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Publication numberUS3688921 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 5, 1972
Filing dateJun 15, 1970
Priority dateJun 15, 1970
Publication numberUS 3688921 A, US 3688921A, US-A-3688921, US3688921 A, US3688921A
InventorsZaha Abe
Original AssigneeZaha Abe
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for automatic storage and retrieval of automobiles
US 3688921 A
Abstract
Method and apparatus involving a continuous, chain-driven, palletized automatic storage and retrieval system. Storage of the vehicles is accomplished above or below ground level so that the ground or grade level is free to be used for receiving, loading and unloading, and discharging. For above ground installation the lower run of the conveyor has a dip-down section to the loading and unloading area at grade level and for the underground installation the system has a rise-up section. Pusher mechanisms in the receiving area engage the vehicle wheels and move it from the entrance of the parking system toward the loading and unloading area. A pallet is brought down or up and into loading position from the conveyor and a vehicle is automatically moved onto a loader-unloaded lateral transfer platform by a pusher mechanism. The loader then moves transversely to align the vehicle with the selected position on the pallet and pusher mechanisms on the loader automatically transfer the vehicle onto the pallet. When cars are to be retrieved the pallet is brought down or up into loading-unloading position and the vehicle is automatically pushed off the pallet onto the unload section of the transfer platform. Tire or wheel pusher mechanisms on the unloader part of the transfer platform push the vehicle into the parking discharge area where it is retrieved and driven away by the customer. The invention utilizes a "time in" system to identify vehicles and spaces for storage and retrieval.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Zaha [45] Sept. 5, 1972 [72] Inventor: Abe Zaha, 1355 NW. 92nd Ave,

Portland, Oreg. 97229 [22] Filed: June 15, 1970 [2]] Appl. No.: 46,218

52 U.S.Cl. ..214/16.1 B, 198/138 51 Int. 01. ..E04b 6/06 [58] 'Field of Search ..214/16.12 A

Al6.l6C, 16.1 R

689,896 4/1953 Great Britain ..214/16. 16 C 174,198 2/1961 Sweden ..2l4/l6.l2B 312,622 3/1956 Switzerland ..2l4/l6.l2 B

Primary ExaminerGerald M. Forlenza Assistant ExaminerR. Johnson Attorney-Graybeal, Cole and Barnard 57 ABSTRACT Method and apparatus involving a continuous, chaindriven, palletized automatic storage and retrieval system. Storage of the vehicles is accomplished above or below ground level so that the ground or grade level is free to be used for receiving, loading and unloading, and discharging. For above ground installa- -tion the lower run of the conveyor has a dip-down section to the loading and unloading area at grade level and for the underground installation the system has a rise-up section. Pusher mechanisms in the receiving area engage the vehicle wheels and move it from the entrance of the parking system toward the loading and unloading area. A pallet is brought down or up and into loading position from the conveyor and a vehicle is automatically moved onto a loader-unloaded lateral transfer platform by a pusher mechanism. The loader then moves transversely to align the vehicle with the selected position on the pallet and pusher mechanisms on the loader automatically transfer the vehicle onto the pallet. When cars are to be retrieved the pallet is brought down or up into loading-unloading position and the vehicle is automatically pushed off the pallet onto the unload section of the transfer platform. Tire or wheel pusher mechanisms on the unloader part of the transfer platform push the vehicle into the parking discharge area where it is retrieved and driven away by the customer. The invention utilizes a time in system to identify vehicles and spaces for storage and retrieval.

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Q ATTORNEYS METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR AUTOMATIC STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL OF AUTOMOBILES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The invention relates generally to the art of vehicle I and material storage and more particularly to an overhead or underground, continuous conveyor, palletized system for storing vehicles and other materials for automatic storage and retrieval.

With the increasing numbers of automobiles in urban areas in recent years, parking, particularly in large metropolitan centers, for relatively short periods of time has become an acute problem. As a result numerous types of parking systems, both drive-in and mechanical, for accommodating large numbers of cars have been developed. Some of these systems are partially automatic and utilize one or more elevators for raising the car to levels above street grade. When the car or vehicle has been raised to a particular level in the elevator it must be taken off the elevator and moved to a parking stall. In other systems the cars are driven on and off the elevators, and at other times they are automatically transferred on and off. In those mechanical systems in which cars are driven on or off or where the system is entirely drive-in and drive-out a substantial amount of space in the installation is devoted to open areas or aisles so that the cars can be moved around. In systems in which cars are transferred by elevators automatically moved into and out of a parking slot the problem is largely one of being able to store and retrieve the vehicles in peak traffic periods.

Many mechanical parking systems have been designed, the great number of which are impractical. As those skilled in the art are aware many structures have been conceived around a continuous conveyor concept. Again however the problem in any system is cost per car space and the handling of vehicles in peak traffic periods. If vehicles are left in a receiving area for the parking station attendants to store, the ability to absorb cars is limited by how fast an attendant can remove the vehicles from the receiving section and get them to stalls. In many parking installations therefore it is well-known that in peak traffic periods cars may line up in the street outside the entrance to the parking site awaiting their turn to enter. Thus, known mechanical parking systems cannot absorb vehicles as rapidly as they should in peak periods, nor can they retrieve and discharge quickly enough during rush hours such as in the late afternoon. However, with the increase in population and automobiles placing a great demand on land in metropolitan areas, it becomes increasingly essential that land available for parking be efficiently utilized. Many factors will determine the success or failure of parking systems, but it is recognized that mechanical parking because of its more efficient utilization of available space will certainly be looked to as one solution to solving metropolitan traffic congestion.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The invention is directed to a vehicle and materials handling method and apparatus which includes an open ground or street level area above or below which is disposed a continuous, palletized vehicle storage conveyor. The storage conveyor has a series of horizontally disposed trays or pallets driven by sprocketless chains. Each of the pallets will be driven by connection to a chain at a central point on the sides of the pallet, while the four corners of the palletwill be supported by free running rollers engaging track structure comprising part of the conveyor system. Since the conveyor is raised or below ground there will be a dip-down or rise section from the lower or upper flight of the conveyor so that the pallets may be brought to a loading and discharge station at ground level. Associated with the pallet is a loading and unloading transfer platform. The pallets will accommodate several vehicles in a side-byside relationship. The loader-unloader platform will receive a vehicle from an entrance lane and which vehicle is being automatically moved from the entrance towards the loader by a wheel engaging or pusher mechanism. When a vehicle is on the loader it will then be moved transversely intoalignment with the desired parking position on the pallet. A wheelpusher mechanism on the loader then moves the vehicle onto the pallet. The pallet is then moved up away from the loading position and up or down into the conveyor so that the next loading or unloading may take place. The platform will raise and lower so that the tire pusher mechanisms thereon do not interfere with pallet movement and so that lateral movement is not impeded. Since the entrance lanes to the parking site will have to be separated for customer convenience there will normally be fewer receiving lanes than there are spaces on the pallets. Thus, transverse movement by the loading platform is needed. When a vehicle is to be discharged the pallet will be brought to the unloading position, the unloading platform will be brought into alignment with the vehicle to be discharged, the platform will be raised and its pusher mechanism will transfer the car off the pallet onto the unloader portion of the platform. The platform will then move into alignment with one of the discharge lanes and wheel pusher means will transfer the car off the platform and into the discharge lane. Stop mechanisms in the entrance lanes, on the loader portion of the platform, and in the discharge lanes will automatically hold a vehicle from any movement other than that desired. The various pusher mechanisms will be such that they are synchronized to take both the smallest and the largest wheel base automobiles. The trackage in the conveyor is such that the rollers are the comers of the pallet will help support the vehicle weight on the pallets and to maintain the pallets in their generally horizontal position. A monitoring system for vehicle identification utilizes the time-in figures on the customer's ticket and assigns a pallet space number to the time.

It is therefore among the many features, advantages and objects of this invention to provide a parking system apparatus and method which will permit the stacking of cars in a receiving or reservoir area while they are waiting to be loaded. The cars will be moved forward automatically after being left by the customer in a receiving lane. Hence, the accumulation of cars waiting in the street to enter the parking site is minimized. It is another feature to provide for completely automatic handling of the vehicle from the time it enters the site until it is driven away from the discharge area. It is another feature to provide a dipdown or rise up conveyor which brings the carrying pallets into position at entrance and discharge level. It is a further feature to utilize a platform for lateral movement so that cars may enter the parking site in spacious receiving lanes and be moved closer together for actual storage. It is another feature to provide a large drive-in or receiving reservoir area so that in peak periods a great number of vehicles can be held in the receiving area beneath or above the parking conveyor. It is another feature to provide a system which can be adapted to almost any site regardless of length or width but in any case in which the number of storage lanes is greater than the number of receiving and discharge lanes. The system can be used as well for underground parking as for above-ground parking. Another feature is that this installation minimizes expensive equipment since gears and sprockets for the main conveyor chains have been eliminated. The conveyor sections can be modular thus making it easy to vary the length of a particular conveyor according to site requirements. The system will compete favorably on a cost-per-space basis with both drive-in and drive-out garage systems and other mechanical parking systems. This system eliminates expensive equipment required to position, push or pull the car out of a stationary parking stall and thus cuts down substantially on machinery and maintenance' costs. The invention utilizes a unique loaderunloader platform operating in conjunction with the dip-down or rise-up positioning of the vehicle pallets. There is in this system no need to seek or locate cars for loader handling because they have already been aligned by the receiving lanes into a predetermined pick-up position. There are no mechanisms required for lifting or lowering the cars. Rather the cars are simply pushed and rolled into desired positions by simple wheel engaging means. The system contemplates loading and unloading on a common flat platform. Longitudinal car movement from receiving to loader and from loader to pallet is accomplished by a series of synchronized steps. The pushers are attached to a motor-driven chain and are extremely simple and low cost considering the functions they provide. When the loader is in position, one of its tire pushers will extend into the receiving area tire guide lane so that it may rapidly pull a car from the receiving area onto the loader platform. The unloader pusher will also extend beneath the discharge area so that it can rapidly push a car clear of the unloading area on the platform. To provide a conveyance means for cars on the pallet, a tire pusher mechanism will be attached to the loader platform area directly below the pallet. This tire pusher will engage the wheels of any automobile which is sitting on the pallet by simply passing through a slot in the pallet wheel channels. The system is designed for speed and arrestor mechanisms insure that the care will not roll off the pallets and traverse platform. The receiving and discharge areas are spacious, safe and oriented toward customer convenience. The monitoring system is uniquely simple in that the time-in figure on the customers ticket identifies the car. A space number is also added to the time figure to accurately identify a given vehicle and its storage location.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a schematic side elevation view showing the general configuration for the conveyor tracks and the location of the transfer platform with respect to a pallet in the load or unload position;

FIG. 2 is a plan view at ground or grade level showing receiving lanes, discharge lanes, transfer platform, and pallet to further illustrate the general view of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partial plan view showing further details of the receiving area, loader portion of the platform, and pallet with a vehicle in position in a receiving lane for loading;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of FIG. 3 further illustrating the sequence of steps for raising the platform into load position, transferring the car from the receiving lane onto the loader area of the platform, and then transferring the vehicle onto the pallet from the loader;

FIG. 7 is a partial side elevation view showing that the loader platform has been lowered and the pallet has begun to be moved upward into the conveyor with the vehicle;

FIG. 8 is a partial plan view showing the unloader portion of the platform with a vehicle which has been moved off the pallet onto the unloader portion and aligned with a discharge lane;

FIG. 9 further illustrates details of the tire pushing mechanism at the unloader end of the platform;

FIG. 10 is a partial side elevation view of the discharge end of the conveyor mechanism illustrating details of the track structure;

FIG. 11 is a partial side elevation view to be taken in conjunction with FIG. 10 for showing the remainder of the dip section and the details of the trackage whereby the pallets are raised back into the main storage part of the machine;

FIG. 12 is a partial prospective view of one side end of the conveyor system showing that the main chain rides in the center track end section to which a pallet is connected, and further shows how rollers are connected to the corners for riding in the inside and outside track end sections;

FIG. 13 is a typical cross-section view taken transversely through the machine to show details of construction of the trackage for carrying both the chain and comer support rollers;

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional detail view of a pallet comer roller as it issupported on the track;

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view showing the details of a pallet and chain connection;

FIG. 16 is a partial side elevation view showing details of the main mechanism for driving the main conveyor chains;

FIG. 17 is a partial elevation view showing further details of the main drive mechanism of FIG. 16;

FIG. 18 is a plan view of a pallet showing details thereof including pusher slots and wheel stops for holding the car in position on the pallet;

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of the pallet taken along the line 19-19 of FIG. 18;

FIG. 20 shows details of the wheel stop mechanisms on the pallet;

FIG. 21 is a plan view of the basic frame structure and drive components of the loader-unloader platform;

FIG. 22 is a partial side elevation view of the transfer platform of FIG. 21 further illustrating details of the platform lifting and lowering structure and traverse drive;

FIG. 23 is a partial side elevation view showing details of the tire pusher mechanism mounted on the center portion of the platform which is used in conjunc- FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the receiving lane.

tire pusher showing additional details thereof;

FIG. 28 is a schematic diagram to assist in explaining the method of monitoring and identifying vehicles and storage spaces; and

FIG. 29 is a view showing underground installation of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIGS. 1 and 2 show diagrammatically a typical above-ground parking installation employing the apparatus and method of this invention. While the building exterior or architecture in which the mechanical parking system is housed may vary considerably, it will be appreciated that the system has conveyor structure generally designated by the number 10, an entrance area generally designated by the number 12, a loaderunloader platform generally designated by the number 14, and a discharge area generally designated by the number 16. The conveyor itself has an upper flight of track end sections and 22, and middle track or chain section 24, all of which are located at the discharge end of the conveyor structure. In like manner the entrance end of the parking site has inner and outer roller track end sections 26 and 28 and chain track end section 30. The dip portion has roller down tracks 32 and 34 and down chain track 36. On the up side the dip portion has roller up tracks 38 and 40 with chain up track 42. The structure will be provided with a series of pallets 44 connected to chains in each side of the track structure as will be more fully hereinafter described.

Transfer platform 14 will have a loader section 46 and unloader section 48 interconnected by framework extending under the pallet station and its details also will be more fully described hereinafter. Entrance area 12, for purposes of illustration, is shown to be at street level 50 and so is the discharge area 16. A pit 52 is sunk below grade level to accommodate the traversing platform 14 and its operating parts. The entrance or receiving area 12 has two incoming lanes with channels 54 and 56 into which the left wheels of the vehicle are driven. Once the left wheels are in channels 54 and 56 the customer may then leave the car and feeder pusher mechanisms for engaging the wheels of the car will move it as desired toward the loading area. Trays or pallets 44 are shown to be three cars wide and they also contain wheel channels 58, 60, and 62. The loader and unloader sections 46 and 48 of the traversing platform 14 have wheel channels 64 and 66 respectively. Finally, the discharge area 16 has wheel channels 68 and 70.

FIGS. 3-9 illustrate details of the method and cycling or sequencing steps with greater particularity. FIGS. 3 and 4 show the area at the end of the receiving zone, together with the loader part 46 of the traversing platform 14, and the entrance end of the pallet 44. It will be seen that vehicle C has proceeded along the receiving area wheel channel 56 and its motion has been arrested by stop 72. In order to load vehicle C onto a pallet 44 the stop 72 holds the vehicle until traverse platform 14 is in position. Platform 14 is moved so that its wheel channel 64 is brought into alignment with receiving wheel channel 56. Platform 14 is then raised and loader pushers 74 extend above the slot 82 in channel 56 to engage the left front tire. Pushers 74 are attached to chain 76 which in turn is mounted on sprockets 78 and 80 on the underside of loader section 46 so that they line up directly beneath said slot 82 extending into the receiving wheel channel. Raising and lowering of platform 14 permits the pallets to be moved into and out of their loading position. Thus, the only raise-lower movement of the platform is after a pallet is in position. In any event the platform does not raise a car but merely moves laterally with a car. In this regard the tire pushers at the end of a cycle step in such a position that no interference occurs when platform traverses in its up position. Stop 72 is retracted and pushers 74 when actuated are brought around sprocket 80 to engage the front wheel FW of vehicle C and pull it onto the loader section 46.

Once on the loader section 46 front wheel FW is arrested and held in position by stop 88. The traversing platform 14 is then laterally moved, without being lowered, to wheel channel 64 on the loader section 46 with one of the three storage wheel channels 58, 60 or 62 on pallet 44. When vehicle C has had its front wheel FW moved to the stop position on the loader section 46 the front wheel pusher 74 drops through an opening in channel 64. Continuing the sequence in FIGS. 5 and 6 it will be seen that loader section 46 has laterally moved into alignment with the center storage position of pallet 44, and vehicle C is ready to be moved onto tray 44. Referencing FIG. 4 again pushers 74 are actuated so that the rear wheel RW of the vehicle is engaged by a pusher 74 after the front pusher has dropped through an opening in the wheel channel and pushes the car off the loader. A pallet tire pusher 90 picks up the front wheel and completes the positioning by pulling the vehicle onto the pallet. Pallet tire pushers 90 are mounted on a continuous chain 92 extending around sprockets 94 and 96. When the front end of vehicle C has been pushed onto the pallet from loader section 46 a pallet tire pusher as stated above picks up the front wheel FW of the vehicle and continues to move the vehicle into the position shown in FIG. 6. A front arrestor or stop 98 functions in cooperation with a rear wheel stop or arrestor 100 to hold vehicle C in storage position on pallet 44. Pushers 90 are mounted on the center section of traverse platform 14 and said pushers 90 extend upwardly into wheel channel slots 59,61, or 63 on the pallet when platform 14 is raised. The pushers 90 are designed to stop in predetermined positions, that is with both below the pallet. This allows side movement of platform 14 in its up position regardless of whether the pallet is loading or unloading.

Patent Citations
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US2696921 *Aug 30, 1948Dec 14, 1954Leo Desjardins JosephMechanized parking garage
US2699266 *Feb 26, 1952Jan 11, 1955Maurice Reginald EAutomobile storage apparatus
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3999647 *Aug 7, 1975Dec 28, 1976Patricio Coira CastroEndless chain structure incorporating a series of cages with a mechanism for varying the distance between the said cages
US4642018 *Jul 30, 1985Feb 10, 1987Compagnie Des Transmissions Mecaniques SedisAutomatic device for loading the total volume of a transport vehicle
US7918314 *Mar 6, 2007Apr 5, 2011Pavel V. KorchaginHoisting systems for high-rise building maintenance
US7921782 *Feb 6, 2002Apr 12, 2011Cascade Engineering, Inc.Individual transportation system
US20040149158 *Feb 6, 2002Aug 5, 2004Keller Frederick P.Individual transportaing system
US20080011546 *Mar 6, 2007Jan 17, 2008Korchagin Pavel VHoisting systems for high-rise building maintenance
EP0016452A1 *Mar 17, 1980Oct 1, 1980Alois Dipl.-Ing. LödigeTransportation device
EP0248135A1 *Oct 27, 1986Dec 9, 1987Auto-Veyor IncDelivery vestibule system for automobile conveyor garages
Classifications
U.S. Classification414/233, 198/441, 414/259
International ClassificationE04H6/18, E04H6/14
Cooperative ClassificationE04H6/14, E04H6/187
European ClassificationE04H6/18D, E04H6/14