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Publication numberUS3737666 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 5, 1973
Filing dateApr 15, 1971
Priority dateApr 15, 1971
Publication numberUS 3737666 A, US 3737666A, US-A-3737666, US3737666 A, US3737666A
InventorsDutro L
Original AssigneeDutro L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Counter for a stream of overlapped articles
US 3737666 A
Abstract
A mechanism for counting the number of articles in a stream of overlapped articles which move past a datum point. Each article has a leading edge that presents a step as it passes the datum point and, except for the first article, there is an adjacent surface of an adjacent article just upstream from it. A base carries drive means for driving the stream past the datum point. A sensor is mounted at the datum point which is responsive to the change in a physical condition, such as light intensity, fluid pressure, or the like. A change of condition is derived by observing with the sensor the said physical condition in the region between the step and its adjacent surface, and impeding the said observation, such as by blocking off the sensor from said region. The device includes a deflector surface to flex the article and thereby open such region for each step. In one embodiment, a parallelogram movement is mounted to the base with a mobile portion adapted to move toward and away from the base. A wheel is mounted to the mobile portion and is adapted to roll along the stream of articles so as to establish the elevation of the mobile portion relative to the said articles. The sensor is carried by the mobile portion at the datum point, and the number of articles is counted as a function of the number of steps (i.e., of the leading edges of the approaching articles) which pass the datum point. A counter is actuated by the sensor to count the number of steps.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Dutro 51 June 5,1973

[54] COUNTER FOR A STREAM OF OVERLAPPED ARTICLES [76] Inventor: Lyle V. Dutro, 1660 Carriage House Road, Pasadena, Calif. 91 107 22 Filed: Apr. 15,1971

21 Appl.No.: 134,302

FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 845,870 6/1970 Canada Primary Examiner-Ronald L. Wibert Assistant Examiner-V. P. McGraw Attorney Angus & Mon

[57] ABSTRACT A mechanism for counting the number of articles in a stream of overlapped articles which move past a datum point. Each article has a leading edge that presents a step as it passes the datum point and, except for the first article, there is an adjacent surface of an adjacent article just upstream from it. A base carries drive means for driving the stream past the datum point. A sensor is mounted at the datum point which is responsive to the change in a physical condition, such as light intensity, fluid pressure, or the like. A change of condition is derived by observing with the sensor the said physical condition in the region between the step and its adjacent surface, and impeding the said observation, such as by blocking off the sensor from said region. The device includes a deflector surface to flex the article and thereby open such region for each step. In one embodiment, a parallelogram movement is mounted to the base with a mobile portion adapted to move toward and away from the base. A wheel is mounted to the mobile portion and is adapted to roll along the stream of articles so as to establish the elevation of the mobile portion relative to the said articles. The sensor is carried by the mobile portion at the datum point, and the number of articles is counted as a function of the number of steps (i.e., of the leading edges of the approaching articles) which pass the datum point. A counter is actuated by the sensor to count the number of steps.

11 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTEUJUN 51913 3,737,666

SHEET 1 OF 2 INVEN'I'OR LYLE V. DUTRO PATENIED JUN 5 I975 SHEET 2 [1F 2 l N VENTOR.

CV H WM 0 0 M W f A W COUNTER FOR A STREAM F OVERLAPPED ARTICLES This invention relates to a device for counting the number of articles in a stream of overlapped articles, such as a stream of newspapers or folded signatures.

The counting of a stream of folded articles which issues from a press or stuffer has been a troublesome one in the printing art. The consequences of a short count to a bundle are so serious that it is not uncommon deliberately to place additional items in a bundle in order to make sure there is no shortage. This in itself constitutes a serious economic loss, but at least it is generally predictable and conservative. Those classes of counters which would ordinarily be expected to react to the flow of a stream of articles have been found severely deficient, and there exists a large potential market for devices which can reliably count, because such losses could then be averted.

It is an object of this invention to provide a device for counting overlapped articles in a continuing stream, which device is simple, rugged and reliable.

A mechanism according to this invention for counting the number of articles in a stream of overlapped articles moving past a datum point comprises a base with drive means mounted to it for driving the stream past the datum point. A sensor is mounted at the datum point which is responsive to the change in a physical condition, such as light intensity, fluid pressure, or the like. A change of condition is derived by observing with the sensor the said physical condition in the region between the step and its adjacent surface, and impeding the said observation, such as by blocking off the sensor from said region. The device includes a deflector surface to flex the article and thereby open such region for each step. In one embodiment, a parallelogram move ment is mounted to the base and has a mobile portion adapted to move toward and away from the base. A wheel is mounted to the mobile portion, and it is adapted to roll along the stream of articles so as to determine the elevation of the mobile portion relative to the said articles. The sensor is carried by the mobile edges (steps) which pass the datum point. Counting means is responsive to the sensor for determining the number of steps which passed.

The above and other features of this invention will be fully understood from the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings in which:

' FIG. 1 is a side elevation of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention; 7

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary portion of FIG. 1 in a subsequent position;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation of another embodiment of the invention; v

FIG. 4 is a top view taken at line 4--4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an axial section taken at line 5-5 of FIG. 4; and 7 FIG; 6 is an axial partial section of another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 1 shows a mechanism 10 according to the presently preferred embodiment of the invention. It includes a base 11, which is shown only schematically, to whichthere are journaled a pair of rotary shafts 12, 13 which act as drivemeans driven by motor 14 through any desired gear trains 15, 16. These shafts turn conveyor belts l7 and 18. Belt 18 receives articles from a source, such as the out-feed of a printing press, and belt 17 carries the counted articles away from the counter mechanism.

Articles to be counted are shown as three in number: articles 20, 21 and 22. It will be understood that these are part of a continuing stream and there may have been more articles ahead of this sample, and more behind it. These are a sufficient number to illustrate the features of the invention. Articles 21 and 22 will be described in greater detail because they are the ones illustrated as active in the counting process.

Articles 21 and 22 have leading edges 23, 24 which form steps 25, 26 with the adjacent articles which have gone ahead of them. This is to say that leading edge 23 forms step 25 with the adjacent surface 27 of article 20 while leading edge 24 forms step 26 with adjacent surface 28 on article 21. In each case a region 29, 30 is formed ahead of the step within which a physical condition can be observed by a sensor. The first leading edge in the stream does not have an adjacent surface, but will be counted, and is considered as a step herein. Therefore, the number of steps is the same as the number of leading edges.

A parallelogram movement 35 is shown mounted to the base bynieans of a pivoted lever 36. First and second pivot points 37 and 38 are formed on the pivot lever on opposite sides of its fulcrum 39. The fulcrum includes tightening means 40, such as a nut and bolt combination, to hold the lever in an angularly adjusted position.

Two arms 41, 42 extend toward the oncoming direction of the stream of articles and carry third and fourth pivot points 43, 44, respectively. A mobile portion 45 is pivotally mounted to pivot points 43 and 44 along with arms 41 and 42. The spacing between the first and second points is equal to that between the third and fourth points. There is also equality of distance between the first and third points and the second and fourth points, whereby, no matter what the rotation around any of the pivot points, there will continue to be a parallelism between lines drawn between the first and second and the third and fourth pivot points. This is a classic use of the parallelogram movement.

Mobile portion 45 mounts a wheel 46, preferably on the line between the third and fourth pivot points. Its periphery 47 is adapted to roll along the stream of articles as they advance through the system. It will be recognized that, for purposes of illustration, only three articles have been shown, and these rather close together. In a more practical perspective, the leading edges would have been farther spaced apart, and, of course, there would have been shown upstream additional articles about to enter the counting process. These, however, have been eliminated for convenience in disclosure. The wheel will preferably have a relatively large I diameter, such as 6" or greater, because then its rise and fall will be'm'ore gradual, as will be that of the mobile portion.

The mobile portion includes an arm 48 which extends away from the third and fourth pivots in the direction of stream flow and serves to mount a sensor 50. In the embodiment shown, the physical condition to be observed will be the illumination which enters passage 51 from the area just below it. A light source 52, which is energized by a power source 53, directs its light beam 54 toward the stream of articles. When the articles are in the position illustrated in FIG. 1, a respective region, such as region 30, will be brightly illuminated,and the physical condition of light intensity thereinwill be observed by the sensor through passage 51. Lenses 54a and 54b may be provided as shown if desired to focus the light beams.

It will be observed that the leading edge 23 of article 21 has been flexed and thereby deflected downwardly by a deflector surface 55 so as to enlarge the respective region and to prevent the adjacent surface 28 from contacting the mobile portion in such a manner as to occlude the passage of light through the passage or from the light source to the region when in this position. However, when leading edge 24 reaches passage 51, it will occlude this passage, and this will change the illumination level as perceived by the sensor. It will thereby be noted that surface 55 has a beneficial effect upon the function of this device, because it assures that for each passing article there is both an open, illuminated region, and a subsequent closure of passage 51. This provides a reliably countable sequence of events.

The use of a relatively large wheel smooths out the rising and falling of the mobile portion, and stabilizes the position of the sensor relative to the stream, eliminating abrupt motions, which is advantageous in this class of counting. The angles of the light source and of the sensor relative to the stream remain unchanged, and any variation of the physical condition is unaffected by changes in angles of incidence.

In the embodiment as shown, a photo-electric cell is the sensor, and its output is carried by leads 56, 57 to a relay 58, which operates a counter 59 that is powered by a power source 60.

Any suitable photo-electric cell which will generate a sufficient current to operate the relay may be provided. If desired, an amplifier may be placed in the circuit to the relay. There is presently on the market a device known as a Planar Silicon Photo-Darlington Amplifier, which comprises a sensitive directionally selective photo-electric device, manufactured by General Electric Company under its number 2N5780. This has been found to be a useful and effective embodiment of sensor for this system, especially because, as manufactured, it is directionally sensitive and is insensitive to side' or stray illumination.

Other types of sensors may be utilized; for example,

I a tactile device, which might comprise a finger axially movable in passage 51 to operate a relay or other means to actuate the counter. The physical condition observed by the tactile device is the presence or absence of a solid article adjacent to the datum point. Similarly, pneumatic pressure might be exerted in passage 51 and whether it bleeds or is trapped by the article may be the physical condition to be sensed tomake the count. However, it has been found that a photoelectric technique is at once the simplest and most effective.

It will also be observed that, in operating a device of this type, the angle of incidence of the sensor means is of considerable importance, and that this angle maybe advantageously adjustably varied from run to run (but 3 not during a given run), depending on the thickness of stream. The elevation of the sensor on the arm may be made adjustable. However, its angle of incidence in a run will be maintained constant regardless of the elevation of the wheel because of the parallelogram effect. In order to make this angle of incidence readily adjustable, pivoted lever 36 is provided, and when it is rotated around its fulcrum 39, then the angle of mobile portion 45 is similarly changed, as is the angle of the sensor, and these will remain constant throughout a given run regardless of whether the wheel is rising or falling.

In the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2, counting is done from the top, and there are many advantages in this technique. However, this invention can be used in counting from the bottom as well, and such a construction is shown in FIGS. 3-5.

In FIG. 5 a mechanism is shown with a base 71, a pair of rotary shafts 72, 73, and a pair of conveyor belts 74, to provide drive means for a stream of articles to be counted.

At datum point 76 there is a sensor element 77 identical to that of FIG. 1. It includes a light source 78 and a sensor 79. Sensor 79 is in a passage 80 whose opening 81 is positioned so it can be occluded by an article in the position of article 82 (in FIG. 3).

A deflector surface 83 is provided upstream of the sensor, which holds the next article away from opening 81 in a flexed and deflected condition so as to form a region 84 in which the physical condition representative of a count can be observed by the sensor. FIG. 3.

shows article 85 moved away from opening 81, and region 84 formed beneath article 85. As the stream moves farther along past the datum point, article 85 will fall and occlude the opening, assuring the position that article 82 occupies in FIG. 3. Between these two events, article 82 will be moved away from opening 81, leaving passage 80 open to region 84, and the sensor can sense the light level therein. There results a reliable, countable sequence.

FIG. 6 illustrates the broad generality of the concept of a deflector surface. In the counting technique of this invention, a definite closure of a port, such as ports 51 and 80, are followed by a definite opening of them. This opening is assured by flexing the article so as to enlarge the region adjacent to the step. In FIGS. 1 and 3, the deflector surface is in the form of a pronounced lip, and the sensor looks out from a surface that extends generally parallel to the movement of the article.

In FIG. 6, a straight deflector surface is disposed at an angle to the initial direction 101 of a stream 102 of articles to be counted. A sensor 103 and light source 103a are disposed in this surface. As can be seen from FIG. 6, an article 106 that has already been counted is downstream of the sensor and is flexed and deflected by the deflector surface, region 105 being enlarged by this flexure. Another article 104 is about to contact surface 100, and is not yet flexed. It will be wiped across sensor port 107, where it will be counted, and will then be flexed, or be more flexed as it moves toward the position occupied by article 106 in the drawings. It follows that, while a pronounced lip is the preferred means for deflecting and flexing the articles, a straight surface at an angle to the stream will also function for the intended purpose.

This device has been found to be completely reliable in counting both thick and thin articles and at very rapid speeds. It is dimensionally and directionally stable'and is unlikely to dither or to miss a count. The particular-merit of this device, wherein the article is flexed as shown, is that it is adaptable to counting articles of many different thicknesses, and for a small shop provides a rugged, reliable and inexpensive counting device.

This invention is not to be limited by the embodiments shown in the drawings and described in the description, which are given by way of example and not of limitation, but only in accordance with the scope of the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A mechanism for counting the number of articles in a stream of overlapped articles moving past a datum point, each article having a leading edge presenting a step as it passes the datum point, said mechanism comprising: a base; drive means based on said base, and

driving the stream past the datum point; a sensor at the v datum point responsive to change of light level; a deflector surface so disposed and arranged as to be contacted by an article and to hold the article away from the sensor to form a region within which the light level can be observed by the sensor while the article is in one position, the article being free to approach the sensor in another position, whereby the sequence of steps is counted as a function of the number of steps which pass the datum point in order to count the number of articles passed by the datum point; a sensor passage having an opening facing into said region, said sensor being disposed in said passage and being responsive to illumination and to the absence thereof; said opening being so disposed and arranged as to be occluded by a respective article when in the last-named position; and illumination means illuminating the region, but only diffusely illuminating the sensor passage when it is not occluded.

2. A mechanism according to claim 1 in which the deflector surface is upstream of the sensor and beneath the stream.

3. A mechanism according to claim 1 in which the deflector surface is downstream of the sensor and above the stream.

4. A mechanism according to claim 1 in which a counting mechanism is responsive to the sensor.

5. A mechanism for counting the number of articles in a stream of overlapped articles moving past a datum point, each article having a leading edge presenting a step as it passes the datum point, said mechanism comprising: a base; drive means based on said base, and driving the stream past the datum point; a parallelogram movement mounted to the base and including a mobile portion adapted to move toward and away from said base; a wheel mounted to said mobile portion and adapted to roll along the stream of articles so as to determine the elevation of the mobile portion relative to the said-articles; a sensor responsive to change of light level mounted to the mobile portion at the datum point; a deflector surface carriage on said mobile portion which is so disposed and arranged as to be contacted by an article and to hold the article away from the sen-'- sor to form a region within which the light level can be observed by the sensor while the article is in one position, the article being free to approach the sensor in another position, whereby the sequence of steps is counted as a function of the number of steps which pass the datum point in order to count the number of articles passed by the datum point; a sensor passage having an opening facing into said region, said sensor being disposed in said passage and being responsive to illumination and to the absence thereof, said opening being so disposed and arranged as to be occluded by a respective article when in the last-named position; and illumination means illuminating the region, but only diffusely illuminating the sensor passage when it is not occluded.

6. A mechanism according to claim 5 in which the parallelogram movement is mounted to the base at a first and a second point, and in which a pair of parallel arrns'respectively are pivotally attached to the base at said first and second points, and further including third and fourth points which form the corners of a parallelogram with said first and second points, the mobile portion joining said third and fourth points.

7. A mechanism according to claim 6 in which. the

base includes a pivoted lever which bears the first and second points, said lever being pivotally mounted and rotationally adjustable, whereby rotation of the lever rotationally adjusts the angle of incidence of the sensor relative to the stream.

8. A mechanism according to claim 6 in which the arms project toward the oncoming stream, and the mobile portion projects in the direction of said stream away from said third and fourth points in cantilever relationship and in which the sensor is disposed upstream from said deflector surface.

9. A mechanism according to claim 5 in which the il- UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION PATENT N0. 3,737,666 DATED June 5 1973 INVENTOR(S) LYLE V. DUTRO It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

[57] "a leading edge that presents" should read 7 --an edge that forms-- [57] "just upstream from it" should read --forming 6 art of the step- Cole 1, line 9, 't'o' should read --in-- Coln 1, lines 31" Change 'between the step and its" to --in a alid 32,1 4 sfiepfo rrriled by an edge of an article and an-- Co ine 3 c ange or to --at- Col, 2: line 15: change "the adjacent articles which have" to --a surface of the adjacent article which has-- Colo 2, line 20, after "of" insert --and within-- Col, 2 inc 23 after stream insert --in Fig, 1--

Col, 2: line 67: change "area just below it" to --region just below it at an opening 5la which is thedatum oint in Fi 1-- Cole 3, line i, change E54 a and 54b" to --54c and 54s" Col; 4 line 5 change 5 to --3-- Col., 4: line 24: after-"Fig. 3)."insert --The datum point and opening'80 coincide.-- Colo 4, lines 27 after 84" insert -in the step between it and 28, v and the edge (which in this case is trailing rather than leading) of article 82 Col. 4, line 28, change "3" to --5-- Col.) 4, line 29, change "85" to "82-- C01. 4, line 41, change 'are'" to --is-- Col. 4, line 53, after "105" insert --formed in the step made by an edge and an adjacent surface-- Col, 4, line 56, change "sensor port 107," to --the opening 107a of sensor port 107, which opening is the "datum point" in Fig. 6, Col. 5, line 13, change "aleading" to --an-- ((2011: 5), line 44, change "a leading" to --an-- UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION PATENTNO.: 3,737,666 DATED June 5, 1973 INVENTOR( I LYLE V DUTRO it is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected. as shown below:

C010 6, line 3, change "carriage" to --carried-- (C10 5) (C2136), line 47, change "physical condition" to --light level-- Colo 6, lines 50 change "physical condition" to --light leveli and 51,

(clo 'll) Signed and Sealed this I seventeenth D ay of February 1976 [SEAL] Arrest:

RUTH C. MASON C. MARSHALL DANN Arresting Officer Commissioner oj'Parents and Trademarks

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3942021 *Aug 14, 1974Mar 2, 1976National Association Of Furniture Manufacturers, Inc.Apparatus for optimizing the yield of usable pieces from boards and the like
US4072854 *Jul 6, 1976Feb 7, 1978Glory Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaSheet counting apparatus
US4119843 *Feb 11, 1977Oct 10, 1978National Can CorporationArticle detection system with synchronous demodulation
US4139765 *Sep 19, 1977Feb 13, 1979Ferag AgApparatus for counting printed products arriving upon a conveyor path in an imbricated product stream and method of operating such apparatus
US4217491 *Jun 29, 1978Aug 12, 1980Nolan Systems Inc.Counting system for articles conveyed in a stream
US4237374 *Apr 16, 1979Dec 2, 1980Malone Douglas JCounting system for counting newspapers or the like
US4286149 *Aug 9, 1979Aug 25, 1981Ncr Canada Ltd - Ncr Canada LteeApparatus and method for detection of overlapping objects
US4365151 *Sep 2, 1980Dec 21, 1982Burroughs CorporationSensor for a document processor
US4384195 *Jun 9, 1980May 17, 1983The Coe Manufacturing CompanyEdge-responsive apparatus for counting conveyor-transported articles
US4577852 *Sep 10, 1984Mar 25, 1986Grapha-Holding AgApparatus for counting the sheets in a stream of partly overlapping sheets
US4652197 *Feb 22, 1985Mar 24, 1987Littleton Industrial Consultants, Inc.Sheet counter and stacker system
US4703172 *Mar 17, 1986Oct 27, 1987Brandt, IncorporatedMethod and apparatus for counting sheets which may be fed in skewed and/or overlapping fashion
US4707599 *Mar 17, 1986Nov 17, 1987Brandt, IncorporatedMethod and apparatus for counting sheets which may be fed in skewed and/or overlapping fashion
US4972071 *Apr 26, 1989Nov 20, 1990Quantity & Time Management Systems LimitedMethod and apparatus for counting overlapping obects
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US5614710 *Jun 7, 1995Mar 25, 1997Electrocom Automation L.P.Dichotomous scan system for detection of overlapped objects
US5659396 *Jun 7, 1995Aug 19, 1997Electrocom Automation L.P.Dichotomous scan system for detection of edges of objects and overlapped objects having relatively uniform surfaces
US5841540 *Aug 15, 1997Nov 24, 1998Siemens Electrocom L.P.Dichotomous scan system for detection of edges of objects and overlapped objects having relatively uniform surfaces
US7844450 *Aug 6, 2004Nov 30, 2010Frank Uldall LeonhardMethod for analysing signals containing pulses
DE3225243A1 *Jul 6, 1982Mar 3, 1983Grapha Holding AgVorrichtung zum zaehlen der druckbogen eines schuppenstromes
DE3416275A1 *May 3, 1984Nov 7, 1985Hengstler KgPhotoelectric pulse generator
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Classifications
U.S. Classification377/8, 101/232, 356/445, 235/98.00C
International ClassificationG06M7/08, G06M7/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06M7/08
European ClassificationG06M7/08