 of bag 52 adheres thereto and is carried therewith during return swinging movement of plate 78 in the direction indicated by the arrow in FIG. 6. As the rear face 54 of bag 52 moves with plate 78, bottom folded portion 55 thereof unfolds until the forward edge 56 thereof clears lip 72 of plate 70 to thereby completely open bag 52.
The rearward edge of lip 72, as veiwed in FIG. 6, is slightly inclined as at 92 to provide a cam enabling the rear left hand corner of bag 62 to clear lip 72 and move from the position of FIG. 6 to that of FIG. 7. Thus, bag 46 is fully opened adjacent the cashiers Station 12 in readiness for the reception of articles of merchandise.
With reference to FIG. 8, a single power source in the form of an electric motor 96 is provided for the various mechanisms described hereinabove. A drive shaft 98, driven by motor 96 is provided with a series of drive sprocket wheels 100, 102 and 104 having clutch mechanisms 106, 108 and 110, respectively. It should be understood that a suitable gear reduction arrangement (not shown) can be interposed between motor 96 and drive shaft 98, as desired. A drive chain 112 is trained about sprocket wheel and drive roller 22 for driving endless conveyor belt 20 in an orbital path. A drive chain 114 is trained about sprocket wheel 104 and drive roller 35 for driving endless conveyor belt 36 in an orbital path. An endless drive chain 116 is trained about sprocket wheel 102 and a gear 118 mounted on a shaft 120 having a bevel gear 122 adjacent the end thereof. Gear 122 engages with bevel gear 124 mounted on shaft 126 having drive roller 62 mounted on the upper end thereof for driving endless conveyor belt 60 in an orbital path. Also mounted on shaft 126 is a drive pulley 128 having an endless belt 130 guided thereabout and about a pulley 132 mounted on a shaft 134 carrying roller 66. Belt 130 is turned between pulleys 128 and 132 so as to drive the latter in a reverse direction relative to the former.
The mechanism for pivoting pin 80 can include a solenoid 136 energized by the actuation of a limit switch 150 (FIG. 8) effected by the positioning of a folded bag 52 against plate 70. Alternatively, solenoid 136 can be energized by depressing a button located on a control panel 138 on platform 18 adjacent the cashiers station 12. Also mounted on control panel 138 are buttons 140, 142, 144 and 146 for selectively energizing motor 96 and clutches 106, 108 and 110 for engaging their respective sprocket Wheels 100, 102, 104 with shaft 98. Thus, the cashier can selectively depress buttons 140, 142, 144 and 146 to operate the various mechanisms hereinbefore described as required or desired.
In operation, articles of merchandise are placed on conveyor belt 20. Button 140 is depressed to energize motor 96 and rotate drive shaft 98. Button 142 is depressed to actuate clutch 106 for engaging drive sprocket 100 to shaft 98 and operating conveyor belt 20 by means of chain drive 112 and drive pulley 22. Conveyor belt 20 is interminttently operated to advance articles of merchandise thereon and accumulate the same against stop rail 26 adjacent the cashiers station 12. Simultaneously, conveyor belt 60 and roller 66 may be operated by depressing button 144 to energize clutch 108 and engage sprocket wheel 102 with drive shaft 98. Thus, by means of the gearing arrangement 118-124 and drive belt 130, conveyor belt 60 and roller 66 are activated to advance a folded bag 52 leftwardly against plate 70 as shown in FIG. 5. As bag 52 is advanced in the direction of the arrows shown in FIG. 5, the forward edge 56 of bottom folded portion 55 engages behind the inner side of lip 72 and such bottom folded portion 55 is separated from the body of bag 52. As bag 52 is fully advanced against plate 70, limit switch is actuated by the bag to establish vacuum connection to suction cup 74 for holding the front face 53 of bag 52 against plate 70. At the same time, solenoid 136 is energized to rotate pin 80 for swinging plate 78 into engagement with the rear face 54 of bag 52.
As plate 78 engages rear face 54 of bag 52, a limit switch 152 (FIG. 4) can be actuated to establish a vacuum connection to suction cups 82 so that rear face 54 of bag 52 adherees to plate 78. As plate 78 swings from plate 70, the opposite faces of bag 52 are spread apart as shown in FIG. 6 while bottom folded portion 55 is pulled against lip 72 and cammed thereby to unfold until. it passes beneath lip 72 to completely open bag 52. As a plate 78 continues to move away from plate 70, the vacuum communication to suction cup 74 is interrupted either by suitable timing means or another switch means to enable front face 53 of bag 52 to follow rear face 54 thereof and the bottom portion of bag 52 clears lip portion 72 to allow said bag 52 to be swung into the position shown in FIG. 7. When plate 78 is fully retracted, the vacuum communication to suction cups 80 is interrupted and bag 52 is in a fully opened condition in position for the reception of items placed therein by the cashier after recording the cost of each item. When the bag is filled, the cashier depresses button 146 to operate conveyor 36 and advance the filled bag to hte discharge lane extension 38 whereat the filled bag may be picked up by the customer.
It should be understood that various arrangements can be employed to actuate the various mechanisms hereinbefore described. For example, foot treadle switch means under the control of the cashier can be employed for selectively advancing conveyor belts and 36 in lieu of a control panel on platform 18. Also, the circuitry can be so arranged that a single bag feeding and bag opening cycle, including the establishment and interruption of the vacuum connection, is effected automatically upon actuation of conveyor belt 36 with a time delay mechanism allowing the filled bag to be conveyed out of the way a suitable distance, for example a foot, before presentation of the open empty bag. As soon as a filled bag in lane 32 has been advanced beyond the bagging position, a new empty bag will be opened automatically in readiness for further loading procedures. The details of such circuitry will be readily understood by those skilled in the art and it is believed that no further amplification is necessary.
From the foregoing, it is apparent that the present invention fully accomplishes its intended objects. It should be udnerstood that the foregoing detailed description has been done by way of illustration only.
1. Appartus for opening a folded bag having a front face, a rear face and a folded bottom portion provided with a forward edge projecting upwardly and away from said front face comprising means for engaging the front face of such a bag and holding the front face thereto, said engaging means having a projection extending downwardly at an angle for engagement over the forward edge of such a folded bottom portion when the front face of the bag is engaged against said engaging means, and means for engaging the rear face of a bag for holding the face thereto and moving the same away from the front face thereof whereby said folded bottom portion is moved beneath said projection and said folded bag is opened.
2. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein said front face engaging means includes suction means for securing the front face of a bag thereto.
3. Apparatus for opening a folded bag having a front face, a rear face and a folded bottom portion provided with a forward edge projecting upwardly and away from said front face comprising means for engaging the front face of such a bag and holding the front face thereto, said engaging means having a projection extending downwardly at an angle for engagement over the forward edge of such a folded bottom portion, and means comprising a pivotal plate mounted for swinging movement toward and away from said front face engaging means for engaging the rear face of a bag for holding the face thereto and moving the same away from the front face thereof whereby said folded bottom portion is moved beneath said projection and said folded bag is opened.
4. Appartus as set forth in claim 3 wherein said pivotal plate is provided with suction means for securing the rear face of a bag thereto.
5. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1 together with means for feeding a single bag to said front face engaging means.
6. Apparatus for opening a folded bag having a front face, a rear face and a folded bottom portion provided with a forward edge projecting upwardly and away from said front face comprising means for engaging the front face of such a bag and holding the front face thereto, said engaging means having a projection extending downwardly at an angle for engagement over the forward edge of such a folded bottom portion, means for engaging the rear face of a bag for holding the face thereto and moving the same away from the front face thereof whereby said folded bottom portion is moved beneath said projection and said folded bag is opened, and means for feeding a single bag to said front face engaging means comprising a conveyor mechanism having an active run moving in a first direction, and means urging a supply of such folded bags toward said active run in a second direction generally normal to said first direction.
7. Apparatus as set forth in claim 6 including means for preventing the feed of more than one bag at a time to said front face engaging means.
8. Apparatus as set forth in claim 7 wherein said preventing means comprises a roller spaced from said active run a distance approximately the width of one folded bag.
9. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 together with means for urging a supply of bags in stacked relation against said conveyor.
10. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 wherein said urging means comprises a magazine having a pusher plate in abutting relation with the rearmost bag of said supply of bags, and spring means for biasing said pusher plate against said supply of bags.
11. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 in combination with a checkout station having a lane, a conveyor for said lane, said bag opening apparatus disposed in said lane above said conveyor for opening a folded bag fed onto said conveyor whereby the bag is conditioned to be filled with articles, and means for operating said conveyor thereby to remove a filled bag from said checkout station.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,937,015 11/1933 Gangler 53--385 3,025,651 3/1962 Stanley 53-390 X 3,399,507 9/1968 Litchard 53188 X 3,407,567 10/1968 Hudson 53386 X THERON E. CONDON, Primary Examiner R. L. SPRUILL, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R. 53386, 391