US 3718224 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
I United States Patent 1191 1111 3,718,224 Hillman 1 1 *Feb. 27, 1973  MACHINE FOR UNLOADING TRAYS  References Cited I LE OF ART C S Ed d UNITED STATES PATENTS  Inventor z igi gg war 3,596,787 8/1971 Rowlands etal. .214/302 3,655,080 4/1972 Gianese ..2l4/302  Assignee: Molins Machine Company Limited L ndon, England n W v Primary Examiner-Gerald M. Forlenza The portion of the term of this patent subse-' jf gifgfgz ggiiifzg gg Groff In quent to July 27, 1988 has been disclaimed 22 Filed: June 8,1971  ABSTRACT Apparatus for discharging a stream of cigarettes or ] Appl 150980 other rod-like articles from a succession of containers R l [1.5, A li ti D t carrying batches of the articles includes means for contacting the upper surface of each batch of articles  Continuation of Ser. No. 702,981, Feb. 5,1968,Pat. while the stream of articles is being withdrawn to 3,595,413' maintain the upper surface of the batch substantially flat and horizontal, so that the succeeding batch of ar-  s Application Monty Dam ticles can be dropped into position on the article Feb. 6, 1967 Great Britain ..s,607/67 remaining from the Previous batch through a p which is substantially uniform in height across the 52 US. Cl .214/302, 214/312 the batch-  Int. Cl ..B65g 47/52 15 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures  Field of Search ..214/300, 301, 302, 312, 313,
PATENTED FEB27I975 SHEET 10F 4 MACHINE FOR UNLOADING TRAYS OF ARTICLES This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 702,981, filed Feb. 3, 1968, now US. Pat. No. 3,595,413 issued July 27,1971.
This invention relates to improvements in the production of streams of articles and is particularly concerned with methods of and apparatus for the production of continuous streams of parallelly aligned rod-like articles moving transversely to their lengths from containers charged with the. articles in parallel alignment.
In the cigarette industry it is frequent practice to convey cigarettes from cigarette-making machines in trays, each of which may hold several thousand cigarettes, to machines where they are packed. One of the problems which arises is that of getting the cigarettes out of the trays and delivering them to the packing machines. The problem becomes greater with the advent of packing machines that operate at considerably higher speeds than has heretofore been usual, and therefore demand a correspondingly greater supply of cigarettes. In general a convenient way to feed the cigarettes to the packets is in a continuous stream but it is difficult to form such a stream in an orderly fashion at high speed.
It is an object of this invention to provide improved methods and apparatus for the production of a continuous' stream of rod-like articles such as, for example, cigarettes.
According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of producing a continuous stream of parallelly aligned rod-like articles moving transversely to their lengths, comprising emptying the articles downwardly out of each in turn of a succession of containers charged with articles in parallel alignment into a hopper having sides to limit horizontal movement of the articles.
A more specific object of this invention is to deliver successive batches of cigarettes or other rod-like articles in trays to a discharge position by dropping each batch on to the top surface of the articles remaining from the previous batch, while substantially preventing the articles from becoming skew as the batch drops into position. This object is achieved, according to one aspect of the invention, by contacting the upper surface of each batch of articles, while a stream of articles is being withdrawn from the batch, to maintain the upper surface substantially flat and horizontal. Thus the succeeding batch of articles can be dropped into position through a gap which is of substantially uniform height across the width of the batch.
Apparatus according to the invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the action of the unloader. In position (a) a full tray 1 of cigarettes has just been picked up by the unloader and a further tray 2 which was picked up immediately before the tray 1 and has been inverted is about to be unloaded into a hopper 3 which contains cigarettes from the tray which preceded tray 2 and which hopper is discharging these in a continuous stream perpendicular to the paper from its lower end. The trays are rectangular and have an open front and an open top. Each tray is carried in a tray holder 4 mounted to be rotatable in the plane of the drawing about an axis through the line 5 to revolve around the hopper 3. The tray holders 4 each support a transversely movable leaf 6. A travelling platform 7 which does not rotate with the tray holders is movable both horizontally and vertically as indicated by the arrows to traverse a rectangular path. The rotary part of the machine moves in steps of between the two vertical positions where it is locked in place while unloading proceeds.
Commencing at the position shown in FIG. 1(a) the platform 7, which is here supporting the cigarettes in the inverted tray 2, is gradually lowered down the hopper 3 while the cigarettes are run out of the hopper, as is shown in FIG. 1(b). When the topmost row of cigarettes is clear of the lower edge of the tray 2, FIG. 1(c), the platform 7 is retracted from the magazine and the tray holders 4 are rotated, FIG. 1(d), bringing the upper one down to the lowermost position ready to exchange its new empty tray for a full one, and swinging the tray 1 up to the unloading position. This movement inverts the tray so that the cigarettes can be unloaded through the open top of the tray under the action of gravity, and is carried out sufficiently quickly to ensure that the cigarettes remain in place in the tray. During rotation the weight of the cigarettes is transferred from the tray to the leaf 6 which is overlying the top of the tray. In addition the leaf 6 of the tray holder 4 moving from the upper to the lower position is moved across the tray holder so that it will overlie the top of the next full tray, and at the same time the platform 7 returns to the top of the hopper 3. Between positions 1(e) and 1(a) platform 7 pushes leaf 6 back across the hopper 3 and takes the weight of the cigarettes in the tray.
The more detailed construction and operation of the tray unloader will now be described with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3.
In the unloader a pair of tray holders, indicated generally at 4 are carried for rotation about a horizontal axis to revolve around the hopper 3, in a pair of supports 8 mounted on a base 9. Trays are supplied to and removed from the machine on a horizontal conveyor 10 which runs below the axis of rotation and parallel therewith, passing through apertures 15 in the supports 8. Cigarettes are discharged in a continuous stream 1 l a little below the axis and in a direction parallel therewith through a further aperture in one of the supports 8 to the hopper of a cigarette-packing machine. The tray holders 4 are mounted diametrically opposite each other between the wings of a pair of butterfly shaped members 12 the central body portions of which are apertured to receive discs 13 carried on the upper ends of the supports 8. The members 12 and the discs 13 together constitute the bearings for the rotation of the tray holders 4. The butterfly members 12 each have an outwardly projecting circular shoulder 14 concentric with the axis for the application of drive to the rotating part of the unloader. This can be facilitated by securing a chain to extend along each shoulder thereby providing a surface which is geared for engagement with a driving cog.
The trays such as 1 and 2 each comprise a rectangular box having an open front and an open top, cigarettes being stacked in the trays in side-by-side relationship so that each extends endwise across the thickness of the box. In the case of tipped cigarettes there is a difference in the thicknesses of the cigarette at its ends and if, as is usual, the cigarettes are stacked in the trays with their tips against the back wall of the tray, the upper cigarettes slope towards the open front, tending to fall out. To counteract this the trays are transported with a slight backward tilt.
A loading ramp 16, along which the conveyor runs, is mounted on the base 9 between the apertures in the supports 8 to provide a stand for the trays at the moment of entering or leaving the unloader and its upper sloping surface acts to maintain the tilt with which trays are delivered to the unloader. The tray holders 4 are designed to receive the trays endwise through the apertures 15 and for this purpose cutaways are formed in the appropriate places in the butterfly members 12. The construction of the holders is most clearly shown with reference to the lowermost holder as seen in FIG. 3 in which the machine is shown picking up the full tray 1 from the ramp 16. Each holder 4 comprises a pair of U-pieces 17, one secured to each butterfly member 12 to embrace the aperture therein and a pair of struts l8 connecting the U-pieces across one limb of each piece and the other limb carries a support 40 for a plate 85 which extends across the front of the tray to hold the cigarettes in position. Each tray has ribs 19 running across the outer face of its back wall and the struts 18 engage with these ribs to locate the trays in the holders. In order to swing the tray 1 between the position shown and a radial position the U- pieces are mounted on the butterfly members 12 by pivots 20. The resulting pivotal movement is limited by padded stops 21 and controlled by two sets of releasable locking mechanisms which are operated by cam means as the holders rotate, firstly, to lock the lowermost holder into a radially aligned carrying position as it advances from the position shown until it once more approaches that position, and secondly, to lock the holder in position on the ramp 16. To co-operate with the first locking mechanism the strutted limb of each of the four U-pieces 17 on the machine is provided with a lug 22 carrying a locking peg 23, and the other limb of each U-piece is connected with a spring 24 secured to the member 12 to bias the holders inthe direction of rotation of the tray holders, which is anti-clockwise as viewed in FIG. 3. Four similar locking mechanisms constitute the first of the above-mentioned sets, one being provided for each U-piece 17 and each comprising a locking arm 25 one end of which is formed with a hook 26 to engage the peg 23 and the other end of which carries one end of a shaft 27 which extends through an arcuate slot 28 in the member 12 and is provided on the other side of member 12 with a cam follower roller 29 which engages with a cam block 30 on the support 8 as the machine rotates. The lever 25 is pivoted to the member 12 at 31 and is biased in an anticlockwise direction (as viewed in FIG. 3) by a spring 32 which acts to lock the hook 26 on the peg 23. As the follower 29 strikes the cam block 30 the lever 25 is pivoted against the spring 32 to disengage the hook 26 from the peg 23 and release the holder. The slot 28 accommoclates and limits the movement of the shaft 27 and thus limits the travel of the locking arm 25.
The second set comprises a pair of locking mechanisms mounted one to each support 8 in the vicinity of the loading ramp 16. Each of these comprises a more or less horizontally disposed latch bar 33 pivoted to the support 8 at 34 and biased in a clockwise direction (FlG. 3) by a spring 35. The strutted limb of each U-piece carries a roller 36 on a shaft 37 and the upper surface of the latch bar is cammed and formed at its free end with a cup to lock on this roller 36. The biased end is formed with a projecting shoulder 38, and a cam block 39 is mounted on the outer side of the butterfly member 12 in such a position as to strike the shoulder 38 and release the roller 36 from the latch as the tray holders move on from the loading position shown.
The movable leaf 6 associated with each tray holder is mounted at its ends on carriages 41 for movement in slides 42, into and out of position across the open top of the tray 1 or 2. Each carriage is urged into position by means of a floating link 43 having one end pivoted to the carriage at 44 and having at its other end a roller 45 which runs in a U-shaped track defined by an element 46 mounted between guide plates 47 secured to a block 48 fixed to the member 12. A spring 49 fixed to an arm 50 which is carried by the fixed block 48 urges the link 43 in the appropriate direction.
A latch is provided to lock the leaf 6 in the position where it is pushed by the travelling platform 7 and this latch comprises, for each carrier 41, a rider 51 which is recessed to engage an edge of the carrier and which is biased to ride thereon by a spring 52 which is also secured to the arm 50. This is most clearly shown in the upper part of FIG. 3. The rider 51 is pivoted to the slide 42 by means of a shaft 53 on which it is mounted and which, passing through apertures in the slide 42 and the support 8 carries at its other end a striker 54 which is operated to release the latch constituted by the rider 51, by engagement with a stub 55.
Turning now to the central section of the unloader, which does not rotate, the hopper 3 is of a similar shape to and has more-or-less the same capacity as a tray and comprises fixed back and side walls 56, 57 and 58, of which wall 57 is shorter than wall 58 to provide an outlet for the cigarette stream 11, and a front wall constituted by upper and lower screens 59 and 60 which move vertically with the platform 7 and between which the platform 7 can move horizontally. The screens 59 and 60 are supported in vertically spaced apart relationship between side member 73 which are formed with grooves along their vertical edges and which are located in tongued guides 61 mounted on the side walls 57 and 58. A guide plate 75 is provided to pack the cigarettes endwise as they descend. The lower screen 60 is flexible and is wound at its lower end on a shaft 101 which is loaded to retract the screen 60 by two reels 102 onto which coil springs 103 are wound from smaller bobbins 104 as the screen is unwound. The
upper end of the screen 60 is provided with a ledge 105 so that it can be raised into position by hand a a latch 106 by means of which it can be hooked on to a locking rib 107 on a frame supporting the platform 7. The platform 7 is carried on a frame comprising two side struts 62 and a cross strut 63. This frame is carried for movement along a rectangular path in a vertical plane by two pairs of chain conveyors each of which comprises an endless chain 65 running over a set of four pulleys 66 mounted at the corners of a rectangular plate 67 which is secured to one of the discs 13 by studs 68, each side strut being mounted at its ends on each chain of one pair of lugs 69. The arrangement operates to move the platform along a rectangular path down inside the hopper 3, to return it externally of the hopper and to move it transversely between these two travels. Driving power is applied to the two chains from a shaft 108 through gears 109 to a shaft 110 and connecting chains 111. On the shaft 108 there is mounted a fail-safe brake 1 12 which is actuated by a failure in the drive to the shaft 108 to clamp it to prevent free movement of the platform 7 which might be damaging. The return movement of the platform 7 is controlled by means of two-switches: a first switch 113 adjacent the ramp 16 which indicates the presence of a filled tray 1 and which is operated by the movement of the tray along the ramp 16 into the tray holder 4, and a second switch 114 actuated by a striker 115. The switch 114 is only operative if a filled tray is waiting, as indicated by the switch 113, and acts to cause the platform to be returned rapidly to its top position. As the platform 7 reaches its uppermost position a switch 136 is actuated by a lug 137 to cause the platform 7 to be slowed down.
The downward movement of the platform 7 is controlled to exert pressure on the cigarettes beneath it for so long as there is any looseness in their packing. To achieve this a feeler plate 70 is disposed immediately beneath the platform and extends forward between the screens 59, 60 where it is formed with two upturned lugs 71. Each lug 71 is secured to a switch 72 carried on the cross strut 63 and connected in the power circuit for the endless chains 65 and each switch is actuated by relative vertical movement of its corresponding lug. The feeler plate 70 lies across the cigarettes and has some freedom to twist in the space between the screens 59 and 60. Thus when the platform 7 is exerting pressure on the whole layer of cigarettes beneath it the feeler plate 70 is horizontal and both switches 72 are in their uppermost, inoperative positions which causes the chains 65 to stop moving until the cigarettes below loosen and one end of the feeler plate 70 drops, operating one of the switches 72.
Cigarettes are run out of the hopper 3 in a continuous stream on two endless belt conveyors 81 and 82, the upper runs of which form the bottom of the hopper. Conveyor 82 is positioned with its upper run slightly above that of the other, the gap being closed by a bridge 83, and is run at a much slower speed, such as one-quarter of the speed of conveyor 81. This assists in accelerating the cigarettes in an orderly fashion without excessive rolling. The stream of cigarettes 11 is carried out of the unloader on conveyor 81 beneath side wall 57, between two guides 84 and through apertures in disc 13 and support 8.
The operation of the machine, which has been described in general terms with reference to FIG. 1 will now be considered in more detail by describing the sequence of events commencing with the arrival of a full tray in the machine.
In the position shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 of the drawings the conveyor 10 has operated to carry an empty tray out of the unloader and to introduce the full tray 1 into the machine. The tray 1 is introduced end- -wise and fits snugly within the framework defined by the cross-struts 18, which bear against the ribs 19 running across the back of the tray, the plate and the upper surface of the ramp 10. Once the tray is in position the unloader is operated to rotate the tray through to the unloading position where it is held stationary while the unloading proceeds.
At the commencement of this movement the tray is swung into a radial position. The tray holder 4 which carries the tray is released so that it shall be free to swing about the two pivots 20 by the engagement of the shoulders 38 with the cam blocks 39, which disengages the latch bars 33 from the rollers 36. The couple produced by the forward movement of the support pivots 20 and the ensuing reaction against the ramp 16 twists the tray holder 4, and thence the tray 1, in a clockwise direction (as viewed in FIG. 3) until the pegs 23 engage in the hooks 26 locking the tray in the radial position where the leaf 6 is a snug fit over the top of the tray.
Meanwhile the platform 7 which is supporting the stack of cigarettes from the preceding tray, tray 2, is lowering the stack into the magazine 3 as the cigarettes already in there are discharged on the conveyor 81. As the platform 7 reaches the lower limit of its vertical travel on the chains 65 the topmost layer of cigarettes on the stack passes out of the tray 2 into the magazine. The platform 7 then commences its horizontal travel on the chains 65 and is retracted from the hopper 3 whereupon the stack of cigarettes supported on the platform drops the short distance on to the cigarettes below. At this point the unloader is rotated and the platform continues its retraction in the vertical direction, the timing being arranged so that the upper screen 59 does not foul the out-going tray 2.
Since the cigarettes do not quite till the tray, and in any event the upper layers of tipped cigarettes lie with their untipped ends below their tipped ends, there is a gap between the cigarettes and the leaf 6 covering the top of the tray and when the tray is inverted the cigarettes drop a small distance as their weight is transposed to the leaf 6. In order that they shall drop in an orderly fashion, without undue twisting or crossing, it is necessary for them to fall along a vertical line. This is achieved by rotating the unloader between the two positions at a sufficiently fast speed to ensure that the centrifugal force acting on the cigarettes is sufficient to prevent them dropping until they are brought to rest in the unloading position, where the tray is vertical.
The incoming tray 1 arrives in the unloading position with the leaf in registration with the platform 7 which is synchronized to be at the top of its travel at this moment and which then proceeds along its upper horizontal path pushing the leaf 6 back under the cigarettes against spring 49 until the rider 51 drops into place holding the leaf 6 in the retracted position.
Having pushed back the leaf 6 and taken the weight of the cigarettes in the tray the platform 7 travels downwards until the feeler plate 70 is resting horizontally on the cigarettes below. The emptying of the tray then proceeds as previously described. On the next movement of the unloader the emptied tray is brought down to the lowered position where it is exchanged for a further full tray. Before this exchange can take place the tray holder has to be released, moved into the vertical position and locked there and the leaf 6 has to move into its operative position. This is all achieved by the cam arrangements which have been described which are operated by the last part of the movement into the lower position. Engagement of the strikers 54 with the stubs 55 lifts the retaining riders 51 and allows the leaf 6 to move back into position under the action of springs 49. Similarly engagement of the rollers 29 with the cam blocks 30 unlatches the arms 25 from the pegs 23 releasing the tray holder to swing under its own weight about the pivots 20 until it comes into the position shown where it is located by the engagement of the U- pieces 17 with the stops 21 and of the bottom of the tray with the ramp is. As the tray holder swings the rollers 36 run along the latch bars 33 until they lock in the recesses in the ends thereof, thereby locking the tray holder in the tilted position.
The conveyor 10 is now operated to replace the empty tray with a full one, and the cycle of operation is completed.
The modified tray unloader shown in FIGS. 4 and is designed to perform on the trays and cigarettes the same operations as have so far been described but the mechanism for handling the trays is simplified.
The trays are delivered to and removed from the tray holders 4 by a carriage 1 16 mounted on a conveyor 1 17 which reciprocably moves the carriage 116 between the position shown in FIG. 4 and a position outside the tray unloader to the right thereof where it exchanges empty trays for full ones.
The trays are tilted into and out of a radial position by a mechanism comprising a roller 118 mounted on the tray holder 4 which latter is pivotally mounted at 119, and fixed cams 120 and 121 which control the movement of the roller 118 and thereby control the swinging of the tray holder 4 about its pivots. The cam 121 extends from the point shown about three-quarters of the way around the machine. As the machine rotates anti-clockwise from the position shown in FIG. 5, the weight of a tray in the tray holder 4 swings it back to a radial position against a stop 122, this movement being controlled by the roller 1 18 running up the front face of cam 120. The tray holder 4 is held in the radial position when the roller 118 runs under the cam 121. It is returned to the tilted position by the roller 1 18 running down the back face of the cam 120.
The leaf 6 is moved to and fro along slide rods 123 which support it by pivot arms 124 which are secured to a shaft 125, which is biased to rotate by constant pressure coil springs 126 carried on spools 127. The rotation of the shaft 125 is controlled by a ratchet 128 and a pawl 129 pivoted at 135 and biased into engagement therewith by a spring 130. A cam 131 is fixed in a position to be struck by a roller 132 carried on the pawl 129 as the unloader rotates into the position shown. In this position the leaf 6 is advanced and prevented from moving off the slide rods 123 by engagement of the pawl 129 with a notch 133 in the ratchet 128. In the upper position of the tray holder 4 the travelling platform 7 pushes the leaf 6 back along the slide rods 123 against the springs 126 until the pawl 129 locks into a notch 134 in the ratchet 128. Engagement of the roller 132 with the cam 131 lifts the pawl 129 releasing the ratchet 128 allowing the leaf 6 to move forward under the action of the springs 126.
1. Apparatus for discharging parallelly aligned rodlike articles moving transversely to their lengths from a succession of containers charged with batches of the articles in parallel alignment, comprising a. means for delivering successive batches of articles to a discharge position,
b. withdrawal means below said discharge position for withdrawing a stream of transversely moving articles from each batch,
. means for guiding each batch of articles vertically downwards towards said withdrawal means,
. a plate for contacting the upper surface of each batch of articles while it is passing downwards towards said withdrawal means, I
. plate carrying means for supporting the plate in a horizontal position, and
f. means for moving the plate carrying means horizontally towards the top of each batch of articles prior to the discharge of the batch through the withdrawal means, for moving the plate downwards in contact with the batch while the batch is being discharged, for then moving the plate horizontally away from the articles when the batch has been substantially fully discharged, and for moving the plate vertically upwards again to the position in which it is ready to be applied to the top surface of the next batch of articles at said discharge position.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1 in which the means for moving the plate comprises a motor and the plate carrying means includes at least one switch which operates to start the motor driving down the plate when the plate moves downwards relative to the plate carrying means.
3. Apparatus for withdrawing a stream of rod-like articles from a succession of batches of the articles while the articles are maintained in parallel alignment, comprising a. means for delivering successive batches of articles to a discharge position,
b. means below said discharge position for withdrawing said stream of articles from the articles of each batch as each batch moves substantially vertically downwards from said discharge position,
c. means for contacting the upper surface vof each batch of articles while it is moving downwards towards said withdrawal means, and
d. means for returning the contacting means to a position in contact with the upper surface of a succeeding batch of articles,
e. whereby the upper surface of each batch formed of a row of rod-like articles is maintained substantially flat and horizontal, and the rod-like articles are maintained in alignment as the batch moves downwardly.
4. Apparatus according to claim 3 further comprising means for guiding said contacting means downwards in contact with the upper surface of each batch of articles until each batch has been substantially fully withdrawn.
5. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said contacting means comprises at least one substantially horizontally disposed plate.
6. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the means for withdrawing a stream of articles from each batch comprises at least one conveyor means for transporting said stream of articles in a substantially horizontal direction.
7. Apparatus according to claim 3 further comprising drive means for driving said contacting means downwards to maintain the contacting means in contact with the upper surface of each batch of articles.
8. Apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said contacting means comprises carrier means movable along said guiding means and sensing means mounted on said carrier means for contacting and sensing the upper surface of a batch, said apparatus further comprising drive means for driving said carrier means and sensing means downwards, said sensing means controlling operation of said drive means to maintain said sensing means in contact with the upper surface of the batch.
9. Apparatus according to claim 4 wherein said contacting means comprises carrier means movable along said guiding means and a substantially horizontally disposed plate for contacting the upper surface of a batch mounted on said carrier means, said plate being vertically movable with respect to said carrier means, said apparatus further comprising drive means for driving said carrier means and plate downwards to maintain said plate in contact with the upper surface of each batch of articles and control means responsive to the upward and downward movements of said plate relative to said carrier means to respectively stop and start said drive means to stop and start downward movement of said plate and carrier means and maintain said plate in contact with the upper surface of each batch.
10. Apparatus according to claim 9 wherein opposite ends of said plate are independently vertically movable with respect to said carrier means and said control means comprises a plurality of separate control elements, each responsive to the upward and downward movement of a different one of said ends of said plate with respect to said carrier means, whereby any one of said control elements will start and stop said drive means and downward movement of said plate and carrier means.
11. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said contacting means comprises carrier means and a substantially horizontally disposed plate, said plate being arranged to contact the upper surface of a batch while the batch is moving downwards towards said withdrawal means and said carrier means being arranged to simultaneously support and lower the next succeeding batch from said discharge position towards said withdrawal means.
12. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said means for delivering batches of articles to said discharge position comprises means for successively inverting containers, each containing a batch, and delivering said inverted containers to said discharge position.
13. Apparatus according to claim 12 wherein said means for inverting containers comprises means for moving the containers in succession along a circular path between a transfer position below said withdrawal means and said discharge position.
14. Apparatusaccording to claim 13 wherein said means for moving containers moves empty containers from said discharge position to said transfer position, said apparatus further comprising conveyor means to deliver filled containers to and remove empty containers from said transfer position.
15. Apparatus for withdrawing rod-like articles from a succession of batches of the articles while maintaining the articles in parallel alignment, comprising a. means for delivering one batch of articles at a time to a discharge position,
b. means below said discharge position for withdrawing said articles from each batch as each batch moves substantially vertically downwards, and
c. means for supporting and maintaining each batch above the level of the upper surfaces of the articles remaining from the previous batch, platemeans for maintaining the upper surface of the previous batch substantially flat and horizontal, and e. means for dropping each batch on top of the articles remaining from the previous batch when said previous batch has been substantially fully discharged,
f. whereby the gap through which each batch of articles drops is substantially uniform in height across the width of the batch preventing any of the individual articles in the batch from becoming skew.