US 3645060 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [151 3,645,060 Hammond 1 Feb. 29, 1972  CONTAINER LOADER FOR 7 ABSTRACT COMPRESSIBLE PRODUCT Lockrow et al ..53/l24 D Primary ExaminerTravis S. McGehee AttorneyWolfe, Hubbard, Leydig, Voit & Osann, Ltd.
A method and apparatus for packing a stack of compressible material, such as disposable diapers, into a carton wherein the apparatus includes a rotatable turret which is serially indexed to a number of stations. The compressible stack is loaded between a pair of platens which rotate with the turret and the stack is compressed to the desired height, with the rotational movement of the turret causing the platens to move relative to each other for compression. After the stack has been compressed to the desired level, a carton is placed over the platens and the stack at one station; and, at a further station, the diapers are pushed out from between the platens so that the carton is also thereby moved and the stack is contained in the carton. Provision is also made for placing a coupon or sheet containing advertising, instructions or the like, into the carton in such a fashion that the coupon is not damaged and for pushing the carton over the platens with a straight line pushing motion to insure proper container alignment and to allow motion with a minimum applied force.
19 Claims, 22 Drawing Figures Patented Feb. 2,
14. Sheets-Sheet l Patented Feb. 29, 192
l4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Pammked Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,06W
l4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Wit 5a.
Patented Feb. 2%, 192
1 fin Sheets-Sheet 5 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,960
14. Sheets-Sheet 6 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,060
14 Sheets-Sheet '7 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 14. Sheets-Sheet 8 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 14 Sheets-Sheet 9 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,060
14 Sheets-Sheet 1 O Tgfe Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,060
14. Sheets-Sheet 11 "-511! v i 1 I J m Q I 1 E II N i W l 5 u a .1 II W WVKMWK Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,0 60
14 Sheets-Sheet 12 Win/13 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,060
14 Sheets-Sheet 15 Patented Feb. 29, 1972 3,645,060
14 Sheets-Sheet 14 CONTAINER LOADER FOR COMPRESSIBLE PRODUCT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This relates to the packing of a stack of compressible materials and, more particularly, to a method and means for automatically compressing a stack of compressible materials, such as disposable diapers, and packing the diapers into a car- I011.
In recent years, new materials and advanced manufacturing techniques have made possible the mass production of disposable diapers which can eflectively compete with conventional laundered diapers. This is particularly true of those disposable diapers which include a fluid-impervious liner or backing sheet that takes the place of the separate'plastic or rubber panties normally required for use with conventional launderable diapers. Disposable prefolded diapers having advantageous characteristics are disclosed in Hrubecky, US. Pat. No. 3,196,874.
While disposable diapers are finding commercial acceptance, the diapers as manufactured are bulky and must be compressed so that a number of diapers can be packed into a carton of realistic commercial size. For example, this means that a stack of diapers inch in height should be compressed up to 10 inch or even more in the packing operation.
Achieving the necessary compression and the other functions involved in the packing requires taking into account several factors, all of which combine to make the development of any packing equipment quite difficult. Thus, while a stack of diapers must be compressed to a considerable degree before being inserted into a carton, the diapers do not stay compressed and it is accordingly necessary to maintain a force thereon during the packing operation. Additionally, the disposable diapers form a stack that is quite unstable and may be easily toppled over, either totally or partially. Any equipment must therefore either provide support for the stack in some fashion or not subject the height to any severe motion. Still further, the instability of the stack can contribute to ends which stick out and can get caught in the equipment or in the flaps of the carton. Still further, there are indeterminate variations in size in the diapers and this must be compensated for.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a method and means for automatically packing a stack of compressible material into a carton in a rapid and efiicient manner.
A further object provides a method and means for loading the stack in such a fashion that the stack is firmed up as it is being loaded. A related and more specific object is to provide a diaper packet in which the stack is supported until it is under sufficient compression to prevent toppling by any movement in the packing.
Another object lies in the provision of a diaper packer in which the rotational movement of the apparatus from one station to another causes compression to take place.
A still further object of the present invention is to provide a method and means for inserting a coupon containing advertising, instructions or the like so that it will be contained on the top of the stack of diapers in the carton without damaging the coupon during the packaging operation.
Yet another object of the present invention provides a method and means for automatically guiding the carton over the compressed stack in such a fashion that the carton is held in the desired alignment and the time allowed for this operation maximized. A related and more specific object lies in the provision of a method and means for automatically feeding cartons into position for loading over the compressed stack.
A still further object is to provide a method and means for insuring that the diapers are tightly packed in the carton as they are ejected from the apparatus.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the following description proceeds, taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top plan view of an exemplary apparatus for packing a stack of diapers into a carton and showing the general arrangement of the equipment used for the various operations;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the diaper loading station (without the back plate) and showing the spatial positioning of the platens which compress the stack of diapers and the side plates (only one being shown) that insure a neat stack is maintained;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 33 of FIG. 2 and further illustrating the sideplates and the means which allow the sideplates to be moved into and out of contact with the diapers;
FIG. 4 is a side elevation view taken substantially along ofi set lines 4-4 of FIG. 1 and illustrating the means for automatically compressing the stack of diapers as well as the means for raising or lowering the support so that stacks of various sizes can be accommodated;
FIG. 5 is a still further elevational view taken substantially along lines 5-5 of FIG. 1 and showing the means for transporting stacks of diapers to the diaper loading station;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 6-6 of FIG. 1 and illustrating the means for inserting the stack of diapers into position;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 77 of FIG. 1 and illustrating the means for inserting an instruction or advertising coupon on the top platen so that it is in position for loading into a carton with the diapers;
FIG. 8 is a top plan view taken substantially along offset lines 8--8 of FIG. 7 and further showing the means for inserting the coupon into position;
FIG. 9 is an elevation view taken substantially along lines 9-9 of FIG. 7 and showing the means for raising and lowering the coupon loader to correspond to the height of the diaper stacks being packed;
FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines l010 of FIG. I and illustrating the means for automatically inserting the carton into position for packing the diapers;
FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines ll11 of FIG. 10 and further showing the means for moving a carton into position and for inserting the carton over the stack of diapers;
FIG. 12 is a partial sectional view of part of the apparatus shown in FIG. 11 and illustrating the action of the guiding means for the carton and for moving the carton into position prior to insertion over the stack of diapers;
FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 13-13 of FIG. 11 and illustrating the motion of the pushing arm in moving the carton into position over the stack of diapers;
FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 14- 14 of FIG. 1 and showing the means for ejecting the coupon and compressed diapers with the carton from the turret;
FIG. I5'is a top plan sectional view taken substantially along lines 15l5 of FIG. 4 and showing the means for raising and lowering the platens and coupon loading station when it is desired to pack stacks having different height;
FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines I616 of FIG. 15 and further illustrating in detail the construction of one of the jacks used to raise or lower the stationary base support;
FIG. 17 is a top plan view illustrating the power source and the linkages for loading the stack of diapers and for loading the cartons and ejecting the cartons;
FIG. 18 is a side elevation view of a portion of the carton loading station and showing fingers which position the carton flaps to allow the carton to easily slide over the platens and diapers; I
FIG. 19 is a partial sectional view taken along lines 19-19 of FIG. 18 showing a portion of the carton loading station and further illustrating the fingers;
FIG. 20 is a view taken from FIG. 14, looking in at the carton as it is being moved off from the platens;
FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along lines 21-21 of FIG. 20 and showing the carton contacting the means assuring that the diapers are packed tightly in the carton; and
FIG. 22 is a cross-sectional view similar to FIG. 21, except showing the carton as it leaves the ejector station.
While the invention is susceptible of various modifications and alternative forms, certain specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings which will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that it is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed, but, on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, while the exemplary embodiment illustrates the use of the present invention in connection with the compressing and packing of diapers, it should be readily apparent that the present invention is similarly applicable to the compressing and packing of any other compressible material.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Briefly, the present invention provides a method and means for automatically packing diapers which involves, generally, receiving a multiplicity of stacked diapers, sequentially compressing the diapers in a series of stages to the desired compressed height, placing a container around the compressed diapers and then removing the diapers from the apparatus in such a fashion that the diapers are contained in the carton. The mechanism includes a rotatable turret having pairs of spaced apart platens mounted thereon in cantilever fashion so that they may be successively indexed to various stations by rotation of the turret. The rotational movement of the turret also causes the platens to move relative to each other to compress the diapers.
At station l, or the loading station, means are provided for successively placing stacks of diapers between pairs of platens after being indexed to that station. The top platen of each pair is vertically movable by a cam actuating means that cooperates with a cam track in the turret support. At the loading station, the top platen is in its uppermost position for receiving the diapers. The turret is then rotated and the upper platen is sequentially lowered to compress the stack of diapers and reduce its size, the cam track controlling the movement of the platen. The progressive compression of the diapers permits the air to escape gradually without bursting the diaper material.
As an additional feature, the acceleration of the turret rotation and the compression by the platens are appropriately timed for more even distribution of forces in the drive train. Provision is also made so that a coupon containing instructions, advertising or the like may be automatically inserted, if desired, as the packing of the diaper takes place. In addition, the invention also provides means for automatically feeding and pushing a carton over the platens and diapers in such a fashion that the maximum time is allowed and possible mis alignment is minimized. Also, when diapers are pushed out from between the platens, means are provided to insure that the diapers are tightly packed in the canon.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION General Arrangement Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a plan view of the packing device. A stack of diapers (such as diapers disclosed in the aforementioned Hrubecky patent) is transported via a conveyor and an overhead track assembly 12 and is loaded at Station No. 1 by the loading mechanism shown generally at 14 between a pair of platens carried by a rotatable turret 16. The turret I6 is successively, rotatably indexed to seven other stations to accomplish functions such as inserting a coupon on the top platen at Station No. 3 by a coupon loader l8, inserting a carton over the diaper stack at Station No. 4 by the carton loader 20 and then simultaneously ejecting the carton, coupon and compressed diaper stack at Station No. 6 by ejector 22, the compressed stack of diapers with the coupon thereon being tightly packed in the carton or container. The other stations, as will hereinafter be noted are merely intermediate stations, most of which allow for a gradual increase or decrease of the distance between the platens, as the diaper stack is either being compressed or the distance is increasing to allow the platens to accept a new stack when the turret completes its revolution. It should, of course, be appreciated that, while the use of eight stations has been found to be advantageous, a fewer or greater number could also be employed.
Transporting of the diaper stacks to the loading station Referring to FIGS. 1 and 5, the conveyor 10 transports stacks of diapers 24, which are spaced in accordance with the timing of the indexing of the turret 16. The diaper stacks are diagonally positioned on the surface 16 so that they may be removed therefrom and moved into position for loading without realignment of the stack as will hereinafter be described. If desired, a defect-sensing mechanism (not shown) can be employed together with reject means (not shown) so that a defective stack can be removed from the conveyor 10.
The diapers are transported for loading at Station No. l by an overhead track assembly 12 which removes the stacks of diapers from the conveyor and brings them to the station in a manner so that the stacks are not upset and maintain the alignment necessary for loading. Thus, the overhead track assembly 12 is positioned at a 45 angle with the conveyor 10. The track assembly 12 includes a series of spaced arms 26 connected to cam followers 28, which traverse a cam track 30. The anns are driven by a chain (shown in fathom lines), the links of the chain being connected to pins 32. The cam track is designed so that an arm 26 is guided straight down, as shown at 34, and slides a stack of diapers 24 across a surface 36 to a position opposite the loading station. The 45 angle of the track assembly 12 to the diaper conveyor allows the track assembly to be tangentially positioned with respect to the turret 16 and the diapers loaded onto the turret 16 by a straight push, as will be explained. A double cam track is provided, as shown at 38, to prevent any turning of the arms caused by the resistance to sliding of the diapers. The arm swings free and partially out of the track as shown at 40, so that it is lifted straight up and traverses the track to return and slide another diaper stack.
The overhead track assembly 12 starts and stops in timed relation to the indexing of the turret so that the stack of diapers progress (FIG. 5) from the position shown at 42, to that at 44 and then to 46. In the last step, the diaper stack is pushed up against stationary plate 48 to firm or shape up the stack.
Loading of the diaper stack As can be seen in FIG. 6, the stack of diapers, positioned opposite station No. 1, is loaded into position on the turret for packing by a pusher plate 50 which slides the diaper stack 24 across the surface 36 and between an upper platen 54 and a lower platen 56. The movement of the pusher plate is timed so that the pusher plate has returned to its starting position when the overhead track assembly 12 has deposited another stack of diapers into position for loading.
Referring again to FIG. 6, the driving means for the pusher plate 50 includes a first connector arm 58 operably connected at one end to the pusher plate 50 via a slotted connection, shown generally at 60. The other end of the first connector arm is rotatably connected to a second connector 62 with a detent and with the second connector being fixed at point 64. The second connector arm has a cam follower 66 which traverses a cam track 68. Because of the location of the pivot point, the connector arms eccentrically traverse the cam track and alternately cause the pusher plate to be moved forward and pulled back to its initial position. The first connector arm slides in slot 62 so that the movement of the pusher plate is.
achieved with a straight line action.
invnnz nn-m In accordance with one aspect of this invention, to prevent damage to the mechanism because of increased resistance on the pusher plate 50 due, for example, to the toppling of a diaper stack, the detent breaks" the connection, ,which is signaled by a limit switch 70. The connection may be reset by pulling handle 72 back to its original position. Also, a pin 71 is operably connected to the pusher plate 50 so that the pusher plate may be pivoted and removed by hand if any jamming has occurred.
Coincident with the positioning of a diaper stack between the platens by the pusher plate, a back plate is moved into position to provide support, to prevent the stack from tipping and to cooperate with the pusher plate to shape or firm the stack up. Thus, the result of the loading operation is that the stack has been pushed together in all directions to provide a neat stack. A backplate 74 (FIG. 6) is thus reciprocated into position as the diaper stack is positioned between the platens and then returned to its initial position (shown in phantom in FIG. 6) as the turret is indexed to the next position. This reciprocatory motion is accomplished by the action of a cam wheel 76 including cam track 78, eccentrically mounted for rotation about axis 80, a connecting rod 82 having cam follower 84 which traverses the cam track 78, to translate the rotation of the cam wheel to reciprocatory motion of a rack 86, fastened to shaft 88. This, in combination with gears 90 and 92, slides the back plate 74 into position and back as rotation of the cam wheel 76 continues.
Compression of the Diaper Stack To accommodate possible variations in the produce which could result in stacks of difiering height, the platens are spaced apart to provide entry for a stack having the greatest height within the produce specifications. As a result, there is generally little or nor support of the stack to prevent toppling by the platens until some compression of the stack has taken place.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, while the compression is first taking place, the sides of the diaper stack are therefore supported until the stack is under compression sufiicient to prevent toppling. To this end, a pair of side plates are provided which rotate with the turret and are automatically moved into position as the turret is indexed to the loading station. As best seen in FIGS. 1 through 3, sideplates 94, 94 are connected via connecting arms 96, 96' and extensions 98, 98' for pivotal movement toward and away from the platens. This is achieved by providing the extensions with cam followers 100, 100' which follow a cam plate 102, disposed opposite the diaper loading station so that the side plates are pivoted into position when the turret has reached the loading station, Station No. 1. Tension springs 101, 101 (FIG. 3) hold the cam followers 100, 100 against the cam plate 102 and bias the sideplates out of contact with the stack of diapers as the turret is indexed to a station where the stack is under sufficient compression to prevent toppling. As shown in FIG. 1, the sideplate 94 on the loading side, shown at 104, has moved away from the platens when station No. 3 has been reached, and both plates are spread apart as Station No. 4, the carton loading station is reached.
In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, the rotation of the turret causes the height of the diaper stack to be sequentially, in a predetermined number of stages, compressed to a predetermined height so that the diapers are not damaged as by the bursting of the diaper liners caused by the expulsion of air too rapid a rate. The rate of compression is preferably designed to provide compression at a greater rate in the first step, when resistance is minimum, and at a slower rate after the stack is partially compressed.
To this end, and as is shown in FIGS. 2, 4 and 6, the lower platen 56 is fixed to the turret 16 by any suitable fastening means, such as screws 106. The upper platen 54 is connected to columns 108 that are slidably mounted in journals 110. The columns 108 are connected (FIG. 4) to cam followers 112 via mounts 114, the followers riding in a cam track 116 formed in the exterior of a stationary turret support 118 as the turret is rotated. For easy replacement and for modification of the cam track design, the support 118 may be made in a number of sections (eight having been found to be desirable) that are bolted or otherwise fastened together (not shown).
The cam track is designed to provide positions that correspond to the indexed stations of the turret to achieve, at each successive station, a specific predetermined distance between the platens to compress the height of the diaper stack and then increase the distance after the packed diapers have been removed so that completion of one revolution of the turret will find the platens ready to accept another stack of uncompressed diapers. As a specific example, when a stack of diapers having an uncompressed height of 15% inches is to be packed, the cam track may be designed so that the platens are closed by 3 inches, 7 inches and finally 10 inches as the packed diapers are being ejected. Preferably, this distance is then increased to the original at the same rate as it was decreased.
It should, of course, be appreciated that, since the purpose of the sequential height reduction is to prevent bursting of the diaper liners, the rate can be varied within wide limits and the primary requirement is that the rate should be slow enough so that the air is allowed to be expelled from the liner. It should be similarly be appreciated that the return of the platens to their normal separation need not be achieved by the same rate as the compression.
To achieve a more even distribution of forces, the cam is designed to minimize compression in the areas where acceleration or deceleration is taking place. This equalizes timetorque relationship of the drive to minimize the surges and depressions of torque required. The cam track 116 is thus designed so that the acceleration is achieved at the beginning and end of a particular indexing step. The acceleration is similarly at a sufficient rate such that the central portion of the step is the major portion and greater force can be directed to compressing the diapers.
Insertion of a coupon It is often desirable to provide some written information concerning the diapers which may take the form of, for example, instructions for using the product or advertising. Thus, in accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the sheet, termed a coupon," is positioned such that it will be packed in the carton on top of the diapers so that it will be the first thing viewed when the top diaper is removed yet will not be mutilated in any fashion in the compressing and packing operations,
To this end, as shown in FIGS. 2, 7 and 8, a coupon loader, which may be of any of the several that are commercially available, shown generally at 120 (FIG. 7) has a magazine 122 containing a plurality of coupons 124. A suction arm 126 selects a coupon from the magazine and places it in a recess 128 (FIG. 2) in the top platen 54. The coupon is thus in position for packing yet will not be crumpled as the stack of diapers continues to be compressed. An electric eye 130 may be included to serve as a sensing means to determine when the supply of coupons has diminished to a certain point.
Loading of the diaper carton The compressed stack of diapers with the coupon in position is then indexed to Station No. 4, the carton loading station. In accordance with a still further aspect of the present invention, means are provided to guide the carton into position and over the platens with a minimum amount of force and handling and with a maximum amount of time allowed for the carton to be fed into position and pushed over the platens and diapers. To this end, and as is shown in FIGS. 10, 11 and 13, a carton 132 is pushed over the platens by the motion of a pusher, positioned to contact the carton at a point where the carton will move with the application of a relatively small amount of force and with means to constantly adjust the pusher to insure that the motion constitutes essentially a straight line pushing action. A carton pusher 134 is driven from its rearward position to its forward extent and then return by a drive wheel 136, mounted on drive shaft 138, through a first connector arm and bridge arm 142. The
connector am 140 is provided with a cam follower 144 which traverses cam track 146 in the drive wheel 136. The drive wheel is eccentrically mounted with respect to the cam track and travel around the track causes the pusher to load the carton as it moves to the position (FIG. 13) indicated by arrow 148 and retract to its original position to begin loading another carton.
According to the present invention, to adjust the path and provide a straight line path during the pushing action and then to pull the pusher below the surface on which the carton slides so that a new carton may be moved into position, a second force is exerted on the pusher. To this end as is seen in FIG. 13, a second connector arm 150 is pivotally attached to the first connector arm 140 at point 152 and is provided with a cam follower 154 which traverses a cam track 156 in a cam wheel 158. The second connector arm 150 is connected to bridge arm 142 via trip arm 160. The cam track is designed so that the trip arm constantly causes the pusher to slightly pivot so that the arc motion provided to the pusher by the action of the drive wheel is modified so as to maintain a straight line motion. When the pusher has reached its forward extent, portion 162 of the cam wheel 158 is encountered and the pusher is moved to the position shown in the dotted lines at 164 which is below the carton surface 166 so that a new carton may be moved into position. This allows a maximum amount of time for a new carton to be moved into position.
At the same time that the pusher is being moved out of the way, means are provided to allow another carton to be fed into position for loading and then to provide carton guides to minimize the likelihood that the movement of the carton will cause misalignment resulting in carton damage or the inability of the carton to pass over the platens. As seen in FIGS. 11 and 12, these functions are accomplished by a cam wheel 168 mounted on the drive shaft 138 that is also employed for the pusher. A cam follower 170 is mounted on a link 172 which is pivotally connected to a carton guide trip arm 174, which is in turn connected to a bridge arm 176 and a linkage and rod assembly 178. The cam is designed in relation to the drive wheel 136 so that a carton guide 180 is pulled down below the carton surface 166 at the instant the pusher is tripped and this in turn moves the stop 182 up to the position shown in dotted lines in FIG. 12. This allows a new carton to move into position. Desirably, the cartons 132 are forwarded to the carton loading area via a conveyor 184 in such a fashion that a slight resistance is built up (such as by an air source not shown) so that the movement of the carton guide and the stop out of the path will result in a new carton being pushed" into position for loading.
The cam is further designed so that, as the pusher begins its forward travel, the carton guide 180 will be moved into position to, in effect, square up" the carton and place it firmly against the stationary surface 186 (FIG. 12). At the same time, because of the mechanical interconnection, stop 182 will be moved into position to prevent the next carton from interfering with the forward travel of the carton being loaded and a top carton guide 188 will be moved into position.
To insure that the carton flaps will clear the platens and the diaper stack, means are provided to spread the side flaps and bottom flaps apart until they are safely around any possible obstruction. As shown in FIGS. 10, 11, 18 and 19, fingers 190, 190' are rotatably mounted on shafts 192 and 194, respectively, and are driven by cam 196 (mounted on shaft 137) to provide a reciprocatory, arcing path. Fingers 190, 190' are positioned to intersect the path of the carton 132 and to contact the comer where the bottom flap and side flap meet as the carton is pushed towards the platens. With continued movement of the carton, the fingers remain in contact with the comers;
and, as the shafts rotate, the arc of the fingers causes them to recede so that they disengage as the carton begins to encircle the platens and diapers.
Provision is also made for preventing a carton from being moved into position if, for any reason, no diapers are present. Thus, as seen in FIGS. 7 and 10, an electric eye 198 (FIG. 7)
senses the presence or absence of a diaper stack. If none are present, an air cylinder 200 receives a signal (by means not shown) and the cam follower is not allowed to come down into contact with the cam, thereby preventing loading of a carton.
Ejection of the Packed Diapers and Coupon The coupon and diaper stack are then ejected from the rotating turret in such a fashion that the diapers are packed tightly in the cartons and the coupon is located on the top of the stack between the carton and the top diaper. As shown in FIG. 14, an ejector face plate 202 and a coupon ejector 204 cooperate to move the stack of diapers and the coupon out from the platens with the carton, due to its outside end being sealed, is also thereby pushed out.
In accordance with still another feature of the present invention, means are provided to insure that the diapers are firmly packed into the carton. To this end, the sealed end of a carton, shown at 206, contacts a roller 208 which is attached to an arm 210 which is in turn operably connected to an air cylinder 212 via cam 220, cam follower 218 and arm 214. Support 216 serves as a mounting to properly position the various elements. A counterweight 222 is also operably connected to the arm 210. As seen in FIGS. 14 and 20 through 22, the cam is designed to provide a high resistance for a short distance as the outwardly moving carton 132 contacts the roller 208 to tightly pack the diapers in the carton and then all the resistance is suddenly removed by the follower which, in effect, drives the arm outwardly until it comes to an equilibrium position. An electric eye (FIG. 22) detects the movement of the carton as it travels on conveyor 224 past the ejector and then releases the pressure on the cylinder so that the arm 210 again drops to the position shown in FIG. 21. In this fashion, the mechanism is reset into position for the next carton.
Reciprocal motion of the ejector plate and the coupon ejector is achieved by the same means which move the backplate 74 (FIG. 6) into position during diaper loading, i.e., the cam wheel 76 having a link 82 fixed at point 84 with a cam follower traversing cam track 78. The link or connecting rod 82 is connected to the shaft 88 on which the ejector faceplate 202 and coupon ejector 204 are mounted. As the forward motion of the shaft reaches the platens, the faceplate 202 pushes the compressed diaper stack from between the platens while coupon ejector 204 contacts coupon ejector rods 226, 226' and base plate 228 (FIGS. 2 and 14) to simultaneously move the coupon. The rods are spring loaded as shown at 230 for return to their starting position after the ejector shaft 88 has retracted.
Accommodation of Diaper Stacks of Varying Height In accordance with one further aspect of the present invention, the apparatus can be varied so as to accommodate a run of stacks of diapers having a different height. To this end, and as is shown in FIGS. 4, 6 and 16, the upper platen may be raised or lowered relative to the lower platen by means of interconnected jacks 232, which raise or lower the stationary base support 118 and concomittantly, the upper platens 54. A gage 234 (FIG. 4) can be employed in combination with an indicia 236 on the base support 118 to correspond to heights of commonly packed stacks. As shown in FIG. 7, a jack 238, also interconnected with the jacks 232, powered by the motor for the jacks can be used to raise or lower the coupon loader to the right position when the support height has been changed.
FIG. 15 illustrates the connection and gearing for raising and lowering the base support and for raising and lowering the coupon station. The means for raising and lowering the base support and the coupon loader comprises a motor 244 which is connected through suitable gearing shown generally at 246 and 248 and through shafts 250 and 252 to the jacks 232 and 238.
Main Driving Means The general power source 254 and its main connections are shown in FIG. 17. Thus, the power source 254 can be connected through suitable gearing to the diaper loading conveyor 12, shown at 256 and to the conveyor for moving the diaper to the overhead track assembly, shown at258. Also, the power source is connected through suitable gearing to provide the power for the carton loader shown generally at 260 and the power for the carton ejector shown generally at 262.
Thus, as has been seen, the present invention provides a method and means for automatically packing compressible materials such as a stack of disposable diapers which includes compressing a stack of diapers to a predetermined height, placing a carton over the compressed stack and then removing the compressed stack of diapers from the carton in such a fashion that they are contained within the carton. The apparatus is complementally designed so that a plurality of diaper stacks are at various stages in the packing operation at the same time. The apparatus is further designed so that the cycle times at each station are coordinated. Thus, at each station where a positive function, such as diaper loading is carried out, the apparatus performs its function in a given time and is then in a rest" period for a given time, which latter time corresponds to the time involved in indexing the turret. The invention also provides a means to insure that the carton has a maximum amount of time to be positionedand guided over the compressed stack of diapers and a new carton brought into position. Still further, there are provided means to determine the presence or absence of the material being packed at various stations and to prevent a specific function from being carried out if the material is not present.
I claim as my invention:
1. A machine for packing a stack of compressible material into a carton comprising, in combination, a rotatable turret, means for indexing the turret to a predetermined number of stations, at least one pair of platens mounted so that at least one is movable relative to the other, the platens being further mounted so that the rotational movement of the turret causes the concommitant movement of the platens serially to said stations, means at one station for positioning a stack of compressible material between the platens, means responsive to the rotational movement of the turret for moving said platens relative to each other to sequentially, in a predetermined number of stages, compress the material between the platens to a'predetermined height, means at a further station for placing a carton having a top, bottom and side flap over said platens and the compressed material, means at a still further station for removing the compressed material and carton from the platens so that the material is contained in the carton, and means for returning the platens to their original separation after the compressed material and carton have been removed.
2. The machine of claim 1 wherein the means for positioning the stack of compressible material between the platens includes a first surface, means for moving a stack of compressible material to a position opposite the platens and a location against the first surface, a second surface movable into and out of position to serve as a stop for the stack and means for pushing the stack between the platens and against the second surface.
3. The machine of claim 1 which includes side plates for contacting the sides of the stack .of compressible material to prevent toppling thereof and means for bringing the side plates into position when the stack is being positioned between the platens and for moving the side plates out of position when the stack has been compressed to a predetermined height.
4. The machine of claim 1 wherein the means for positioning the stack of compressible material between the platens in-' cludes. means for preventing further movement of the stack after a predetermined level of resistance to movement is reached.
5. The machine of claim 4 wherein the means for preventing further movement includes means sensing the stoppage of movement and means to reset the means for preventing movement.
6. The machine of claim 1 wherein one platen is provided with a recess and means are provided intermediate the carton:
loading station for placing a coupon in the recess.
7. A machine for packing a stack of compressible material into a carton comprising, in combination, at least one pair of platensmounted so that at least one is moveable relative to the other, means for moving the platens to a predetermined number of stations, means at one station for positioning a stack of compressible material between the platens, means to sequentially, in a-predetermined number of stages, compress the material between the platens to a predetermined height, a surface adjacent a further station and adapted to receive a carton thereon, a pusher arm positioned to contact the carton at a predetermined point, means for reciprocating the pusher arm from the original position of contact to a forward position to slide the carton across the surface and over the platens and compressed material and to then return the pusher arm to its original position, means acting on the pusher arm for adjusting the position thereof to maintain essentially the same point of contact with the carton so as to provide a straight line pushing motion on the forward stroke, the means acting on the pusher arm further acting on the arm to pull it below the surface and to maintain it below the surface at least until the arm is below its original position on the return stroke, means at a still further station for removing the compressed material and carton from the platens so that the material is contained in the carton and means for returning the platens to their original separation after the compressed material and carton have been removed.
8. The machine of claim 7 which includes at the carton loading station, a stop surface, a stop movable into position to prevent entry of a carton onto the carton surface, a carton guide capable of contacting the trailing side of a carton to push it against the stop surface, a top carton guide adaptable to be moved into contact with the top of the carton and means interconnecting said stop, said carton guide and said top car} ton guide so that movement of said carton. guide into contact with the carton concurrently brings the top carton guide and the stop into position.
9. The machine of claim 8 wherein the actuation of the carton guide is coordinated with the forward movement of the pusher arm such that the actuation is initiated as the pusher arm begins its forward movement.
10. The machine of claim 1 which includes means for contacting the corners of the carton defined by the junctions between the bottom flap and the side flaps to spread the side flaps outwardly and the bottom flap downwardly prior to the placing of the carton over the platens and the compressed material.
11. The machine of claim 1 which includes, at the station where the carton and compressed stack is removed, means contacting the outwardly moving stack to present a predetermined resistance to further outward movement for a predetermined distance of travel and then to remove the resistance.
12. The machine of claim 1 wherein the compressible stack of materials comprises a stack of diapers.
13. The machine of claim 1 wherein the turret is capable of being indexed to at least eight stations.
14. The machine of claim 1 which includes a stationary support for the turret and wherein the means responsive to the rotational movement of the turret to move the platens relative to each other comprises a cam track inthe stationary support and the platens are provided with a cam follower adapted to ridein the cam track.
15. The machine of claim 14 wherein the stationary support comprises a plurality of sections.
16. The machine of claim 14 wherein the cam track is designed to provide for compression in the central portion of an indexing step.
17. The machine of claim 1 which includes means for varying the starting distance between the platens to accommodate stacks of varying height.
l8.The machine of claim 1 which includes means for detecting the presence or absence of the stack of compressible material beforethecartons are placed over the platens and means forpreventingthecartonfrom being placed over the platens if the absence of a stack of material is'signaled.