US 3662514 A
An improved checkout system for articles is provided, e.g. at a supermarket wherein the cashier directs the checked articles to a shuttle, which when filled conveys the articles to a packaging stage, e.g. a tubular net which is sealed at one or both ends forming a package.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Goss May 16, 1972 54] PACKAGING SYSTEM 2,958,990 11/1960 Kerker ..53/188 X 3,389,533 6/1968 Tipper et al.. ...53/138 A X Inventor: Donald G058, Marblehead, Mass- 3,503,180 3 1970 Myles et a1 ..53/258  Assignee: ldeation, Inc., Marblehead, Mass.
 Filed: Sept. 15, 1969 Primary ExaminerRobert L. Spruill AttorneyThomas C. Stover, Jr. ] Appl. No.: 857,721
52 us. 01 ..53/37, 53/186, 53/260,  ABSTRACT 5 390 An improved checkout system for articles is provided, e.g. at a  Int. Cl. ..B65b 5/06, B65b 9/ l0 supermarket wherein the cashier directs the checked articles  Field of Sear h. 53/29, 3O, 35 37, 138 A, 133, to a shuttle, which when filled conveys the articles to a 53/184, 186, 187-189, 191-192, 255, 258, 260, packaging stage, e.g. a tubular net which is sealed at one or 261 390, 391 both ends forming a package.
11 l 9D  References Cited C F'gms UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,521,196 9/1950 Whetzell ..53/260 'PATENTEDHAY 16 1972' SHEET 1 BF 3 INVENTOR D. DAVIS GOSS ATTORNE Y PATENTEDMAY 16 I972 SHEET 2 [IF 3 s O 3 saw ATTORNEY PATENTEDMAY 16 I972 sum 3 UF 3 FIG. 9
D DAVIS soss BY i Q ATTORNEY PACKAGING SYSTEM FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a method for checking and packaging articles, particularly a method for improved checkout of articles wherein the articles are packaged automatically.
THE PRIOR ART Checkout systems for articles whether foods, department store foods or other articles have typically been a manual operation. For example, in the supermarket goods are rung up on a cash register and then stacked in a bag or box. This operation normally requires at least two employees, one to check or ring up the goods and one to package the goods. It is possible for one employee to do both of the above steps; however, the result is an added delay for the customer at the checkout counter. These present checkout methods either require two or more employees or added delay if one employee is used.
In sum, there has heretofore been no checkout system that obviates the above shortcomings, and there is a need and a market for an improved checkout system.
Accordingly there has now been discovered a checkout system for goods and other articles wherein the packaging of checked goods is done automatically, resulting in a saving in checkout time and a saving in employee costs.
SUMMARY Broadly, this invention provides a method for packaging articles comprising placing said articles in a shuttle, moving the shuttle into an enveloping packaging material and retracting the shuttle from the articles in said material.
In one embodiment the shuttle transports goods into a tube of packaging material, the shuttle retracts and the tube is pinched, sealed around the goods and cut at one end or both ends thereof.
DESCRIPTION This invention will become more apparent from the following detailed specifications and drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an elevation view of a checkout counter and cash register with a cutaway view of a shuttle employed in the process embodying the invention.
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the shuttle of FIG. 1 and the remainder of the packaging system embodying the invention in the first stage of the packaging operation.
FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the packaging system of FIG. 2 in the second stage of the packaging operation.
FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the packaging system of FIG. 2 in the third stage of the packaging operation.
FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the packaging system of FIG. 2 in the fourth stage of the packaging operation.
FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the packaging system of FIG. 2 in the fifth stage of the packaging operation.
FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a completed package by the packaging system of FIG. 2.
FIG. 8 is an isometric view of another packaging system embodying the invention, and
FIG. 9 is an isometric view of still another packaging system embodying the present invention.
Referring now to the drawings, checkout counter 10, having cash register 12, receives groceries or goods 14 on the counter top or conveyor belt 16 as shown in FIG. 1. The cashier or operator (not shown) rings the goods 14 on the register in the usual manner and then places the goods in the shuttle 18 shown in FIGS. 1, 2 et seq.
*WHen the shuttle 18 is filled with checked goods 14 the operator presses a button (not shown) and shuttle means (not shown) convey the shuttle to a packaging stage as hereinafter discussed.
The shuttle 18 has sides 20, bottom wall 22 and end wall or bulkhead 24 as shown in FIG. 2. Shuttle 18 can optionally have partition wall 26 for separating certain goods where desired. Shuttle 18 has stem. 28 connected to walls 20 and 22 for moving the same back and forth. Bulkhead 24 has stem 30 for moving it back and forth. Mounted in registration with shuttle 18 is mandrel 31, which spreads tubular net material 32 as shown in FIG. 2. The tubular net 32 extends from mandrel 31 around idler roll 35 to supply roll 36.
In operation, the shuttle 18 filled with goods 14 is conveyed (means not shown) well into the mandrel 31 and tubular net 32 as shown in FIG. 3. Advantageously, the mandrel 31 moves toward shuttle 18 by hand or other convenient means, surrounding it with the tubular net 32. Thereupon net grippers 34 close on the net and hold it securely. The mandrel 31 is shown after partial retraction in FIG. 3 to illustrate the interior components of the system. Thereafter the mandrel 31 is retracted by advancing mandrel retract stems 29 within the tubular net 32 as shown in FIG. 4 the mandrel retract stems 29 are then withdrawn from the mandrel 31 as shown in FIG. 5.
At this point the sides 20 and the bottom wall 22 of the shuttle 18 are retracted, the bulkhead 24 remaining in place to hold the goods 14 in the tubular net 32 as shown in FIG. 5. The bulkhead 24 is thereafter withdrawn from the net, the goods remaining in place. The bulkhead returns to the shuttle and the cashier can refill the shuttle with goods.
Thereafter the left end 38 of the plastic net is pinched and sealed by seal bars 40 as shown in FIG. 6.
The right net end 42 is pinched and sealed by seal bars 44 and the net adjacent the mandrel 31 is cut by hot knife 46 which descends adjacent to the face of mandrel 31 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7.
Theresultant finished package 48 is shown in FIG. 7, the ends 50 of which can be formed into handles for carrying where desired.
The finished package 48 is then transferred (by means not shown) out of the packaging stage to a conveyor belt 52 and conveyed out of the checkout counter 10 as shown in FIG. 1. The packaging stage is now ready to recycle, i.e. ready to receive the next shuttle load of goods 14.
Alternate packaging stage is shown in FIG. 8 wherein an open ended bag 54 is employed instead of the tubular net material. The bag 54 is part of a stack of bags, the foremost of which is transferred to cradle 58 and popped open by an air jet from an air norzle (not shown). The shuttle 18 then conveys the goods into the bag 54 and retracts in the sequence above given. Upon retraction of the shuttle 18, including the bulkhead 24, the cradle 58 pivots downwardly as shown in FIG. 8 placing the filled bag in an upright position and placing such upright bags on a conveyor belt 60 for delivery thereof.
In another embodiment the shuttle 18 conveys the goods 14 into a mandrel 62 containing telescoped tubular net 64 closed at the remote and thereof as shown in FIG. 9. The shuttle l8 conveys the goods 14 completely throughout the mandrel 62 extending the tubular net 64. The shuttle 18 then withdraws as described above and the net is pinched, sealed and cut between the goods and the mandrel 62 completing the package. The net 64 and mandrel 62 are then ready for the next cycle.
From the above it can be seen that the packaging system of the invention is highly suited to the quick checkout and packaging of goods in a supermarket, department store and the like. The present packaging system is also useful in other operations removed from the above, such as in a factory or warehouse, for taking inventory or otherwise checking articles and thereafter packaging or bundling said articles. One operator can accordingly perform the work of two or more employees in the present system in a rapid, efficient manner.
The shuttle can be any shape desired and any sizefiAdvantageously, the shuttle has a back wall and two side walls of a height approximate that of the desired package. Of course, the wall height can be less than the package height or one or more of the walls nonexistent when, for example, the checked goods are placed on a slip-free surface, a plate, belt and the like and the surface is moveable to convey the goods to the packaging stage. Alternatively, the checked goods can be deposited on a slideable surface and banor wall positioned behind the goods to push the goods ahead to a packaging stage. By slideable surface is meant a surface smooth, corrugated, having projections, indentations or rollers therein and the like, or a combination thereof. Preferably the shuttle has a rear wall, two side walls and a bottom panel. Partitions can be added to separate the shuttle into various compartments where desired.
The shuttle can be made of metal, wood, plastic or other rigid material.
The checkout system can have one or more shuttles and the operator can alternately fill one then the other of said shuttles. One shuttle, however, is sufficient within the process of the present invention. The operator can place the checked articles in the shuttle by hand or move the articles to a slide, hopper, conveyor belt and the like which are positioned to deliver the goods to the shuttle.
The packaging material can be any suitable material, cellulose, plastic and the like. Preferred materials are tubular plastic net or film fed from a supply roll into which the goods canbe inserted via the shuttle and one or both ends of the tube sealed and cut. Another preferred material is the conventional paper bag.
Other packaging materials can be employed. These materials need not be tubular. Thus, theshuttle can convey goods onto a sheet of packaging material in the packaging stage, the material can then be wrapped about the goods forming a package. Moreover, if desired, the packaging material can be heat shrunk about its contents.
The packaging material can be fed from a supply roll whether flat or tubular, it can be fed from a stack, eQg. a stack of sheets or bags. Any practical supply system can be employed.
An advantage of the use of tubular packaging material in the present invention is the elimination of inventories of various bag sizes. The tube, e.g. of plastic film or net, can be cut and sealed at various lengths to form packages of any suitable size. The previous difficulty of filling a flexible tube with irregular objects of various size is overcome by the present invention wherein a mandrel is employed to spread the tubular material and a rigid shuttle having streamlined contours readily conveys thegoods into such tube and then withdraws as previously discussed.
Where a mandrel is employed to spread the packaging material, it can be any suitable hollow shape such as an open ended tube, round or angular, one or more hoops, a V or C shaped member, spreader arms of any shape. In sum, the mandrel can be any type which spreads this material to perrnis entry therein by the shuttle and goods.
The shuttle and mandrel are moved by any suitable power source such as a hydraulic or electrical power system, any conventional mechanical or other system desired. They can, if feasible, be powered by hand or foot. Desirably, a button pressed by the cashiers hand or foot activates the power source which operates the packaging system of the invention.
Where the packaging method requires a sealing step, the sealing is done by any suitable means, e.g. by heat sealing, or mechanical sealing of the material. Where the material is a tube, one or both ends are preferably gathered together, e.g. pinched and sealed. Mechanical sealing can occur by clipping, stapling, tying and the like.
Where the packaging material is cut free from a tube, the
cutting can be by a blade, hot knife and the like. The cutting step can take place before or after the material is sealed about its contents and the tube is cut either at the seal or a point rernoved therefrom as desired. In one example the tube is cut ,away from the seal and adjacent the mandrel as shown in FIG.
6. Altemativel Where material extends beyond the package seal at one or both ends as illustrated, for example in FIG. 7, the extension material can be formed into a handle for carrying. The handles can be formed by methods such as looping and sealing of the ends, hole punching in the extension material or other methods.
The finished package sealed at one or both ends is then conveyed to a discharge stage by conveyor belts or other appropriate means.
What is claimed is:
1. Method for packaging articles comprising, placing said articles in a shuttle, inserting said shuttle and said articles into the spread open forward portion of a continuous tubular packaging material fed from a supply source rearward of said forward portion, withdrawing said shuttle from said articles which remain in said forward portion, sealing said tubular packaging material between said articles and said supply source and severing said tubular packaging material between the thus formed seal and said supply source forming a package.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein said packaging material is sealed on both sides of said articles.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein said packaging material is material selected from the group consisting of plastic film, net or cellulose material.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein said shuttle is moved into a hollow mandrel within tubular packaging material, gripping said packaging material in place, retracting said mandrel away from said shuttle within said packaging material, retracting said shuttle from said contents and away from said mandrel,
sealing said packaging material at least at one end and sever-- ing the so formed package from the tube.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein said package is sealed at both ends.
6. The method of claim 4 wherein the shuttle has side walls, a bottom wall and a rear end wall and said side and bottom walls of said shuttle are retracted and then said end wall is retracted from said goods.
7. A method for improved checkout of articles in a market comprising, registering the price of said articles, placing said articles into a shuttle at a loading stage activating said shuttle to move said articles into the spread open forward portion of continuous tubular packaging material fed from a supply.
source rearward of said forward portion, retracting said shuttle from said articles and said tubular packaging material to said loading stage, sealing and severing said tubular packaging material between said articles and supply source forming a package for said articles, discharging said package and repeating said cycle.
8. An apparatus for packaging articles comprising a packaging stage having means for spreading open the forward portion of tubular packaging material, packaging supply means rearward of said forward portion for supplying said packaging material to said packaging stage, shuttle means for conveying said articles into the spread open forward portion of said packaging material, means for retracting said shuttle from said articles, means for sealing said packaging material between said articles and said supply means and means for severing said packagingmaterial between the sealing means and said supply means to form a package for said articles.
9. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said packaging supply means is a supply roll of packaging material.
10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said packaging stage comprises tubular packaging material, a hollow mandrel for spreading said tubular material, means for moving said shuttle and articles into said mandrel and said tubular material, means for gripping said tubular material in place about said articles,
means for withdrawing said shuttle and said mandrel from said in place about said articles while holding said tubular material articles means f 11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said shuttle comprises side walls, a bottom wall and a rear end wall and said shuttle is withdrawn from said goods and said tubular material by withdrawing said side walls and said bottom wall first and thereafter withdrawing said end wall. 5