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Publication numberUS3760956 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 25, 1973
Filing dateAug 23, 1971
Priority dateAug 23, 1971
Publication numberUS 3760956 A, US 3760956A, US-A-3760956, US3760956 A, US3760956A
InventorsBurch A
Original AssigneeBurch Controls Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Industrial robot
US 3760956 A
Abstract
An article-handling apparatus having a roller-supported base and a telescopic post assembly extending upwardly from the base. The telescopic post assembly includes a first post section secured to the base and a second post section slidably supported on the first post section and interconnected thereto by a first drive unit, such as a fluid pressure cylinder. A telescopically extendible boom assembly is rotatably supported on the upper end of the second post section and a second drive unit coacts therebetween for permitting selected swinging movement of the boom assembly. The boom assembly includes a telescopically extendible and retractable section which moves substantially radially relative to the post assembly and is movably controlled by a third drive unit, also preferably a fluid pressure cylinder. The movable boom section has an article gripping device mounted thereon which includes relatively movable gripping jaws controlled by a fourth drive unit, also preferably a fluid pressure cylinder. The base may be provided with a fifth drive unit for causing rotation of the support rollers to permit the apparatus to be rollingly moved between remote locations.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 Burch- Sept. 25, 1973 INDUSTRIAL ROBOT [75] Inventor: A. Robert Burch, Plainwell, Mich.

[73] Assignee: Burch Controls, Inc., Kalamazoo,

Mich.

[22] Filed: Aug. 23, 1971 [21] Appl. No.: 174,116

[52] US. Cl. 214/1 BB, 214/1 BC, 212/57,

Primary Examiner-Gerald M. Forlenza Assistant Examiner-George F. Abraham Att0rneyWoodhams, Blanchard & Flynn [57] ABSTRACT An article-handling apparatus having a rollersupported base and a telescopic post assembly extending upwardly from the base. The telescopic post assembly includes a first post section secured to the base and a second post section slidably supported on the first post section and interconnected thereto by a first drive unit, such as a fluid pressure cylinder. A telescopically extendible boom assembly is rotatably supported on the upper end of the second post section and a second drive unit coacts therebetween for permitting selected swinging movement of the boom assembly. The boom assembly includes a telescopically extendible and retractable section which moves substantially radially relative to the post assembly and is movably controlled by a third drive unit, also preferably a fluid pressure cylinder. The movable boom section has an article gripping device mounted thereon which includes relatively movable gripping jaws controlled by a fourth drive unit, also preferably a fluid pressure cylinder. The base may be provided with a fifth drive unit for causing rotation of the support rollers to permit the apparatus to be rollingly moved between remote locations.

10 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures PATENTED SEPZS I975 SHEET 5 0F 8 3 L 0 5 C M a C V .I v v m l 6 (my a mwi a Fl, M u m Q. Q M J L L Mm F C 0 m W m m 6 G u ME b J C W I! C 0 6 M M 2 3 Q Q r. r. I L 4 5 4 R I IP ll 6 9 I I5 7 2 3 4 M T? m ,.w m -3 i f 6 7 a 9 u u M w w PATENTED SEP25 I973 SHEET 7 0F 8 INDUSTRIAL ROBOT FIELD E THE INVENTION This invention relates to an article handling apparatus and particularly to the automatization of a power operated, article handling apparatus adapted to engage, lift, transport and deposit workpieces, which apparatus is usable as an industrial robot for performing a number of repetitive tasks.

BACKGROUND OF TI-IE INVENTION The mass production of goods often involves a series of article handling steps wich must be performed rapidly and in a repetitive manner. These handling steps may be of a complicated nature, and may involve such steps as raising or lowering an article through a substantial distance, transferring an article from one location to a second location spaced from the first location,

which transfer operation may also involve the raising or lowering of the article and the linear or rotary transfer of the article. The operational steps may also involve such handling techniques as engaging a stationary article and causing same to be moved to a different location, and causing the article to be moved into a new angular orientation. Further, the articles or goods being handled are, in many situations, of substantial weight and/or of bulky configuration, thereby making handling of the goods difficult.

In many of the prior known assembly line operations, the sequential handling and transferring operations were necessarily performed by the use of many diverse machines which were manually controlledand/or actu ated in order to insure that the sequential operations were properly performed. Alternately, in m'any'situations these sequential operations were performed almost entirely manually since the rather diverse nature of the operations generally'prevented the operations from being automated-due to the inability to provide relatively simple handling or transferring device's capable of performing the necessary sequential and repetitive operations.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an article handling apparatus, particularly a jib crane, which is fully automated and capable of being utilized as an industrial robot for permitting a series of diverse article handling and/or transferring operations to be repetitively performed in a rapid and efficient manner.

A further object of the present invention to provide an apparatus, as aforesaid, which is adapted to be mounted on a track for movement along the track for permitting a number of repetitive tasks to be automatically performed within reach of the track or within reach of a seriesof tracks.

It is afurther object of the present invention'to provide an apparatus, as aforesaid, which can perform numerous article handling operations, such as linear. movement in several horizontal directions, raising and lowering, and rotation about a vertical axis, whereby the device is thus readily adaptable for permitting articles to be handled and/or transferred between locations which are spaced from one another.

Still a further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus, as aforesaid,'which is capable of easily gripping and/or releasing an article to facilitate the handling and transfer thereof.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus, as aforesaid, which can be totally automated to permit a large series of diverse operations to be automatically and repetitively performed ina desired sequence. i

Still another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus, as aforesaid, which is efficient and durable so as to require a minimum of maintenance, and which can also be adapted to readily perform a wide variety of diverse handling and/or transferring operations.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus, as aforesaid, which can perform numerous operations while at the same time being capable of handling a wide variety of articles, ranging from rather small to extremely large articles, and ranging from light weight to extremely heavy articles,

These and additional objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to persons acquainted with devices of this type upon reading the following specification and inspecting the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an apparatus constructed according to the present invention, same being illustrated with the boom swung from its normal central position.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view, taken partially in cross section, and illustrating therein the boom in its central position.

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectionalview taken substan' tially along the line IIIIII of FIG; 2 and illustrating therein only the components disposed adjacent the upper end of the apparatus.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along the line IV-IV of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 illustrates the hydraulic circuit for controlling the movements of the apparatus according to the present invention.

FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C illustrate therein a typical control circuit for the apparatus of 'FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a typical installation utilizing the apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic view illustrating the structure for controlling the functioning of the machine.

FIG. 9 is an illustration -of the speed profile during various movements of the machine.

Certain terminology will be used in the following description for convenience in reference only and will not SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In general, the objects and purposes of the present invention are met by providing an apparatus which includes a base having rollers thereon for permitting the apparatus to be rollingly displaced between selected locations. The base has an industrial robot mounted thereon which includes an upwardly extending, telescopically extendible post assembly. A first drive mechanism is associated with the post assembly for permitting it to be vertically extended or retracted. A telescopic, substantially horizontally extending boom is rotatably mounted adjacent the upper end of thepost assembly and is interconnected thereto by a second drive mechanism for permitting the boom to be horizontally angularly displaced about the vertical axis of the post assembly. The extendible boom includes a substantially stationary guide portion and an extendible portion slidably disposed on the guide portion and connected thereto by a third drive mechanism for permitting the boom to be slidably extended or retracted. The extendible boom section has gripping members mounted thereon and movable between open and closed positions by a fourth drive mechanism for permitting the gripping members to engage or disengage an article. A fifth drive mechanism is mounted on the base for permitting the complete apparatus to be selectively driven, for example, along tracks, to any suitable location. The numerous drive mechanisms are all preferably hydraulically controlled and utilize either hydraulic motors or hydraulic pressure cylinders for producing the desired relative movements. A suitable electrical control system is also associated with the apparatus and is mounted thereon for permitting the various individual motions of the apparatus to be automatically controlled and repetitively performed in any desired sequence.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring to the drawings, there is illustrated an article handling device 11 constructed according to the present invention, which device comprises a transfer base 12 having an industrial robot 13 mounted thereon. The robot 13 includes an upright telescoping post assembly 16, a telescoping boom assembly 17 rotatably mounted on the upper end of the post assembly, and an article gripping device 18 mounted adjacent the free end of the boom assembly.

The transfer base 12, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, comprises a generally rectangular frame 21 which is made of conventional structural elements, such as steel tubes secured together as by welding. The frame 21 is comprised of a pair of side members 22 and 23 and a pair of end members 24 and 26. The frame also has a plurality of intermediate support or brace members 27. Wheels 28 are mounted on the four comers of the frame, which wheels are preferably designed for rolling engagement with conventional elongated tracks, such as the tracks 29. Alternately, the wheels 28 can be of the caster type and disposed for engaging the ground, if desired.

One pair of wheels 28, namely the wheels adjacent the end member 26, are interconnected by means of a drive axle 31 for conjoint rotation. The axle 31 is rotatably connected to and driven by a conventional drive means, preferably a hydraulic motor 32. Motor 32 is interconnectd to the axle 31 by any conventional intermediate drive mechanism, such as a gear box 33.

The base 12 also has a suitable power unit 34 mounted thereon, which power unit is only diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 1. However, as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 5, the power unit 34 includes a DC motor 36.drivingly connected to a conventional hydraulic pump 37 by means of an intermediate coupling 38. The pump 37 is in fluid communication with a source of hydraulic fluid, as contained within the reservoir 39, whereby the pump 37 thus supplies pressurized fluid to the various hydraulic power units provided on the handling device 11, as explained in greater detail hereinafter. The electrical energy for the DC motor 36 is supplied thereto through an intermediate control apparatus 41 (FIG. 5), which control apparatus is provided within the control console 42 secured to the rearward end of the boom assembly 17. The control apparatus 41 is adapted to be interconnected to an external source of alternating current electricity, being connected thereto by means of a conventional flexible cable 45, with the control apparatus 41 including suitable conventional converter structure for converting the AC electrical current to DC electrical current. The control apparatus also preferably includes suitable independently adjustable acceleration and deceleration rate circuits so that the motor 36 when energized will be drivable in accordance with a desired velocity and acceleration pattern. For example, the control apparatus 41 may comprise a conventional electronic regenerative static DC drive, such as manufactured by Wer Industrial Corporation of Buffalo, New York. Such devices are conventional and commercially available, and thus further description thereof is not believed necessary.

The frame 21 has a support plate 43 fixedly secured thereto, which support plate has mounted thereon the upright post assembly 16. The post assembly 16 extends substantially vertically and includes an inner guide post 44 having its lower end fixedly secured to the plate 43 and having slidably supported thereon an outer post 46. The outer post 46 is snugly but slidably supported on the inner post 44 and is nonrotatably connected thereto by means of a guide pin or key 47 fixedly secured to the inner post and slidably received within an elongated slot 48 formed in the outer post.

The post assembly 16 includes a double-acting fluid pressure cylinder 49 disposed in the interior thereof for permitting the outer post 46 to be extended and retracted relative to the inner post 44. The pressure cylinder 49 has the lower end of its cylinder housing 51 fixedly anchored to the inner post 44, such as by a transverse pin 52. A conventional piston rod 53 slidably extends through the upper end of the cylinder housing 51 and is connected to the outer post 46 for permitting reciprocation of same. The piston rod 53 slidably extends through an enlarged opening formed in a top support plate 54 (FIG. 4) fixedly secured to the inner post 44 adjacent the upper end thereof. The free end of the piston rod 53 abuts a suitable transverse plate 56 disposed within and fixedly secured to the outer post 46, which transverse plate 56 is adapted to abut the upper free end of the inner post 44 when the post assembly 16 is in its fully retracted position as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4. The upper end of the outer post 46 also has suitable bearings 57 therein for rotatably supporting a pivot shaft 58, which pivot shaft is fixedly secured to the boom assembly 17 for permitting same to rotatably swing about the longitudinal vertical axis of the post assembly 16.

The boom assembly 17 includes a pair of relatively slidable boom sections 61 and 62 which are disposed substantially horizontally and are relatively linearly slidable in a direction extending substantially radially relative to the longitudinal axis of the post assembly 16. The boom section 61 substantially functions as a guide section and is constructed from a pair of opposed structural channels 63 which are suitably fixedly interconnected. The guide boom section 61 has spaced mounting plates 64 and 65 (FIG. 4) fixedly secured thereto, which mounting plates in turn are fixedly secured to the upper end of the pivot shaft 58.

The other boom section 62 is telescopically disposed within and slidably extendible relative to the guide boom section 61. For this purpose, the slidable boom section 62, which boom section is in the illustrated embodiment constructed substantially with an l-shape'd cross section, is provided with first and second pairs of guide rollers 66 and 67 adjacent the inner end thereof. The rollers 66 and 67 are slightly laterally spaced from one another and are also slightly vertically spaced from one another so that the rollers 66 are disposed in rolling engagement with the lower inner surface of the channel members 63, whereas the guide rollers 67 are disposed for rolling engagement with the upper inner surface of the channel members 63, substantially as illustrated in FIG. 2.

' The boom assembly 17 is also provided with a conventional double acting fluid pressure cylinder 68 for permitting the slidable boom section 62 to be telescopically extended and retracted. The pressure cylinder 68 includes a cylinder housing 69 stationarily mounted on the upper surface of the guide boom section 61. A piston rod 71 slidably extends from the forward end of the cylinder housing 69 and is pivotally connected adjacent its free end to a bracket 72, which bracket is fixedly secured to the slide boomsection 62 adjacent the outer end thereof. The bracket 72 also has an elongated control rod 73 fixedly secured thereto, which control rod is slidably supported within a bushing 74 and is provided with a suitable cam projection 76 secured thereto and adjustable axially of the rod, which cam projection is disposed for coaction with a suitable limit switch 77 for controlling the amount of extension of the slidable boom section 62.

To permit the boom assembly 17 to be rotatably swingably moved about the post assembly 16, there is provided a further motor 78, also preferably a conventional hydraulic motor. Motor 78 is stationarily mounted on the guide boom section 61 by means of an intermediate mounting bracket 79. The motor 78 has a downwardly extending motor shaft'81 provided with a conventional driving pinion 82 secured thereto for rotation therewith. The pinion 82 is disposed in meshing engagement with an external reaction gear 83 which is fixedly secured to the outer post 46 adjacent the upper end thereof, whereby the driving pinion 82 will thus orbit around the reaction gear 83 when the hydraulic motor 78 is energized.

The reaction gear 83 is also disposed in continuous meshing engagement with an elongated gear rack 84 which, as illustrated in FIG. 4,-is fixedly connected to an elongated control slide 86. The control slide 86 is slidably mounted on a support member 87 which is fixedly connected to the, guide boom section 61 by means of a plurality of intermediate mounting brackets 88. The support member 87 is preferably provided with conventional limit switches mounted adjacent the opposite ends thereof, which limit switches are disposed for coaction with and actuation by the control slide 86 for limiting the angular displacement of the boom assembly relative to the post. In the preferred embodiment, the boom assembly is preferably angularly displaceable through a maximum angle of approximately 180, being preferably displaceable 90 in opposite directions from the central position illustrated in FIG. 2.

Considering now the article gripping device 18, same is mounted adjacent the free end of the slidable boom section 62 and includes a pair of swingable jaws 91 and 92 adapted for engaging or gripping a suitable article or workpiece. The jaws 91 and 92 are pivotally connected to the lower ends of a pair of support rods 93 and 94 which, at their upper ends, are fixedly secured to a plate 96 secured to the boom section 62. A jaw actuating device, particularly a double-acting fluid pressure cylinder 97, is provided for causing opposed swinging movement of the jaws 91 and 92 between open and closed positions. The fluid pressure cylinder includes a cylinder housing 98 fixedly secured to the plate 96 and extending downwardly therefrom and being provided with an extendible piston rod 99- which, at its free end, has a suitable coupling member 101 disposed for coaction with the jaws 91 and 92 for permitting same to be swingably moved in opposite directions.

To permit energization of the numerous fluid drive devices, such as the hydraulic motors and hydraulic pressure cylinders, the article handling apparatus 11 is also provided with a plurality of valves disposed for coaction with the power unit 34, which valves permit pressure fluid to be supplied to the desired drive unit. The particular control system provided for this purpose is diagrammatically illustrated in FIG. 5 and particularly includes a valve assembly 103 for controlling the supply of pressure fluid from the pump 37 to the hydraulic motor 32 for controlling linear displacement of the transferbase 12. The valve assembly 103 comprises a conventional four-way spool valve which is normally spring-urged into a closed center position, with the spool valve being shiftable in opposite directions by means of conventional solenoids 103A and 1038 for permitting pressure fluid to be supplied to the motor 32. The valve assembly 103, by being shiftable into the opposite positions illustrated in FIG 5, thus permits pressure fluid to be supplied to the opposite ports of the motor 32 for permitting the motor to be rotated in opposite directions.

In a similar manner, a further valve assembly 104 is disposed between the pump 37 and the pressure cylinder 49 for controlling the telescoping movement of the post assembly 16. A valve assembly 106 is also disposed for association with the pressure cylinder 68 for controlling the extension and retraction of the boom assembly l6, and another valve assembly 107 is associated with the pressure cylinder97 for. controlling the movement of the gripping jaws 91 and 92. The rotary hydraulic motor 78 used for controlling horizontal rotation or swinging of the boom assembly 17 is likewise controlled by a further valve assembly 108 which, like the valve assembly 103, permits pressure fluid to be supplied to the opposite. ports of the motor so that the motor 78 can be rotatably driven in opposite directions. The valve assemblies 104, 106, 107 and 108 are i all preferably normally closed, four-way valve assemblies utilizing solenoids for causing movement thereof, and are thus substantially identical to the valve assembly 103 described above. The numerous valve assemblies can be mounted directly within the power unit 34, substantially as illustrated in FIG. 2, so that they are thus disposed closely adjacent the pump 37 and the reservoir 39.

As illustrated in in FIG. 1, the extendible outer post 46 has a control bar 111 fixedly mounted thereon and having a plurality of adjustable cams or projections (not shown) secured thereto. The cams are disposed for coaction with a plurality of limit switches l 13 which are mounted on a stationary switch panel 114 disposed adjacent the extendible post assembly. The limit switches 113 are interconnected to the control circuitry which is contained within the control console 42 for controlling the vertical extension or retraction of the post assembly 16.

OPERATION The operation of the present invention will be briefly described to insure a more complete understanding thereof.

When it is desired to move the handling apparatus 11 between remote locations, the motor 36 is energized to cause corresponding energization of pump 37 whereby pressurized fluid is then supplied through the valve assembly 103 to the hydraulic motor 32. Hydraulic motor 32 causes the transfer base 12 to be moved along the ground or the tracks 29 until the desired location is reached. The movement along the tracks can be controlled by limit switches mounted on the frame 21 and disposed for coaction with cams 109 (FIG. 2) disposed adjacent the tracks 29.

When it is desired to utilize the robot 13, the raising and lowering of the post assembly 16 is controlled by means of the valve assembly 104, which valve assembly permits pressurized fluid to be supplied to one or the other end of the fluid pressure cylinder 49 for permitting the outer post 46 to be slideably extended or retracted relative to the inner post 44. The extension or retraction of the boom assembly 17 occurs in a similar manner due to pressurized fluid being supplied to one of the ends of the double acting fluid pressure cylinder 68, with fluid flow to the cylinder 68 being controlled by the valve assembly 106. The supply of pressure fluid to cylinder 68 will cause the slideable boom section 62 to be slideably extended or retracted relative to the guide boom section 61.

The boom assembly 17 is horizontally rotated relative to the post assembly 16 by energization of the hydraulic motor 78. he flow of pressure fluid to the hydraulic motor 78 is controlled by the valve assembly 108, whereby the hydraulic motor 78 when energized causes a corresponding rotation of the pinion 82. Pinion 82 rotatably reacts against the stationary gear 83 to cause a horizontal swinging movement of the boom assembly about the vertical longitudinal axis of the post assembly 16.

When the boom has been positioned in the desired location, the article gripping device 18 can be moved to permit the jaws 91 and 92 to engage or disengage a suitable article by a shifting movement of the valve assembly 107, which valve assembly controls the supply of pressure fluid to the opposite ends of the pressure cylinder 97, which in turn controls the opening and closing of the jaws 91 and 92.

A typical operational cycle capable of being performed by the handling apparatus of the present invention will now be explained in greater detail to more fully explain and illustrate the versatility and automatic features of the present invention. FIG. 7 illustrates therein a plan view of the handling apparatus of the present invention, same being particularly adapted for permitting performance of an operational cycle involving a simplified application of the present invention. According to the assumed typical cycle, the handling apparatus 11 is required to feed workpieces A into a press 121 from a feed conveyor 122 which is remotely located from the press.

In its initial position, the boom assembly 17 is fully retracted and is rotated into its center position so that it extends substantially along the center line of the longitudinally extending tracks. Also, the post assembly 16 is initially in an extended position and the transfer base is in its rearwardmost position adjacent the conveyor, in which position the jaws are open due to the pressure cylinder 97 being extended.

The handling apparatus 11, starting from the above initial position, will then perform the following sequential operation. First, the boom assembly 17 will be rotated clockwise approximately due to energization of motor 78. The boom assembly will then be extended due to energization of the pressure cylinder 68 to thus occupy the solid line position of FIG. 7. After extension of the boom, the post assembly 16 will then be lowered to the desired vertical position due to energization of the upper end of the pressure cylinder 49 and, when the post assembly reaches its desired lowered position, the pressure cylinder 97 will then be energized to cause the jaws 91 and 92 to close to thus grip the article A disposed on the adjacent end of the feed conveyor 122. The lower end of cylinder 49 will then be energized to cause the post assembly 16 to vertically extend to the desired position. Boom assembly 17 will then be rotated in a counterclockwise direction due to energization of hydraulic motor 78, with the boom being rotated until it is again in its central position so as-to extend forwardly along the track 29. The drive motor 32 will then be energized to cause the transfer base 12 to be linearly moved along the tracks 29 from a position adjacent the feed conveyor 122 to a position directly adjacent the press 121. The upper end of fluid pressure cylinder 49 will again be energized to cause vertical lowering of the post assembly 16 so that the article supported on the robot is then deposited into the press 121. The fluid pressure cylinder 97 then has the opposite end thereof energized to cause the jaws 91 and 92 to release the article, whereupon drive motor 32 is then energized to rotate in an opposite direction to cause the transfer base 12 to then be driven back along the tracks so as to be again disposed adjacent the end of the feed conveyor. The above cycle is then repeated as a new article is fed down the feed conveyor into the region of the handling device 11. I

Reference will now be made to FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C and 8 wherein there is schematically illustrated a typical electrical control system capable of permitting performance of the above-described operational sequence.

The initial conditions mentioned above are schematically depicted on line 5 ofFIG. 6A RLl, .ILl, LLl, TLl and GLO are all limit switches that are held closed by stop cams 121, 122, 123, 124 and 125 on the rotary, boom, lift, traverse and grip axes respectively. When limit switch LS1 is actuated by an article A moving into the system via the feed conveyor 122, relay CR2 is energized. CR2 is a latching-type relay which is mechanically held after the first electrical pulse. This component remains in the latched state until its unlatch coil UC is energized. The CR2 contact in line 7 is thus closed and energizes the clockwise solenoid 108A which shifts valve assembly 108. The CR2 contact in line 27 is also closed and energizes relay CRA whose contact in line 1 closes and feeds control voltage to the ramp circuit in the DC drive 41. Voltage on the motor 36 builds up linearly, allowing a gentle acceleration to top pump capacity. The boom 17 then rotates at top speed until limit switch KDL 2 (line 35) is closed by its deceleration cam 126 on the rotary axis. Power is then routed to the deceleration relay CRD in line 35 via the CR2 contact. The CRD contact in line 27 thus opens and drops out the CRA relay and actuates the regenerative portion of the DC drive circuit due to contact CRD in line 2. The boom slows down linearly to a preset creep speed and it stays at that speed until limit switch RL2 (which is mounted physically side by side with limit switch RDL2) contacts the stop cam 121. Closure of switch RL2 causes energization of latching relay CR3. Latching relay CR3 has a time delay contact CR3 in line 6 that allows approximately 0.l second of time before pulling in and dropping out CR2 (line When CR2 drops out, relay CRD (line 35) is also dropped while relay CRA (line 27) is enabled. The contact CR3 (line 9) actuates the extend solenoid 1068 of hydraulic valve 106. Simultaneously contact CRA (line 1) is re-energized and the DC drive repeats the speed profile explained above only this time along the extend axis of the boom so that the deceleration cam 127 actuates switch JDL2 to slow down the extending movement, following which switch JL2 is actuated by stop cam 122.'When the extend axis actuates limit switch JL2 (line 9), then latching relay CR4 is energized and. controls hydraulic valve 104 and the lift axis to lower the boom and jib in the above fashion. As before, the deceleration cam 128 actuates switch LDL2, following which the stop cam 123 actuates switch LL2. When the post assembly reaches its'lower position, the limit switch LL2 is closed to thus energize latching relay CR5, whereby contact CR5 in line 15 closes and actuates solenoid 107A for controlling valve 107 enabling oil to flow to hydraulic cylinder 97 causing it to close grip arms 91 and 92. Relay CRGC in line 15 is energized through a normally closed limit switch contact GLC. GLC is a limit switch on the grip mechanism 18 which is actuated by cam 125 when the grip closes. The CRGC contact in line 3 routes signal voltage directly to the DC drive 41. The DC motor 36 then receives maximum voltage almost instantaneously which results in a very rapid closing of the grip mechanism 18. When the grip mechanism closes, switch GLC in line 15 changes state and thus opens the circuit to the DC drive. The DC drive voltage then automatically and quickly drops to zero. The relay CR6 (line 15) is picked up when switch GLC opens, but before the DC motor returns to zero speed, and the CR6 contact in line 17 energizes the lift solenoid 1043 of hydraulic valve 104. Relay CR5 in line 11 has been dropped out by the CR6 contact in line 12 and hydraulic valve 107 has been allowed to center due to the centering springs,

thereby locking hydraulic pressure on both sides of the cylinder 97. Relay CR6 also controls, through its contact in line 17, the lift in the manner previously described. As the post rises, the switch LDL3 is actuated by deceleration cam 128, followed by actuation of switch LL3 by stop cam 123. Limit switch LL3 (line 17), which is closed when the post assembly reaches its uppermost position, causes energization of relay CR7. This closes contact CR7 in line 21 and energizes solewhich in turn causes energization of relay CR8. Contact CR8 (line 23) closes to thus energize solenoid 103A to energize motor 32, thereby causing the transfer base 12 to move forward to a position adjacent press 121 where it closes switch TDL2 by deceleration cam 129 and CR10 (line closure of limit switch TL2 (line 23) by stop cam 130 and picks up relay CR9. Contact CR9 in line 25 energizes solenoid 1078 and opens the grip jaws in the same manner that CR5 closed the grip jaws. When the grip jaws are open, the limit switch GLO is actuated to de-energize relay CRGO and energize relay CR10 (line 25). Contact CR10 in line 24 closes and unlatches relay CR9 in line 23. Contact CR10 in line 19 likewise closes and energizes solenoid 104B to again lift the post assembly until limit switch 1.1.1 is closed, thereby energizing relay CR11 (line 19). Contact CR11 (line 26) closes to thereby de-energize relay CR10(line 25) and energize solenoid 103B, thereby energizing motor 32 in the reverse manner to return transfer base 12 to its original position adjacent the conveyor 122, where TDLl is closed by deceleration cam 131 and limit switch TLl (line 26) is then closed. As soon as another article comes down the feed conveyor and reactuates LS1, picking up CR2, the CR2 contact inline 20 unlatches relay CR11 (line 19) which drops out relay CRD and allows the cycle to repeat.

The positions of the switches and/or cams can be adjusted as needed to obtain proper operation of the machine for particular installations.

In FIG. 8, the cooperating deceleration andstop switches, such as RDLl and RL] are shown as being offset longitudinally, with the stop cam, such as 121, being correspondingly offset from the center line of the deceleration cam, such as 126. This is done to facilitate illustration. It will normally be preferred to mount the cooperating deceleration and stop switches in side-byside relation, with the stop cams being centered on the deceleration cam.

The various movements of the machine, namely rotation, boom reciprocation, post reciprocation and base movement are effected at a controlled rate by the DC drive apparatus 41 operated in conjunction with the various deceleration and stop cams described above. The regenerative static drive automatically provides a progressive increase or ramp increase in speed until top speed is reached, a period of top speed, a deceleration period which begins when a deceleration cam actuates the associated switch, a low constant creep speed which is built into the drive apparatus and a stop point when the stop cam actuates its associated switch. This speed profile is illustrated in FIG. 11. Thus, high speed and accurate positioning of the parts are obtained, but the occurrence of abrupt stops is prevented to insure long life of the parts. The use of a variable speed DC motor driving a fixed displacement hydraulic pump, in conjunction with the three position, four-way, closed center valves permits the machine to achieve the speed profile of FIG. 11 in both directions. As long as only one of the four movements (rotation, boom reciprocation, post reciprocation and base movement) take place at one time, the above speed profile can be obtained for each movement, thereby permitting gentle handling of parts at maximum allowable speed.

If it is desired to effect two or more movements simultaneously the same can be done by adding additional static drives and pumps for each such additional movement.

Although a particular preferred embodiment of the invention has been disclosed in detail for illustrative purposes, it will be recognized that variations or modifications of the disclosed apparatus, including the rearrangement of parts, lie within the scope of the present invention.

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

l. 'A handling apparatus, comprising: a base; post means secured to said base and extending upwardly therefrom in a substantially vertical direction, said post means including a first elongated support section fixedly secured to said base and a second elongated support section movably mounted on said first support section and being vertically extendible and retractible relative thereto, said first and second support sections being held against relative rotation; first drive means coacting between said first and second support sections for permitting said second support section to be vertically extended and contracted relative to said first support section;

elongated, substantially horizontally extending boom means supported adjacent the upper end of said post means for substantially horizontal swinging movement relative to said post means, said boom means including a first boom section rotatably supported on said second post section adjacent the upper end end thereof and a second boom section movably supported on said first boom section for extension and retraction relative thereto, said second boom section being movable relative to said first boom section in a direction substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of said boom means;

mounting means coacting between said second post section and said first boom section for permitting said first boom section to pivotally swing relative to said second post section about the longitudinal axis of said second post section; second drive means caocting between said boom means and said second post section for effecting swinging movement of said boom means relative to said second post section about the longitudinal axis thereof, said second drive means including rotatable motor means mounted on said boom means for swinging movement therewith, and a drive gear drivingly connected to said motor means for rotation therewith, a reaction gear fixedly and nonrotatably secured to said second post section adjacent the upper end thereof, said drive gear being disposed in meshing engagement with the stationary reaction gear, whereby energization of said motor means causes swinging movement of said boom means relative to said second post section about the longitudinal axis thereof;

an elongated gear rack in meshing engagement with said reaction gear and control devices responsive to movement of said gear rack for controlling the extent of swinging movement of the boom means;

third drive means coacting between said first and second boom sections for permitting said second boom section to be extended and contracted relative to said first boom section; and

article engaging means mounted on said boom means adjacent the free end of said second boom section.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 in which said article engaging means includes relatively movable gripping jaws; and

fourth drive means associated with said gripping jaws for permitting said jaws to be selectively moved relative to one another between open and closed positions.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said base has a plurality of support rollers thereon for permitting said base to be linearly moved between remote locations; and

fifth drive means mounted on said base and coacting with at least one of said support rollers for rotatably driving same to permit said base to be drivingly moved between remote locations.

4. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said first, third and fourth drive means comprise first, second and third fluid pressure cylinder means, respectively;

wherein said second and fifth drive means comprises first and second rotatable hydraulic motor means, respectively;

reservoir means mounted on said base means for containing a supply of hydraulic fluid therein;

pump means mounted on said base means and in communication with said reservoir means for withdrawing fiuid therefrom and for pressurizing same; and hydraulic circuitry means interconnecting said pump means to said plurality of pressure cylinder means and said plurality of hydraulic motor means for permitting pressurized fluid to be supplied thereto;

said hydraulic circuitry means including valve means associated with each of said fluid pressure cylinder means for controlling the flow of pressure fluid thereto; and

said hydraulic circuitry means further including valve means associated with each of said hydraulic motor means for controlling the supply of pressure fluid thereto.

5. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said first cylinder means is disposed within said first post 0 section and extends longitudinally thereof.

6. An apparatus according to claim 5, wherein said first hydraulic motor means is mounted on said first boom section for horizontal swinging movement therewith.

7. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said first and second boom sections extend outwardly in opposite directions from the longitudinal axis of said post means, said second boom section being slideably extendible from one end of said first boom section, and a control panel fixedly secured to said first boom section adjacent the other end thereof, said control panel including electrical circuitry means for causing the plurality of drive means to be individually and intermittently energized in a desired operational sequence.

8. An apparatus according to claim 3, further including electrical control means mounted on said apparatus for causing the plurality of drive means to be individupump and a variable speed DC motor, said valve means including a three position, four way, closed center valve for each of said drive means, an electrical control for supplying DC to said motor, said control providing said motor with an acceleration period, a period of top speed, a deceleration period and a creep period for actuation of said drive means.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification414/744.3, 414/744.8, 212/203, 901/20, 901/7, 901/22, 212/247, 901/17, 901/13, 212/230, 901/37
International ClassificationB25J18/02, B25J5/02, B25J18/00, B25J9/10, B25J9/02, B25J9/04, G05B19/04, G05B19/06
Cooperative ClassificationG05B19/063, B25J5/02, B25J18/02, B25J9/041, B25J9/1035, B25J9/101
European ClassificationB25J9/10A2, B25J5/02, G05B19/06B, B25J18/02, B25J9/04B, B25J9/10B4