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Publication numberUS3650369 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 21, 1972
Filing dateJun 27, 1968
Priority dateJun 27, 1968
Publication numberUS 3650369 A, US 3650369A, US-A-3650369, US3650369 A, US3650369A
InventorsRobert W Vergobbi
Original AssigneePneumatic Scale Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Closure feeding and orienting apparatus
US 3650369 A
Abstract
Comprises a feeding device for initially aligning randomly arranged closures edge to edge in a row facing in either one direction or the other, and an orienting device for thereafter arranging all of the closures thus aligned to face in the same direction.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

HJnited States Patent V-ergobbi [4 1 Mar. 21, 1972 54] CLOSURE FEEDING AND ORIENTING 2,634,005 4/1953 Gibson ..193/32 x APPARATUS 3,123,198 3/1964 Hohl ..198/33 R 3,144,119 8/1964 Nigrelli ..250/223 X [72] Invent Mass 3,382,010 5/1968 Wilkinson ..302 2 [73] Assignee: Pneumatic Scale Corporation, Quincy,

Mass- Primary ExaminerEdward A. Sroka 22 Filed; June 27 9 Att0rneyR0bert R. Churchill [21] Appl. No.: 740,517 [57] ABSTRACT 52] U S Cl 198/33 AA 302/2 Comprises a feeding device for initially aligning randomly ar- [511 I24 g 53/00 ranged closures edge to edge in a row facing in either one [58] Fieid R 33 521/ direction or the other, and an orienting device for thereafter 5 6 6 arranging all of the closures thus aligned to face in the same direction.

[56] References Cited 9 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,065,841 11/1962 Stover l98/ 30 140 I8 15o 12s '32 |66 Patented March 21., 1972 8 Sheets-Sheet 1.

INVE/V 70/? R W Vergobb/ WM. d -wLQL J-Q,

ATTORNEY Patented March 21, 1972 8 Sheets-Sheet 2 I; INVENTO/P R W Vergobb/ ATTORNEY Patnted March 21, 1972 3,650,369

8 Sheets-Sheet 5 40 I2 he I56 so 4 20 Hg. 6 Hg. 5 mm R. W Vergobb/ ATTORNEY Patented March 21, 1972 8 Sheets-Sheet 4 INVENTOR R. W Vergobb/ A TTOR/VEY 8 Sheets-Sheet 5 R W Vergobb/ W @eme uq ATTORNEY ATTORNEY Patented March 21,, 1972 8 Sheets-Sheet 7 IN VENTOR R W. Vergobb/ $21 (Lem ATTORNEY Patented March 21,, 1972 3,650,369

-8 Sheets-Sheet 8 ATTORNEY CLOSURE FEEDING AND ORIENTING APPARATUS This invention relates to closure feeding and orienting apparatus.

The invention has for an object to provide novel and improved closure feeding and orienting apparatus capable of orienting and delivering closures at a rate such as to maintain a maximum supply of oriented closures in the delivery chute of a closure applying machine at all times.

The invention has for another object to provide novel and improved closure feeding and orienting apparatus of the character specified which comprises an improvement in the closure handling machine illustrated and described in the U.S. Pat. No. 2,715,978 assigned to the same assignee as the present application.

The invention has for a further object to provide novel and improved apparatus of the character specified embodying novel control means for maintaining a full supply of closures in the delivery chute including means for preventing overfeeding and possible jamming of the closures.

With these general objects in view and such others as may hereinafter appear, the invention consists in the closure feeding and orienting apparatus and in the various structures, arrangements and combinations of parts hereinafter described and particularly defined in the claims at the end of this specification.

In the drawings illustrating the preferred embodiment of the invention:

FIG. 1 is a plan view outline ofa closure feeding and orienting device embodying the present invention:

FIG. 2 is a view in side elevation of the auxiliary orienting apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front elevation of the orienting mechanism shown in FIG. 2; elevation of the orienting mechanism shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the orienting mechanism shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view taken on the line 55 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken on the line 66 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of the discharge end of the orienting device and the adjacent portion ofa conveyer;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the upper end of the conveyor and includes the closure delivery chute;

FIG. 9 is a view in side elevation of the delivery chute shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is adiagrammatic view of an electric circuit and an associated air circuit illustrating the control means embodied in the present machine; and

FIG. 11 is a view in side elevation of the upper end of the conveyer.

In general, the present invention contemplates an improvement in the closure handling machine shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,715,978, issued Aug. 23, 1955, to Walter S. Sterling and as signed to the same assignee as the present application. Such prior machine is adapted for use with a closure applying machine wherein it is desired to deliver the closures, such as screw caps, in a line and oriented to face in the same direction. In operation, closures are withdrawn at random from a bulk supply thereof and are guided between supporting and advancing elements comprising the orienting mechanism arranged to maintain the closures in a position of equilibrium when they are presented therebetween in a predetermined position and arranged to reject the closures when they are presented between the supporting and advancing elements in other than the desired predetermined position. The balanced and oriented closures are advanced and delivered into the upper end of a feed chute from which they may be withdrawn and transferred into operative position to be received by successive capping heads of a bottle capping machine. In practice, the closures are arranged to be oriented in a natural or inherent position of equilibrium which may vary with different shapes and sizes of closures. Only those closures which assume and maintain such position are advanced into the delivery chute. All other closures in different positions are overbalanced and rejected to be returned to the main supply and again presented to the orienting mechanism, feed of oriented closures is sufficient to meet the normal demand of the closure applying machine.

In the operation of the machine disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,715,978 the average rate of orientation of the randomly'arranged closures withdrawn from the bulk supply is about 65 to 70 percent of the total number of closures arranged to pass through the orienting mechanism, leaving about 30 to 35 percent which are rejected and returned to the supply to be again passed through the machine. Thus, in practice, the rate of advance of the closures through the machine must be such that 65 to 70 percent of the total is sufficient to satisfy the demand of the closure applying machine. For example, assuming that the machine is run at a speed such as to advance about 400 closures a minute, which is about the maximum at which they may be advanced and still maintain control of the movements of the closures, then since on the average only 65 to 70 percent of this total are oriented, the number of oriented closures delivered to the closure applying machine would be from 260 to 280 a minute. This rate of feed of oriented closures is sufficient to meet the normal demand of the closure applying machine.

In accordance with the present invention provision is made for supplying a demand for an increased number of oriented closures, in the neighborhood of 360 closures a minute, without increasing the advance of the randomly arranged closures beyond the normal rate of 400 a minute. This is accomplished by modifying the closure handling machine so as to prevent or eliminate rejection of any of the closures being advanced at 400 a minute, the closures being arranged edge to edge with the open ends facing in either one direction or the other. The closures thus arranged are then guided into an auxiliary orienting device adapted to orient successive closures and deliver the same closed end up onto a conveyor for delivery to the upper end of a chute from which the closures are withdrawn by the closure applying machine.

In the preferredembodiment of the invention, the aligned and oriented closures are advanced at a rate of about 400 closures a minute in order to assure a constant supply at 360 a minute, and provision is made for controlling the advance to prevent overfeeding and jamming of the closures while maintaining a sufficient supply in the delivery chute to assure withdrawal of 360 closures a minute. The control mechanism herein shown comprises in general: means for rapidly advancing successive oriented closures from the discharge area of the orienting mechanism; means for detecting a buildup of closures adjacent said discharge area; means responsive to the detecting means for discontinuing the advance of closures into the orienting mechanism; and means including a time delay for thereafter discontinuing the operation of the closure handling machine in the event that normal operation is not resumed within a predetermined period of time.

Referring now to the drawings and particularly to FIG. I, in general 10 represents the closure handling machine modified to arrange and advance the randomly arranged closures l2 edge to edge with their open ends facing in either one direction or the other. The closures thus arranged are guided through a chute 14 to auxiliary orienting mechanism indicated generally at 16 and which is adapted to receive successive closures facing in either direction and to discharge all of the closures facing in the same direction. The oriented closures are then advanced upwardly on a conveyor 18 and guided into the upper end of a delivery chute 20 from which successive closures are withdrawn by the transfer arm 21 of the closure applying machine indicated generally at 22.

The closure handling machine 10 may comprise a machine of the type illustrated and described in U.S. Pat. No. 2,715,978 wherein a bulk supply of closures 12 stored in a hopper 26 are delivered to a rotary inclined carrier 28, the closures being carried upwardly and guided into engagement with the beveled marginal edge of a rotary orienting disk 30.

As the closures are advanced along the edge of the orienting disk 30, they leave the carrier 28 and are supported between the beveled edge and a cooperating stationary closure supporting rail 32. In the operation of the machine shown in the patent, those closures assuming a desired predetermined position between the orienting disk 30 and the rail 32 are capable of maintaining their stability and are advanced into the upper end of a feed chute and those closures assuming a position other than the desired position are incapable of maintaining their stability between the disk and the rail and are permitted to fall back onto the carrier 28 to be again advanced into engagement with the beveled disk 30.

In accordance with one feature of the present invention, the

relationship between the orienting disk 30 and the supporting rail 32 is changed so that all of the closures guided between the disk and the rail assume a uniform position regardless of the direction of the open end and as a result none of the closures are rejected. The closures thus aligned with their open ends facing either way are guided into an upright or an edge position, as shown, and are caused'to enter the chute 14 leading to the orienting mechanism 16.

It will be understood that the disk 30 and rail 32 could be adjusted so as to'accept only those closures facing in one direction. However, it is an object of the present invention to eliminate rejections so as to maintain a maximum rate of feed of about 400 closures a minute in order to satisfy the demand ofthe closure applying machine.

The auxiliary orienting mechanism 16 herein illustrated has an entrance portion 34 in communication with opposing arcuate'tracks 36, 38 and a discharge portion 40 from which successive closures are transferred to the conveyor 18. A pair of spaced drivenrotary members 42, 44 disposed above the entrance portions 34 have their peripheries extended into opposite sides of the chute 14 for cooperation with successive closures. in operation, when a closure having its open end facing toward the right, as shown in FIG. 3, is engaged between the opposing rotary members, the left hand member 42 engaging the closed end urges the closure to the right since the open end is able to straddle a portion of the periphery of the member 44. As a result, the leading end of the closure is directed toward the right hand track 38, the closed end engaging one side 46 of the wedge shaped track dividing web 48. The closure travels by gravity between the inner and outer faces 50, 52, respectively, of the groove track 38, first passing through a concave portion 54 and then a convex portion 56 which serves to dispose the closed end of the closure up, in which position it is discharged through the portion 40.

On the other hand, a closure having its open end facing to the left is capable of straddling a portion of the periphery of the rotary member 42 as urged by the member 44 engaging the closed end of the closure. As a result, the closure enters the left hand groove track 36 defined by the inner and outer faces 58, 60, respectively. Likewise, the closure first passes by gravity through a concave portion 62 and then through a convex portion 64 which disposes the closure closed end up as it passes through the discharge portion 40, thus effecting orientation of successive closures.

The chute 14 comprises a bottom rail 61, side rails 63 and a top rail 65 and is supported by brackets 67 attached to the machine frame. The receiving end 69 of the chute is curved, as indicated, to receive the closures being advanced thereto by the beveled disk 30. The lower end 71 of the chute 14 is curved downwardly as indicated at 73 for communication with the entrance portion 34 of the orienting mechanism 16. The rails are adjustable to accommodate closures ofdifferent sizes.

The rotary members 42, 44 are continuously rotated through independent driving means including a motor 66 connected by a belt and pulley drive 68 to the input shaft of a speed reducing unit 70. The output shaft is provided with a drive sprocket 72 connected by a chain 74 which runs over a sprocket 76 fast on a stud 78 which also carries the rotary member 42, then under a sprocket 80 fast on a stud 82 which carries the rotary member 44, then over an idler sprocket 84 and back to the drive sprocket 72. The stud 82 is journaled in a bearing 86 secured to a supporting plate 88. The stud 78 is journaled in a slide bearing 90 mounted for lateral movement in a grooved guide member 92 which is secured to the plate 88. A spring 94 interposed between the slide bearing 90 and wall at one end of the guide member 92 urges the slide bearing to the right against a stop 96 at the other end of the guide member. The spring 94 permits yielding of the slide bearing 90 to the left to prevent damage to the parts in the event that an article greater in thickness than the normal spacing between the members 42, 44 is inserted therebetween. It will be understood that the chain 74 may be of a length such as to permit lateral movement of the sprocket 76 when required.

As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, provision is made for controlling the advance of the closures to present only one closure at a time between the orienting members 42, 44 whereby to prevent interference with a closure passing between the members by a succeeding contiguous closure. As herein shown, a star wheel 98 having a plurality of radial arms 100 forming pockets 102 therebetween is rotatably mounted with the arms 100 extended through the front of the chute 14 into the path of the closures confined in the chute 14. The star wheel 98 is provided with a ball bearing 99 mounted to rotate on a stud 104 carried by a bar 106 attached to a frame member 108. The stud 104 is adjustably mounted in the bar 106 to enable movement of the star wheel into cooperative relation to the closures in the chute. In operation, successive closures engage successive radial arms 100 and become seated in successive pockets 102, the weight of the line of closures effecting rotation of the star wheel. The closures are thus separated to prevent interference one with the other as they pass between the rotary members 42, 44 of the orienting mechanism.

In order to control the rotation of the star wheel 98 and to prevent inadvertent rotation of the same, the latter is frictionally engaged on one side by a spring pressed washer 110, the spring 114 being interposed between a collar 116 and the washer 110. Thus, in operation, the star wheel is operated under the influence of the weight of the closures only, the pressure exerted by the spring 114 being adjustable by movement of the collar 116 as indicated. With this construction it will be seen that successive closures in the line are caused to pass between the rotary members individually so as to prevent interference of successive closures one with the other.

The oriented closures 12 discharged into the area 40 with their closed ends up are deposited at the lower end of the conveyor 18. It will be apparent that the closures arriving at the discharge area 40 at the rate of 400 a minute must be quickly removed therefrom to avoid piling up and jamming of the closures. For this purpose an air block 118 attached to the plate 88 adjacent the discharge area 40 is provided with a pair of air jets 119, 121 aligned with openings in the plate arranged to continuously project streams of air in a direction to advance the oriented closures along the upwardly inclined conveyor 18 into contiguous engagement with preceding closures in the line. The air jets 119, 121 in the block 118 are provided with a connecting passageway 117 which is connected by tubing to a regulated source of compressed air.

As herein illustrated, the upwardly inclined conveyor 18 comprises a pair of bottom rails 122, 124, a pair of side rails 126, 128 mounted for lateral adjustment to accommodate different sizes of closures, and a pair of top rails 130, 132 mounted for vertical adjustment. The lower end of the conveyor is supported in a bracket 134 which is pivotally mounted on studs 136 carried by spaced brackets 138'attached to the supporting plate 88. The upper end of the conveyor, which cooperates with a semicircular portion 140 of the conveyor, is supported by an angularly adjustable bracket 142 pivotally carried by a stud 144. The stud is mounted in a bracket 146 depending from a bottom plate 148 supported by a bracket 150 mounted on an upright 152. In practice, the angle of the conveyor 18 is required to be changed when the height of the closure applying machine 22 is adjusted to accommodate containers of different heights.

From the description thus far it will be seen that successive oriented closures discharged from the orienting mechanism 16 into the discharge area 40 are quickly advanced along the conveyor 18 by air streams emitted continuously from the jets 119, 121. As herein shown, provision is made for continuing the advance of the closures up the conveyor 18 and around the semicircular portion 140 by streams of compressed air. The closures then flow by gravity down delivery chute 20 from which successive closures are withdrawn. The air streams are emitted from spaced jets 154 connected to an elongated air pipe 156 extending along the underside of the conveyor. The air pipe or manifold 156 is connected to a source of compressed air by a pipe 158. The discharge ends of the airjets are disposed immediately below and at a slight upward incline with respect to the path of travel of the closures and eject continuous streams of air against the closures to move the same through the conveyor 18, around the semicircular portion 140 and into the delivery chute.

As herein shown, the semicircular portion 140 of the conveyor is similar in cross section to the upwardly inclined portion 18 and is also provided with air jets 154 connected to a semicircular pipe 160 which in turn is connected to a source of compressed air. In side elevation the entrance to the semicircular portion 140 is curved downwardly for communication with the upper end of the inclined portion 18, the structure being such as to permit angular adjustment of the inclined portion while maintaining a coextensive relationship between the inclined and semicircular portions of the conveyor. The exit end of the semicircular portion is also curved downwardly for communication with the upper end of the delivery chute 20. The closures flow through the chute by gravity and the endmost closure in the chute is resiliently retained therein until withdrawn by a transfer arm 21 forming a part of the closure applying machine.

In operation, the closures 12 discharged from the orienting mechanism 16 are rapidly and gently advanced by air streams along smooth metal guide rails with a minimum of friction. One advantage of this structure as compared to a driven belt conveyor is that when the closures are restrained from being advanced on a belt conveyor the continuously driven belt sliding along the underside ofthe restrained closures build up frictional line pressure which is transferred to the closures in the delivery chute, and as a result thereof, the endmost closures may be forced out of the delivery chute 20. It will be apparent that the gentle handling provided by the air streams will not cause a buildup of pressure in the line when the closures are prevented from being advanced and will provide better control ofthe closures.

In accordance with another feature of the present invention novel control means is provided for discontinuing the feed of closures 12 into the orienting mechanism 16 when the supply of the closures exceeds the demand and for again starting the feed of closures into the orienting mechanism when a demand for closures is again indicated. Provision is also made for discontinuing the operation of the closure handling machine in the event that an oversupply of closures is detected beyond a predetermined time interval after the feed of closures into the orienting mechanism is discontinued, such indication occurring, for example, when the closure applying machine is stopped and withdrawal of closures is discontinued.

In operation the closures are discharged from the orienting mechanism at a rate of about 400 a minute and the closures are withdrawn from the delivery chute at a rate of about 360 a minute. The closures in the conveyor 18, semicircular portion 140 and in the delivery chute 20 form a reservoir which is constantly being depleted by withdrawals from the delivery chute and is being added to by the feed of closures from the orienting mechanism.

As herein shown, see FIGS. 4 and 10, a clearance space 162 is provided between the discharge area 40 and the endmost closure in the reservoir so as to permit immediate advance of the closures out of the discharge area 40 and so as to prevent jamming of the closures one upon another. The clearance space may comprise a length equal to about six closures, for example. At the start of a run, individual closures are advanced up the conveyor, through the portion and into the delivery chute. In operation, since the closures are being fed faster than they are being withdrawn, the line of closures will gradually be extended to form a reservoir and eventually the endmost trailing closure will occupy a portion of the clearance space 162.

Provision is made for detecting the entrance of a closure into said clearance space 162 and, as herein shown, see FIG. 4, an electric eye 164 on one side of the conveyor cooperates with a light source 166 on the other side of the conveyor. The electric eye forms part of a circuit 167, see FIG. 10, which includes a photoelectric relay 168 arranged to close normally open contacts 169 and further includes a normally closed solenoid valve 170 forming a part of a compressed air circuit 172. The air circuit is provided with an air cylinder 174 having a piston stern 176 disposed adjacent the star wheel 98, said stem being movable into and out of the path of rotation of the radial arms 100.

In operation when the electric eye 164 detects a closure in the clearance space 162, the circuit 167 is actuated to open a solenoid valve 170 which effects extension of the stem 176 into the path of rotation of an arm 100 of the star Wheel98. The feed of closures into the orienting mechanism is thus discontinued until such time as subsequent withdrawals from the delivery chute permit advance of the closures beyond the clearance space 162. It will be understood that in practice, when a closure is rapidly advanced from the discharge area 40 past the electric eye 164 and into engagement with the trailing end of the line, the relatively short time of passage of the closure through the light ray is not sufficient to trigger the photoelectric relay. However, when the trailing end of the line extends into the clearance space, the light is cut off for a length with the adjacent face of the drive pulley 188. The hub 194 of the friction disk 195 is provided with a plurality of springs 196 which bear against one end of the bushing 193 to move the bushing and the pulley mounted thereon away from engagement with the friction disk to thus render the clutch normally disengaged. The drive pulley 188 is connected by a belt 190 to a motor 192. The clutch 184 is arranged to be engaged by operation ofan air cylinder 186 having a plunger 200 arranged to engage a thrust bearing 198 carried by the bushing 193 to move the bushing and its drive pulley into driving engagement with the friction disk 195.

As illustrated in FIG. 10, the air circuit 172 includes a main line 173 to the solenoid valve 170; a line 175 from the solenoid valve 170 to the air cylinder 174; a line 177 from the solenoid valve 170 to a normally open pilot valve 179; a line 181 from the main line 173 to the pilot valve; a line 183 from the pilot valve to a variable flow control unit 185; and a line 187 from the flow control unit to the air cylinder 186. During the operation of the machine, air is closures through line 181, through the open pilot valve 179, line 183, flow control valve 185 and line 187 to the air cylinder 186. Air may flow freely through the control valve 185 in a direction toward the air cylinder 186 whereby to extend the stem 100 to effect and maintain engagement of the clutch 184. However, upon opening of the solenoid valve 170, the normally open pilot valve 179 will be closed and the air pressure to the cylinder 186 will be cut off. The pressure in the air cylinder is then permitted to bleed slowly through the unit 185 at a controlled rate, as adjusted by the handle 189, until a point is reached where the reduction in pressure will permit the stem 200 to be retracted to permit disengagement of the clutch 184. Subsequently, when the closure applying machine is again started to permit advance of the trailing of time sufficient to trigger the relay and to actuate the solenoid valve 170 to discontinue the feed of closures. It will thus be seen that during the continuous operation of the machine the feed of the closures being advanced to the delivery chute 20 is stopped momentarily until the closures subsequently withdrawn from the chute permit the trailing end of the line in the conveyor 18 to advance out of the clearance space 162 whereupon the solenoid valve 170 is again closed to permit retraction of the stem 176 to free the star wheel 98 and again start feeding of closures into the conveyor 18. The provision for thus starting and stopping the feed of closures in response to the demand therefor assures that the delivery chute 20 will have a full supply of closures at all times.

It will be understood that during such momentary holding back of closures from advancing into the orienting mechanism, any surplus closures at the trailing end of the line from the handling machine will be returned to the carrier 28. On the other hand, in the event that the closure applying machine is stopped so that withdrawal of closures from the delivery chute 20 is discontinued, the star wheel 98 will be stopped, as above described, and after a suitable time delay the closure handling machine 10 will be stopped.

As herein shown, see FIG. 2, the drive to the rotary carrier 28 s the closure handling machine includes a gear box 178 containing a worm gear drive, the worm shaft 180 having a normally disengaged clutch unit 184 mounted thereon. The driving member of the clutch comprises a pulley 188 which is free to rotate on a bushing 193. The bushing is keyed to rotate with the shaft 180 but free to move laterally thereon. The driven member of the clutch comprises the friction disk 195 keyed to the shaft 180 and provided with a facing of friction material for cooperation end of the line of closures out of the clearance space, the closure handling machine 10 will again be started and the star wheel 98 will be released to continue I the feed ofclosures.

In operation. the flow control unit 185 serves as a time delay which permits retraction of the stem 200 and disengagement of the clutch 184 at a predetermined time after the solenoid valve is opened. It will be understood that during continuous operation of the machine the extension of the trailing end of the line into the clearance space is generally of short duration since closures will continue to be withdrawn from the delivery chute while the star wheel 98 is temporarily stopped so that the latter will be released to continue the feed of closures into the orienting mechanism 16 and then into the conveyor 18 before sufficient time has elapsed to discontinue operation of the handling machine.

Referring again to FIG. 2, it will be seen that during the operation of the machine the guide chute 14 is continuously supplied with closures 12 in edge to edge engagement at a potential rate of upwards of 400 closures a minute. In practice the closures move down the chute by gravity and the weight of the closures effects rotation of the frictionally mounted star wheel 98 to release the closure as fast as they are presented thereto. The rotary orienting members 42, 44 are driven at a rate such that they also advance the clsoures at a potential rate of upwards of 400 a minute.

As shown in F105. 3 and 4, the closures 12 being advanced at approximately 400 a minute must of necessity pass through the divergent paths ofthe auxiliary orienting mechanism 16 by gravity at a relatively fast rate, and while the star wheel 98 assures passage of only one closure at a time through the rotary aligning elements 42, 44, more than one closure at a time may be passing through the curved tracks 36, 38. As illustrated in FIG. 3, each track 36, 38 has a closure moving therethrough but which are sufficiently spaced so that they will not reach the discharge area at the same time. Likewise there may be two spaced closures in one track sufficiently spaced so as not to interfere one with the other at the discharge area. in practice the continuous streams of air from the jets 119, 121 which are arranged to advance the closures discharged into the area 40 are operative to start forward movement of a closure even before it lands on the bottom rails 122, 124 of the conveyor 18 whereby to further assure non-interference one with the other of successive closures.

The closures are then advanced by the air jets 154 through the clearance space 162 to join the trailing end of the line in the conveyor 18. The closures being continuously withdrawn from the delivery chute 20 at the other end of the line at a rate of about 360 closures a minute permits advance of the trailing end of the line to accept the new closures being advanced at the rate of 400 a'minute. As shown in FIG. 4, in operation more than one closure may be in movement in the clearance space 162 because of the speed at which the closures are being advanced. While rapid passage of successive spaced closures past the detecting mechanism will not actuate the electric eye 164, eventually the trailing end of the line will extend into the clearance space 162 to cut off the light source for a sufficient length of time to discontinue the feed because of the difference in the withdrawal rate and the supply rate, the feed being again started when the space 162 is again clear of closures.

From the above description it will be seen that the present improvement in closure handling machine enables a greater number of oriented closures to be delivered to the closure applying machine per unit of time than the number delivered by the prior closure handling machine without increasing the normal speed of such machine. It will also be seen that the present machine provides a line of oriented closures being advanced to the delivery chute without effecting any adverse line pressure tending to force the closures out ofthe chute.

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed is:

- 1. In a closure handling and orienting machine, in combination, a closure aligning means comprising a rotary disk in cooperation with a stationary rail adapted to align the closures edge to edge with their open ends facing in one or the other direction to provide a supply thereof, a guide chute for receiving said aligned closures, a pair of spaced rotary members between which successive closures are passed arranged to effect diversion of the closures in one or the other direction to present the closures with their open ends up, separate paths comprising opposed semicircular portions for receiving said diverted closures and arranged to invert the same, said paths having a common discharge area to which the closures are presented in an oriented position with their open ends facing down, means for controlling the feed to said rotary members to avoid interference of successive closures one with the other, an upwardly inclined guideway extending from said discharge area, air jets disposed to rapidly advance successive closures from said discharge area into said guideway, air jets arranged to advance the closures up the inclined guideway, a semicircular guideway connected at one end to the upper end of the inclined guideway, and a delivery conveyor connected to the other end of said semicircular guideway and from which successive closures are withdrawn, the rate of supply of closures being greater than the rate of withdrawal, and control means for periodically discontinuing the supply to effect conformance of the supply with the guideway, and a delivery conveyor connected to the other end of said semicircular guideway and from which successive closures are withdrawn, the rate of supply of closures being greater than the rate of withdrawal; and control means for periodically discontinuing the supply to effect conformance of the supply with the rate of withdrawal.

2. In a closure handling and orienting machine, in combination, closure feeding means including means for aligning and guiding hollow closures on edge and with their open ends facing either right or left, a star wheel having radial arms forming spaced pockets for controlling the advance of the closures, means for diverting said closures to the right or left as determined by said facing direction to present the closures with their open ends facing up, separate paths for said diverted closures shaped to invert the same, said paths having a common discharge area presenting the closures with their open ends facing down, a conveyor associated with said discharge area and along which successive oriented closures are advanced, and a delivery chute associated with said conveyor and from which successive closures are withdrawn, said conveyor and said delivery chute forming a line of closures comprising a reservoir and providing a clearance space between thetrailing end of said line and said common discharge area, means for rapidly advancing successive closures from said discharge area to join the trailing end of said line, and control means including means for detecting a surplus of closures in said reservoir adjacent said discharge area as indicated by extension of the trailing end of the line into said clearance space, and means responsive to said detecting means and engageable with said wheel for stopping the same and discontinuing the feed of closures to said diverting means.

3. A machine as defined in claim 2 wherein the rapid advancing means comprises air jets.

4. A machine as defined in claim 2 wherein the rapid advancing means comprises air jets adjacent said discharge area, and wherein said conveyor comprises a guideway extended upwardly at an angle, said upwardly extended guideway having a plurality of air jets cooperating therewith for advancing the closures up the conveyor and into said delivery chute.

5. A machine as defined in claim 2 which includes means for driving the machine, and wherein a surplus of closures in said reservoir is indicated by extension of the trailing end of the line into said clearance space, said feed being again started upon withdrawal of closures from said delivery chute and advance of the trailing end of the line out of said clearance space.

6. A machine as defined in claim 5 wherein the control means further includes means also responsive to said detecting means for discontinuing the driving means a predetermined time after detection of said surplus.

7. A machine as defined in claim 6 wherein the detecting means comprises'an electrical circuit having a photoelectric unit for detecting the presence of closures in said clearance space, a normally closed solenoid valve in said electric circuit adapted to be opened upon detection of said surplus, and an air circuit controlled by said solenoid, said air circuit having an air cylinder actuated upon opening of said valve and arranged to discontinue the feed of closures.

8. A machine as defined in claim 7 wherein the driving means includes a normally disengaged clutch, and wherein the means for discontinuing the driving means includes a second air cylinder in said air circuit for cooperation with said clutch.

9. A machine as defined in claim 8 wherein the air circuit includes a normally open pilot valve and a flow control unit between the pilot valve and said second air cylinder, said pilot valve being closed upon opening of said solenoid valve to permit bleeding of air from the'second air cylinder through said flow control valve whereby to effect disengagement of said clutch at a predetermined time after said solenoid valve is opened.

Patent Citations
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US2634005 *Mar 28, 1949Apr 7, 1953Daily Mirror Newspapers LtdVehicle unloading platform for large cylindrical bodies
US3065841 *Jan 5, 1961Nov 27, 1962Anchor Hocking Glass CorpSelector hopper
US3123198 *Aug 7, 1959Mar 3, 1964 Closure cap orienting apparatus
US3144119 *Dec 15, 1961Aug 11, 1964Johns Nigrelli JohnsConveyor system
US3382010 *Aug 16, 1966May 7, 1968American Home ProdFeeder apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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Classifications
U.S. Classification406/31, 406/94, 198/493, 198/624, 406/52, 198/400
International ClassificationB65G47/24, B67B3/064
Cooperative ClassificationB67B3/0645, B65G47/24
European ClassificationB65G47/24, B67B3/064B