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Publication numberUS3750879 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 7, 1973
Filing dateMar 6, 1972
Priority dateSep 18, 1969
Also published asDE2047110A1, DE7035473U
Publication numberUS 3750879 A, US 3750879A, US-A-3750879, US3750879 A, US3750879A
InventorsCosgrove J, Holland G, Luckett C
Original AssigneeBritish Railways Board, Sorting Systems Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sorting conveyors
US 3750879 A
Abstract
The invention provides a compact and economical construction of sorting device including a circular carousel comprising a ring with radial segmental panels, which ring is caused to rotate, each segmental panel being pivotally mounted on the ring so as to be tiltable about a generally horizontal axis lying at right angles to the radius of the ring on which that respective segmental panel is aligned, the tilting axis of each panel being located at such distance below the load bearing surface of the panel that when the panel is tilted from the horizontal, all parts of the load bearing surface of the panel are moved radially outwardly of the carousel, there being also conveyor feed means arranged to feed articles on to the carousel, there being disposed about the periphery of said carousel a plurality of chutes and wherein means are provided for selectively tilting individual segmental panels, or groups of segmental panels while these selected segmental panels are adjacent a selected chute to cause an article carried on such tilted segmental panel or panels to leave the carousel and enter the respective chute.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 11 1 Luckett et al.

SORTING CONVEYORS Assignee: British Railways Board, London,

England a Public Authority 8: Sorting Systems Limited, Bristol, England Filed: Mar. 6, 1972 Appl. No.: 231,920

Related US. Application Data Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 70,948, Sept. 10, 1970, abandoned.

Foreign Application Priority Data Sept. l8, l969 Great Britain 46,101/69 U.S. Cl. 214/11 R, 198/155, 198/158, 198/209, 209/124, 214/16 B Int. Cl. 365g 47/38 Field of Search 198/155, 158, 209, 198/25; 209/74, 122, 124; 214/11, 16 B References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 4/1932 Cramer 198/209 MacKechnie 214/11 R 3,750,879 Aug. 7, 1973 ABSTRACT The invention provides a compact and economical construction of sorting device including a circular carousel comprising a ring with radial segmental panels, which ring is caused to rotate, each segmental panel being pivotally mounted on the ring so as to be tiltable about a generally horizontal axis lying at right angles to the radius of the ring on which that respective segmental panel is aligned, the tilting axis of each panel being located at such distance below the load bearing surface of the panel that when the panel is tilted from the horizontal, all parts of the load bearing surface of the panel are moved radially outwardly of the carousel, there being also conveyor feed means arranged to feed articles on to the carousel, there being disposed about the periphery of said carousel a plurality of chutes and wherein means are provided for selectively tilting individual segmental panels, or groups of segmental panels while these selected segmental panels are adjacent a selected chute to cause an article carried on such tilted segmental panel or panels to leave the carousel and enter the respective chute.

14 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures SHEET 3 0F 6 Fig.4.

PAIENI AUG 7 ma saw u or 5 PATENTED AUB 7 I973 SHEET 5 BF 6 llvlllll PATENTED AUG 7 I975 3. 7 5 0 p 8 7 9 SHEET 6 OF 6 KEYBO RD IN PU KEYBOARD ENCODER KEYBOARD MEMORY PU LSE I EL E C 'l' Rqc GENERATOR GATE 1 CELL R -cOuNTER- fgmg GATE 2 I STAGE 1 STAGE 2 -[READOuT a] STAGE 3 STAGE 4 STAGE 5 STAGE 6 STAGE 7 STAGE 8 READOUT b] STAGE 9 STAGE 1O STAGE 11 STAGE 12 STAGE 13 STAGE 14 {READOuT c1 -1 STAGE 15 STAGE 16 STAGE 17 STAGE 1&

- STAGE 19 P- STAGE 2O READOUT d| SORTING CONVEYORS This application is a continuation-in-part of Application Ser. No. 70,948, filed Sept. 10, 1970, and now abandoned.

This invention relates to sorting systems.

Sorting equipment takes three main forms:

a. Belt or slat conveyors with means for pushing or deflecting loads off at the destination point.

b. Tilted belt conveyors where the article is held on the belt by a side wall, a section of which drops to allow the load to slide off.

c. Conveyors with a self discharging characteristic which cause the load to be discharged at the required destination.

Type (a) with a push discharge action has limitations in that items must be placed on the conveyor at a minimum pitch which will accomodate the longest package, and generally large gaps have to be allowed for the return action of the pusher. This second feature is eliminated by using more complicated and expensive pushing means. With the deflecting methods large gaps have again to be left between packages to allow for the deflector movement, and in addition the danger of jamming between the deflector and conveyor is always present. If either of these means is used at high speeds considerable deflecting loads are inflicted on the packages.

Type (b) depends on the differential friction characteristics between the belt and the side wall, and while this method is satisfactory for small or consistently sized articles it is not so suitable for larger or widely varying loads. Here the gates must be at a pitch sufficient to accomodate the longest package.

Type (c) is most suitable for large throughput rates. These conveyors can take the form of being either tilting slat conveyors where the load is supported on a number of slats and all the slats are tiltable to cause the load to be discharged, or alternatively the conveyor can take the form of a tilting tray conveyor where the load is supported on one tray and this tray is tilted to discharge the load.

With the tray conveyor the tray is sized to take the largest article which gives wasted capacity, andv it is essential that each article is supported on one or more trays, these trays supporting only the one article. This complicates the loading procedure. It can, however, be arranged in a horizontal carousel form which in some cases gives a more economic conveyor installation.

The tilting slat conveyor will accept random position loading, and can therefore be end loaded without complications, but in its normal design it must be arranged in an over and under form which can give less economic installations due to the wasted return strand. Normally it cannot be arranged in a circular or carousel form due to the excessive clearances which would be required between slats to allow them to move round horizontal corners, and the relative movement between slats and loads which would be experienced in this form of conveyor.

The invention has for its object to provide a sorting device which includes a circular carousel without the above mentioned disadvantages. In particular loads of differing sizes are to be accepted; the intervals between loads are to be small as possible, and the risks of jamming which are often found with flexible loads such as sacks are to be reduced or eliminated.

According to the present invention, there is provided a sorting table of the kind including a circular carousel which has a ring carrying a plurality of radially aligned segmental panels which ring is caused to rotate substantially about its axis characterised in that each segmental panel is pivotally mounted on the ring so as to be tiltable about a generally horizontal axis lying at right angles to the radius of the ring on which that respective panel is aligned, the tilting axis of each panel being located at such distance below the load bearing surface of the panel that when the panel is tilted from the horizontal, all parts of the load bearing surface of the panel are moved radially outwardly of the carousel there being also conveyor feed means arranged to feed articles onto the carousel, there being disposed about the periphery of said carousel a plurality of chutes and wherein there are provided means for selectively tilting individual segmental panels or groups of segmental panels while these selected panels are adjacent a selected chute to cause an article carried on such tilted panel to leave the carousel and enter the repsective chute.

The individual segmental panels are provided respectively with rollers preferably engaging circular tracks. A track is employed to maintain the segmental panels substantially horizontal, that is, untilted. However, opposite each discharge chute there is provided a switch gear which can be selectively operated to cause the rollers of a segmental panel or of a number of neighbouring segmental panels to be disengaged from the primary tracks to discharge tracks arranged opposite that discharge chute. As the rollers are moved on to the discharge tracks, associated panel is progressively tilted and remains tilted while its rollers remain in engagement with the discharge tracks. A. further switch gear may return the rollers to the primary tracks at the end of the discharge tracks.

Packages will be fed on to the feed conveyor by a collection conveyor, or directly from the unloading area. The feed conveyor may lead past a control console. The packages will be so placed that the destination in formation is uppermost, and preferably facing the right way for reading by the operator at the control console. This destination information can take the form of a written address, a number or some other mark.

The article moves along the feed conveyor where it is examined by a coding operative. if he recognises the address and presses a corresponding key on the control console to enter a code which indicates the chute at which the package is to be discharged, the article is transferred on to the carousel conveyor provided that the minimum gap exists between successive articles. If the coding operative does not enter an acceptable code before the package reaches the end of the feed conveyor, the feed conveyor stops and restarts when the code has been entered.

In some cases the mark on the package may be read automatically and the package does not need to be faced.

When the code is entered, it is held in a buffer or analogue memory and is transferred to the memory associated with the carousel as the article moves on to the carousel. At the point where packages are fed from the feed conveyor to the carousel, a scanning system identifies which segmental panel or panels are occupied by the package which just previously had been coded as to its destination.

As the package moves round the circular carousel the code moves through the memory unit. In the analogue memory unit there are a number of read out points, each associated with a particular discharge chute. When the read out point recognises its own code, it causes a signal to be passed to the switch gear associated with the discharge chute, actuating it and so tilting the segmental panel or panels supporting the particular load and sliding it off the panel or panels across an apron plate and into the desired chute. Once tilted, each panel remains tilted until after it passes the last discharge chute.

Each of the switch gear units, except the last, will be actuated by powered means for example an electric solenoid. The last unit will be a fixed discharge which will tilt all segmental panels that have not been previously tilted.

The chutes will be fitted with chute full detection devices, which will prevent further discharge to a chute which is already full. The last chute will be fitted with this unit, but this will immediately stop the carousel in the event of blockage. In addition a photo-electric cell unit will look across the carousel after the last discharge chute to check whether all the packages have been discharged, and if not, will stop the system to prevent damage. All the segmental panels will be levelled before they pass to the feed position.

Preferably the carousel and feed conveyor will run at a speed matched to the throughput requirement and the spacing between successive articles on the sorting carousel will be controlled to prevent more than one article appearing on a segmental panel.

Typically if the average package length is considered 75 cm. the system can be arranged to give a theoretical capacity in excess of 50 packages per minute or 3,000 per hour.

The employment of one key operative position will limit the effective throughput. It is to be expected that with clearly marked articles, coding to between five and destination codes, that a normal operative would be expected to achieve throughput of 2,000per hour.

With automatic code recognition the full capacity of the machine would be obtained: alternatively twin feeds could be employed to boost the machine throughput.

One embodiment of the invention is shown schematically by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken on the lines lllI of FIG. 1;

FIG. 2A is a detail view to larger scale of apparatus shown in FIG. 2, and

FIG. 3 is a sectional view through the feed conveyor and control console shown in FIG. 1.

In the drawings 1 generally represents a feed conveyor adapted to feed packages past a control console 2 to a circular carousel 3.

The circular carousel 3 includes a ring member 10 which as will be seen more clearly in FIG. 2 is an angled metal construction.

The ring 10 is driven for rotation substantially about its axis by two drive wheels 11 and is supported on two idler wheels 12. Drive to the wheels 11 is from a motor 13, by way of bevel gearing 14 and shafts 15. The shafts 15 are supported in plummer blocks 16 mounted on a base frame generally designated 17, as will be seen from FIG. 2A.

The ring 10 carries a plurality of segments 20 each being aligned with a radius of the ring 10. Each segmental panel 20 has a pedestal 200 the base of which is connected to the ring by means of a pivot 21 shown in FIG. 2A. The arrangement is such that each segmental panel 20 is tiltable by means of its pivot 21 about a horizontal axis which is at right angles to the radius of the ring 10 drawn through the centre of the pivot 21.

It will be noted that as the pivotal axis is spaced some distance below the load bearing surface of each segmental panel when the panel is tilted from the horizontal, every part of the load bearing surface of the panel moves radially outwardly of the circular carousel. This feature is of extreme importance since when a panel is tilted the gap between the panel and an adjacent panel is increased thereby effectively removing any possibility of a flexible load such as a sack, becoming jammed in the gaps between the panels.

Peripherally of the segmental panel 20 is a fixed apron 22 and spaced about the apron are a plurality of discharge chutes. In the embodiment shown there are fives such chutes, A, B, C, D and E.

A pair of stabilising rollers 32, 33 at the base of each pedestal 20a is mounted on a common spindle 31. These rollers bear respectively on the underside and top of a pair of accurately formed primary set of tracks 34, 35 which will constrain the stabilising rollers 32, 33 to move in a fixed path.

This track is fitted with switch gear which is arranged to transfer the stabilising rollers 32, 33 from the primary tracks 34, 35 to discharge tracks 34a, 35a to give the required tilting action. Once a panel 20 has been tilted, it remains so until it has passed the final discharge chute E. This arrangement makes for low noise levels.

The switch gear will consist of a tongue, which is contoured to give smooth tranfer action on the rollers, and which moves in the gap existing between stabilising rollers of successive segmental panels 20 to collect the rollers of the first segmental panel requiring tilting, to transfer these to the discharge tracks 34a, 350 it being understood that there will be a length of such discharge track suitably located opposite each discharge station A, B, C, D. The tongue may move under the control ofelectromagnetic solenoids.

An embodiment of such switch gear will now be described with reference to FIGS. 4 to 7 in which FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the invention showing the stabilising rollers and their track in a position intermediate two successive discharge stations.

FIG. 5 is a corresponding view of a discharge switch gear.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a discharge switchgear taken along the line VI VI of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of means for selectively pivoting a switch tongue.

FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic representation of the mode of control of the switch gear by an operator.

In FIG. 4 a spindle 131 leading from a pivot at the base of each segmental panel pedestal 20a (not shown in FIG. 4) carries stabilising rollers 132 and 133. The roller 132 which is nearer the segmental panel pedestal is somewhat larger than the roller 133. Roller 132 is carried between primary tracks 134 and 135 or between tilted discharge tracks 134a, 135a. A second primary track 234 may be provided to bear against the top of smaller roller 133 so as to maintain the rollers on the primary track while the rollers are passing any gap in the primary track 134.

FIGS. 5 and 6 show a switch tongue 50 carried on a spindle 51, the tongue 50 being arranged to be pivotable into and out of the path of smaller roller I33 and so that it does not obstruct the path of larger roller 132. In FIGS. 5 and 6 the tongue 50 is shown in its down" position where it will be engaged by smaller roller 133 and cause the latter to be diverted so that larger roller 132 may engage a section of discharge track 1350. The tongue 50 is so shaped that when the lower edge of smaller roller 133, whose course is shown in peeked lines at 233, first engages the tongue its said course is substantially tangential to the upper surface 50a of the tongue. The surface 50a is also shaped so that the whole width of the smaller roller 133 comes into contact therewith as the said roller moves up the tongue. Smaller roller 133 then passes on to a block 52 shaped so that the transition of the roller from the tongue on to the blocks is as smooth as possible and again so that the whole width of the roller comes into contact therewith. The block 52 raises smaller roller 133 so that larger roller 132 may move on to discharge track 135a. A quadrant 53 of substantially frusto-conical contour provides a lead in for larger roller 132 on to track 1350 The path of the lower edge of roller 133 in the discharge condition is shown in peeked lines at 233a. The tongue 50 is arranged to be pivotable with spindle 51 about the axis thereof as shown by arrow A to the position shown in dotted lines. In this position a lower surface 334 of the tongue 50 provides a continuation of primary track 234 in order to maintain smaller roller 133 in its untilted position on the primary set of tracks.

The course of the lower edge of a smaller roller 133 which has been tilted prior to its arrival at the switch gear shown, is shown in peeked lines at 233b.

In order to permit a tilted pair of rollers to pass this station, there is provided a second tongue 54 pivotally mounted at its upstream end with respect to the direction of travel of the rollers as indicated by arrow B. The upper surface of tongue 54 is formed as a continuation of upper track l35a and this tongue bridges the gap between the two sections l35a of the discharge track.

The lower surface of tongue 54 is shaped to compliment the upper surface 50a of tongue 50 and acts as a guide during the tilting process. Tongue 54 normally rests with one end on conical quadrant 53 only being displaced to its upper position as shown when a pair of rollers 132, 133 passes up the tongue 50over the block 52.

As may be seen from FIGS. 5 and 7, spindle 51 of the tongue 50 passes through a back plate 59 and the end of this spindle which may be square in section, carries the upper end 102 of lever 101. A rod 113 connected to a solenoid 110 pivotally mounted at l 11 to the back plate 59, is pivotally connected at 114 to the lower end of lever 101. A return spring 115 is pivotally mounted at 116 on the back plate 59. The spring 115 bears on a rod 117 pivotally connected at 118 to the lever 101, the arrangement being such that the tongue 50 connected to spindle 51 is biased by the return spring to its upper position shown in FIG. 6.

Operation of the sorting conveyor will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 to 8.

In operation the packages will be fed successively on the feed conveyor 1 towards the operator at console 2.,

pressed when the package is detected by the scanning device. The feed conveyor having been stopped it will only restart when a button has been selected and pressed. If when the package is detected by scanning device 60, there is insufficient spacing between the detected package and preceding package, the feed conveyor will stop and restart after an adequate spacing has been created, typically by time measurement.

In practice there is adequate spacing between successive packages if the spacing corresponds to the width of one segmental panel of the circular conveyor.

Referring now to the block diagram represented in FIG. 8, the signal from the button pressed by the operative is passed, by way of an encoder, to a keyboard memory which stores the destination code selected.

The circular conveyor is rotated at a constant speed. A pulse generator is driven in correspondence with the speed of rotation of the circular conveyor and produces a predetermined frequency of pulses corresponding to such speed. For simplicity of explanation in this description it will be assumed that one pulse is produced by the pulse generator when the conveyor is advanced through the rotational distance corresponding to the width of one panel.

When the leading end of a package being fed from the feed conveyor 1 onto the circular conveyor is detected by the scanning device 60., which is suitably a photo-electric cell, the destination code previously stored in the keyboard memory is transferred via a gate 2 to a forward memory. The next pulse received from the pulse generator is effective to transfer thedestination code stored in the forward memory via a gate 2 to the first stage of an analogue memory.

Successive pulses from the pulse generator, or increments of pulses, are effective to'transfer codes from the forwardmemory to the first stage of the analogue memory with the preceding codes being also transferred stage by stage through the analogue memory.

The forward memory continues to feed the same destination code to stage 1 of the analogue memory on receipt of pulses from the pulse generator corresponding to advance movement of the circular conveyor by, for example, five segmental panel widths, unless the forward memory has been previously activated by reactivation of the sensing device 60 this indicating that the leading end of a following package has been detected in which case a new destination code will have been'fed to it.

The sequence of pulses from the pulse generator causes the destination codes to 'be fed successively through the stages of the analogue memory.

When the destination code passing through successive stages of the analogue memory, reaches a read out station corresponding to a chute for which a particular package is intended, the read out station recognises the code arriving at that stage of the analogue memory. There is one read out station provided corresponding to each discharge chute and each discharge chute read out station is responsive only to the particular destination code appropriate to that chute.

When the read out station recognises its code, a signal is passed, preferably through amplifier stages, to the solenoid 110 (FIG. 7) so as to lower the tongue 50 (FIGS. and 6) to engage rollers of the next following segmental panel and transfer such rollers from the primary track to the discharge track, thus effecting tilting of the segmental panel and discharges of the package carried thereon into the discharge chute.

The solenoid 110, once energised by its read out circuit, remains so energised until its said read out circuit recognises a different code in the analogue memory. At this instant energy to the solenoid is interrupted and the spring 115 (FIG. 7) acting on the control arm 101 of the switching tongue 50 returns the switching tongue 50 to its initial position shown in dotted lines in FIG. 6 so that the rollers of the next following panel are not diverted from the primary track to the discharge track.

A particular destination code is transferred successively through all stages of the analogue memory even after it has been recognised by a particular read out circuit. After leaving the final stage of the analogue memory the destination codes are erased.

In the particular embodiment shown, selective discharge will be effected at chutes A, B, C, D as described above, and all packages continuing past discharge chute D will be automatically ejected at discharge chute E with the panels being successively tilted opposite discharge chute E, the panels then being returned to a horizontal disposition as they move from discharge chute E to the point where they accept new packages arriving on the feed conveyor 1.

Packages discharged at the final dischage chute E may either be refed to the same feed conveyor 1 or they may be fed to another circular conveyor having a plurality of discharge chutes corresponding to the destinations other than those which correspond to discharge chutes A, B, C and D.

In the arrangement shown, the pulses from the pulse generator will be effective to shift the destination codes successively through the stages of the analogue memory as the conveyor rotates thorugh the distance corresponding to one panel.

Also, as has previously been explained, the sensing device 60 is employed to ensure that the spacing between successive packages correspond to the width of at least one segmental panel of the circular conveyor.

If the package is small and occupies one or two panels only that panel or pair of panels will be tilted at the appropriate discharge chute. If the package, however, occupies three or more successive panels then the appropriate number of panels will be required to be tilted at the appropriate discharge chute.

Also as previously explained the forward memory is arranged to cancel the destination code being fed to the first stage of the analogue memory after conveyor advance corresponding, for example, to, five panel widths.

Accordingly in the arrangement as described with reference to this particular example, the maximum length of package which can be carried can extend over five panels. unless the same code continues to reach the forward memory from the keyboard memory in which case further panels will be notified as being occupied by the package or a further package destined for a particular discharge chute. However, if a different destination code reaches the keyboard memory, when the next pulse is received from the pulse generator, the previous code will be cancelled in the forward memory and a different code will start being fed into the first stage of the analogue memory and it will be recalled that such a change of code is only permitted to reach the forward memory on activation of the scanning device 60.

The forward memory, therefore, constitutes a holding means which continues to feed a given destination code into the analogue memory for a duration corresponding to the number of panels required to be tilted as required by the length of a particular package.

The forward memory then either erases its code automatically after conveyor advance corresponding in the particular example to, five panel widths, or on receipt of a new destination code which it can only receive on further activation of the scanning device 60, indicating that a successive packagehas been detected as having arrived from the feed conveyor 1.

It will be appreciated that while the above description is related to an embodiment of the invention with but five destination chutes, of which only the first four chutes are intended as destination chutes, the principle of the invention can be embodied in a conveyor having a greater number of destination chutes.

In this event the analogue memory will be provided with an appropriate number of stages and an appropriate number of read out circuits and panel tilting switch gear will be provided for each discharge chute.

Moreover, adaptations can be made which will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, either by for example increasing the separation between successive packages or by increasing the number of segmental panels which may be tilted, before the keyboard memory erases the particular destination code.

Further modifications may be effected without departing from the scope of the appendant claims.

it will be noted by those skilled in the art that the sorting device according to this invention has many advantages some of which are noted below. Firstly the device will accept widely differing loads at close intervals without any likelihood of flexible loads becoming jammed between the segmental panels. Seondly, when a long lead is to be discharged into a chute the panels supporting the leading end of the load are tilted before those supporting the rear of the load, hence turning the leading end of the load into the chute. Thirdly it will be noted that the central pivotal arrangement for each panel enables the main weight of the load to be taken by the ring 10 with loadings on the rollers 32 and 33 being acceptably low. fourthly, the radial alignment of the segmental panels and discharge chutes enables the length of the carousel conveyor and memory to be small in comparison with what would be required on a straight conveyor with similar spacing of the discharge chutes. An additional advantage in simplicity of design and noise reduction is achieved since the panels only tilt to one side.

The employment of a single ring 10 affords a drive system lacking in complexity, and the device as a whole provides satisfactory operation for long periods with low maintenance requirements.

Finally it will be apparent that a plurality of sorting devices according to the invention may be assembled to operate in conjunction with one another, so that loads for a large number of destinations may be catered for. It is envisaged that a plurality of sorting devices according to the invention could be arranged in a stack' one above another to provide a sorting system with a large throughput but occupying relatively little space.

We claim:

I. A sorting device of the kind including a circular carousel comprising a circular ring on which a plurality of radially extending segmental panels are mounted for movement therewith which ring is caused to rotate substantially about its axis, said panels having a flat upper load bearing surface which is normally horizontal and the arrangement being such that when the flat upper surfaces of all the panels are horizontal the edges of the adjacent panels are juxtaposed and there is formed a substantially continuous, substantially flat, annular supporting surface, each segmental panel being pivotally mounted on the ring so as to be tiltable about a generally horizontal axis lying at right angles to the radius of the ring on which that respective segmental panel is located, the tilting axis of each penel being located below the load bearing upper surface of the panel so that when the panel is tilted from the horizontal, all parts of the upper load bearing surface of the panel are moved radially outwardly of the carousel, there being also conveyor feed means arranged to feed articles on to the carousel, there being disposed about the periphery of said carousel a plurality of chutes and including switch gear for selectively tilting individual segmental panels or groups of segmental panels while any segmental panel selected is adjacent a selected chute to cause an article carried on such selected panel or panels to leave the carousel and enter the respective chute, there being further switch gear for returning panels which have been tilted to a position where their upper flat load bearing surfaces are substantially horizontal.

2. A sorting device according to claim 1 characterised in that each individual segmental panel is provided with rollers engaging non-rotating circular tracks concentric with said ring.

3. A sorting device according to claim 2 characterised in that said rollers engage primary tracks so as to maintain the segmental panels substantially horizontal, there being incorporated, adjacent a chute, switch gear selectively operable to divert the rollers of a selected segment from the primary tracks on to discharge tracks, whereby as the rollers are moved on to the discharge tracks, the segment is progressively tilted and remains tilted while its rollers remain engaged with the discharge tracks.

4. A sorting device according to claim 3 characterised in that further switch gear is arranged at the end of the discharge track adapted to return the rollers to the primary tracks.

5. A sorting device according to claim 4, characterized in that at the last chute associated with the carousel, means are provided for diverting the rollers of all segmental panels to a discharge track so that all segments are tilted as they pass the said last chute.

6. A sorting device according to claim 3 characterised in that there is provided adjacent said conveyor feed means a control console equipped with a plurality of electric switches, there being at least one for each individual chute, and wherein at least one of said switches requires to be operated before a package on the conveyor feed means is permitted to be fed to the circular carousel.

7. A sorting device according to claim 6, characterised in that at the last chute associated with the carousel, means are provided for diverting the rollers of all segmental panels to a discharge track so that all segments are tilted as they pass the said last chute.

8. A sorting device according to claim 6 characterised in that there is provided a scanning device adapted to identify the location of each individual package on the circular carousel.

9. A sorting device according to claim 8, characterized in that at the last chute associated with the carousel, means are provided for diverting the rollers of all segmental panels to a discharge track so that all segments are tilted as they pass the :said last chute.

10. A sorting device according to claim 8 characterised in that there is provided a memory device adapted to receive signals from said control console and said scanning device, and after integration of said signals to operate at a suitable instant of time and for a suitable duration of time the switch gear associated with a selected chute, whereby at least one segmental panel is tilted and any package thereon is discharged into the selected chute.

11. A sorting device according to claim 10 wherein said memory device includes a plurality of successive stages and including a pulse generator connected and arranged in conjunction with the: circular carousel to emit a series of pulses at frequency corresponding and proportioned to rotational movement of the carousel, said pulses being fed to said memory device, a predetermined number of said pulses being arranged to shift a signal initially derived from said control console through successive stages of said memory device.

12. A sorting device according to claim 11 including a forward memory device interposed between said control console and the first of the successive stages of the memory device, said forward memory also receiving pulses from said pulse generator, and being activated by a first predetermined number of said received pulses to shift a signal derived initially from said control console to the first of said successive stages.

13. A, sorting device according to claim 12 wherein said forward memory is adapted and arranged to continue to shift a given signal into the first of said successive stages in response to a predetermined number of received pulses and to erase said code thereafter.

14. A sorting device according to claim 3 characterised in that at the last chute associated with the carousel, means are provided for diverting the rollers of all segmental panels to a discharge track so that all segments are tilted as they pass the said last chute.

l 1 I I! l

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3897875 *May 20, 1974Aug 5, 1975British Railways BoardSorting conveyors
US4143751 *Aug 12, 1977Mar 13, 1979A-T-O Inc.Circular sortation apparatus and methods
US4317521 *Aug 14, 1980Mar 2, 1982Resource Recovery LimitedApparatus and method for sorting articles
US4924998 *Nov 10, 1988May 15, 1990The Boeing CompanyStorage mechanism for sorted articles
US4961489 *Jul 18, 1983Oct 9, 1990Maf Industries, Inc.Product handling system
US5029692 *Aug 2, 1990Jul 9, 1991Warkentin Aaron JOff-loading conveying system
US5101982 *Dec 21, 1987Apr 7, 1992Decco Roda S.P.A.Conveying and off-loading apparatus for machines for the automatic selection of agricultural products such as fruit
US5215179 *Aug 30, 1991Jun 1, 1993Warkentin Aaron JOff-loading conveying system
US5474167 *May 13, 1993Dec 12, 1995Warkentin; Aaron J.Off-loading conveying system
US5626236 *Jan 11, 1993May 6, 1997Autoline, Inc.Method and apparatus for handling objects
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Classifications
U.S. Classification198/349.8, 198/563, 198/546, 198/370.4
International ClassificationB65G1/04
Cooperative ClassificationB65G1/045
European ClassificationB65G1/04F