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Publication numberUS3638394 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 1, 1972
Filing dateFeb 26, 1970
Priority dateFeb 26, 1970
Also published asCA935410A, CA935410A1
Publication numberUS 3638394 A, US 3638394A, US-A-3638394, US3638394 A, US3638394A
InventorsWinokur Louis L
Original AssigneeUnion Carbide Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Packaging apparatus
US 3638394 A
Abstract
A method and an apparatus for packaging articles in flexible bags comprise the use of a conveyor for delivering an article to a gripping assembly intermediate the conveyor. The assembly comprises at least two gripping members laterally positioned on opposite sides of the conveyor and movable towards and away from each other and vertically with respect to the conveyor. The gripping members clasp the article, elevate it above the conveyor and hold it until a bag has been placed thereover. The gripping members then lower the article in the bag onto the conveyor, release their grip of the article which is then transported in the bag by the conveyor and removed from the gripping assembly.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Winokur Feb. 1,1972

[54] PACKAGING APPARATUS 2,939,259 6/1960 Heckler ..53/35X Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee Attorney-Paul A. Rose, John F. Hohmann and Franklyn Schoenberg [57] ABSTRACT A method and an apparatus for packaging articles in flexible bags comprise the use of a conveyor for delivering an article to a gripping assembly intermediate the conveyor. The assembly comprises at least two gripping members laterally positioned on opposite sides of the conveyor and movable towards and away from each other and vertically with respect to the conveyor. The gripping members clasp the article, elevate it above the conveyor and hold it until a bag has been placed thereover. The gripping members then lower the article in the bag onto the conveyor, release their grip of the article which is then transported in the bag by the conveyor and removed from the gripping assembly.

10 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTEU FEB 1 m2 13,638, 394

sum 1 or a INVENTOR LOUIS L. WINO UR BY Q ATTORN EY sum 2 OF 3 PATENTED FEB 1 I972 w J 6 LI Ll LI a m a INVENTOR LOUIS L.W|NOKUR BY 736 M ATTORNEY H MENU-1D FEB nsrz 3,633,394

sum 30F s INVENTOR LOUIS L. WINO UR ATTORN EY PACKAGING APPARATUS The present invention relates to an apparatus and method for packaging articles in flexible bags and particularly large and/or irregularly shaped articles.

The packaging of articles such as large cuts of fresh meat, poultry, fish, etc., in flexible bags such as plastic film bags is conventionally done manually on simple fixtures, such as fixed platforms. Inasmuch as these items vary widely in size, weight and shape, and since the bags are relatively limp and difficult to handle, it is a tedious and cumbersome manual operation. Primal meat cuts cannot be readily slid along worktable surfaces since they have a tendency to stick thereto. Also, such vcuts often develop unsightly concentrations of blood when bruised or forcibly slid along a work surface.

In an effort to overcome these disadvantages, an apparatus has been proposed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,131,523 which includes aconveyor belt for delivering a large heavy meat article onto a support made of a plurality of horizontal rods. The rods are positioned at the end of and in a plane below that of the conveyor belt. They are adapted to move in the direction of ,advance of the conveyor belt and to receive the article which is automatically pushed off the conveyor belt and falls onto the advanced rods. A flexible bag is placed over the article and over the rods which then retract until the bagged product is again automatically pushed off the rods to fall onto another support. A serious disadvantage of this apparatus is that it subjects the meat article to rough handling, causing it to fall twice during the bagging operation. The meat tends to be bruised by each fall and also during the removal of the bagged article from the rods because the heavy meat article does not slide readily over such rods.

Other apparatus for packaging food items such as poultry in a flexible film bag have been proposed, in which'the bag is pulled over a plurality of stretching fingers. The bag may either fit loosely over the fingers which are then actuated to expand it circumferentially, or it may fit tightly over the fingers which elastically stretch it circumferentially. In both cases, the item to be packaged is then inserted into the expanded bag and the fingers are withdrawn from the resulting package. A major disadvantage of such prior art apparatus lies in the adjustment of the bag-stretching fingers which form a passage of varying perimeters for items of different sizes and shapes.

It is" an object of the invention, therefore, to provide an appara'tiis'for sanitary and efficient packaging of articles of differe'nt shapes, weights and sizes in flexible bags which eliminates most of the manual steps heretofore necessary.

It is another object of the invention to provide an apparatus for rapid and easy packaging of articles of various sizes, weights and shapes which eliminates the known bag-stretching fingers and the necessity of adjusting such fingers to form a passage for the article to be packaged.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a simple method for packaging articles of different shapes, weights and sizes in flexible bags.

The invention will now be more particularly described with reference to the accompanying drawing in which:

FIG. I is a perspective viewof an apparatus for packaging articles in a flexible bag according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of a portion of the apparatus of FIG. I showing afood article enveloped in a bag at a bagging station;

FIGS. 3 to 5 are schematic cross section views of the apparatus of FIG. 1 showing successive steps in the packaging of a food article in a bag;

FIGS. 6a to 6e are cross section views of additional embodiments of gripping members of the apparatus of the invention as shown in FIG. I for gripping an article to be packaged;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a portion of an apparatus for packaging articles in a flexible bag according to another embodirnent of the invention;

FIG. 8 is an end elevation view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 7; and

FIGS. 9 and 10 are schematic cross section views of the apparatus of FIGS. 7 and 8 showing successive steps of the packaging operation.

According to the invention, there is provided a method for packaging a meat article in a flexible bag, wherein the article is conveyed, on a moving surface, to a bagging station. At the bagging station, the article is bilaterally gripped and raised above the surface. A flexible bag isthen sheathed onto the gripped and raised article. The resulting bagged article is lowered onto the conveying surface, the grip on the article is released and the article in the bag is transported by the conveying surface from the bagging station.

According to the invention, there is also provided an apparatus for packaging a meat article on a flexible bag, which apparatus comprises a conveyor system for delivering a meat article to a bagging station having a gripping assembly disposed in the conveyor system. The bagging station has a delivery side and a discharge side. The gripping assembly of the invention comprises at least one gripping member laterally positioned on each opposite side of the conveyor. A support for the gripping members is positioned on the delivery side of the bagging station and the gripping members extend beyond their support, on the discharge side of the bagging station. The gripping members are movable towards and away from each other to grip and release, respectively, a meat article on the conveyor. Movement of the gripping members towards each other to grip the article is initiated by a signal from the bagging station indicating delivery of the article to the station. Means are also provided at the bagging station for vertically moving the gripping assembly to elevate and lower the gripping members with respect to the conveyor permitting placement of a wrapper, such as a flexible bag, for example, about the article and about the gripping members when the assembly is in elevated position.

Referring now to the drawing, there is shown in FIG. I an apparatus for packaging an article according to one embodiment of the invention. The apparatus comprises a machine frame 10 supporting a conveyor generally shown at 12. The conveyor comprises a surface for supporting an articleto be packaged shown here as a portion of an endless belt 14. Instead of one belt, the conveyor 12 may comprise a plurality of belts, or'a chain or chains, or any other elongate member suitable for conveying an article. Also, other types of conveyor means such as walking beams and the like may be used.

The conveyor belt 14 delivers an article 16, such as a large cut of meat, for example, to a bagging station generally indicated as B. The bagging station comprises a frame I7 on which is mounted a stanchion generally indicated as 18. As shown, the stanchion supports a gripping assembly including two gripping members 20 and 22 (FIGS. 1 and 3 to 5) positioned on opposite sides of the belt 14. Each gripping member is removably secured to a vertical mounting plate 24 and 26, respectively, and extends beyond its mounting plate on the discharge side of the bagging station B. Each plate 24, 26 is attached to a piston rod 27, 28, respectively, of a horizontally disposed pneumatic cylinder 30, 32. Reciprocating movement of the gripping members 20 and 22 towards and away from each other may thus be controlled by the pneumatic cylinders 30 and 32. The piston rods 27, 28 of the pneumatic cylinders 30 and 32 are actuated by means of conventional pneumatic circuitry and controls not shown. The cylinders 30 and 32 are, respectively, supported by vertical posts 34 and 36 of the stanchion l8 and mounted through their upper ends. THe

mounting plates 24 and 26 and the gripping members 20 and 22 are also supported by guide'pins indicated by the reference numerals 38 extending in spaced parallel relationship with the cylinders 30 and 32. The guide pins are slideably mounted,

parallel link arms designated by the reference numerals 40 (FIG. 2). The link arms 40 are rotatably mounted on shaft 42 and connect the-stanchion 18 to a frame strut 44. A cross brace 46 provides a pivotal connection to a piston rod 48 of a pneumatic cylinder 50 having its head end secured to a cross frame member 52.

Vertical upward and downward movement of the stanchion 18 about the struct 44 is effected by advancing and retracting the piston rod 48 of the pneumatic cylinder 50 activated by means of conventional pneumatic circuitry and controls, now shown.

The operation of the apparatus of the invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 3 to 5. The food article 16 on the conveyor belt 14 is delivered to the bagging station B. The gripping members 20 and 22 are retracted. An electrical position-sensing switch 54 senses the arrival of the article 16 at the bagging station and initiates movement of the cylinders 30 and 32. The gripping members 20 and 22 are moved towards each other and bilaterally grip the article 16 on the discharge side of the bagging station (FIG. 4). The gripping force on the article may be modulated by adjusting the pressure of the air supplied to the cylinders 30 and 32 by means such as a conventional pressure regulator (not shown).

The cylinder 50 is then actuated (by means not shown), the piston rod 48 is advanced whereby the stanchion posts 34 and 36 are raised, and with them the gripping members 20 and 22 and the gripped article 16. A flexible bag 15, such as a plastic film bag, is readily placed over the article 16 and the gripping members 20 and 22 (FIGS. 2 and The piston rod 48 is retracted, the posts 34 and 36 and the gripping members are lowered to their initial position and the article 16 in the bag is deposited onto the belt 14. The gripping members and 22 are slightly retracted to release the article and the advancing conveyor belt carries the article in the bag away from the bagging station and removes it from the gripping members.

As illustrated in FIGS. 6a to 6e, the gripping members may have various shapes. They may .be in the form of straight plates, preferably with their bottom portions curved or bent, as shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b, to facilitate gripping of the article. Also, both bottom and top portions of the gripping plates may be curved. Alternatively, they may be in the form of plates having a corrugated surface as shown in FIG. 6c. Furthermore, instead of plates, the gripping members may comprise one or more rods or fingers 20 removably and horizontally secured to a vertical mounting plate 24, as shown in FIG. 6d. If desired, the article-contacting surface of the rods or fingers 20 may be flattened, as shown in FIG. 6e. The rods or fingers 20 may also be curved or bent, if desired. The plates and the fingers may have various lengths, and may be selected according to the size and shape of the article. They should be of such a length as to permit placement of the bag over the whole article to be packaged and preferably to permit the top portion of the bag to extend beyond the article. Still a further embodiment of the gripping members of the invention is shown in FIGS. 7 to 10. In this embodiment, which is particularly suitable for gripping articles having an irregular shape, the gripping members comprise two sets of three fingers 120 and 122, respectively, extending on opposite sides of the belt 14. Each of these fingers may be independently actuated towards, and away from, its opposite counterpart.

FIGS. 7 and 8, respectively, show a top plan view and an end elevation view of a portion of this further embodiment of the apparatus of the invention. The parts of the apparatus of FIGS. 7 and 8 which are the same as those of the apparatus illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 5 are indicated by the same reference numerals. The vertical posts 34 and 36 connected at their bottom ends by the crossbeam 37 are elements ofa parallel crank four-bar linkage disposed and operated substantially as described with reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 5. The gripping members comprising two opposing sets of fingers 120 and 122 are removably secured to mounting plates 124 and 126, respectively.

Pneumatic cylinders and 132 are horizontally mounted on the vertical posts 34 and 36, respectively. The pneumatic cylinder 130 has a piston rod 127 secured to a crosshead 138 and the pneumatic cylinder 132 has a piston rod 128 secured in the same manner to a crosshead 140. The elements of the gripping assembly on either side of the conveyor belt 14 are identical and symmetrically mounted. Therefore, only the elements supported by the vertical post 34 will be described.

The crosshead 138 is slideably supported on upper and lower guide rods I42 and 143. The guide rods 142 143 are pinned into bosses 134 and 135, respectively, secured to'the post 34. Pin blocks. 146 and 147 extend horizontally and are secured to the side faces of the crosshead 138. The pin blocks 146 and 147 have parallel bores to slideably receive slide pins 150 and 151, respectively. The slide pins 150 and 151 are secured to the mounting plates 124. In this embodiment, there is one pair of slide pins 150, 151 for each mounting plate 124. Each slide pin I50 and 151 is provided with a compression spring 155 loosely fitted over the pin. The compression springs 155 are slideably mounted in the pin blocks I46 and 147 to urge the mounting plates 124 and the fingers 120 towards the centerline of the conveyor belt 14. Adjustable slide pin stop collars 159 are provided to control the force of compression of the springs 155 and the movement of the slide pins 150 and 151.

The operation of this further embodiment of the apparatus of the invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 7 to 10. As in the preceding embodiments, the food article 16 on the conveyor belt 14 is delivered to the bagging station B. The gripping members 120 and 122 are retracted (FIGS. 7 and 8). An electrical position-sensing switch (not shown) initiates movement of the cylinders l30-and 132. The piston rods 127 and 128, respectively, urge the crossheads 138 and 140 towards the conveyor belt 14 until the gripping members 120 and 1 22 come into firm gripping engagement with the food article 16 (FIG. 9). Due tothe resilient compression force of the springs 155 on the mounting plates 124, the fingers 120 and 122 are individually urged into gripping engagement with the food article with a compression force which is adapted to the shape of the article, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. Vertical upward and downward movement of the stanchion 18 and'of the vertical posts 34 and 36 is identical with that above described with reference to FIGS. 2 to 5 and the bagging operation is the same.

The apparatus shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 may be modified by replacing the spring-actuated slide pins with auxiliary air cylinders mounted on the crossheads 138 and 140, each auxiliary cylinder having a cylinder rod attached to each gripping finger. In this modified embodiment, the auxiliary cylinders provide a form of piggyback operation with the main cylinders 130 and 132 and individual, local pressure means for equal or unequal grippingpressure on the side portions of the food article 16.

Although there are two opposing sets of three gripping fingers each in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 7 to 10, it should be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. There could be one, or two, or four, or any desired number of gripping fingers in the sets on opposite sides of the belt 14.

Although the apparatus of the invention has been described in connection with the packaging of one article at a time in a flexible bag, it may also be used to package several articles in a bag. For example, two or more food items such as meat cuts, chickens or frankfurter packages, may be gripped and raised by the gripping members to a bagging position and a bag placed over these items, as easily as ifit were a single article.

Iclaim:

1. Meat handling and wrapping apparatus comprising:

a conveyor system including a bagging station with a delivery side and a discharge side and having an elongate.

horizontal surface providing support for a meat article to be packaged, and means for delivering such article to said station;

an assembly comprising a gripping member laterally positioned on each side of said surface and support means for said gripping members positioned on the delivery side of said stationQthe gripping members extending beyond said support means on the discharge side of said station;

said gripping members being movable towards and away from each other to grip and release, respectively, a meat article on said surface;

means for vertically moving said assembly to elevate and lower said gripping members with respect to said surface permitting placement of a wrapper about said article and about said members when said assembly is in elevated position;

and means activating movement of said members into gripping engagement with said article in response to a signal from said bagging station indicating delivery of said article thereto.

2. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, in which the gripping members are plates extending in parallel vertical planes opposite to each other.

3. An apparatus as claimed in claim 2, in which each plate has a bottom portion bent towards a similarly bent bottom portion in the opposite plate.

4. An apparatus as claimed in claim 3, in which each plate has a top portion bent towards a similarly bent top portion in the opposite plate.

5. An apparatus as claimed in claim 2, in which the plates have a corrugated article-contacting surface.

6. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1. in which the gripping members are horizontal fingers attached to a vertical mounting plate. 4

7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, in which the fingers have a flat article-contactin g surface.

8. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, in which each finger is bent towards a similarly bent, opposite finger.

9. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, in which the gripping members comprise at least one finger extending on opposite sides of the supporting surface of the conveyor.

10. An apparatus as claimed in claim 9, in which the gripping member comprise a plurality of fingers extending on each opposite side of the supporting surface of the conveyor, said fingers being independently movable towards and away from each other.

' Attest:

mg UNITED STATES PATENT. OFFICE CERTIFICATE OFCORRECTION Patent No. 3,638,394 I Dated February 1, 1972 Inventor(s) Louis L. Winokur It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said' Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

In the claims, column 5, line 2, after "each" insert --opposite--.

Signed and sealed this 30th day of May 1972.

EDWARD M.FLETCHER, JR. ROBERT GOTTSCHALK Commissioner of Patents Attes ting Offic er

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2939259 *May 6, 1958Jun 7, 1960Us Rubber CoWrapping device
US3001345 *Jun 17, 1959Sep 26, 1961Jack ScoonoverBush packing machine
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4341056 *Mar 17, 1980Jul 27, 1982Magna-Graphics CorporationMachine for compression band packaging
US5619842 *Dec 22, 1995Apr 15, 1997Brubaker; DavidMethod and apparatus for storing baled pre-silage
US5692360 *Oct 23, 1995Dec 2, 1997W. R. Grace & Co.-Conn.System and method for packaging products
US6834479 *Jan 23, 2003Dec 28, 2004Src Innovations, LlcBagging machine having a collapsible tunnel
US7437861Dec 22, 2004Oct 21, 2008Src Innovations, LlcBagging machine with a tunnel at least partially formed of flexible material
US7594374Dec 19, 2005Sep 29, 2009S.R.C. Innovations, LlcBagging machines having a collapsible tunnel
US20040065060 *Jan 23, 2003Apr 8, 2004Cullen Steven R.Bagging machine having a collapsible tunnel
US20050155332 *Dec 22, 2004Jul 21, 2005Cullen Steven R.Bagging machine with a tunnel at least partially formed of flexible material
US20050166555 *Dec 22, 2004Aug 4, 2005Cullen Steven R.Bagging machine with an adjustable tunnel
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/255, 53/529, 53/391, 53/261
International ClassificationB65B5/04, B65B25/06, B65B5/00, B65B25/00
Cooperative ClassificationB65B5/04, B65B25/064
European ClassificationB65B25/06C, B65B5/04
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 14, 1986ASAssignment
Owner name: VISKASE CORPORATION, 6855 WEST 65TH STREET, CHICAG
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:UNION CARBIDE CORPORATION, A CORP. OF NEW YORK;REEL/FRAME:004619/0501
Effective date: 19860201