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Publication numberUS3700128 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 24, 1972
Filing dateDec 23, 1970
Priority dateDec 23, 1970
Also published asDE2163335A1
Publication numberUS 3700128 A, US 3700128A, US-A-3700128, US3700128 A, US3700128A
InventorsChapin James R, Noble Philip S
Original AssigneeGen Electric
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Intermodal transfer system
US 3700128 A
Abstract
This interface system comprehends the transfer of containerized or trailerized loads between transportation media by means of overhead traffic flow. An overhead guideway network connecting terminal areas for said transportation media serves as support and guide means for a plurality of self-propelled transfer cars. Each transfer car embodies a rotatable hoist and propulsion motors. By means of the propulsion motors, an individual transfer car is positioned along the overhead guideway above a designated load located at a given transportation terminal. The hoist is rotated into proper orientation for pickup, lowered, attached to the load, raise, re-rotated into alignment with the transfer car, and secured thereto. The load-bearing transfer car is then directed to a second terminal area where the hoist process is reversed and the cargo container is deposited. The transportation terminal areas may be designed to serve rail, truck, ship, air, or transit terminals and storage media. A given interface may comprise any combination of said terminal areas. Operation of the system may be directed by manual, remote or automatic control.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[451 Oct. 24, 1972 [S41 INTERMODAL TRANSFER SYSTEM {72] inventors: Philip S. Noble, North East; James R. Chapin, Erie, both of Pa.

[73] Assignee: General Electric Company [22] Filed: Dec. 23, 1970 [21] Appl. No.: 101,009

[52] US. Cl. ..214/40, 104/29, 104/95, 105/154, 105/163 R, 212/22, 214/38 BB [51 Int. Cl. ..B65g 67/02 [58] Field of Search ..214/38 B, 38 BB, 38 CA, 40; 104/29, 94, 95; 105/154, 163; 212/11, 18, 22

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,081,884 3/1963 Minty ..214/38 CA X 2,978,992 4/1961 Wason ..104/95 X 2,499,060 2/1950 Goldberg 104/94 2,997,966 8/1961 Chapin et al. 105/163 R X 2,853,239 9/1958 Morgan ..214/38 BB X 3,483,829 12/1969 Barry ..214/38 CA X 3,051,321 8/1962 Ramsden ..212/14 3,091,188 5/1963 Graham ..214/38 CA X Primary ExaminerRobert G. Sheridan Att0rney-Walter C. Bemkopf, Frank L. Neuhauser, Oscar B. Waddell and Joseph B. Forman 5 7 ABSTRACT This interface system comprehends the transfer of containerized or trailerized loads between transportation media by means of overhead traffic flow, An overhead guideway network connecting terminal areas for said transportation media serves as support and guide means for a plurality of selt propelled transfer cars. Each transfer car embodies a rotatable hoist and propulsion motors. By means of the propulsion motors, an individual transfer car is positioned along the overhead guideway above a designated load located at a given transportation terminal. The hoist is rotated into proper orientation for pickup, lowered, attached to the load, raise, re-rotated into alignment with the transfer car, and secured thereto. The load-bearing transfer car is then directed to a second terminal area where the hoist process is reversed and the cargo container is deposited. The transportation terminal areas may be designed to serve rail, truck, ship, air, or transit terminals and storage media. A given interface may comprise any combination of said terminal areas. Operation of the system may be directed by manual, remote or automatic control.

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sum near 12 P'A'TENTEDnm 24 m2 SHEET IUUF 12 PATENTED our 24 1912 SHEU llUF 12 P'A'TE'N'TED um 24 m2 SHEET 12 [1F 12 INTERMODAL TRANSFER SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Recent realization of the potential savings attainable through the use of containerized or trailerized loads has catapulted this subject to the forefront of consideration in the transport industry. Trains, ships, planes, storehouses, etc. utilizing standardized load containers or trailers as basic shipping units are well known.

Despite improvements made in long-haul transport equipment (i.e., ships, trains, planes, etc.) and the speed and ease with which such equipment can be separately loaded and unloaded, an apparently large amount of time is lost at points where these various modes of transport reach interfaces and cargo must be interchanged between them. Present interface facilities become congested and bogged down under the pressure of increasing volume levels.

An example of this problem, though by no means its only occurrence, is a railroad-highway truck interface. Flatbed railroad cars have been devised which carry truck-trailers in their on-the-road form. This insures that minimal actual work must be done to convert this load from highway to rail traffic. The trailer need only be detached from the tractor, lifted from the ground, deposited upon the flatbed car and fastened thereto. The need for an efficient system for accomplishing a multiplicity of these manipulations is the crux of the present interface problem. The problem is compounded when some of the loads are not scheduled to be immediately transported from the interface. This effects an added storage period and consequently doubles handling at the now train-storage-truck interface.

Present methods of handling freight at such interfaces is typified by the traveling-crane apparatus. This apparatus carries a hoist atop a tall, wheeled, ground-supported truss structure. During unloading, the crane traverses train lengths removing trailers from flatbed cars and placing them on the ground next to the train for cab hookup. Train loading is accomplished by reverse operations. Traffic problems arise due to the fact that the traveling-cranes have limited mobility and must therefore be in proximity to tractors while manipulating trailers. The tractors must be present in order to supply mobility to the trailers once they have been deposited on the ground beside the train, and the crane has moved on. Due to this requirement, trucks must have ready access to subject trains. This necessitates a road of substantial width between each set of tracks at the interface. In addition, the train must be broken down into short segments to provide truck passage among trains without the need to traverse entire train lengths. A requirement arises, therefore, for the provision of great expanses of often very costly land at the site of the interface. An additional problem arises due to the fact that trucks and cranes operate in the same plane and interfere with one another s maneuvering, when both are proximate to a train, independently of the amount of space alotted between trains.

If the aforementioned operations and interferences are multiplied by the presence of many trains at busier interfaces, the situation is analogous to that of urban auto traffic, wherein each vehicle is capable of speedy movement, but the ever-increasing volume of flow overshadows individual efficiency and causes traffic ams.

It has been previously proposed to utilize an overhead system for transferring goods between various transportation media. Arrangements of this type minimize the interference between trains, truck and cranes (and other modes of transport, if utilized) by diverting traffic flows into separate noninterfering areas and planes. However such overhead transfer systems are still subject to inefficiencies due to limitations in the interface between the overhead cargo transfer vehicles, the transportation media between which cargo is to be transferred and cargo storage areas. This can substantially increase the time required to transfer containers. One suggestion has been proposed to alleviate this problem wherein a trestle network is utilized. This, however, requires complex steering and control of vehicles. It also requires location of the transfer vehicle hoist and body above the roadway. The resulting construction of the transfer vehicles becomes complex and unwieldly limiting their flexibility and speed of operation.

OBJECTS It is therefore an object of this invention to provide an improved system for overhead transfer of containerized cargoes, including truck trailers, between various transportation media.

It is a further object of this invention to provide such a system wherein transfer cars moveable on overhead guideway rails are adapted to economically transfer large volumes of container or trailer cargo in a manner providing high density buffer storage and convenient access to interfacing transportation media.

It is a further object to provide such an overhead transfer system wherein a plurality of transfer cars operating without complex steering mechanisms may be controlled from wayside.

It is yet another object of this invention to provide an overhead transfer system utilizing a guide rail and transfer car construction permitting dependable operation of the system at relatively high speeds.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION In order to fulfill the above-mentioned objectives, the interface of the present embodiment of the invention employs a dual-track guideway system, formed of parallel rails and including one or more closed loops. This guideway interconnects and overlies access terminal areas suitable for servicing contiguous public transport carrier media. The vehicular members of said carrier media are accessible by handling equipment at said terminal areas adapted to their typical requirements. Each vehicular member enters the interface at its predetermined terminal area, discharges or takes on a cargo, and leaves the interface to embark upon its individual journey.

Meanwhile, a multiplicity of transfer cars, individually propelled and guided, traverse the overhead guideway network, carrying cargoes between said carrier terminal areas. In addition, common storage areas are supplied which house cargoes not destined for immediate shipment.

Transfer cars embody rotatable hoist members and individual propulsion units. The propulsion units serve to carry the transfer car and its load along the overhead guideway. The hoist lifts and deposits cargo at desired positions and in desired aximuth orientations with respect to the guideway.

The apparatus of the present invention may be utilized in connection with an interface serving any number of public carrier media such as railways, trucking concerns, airlines and marine transport systems.

The more detailed description of the invention which follows will serve to further clarify the system and its operation. The description will be limited to the case of the train-storage-truck interface, but is readily extendable to incorporate any combination of carrier terminals.

FIGURES In the drawings:

FIG. I is a schematic drawing of the overhead transfer systems of the present invention embodying a train-storage-truck interface;

FIG. 2 is an elevation showing one embodiment of a transfer car with its hoist in the lowered position;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the transfer car illustrated in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an end view of this transfer car and guideway combination showing cooperation there between, with the left bogie being illustrated in cross section;

FIG. 5a is an illustration of a transfer car bearing a containerized cargo, in this case a truck-trailer, in a longitudinal orientation adapted for movement along the guideway;

FIG. 5b is an illustration of a transfer car bearing the same load, but rotated by an arbitrary angle to an azimuth orientation suitable for loading or unloading;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an automatic control arrangement for the interface system;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of that portion of the automatic control, of FIG. 6 which effects transfer car functions;

FIG. 8 is an illustration of a transfer car having its hoist rotated into a proper orientation for pickup or delivery of a truck-trailer within fixed ground guides forming a stall therefore;

FIG. 9 shows the transfer car, positioned above a storage area and bearing a truck trailer rotated orthogonally to the guideway;

FIG. 10 shows the transfer car bearing its cargo as it progresses along the overhead guideway above the train;

FIG. ll shows the transfer car with its cargo in proper orientation for delivery at the rail terminal;

FIG. 12 shows the transfer car with its hoist lowered and attached to a cargo located upon a flatbed railroad car; and

FIG. 13 shows a transfer car supported upon an overhead guideway in position to make a cargo pickup from a flatbed railroad car, or having just deposited a cargo thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT An interface transfer system embodying the present invention is shown in simplified form in FIG. 1. The interface as illustrated comprises an overhead guideway designated generally by numeral 10, which physically overlies portions of a truck terminal 11, a railway terminal 13, and a storage area terminal 12. As shown in the figure, the guideway of the present embodiment comprises a plurality of closed loops A and B. The loops link the terminal areas ll, 12, and 13 to one another and to closed loops A and B. Switch means 14 are located at the intersections of each of the loops A and B. All load handling is accomplished by means of a plurality of transfer cars 20 which ride along and are guided by the overhead guideway 10. Said closed loops A and B are arranged to minimize interference between transfer cars 20 as they are engaged in activities and between the various terminals. The above described arrangement has been simplified for purposes of explanation. In most applications of the invention it is desirable to utilize a greater plurality of loops, including for example, plural loops overlying railroad tracks. However, in some applications it may be adequate to utilize merely a single loop.

The structure of the transfer car may be more fully understood by reference to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 which illustrate a preferred embodiment. FIG. 2 shows the general inter-relationship of operating components of the preferred embodiment, whereas FIG. 3 shows the operating components in exploded perspective. The transfer car 20 generally includes a truck 19 whose wheels are arranged so that first and second set of wheels are positioned respectively to ride on the first and second parallel guide members. In the preferred embodiment wheels 30 are secured to bogie means 29 which are secured to the truck. Suitable propulsion motor means 31 are utilized to propel the transfer car between preselected locations on the guideway. A hoist platform 33 is rotatably supported on the underside of the truck by means of a rotational assembly 23, which includes rotating motor means for rotating the platform in respect to the longitudinal axis of the transfer car and guideway. The hoist platform incorporates a hoist operation mechanism 26, hoist cables 22, and a hoist member 21, which may be of the known strongback" type, for attachment to containerized cargo. A hoist motor associated with the hoist operation mechanism 26 is actuated to raise and lower the hoist member. It is desirable to have containerized cargo rigidly attached to the support platform during travel of the transfer car. This may be accomplished by clamping means attached to the hoist member or hoist platform.

The truck of the illustrated embodiment of the transfer car comprises a generally rectangular main frame 25 having a central portion adapted to support the rotational assembly 23 and hoist platform 33. The bogies 29 are connected to secondary frame members 28. The frame members are secured to end portions 24 located at opposing longitudinal ends of the main frame.

Referring now to FIG. 4 it can be seen that the transfer car 20 cooperates with parallel spaced apart guide members comprising I beams 41 and 42. Each I beam has a central web 50 and lower flange portions 51 and 52. The illustrated embodiment of the transfer car has a plurality of wheels 30 riding on each one of these lower flange portions. This arrangement assures symmetrical load distribution and minimizes torsional forces within the beams. The entire structure of the illustrated transfer car lies beneath the upper flanges of the l beam guideway and substantially between the I beams of the guideway. This permits other vehicles, such as for repair purposes, to be supported on top of the upper flanges of the I beam without interfering with the transfer cars. The hoist platform extends below the lower flanges of the I beam in order to permit unimpeded rotation of the platform.

It is preferable to run the wheels of the transfer cars on replaceable surfaces to prevent wear of the I beams. As shown in FIG. 4, rails 53 serve this purpose and simultaneously guide the transfer car. Selected ones of the wheels, such as those on the outboard side, may contain conventional wheel flanges for guidance purposes. The propulsion motor means 31 may be directly coupled to a plurality of wheels 30. Various control systems generally indicated by structure 27 in FIG. 3 may be secured to the top of main frame 25. These include the subsequently described car borne controls for activating the propulsion motor means, the hoist operation mechanism 26 and the rotational assembly 23. The illustrated transfer car has a low profile permitting it to readily operate, in multiple story structures for transfer and storage purposes.

The bogies 29 each include two wheels 30a and 30b rotatably secured by separate axle members 35 to side portions 54a and 54b which are arranged to extend on opposing sides of web 50 of the I beam. Central support portions 34 of substantially U-shaped configuration have ends secured to side portions 54a and 54b and a central portion adapted to extend about the under surface of the lower flange portions of the I beam. The wheels 30a and 30b are thus located in spaced apart parallel position intermediate between the side portions 54a and 54b and positioned to ride on the rails 53 on flanges 51 and 52. In the illustrated arrangement the wheels of the bogie are driven through suitable gearing 54 by a propulsion motor 31 secured to the bogie. Motor 31 extends below lower flanges 51 and 52 and has opposite shaft ends coupled, respectively, to the two wheels 31.

First and second bogies 29a and 29b are fastened to opposing ends of secondary frame member 28a which is rigidly secured to one end portion 24a of the main frame. Second and third bogies 29c and 29d are fastened to opposing ends of secondary frame member 28b. Member 281) has its central portion secured to the other end portion 24b of the main frame to permit end portion 24b to pivot about the longitudinal axis of the transfer car, and to permit relative vertical displacement between bogies 29c and 29d. Each of the frame members 28 may have an H-shaped configuration having a central portion and two pairs of substantially parallel arms. Each of the pairs of arms are secured to one of the bogies to permit the bogies to pivot about an axis parallel to the longitudinal axis of the transfer car. The above described arrangement is designed to provide substantially equal weight distribution on the wheels of the transfer car and minimizes deflection forces on the vehicle. It should be understood that although the above described arrangement constitutes a preferred embodiment of the transfer car, modifications thereof may be utilized.

The load rotation characteristics of the transfer car strongback hoist 21 are illustrated by FIGS. 5a and 5b. FIG. 5a shows a containerized load 40, here a trucktrailer, in the grasp of the strongback hoist 21 and lifted into proximity with the transfer car 20. The load is oriented so that its longitudinal axis parallels the longitudinal axis of the main frame 25 of the transfer car and of the overhead guideway. The load may thus be transported along said guideway without having the load extending out beyond the guideway to interfere with other loads, other guideways, or guideway supports. FIG. 5b shows the same load 40 rotated approximately 90 by the load rotation mechanism 23 and lowered by hoist cables 22 to a position remote from the transfer car. Such orientation, or an oblique orientation, is suitable for pickup or discharge of loads within a storage area and also for the pickup of loads from sources not axially aligned with the overhead guideway 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, an optional automatic control for the system is disclosed. FIG. 6 is a block diagram of one form of automatic control which may be applied to the entire interface system. Data input to process computer of the known variety, carries information of arrival points and departure points of individual loads and may also include additional information pertinent to the load content such as weight, weight distribution, shipping delays and other variable parameters which may affect the handling of a given load.

In response to this information the process computer 70 schedules the routing of the load. The computer generates two guideway addresses for the load. The first address designates the current location of the load, i.e., the point on the guideway at which cargo is to be picked up by a transfer car. The second address designates the predetermined destination point on the guideway at which the cargo is to be deposited by this transfer car. These two addresses are transmitted as an electric information signal by car instructor 71. A plurality of such car instructors may be disposed along the guideway so that the first unassigned transfer car passing by the appropriate car instructor will be utilized to transfer the load. Each transfer car has an on board car control 72, shown in FIG. 7. The on board car control receives and stores the electrical information signals indicative of the two addresses. Then board car control causes the car to proceed to the addresses in sequence and to perform the proper loading and unloading cycles at each address locations. The instructions for loading and unloading may be permanently stored in on board car control system.

The location of the transfer car is determined by address signals received by the on board car control 72 from address signal emitters 74 which are disposed along the guideway and each emit a preselected signal indicative of each addressed location on the guideway. Reference is made to U.S. Pat. No. 3,334,224 by R.K. Allen et al., which is assigned to the assignee of the present invention. This discloses one type of car control system wherein wayside signal emitters are utilized to cause a rail vehicle to be stopped at predetermined locations.

The proper spacing between transfer cars may be maintained by various known arrangements, such as systems for monitoring a track signal indicative of the distance between the trailing and leading transfer cars. U.S. Pat. No. 3,305,682 by M.F. Bolster et al., assigned to the assignee of the subject application discloses one such system. Guideway switches, where present, may be activated by a wayside switch control 73 located on the guideway ahead of the switch or switch group. The switch control can be activated by the on board car control. Alternatively the switch control can identify the transfer car and from its own memory determine the destination of the transfer car. Switch control 73 thus controls guideway switches 14 to determine which closed loop of the guideway will be traversed by the transfer car.

The process computer may also generate a load list, which is used by a human spotter to properly place the load with respect to the overhead guideway within one of the terminal areas of the interface. In addition, if a truck trailer load is involved and is to enter the interface at the truck terminal area, the terminal area may be adapted to receive trailer positioning information and translate it into a movement of a trailer-positioner in order to positively locate said trailer.

FIG. 7 illustrates one arrangement of the on board car control 72. A receiver 78 intercepts electrical information signals indicative of car destination from the car instructor 71 and address signals from the address signal emitters 74. As stated, the destination signals contain information indicative of the addresses of the pickup and delivery locations of a given load. These destination signals are stored in memory 75. The actuator 76 upon receipt of the destination signals, initiates operation of the propulsion means 77, which operate propulsion motors 31. As the transfer car moves, the receiver 78 intercepts guideway location addresses from the address signal emitters displaced along the guideway. The propulsion motors remain activated until a received address signal is established by comparator 79 is read which corresponds to the first addressed location stored among the control signals in the memory 75. When equivalence of address signals is determined by the comparator, the propulsion means is shutdown by the actuator 76 and the transfer car comes to a stop at the first location. The rotation and hoist functions may then be initiated by the actuator based on the memory-stored control signals, whereby the load is acquired by the transfer car. Similarly, when this is completed, the actuator again initiates propulsion and the transfer car progresses to the second memorystored address where the actuator controls hoist and rotation functions for the deposit of the load. The rotation and hoist functions may alternatively be performed by human spotters located at the first and second locations.

Alternatives to this automatic control are manual and remote control utilizing a number of human spotters located at appropriate positions around the guideway 10. Spotters may utilize suitable signal mechanisms for controlling propulsion, rotation and hoist of the transfer cars. Remote control systems of this general type are known in the art. For example, one system utilized for remote control of rail vehicles is disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,378,817 which is assigned to the assignee of this application.

FIGS. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 further illustrate operation of the system in respect to train-storage-truck interfaces.

FIG. 8 shows a transfer car 20 located along the span of overhead guideway 10 which is supported by a plurality of guideway support members 16, and overlies a portion of the truck terminal designated by 11a. The hoist 21 of the transfer car 20 has an angular orientation in respect to the transfer car and guideway. Such orientation being suitable for picking up or delivering a load such as the truck trailer 40 within the truck terminal area 11a. The rotational capability of the hoist makes it possible to eliminate much of the maneuvering of trucks using present overhead carrier systems which is necessitated in order to align a cargo with the overhead carrier. In view of this advantage, substantial savings will be achieved in the time spent by truck drivers deliverying cargoes to the truck terminal of the interface. Also, this system overcomes much of the traffic congestion found within present interfaces which do not have the load rotational capability by shortening the stay of each truck tractor within the interfaoe and therefore lessening interference between truck tractors.

[f it is desired to standardize the orientation of trucktrailers delivered to the truck terminal with respect to the overhead guideway for possible automation of the transfer car pickup and delivery sequences, it may be seen that a convenient means for aligning truck-trailers 40 at said truck terminal involves the utilization of substantially parallel flared bumpers 60 forming stalls 62 to engage the wheels of a truck-trailer 40 as it is driven between the bumpers by the truck driver. A uniform alignment may be achieved by limiting the area between the flared bumpers 60 such that only a minimal angular variation will be permitted trailers by the bumpers 60. In addition, a moveable element 61 which is a rear bumper rail, functions as a stop to engage the rear wheels of the trailer 40 at a predetermined point. This point may be computed from information regarding the location of the center of gravity of the trailer 40 with respect to the location of the hoist 21 of the overhanging transfer car 20 as determined by weight inspection of each trailer 40 as it is processed into the interface. This moveable element 61 is desirable in order to insure that unbalanced trailer loads may be picked up in a manner not tending to tilt the hoist 21 and transfer car 20.

Referring now to FIG. 9, the arrangement of the storage area is disclosed. Storage area may be located beneath any segment of the overhead guideway 10 which is not to be used for any interface function which might be hampered by the plurality of loads 40 deposited therein. Angular rotation of the transfer car hoist 21 permits storage of containers arranged trans versely or obliquely in respect to the guideway. The orientation of cargo 40 may be selected to utilize minimum ground space beneath the overhead guideway per container or trailer, thereby enabling more units to be stored per guideway length than is possible using non-rotatable load deposit methods.

FIG. 10 illustrates a rail terminal interface. A transfer car 20 bearing load 40 within its hoist 21 is shown traversing the guideway length 10 above a train within the train terminal 13a. In view of the standardization of most containers and trailers. the vertical height of the overhead guideway 10 may be minimized to allow savings of guideway supports 16 by minimizing clearances between cargoes carried by trains and cargoes carried by transfer cars.

FIG. 11 illustrates a loading or unloading operation at the train terminal 13a. The transfer car with load secured within its strongback hoist 21 has been brought into position above flatbed car 44 of the train in train terminal area 13a. After the transfer car has been brought into general proximity with said flatbed car, a human spotter equipped with appropriate control means, can take over direction of the functions of the transfer car. The car is required to be in a particular position above the flatbed car 44 so that the load 40 may be lowered upon the flatbed car 44 in proper alignment and location for its being secured thereto by means of a locking apparatus located at 43. The requirement of the human spotter is due to the fact that even under automatic control of the transfer car, accurate positioning of the individual railroad cars is extremely difficult because of the slack which occurs in the coupling members between adjacent cars. Thus, although the locomotive may be located with extreme care, subsequent cars in the train may vary by substantial amounts in their longitudinal placement along the track. Therefore, some means should be provided for adjusting the longitudinal placement of the transfer car before a given load is deposited or picked up from a flatbed car. This adjustment may be done by the spotter, as hereinabove indicated, or by an automatic control actuated by a signal sender mounted upon each flatbed car and detected by a sensor upon each transfer car. The use of a spotter is preferrable in that there is then no requirement for the addition of a signal sender on present flatbed car 44. At any rate, present locking means 43 requires human manipulation, and so a spotter must be present at the scene of the cargo loading to perform this function.

FIG. 12 shows the transfer car 20 with its load 40 lowered onto the surface of the flatbed car 44 ready to be locked thereto and transported by the train. FIG. 13 shows the load 40 after the hoist 21 has been detached therefrom and raised back into proximity with the transfer car 20.

A ship terminal area may readily be incorporated in the interface. Cargo may be transferred from the transfer cars to a transfer table which supplies the crane. The transfer table may be disposed moveably upon the ground below a raised portion of the guideway upon which transfer car operates. It is to be noted that, in proximity to the crane and transfer table, it is desirable that the access of the transfer car to the transfer table not be obstructed by guideway supports disposed there between. For this reason, in this area the guideway may be supported in cantilever fashion from single guideway supports located on the opposite side of the guideway from the crane.

SYSTEM OPERATION Operation of the interface system will now be described with particular reference to automated control. As previously stated, the invention is not limited to the form of control described, and any step of the process within the interface may be conducted by means of manual or remote control.

Referring to the present embodiment of the invention, the train-storage truck interface of FIG. I, a standard cycle of operation might be initiated by the entry of a train into the interface. The train's locomotive would be directed to a given longitudinal location along its track within train terminal area 13 of the interface of FIG. 1. Meanwhile, trailers or containers 40 which are to be loaded upon this particular train might be initially located at truck interface terminal area 11 or storage terminal area 12 of the interface.

Referring now to truck terminal area 11, each truck trailer or container 40 entering the terminal will be assigned by the computer two addresses in response to waybill and routing data fed to the computer with respect to said unit. The two addresses correspond to loading and unloading positions along the overhead guideway 10 of FIG. 1. Each of these two positions along the overhead guideway, in addition to every other position along said guideway within the interface where loading, unloading or storage may occur, bears an address. The address corresponding to each position may take the form of the unique signal of a signal emitting source of a well-known variety, as discussed above. The signal emitted at each address will be read by a sensor on board each transfer car. Each address signal will be unique, as for example in terms of frequency or modulation, in order to indicate a unique address.

Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 8, as a truck enters the interface it is assigned the two addresses as discussed above. The first of said addresses is a stall number which corresponds to a stall 62 between a pair of the flared side bumpers 60 of FIG. 8 as discussed above. The truck driver maneuvers his trailer 40 into position between said flared side bumpers 60 and leaves it there. Meanwhile a transfer car 20 has received information from the computer 70 through a car instructor 71 instructing the transfer car to proceed to the address on the guideway corresponding to the stall in which the trailer 40 has been deposited. In addition, the transfer car 20 receives information on the final destination of the trailer 40 to which it is to be carried by the transfer car that is, the second of the two addresses assigned to this trailer.

The movement of the transfer car 20 between desired positions is accomplished as follows. The process computer 70 assigns the two aforementioned addresses to the transfer car through the nearest car instructor 71. This car instructor 71 transmits the information for reception and storage to the on board car control 72 of the transfer car. This on board car control 72 causes the transfer car to proceed along the overhead guideway 10 toward the location of the first address. In the event the car must pass track switches in order to be guided to the appropriate loop of the track, the switches are automatically actuated to provide proper switching. This may be accomplished by a switch control 73 which activates the switch 14 to transfer the car to the appropriate loop. In the particular example this first address corresponds to the stall number in the truck terminal area 11 at which the trailer 40 has been deposited by the truck driver. The transfer car proceeds along loop B reading local addresses as it progresses until it comes upon the trailers address so that the load may be picked up. The transfer car 20 then stops as the propulsion motors are deactivated at this address and the on board car control 72 through its actuator initiates load pickup according to the stored control signals relevant to said pickup.

The load may be picked up automatically as follows: In response to a command from the on board car control 72, the motorized rotational apparatus 23 rotates the hoist 21 to a predetermined angle which corresponds to the fixed angle of the trailer stall 62 between the flared bumpers 60. This may be seen in FIG. 8, Subsequently, the strongback hoist 21 is lowered by a second command from the on board car control 72, the arms of the hoist 21 are spread to envelope the trailer 40, and are attached thereto. Safety devices may be incorporated which temporarily disable the hoist mechanism 26 and the rotational apparatus 23 to preclude inadvertent lift or rotation when, for example, the truck cab is still attached to the trailer 40.

Subsequently, the hoist 21 is raised into proximity with the transfer car with trailer 40 secured therein; the hoist is re-rotated by the motorized rotational apparatus 23 into alignment with the transfer car 20 and overhead guideway 10. The transfer car subsequently travels to the location of the second address stored in the on board control of the transfer car.

For example, if the second address is located at railway terminal B, the transfer car bearing its load 40 progresses to the end of the closed loop from which the load was picked up, and causes actuation of the switch control 73 so as to be routed into loop A. The transfer car then progresses down loop A above the train, as shown in FIG. 10, and comes to rest at the second address location on the guideway, i.e., above the flatbed car which is to receive the load 40. This location is shown in FIG. 10. As discussed above, automatic signal means or a human spotter may be supplied for the local positioning of transfer car 20 above the exact point of the flatbed car 44 for depositing the load 40. If a spotter is used, he may carry a remote control device which will be effective to maneuver the transfer car 20 the small distances between the address on the guideway and the actual desired position above the flatbed car. Alternatively automatic means can be used whereby a sensor on the transfer car detects reference marks or signals in order to obtain perfect alignment.

Referring now to FIG. 12 it may be seen that subsequent to this final positioning of the transfer car 20 above the flatbed railway car 44, the strongback hoist 21 is lowered from the transfer car 20 by cables 22, and load 40 is brought to rest upon the flatbed car 44. Once the load 40 has been lowered to the flatbed car 44, the hoist arms are spread and the hoist 21 is raised into proximity with the transfer car leaving load 40 deposited upon flatbed car 44 as shown in FIG. 13.

Notice is to be taken that throughout the transfer process, the individual load 40 has been handled by a single transfer car. In this way the loading of a railway train by the interface transfer system of the present invention may be accomplished with a minimum handling of cargo between cargo input to the system and output therefrom.

In addition to the truck trailer input of the foregoing example, FIG. 9 discloses a storage area within which numerous load containers 40are aligned. In a fashion similar to that discussed for the truck trailers, the load storage area is arranged with a guideway address above each container. Routing of a transfer car to a storage area 12 for pickup is analogous to that discussed for the truck trailer pickup at the truck interface terminal 13.

In addition the guideway may be stacked to form a multi-level storage facility accessed by elevatormounted guideway.

The unloading of a train and subsequent deposit of containerized cargoes at storage area 13 or truck terminals 12 requires only a reverse of the aforementioned sequences.

Although the invention has been described in connection with a preferred structural embodiment it will be understood that variations and modifications of this structure may be made without departing from the spirit or principles of the invention as defined in the appended claims.

What I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States are:

l. A transfer car for use in an overhead transfer system adapted to transfer cargoes, in the form of containerized loads or truck trailers, among storage and transportation terminal areas, such as. for example, railway, motor vehicle and shipping terminal areas, comprising a guideway comprising spaced apart guide members having a central web and first and second lower flange portions extending orthogonally on opposing sides of said web, said transfer car comprising:

a. a main frame comprising a substantially rectangular configuration constituting a support platform, and end portions extending longitudinally outward of said support platform;

. frame means extending transversely from said end portions;

c. a plurality of bogie means connected to said frame means whereby each of said bogie means is pivotable in respect to said main frame about an axis substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the main frame, said bogie means being positioned to support said frame substantially intermediate said guide members;

. said bogie means comprising;

l. first and second side portions arranged to extend respectively, on opposing sides of the web;

2. at least one central support portion secured to said first and second portion and arranged to extend about the undersurface of said lower flange portions;

3. first and second wheels, rotatably secured by axle means, respectively, to said first and second side portions; said first and second wheels being located in spaced apart parallel position intermediate said first and second side portions and arranged rolling contact on the upper surfaces of, respectively, said first and second lower flange portions;

e. propulsion means adapted to cooperate with preselected ones of said bogie wheels to propel said transfer car;

f. a hoist platform rotatably suspended below said truck;

g. hoisting means secured to said hoist platform and adapted for attachment to cargo containers;

h. motor means for rotating said hoist platform and for raising and lowering said hoisting means.

2. The transfer car of claim 1 wherein said bogie means have pin members extending outwardly in the longitudinal axis and said frame means comprise transversely extending arms adapted to rotatably support the pin members of said bogie means.

3. The transfer car of claim 1 wherein propulsion motor means are secured within the bogie means.

4. The transfer car of claim 1 wherein said frame means are substantially l-l-shaped each having a central portion and two pairs of substantially parallel arms, each of said pairs of arms being adapted to secure one of said bogie means, a first one of said frame means being rigidly secured to one end portion of said main frame and a second one of said frame means having its central portion pivotably secured to the other end portion of said main frame to permit relative vertical displacement between the bogie means secured to each of the pairs of arms.

5. An interface transfer system for transferring containerized cargoes, such as containers or truck trailers, between various transport terminal areas, such as for example, railway, motor vehicle, and shipping terminal areas comprising:

a. an elevated guideway overlying portions of said terminal areas comprising first and second spaced apart parallel guide members extending in a configuration comprising at least one closed loop;

b. means located at the wayside for generating first control signals representative of a first location at which said cargo is to be lifted and a second location at which said cargo is to be deposited;

c. means for generating second signals representative of preselected azimuth orientations and preselected vertical positions relative said guideway means which are to be assumed by said cargo at said first and second locations;

d. a transfer car supported by and moveable along said guideway, said transfer car including propulsion means, hoist means rotatable about a vertical axis and car control means;

e. said car control means including means responsive to said first control signals for starting and stopping said propulsion means for propelling said transfer car to said first and second locations; and said car control means further including means responsive to said second control signals for starting and stopping said rotatable hoist means at said first and second locations in said preselected azimuth orientations and vertical positions.

6. In an interface adapted to transfer cargoes in the form of containerized loads or truck trailers, among storage and transportation media such as a motor vehicle medium, a railway medium, a maritime medium or an aircraft medium, said interface including a plurality of terminal areas adapted to cooperate with said storage and transportation media, a system for transferring said cargoes among said terminal areas comprising:

a. guideway means overlying portions of said terminal areas;

b. a plurality of address signal transmitting means disposed adjacent to said guideway, each of said address signal transmitting means adapted to emit a predetermined address signal representative of a preselected guideway location;

c. means for generating first control signals representative of a first location at which said cargo is to be lifted and a second location at which said cargo is to be deposited;

d. a transfer car supported and moveable on said guideway, said transfer car comprising propulsion means, rotatable ,hoist means and car control means;

e. said car control means comprising:

1. receiving means for receiving said address signals and said first control signals;

2. comparison means for comparing said address signals and said first control signals;

3. actuating means responsive to differences between said compared address signals and first control signals for starting said propulsion means and responsive to equality of said compared address signals and said first control signals for stopping said propulsion means, whereby said transfer car is propelled to said first and second locations;

f. means for generating second control signals representative of preselected azimuth orientations to be assumed by said cargo at said first and second locations;

g. and means responsive to said second control signals for starting and stopping said rotatable hoist means at said first and second locations in said preselected azimuth orientations.

7. An interface transfer system for transferring containerized cargoes, such as containers or truck trailers, between a plurality of different types of transport type terminals, such as railway, highway motor vehicle and storage terminal areas, wherein an elevated guideway overlies portions of each of said terminal areas and whereby cargoes may be transferred between any of said terminal areas by means of a predetermined one of a plurality of transfer cars traveling on said guideway and said guideway and said cargoes may be picked up or deposited at any desired azimuth angle in respect to the longitudinal axis of said guideways, the combination comprising:

a. said elevated guideway comprising first and second spaced apart parallel guide members extending in a configuration comprising at least one closed loop;

b. first signal means located at the wayside for generating and transmitting first electrical signals indicative of a predetermined pickup point on the guideway at which cargo is to be picked up by a predetermined transfer car and of a predetermined destination point on the guideway at which cargo is to be deposited by said predetermined transfer car;

. said predetermined transfer car comprising:

l. a truck having first and second sets of wheels positioned to ride, respectively, on said first and second guide members, whereby said truck is supported and guided by said guideway;

2. propulsion motor means for propelling said transfer car between preselected locations along said guideway;

3. receiving means on said predetermined transfer car adapted to receive said first electrical signals, control means operative in response to said first electrical signals, said control means being coupled to said care propulsion means to

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Classifications
U.S. Classification414/231, 212/318, 414/273, 104/95, 414/348, 105/154, 104/29, 105/163.1, 414/281, 414/261
International ClassificationB65G63/00, B65G63/02
Cooperative ClassificationB65G63/022
European ClassificationB65G63/02A