US 3722656 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Loomis, Jr. et a1.
154] SYSTEM FOR HANDLING AND ACCUMULATING ARTICLES  Assignee: Rexham Corporation, New York,
Filed: June 23, 1971 Appl. No.: 156,004
1 1 Mar. 27, 1973 1,206,901 12/1916 Paridon ..53/252 3,368,660 2/1968 Standley et al. ...l98/34 2,646,869 7/1953 Kay ..l98/34 .Primary Examiner-Gerald M. Forlenza Assistant ExaminerLawrence J. Oresky AttorneyWolfe, Hubbard, Leydig, Voit & Osann  ABSTRACT 52 U.S. c1. ..l98/l9, 198/24, 198/76 as required by the mput Package"  Int Cl B65 17/32 After the buckets have been loaded with packages, g control of the buckets is switched to a timing com  Field of Search ..198/34,131,151,24,19, 76, h h k d 53/251 252 veyor t at advances t e buc ets at a spec and pitch which match the speed and pitch of buckets on a continuously moving accumulating conveyor operable to  References C'ted receive the packages and to move the packages along- UNITED STATES PATENTS side a continuously moving conveyor carrying cartons into which the packages are inserted by an automatic 2,296,201 9 1942 Carter ..198/76 cartoner 683,039 9/1901 Hagen ..l ..l98/76 1,247,722 11/1917 Rogers et a1 ..53/250 7 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures i 1 f7 1 If j/ l J 1/ 1 1 I1 /Z 22/ 2/ 21 g L 1 11/ x //\D 1 7 2 a I; /'i 3:21:: 6 7
' A i A 2 v11 11 1111/11 1| u u' u ill" 11 IL 11 ILLILI [:1' 51:1 1' :1 [31:1 11 H V J: 7 Qj fiU DEIU -JLJUUUI 11 1| 1| 1| ll filh 1 ll 11 n u u 11 11 11 1| 1| 4] 2/ w L 21 zy 1:5 1 j z! I y I. l 1/ I BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It is well-known in moving fluids across the country or from one. location to another that in the usual system, surface or sub-surface pipe lines are utilized. For example, where it is desirable to move fluids such as oil from the wellhead to the ultimate destination, usually atransmission pipe line is constructed interconnecting the wellhead with a pipe transmission line for, in turn, transporting the oil cross-country to the ultimate destination. While such systems are beneficial for the owners of such international or intercontinental pipe lines, the economic factors facing independent well operators is significant. Usually, the independent operator is required to lease the pipe lines owned by others for the purpose of transporting the oil from his well, and such rentals are significant economic factors. Inaddition, usually the transmission time involved in transporting fluids through such transmission pipe lines is quite lengthy and it takes anywhere from 15 to 25 days for fuel to travel from say, a wellhead in Texas to a market in Chicago, for example. 5
Another problem associated with transporting fluids through a surface or sub-surface fixed pipeline is the fact that the capacity of such pipe lines has already been reached and in order to transport greater amounts of fluids, larger pipe lines are required. It is already presently apparent that the fuel requirements for many,
of the major cities have greatly increased as the populalation have experienced difficulties in obtaining proper fuel requirements due to the fact that these town and cities are not ideally located as an end point or destinatio'n point in a fixed pipe line transmission system.
Hence, such small communities must usually rely upon trucks to receive their quota of fuel requirements, which thereby necessitates the passage of additional time before the fuel can be delivered. Of course, this problem causes additional social and economic problems since small communities therefore have difficulties in attracting other industry which would provide economic employment for the members of the community. Hence, the delay, or in some cases, lack of fuel requirements, poses an economic threat to small communities. 7
The prior patented art does disclose various types of systems wherein a plurality of tanks are interconnected by means of a series of pipes. For example, in US. Pat. No. 725,793, there is shown a drainage system wherein a plurality of reservoirs or tanks are interconnected by means of a series of pipes whereby a fluid such as water may be distributed throughout the system. However, it should be noted that such systems does not have any removable connector members, nor is the system designed to load, transport and subsequently unload fluids from a rolling pipe line primarily for the purpose -tion centers have expanded and in some instances in of transporting fluids from one location to another. Similarly, in US. Pat. No. 3,095,893, there is shown a system for emergency water storage and distribution used in conjunction with building water distribution systems and the like. Once again, there is shown a series of reservoirs or tanks which are interconnected by means of pipes having valves interposed in the'line to open and close various of the pluralityof tanks. Such systems are not designed for the purpose of moving liquids from one location to'another nor does the same function in this manner. Similar comments are applicable with respect to US. Pat. No, 2,268,086 wherein once again a series of tanks is shown interconnected and in fluid communication by means of a series of fixed pipes which function solely for the purpose of transmitting fluid from one tank to another, and the system is not designed to transport fluids over long distances as an integral system.
Similar comments are applicable with respect to US Pat. No. 1,234,625, which shows a system of water distribufion especially adapted for use in connection with railway passenger trains, thesystem disclosed therein for the purpose of supplying water to each of the cars in the train from acentral or main supply tank and hence, does not teach and is not concerned with the air to each of the cars in the train. Similarly, US. Pat.
No. 1,361,666, is once again directed to a system for interconnecting train cars in order to supply each of the cars in the train with a source of compressed air and is not concerned with the function of providing an integral system which is, in effect, a rolling pipe line.
As has been indicated hereinabove, to date there has been no system proposed other than fixed pipe transmission lines for transporting fluids, such as fuel oil and the like, over long distances from the point of origin, such as a wellhead'to the point of ultimate use, such as an oil refinery, or the like. Hence, the system of the present invention, as well as the method described herein is primarily designed for the purpose of offering alternative solutions to the problem of moving fluids over great distances while at the same time minimizing the cost to the operator.
Hence, the present invention provides a convenient means for loading fluids at the point of origin thereof and transporting those fluids to the market area where such fluids are needed, in a reduced period of time, for a lesser economic cost, and which in effect, expands the market areas where such fluids may be utilized.-
These and other problems are overcome by the system and method of the present invention, since the system proposed herein takes advantage of the railway network presently existing in this and other countries and incorporates therein the concept of a continuous pipe line resulting in a system which can travel to the point of origin of the fluid involved, load the fluids in an efficient manner and at low cost, and transport the same to the desired market area. In addition, the various components illustrated in connection with the present system may be incorporated in the existing equipment at a fairly nominal cost thereby obviating the necessity of having to expend great sums of money in order to make the present system practically applicable.
In view of all the above problems, it is the object of this invention to provide an improved system for moving fluidssuch as fuel oil and the like, from the point of origin of such fluids, such as a wellhead to the ultimate market, which obviates many of the problems discussed above.
It is therefore the principal object of the present invention to provide a movable-system for accommodatin g the consecutive loading, transporting and unloading of fluids by means of a plurality of wheeled tank cars which includes a plurality of such wheeled tank cars being removably connected one to the other, each of the tank cars being provided with conduit means adjacent the opposed ends thereof and connector means for interconnecting adjoining tank cars thereby to establish fluid communication as between adjoining tank cars, whereby a plurality of such tank cars may be efficiently loaded at the point of origin of the fluid by merely connecting the last tank car to the wellhead via a pump and pumping in the desired amount of fluids,
after which .all the appropriate valves may then be closed in order to retain the fluids within the tank cars, and then the tank cars transported to the destination point and there unloaded.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a system for loading, transporting, and unloading fluids in a plurality of interconnected tank cars being in fluid communication one to the other, the improvement consisting of flexible connector means for interconnecting adjoining tank cars whereby once loaded, the tank cars may remain interconnected and in-fluid communication during transit, thereby to facilitate unloading at the point of destination.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a system of the type set forth above wherein the connector means include engagement means for disengageably engaging adjoining tank cars thereby to secure the connector means in position during loading, transit and unloading of said tank cars.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a system of the type described wherein the connector means includes evacuation means associated with the connector means whereby fluids disposed within the connector means may be evacuated into the adjoining tank cars during transit, thereby to prevent accidental spillage of fluids from the connector means.
Still a further-object of this invention is to provide a method for sequentially loading, transporting and unloading fluids from a plurality of' interconnected tank cars which consist of the steps providing a plurality of wheeled tank car assemblies each of the tank car assemblies having a storage tank and conduit means extending outwardly from each of the opposed ends of the tank car, interconnecting adjacent conduit means by means of a connector member to establish fluid communication therebetween and interconnecting the plurality of tank cars loading the tank cars with a fluid by pumping the fluid through the interconnected tank is provided with a pair of conduit means extending outwardly from opposed ends thereof, the connector member being so constructed as to slidably engage adjacently extending conduit means thereby to establish fluid communication between adjoining tank carsthrough the conduit means and the connector member, whereby fluids may be introduced into and withdrawn from a plurality of such interconnected tank cars, thereby obviating the necessity of filling and emptying each of the tank cars individually.
Further features of the invention pertain to the particular arrangement of the elements and parts whereby the above-outlined and additional operating features thereof are attained.
The invention both as to its organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood by reference to the following specification taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. l'is a plan view showing a series of three tank cars interconnected in fluid communication and connected to a wellhead pump in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an elevational view, partly in cross-section, showing the means for interconnecting adjoining tank cars via the connector member of the'present invention. I v I FIG. '3 is an elevational view, partly in cross-section, showing another embodiment of the connector member in connected relationshipwith the conduit means of a tank car.
FIG. 4 is an elevational view, partly in cross-section, showing still another embodiment of a connector member in accordance with the present invention in connected relationship with the conduit means of a tank car.
FIG, 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating the means by which the various tank cars are interconnected and the central control means for controlling the engagement means and evacuating means with respect to each of the connector members in a series of such similar connector members.
FIG. 6 is a side cross-sectional view showing a connector member in accordance with the present invention in connected relationship with the conduit means of adjoining tank cars, the connector member being shown in the engaged position. I
FIG. 7 is a top view showing one embodiment of an inflexible connector member connected to adjoining tank cars and illustrating the manner in which the tank cars may move around a curved track, the connector member permitting angular movement of one tank car with respect to the other and;
FIG. 8 is a top view of another embodiment of a flexible connector member according to the present invention, which flexes to permit curved movement of one tank car with respect to the other, as the same travel about a curved path.
around the left end of the demand conveyor toward the loading station. All that is needed is an upright link 91 (FIG. 3) which pivotally connects the operating arm 83 and the lever 90 for rocking in unison. As the upper operating arm 83 swings clockwise, the link lifts rock the lower stop lever 90 clockwise to raise the lower stop lug 89 out of its blocking position and thereby release a bucket for movement from the stand-by station to the loading station.
It will be evident that all of the reserve buckets 58 backed up along the lower run of the demand conveyor behind the lower stop lug 89 will begin to move with the conveyor as soon as the stop is lifted. To eliminate the need for quick return of this stop to its blocking position, the right end surface 93 (FIG. 3) of the lower lever 90 is used as an auxiliary stop disposed into the path of the next stop block 80 when thestop lug is raised, thereby preventing additional buckets from passing the lever after the release of one bucket. As the stop lug 89 is returned to its blocking position, the auxiliary stop is raised out of its blocking position to release the buckets for movement through a short distance until stopped by the lug.
To reduce the drag on the conveyor chain 51 by the buckets 58 held behind the various stops, a decoupling device is mounted on each of the buckets to release the clamping pressure of the block 66 on the following bucket as the latter moves into abutting engagement with the stopped bucket. In this instance, the decoupling device is simply a wedge 94 '(FIG. 5) fastened to the bracket 63 and projecting rearwardly therefrom level with the two blocks 65, 66 on the following bucket so as to enter between the leading end portions of the blocks and to cam the blocks apart. The extent of separation of the blocks may be very slight and need by only enough to relieve the pressure exerted on the friction band 64. When the leading bucket is released by its stop, the initial motion of the bucket pulls the wedge 94 from between the clamping blocks 65, 66 and thus releases the movable blockto'the action of its spring 70 for immediate recoupling of the trailing bucket to the conveyor. Although means could be provided for releasingthe clamping pressure of the connector on the leading bucket as well, it has been found that the drag exerted by the one bucket at each stop is not serious'enough to require attention.
With the foregoing arrangement, the buckets 58 on each demand conveyor 20 are advanced to the loading station 74 as required by the output of the packager l7 and are not moved out of the loading station until filled with the proper number of packages 15 thereby to avoid a short fill in the event the packager fails to deliver a package atthe regular time. If the packager shuts down, the buckets simply are held in the -stand-by station 86 rather than passing through the loading station without being filled. Also, the demand conveyors 20 act as buffers between the packagers l7 and the accumulating conveyor 21 and avoid the need of synchronizing the packagers with the accumulating conveyor and the cartoner 24 so that the packagersand the cartoner may operate independently of one another. The demand conveyors thus increase the versatility and flexibility of the packaging system.
In accordance with the present invention, a timing conveyor 95 (FIGS. 7 and 10) coacts in a unique manner-with each demand conveyor 20 to enable the packages 15 loaded into the buckets 58 of the demand conveyor to be shifted into the buckets 29 of the accumulating conveyor 21 while the latter is advanced at high speeds with continuous and uninterrupted motion. For these purposes, each timing conveyor 95 takes-over control of the loaded buckets 58 from the associated demand conveyor 20 at a transfer station 96 (FIG. 7) and advances the buckets in registry with and at the same speed as the continuously moving buckets 29 of the accumulating conveyor so that the packages can be shifted out of the buckets 58 and into the buckets 29 during the advance. After the buckets 58 have been unloaded and as they pass through a second transfer. station 97(FIG. 7), they are released from the control of the timing conveyor 95 and switched back to the control of the demand conveyor 20 for return to the standby station 86. Accordingly, the packaging system possesses the flexibility and versatility afforded by the demand conveyors 20 and, through the provision of the timing conveyors 95, is integrated with and enjoys the advantages of a high speed, continuous motion cartoner 24 which operates in conjunction with a continuously moving carton conveyor 23 and a continuously moving accumulating conveyor 21.
In this instance, each timing conveyor 95 is located near the downstream end portion of the associated demand conveyor 20 (see FIGS. 7 andl0) and comprises a horizontal chain 100 disposed in a vertical plane and located alongside the demand chain 51, the chain 100 being trained around an upstream idler sprocket 101 (FIGS. 9 and 10) and a downstream driving sprocket 103. The idler sprocket l0l'is located adjacent the first transfer station 96 and about midway between the driving and idler sprockets 53 and 54 of the demand conveyor 20 while the driving sprocket 103 is located adjacent the second transfer station 97 and just inboard of the driving sprocket 53 of the demand conveyor. The sprockets 101 and 103 of the timing conveyor 95 are smaller than the sprockets 53 and 54 of the demand conveyor and are rotatable about axes which are spaced above the rotational axes of the sprockets 53 and '54. As a' result of the relationship between the sprockets of the demand and timing'conveyors, the upper run of the timing conveyor parallels and is disposed in substantially the same horizontal plane as the upper run of the demand conveyor while the lower mulating and carton conveyors 21 and 23. For this purpose, a chain 105 (FIGS 1, 9 and 10) is driven by the long shaft 49 extending along the accumulating conveyor 21 and is connected into a gearbox 106 associated with the timing conveyor 95. The gearbox, in turn, effects rotation of the driving sprocket 103 by way of a chain 107 and a shaft 109. The accumulating conveyor, the carton conveyor and the timing conveyors are driven at a higher speed than the demand conveyors 20 and thus the chain of each timing conveyor moves faster than the chain 51 of the associated demand conveyor. A
As shown most clearly in FIGS. 7 and 10, several pusher lugs 110 are attached to the timing chain 100 and are spaced along the chain by a distance: equal to twice the pitch of the buckets 58 on the accumulating I conveyor 21. As each lug 110 passes upwardly around i the idler sprocket 101 and into the first transfer station 96, the lug engages the trailing end of the bracket 63 of the loaded bucket 58 in the transfer station and takes over control of the advance of the bucket from the demand conveyor 20 (FIGS. 7 and 10). That is, the lug 110 picks up and engages the bucket as an incident to initially moving along the upper run of the timing conveyor 95 and, being advanced at a higher speed than the chain 51 of the demand conveyor 20, the lug forces the bucket to move relative to and faster than the demand chain. As the bucket is advanced by the lug, the friction connector 65, 66 on the bucket slips along the friction band 64 on the demand chain 51 to permit the buckets to be moved relative to' and free of the control of the demand chain. 2
Accordingly, during the advaneementof the buckets 58 along the upper run of each timing conveyor 95, the buckets are controlled by the pusher lugs 110 and are moved in registry with and at the same speed as the buckets 29 on the accumulating conveyor 21. The packages in the buckets 58 thus may be shifted out of the latter and into the buckets 29 as the buckets 58 are advanced along the upper run of the timing conveyor and between the two transfer stations 96 and 97. After being unloaded, each bucket 58 moves into the second transfer station 97 and, at this time, the pusher lug 110 trailing the bucket curves downwardly around -the drive sprocket 103 and moves out of engagement with the bucket..Control of the bucket thus is autom atically turned back over to the demand conveyor as I the friction connector'65, 66 re-grips the friction band mentarily held by a stop lug 75 (FIG. 7) similar to the lug 75 and actuated by a pneumatic cylinder 81'. Operation of the cylinder 81 is controlled by a switch 115 (FIG. 1) positioned to be actuated by a cam 116 rotated by a sequence shaft 117 which is driven in timed relation with the shaft 49 by a chain 119. The cam and switch effect actuation of the cylinder 81" through one reciprocating cycle for each revolution of the shaft 117 and thus the stop lug 75 is moved in timed relation with the timing conveyor 95 and is first retracted downwardly to release a bucket 58 in the transfer station 96 and then is returned upwardly to stop the succeeding bucket moving into the transfer station.
Each time a pusher lug 110 moves upwardly into the first transfer station 96, the bucket dwelling in the station is released by the stop lug 75' and is advanced along the upper runs of the demand and timing conveyors 20 and 95 by the pusher iug. As pointed out above, the pusher lug causes the bucket to slip along and move faster than the demand conveyor and serves to advance the bucket in registry with and at the same speed as one of the buckets 29 on the accumulating conveyor 21. Accordingly, after the bucket 58 has been matched in speed and position with one of the buckets 29, a package pusher 120 (FIG. 1) shoves the packages 15 out of the bucket 58 and into the bucket 29 before closed in Martin U. S. Pat. No. 3,269,091.
The packages 15 from each timing conveyor 95 are delivered into every second bucket 29 on the accumulating conveyor 21, the two timing conveyors being arranged so that the first timing conveyor loads the first of every group of two buckets 29 and the second timing conveyor loads the second bucket of such group. Ac-
cordingly, after the buckets 29 pass by the second timing conveyor, all of the buckets are filled with packages. The packages from a pair of buckets 29 then are loaded substantially simultaneously into two cartons 16 in the holders34 on'the carton conveyor 23 by a pair of packagepushers 121 (FIG. I) mounted to move in unison with the holders 34 and to shift the packages from the buckets and into the cartons.
In the event the cartoner 24 shuts down and interrupts operation of the accumulating conveyor 21 and the timing conveyors 95, a signal is sent from the cartoner to the control for each cylinder 81 so that the latter'will hold its stop lug 75 permanently in the blocking position to prevent the demand conveyor 20 from advancing any bucket 58 past the first transfer station 96. Each packager 17, however, may continue to run and load packages. 15 into the buckets 58 supplied to the loading station 74 by the demand conveyor 20 until such time as a total of five loaded buckets are stored immediately upstream of the first transfer station 96. As the fifth bucket moves into and dwells in the storage area, limit switches 125 (FIG. 7') actuated by the fourth and fifth buckets shut down the packager untiloperation of the cartoner 24 is resumed to enable the timing conveyor to once again pick up the buckets in the first transfer station. Accordingly, each packager may continue to operate for a short period of time after the cartoner shuts down and thus it is not necessary to interrupt operation of the packagers if the cartoner is shut down only momentarily.
Because each timing conveyor operates at a higher speed than the associated demand conveyor 20, the timing conveyor is capable of disposing of the backlog of buckets 58 that builds up in the storage area when the cartoner 24 is shut down. Also, the speed dif ferential between the demand and timing conveyors periodically results in a bucket 58 being absent at the first transfer station 96 when a pusher lug arrives at the transfer station. Under such circumstances, the lug will pass between the transfer stations 96 and 97 without advancing a bucket 58 and thus isolated ones of the buckets 29 on the accumulating conveyor 21 will not be filled. This is not critical, however, since the empty'buckets on the accumulating conveyor can be easily detected by monitoring devices which automatically signal the cartoner 24 to leave a carton out of the carton holders 29 associated with the empty accumlator buckets.
1. In a system for handling packages and for loading the packages into cartons, the combination of, first and second endless conveyors having upper runs extending through first and second horizontally spaced transfer stations with the upper run of at least said first conveyor also extending through a loading station spaced upstream of said first transfer station, mechanism for continuously advancing the upper runs of said conveyors in the same direction, a succession of packagecarrying buckets, means on said buckets releasably coupling the buckets to said first conveyor for movement with the latter from said loading station to said first transfer station and from said second transfer station back to said loading station, means in said loading station for momentarily uncoupling said buckets from said first conveyor to enable the buckets to dwell while packages are loaded into the buckets at said loading station, means in said first transfer station for uncoupling the loaded buckets from said first conveyor to enable the latter to move relative to the buckets and to leave the buckets in the first transfer station, means on said second conveyor for picking up the loaded buckets left in said first transfer station by said first conveyor and for advancing such buckets in equally spaced relation to said second transfer station, mechanism located between said transfer stations and operable during advancement of the buckets between the transfer stations .to shift the packages out of such buckets for insertion into cartons, and the empty buckets being re-coupled to said first conveyor at said second transfer station for return to said loading station.
2. A system as defined in claim 1 in which the upper run of said first conveyor extends beyond the upstream and downstream ends of the upper run of said second conveyor.
3. A system as defined in claim 2 further including a first pair of horizontally spaced sprockets guiding said first conveyor, and a second pair of horizontally spaced sprockets guiding said second conveyor and rotatable about axes located between and above the rotational axes of said first pair of sprockets.
4. A system as defined in claim 3 in which said means on said second conveyor for picking up and advancing said buckets comprise a series of equally spaced lugs carried by said second conveyor, said lugs automatically moving into engagement with the buckets in the first transfer station as an incident to passing upwardly around the upstream one of said second pair of sprockets and automatically moving out of engagement with the buckets advanced to said second transfer station as an incident to passing downwardly around the downstream one of said second pair of sprockets.
5. A system as defined in claim 4 in which said advancing mechanism moves said first conveyor at a slower rate than said second conveyor.
6. A system as defined in claim 1 in which an additional pair of conveyors similar to said first pair of conveyors are disposed end-to-end with the first pair, means for advancing the second conveyor of the second pair at the same speed as the second conveyor of the first pair, an accumulating conveyor disposed alongside be h of said second conveyors, package carriers spaced along said accumulating conveyor by distances correlated with the spacing between the buckets advanced by the second conveyors, and mechanism for continuously advancing said accumulating conveyor at the same rate as said second conveyors whereby said packages may be shifted into said carriers as an incident to being shifted out of said buckets.
7. In a system for handling articles, the combination of, a first endless conveyor, mechanism for continuously driving said conveyor at a predetermined rate, a succession of article carriers, means on said carriers releasably coupling the latter to said conveyor for movement with the conveyor along a predetermined path into spaced loading and transfer stations, means in said loading station for momentarily uncoupling said carriers from said conveyor to enable the carriers to dwell while articles are loaded into the carriers, a second endless conveyor having means movable through said transfer station for engaging the loaded carriers advanced to the transfer station and for causing the carriers to advance in equally spaced relation along a continuation of said path, and mechanism for continuously advancing said second conveyor at a different rate than said first conveyor whereby the carriers are advanced into the transfer station at one velocity and are advanced out of the transfer station at a different velocity.
Patent NO, 3,722,656 Dated March 27, 1973 Clifford R. Loomis Jr. et a1 Inventor(s) It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Cancel columns 1 4 and substitute the attached sheets:
Signed and sealed this 12th day of February 1974.
EDWARD M. FLETCHER,JR. C MARSHALL DANN Attestlng Offlcel" Commissioner of Patents USCOMM-DC 6O376-F 69 r us. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE ISIS 0-366-334, A
Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 2 BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to an article handling system and, more particularly, to a packaging system for collecting packages from one or more automatic packagers and for delivering the packages to an automatic cartoner for insertion of stacks of packages into cartons.
The invention has more specific reference to packaging systems of the same general type as shown in Livingston United States Patent 3, 370, 549 and in Loomis United States Patent 3, 59 3, 837 and assigned to the assignee of the present invention. In each of these systems, the packages delivered from the packager are collected by a so-called "demand" conveyor of the type which includes packagereceiving carriers adapted to be selectively coupled'to and uncoupled from the conveyor so that the carriers may dwell at selected locations to be loaded with packages and then may be moved on to other locations for unloading of the packages. The use of such a conveyor eliminates the need for precisely synchronizing the packager with the cartoner and increases the flexibility and versatility of the system.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The primary aim of the present invention is to provide a'new and improved system of the above character which utilizes a demand conveyor and obtains the advantages resulting therefrom and which, at the same time, is capable of delivering the accumulated packages to a high-speed cartoner that operates with continuous motion as opposed to intermittent or step-by-step motion.
Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 3 A more detailed object is to achieve the foregoing through the provision of a novel timing conveyor operating at the same speed as the cartoner and serving to synchronize the package carriers with the continuously Operating cartoner by taking over control of the carriers after the latter first have been loaded and initially transferred under the control of the demand conveyor.
A further object is to provide a system with a bank of coacting demand and timing conveyors enabling a plurality of independently operable packagers to supply a single continuously operating cartoner.
The invention also resides in the unique relationship between the demand and timing conveyors and in the novel construction of the timing conveyor to facilitate relatively simple and trouble-free transferring of the control of the package carriers back and forth between the two conveyors.
These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIGURE 1 is a schematic plan view of a new and improved packaging system embodying the novel features of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of several packages and of a carton of the type adapted to be handled by the system.
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary vertical cross-section taken longitudinally through one of the demand conveyors.
FIGS; 4 and 5 are fragmentary cross-sections of parts of the demand conveyor.
Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 4 FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view of part of the demand conveyor.
FIG. 7 is a schematic elevational view of the demand and timing conveyors.
FIGS. 8 and 9 are schematic plan views of the demand and timing conveyors, respectively.
FIG. 10 is a schematic perspective view of the demand and timing conveyors.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration,
the invention is embodied in a system for handling a series of articles such as pouch-type packages 15 (FIG. 2), for collecting the packages into stacks and for inserting the stacks into cartons 16. In this instance,
the system is shown to include two side-by-side packaging machines or packagers 1'7 (FIG. 1) which automatically form, fill and close the packages and then deliver the packages to discharge conveyors 19 upon which the packages are tamped and flattened preparatory to being arranged in stacks and inserted into the cartons. It should be realized,
however, that the system may include only a single packager or may include more than two packagers.
In several respects, the illustrated system is similar to that disclosed in the aforementioned Loomis patent. That is, the
packages 15 delivered from each discharge conveyor 19 are first collected into stacks on a so-called demand conveyor 20 associated with each packager 17. Subsequently, the stacks of packages from both demand conveyors are transferred to and accumulated on a single Patent No. 3,722,656 Page transfer or accumulating conveyor 21 running alongside the demand conveyors. Finally, the packages are shifted from the accumulating conveyor and into the cartons 16, the latter being advanced alongside the accumulating conveyor by a carton conveyor 23 which forms part of an automatic cartoner 24.
More specifically, the accumulating conveyor 21 comprises a pair of endless chains 25 (FIG. 1) trained around sets of driving and idler sprockets 26 and 27 and supporting a series of equally spaced carriers or buckets 29 into which the packages 15 are transferred and held prior to being inserted into the'cartons 16. The carton conveyor 23 is shorter than the accumulating conveyor and also includes a pair of chains 30 guided around pairs of driving and idler sprockets 31 and 32. Holders 34 for supporting the cartons are carried by the chains 30 and are spaced apart in accordance with the spacing of the buckets 29 so that, when the buckets and holders register with one another, the
packages may be shifted endwise out of the buckets and into the cartons in the holders.
The accumulating conveyor 21 and the carton conveyor 23 are advanced in synchronisrn by a drive motor 35 (FIG. 1) which is connected by a chain 36 and an overload clutch 37 to a shaft 39. The
latter is connected into a reduction gearbox 40 and is operable to turn the drive sprockets 26 of the accumulating conveyor 21 by way 02 8.
shaft 43. An additional shaft 44 leads from the gearbox 40 and is I operably connected to the drive sprockets 31 of the carton conveyor 23 by way of a chain 45, a gearbox 46 and a shaft 47. In the even the cartoner jams or otherwise malfunctions, the clutch 37 shuts down both the carton conveyor and the accumulating conveyor. For a purpose Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 6 to be explained subsequently, a shaft 49 extending along the accumulating conveyor is driven by the shaft 39 through a chain 50 and, as a result of the clutch 37, driving of the shaft 49 also is interrupted when the cartoner shuts down.
Thedemand conveyors 20 are similar to that disclosed in the aforementioned Livingston patent and reference may be made to the patent for a more detailed explanation of the construction of the demand conveyors, Briefly, each demand conveyor comprises a chain 51 (FIGS. 3, 7, 8 and 10) trained around driving and idler sprockets 53 and-54 and driven continuously by a motor 55 (FIG. 8) which is connected to the drive sprockets by way of a chain 56 and a shaft 57. Supported on the chain is a succession of package carriers in the form of U-shaped buckets 58 (FIGS. 3 and 10) each having open ends. Each bucket is supported and guided independently of the conveyor chain by two endless tracks 59 (FIG. 3) extending around the chain on opposite sides thereof and loosely receiving rollers 60. The latter are journaled on horizontal axles 61 which are mounted on a bracket 63 suitably secured to the underside of the bucket.
Each bucket 58 is adapted to be coupled to and uncoupled from the chain 51 of the demand conveyor 20 so that the bucket may either dwell in a stationary position or move relative to the chain as the latter is advanced. To couple the buckets to the chain, generally rectangular plates 64 (FIGS. 3 and 6) are fastened to one side of the chain in closely spaced relation in a common vertical plane thereby forming a substantially continuous flexible friction band on the chain.
On the underside of each bucket is a slip-friction connector which grips this band and thus couples the bucket to the conveyor for movement Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 7 therewith. As shown most clearly in FIGS. 3 to 5, each connector comprises a pair of jaws or blocks 65 and 66 mounted on the underside of the bucket on opposite sides of the friction band, one of the blocks being rigidly mounted on two pins 67 threaded into the bracket 63 and the other being pivoted adjacent its trailing end on a single vertical pin 69 for swinging of its leading end portion toward and away from the other block to shift the clamping surface of the block into and out of engagement with the band. A coiled spring 70 (FIG. 4) is seated at one end in a recess in the side of the pivoted block and is compressed between the block and an adjustable stop 71 formed by a set screw threaded through the bracket, the spring urging the block toward the friction band. A lock nut 73 holds the set screw in different selected positions which determine the gripping force exerted by the spring on the connector and thus on the band.
With this arrangement, control of the movement of the buckets 58 along their path may be accomplished with relatively simple movable stops positioned in selected locations along the path for engagement with surfaces on the buckets and movable out of the way to release the buckets for movement past the stops. One such stop is provided at a loading station 74 (FIGS. 1 and 3) to hold each bucket 58 in a stationary position to receive packages 15 delivered off of the discharge conveyor 19. As shown in FIG. 3, the stop at the loading station is a lug 75 projecting upwardly from the right end of a generally horizontal lever 76 fastened intermediate its ends to a pin 77 which is pivotally mounted on a fixed frame member 79 of the demand conveyor 20. In the position of the lever shown in FIG. 3, the stop lug 75 is disposed in the path of a block 80 bolted to the bracket 63 on the underside of the bucket. Thus, as the bucket moves over the lever,
Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 8 t the lug prevents passage of the stop block. Upon engagement of the two opposed stop elements, the bucket is stopped and, in effect,
uncoupled from the chain 51 as permitted by slipping of the friction band 64 between the clamping blocks 65 and 66. The bucket, of course,
is precisely positioned along its path according to the position of the stop lug.
To move the stop lug 75 into and out of the blocking position at appropriate times, an actuator 81 (FIG. 3), herein a pneumatic cylinder is mounted on the frame 79 and is connected to an operating arm 83 fastened at one end to the end of the pivot pin 77,
the piston rod 84 of the cylinder being pivotally connected to the free end of the arm so that reciprocation of the piston rod rocks the arm up and down. Through the pivot pin, this rocks the stop lever 76 through a corresponding arc. When the piston rod is retracted as shown in FIG. 3, the stop lug 75 is held in the raised, blocking position for engagement with the stop blocks 80. When the rod is extended to swing the free end of the operating arm 83 upwardly, the stop lug is lowered out of the blocking position, permitting the spring-loaded friction connector 65, 66 on the released bucket 58 to recoup le the latter automatically and instantly to the friction band 64. I
The operation of the pneumatic cylinder 81 is controlled by a photoelectrically operated sensing and counting device 85 (FICL I) which detects and counts the packages 15 as a transfer ,mechanism (not shown) picks up the packages one-by-one from each discharge conveyor 19 and delivers the packages to each bucket 58 dwelling in the loading station 74. After a preselected number of packages (herein,
four packages) have been placed in the dwelling bucket, the cylinder is Patent No. 3,722,656 Page 9 actuated momentarily to retract the stop lug 75 and allow the chain 51 to advance the loaded bucket out of the loading station. The stop lug then is quickly returned upwardly to its blocking position to stop the next bucket moving into the loading station.
Before being moved to the loading station 74, the buckets 58 are held in a stand-by station 86 (FIGS. 3 and 7) on the lower run of the demand conveyor 20, the buckets being held in the stand-by station by a second stop. Herein, the second stop also is a lug 89 on a lever90 pivoted between its ends on the frame 79 but positioned along the lower run of the conveyor generally beneath the loading station. The stop lug depends from the left end of the lever for engagement with the blocks 80 projecting upwardly from the buckets which, of course, are inverted as they move along the lower run.-
With the two stop levers 76 and 90 so arranged, it is possible to use the pneumatic cylinder 81 not only to release the bucket that has just been filled but also to release another bucket for movement