US 3748797 A
A mechanism to accept containerized product, particularly frozen potato products in flexible bags, in an unordered fashion, accumulate the product in vertical array and positively deposit the amassed array in a container. A slower conveyor presents bagged product to a faster pivotably mounted conveyor which deposits the product successively on vertically spaced accumulator plates that are moved toward each other to compact the array of product between adjacent plates; the compacted product is then moved horizontally into a pre-positioned container which is removed for closure and further processing.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Deines July 31, 1973 1 ACCUMULATOR AND BOXER FOR 3,604,689 9/1971 Hutcheson et al 53/126 x FLEXIBLE BAGS 3,608,269 9/1971 Gore 53/124 D 3,657,860 4/1972 Franklin 53/164 X Donald E. Deines, Kennewick, Wash.
Deines-Baker Development (30., Kennewick, Wash.
Filed: Mar. 20, 1972 Appl. No.: 235,975
US. Cl. 53/124 D, 53/126, 53/152, 53/159, 214/6 F Int. Cl. B65b 35/50 Field of Search 53/124 D, 126, 152, 53/153, 159, 164; 214/6 F References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Primary ExaminerRobert L. Spruill Att0rneyKeith S. Bergman  ABSTRACT A mechanism to accept containerized product, particularly frozen potato products in flexible bags, in an unordered fashion, accumulate the product in vertical array and positively deposit the amassed array in a container. A slower conveyor presents bagged product to a faster pivotably mounted conveyor which deposits the product successively on vertically spaced accum ulator plates that are moved toward each other to compact the array of product between adjacent plates; the compacted product is then-moved horizontally into a pre-positioned container which is removed for closure and further processing.
5 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PMENTEBJULB 1 I973 3148,79?
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FIGUHE 2 PATENTEDJUU 1 1915 SHEET 2 OF 5 PAIENIEU JULS 1 I975 SHEEI 3 BF 5 FIGMHE 4 FIGURE 5' PAIENIEUJUI 3 I I975 IYSHEEI l UF 5 FIGMIFE 6 FIGURE 7 PATENTEB JUL 3 I I975 SHEEI 5 [IF 5 ACCUMULATOR AND BOXER FOR FLEXIBLE BAGS BACKGROUND OF INVENTION 1. FIELD OF INVENTION This invention relates generally to a product accumulator and boxer, and more particularly to such a mechanism that accumulates an array of flexibly bagged product, that compresses the array and positively moves it horizontally into a pre-positioned container.
DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART Frozen prepared potato products, especially french fries, have become reasonably important items of commerce in recent years. With the advent of economical plastic packaging it has become common in the industry to contain this product in flexible plastic bags of somewhat rectilinear cross-sectional configuration formed from impervious plastic sheets to contain the fungible product in appropriate retail units and preserve it, both physically and aesthetically.
The elongate rigid nature of the french fried potatoes, oftentimes with sharp end parts, and containment in a relatively airtight, reasonably delicate membraneous bag has given rise to some packaging problems. The french fries are initially handled in a bulk fashion which arrays them in a quite dis-oriented mass which tends to some degree to perpetuate its configuration because of the rigid elongate nature of the product and its inter-locking relationship. When this mass is unitized and bagged then, there is a relatively great tendency for the dis-oriented french fries to puncture their container and the entire mass is oftentimes loose and unconsolidated with a quite irregular periphery. This condition makes handling of the bagged product quite inconvenient and has deleterious effect on arraying plural product units for further containment.
Because of these problems it heretofore has become the common practice in packaging prepared potato products to accumulate plural product units manually, and place them by individual hand operation in containers for storage and shipment. Compaction and orientation of product within the bags to provide a reasonably uniform, compact, rectilinear configuration has either not generally been attempted or accomplished and by reason of this the product has been packaged in a quite loose, irregular fashion. This requires a box or container substantially larger than would be required if the product were appropriately compacted and it has made mechanical handling of the accumulation and boxing function most difficult because the loose unorganized bags of product do not array well with each other and present an array that is so unconsolidated and unrelated in its parts that it is difficult to maintain for mechanical operation.
Heretofore many product accumulators, compactors, and box-type packages have become known individually and in combination, and more particularly, at least one such device has become known in the french fry packaging arts to some degree. These devices have not proven effective, however, because they have not been adapted to the particular nature of the frozen french fry product, nor to operation upon the particular flexible bags containing it. The various mechanical operations have generally either broken or damaged the product, torn or damaged the containing plastic bag or not accomplished the function of arraying and compacting the bags to box them in minimal space with minimal subsequent damage for shipment and handling.
The one known mechanism that was designed particularly for accumulation and packaging of french fried potatoes has provided a large wheel with plural spaced accumulation pockets about the periphery within which a pre-determined array of plastically bagged, processed potatoes may be accumulated. Bags are successively put into the accumulator pockets by inertial transfer from a conveyor and subsequently maintained by lateral mechanical pressure until deposition by gravity into a box-type container. This device does not orient or compact the potatoes within the bag prior to accumulation, and does not particularly solve the problem of product orientation and compaction thereafter. The product boxed by this mechanism is not in general anymore compact than that fonnerly boxed by hand, it generally has been damaged more than the hand boxed product and it is not any less susceptible to further potential damage in shipping or subsequent handling.
The instant mechanism differs from this prior art structurally, in that it orients the potato product within the bags by agitation prior to accumulation and thereafter maintains product orientation while compressing the product in controllable fashion only to such a degree as might be accomplished without substantial product damage. The product is then moved horizontally by positive mechanical action, rather than dropped vertically by gravity to maintain it in its compact arrayed form during placement in a pre-positioned container. The invention differs functionally from the prior art in that it presents the frozen potato products in plastic bags in a more compacted, unitized array that occupies substantially less space in a container than the prior art product and is subject to much less potential damage during subsequent handling or shipment.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION My invention, in general, provides a unitized mechanism that may be established in or immediately adjacent an existing production line to randomly receive product from it and re-deliver the product or, if desired, the mechanism may be used as a separate, independent entity.
'I provide an input conveyor to randomly receive product, agitate it to orient material within the bags, and transfer it mechanically to an adjacent accumulator conveyor. The accumulator conveyor is pivotably mounted at its product receiving end for vertical mo- .tion of its product distributing end and moves at a greater speed than the imput conveyor to assure that any product transferred by the input conveyor will not accumulate or be fouled. Plural, spaced, vertically oriented product accumulating shelves are positioned adjacent the product delivery end of the accumulator conveyor to receive product from it. Positionally sensitive switches activate appropriate mechanical linkage associated with the accumulator conveyor to move the conveyor downwardly to the next lower adjacent accumulator shelf upon filling of an immediately higher shelf so that product will be accumulated in a vertically arrayed fashion by the accumulator. The several product accumulator shelves are mechanically linked to compact while maintaining vertical orientation upon the filling of the last lowermost accumulator shelf. A product pusher is positioned laterally of the accumulator shelves to activate upon accumulator compaction to move the compacted product horizontally off the accumulator shelves and recycle the accumulator conveyor. Additional mechanical pushers move the product in a continued horizontal course into an adjacent container positioned to receive the array. The container is then removed for additional processing in the traditional fashion and the accumulator recycles to continue operation. The accumulator conveyor positioning is accomplished by opposed pneumatic and hydraulic set-cylinders or by a pneumatically activating hydraulic system for appropriate control. The device is adapted to formation from materials and in a fashion that is readily acceptable in the food handling industries. The mechanism allows a rate of packaging of up to about one hundred units per minute and the mechanism may be pluralized to increase this capacity.
In providing such a mechanism it is:
A principal object of my invention to provide an accumulator and boxer for frozen french fries contained in flexible plastic membraneous packages.
A further object of my invention to provide such a device that compacts and arrays the product by agitation prior to accumulation.
A further object of my invention to provide in such a device an accumulator that compacts the accumulated product into a unitized array of a relatively compact nature.
A further object of my invention is to provide such a device that moves the compacted, unitized product array horizontally, while maintaining compaction and unitization, into an adjacent box-type container.
A still further object of my invention to provide such a device that requires no manual operation, but yet containerizes'the product in such a compact fashion as to occupy substantially less space than manual packing to lessen any substantial subsequent damage during transit or handling.
A still further object of my invention is to provide such a device that is of new and novel design, of rugged and durable nature, of simple and economic manufacture and one that is otherwise well suited to the uses and purposes for which it is intended.
Other and further objects of my invention will appear from the following specification and accompanying drawings which form a part hereof. In carrying out the objects of my invention, however, it is to be understood that its features are susceptible to change in design and structural arrangement with only one preferred and practical embodiment being illustrated in the accompanying drawings, as required.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings which form a part of this specification and wherein like numbers refer to similar parts throughout:
FIG. 1 is an isometric surface view of my invention showing its various elements, their configuration and relationship.
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of a typical plastic french fry bag.
FIG. 3 is a partial vertical orthographic view of the accumulator plate biasing mechanism.
FIG. 4 is a partial isometric view of the agitator associated with the imput conveyor.
FIG. 5 is a vertical orthographic view of the opposed hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders associated to control motion of the accumulator conveyor.
FIG. 6 is a vertical isometric view of the accumulator compressing structure.
FIG. 7 is an isometric view of the box holding mechanism of my device.
FIG. 8 is a partial isometric view of the pusher structure and box holding mechanism, showing further details.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT My invention provides generally, imput conveyor 11 to transport, consolidate and array bag product 10 for delivery to accumulator conveyor 12, which transports the product and deposits it successively on the spaced vertically arrayed plates of accumulator structure 13, which thereafter compresses the vertically stacked array of product to thereupon move it horizontally by pusher structure 14 to boxer structure 15, from whence it is deposited in a pre-positioned container.
Imput conveyor 11 provides rigid frame 16 supporting conveyor head 17 in its upper part and motor mount 18 in a lower medial position. The conveyor head journals horizontal forward axle 19 and rearward axle 20 to carry relatively thin, flexible conveyor belt 21 about rollers mounted thereon. One axle, preferably the rearward one, irrotata'bly carries pulley 22 to communicate with driving linkage. At spaced medial position along the belt and between its upper and lower courses, plural agitator axles 23 are journaled by bearing 24 in conveyor head 17 as shown especially in FIG. 4. Each axle irrotatably carries driving cog 25 laterally of the conveyor frame and agitator yoke 26 between the frame elements to rotatably mount agitator rollers 27 positioned radially outwardly from axles 23 a distance sufficient to contact the upper course of the adjacent conveyor belt to cyclically move it some predetermined distance upwardly from its normal course of travel. Electric motor 28 carried on motor mount 18 communicates by linkage 29 with transmission 30 also carried by the motor mount. The transmission communicates by linkage 31 with pulley 22 of the rearward axle of the imput conveyor and by linkage 32 with driving cogs 25 to motivate the agitators.
With this linkage then, product will be conveyed along the upper surface of the upper course of belt 21 and at the same time the agitators will move the upper belt course cyclically up and down to cause an agitation of material in the bag to consolidate it, align it to a degree and form a reasonably flat mass with somewhat rectilinear configuration similar to that of the relaxed containing bag. The imput conveyor may be a separate associated ancillary structure or formed physically as a part of the principal accumulator structure as desired.
Accumulator frame 33 is a rigid supportative structure having lateral peripheral elements 34 and end elements 35 with various cross-structures 36, all joined in structural communication with appropriate configuration to support the various accumulator sub-structures.
Accumulator conveyor 12 provides rigid elongate conveyor frame 37 pivotably supported in its forward (product receiving) part by bearing 38 carried upon auxiliary accumulator conveyor support 39 of accumulator frame 33. The accumulator conveyor frame journals forward axle 40 in its forwardmost part and rearward axle 41 in its rearwardmost part. Each axle carries roller 42 to support continuous, relatively flexible belt 43 therebetween in normal conveyor fashion. Forward axle irrotatable mounts in its lateralmost, portion pulley 44 communicating by linkage 45 with accumulator conveyor motor 46 to provide motion to the conveyor belt. Preferably some means (not shown) known in the conveyor art for maintaining belt tension on a conveyor is provided. The forward end portion of the accumulator conveyor is related to the input conveyor to receive product from the rearward portion of the input conveyor.
The medial part of accumulator conveyor frame 37 pivotably mounts by the .pins 47 depending mover yoke 48. This mover yoke in turn structurally communicates with piston rods 49, 50 of pneumatic cylinder 51 and cooperating hydraulic cylinder 52. Hydraulic cylinder 52 biases the accumulator conveyor to a downwardmost position continually, but it is restrained by the upward thrust of pneumatic cylinder 51 which responds more rapidly to applied pressure to provide a fine control in moving the accumulator conveyor downwardly in discreet steps and also provides a means of recycling it after completion of a cycle to its upwardmost null position. The two cylinders 51, 52 are pivotably supported on accumulator frame 33 by appropriate cross structure 53.
The forward part of accumulator frame 37 mounts bag sensor support 54 positioning sensing arm 56 of bag sensing switch above the accumulator conveyor to sense the passage of a bag therefrom. The bag sensing switch is an electro-mechanical device related to the pneumatic cylinder stepping switch illustrated particularly in FIG. 5 to cause that switch to activate pneumatic cylinder stepping switch 57 to allow the pneumatic cylinder to release'pressure and move the accumulator conveyor structure downwardly a pre-determined distance until sensing arm 58 contacts the next adjacent plural, spaced stop 59 carried by stop arm 60 depending from mover yoke 48. Preferably both the pneumatic cylinder switch sensing arm 58 and plural stops 59 are adjustably positionable relative respective supportative elements to allow convenient adjustment of the accumulator conveyor position relative other members.
Accumulator structure 13 provides plural accumulator plates 61 of some areal extent having upturned bag stops 62 on the rear edge of all excepttopmost plate 61a. These plates are formed of relatively thin, reasonably rigid material such as steel to accomplish their function. The plates are supported in their forward lateral extension by structural communication with plural plate cogs 63, each respectively pivotably mounted in the end part of accumulator plate arms 64.
The structure and mounting of the accumulator plate arms is bestly seen in the illustration of FIG. 3. Auxiliary plate arm support 65, communicating structurally with accumulator frame 33, pivotably mounts the forward end part of each accumulator arm in vertical spaced fashion by plural pins 66. Each plate cog'63 carries an elongate link chain 67 having ends fixedly positioned by fasteners 68 structurally carried by plate arm frame in its forward part, with the fasteners positioned so that opposed courses of a chain are somewhat parallel. This chain linkage maintains the accumulator plates 61 horizontal upon pivotably motion of the accumulator plate arm 64 about pins 66. Biasing chain 69 structurally communicate with the upper medial part of each accumulator plate arm 64 to extend upwardly about upper biasing cogs 70 pivotably supported by axles 71 on plate arm frame and thence downwardly over lower biasing cogs 72 pivotably carried by axles 73 supported on structural element 74 of accumulator frame 33 to communicate in their forward end part with elongate extension springs 75, the other end of which is'supported by element 76 of the accumulator frame 33. With this structure then the elements are appropriately adjusted so that extension springs 75 maintain an upward bias on each accumulator plate arm 64 to overcome a part of the weight of that arm and thusly regulate the amount of product compaction that ultimately may be obtained by motion of the accumulator plates.
The rearward end parts of accumulator plate arms 64 are supported against downward displacement by plural spaced support rollers 77 pivotably mounted in vertically spaced fashion upon vertical support arm moving lever 78 pivotably carried in its lowermost part by pin 79 communicating with element 80 of the accumulator frame 33. Moving lever hydraulic cylinder 81 communicates pivotably from brackets 82 carried in the forward medial part of the moving lever angularly downwardly and forwardly to pivotable communica tion with supporting bracket 83 structurally carried by accumulator frame 33, so that as the cylinder 81 extends or contracts it will move lever 78 in a pivotable fashion and thusly ultimately move the accumulator arms toward or away from each other. It is to be noted that by reason of the arcuate motion of lever 78, an upper arm will move vertically more than a lower arm so that this linkage tends to cumulatively compensate for the differentialmotion required to allow a compression of bags carried on the accumulator plates, since 'each upper plate will have to move cumulatively a greater distance than a lower plate to accommodate for compression of all bags therebelow.
Accumulator pusher structure 14, as seen particularly in FIG. 8, includes an auxiliary supportative pusher frame 84 extending laterally outwardly from structural communication with principal accumulator frame 33 to provide opposed, cooperative side channel elements 85 defining a channel to support and guide the lower end part 86 of pusher upright 87. The pusher upright defines medial, vertically extending slot 88 to set screw-type clamp structure 89 to adjustably position elongate inwardly extending pusher arms 90 in vertical spaced array therealong, one pusher arm being associated with each but the uppermost accumulator plate, at a spaced distance thereabove. Each pusher arm 90 is long enough to extend when in inward position completely across the surface of associated accumulator plate 61 and yet be retracted laterally thereof. Each pusher arm carries a perpendicularly projecting bumper 91 on the pushing portion to aid in moving bags across the accumulator plates. Accumulator pusher arm hydraulic cylinder 92 is carried by accumulator frame 33, with its piston rod 93 extending laterally to communicate with the lower portion of pusher upright 87 to move the upright laterally relative the accumulator plates, and thusly move product on the accumulator plates laterally from the plates and into the boxer channel.
Boxer element 15is positioned laterally of the accumulator plates, opposite the pusher structure 14. It provides bottom supportative element 94 and lateral supportative element 95, each structurally carried by accumulator frame 33 and of appropriate dimension to receive and support stacked product from the accumulator structure 13. Auxiliary boxer frame 96 extends from structural communication with principal accumulator frame 33 inwardly over the boxer channel and downwardly to structurally support inner side element 96A to thusly define the bottom and two sides of product moving channel 97 extending in a forward rearward direction. The rearwardmost elements of this channel are appropriately configured to fit immediately inside a box which is to ultimately contain the accumulated product, so that the box may be place in open fashion for support over the channel defining elements. Boxer pusher plate 98 of some areal extent is carried by piston rod 99 of rearwardly oriented boxer pusher cylinder 100 to move the pusher plate 98 forwardly and rearwardly through the product moving channel to cyclically move product from the channel rearwardly into a container appropriately positioned in the rearward part of the channel. The cylinder is supported upon principal accumulator frame 33.
The box holding structure is illustrated particularly in FIGS. 6 and 7 where it is seen to include auxiliary box holder frame 101 carried by principal accumulator frame 33 mounting bearings 102 in its rearward part to pivotably carry axle 103. This holder axle carries the spaced opposed Z-shaped box holding arms 104 adjustably communicating therewith by clamps 105. The box holding arms are rotated by holder axle 103 from a relaxed position illustrated in FIG. 7 to a perpendicular holding position as illustrated in FIG. 6 to hold open box 106 in position over the rearward orifice of product moving channel 97. Rotating arm 107 depends angularly from communication with holder axle 103 to pivotably communicate with yoke 108 of piston arm 109 of box holding cylinder 110, structurally carried by principal accumulator frame 33, to provide pivotable motion to the holder axle.
With this structure then, accumulated compressed and arrayed product may be moved from the boxer channel rearwardly into a container carried by the boxer and the container subsequently removed by rotation of the box holder and deposited by this action and gravity upon some auxiliary conveying structure 111 to be removed for further processing, storage or handling according to the prevailing practices of the art.
Having thusly described the structure of my invention, its operation may be understood.
Firstly, a mechanism is formed according to the foregoing specification and positioned, as illustrated in FIG. 1, adjacent some facility from which bagged material may be received at the forward part of the input conveyor.
The product 112 for which the mechanism is principally designed is some form of frozen, pre-cooked potato product, principally an elongate pre-cooked french fry of one sort or another, though obviously the mechanism will operate upon other types of packaged product. Normal french fried potatoes are an elongate structure of some few inches in length and a fraction of an inch in areal extent. The product 112 is pre-cooked, frozen and deposited in a pre-determined mass, ranging generally from a few ounces to a few pounds, in a flexible bag 113. Bag 113 is generally formed from an impervious, membraneous plastic of some strength and reasonable pliability in the temperature ranges involved. The bag normally is sealed in some fashion reasonably impervious to air. The normal configuration of a bag in relaxed condition is somewhat flat with rectilinear periphery. The material presented to the imput conveyor will be in a solidly frozen state, packaged in a flexible bag fashioned to allow motion of product within the bag.
This product is presented in random fashion to the forward or imput end of imput conveyor 11. It is transported along'this conveyor by frictional engagement with the upper surface of conveyor belt 21 and during transit the product is agitated vertically by the associated agitator structure. The agitation tends to flatten the product in the bag, distribute it reasonably uniformly over a cross-sectional area of the bag and align it to some degree, with axis principally substantially horizontally oriented.
The bags then move to the rearward part of the imput conveyor and move by physical transfer therefrom to the immediately rearwardly adjacent forward part of the accumulator conveyor 12. The accumulator conveyor has a belt speed substantially greater than that of the imput conveyor, so that product received by the accumulator conveyor will be spaced along the belt with some substantial distance intervening notwithstanding the time of presentment of product by the imput conveyor. The accumulator conveyor speed should have an upper limit, however, so that bags are not transported to any substantial degree by momentum, since this would tend to disorient product and cause product damage.
As the accumulator cycle commences the conveyor belt will be at its initial null position with the upper surface of accumulator belt 43 substantially co-extensive with the upper surface of the next to uppermost accumulator plate 61b. In this condition bagged product 10 passes over the rearward end part of the accumulator conveyor and is deposited upon' accumulator plate 61b. As the bag is so deposited it activates the bag sensor switch 55 and this in turn activates pneumatic cylinder switch 57 to relax the pneumatic cylinder switch 57 to relax the pneumatic cylinder and allow the accumulator conveyor to move downwardly until sensing arm 58 of switch 57 contacts the next upwardly stop 59, at which time the pneumatic cylinder activates to overcome the downward bias of the hydraulic cylinder and the accumulator conveyor stops at a point to deposit on the next lower accumulator plate 61c. Process continues in similar fashion until all desired accumulator plates have a bag of product resting on their upper surface. i
At this point, .with the accumulator plates full of product, position sensing switch 114 carried on accumulator frame 33 senses the lowermost position of the accumulator conveyor and in response: firstly recycles the accumulator conveyor to its uppermost position; secondly activates cylinder 82 to move the accumulator arm moving lever forwardly from a vertical null position to thusly move the accumulator plate arms downwardly and closer together, to lessen the space between bagged product and compress it to cause the product to be in immediate spaced adjacency and somewhat compacted between the adjacent accumulator plates; thirdly pusher cylinder 92 is activated to move pusher arms inwardly to contact product and push it from the supporting accumulator plates and into'product channel 97. Both pusher cylinder 92 and accumulator arm moving lever cylinder 82 are returned to an initially null retracted position upon completion of their cycles.
The amassed product then, as it moves into contact with lateral side element 96 of boxer member 15, contacts position sensitive switch 115 which activates boxer pusher cylinder 100 to cause the pusher plate to move rearwardly and push the amassed product in this direction. At this time box-type container will have been positioned, as illustrated in FIG. 6, to receive the amassed product and the box holder'cylinder 110 will have been activated, normally by manual means, to hold the box in appropriate position to receive the product. After the product is pushed rearwardly into the box, the box holder cylinder will be relaxed to return to its normally retracted position and remove the box onto auxiliary conveyor 111 for closing and further processing. Obviously, the box holding cylinder might be automated, by use of positionally sensitive switches if desired, but since manual loading of boxes is required it normally is more convenient to manually operate the box holder cylinder switch.
In this condition then, a cycle has been completed and the mechanism is reset to recycle in the same fashion as described. The various electro-mechanical switching devices specified are well known in the prior art and many types of such devices performing the functions specified might be used with equal facility by my invention. The details of this control structure is therefore not material to my invention.
From the foregoing description it is to be particularly noted that when the arrayed product passes from the accumulator plates it is moved by positive mechanical means and is in immediate adjacency and compacted form so that as it is moved from the accumulation plates it forms a unitized array. It then is moved along a horizontal course while being supported against gravity displacement to be deposited in the ultimate container without any substantial disturbance of the array of product or of the material in a particular bag. At no point in the course of product transfer is it passed by gravity, impacted or moved by inertia,to cause product damage or disarray but at all stages it is controlled by positive mechanical motion.
It is further to be noted that during product compression between the accumulator plates the adjacent plates will approach each other to contain the product therebetween to establish the product in immediate spaced adjacency and especially to remove entrapped air from the plastic bags that would destroy stacking potentiality.
It is to be further noted that with my invention, the product is materially more compacted than with manual or prior art devices and this allows containment of the arrayed product in a smaller container and in a more compact condition which tends to prevent future potential damage during handling, storage and transportation.
The foregoing description of my invention is necessarily of a detailed nature so that a specific embodiment of it might be set forth as required, but it is to be understood that various modifications of detail, rearrangement and multiplication of parts might be resorted to without departing from its spirit, essence or scope.
Having thusly described my invention, what I desire 'to protect by Letters Patent, and
What I claim is:
l. A product accumulator and boxer of the nature aforesaid including, in combination:
an imput conveyor having associated means of product agitation to transport supported product to;
an adjacent elongate accumulator conveyor pivotably mounted in its forward product receiving part on an accumulator frame for vertical motion of its rearward part, the accumulator conveyor having associated means of vertically moving its rearward part to plural, spaced, pre-determined positions;
an accumulator structure, supported by the accumulator frame, having plural vertically spaced accumulator plates immediately rearwardly adjacent the rearward part of the accumulator conveyor to receive product therefrom, each of the accumulator plates being carried by mechanical supported linkage by the accumulator frame each said linkage operable to move a plate relatively closer to an adjacent plate during vertical downward motion to compress product supported upon the plates;
a pusher arm structure adapted to push product horizontally from the accumulator plates into a boxer structure defining a product channel to receive the vertically stacked product and move it horizontally into a pre-positioned container for further processing; and
motive means to activate the several members.
2. The invention of claim 1 wherein the accumulator conveyor has a greater conveyor speed than the imput conveyor to space product along the accumulator conveyor and prevent its accumulation or fouling.
3. The invention of claim 1 wherein the mechanical linkage communicating between the accumulator plates and the accumulator frame is further characterized by:
plural vertically spaced conveyor arms extending perpendicularly from each accumulator plate to spaced pivotable mounting in the end parts upon an auxiliary frame supported by the principal accu mulator frame, each accumulator plate having;
a pivotably mounted cog in its proximate end part structurally carrying the associated accumulator plate with a chain communicating about the cog having each of its ends rigidly fastened at approximately the pivot point of said arm to allow the accumulator plates to move toward each other and remain parallel.
4. The invention of claim 3 further characterized by the accumulator plate end of the accumulator plate arms being supported upon plural rollers carried in vertically spaced array by an accumulator plate arm lever pivotably mounted in its lowermost portion upon the accumulator frame; and
means of pivotably moving the accumulator plate arm lever away from the vertical to allow the accumulator plate arms to move closer together.
5. The invention of claim 1 wherein the accumulator conveyor is biased downwardly by hydraulic means communicating from the conveyor frame to the principal accumulator frame and is adjustably restrained from motion by pneumatic means extending between the same elements to provide fine control of accumulator conveyor motion.
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