US 3835979 A
An article handling machine receives a plurality of rows of articles moving at a given velocity and effects a reorientation of the rows of articles into a lesser number of rows in a controlled and orderly fashion. Metering means receives the articles from a plurality of conveyor means and regulates the movement thereof in sequence in a predetermined manner and accelerating means engages the articles and substantially increases the velocity of movement thereof thereby increasing the space between the articles. Converger means then engages the articles and imparts transverse movement thereto relative to the direction of movement imparted by the accelerating means so as to cause the articles to accummulate in sequence on an outfeed conveyor.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Calvert et al.
[ Sept. 17, 1974 ARTICLE HANDLING MACHINE  Inventors: Rodney K. Calvert, Dunwoody;
Alton J. Fishback, Austell, both of Ga.
 Assignee: The Mead Corporation, Dayton,
 Filed: Apr. 30, 1973  Appl. No.: 355,522
 U.S. Cl 198/30, 198/32, 198/34 [51} Int. Cl. 865g 47/26  Field of Search 198/30, 185, 32, 34
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,351,862 6/1944 Lattiga 198/171 2,773,583 12/1956 Rand et al. 198/32 2,856,059 10/1958 Neuberger 198/34 2,890,784 6/1959 198/30 3,143,202 8/1964 198/34 3,197,014 7/1965 H 198/32 3,337,020 8/1967 [98/34 3,402,803 9/1968 Griner 198/32 3,416,675 12/1968 Darduine ct a1. 198/34 Chamberlin Crawford et a1  ABSTRACT An article handling machine receives a plurality of rows of articles moving at a given velocity and effects a reorientation of the rows of articles into a lesser number of rows in a controlled and orderly fashion. Metering means receives the articles from a plurality of conveyor means and regulates the movement thereof in sequence in a predetermined manner and accelerating means engages the articles and substantially increases the velocity of movement thereof thereby increasing the space between the articles. Converger means then engages the articles and imparts transverse movement thereto relative to the direction of movement imparted by the accelerating means so as to cause the articles to accummulate in sequence on an outfeed conveyor.
7 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENIEB SEN 1 am SHEET 3 0f 3 FIG. 6
FIG 7 ARTICLE HANDLING MACHINE Packaging machines of the type which form individual containers and subsequently fill and seal such containers with a product frequently are arranged so that the filled containers are disposed in a number of rows. In order to provide for the storage, handling and shipment of such primary containers, it is desirable to arrange such containers in a secondary package of some sort such, for example, as a wrapper-type package. Toward this end, the several rows of primary packages must be converted into a lesser number of rows in order to facilitate the packaging of the primary containers in the secondary package.
An article handling machine constructed according to this invention may include suitable metering means for receiving a plurality of rows of primary packages and for regulating the rate of flow and the spacing of such packages. The velocity of movement of the packages is greatly accelerated and the spacing therebetween is increased by suitable accelerating means following which converger means engages the accelerated and spaced packages and imparts movement thereto in a direction which is transverse to that in which the articles are moved by the accelerating means so as to deposit the primary packages on a single outfeed conveyor thereby consolidating the primary packages into a single row.
For a better understanding of the invention reference may be had to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a machine constructed according to the invention and which shows the parts schematically;
FIG. 2 is a profile or front view of the arrangement shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of a portion of the machine depicted in FIG. 1 but with certain parts removed or broken away for clarity;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the line designated 44 in FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a plan view similar to FIG. 1 but which shows some of the primary packages in the process of being handled in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 5 and which shows in more detail some of the features of conveyor means arranged according to the invention;
FIG. 7 is a profile or front view of the arrangement shown in FIG. 6 and in which FIG. 8 is a side view of a composite package used to illustrate the operation of a machine constructed according to this invention.
In the drawings and particularly with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the numeral 1 generally designates a plurality of infeed conveyor means while the numeral 2 generally designates metering means constructed according to the invention. The numeral 3 generally designates the elements of the machine which constitute accelerating means and the numeral 4 generally designates the location of converger means and of the outfeed conveyor means arranged according to this invention.
As is best shown in FIGS. 1, 3 and 6 the infeed conveyor means comprises a plurality of infeed conveyors designated by the numerals 5-11. In FIG. 1 these infeed conveyors are shown schematically. It will be understood that these conveyors ordinarily constitute flexible endless elements which are trained about two or more rollers one of which is a driven element and one of which is an idler element, one such element being shown in FIG. 7 and being designated by the numeral 12. Of course the element 12 is rotatably mounted on a horizontal shaft 13 supported by the frame of the machine which in the drawings is generally designated by the numeral 13.
Articles to be handled move from left to right as indicated by the arrows 14 so that the right hand end of conveyors 5-11 inclusive constitutes the outfeed end of such conveyors. As is apparent from figures such as l, 3, 5 and 6, the outfeed ends 5A, 7A, 9A and 11A of conveyors 5, 7, 9 and 11 are disposed downstream from the outfeed ends 6A, 8A, and 10A of conveyors 6, 8 and 10. By this arrangement space is provided immediately downstream from the outfeed end of conveyors 6A, 8A and 10A for mounting the metering means according to a feature of this invention. More specifically metering means combined with positioning means is designated by the numeral 15 and is disposed downstream from the outfeed end 6A of conveyor 6 while combination metering and positioning means 16 is disposed downstream from the outfeed end 8A of conveyor 8 and combination metering means and positioning means 17 is disposed downstream from the outfeed end 10A of conveyor 10.
As is apparent from FIGS. 3 and 6, article A1 is conveyed by conveyors l0 and 11 until the outfeed end 10A of conveyor 10 is reached at which time article A1 is supported and conveyed by conveyor 11 only and the article A1 is supported partially by support means 18. In like fashion article A2 is conveyed by conveyors 10 and 9 until the outfeed end 10A of conveyor 10 is reached at which time article A2 is conveyed by conveyor 9 and is slidably supported by guide 18. Similarly article A3 is conveyed by conveyors 9 and 8 until the outfeed end 8A of conveyor 8 is reached at which point article A3 is conveyed by conveyor 9 and is supported by support means 20 which is broken away to expose the metering mechanism therebelow. In like fashion articles A4, A5 and A6 are conveyed by pairs of conveyors as will be obvious from the preceding description respecting articles A1, A2 and A3 and in view of the drawings. With article A1 resting in part on conveyor 11 and supported in part by support means 18 metering means 17 is positioned to engage the trailing end of article Al and to impart controlled and regulated movement to article A1 from left to right.
Metering means combined with positioning means is best shown in FIG. 7 and comprises a metering chain 21 which is trained about a driving element 22 rotatable about a shaft 23 mounted in known manner to the frame of the machine. Metering chain 21 is also trained along fixed guide 24 secured in known manner to the frame of the machine, the guide 24 having an inclined guide surface 25. Metering chain 21 is also trained about a sprocket 26 rotatable about a shaft 27 which in turn imparts rotary movement to positioning means 28 which is secured to shaft 27 and which is provided with a plurality of radially extending positioning ele ments 29, 30 and 31.
As is apparent in FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7, metering chain 21 is provided with a plurality of laterally extending metering lugs collectively designated by the numeral 32.
The primary packages are of a dual nature as is apparent from FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 and constitute two elements such as B and C having a common cover or lid portion D.
Thus as is apparent from FIG. 7 rotation of driving element 22 in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 7 causes a laterally projecting metering element such as 32A to ride behind package Al and more specifically to engage the trailing surface of component B as the lug 32A rides up and toward the right along inclined surface 25. Since the velocity of movement of metering chain 21 is precisely controlled, the motion of primary package A1 toward the right is securely and precisely regulated in synchronism and at a speed such that correct engagement with the trailing edge of component B by the accelerating lug 33 on accelerating chain 34 is effected. Chain 34 is an endless element which is trained about rotatable elements 35 and 36, the rotatable elements 35 and 36 being supported by shafts 37 and 38 one of which is a driven element and which imparts movement to lug 33 which is faster than the movement imparted to the articles such as Al by the metering chain 21 and associated apparatus. Thus the effect of the accelerating chain 34 and of lug 33 is greatly to increase the space between one articlefrom a succeeding article in the same row as is apparent from the position of article AlA which is in spaced relation to the position indicated at AlB.
In order to facilitate engagement of the accelerating lug 33 with the trailing edge of component B, it is necessary to elevate the trailing edge of component B as is depicted in FIG. 7. Toward this end positioning means 28 is provided and conveniently is rotated by the metering chain 21 as is apparent in FIG. 7. Positioning means 28 is arranged so that a particular one of its radial projections such as 29 engages the bottom surface of component B of one of the articles and elevates such component above the level of a succeeding article as is evident in FIG. 7 by comparison of the article AlB with the article A1. Projections 29 are transversely staggered so as to elevate the articles in different rows in a desired sequence. The radial projections 29, 30 and 31 are disposed on opposite sides of rotatable element 28 and are staggered so that the projections on one side of element 28 engage the articles in one row in sequence relative to engagement of the articles in an adjacent row by the radial projections on the other side of said rotatable element and in synchronism with said metering means. When so disposed, accelerating element or lug 33 clearly is arranged securely and precisely to engage article A18 in timed sequence and greatly to increase its velocity of movement.
As is apparent in FIG. 6, metering chain 21 not only acts to meter the movement of articles A1 but this chain also regulates in sequence the adjacent row of articles designated A2. Toward this end metering projections designated generally by the numeral 39 are mounted on the metering chain 21 and extend outwardly therefrom in a direction opposite from the direction in which the metering elements 32 extend. Of course it will be understood that metering means 16 is provided with oppositely disposed projections and thus may meter the movement of articles A3 and A4 while metering means 15 controls and regulates the movement of articles A and A6.
While the metering elements 15, 16, and 17 each controls the flow of two rows of articles on the infeed conveyor means 1, separate accelerating chains are provided for each row of articles fed into the machine. Such accelerating chains are designated in the drawings by the numerals 40 44 and 34 respectively. Of course each accelerating chain is provided with an accelerating lug such as that designated by the numeral 33 in connection with accelerating chain 34.
As the articles are accelerated such for example by accelerating chain 34 and its associated lug 33, each article is arranged to slide along a pair of guides such as 46, 18 which control A1 and then slide downhill along downwardly inclined portions 47 of guides 46 and 18, the support being by means of laterally extending flange portions constituting extensions of the cover D best shown in FIG. 8 of each article.
From the accelerating means, the articles are transferred to converger conveyors 48, 49 which are flexible endless elements having their working reaches moving toward the right as viewed for example in FIG. 7 and mounted on rotatable elements only one of which designated by the numeral 50 is shown in FIG. 7. Rotatable element 50 of course is mounted on horizontal shaft 51 supported by the frame of the machine.
With the articles moving from left to right on the converger conveyors such as 48 and 49, it is necessary to impart transverse movement thereto and such movement is effected by converger transport devices generally designated by the numerals 52 and 53. Each of these converger transport devices comprises an endless element such as 54 mounted on a pair of rotatable devices 55 and 56 one of which is a driven device arranged to impart clockwise rotation to belts 54.
From FIG. 5 it is apparent that an article such as A1 moving toward the right on converger conveyor 49 engages the working reach 54A of belt 54 and is thus guided upwardly as viewed in FIG. 5 and toward the right to be deposited ultimately on outfeed conveyor 57. In like fashion articles such as A2 and A3 are guided across converger conveyor 49 by means of converger transport device 53 and are thus caused to occupy an in-line relationship in a single row on conveyor 57 as shown in FIG. 5. Thus articles A1 and A2 and A3 which enter the machine on infeed conveyor means 1 are consolidated into a single row on outfeed conveyor 57 as is apparent in FIG. 5. In like fashion articles A4, A5 and A6 entering the infeed conveyor section of the machine designated by the numeral 1 in three rows are consolidated into a single row and are fed out of the machine on outfeed conveyor 58 as is apparent in FIG. 5 due in part to the action of converger transport device 52.
From the description thus far it is apparent that all six incoming rows of articles could be consolidated into a single row on a single conveyor if desired. In such case the conveyor such as 57 could be eliminated as would the converger transport device such as 52. Furthermore the converger transport belt 53 would be made somewhat longer so as to insure that all of the articles coming out of the accelerator section of the machine would be transported onto outfeed conveyor 58 as is obvious.
Furthermore it is apparent that a greater number of rows of incoming items than six could be consolidated into any lesser number of rows by making obvious modifications in the elements as might be desired.
Since a machine constructed according to this invention not only is capable of consolidating a plurality of rows of articles into a lesser number of rows of articles, the machine also can be utilized to intemiingle in any desired sequence articles of different types so that miscellaneous articles may be accummulated on the outfeed conveyor in any desired sequence according to one facet of the invention.
it is also obvious that the rate of flow of incoming items supplied to the infeed portion 1 of the machine can be accommodated by simply controlling the velocity of movement of the other elements of the machine so that the items on outfeed conveyors 57 and 58 are fed out at a rate which is equal to the rate at which the total items are fed into the infeed portion 1 of the machine as might be desired.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. An article handling machine comprising a plurality of infeed conveyor means for a plurality of rows of articles respectively, metering means for engaging articles from said infeed conveyor means and for regulating the movement thereof in sequence in a predetermined manner, accelerating means for sequentially engaging articles from said metering means and for imparting substantially increased velocity of movement thereto thereby to increase the spacing therebetween, article positioning means disposed generally below said accelerating means and arranged to elevate the trailing edge of the articles in sequence in a plurality of rows, converger means sequentially engageable with articles from said accelerating means for imparting movement thereto in a direction which is different from the direction of movement of the articles when initially engaged by said converger means, and outfeed conveyor means arranged to receive the articles from said converger means in sequence and to convey the articles in a single row.
2. A machine according to claim 1 wherein said article positioning means comprises a rotatable element having staggered radial projections, the projections on one side of said element being disposed to engage the articles in one row and the projections on the opposite side thereof being disposed to engage the articles in an adjacent row.
3. A machine according to claim 2 wherein the projections on said rotatable element are arranged to engage the articles in each row in sequence and wherein engagement with an article in one row is subsequent to engagement with an adjacent article in the other row whereby said positioning means is synchronized with said metering means.
4. An article handling machine comprising a plurality of infeed conveyor means for a plurality of rows of articles respectively, each of said infeed conveyor means for each row of articles comprising a pair of conveyors whose working reaches are disposed in side-by-side substantially parallel relationship and the outfeed end of one of each pair of conveyors being disposed downstream relative to the outfeed end of the other of each pair of conveyors, metering means for engaging articles from said infeed conveyor means and for regulating the movement thereof in sequence in a predetermined manner, accelerating means for sequentially engaging articles from said metering means and for imparting substantially increased velocity of movement thereto thereby to increase the spacing therebetween, movable converger means sequentially engageable with articles from said accelerating means for imparting movement thereto in a direction which is different from the direction of movement of the articles when initially engaged by said converger means, and outfeed conveyor means arranged to receive the articles from said converger means in sequence and to convey the articles in a single row.
5. A machine according to claim 4 wherein article support means is disposed downstream from the outfeed end of each of said other conveyors and arranged to aid in supporting the articles fed therefrom.
6. A machine according to claim 4 wherein said metering means is disposed downstream from the outfeed end of each of said other conveyors.
7. A machine according to claim 6 wherein article positioning means is disposed adjacent said accelerating means and wherein said positioning means and said metering means are movable in synchronism.