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Publication numberUS3867283 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 18, 1975
Filing dateMar 22, 1974
Priority dateMar 22, 1974
Publication numberUS 3867283 A, US 3867283A, US-A-3867283, US3867283 A, US3867283A
InventorsDavid C Hoffman, James N Horn
Original AssigneeIndustrial Nucleonics Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Article classifying system and method
US 3867283 A
Abstract
Articles, such as cigarettes, are moved successively down a prescribed path past sensing and operating stations. Each article is categorized in respect to a plurality of given characteristics. The category, such as reject, is recorded in a respective cell of an addressable memory. The memory cells are arranged in two sets. Selectively operable selection means directs the category signals corresponding to a respective selected given characteristic into cells of a selected one of the sets. When the article reaches the first of two operating stations, information is read out of the corresponding cell of the first set and utilized to actuate an operating means, as to remove from the path the articles in the reject category for a selected characteristic, such as a light cigarette. The corresponding cell of the second set is then cleared if there was a signal of the selected category, reject, read from the cell of the first set. When an article reaches the second operating station, information is read out of the corresponding cell of the second set and utilized to actuate an operating means, as to remove an article having some other fault from the path.
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United States Patent 11 1 Horn et a1.

[451 Feb. 18, 1975 ARTICLE CLASSIFYING SYSTEM AND METHOD [75] Inventors: James N. Horn, Hilliard; David C. Hoffman, Columbus, both of Ohio [73] Assignee: Industrial Nucleonics Corporation, Columbus, Ohio [22] Filed: Mar. 22, 1974 21 Appl. No.: 453,790

[52] US. Cl. 209/74 M, 209/75 [51] Int. Cl. B07c 5/02 [58] Field of Search 209/73, 74 R, 75, 74 M;

Primary Examiner-Allen N. Knowles Attorney, Agent, or FirmWi11iam T. Fryer, 111; C. Henry Peterson; Robert K. Schumacher TIMING [57] ABSTRACT Articles, such as cigarettes, are moved successively down a prescribed path past sensing and operating stations. Each article is categorized in respect to a plurality of given characteristics. The category, such as reject, is recorded in a respective cell of an addressable memory. The memory cells are arranged in two sets. Selectively operable selection means directs the category signals corresponding to a respective selected given characteristic into cells of a selected one of the sets. When the article reaches the first of two operating stations, information is read out of the corresponding cell of the first set and utilized to actuate an operating means, as to remove from the path the articles in the reject category for a selected characteristic, such as a light cigarette. The corresponding cell of the second set is then cleared if there was a signal of the selected category, reject, read from the cell of the first set. When an article reaches the second operating station, information is read out of the corresponding cell of the second set and utilized to actuate an operating means, as to remove an article having some other fault from the path.

11 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures l F/lTER CUTTER 6 arm nzmwrd LOWER MfMDRY EEJECT DEVICE PAIENTEBFEBI 81975 SHEET 2 OF 5 1 ARTICLE CLASSIFYING SYSTEM AND METHOD The present invention relates to a system for classifying into categories, such as reject and accept categories, articles which are transported through an indus trial process and automatically inspected or gauged in respect to a plurality of characteristics. More particularly, the present invention relates to such a classifier system for use in the manufacture of cigarettes for the detection of cigarettes varying from predetermined standards and the rejection or segregation of the cigarettes which do not conform to such standards. Still more particularly, the present invention relates to such a classifier system and method wherein the articles, and cigarettes in particular, are sorted into different bins according to which of the standards are not met, the particular standards for the respective bins being selectable by the operator.

The present invention is an improvement on the Article Classifying System and Method disclosed and claimed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,616,901, issued to Charles Richard Groves on Nov. 2, 1971. The present invention utilizes much of the same apparatus as the system of that patent and the apparatus common to both operates in much the same way in the present invention. It will therefore be unnecessary to describe in detail the common subject matter described in the U.S. Pat. No. 3,616,901, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

In conventional cigarette making machines it is common practice to monitor or detect various characteristics or properties of each cigarette during various stages of its manufacture, and to compare these detected characteristics with suitable standards to generate some form of indication of unacceptability. Those cigarettes in the reject category are rejected by a suitable reject or kick-out device, generally located near the detector. Typically, there are a number of characteristics which may be detected or sensed, including deviations in tobacco weight or density from a specified band of limits, excessive deviations in weight or density uniformity, deviations in the printed trademark or brand name position or print density from specified criteria, the presence of metal particles, excessive air leakage, the presence of loosely packed tobacco at the cigarette ends, missing filters, and deviations from a specified range of moisture content. The various particular transducing means for sensing these characteristics are, per se, well known in the art, and do not themselves form any part of the present invention.

Such cigarette making machinery may typically employ various open and closed-loop servo systems for au-' tomatically monitoring various characteristics of the cigarettes during the manufacturing process, and may utilize derived feedback signals to control the manufacturing process to reduce deviations in these characteristics from preselected standards. However, in spite of the use of such automatic control systems, excessive deviations or variations from the acceptable standards may still result, at least in individual cigarettes, both with respect to those characteristics which are actually subject to such closed-loop servo control, such as tobacco weight and density, and with respect to those characteristics normally not subject to servo control, such as the presence of metal particles'and loose ends.

In accordance with the system described in the aforesaid U.S. Pat. No. 3,616,90], articles, such as cigarettes,

are moved successively down a prescribed path past sensing and operating stations. Each article is categorized and the category, such as reject, is recorded in a respective memory cell of an addressable memory according to a memory addressing signal formed as the difference between a counter signal and the address signal of the respective sensing station When the article reaches the operating station, the recorded signal is read out from the respective memory cell by addressing it with a memory address signal formed as the difference between the counter signal and the address signal of the operating station. The read-out signal is utilized to operate upon the article, as to reject a faulty cigarette from the path.

It is sometimes desirable to select articles having a particular defect or other property, such as light cigarettes, from all other articles, both acceptable and nonstandard. This was possible in the system of U.S. Pat. No. 3,616,90l by permitting all other articles to pass, rejecting only the desired articles. This left nonstandard articles, such as heavy cigarettes, among the final products. It has been suggested merely to replicate the system of the patent and make a second rejection operation to reject the remaining non-standard articles. However, it is not always articles with the same particular property that it is desired to select. Particularly for diagnostic purposes, it is desirable to be able to select articles having any one or more of a number of different properties while at the same time separately selecting articles having certain other properties and passing the rest. It is also desirable that once an article is removed from the stream, it no longer be considered by the system as an article for separation from the stream at a later point, thus avoiding the attempt to select an article no longer in the stream and avoiding counting the same separated article twice.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved system and method for classifying a plurality of articles, such as cigarettes, into either of two categories, such as for selection and passing or rejection and acceptance, according to sensed characteristics of each article transported through an industrial process at extremely high speeds and to segregate from the stream of articles at least two groups of articles having respective properties meeting different criteria as selected by the operator.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such a classifier system and method therefor employing a tracking type memory system which is suitable for use in high speed cigarette making machines, and which may readily utilize logic signal outputs from multiple classification sensors, each located at a different process point or station in the machine, with means actuated at programed times to reject cigarettes into at least two reject bins in accordance with different criteria selected by the operator.

It is still another object of the invention to provide such a classifier system and method wherein an article once rejected is no longer considered a reject in the stream, even though it would otherwise have been rejected in a subsequent bin.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention are more particularly set forth in the following detailed description and in the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 is a general block and diagrammatic illustration showing the layout of a typical cigarette making 3 machine employing a classifier system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of the remote rejection selection apparatus used in the cigarette making machine of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a functional block diagram showing the classifier system utilized in the cigarette making machine of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an electrical schematic and logic diagram showing a preferred logic arrangement for implementation of timing and the memory address portion of the system illustrated in FIG. 3; 3

FIG. 5 is an electrical schematic and logic diagram showing the preferred logic arrangement for implementation of the memory and rejection selection portion of the system illustrated in FIG. 3; and

FIGS. 6A-L comprise a timing diagram showing the relative timing of the various control signals.

In general and as described in the aforesaid US. Pat. No. 3,616,90l, the present classifies a plurality of articles moving successively along one or more prescribed paths into either of first and second categories according to a sensed characteristic of each article. A suitable conveying means is provided for moving the articles successively along the paths past a reference point, one or niore sensing stations, and an operating station. In accordance with the present invention, there is at least one additional operating station. The reference point may be arbitrarily taken at any position along the paths, but is preferably selected at a position which results in the least complexity or cost of the system. Typically, each of the sensing stations may be located at a different preselected position along the paths relative to the reference point, and the operating stations are located after the last sensing station.

The respective distances along the paths between each of the sensing stations and the reference point, as well as the distances between the respective operating stations and the reference point, are herein conveniently measured in terms of an article interval which defines a unit of measurement indicative of an interval or space which may be generally occupied by a single article as it is moved along the prescribed paths by the conveying means. This is a fixed unit even though the actual absolute distance between the centers of articles as measured in linear units will typically differ at various locations along the path, depending on the relative speeds of various conveyors which may be employed, and the position or orientation of the articles relative to the direction of movement. Thus, in terms of article intervals, and for any prescribed path, each of the sensing stations is located at a position which is a respective predetermined number of article intervals from the reference point, and each operating station is located a further predetermined number of article intervals from the reference point, the second operating station being the last of the stations along the path.

Sensing means are provided in association with each sensing station and are each responsive to a respective given characteristic of the article at each of the respective stations to provide information signals indicative of these respective given characteristics. Categorizing means are then provided responsive to these information signals to provide a category signal indicative of the category of the respective articles relative to each of the sensed characteristics. Associated with each opcrating station, an operating means, such as a reject orkickout mechanism, is provided for acting on the article thereat in a manner determined by the category information corresponding to the respective article, respective means operating in response to different selective criteria.

To keep track of the category information relative to each sensed characteristic of each of the moving articles, a timing means is provided which is synchronized with the movement of the articles and which generates timing pulses indicative of each article interval movement along the prescribed paths. A counter responds to these timing pulses to count each article interval movement and provide a count signal indicative of the num ber registered in the counter. A memory is also provided which has a plurality of addressable discrete memory cells, input means through which signals may be written into the memory cells for storage, output means from which the stored signals may be read out, and address selection means for selecting the particular memory cells into which the signals at the input means are written and from which the stored signals are read at the output means. The memory is divided into discrete parts providing different but corresponding addresses for storing category information to be used by the respective operating means.

To derive the appropriate memory addresses for writing into the memory the respective category information corresponding to each of the sensing means, and to read out the appropriate stored information corresponding to the article at the operating stations, programed addressing means are provided (I) to produce respective sensing station address signals corresponding to the predetermined number of article intervals that each respective sensing station is from the reference point, and (2) to produce an operating station address signal corresponding to the predetermined number of article intervals that the respective operating station is from the reference point. Then arithmetic combining means is provided which is responsive to sequential control signals (1) to combine the count signal of the counter and the respective sensing station address signals to produce successive memory address signals corresponding to the respective differences between v the number registered in the counter and the predetermined number of article intervals that each of the sens ing stations is from the reference point, and (2) to combine this same count signal and the respective operating station address signals to produce reading memory address signals corresponding to the differences between the number registered in the counter and the predetermined number of article intervals between the respective operating stations and the reference point.

The application of these writing and reading memory address signals to the address selection means is controlled by a cyclic switching means which is responsive to each timing pulse to provide the aforementioned sequential control signals to the arithmetic combining means during the time of each article interval movement. These control signals also synchronously apply those category signals which are indicative of a given one of the categories to the input means of the memory during the application of each respective writing memory address signal to the memory. At the same time memory selector signals are provided to apply category signals corresponding to particular properties to selected respective parts of the memory, at the selection nal from the memory, the memory for that particular article is erased in respect to any signal that would actuate any subsequent operating means.

Thus, the category information signals indicative of said given category are written into the desired parts of the memory when the respective articles are at their respective sensing stations, and the stored given category information associated with an article at the respective operating station is read from the respective part of the memory and utilized to' actuate the operating means when that respective article is at that operating station. Means are provided which are coupled to the memory and responsive to the cyclic switching means for clearing each respective memory cell no earlier than the reading of the stored signal therefrom, no later than the writing of the next category signal therein, and no later than during the application to the address selection means of the respective cells writing memory address first occurring after this reading. This overall sequence of events takes place during the time period of an article interval movement, and continuously and cyclically repeats for each successive article interval movement as each of the articles is conveyed along the prescribed paths to the operating stations.

The classifier system of the present invention is herein described as embodied in a cigarette making machine for classifying the cigarettes into either a reject or an accept category, and those cigarettes which are in the reject category are removed from the process path at the respective operating stations. More particularly, there is shown in FIG. 1 a cigarette making machine utilizing a classifier system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, wherein five sensing stations are employed together with associated sensing means to monitor five different characteristics at different locations along a divided process path of the machine to determine the cigarettes having a characteristic which renders them defective, and ultimately utilizes this information to actuate a reject device at each of two operating stations to segregate from the satisfactory cigarettes those which are defective.

In particular, the tobacco is fed from a suitable hopper or supply means to a suitable feeding mechanism 12 via any suitable transfer means 14. The tobacco silvers or shreds are fed by the feeder 12 onto a moving conveyor belt illustrated by broken line 16. The tobacco stream is moved past a rotating trimmer or equalizing knife 18 which cuts off the portions of the tobacco shreds extending above the knife position to remove bunches and irregularities, and to control the density and packing of the tobacco as it enters the rodforming apparatus 20 in a manner well known in the art. The rod-forming apparatus 20 receives cigarette paper from a reel 22 after it has been printed with the desired trademark or brand name by the paper printer 24. The brand names 26, in the cigarette machine as symbolically illustrated in FIG. 1, are printed in pairs, with the lettering of the names of each pair facing in opposite directions. The rod former 20 wraps the cigarette paper about the tobacco and supplies an output on a conveyor 27 in the form of a continuous cigarette rod 28.

The cigarette rod 28 passes a first sensing station 30 where its weight or density characteristic is monitored by a first sensing means comprising a beta gauge 32 operating in conjunction with a beta ray source 34. The signals produced by the beta gauge 32 may be utilized for servo control of the trimmer knife 18in a manner to be later described, and may also provide information signals indicative of more than one characteristic of the cigarette rod, such as the average density over each entire cigarette length, as well as the average density over each of a plurality of short segments within each cigarette length. In general, more than one characteristic may be monitored at a given station, and this will be discussed in greater detail hereinafter.

The cigarette rod then movesby a second sensing station 36 wherein sensing means 37, illustrated as any suitable print detector, monitors the position and imprint density of the brand names to provide an inform ation signal indicative of thesequalities. The cigarette rod 28 is then fed through a cutter 38 typically employing a knife arrangement for cutting the midpoints between printed brand names to form individual cigarettes. These are fed out of the cutter 38 with the printed ends mutually facing each other and onto a conveyor 39. The cutting blades of the cutter 38 are driven by a suitable mechanism in synchronism with a timing generator 40, which generates timing pulses synchronized with the movements of the cigarettes on the various conveyors employed in the machine so that preferably one pulse is generated for each article interval movement, regardless of actual distances between successive cigarettes at various locations in the machine.

Each cigarette is then moved by means of the conveyor 39 past a third sensing station 44 whereat each cigarette is monitored for the presence of metal particles by sensing means 45, which may be a conventional metal detector, for producing an information signal indicative of the presence of metal within the cigarette at the station 44.

The cigarettes on the conveyor 39 are then transferred to one of a pair of synchronized conveyors 46 and 48 by conventional material handling means so that each of the conveyors 46 and 48 carries only the cigarettes having the same printing orientation. Conse quently, the movement of each pair of mutually facing cigarettes is changed from the original longitudinal orientation to a lateral movement where they are brought to a position 50 whereat suitable apparatus (not shown) may be provided for inserting a filter tip, mouthpiece, etc. on each pair of cigarettes at their mutually facing ends. Such apparatus may receive the filter tips, mouthpieces, etc. from a supply which is symbolically shown as 52 in any conventional manner.

For convenience of reference, the cigarettes having the brand name printed on the leading end as they are moved on the conveyor 39 are herein designated as A cigarettes and follow the conveyor path 46, while those cigarettes having the brand name printed on the trailing end are herein designated as B cigarettes and follow the conveyor path 48. The pairs of cigarettes are moved by these conveyors to a fourth sensing station 54 whereat sensing means 55 performs a leak test to provide an information signal indicative of a perforation or tear in the papers of the A and B pair of cigarettes at the station. After the cigarettes leave this fourth station, a filter cutter 57 slices each filter at its midpoint so that each respective half becomes the filter for a completed A or B cigarette. Then, after the filter cutting operation, the A cigarettes are transferred to another conveyor 56 having a speed somewhat slower than the conveyor 46 so that the cigarettes have some what shorter distances therebetween. At the same time, the B cigarettes are transferred to a conveyor 58 which may include a suitable well-known rotating mechanism or wheel for turning the B cigarettes about to give them the same orientation as the A cigarettes, as shown. The path thus divides into two parts, and alternate A and B cigarettes are directed into the respective parts. The speed of the conveyor 58 is synchronously related to the speed of the conveyor 56 so that one B cigarette is inserted between each A cigarette at a combining location 68 whereat suitable and known material handling means are provided to perform the combining operation.

After the A and B cigarettes are recombined at the combining point 60, they pass a fifth sensing station 62 whereat a further sensing means 63 monitors each cigarette at the station for loose ends in a well-known manner, and provides an information signal indicative of this characteristic. The cigarettes then pass successively through operating stations 64 and 65 whereat suitable respective reject devices 66 and 67 eject into respective bins 68 and 69 cigarettes found to be defective as sensed by any of the various sensing means in response to suitable signals from a programable delay memory and system control 70, which has previously received respective input information signals from each of the sensing means. The reject devices 66 and 67 may each comprise a fluid amplifier for providing a controlled air blast which rapidly ejects the selected cigarette from the normal path. The fluid amplifier permits rapid switching, and the low inertia of the air medium enables the device to operate at extremely high speed with a high degree of precision.

As will be explained in greater detail below, the particular reject device actuated is determined by the machine operator, who actuates a remote reject selection circuit 71 which then supplies appropriate signals to the programable delay memory and system control 70 over a transmission means 72.

The transmission means 72 is shown as a line in FIG. 1 and may be referred to as a line; however, preferably it comprises a cable comprising a number of conductors, as shown in FIG. 2, each of which is identified by this same reference numeral 72, but also identified by a respective legend identifying the signal transmitted thereby. (Throughout this specification, the connecting means between blocks of the block diagrams will be indicated symbolically by single lines and indeed referred to as lines, which may, as here, represent a number of conductors. In the more detailed drawings, all conductors of each connecting means will be given the same reference numeral, but will at times be further identified by an indication of the signals thereon.)

As illustrated in FIG. 2 the remote reject selection circuit may comprise simply a number of switches 73, the closure of each of which grounds a respective conductor 72. With a respective switch 73 open, the conductor is at a positive voltage, as provided by a resistor 75 connected from the respective conductor to a positive voltage source. The resistors are conveniently placed in the programable delay memory and system control, as shown more particularly in FIG. 5.

Turning to a specific sensing means at its respective sensing station, the sensing means 32 is shown as comprising a beta gauge providing an output signal to a gauge controller and weight classifier circuit 76 over a line 77. This output signal systematically corresponds to the radiation absorption characteristic of the portion of the cigarette rod which is at the sensing station 30. The weight classifier 76 averages the signal from the beta gauge over some time base and compares this average with a predetermined reference to derive an error signal indicative of deviation from astandard. This error signal is utilized as a servo-system feedback signal to the trimmer knife 18 over a line 78 for automatically adjusting the position of the knife in the directions of the arrows to reduce the deviation and maintain a relatively constant preselected tobacco density or mass per unit length. Additionally, the weight classifier 76 provides at least one information output signal to a programable delay memory and system control over an output cable 79, which may comprise a plurality of signal transmission conductors. This signal may be proportional to the direct output from the beta gauge 32.

The programable delay memory and system control 70 of FIG. 1 is illustrated in somewhat more detailed block form FIG. 3 wherein the information signal on line 79 is shown as a first input to a categorizing means illustrated as a comparator 80. The comparator 80 receives additional input lines 81, 82, 83 and 84 from the other respective sensing means 37, 45, 55 and 63 to provide the respective information signals to the comparator 80 corresponding to each of the respective sensed characteristics. The comparator 80 operates in conjunction with reference signals or levels supplied over lines 85 from a standard circuit 86 for each of the information input signals to derive respective category signals on respective corresponding output lines 87, which indicate whether or not the respective information signal is within given limits. The category signals thus indicate the respective category of each of the cigarettes, i.e., reject or accept, at each respective sensing station.

In order to establish the relation between the input information signals and each of the cigarettes moving through the sensing stations, the timing pulses generated by the timing generator 40 are fed to the programable delay memory and system control 70 via a line 89, and these pulses, inverted by an inverter 90, are fed to the comparator 80 over a line 91 to define each article interval movement of the cigarettes. The comparator 80 may also include any desired additional timing and control means for establishing the precise instant or period of time within each article interval for interrogating the appropriate sensing means in a conventional manner and comparing the respective information signals with their respective reference standards. The respective category or accept/reject signals thus produced may be stored temporarily by any suitable twostage storage means, such as a flip-flop, for each respective category signal until the storage means are interrogated during each article interval movement by cyclic switching means, illustrated as an input data multiplexer 94, which operates in response to the timing pulses (cigarette pulses") on line 89. The inverted pulses (cigarette pulses) are applied to the multiplexer over a line 96.

In the particular case of the mass characteristic information signal from the beta gauge sensing means 32, the information signal is applied through the weight classifier circuit 76 on the line 79 to the comparator 80. The comparator 80, utilizing an appropriate standard from the standards circuit 86, provides a reject signal on a respective line 87 when, upon comparison of the information signal with the standard, the information signal deviates from the standard by more than a predetermined amount as determined by the desired range of acceptance or tolerance. The information signal from beta gauge 32, typically in the form of an electrometer amplifier output voltage, may be applied to an integrating circuit of conventional type employing a capacitor, and the voltage across the capacitor resulting from the accumulated charge over a cigarette interval may then be compared with a pair of reference voltage thresholds defining a band of acceptable mass per unit length values so that a reject category signal will be produced when the voltage across the capacitor at a given time is either above or below the respective upper and lower threshold voltages, indicating that the cigarette is too light or too heavy. After interrogation, or when the cigarettes have moved one article interval, the capacitor charge is dumped by an appropriate means operating in response to the timing pulses on the line 91.

As previously mentioned, the information signal from the beta gauge 32 may also be utilized to derive reject signals in response to any of preselected discrete segments of a cigarette having a mass per segment which deviates from a given standard by more than a predetermined amount to assure uniformity of mass distribution in each cigarette. The same sort of capacitor-type integrating technique as discussed above may be employed, but with the means for dumping the capacitor charge being actuated after the comparison operation on the charge corresponding to each segment, and any resulting reject category signal is held for interrogation. Suitable operating signals may be readily derived by appropriately dividing the intervals between timing pulses on the line 91 into a number of pulses equal to the number of segments per cigarette being sensed. Four to six segments per cigarette are typical, and the acceptance band for the segment mass characteristic is preferably set to permit a greater percentage deviation than the acceptance band for the average overall mass per cigarette.

The print detector, metal detector, leak detector and loose-end detector also provide their respective information signals to the comparator 80 where they are each compared to an appropriate reference from the standards circuit 86 to derive and hold a reject or accept category signal on a respective output line 87.

ln accordance with the present embodiment of the invention, each of the detectors is located a different predetermined number of article intervals (being particularly cigarette intervals in the present example) from a reference point which may be taken as any location along the paths to the rejection stations 64 and 65. Although the reference point may be taken at any location along the paths, in the present example, for the sake of simplicity, the reference point is taken to be at the first sensing station 30. Thus, in accordance with the previously described principles of the present invention, the first sensing station 30 is located at zero cigarette intervals from the reference point. Then, for a given or prescribed path, the second or print sensing station 36 will be located a second predetermined number of cigarette intervals from the first sensing station 30, the third or metal sensing station 44 will be located a third predetermined number of cigarette intervals from the first sensing station 30, and so on, to the fifth or loose-end sensing station 62 located downstream from the other sensing stations which is at a fifth predetermined number of cigarette intervals from the first sensing station 30. The rejection stations 64 and 65 will then be located downstream from the loose-end sensing station 62 at sixth and seventh predetermined numbers of cigarette intervals from the first sensing station 30 along the prescribed paths.

It should be noted here that since the path lengths are different for the A and B cigarettes, the distance, in cigarette intervals, from the loose-end detector to the reference point at the first sensing station 30 will differ depending on whether the A cigarette path or the B cigarette path is followed. Likewise, the distances between the rejection stations 64 and 65 and the reference point will differ depending on whether the A cigarette or B cigarette path is followed. Thus, in the present exam ple, any sensing or operating stations located after the cigarettes are separated into plural paths which do not have a one-to-one phase correspondence of article intervals will have associated therewith more than one distance, in article intervals, from the reference point. Since the B cigarettes are recombined alternately between the A cigarettes, the alternate distances of the station 62 from the reference point will differ by an even number. This will likewise be true for the alternate distances of the reject stations 64 and 65 from the reference point.

Referring to FIG. 3, an N state counter I08 responds to the inverted cigarette interval timing pulses applied from the inverter to a line 109. These pulses are synchronized with the cutter 38 and with the movement of the cigarettes throughout the process to present one pulse for each cigarette interval movement. In response to the timing pulses on the line 109, the counter 108 counts each cigarette interval movement in a register and provides a count signal output 110 which is indicative of the number registered in the counter. An addressable 2N word nondestructive memory 112 having 2N memory cells (i.e., one bit per word) has input means shown symbolically as input line 113 through which signals may be written into the memory cells for storage, output means symbolically illustrated as output line 114 through which the stored signals may be read out, and address selection means, illustrated sym bolically by line 115, for addressing, i.e., selecting, the cells into which the signals at the input 113 are written and from which the stored signals are read at the output 114.

As noted, the memory 112 is a 2N word memory, that is, twice the number of counts that the N state counter 108 can count. The memory is divided into two substantially identical parts which may be designated upper and lower memory, respectively. Upper and lower need not refer to any relative physical relationship, but may merely distinguish one from the other, as first and second memory. The addresses in the two parts correspond identically. A signal from an upper/- lower memory selector 117 is applied to the memory 112 over an Upper/Lower input means, symbolically illustrated as a line 118. This effectively operates as part of the address and determines whether a signal is written in or read from the upper or lower memory in respect to a particular quality of a respective cigarette.

A strobed read/write signal is fed from the multiplexer 94 to the memory 112 via a line 116 to enable or gate the memory so that the signal at the input 113 will be written into the addressed cell.

Programed addressing means, illustrated as an address constant selection array 120, provides a sensing station signal or constant corresponding to each respective predetermined number of cigarette intervals that each sensing station is from the reference point for a particular path. The address constant selection array also provides an operating station address signal or constant corresponding to the particular predetermined number of article intervals that each respective operating stations is from the reference station along a prescribed path.

The respective station address signals are generated from a preprogramed diode array in response to control signals applied to the address constant selection array 120 from a control pulse generator 121 over control means symbolically illustrated as a line 122. These control signals are developed in response to the application of an inverted cigarette pulse to an input line 123. These address signals are fed over input means symbolically illustrated as a line 124 to arithmetic combining means illustrated as an address subtractor 125 which also receives the counter output 110 from the counter 108. During each cigarette interval movement and in response to respective control pulses, the address subtractor 125 successively subtracts each respective sensing station address constant and operating station address constant from the registered count signal. The address subtractor 125 provides via the line 115 to the memory address selection terminals of the memory 112 respective writing memory address signals corresponding to the difference between the number registered in the counter 108 and the respective predetermined numbers of cigarette intervals that the sensing stations are from the reference point, and also provides reading memory address signals corresponding to the difference between the same number registered in the counter 108 and the number of cigarette intervals that the respective operating stations are from the reference point.

Cyclic switching means, including the control pulse generator 121 is responsive to the cigarette interval timing pulses on the line 89 to provide, as previously indicated, a plurality of sensing control signals and reading control signals which are applied over the line 122 successively in a predetermined sequence to the address constant selection array 120. Pulses corresponding to the sensing control signals on the line 122 are also applied from the control pulse generator 121 over means symbolically illustrated as lines 126 and 127 to the input data multiplexer 94 to synchronously interrogate the category signals on the multiplexer input lines 87. The control pulse generator 121 also supplies strobe signals at the proper tim es to the input data multiplexer 94 over lines 128 and 129 to cause the multiplexer to apply any reject category signal which may be present over line 1 13 to the data in terminal of the memory 112 during the application of respective writing memory address signals from the address subtractor 125.

The control pulse generator also applies corresponding synchronizing pulses to the upper/lower memory selector 117 over lines 126 and 133 and additional synchronizing pulses over lines 134 and 135. These synchronizing pulses, in combination with the signals from the remote reject selection circuit 71 over line 72 and input from the data multiplexer 94 over means designated symbolically by a line 136 determine which of the reject level signals are to be written into which of the upper and lower parts of the memory 112 and which of the upper and lower parts of the memory are addressed during reading out and the particular time for each. The control pulse generator 121 also supplies strobe signals via lines 128 and 137 to a read-out circuit 138 during the application of the reading memory address signals to apply the respective stored signals from the memory output terminal Data Out on line 114 to the reject mechanism controller. Additional timing signals from the control pulse generator 121 are also applied to the read-out circuit 138 over a line 139 and lines 140 and 141 to direct the read-out signals to the appropriate output lines 142 or 143. Further timing signals from the control pulse generator 121 are applied over lines 134 and 144 and over line 145 to cause the output pulses to appear at the proper time. The readout circuit 138 also generates a delayed strobe pulse on an output line 146. The signals on lines 142, 143 and 146 from the read-out circuit 138 are applied to a rejection mechanism control 148 which develops appropriate driving signals at the proper times on output lines 149 and 150 to the respective reject devices 66 and 67. The controller 148 operates the proper reject mechanisms 66 or 67 after a shoft delay to avoid the undesired effects of system transients by having the delayed read strobe pulse applied from the control pulse generator 12, after the information-has been read out from the memory 112.

The input data multiplexer 94 also includes means, to be described hereinafter, which are coupled to the memory 112 and the responsive to signals from the control pulse generator 121 for clearing each respective memory cell at the beginning of each cycle. In the illustrated example, the clearing of an upper memory cell is accomplished by the first control pulse of a cycle from the generator 121, and a lower memory cell is cleared by the second control pulse, both pulses being associated with the first sensing station address. Further, the reading out of a rejection signal from an upper memory cell, clears the corresponding lower memory cell. A detailed discussion of these clearing operations will be presented hereinafter.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a preferred logic implementation of the system of FIG. 3. In particular, the cigarette interval timing pulses on line 89 after inversion by the inverter 90 are supplied to the control pulse generator 121 over the line 123, to the N state counter 108 over the line 109, and to an alternating switching circuit 152 of any suitable type over a line 153. The alternating switching circuit 152 alternately pulses the A and B output lines 154 and 155 with each successive interval timing pulse on line 89 so that the A output pulses correspond to A cigarettes at the first station and the B pulses correspond to B cigarettes at the first station. Since the interval timing pulses are synchronized with the cutter 38, and all of the various conveyors, this alternate pulse relationship with the A and B cigarettes will hold true throughout the manufacturing process from the initial cigarette rod at the first sensing station 30 to the second reject station 65. Of course, if an A cigarette is at the first station, B cigarettes can be at other stations, so long as the address constant selection array 120 is properly programmed. The important relationship is that A and B cigarettes alternate.

The counter 1118, as previously indicated, registers a count for each cigarette interval timing pulse, and thus accumulates the count of the cigarette interval move ments up to its maximum state N, after which it begins again from zero.

At the control pulse generator 121, the interval timing pulses are applied to reset JK flip-flop circuits 156 and 157 and through an inverter 158 to reset a timing counter 159. The timing counter 159 counts clock pulses applied to its clock input terminal and develops output signals in 4-bit parallel form on output conductors 160. The clock pulses are generated by an oscillator 161 and the flip-flops 156 and 157. When the counter 159 reaches a count of 10, the output conductors corresponding to numbers 2 and 8 go positive. This is noted by a NAND gate 162 which thereupon applies a negative pulse to the oscillator 161, disabling the oscillator and stopping the clock. The next cigarette pulse from the timing generator 40 resets the counter 159 to O, returning the output of the NAND gate 162 to positive, and restarting the oscillator 161. The square wave output from the oscillator 161 is divided by two by the JK flip-flop 156. When the output of the flip-flop 156 is high, the flip-flop 157 will toggle on the leading edge of the oscillator pulses as inverted by an inverter 163. The pulses from the flip-flop 157 are the clock pulses applied to the clock input terminal of the counter 159 causing the counter to increment one count at a time until it reaches a count of 10, whereupon it again stops the oscillator via the NAND gate 162 until the next cigarette pulse appears. The frequency of the oscillator is not particularly critical. It must be high enough that the cycle of operation is completed before the next cigarette pulse, yet slow enough to permit the necessary actions to be taken without interference from switching transients.

The output of the counter 159 is applied in 4-bit parallel form to a ten-channel decoder 166 which provides control signals in the form of sequential pulses on each of the ten output terminals 0A, 0B, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, in that order. The true state of the pulses is the low, negative, 0" or ground state in logic parlance, indicated as on the drawings as distinguished from the high, positive or I state, indicated as on the drawings. Small circles on the various components shown in the drawings indicate the true state to be low at those points. Upon the occurrence of a cigarette pulse, the counter 159 is reset to 0, putting the tenchannel decoder 166 in state S the state of the decoder being identified by the output terminal in its true, or low, state. Upon successive clock pulses into the counter 159, the decoder advances from 'state to state through state 8. When the counter 159 reaches a count of 10, the decoder is placed in no state, that is with no low signal on any of the output terminals. The decoder remains in no state until the counter 159 is reset to count 0. The successive signals on the output terminals of the decoder 166 appear successively on respective conductors 168 connected thereto. These signals are inverted by respective inverters 170 to produce posi-- tive signals on respective successive conductors. These signals are for convenience identified as Clock Pulses, S S B, S S S S S S S and 3;, respectively, and occur one at a time in that order, each designation indicating the state of the decoder 166 when producing such signal. These signals are used as control signals.

The control signals 5 through S are utilized to perform two functions on the system. First, control signals S through 5 are used to transfer the appropriate address constants preprogramed in the address constant selection array to the address subtractor 125, the address constants corresponding respectively to the distance in cigarette lengths of each of the stations from the reference point. Second, the control signals S through 8,, are fed to the input data multiplexer 94 to interrogate each of the category signals on respective input leads 87, and the control signals S S S and S are used for clearing the memory 112 and for reading out the memory to the reject device at the proper times. Since the same control signals are utilized for both of these functions, they are necessarily in synchronism, and each address signal which is applied to the memory 112 will be appropriately timed to each respective category signal being interrogated.

Turning first to the control of the address constant selection array 120, this array comprises a diode matrix formed and operated like the corresponding array described in the aforementioned US. Pat. No. 3,616,901. Respective diodes are connected between each input terminal and respective output terminals in accordance with the respective predetermined number of article intervals, or delays, between the reference point or station and each of the other stations, including both the sensing stations and the operating stations, for each prescribed path between the first and last stations. Thus, upon application of a signal corresponding to a respective control signal 5,. through S to a respective inputterminal, the preprogramed address constant for the respective stations will appear as a parallel 9-bit output signal on the output leads forming line 124 that are connected through the diodes to the respective input terminal. In the present embodiment, the output signals for the respective address constants for each station equals the number (in binary form) of cigarette intervals delay between the reference point and each respective station for either the A or B cigarette paths.

The particular array 120 illustrated is shown as having 13 input terminals of which terminals 1, 2 and 3 are single and terminals 4A, 48, 5A, 58, 6A, 68, 7A, 78, 8A and 8B are paired as indicated by the A and B designations so that the system may be utilized with five stations positioned downstream of a plural path arrangement such as is shown in FIG. 1 for the A and B cigarettes. However, in the FIG. I arrangement, only three stations, i.e., the loose-end station 62 and the reject stations 64 and 65, would require such paired inputs to determine the proper station address. Since the system illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5 is adapted to be used with various layouts and additional sensing or rejecting stations other than depicted in FIG. 1, two additional alternate path inputs are provided. For each station upstream of the fork in the path, except the station at the reference point, the output terminals 1, 2 and 3 of the ten-channel decoder are connected directly to the corresponding input terminals l, 2 and 3 of the array 120 through respective conductors of the line 122. For the downstream stations, the respective control signals, 8,

through S and a second signal from either the A terminal or the B terminal of the alternate switching circuit 152 are applied to respective NAND gates 172A and 1723. Consequently, for each A cigarette at the first sensing station the A NAND gates are enabled, and for each B cigarette, the B NAND gates are enabled, so as to apply the control signal to the proper input terminal of the array having the necessary preprogramed offset or delay occasioned by the alternate path.

In practice, the diode array 120 is preferably in the form of a plug-in card having a diode connected at every matrix point. Then, for any particular sensing station and operating station layout as may be desired for any particular machine or production line, the appropriate diodes may be removed (or merely their circuit connections broken) to provide the respective station address constants at the 9-bit parallel binary output, which may be the exact number of cigarette intervals between each respective station and the reference point, as previously indicated.

The address constant selection array 120 also includes an inverter 174, as shown, in each of the nine output lines to provide the appropriate logic levels for the system. These inverters may or may not be a physical part of the plugin card itself, as desired. Each of the parallel output address constant signals are fed to a set of parallel inverters 190 which produces the ones complement of the 9-bit signal by inversion of each bit. The ones complement of each address constant is then fed to a full adder 192 which adds a l to the ones complement to produce the twos complement of the respective address constants. The added binary l is a carry-in supplied by a constant level voltage source 194. The adder 192 also receives the registered count from the N state counter 108 as a 9-bit parallel binary signal. Using twos complement binary arithmetic, and adding, the adder 192 effectively subtracts the registered count on the counter 108 and the output of the address constant selection array 120, since the sum of the twos complement of a binary number and another binary number equals the difference between the numbers, provided any carry-out is ignored.

Thus, the output of the adder 192 will be the appropriate memory address for each cigarette interval movement, and will be a binary number equal to the state of the counter minus the respective cigarette interval delay. The output of the adder 192 is a 9-bit parallel binary signal through Y which is fed over the line 115 to the corresponding terminals of the memory 112 as shown in FIG. 5.

Before describing the other function of the control signals, it will be helpful to consider the relative timing of the various control signals as shown in the timing diagram of FIG. 6. FIG. 6A illustrates the cigarette pulse appearing on the line 89. It starts the timing for each cycle of the control pulse generator 121. The cigarette pulse as inverted by the inverter 90 resets the flip-flops 156, 157 and the timing counter 159. This starts the oscillator 161, which thereupon produces inverted oscillator signals at the output ofthe inverter 163. These are shown in FIG. 6B.

The first negative-going transition of the inverted o cillator signal toggles the flip-flop 157 to drive its Q output positive whereas the first negative-going transition of the oscillator signal itself toggles the flip-flop 156 to drive its 6 output positive. The next negativegoing transition on the conductor 196 drives the 6 output of the flip-flop 156 low, and each negative-going transition thereafter changing the state of the flip-flop 156. On the other hand, the flip-flop 157 changes state only when the Q terminal of the flip-flop 156 is positive. This produces pulses as sllown in FIG. 6C, which are the pulses appearing at the 0 output of the flip-flop 157, connected to the line 145. The signal changes state with every other negative-going transition of the inverted oscillator signal. At the same time the 0 output of the flip-flop 156 is shown in FIG. 6D, connected to the line 128. These control signals in FIG. 6D are positive pulses occurring in the center of each of the states of the flip-flop 157 as shown in FIG. 6C, changing state with each negative-going transition of the oscillator signal applied to its T terminal. The control signal at the 6 output of the flip-flop 157 as applied to the line 134 is the reciprocal of the signal on line 145.

The timing counter advances for each negativegoing transition of the signal shown in FIG. 6C and therefo advances one state for each cycle of the signal at the Q output of the flip-flop 157. The resetting of the counter 159 by the cigarette pulse places the ten-channel decoder 1 66 in state S where it remains until the signal at the Q output of the flip-flop 157 next has a negativegoing transition. Each negative-going transition of that 6 output advances the ten-channel decoder 166 one state until the counter 159 reaches a count of ten. At count ten the decoder 166 is placed in no state, where it remains until the next cigarette pulse. This is shown in FIG. 6B.

Eigept for the first part of the state S the signal at the Q output of flip-flop 157 alternates positive and negative for halves of the state, being low or negative the first half and high or positive the second half. The signal on line 145 may therefore be'identified as Second Half For the same reason the reciprocal signal on line 134 may be called First Half Although the part of the state S before the Second I-Ialf goes positive need not be exactly half the period of the state, by analogy it will be referred to hereinafter as the first half of state S As the positive-going pulses on the Q terminal of flip-flop 156, appearing on line 128, are used as a strobe signal, that signal on line 128 may be called Strobe".

Turning now to FIG. 5 and the timing of writing into the memory and reading therefrom and selection of upper and lower memory for particular signals, the 2N word addressable nondestructive memory 112 is shown as a 1 by 1024 random access memory. The addressing terminals of the memory 112 are terminals Y to Y The change of signal on any one terminal changes the addressed cell from one to the other of two groups of cells otherwise having corresponding addresses. Terminal Y is thus used to divide the memory into two practically identical parts, upper and lower memory, the parts otherwise having corresponding addresses. When the terminal Y is high, the upper memory is addressed. When the terminal Y is low, the lower memory is addressed. Terminal Y may therefore be known as the Upper/Lower terminal. The address of a particular cell is selected by the signal applied to terminals Y Y in 9-bit parallel form over the conductors of line from the address subtractor 125.

The signal applied to the Read/Write terminal of the memory 112 determines whether the memory is in a reading or writing mode. When the Read/Write terminal is low, the signal applied to the Data In terminal of the memory is written into the addressed cell. When the Read/Write terminal is high, the signal in the addressed cell is read out of the Data Out terminal. As will be explained further below, the Strobe signal (FIG. 6D) on line 128 is utilized to assure that the writing in and the utilization of the reading out is effected only after switching transients have been dissipated.

The Data In signal as shown by FIG. 6G is made low for state S and the first half of state S so that the respective memories may be erased during those intervals. Thereafter, the Data In terminal is made high during the writing intervals of the second half of state S and the states S S The development of the signal on the Data In terminal will be explained further below.

FIG. 6H shows the signals applied to the Read/Write terminal. As explained further below, the terminal is normally in the high, or read, state. It is placed in the write state during the second half of state S and the first half of state S to clear the respective cells in the upper and lower memories. During the writing intervals (the second half of state S and the states S S whenever there is a failure to meet standards, the Read/Write terminal is driven negative to the write state, as indicated by the dashed pulses in FIG. 6H, and the high or I state of the Data In is applied to the addressed cell. When standards are met, the Read/Write terminal remains in the read state, and the addressed cell remains in the same state it was in.

To explain this in greater detail, following each cigarette pulse (FIG. 6A) and consequently upon each change of state of the N state counter 108, a O is written at the addresses in upper and lower memory corresponding to the number in the counter. During states S and S no delay is received from the address constant selection array 120; thus, the memory address on terminals Y Y,, is the same address as the number in the counter 108. During the second half of state S the 0 is written in upper memory. This happens because the signal S is high during the state S The high S signal is applied over a line 196 from the control pulse generator 121 to the input data multiplexer 94 where it is inverted by an inverter 197 and applied through a wired-OR gate 199 as a low or O to the Data In terminal of the memory I12. At the same time the inverted signal is applied through an inverting OR gate 198 to a NAND gate 200. The high signal is anded with the Strobe", and a low signal is thereby applied to the Read/Write terminal of the memory 112, placing the memory in its write state. This causes the O on the Data In terminal to be written into the addressed cell. Note that the Strobe" pulse occurs only during the second half of state S so nothing is written during the first half of state S During the state S all of the signals S 5,, are low and the Upper/Lower terminal is therefore high, as will appear below. The upper memory is therefore addressed, and the 0 is written in the addressed cell in the upper memory.

During the first half of state S a O is written in lower memory. At this time, a NAND gate 202 in the upper/lower memory selector 117 ands the high S on a line 203 and the high First I'Ialf on line 135 to bring the Upper/Lower terminal low through a wired-OR gate 204, causing lower memory to be addressed. The high S is also anded by a NAND gate 206 with the First I-Ialf applied over a line 207. This drives the Data In terminal low and writes a 0 in the addressed lower memory cell with the next Strobe pulse, which is anded by the NAND gate 200 with the signal through the OR gate 198 to drive the Read/Write terminal low. i.e., to the write state.

During the second half of state S cigarette weight classification is written into the memory 112. In the embodiment illustrated there are four weight standards for rejecting the cigarettes on a weight basis. The cigarette may be too heavy, or it may be too light. Segments of the cigarette may be too heavy ortoo light. If the cigarette does not meet all the standards, the CR1) con ductor of line 87 goes positive. If any segment of the cigarette does not meet the standards, conductor SRL of line 87 goes positive. If the cigarette is light, a positive pulse appears on the Low Rej. Pulse conductor of line 87. If the cigarette is too heavy, a positive pulse appears on the High Rej. Pulse conductor of line 87. Obviously, if the cigarette is either too heavy or too light, the conductor CRL goes positive.

The CRL and SRL signals are anded with the S signal by NAND gates 208 and 210, respectively; so that if either the cigarette or a segment thereofdoes not meet standards, the output of at least one of the NAN D gates 208 and 210 goes negative. The junction 212 combining the outputs of these two gates acts as a wired-OR gate. The junction 212 is connected to an input of the OR gate 198 which therefore produces a positive output signal when either the cigarette or segments thereof do not meet specifications. The NAND gate 200 therefore puts the memory 112 in the write state upon the appearance of the Strobe pulse on the conductor 128 during the second half of the 5 state. At this time the First Half signal on line is low, making the output of NAND gate 202 positive and permitting the upper memory to be addressed. Which memory is addressed is selectable by the operators operation of the remote reject selection circuit 71, as will be explained further below.

During the second half of state S there is nothing driving the Data In terminal low, and it therefore goes high. Thus, when the cigarette or the segments thereof do not meet the weight standards, a I is written in the upper memory for the addressed cell. Of course, if both the cigarette and the segments thereof meet the standards, the signals on the respective lines 87 are low and the outputs of the respective NAND gates 208 and 210 are high. Under these conditions, during the second half of state S both inputs to the OR gate 198 are high making its output low, in turn keeping the ouptut of the NAND gate 200 high and placing the memory in its read state. Nothing is then written into the addressed cell of the memory even though a high or reject signal appears at the Data In terminal of the memory 112. It may be instructive to repeat that the Data In input is high throughout the writing intervals of the second half of state S and the entire states S, S Low or accept signals are never written in during these intervals. Only rejects are written in, if anything. If a rejectis to be written in, the Read/Write terminal is driven low. If the standards are met, the Read/Write terminal remains high in the read state, leaving the addressed cell as it was.

Whether a reject (l or high) is written into the upper or the lower memory is determined by the operators closing of one of the switches 73 of the remote reject selection circuit 71. In the embodiment shown, he may select any one or more of the bases for rejection. In respect to cigarette weight, he may select the Select Low Reject, the Select High Reject or the Select Segment Reject. These are then combined with respective reject levels, that is, signal levels indicative of rejection for failure to meet a particular standard. (In FIG. 2, the switch 73 corresponding to the Select Low Reject is shown as closed, i.e., in the select position,)

The low reject level is derived from the Low Reject Pulse appearing on the respective line 87 and the inverted cigarette pulse (Cig. Pulse) appearing on the line 96. The inverted cigarette pulse applied to the input terminal 214 of a flip-flop 216 drives output terminal 218 thereof low, where it remains if the respective standard is met. On the other hand, if the cigarette being examined is too light, a positive low reject pulse (Low Rej. Pulse inverted by an inverter 220, drives the flip-flop to its other state, making the output terminal 218 high. This is the low reject level signal indicative of a cigarette lighter than the corresponding standard. Similarly, the output terminal 222 of a flip-flop 224 is driven high by a high reject pulse (High Rej. Pulse). This is the high reject level signal indicative of a cigarette heavier than the corresponding standard.-

If the operator selects the Select Low Reject, the corresponding conductor of the line 72 goes low. This is inverted to a high by an inverter 226 and applied to a NAND gate 228. The low reject level is applied over a conductor of the line 136 to the other input of the NAND gate 228. In consequence, if the low reject level signal is in a high state, the output of the NAND gate 228 goes low. That low output is applied through a wired-OR gate 229 and a conductor 230 to one input of a NAND gate 232. Similarly, whenever the operator selects the Select High Reject or the Select Segment Reject and the corresponding high reject level or segment reject level (SRU') is high, the conductor 230 is driven low. Otherwise, the conductor 230 is high. The S signal is applied over a line 234 to the other input of the NAND gate 232. In consequence, whenever any of the three cigarette weight reject selections is selected (Select Low Reject, Select High Reject or Select Segment Reject) and the corresponding reject level is high indicating a reject, conductor 230 is driven low and the output of the NAND gate 232 goes high during the state S As there is no low signal applied to the wired-OR gate 204 during the second half of the state S its output remains high, and the upper memory is addressed. A reject or 1 is written in the addressed cell of the upper memory, leaving the corresponding cell of the lower memory in its 0 state.

When none of the three cigarette weight rejection selections is selected, the conductor 230 remains high, driving the output of the NAND gate 232 low during the state S and the lower memory is addressed If a cigarette reject level signal CRL or segment reject level signal SRL indicative of rejection is received when the cigarette weight rejection selections have not been selected, the memory is placed in its write state and writes a reject or 1 into the lower memory, leaving the corresponding cell of the upper memory in its 0 state.

Of course, if the cigarette meets all weight standards, the Read/Write input remains high, in the read state, and nothing is written into either upper or lower memory.

Reject signals occasioned by failure to meet other respective ones of the standards are similarly written into the addressed cells of the memory 112 during successive states S, to S,,. The reject level signals indicating failure to meet the respective standards are applied to the respective conductors ARl" to AR6 of line 87.

These signals are applied to respective NAND gates 236 to which respective timing pulses S to S, are applied over respective conductors of line 127. The outputs of the NAND gates 236 are all applied to the wired-OR gate 212. The inputs to the wired-OR gate 212 thus remain high during states S, to S, except when a respective auxiliary reject level ARI to AR6 is positive, indicative of failure to meet a respective standard. during the period of the respective timing pulse S, to S,,. For example, if the signal ARl corresponds with failure of the output of the print detector 37 to meet the appropriate standard or standards, the input of the wired-OR gate 212 goes negative during state 8,, when the cigarette is to be rejected on the basis of erroneous printing. On the other hand when the respective standard is met, the input to the wired-OR gate 212 remains high during state S,, for the output of the NAND gate 236 connected to conductor ARI of line 87 remains high because of the low input on conductor ARI and the output of the remaining NAND gates 236 and NAND gates 208 and 210 remain high because the conductors S and S to S of line 127 are all low during state S,. If state S, corresponds to the print detector measurement, the address selected in the address constant selection array 120, by application of the state S, signal from the ten-channel decoder 166 over the line 122, corresponds to the difference in cigarette intervals between the position of the first sensing station 30 and the second sensing station 36. During the time a cigarette being inspected passes from the first sensing station 30 to the second sensing station 36, the N state counter 108 counts this same number of cigarette intervals. Thus, when a given cigarette is at the second sensing station, the difference between the count in the N state counter and the address selected in the array, which difference forms the memory address signal on line 115, causes the same memory cell to be addressed during state S, as was previously addressed for that cigarette during states S and S when the cigarette was at the first station. The same is true'in respect to the successive sensing and operating stations.

Whether or not the upper or lower memory is addressed during writing is determined by the operators selection of the switches 73 grounding the respective conductors of line 72. If, for example, the operator wishes to select cigarettes having printing defects, corresponding to highs in channel ARl, he closes the switch grounding the conductor SELECT AUX. 01 of line 72, driving the selection signal SELOl low. The

selected signals SELOl to SELO6' are thus provided at the selection of the operator to respective NAND gates 238 to which respective high timing pulses S, to S are applied over the respective conductors of the line 133. The respective NAND gates 238 are successively enabled by the timing pulses S, to S during the respective states S, to S When the corresponding select signal SELOl to SEL06 is low, i.e., selected, the output of the enabled gate remains high. If the channel is not selected, the output goes low. The outputs of the NAND gates 238 are combined at a wired-OR gate 240. The output signal from the gate 240 thus remains high except during the state S, to 5,, when a respective switch 73 is not closed, that is, is not selected. The output of the wired-OR gate 240 is inverted by an inverter 242 and applied to one input terminal of a NAND gate 244, the other input to the NAND gate 244 being normally positive. The output of the NAND gate 244 is applied through the wired-OR gate 204 to the Upper/- Lower terminal Y of the memory 112. Under these conditions the lower memory is addressed except during a respective state S to S when a respective switch 73 is closed, in which event the upper memory is addressed.

Thus, closing a respective switch 73 causes a reject of l to be written in the addressed cell of the upper memory when a corresponding reject level indicating failure to meet a respective standard is applied on a corresponding conductor of line 87. If the operator does not close the respective switch 73, the reject is written into the addressed cell of the lower memory. If the reject level signal on the respective conductor of the line 87 remains low, indicating that the corresponding standards are met, the condition of the addressed cell remains unchanged.

Reject level signals from the comparator 80 are applied over the respective lines 87 and combined in the respective NAND gates 236 with the proper timing pulses S to S The sensing stations prior to the split in the path of travel conveniently are made to correspond to the states S to S as to which there is but a single address in the address constant selection array 120. Sensing stations following the split in the path must correspond with states S to S as to which the address constant selection array 120 has alternative A and B addresses. Of course, any state prior to the split in the path may be utilized in states 8, to S by having the respective A and 8 addresses identical.

Summarizing the writing in of the rejection level information, the select switches 73 determine whether particular causal information is written into upper or lower memory. If the select line for the particular cause is brought low by closing the respective switch 73 and the particular cigarette has that particular problem, then a reject or 1 is written into upper memory for the cell corresponding to that cigarette. If the cigarette has some other detected problem, a reject or 1 is written into the corresponding cell of the lower memory. As a cigarette may have multiple problems, this may result in ls being written into both the upper and lower memory cells corresponding to the same cigarette.

Turning now to the reading out of the memory and the utilization of the information for rejecting particular cigarettes, the upper memory is first read out during the first half of state S and then the lower memory is read out during the first half of state S In between, during the second half of state S any reject or 1 read out of the upper memory is used to erase or clear any reject or 1 in the corresponding cell of the lower memory so that the same cigarette is not twice rejected or counted twice as a reject. During the second half of state the rejection mechanisms 66 and 67 are actuated.

As previously noted, the Data Out terminal of the memory 112 is applied over a line 114 to the read-out circuit 138, and a strobe signal (STB is applied over a line 137 to the read-out circuit 138. In the read-out circuit 138, these are applied to a NAND gate 246. Thus, when the addressed cell contains a reject of l, the output of the NAND gate 246 goes low during each strobe pulse; otherwise, the output remains high. This, of course, means that the state of the addressed cells is indicated by the signal appearing at the output of the NAND gate 246 even during the write in intervals S to S However, such signal is not utilized by the readout circuit 138 until states S and S when enabling pulses are applied to the read-out circuit over conductors 139 and 140.

During the first half of state S the upper memory is read out on the output line 142 by the operation of a four-input NAND gate 248. As all inputs to the wired- OR gate 204 are high during the first half of state 8,, the upper memory is then addressed. The NAND gate 248 is enabled only during the first half of state S, by the application of high signals to three of the gates. The state S signal is applied to one gate over the line 139. The Second Half signal is inverted by an OR gate 250 and applied as a high during the first half of a state to a second terminal of the NAND gate 248. The Second Half signal is also applied to a NAND gate 252, the output of which is applied to a third input terminal of the NAND gate 248, the low during the first half of the Second Half signal making the output of the NAND gate 252 high during the first half of the state. With the NAND gate 248 thus enabled during the first half of state S the reading out of a reject or 1 during the strobe pulse occurring in the first half of state S 7 produces a low at the output of the NAND gate 246. This output is inverted by an inverter 253 and applied to the fourth input terminal of the NAND gate 248. The output of the NAND gate 248 thus goes low only during the first half of state S, and then only when a reject is being read out of the addressed cell of the upper memory, as illustrated in FIG. 6]. This signal is applied as a low over the conductor 142 to the rejection mechanism control 148. If there is no reject written in the addressed cell of the upper memory, the output signal on the lead 142 remains high.

During the second half of state S any reject written in the corresponding cell of the lower memory is erased if there was a 1 read out of the upper memory during the first half of state This condition is sensed by a JK flip-flop circuit 254. Prior to state S,, in fact, during the previous state S the JK flip-flop is set by a negative pulse applied over a line 256 from the output terminal 8 of the ten-channel decoder 166. This negative pulse applied to the set terminal of the JK flip-flop 254 places the 6 output in its 0 state. When the next state 3, comes around, a high is applied over the line 139 to the K input of the JK flip-flop 254. If, during the first half ofthe state S a reject is read out of the upper memory, a l is applied to the T terminal of the JK flip-flop 254 during the strobe pulse on the line 136. At the end of the strobe pulse the signal on the T terminal goes low, causing the 6 terminal to go high, where it is held by the low signal applied to the J terminal of JK flip-flop 254 until the set pulse is again applied over line 256 during the state S The 6 signal is applied to the NAND gate 252. Thus, when the Second Half signal on the line 145 goes positive during the second half of state S the output of the NAND gate 252 goes negative.

This negative signal is applied over a line 258 to the input data multiplexer 94, where it is applied to the wired-OR gate 199 to drive the Data In terminal of the memory 112 low, as shown in FIG. 66. At the same time the negative pulse on the line 258 is applied to the OR gate 198. It is there inverted and applied as a positive pulse to the NAND gate 200. Upon the occurrence of the next strobe pulse on the line 129, the output of the NAND gate 200 applies a low or write signal over the line 116 to the Read/Write terminal of the memory 112. At the same time the Upper/Lower terminal of the memory 112 is placed in its lower state by operation of a NAND gate 260. The inputs of the NAND gate 260 are the Second Halt signal received over a line 262 and the 8, signal applied over a line 264. Thus, during the second half of state S if a l was read from the upper memory during the first half of state S the cor.

responding cell of the lower memory is made 0, whatever its previous state. This is illustrated in FIG. 6H.

The lower memory is read during the first half of state S by operation of a four-input NAND gate 266. The NAND gate 266 is enabled only during the first half of state S by reason of the application of highs to three of the input terminals. The 8 signal is applied over the line 141 to one input of the NAND gate 266. The First Halt signal is applied over the line 144 to a second input of the NAND gate 266. A third input terminal is kept normally positive. The fourth input is the signal from the inverter 253. Thus, the output of the NAND gate 266 appearing on the line 143 goes negative for the duration of the strobe pulse on the conductor 137 whenever the addressed cell of the lower memory is in its reject state during the first half of state S This is shown in FIG. 6]. The lower memory is addressed during state S by reason of the application of the state 8,, pulse over a line 268 to the upper/lower memory selector 117. The positive pulse on the line 268 is applied through an inverter 270 to the wired-OR gate 204 to drive the Upper/Lower terminal of the memory 112 to its lower state.

During the last half of state S a NAND gate 272 and an inverter 274 produce a Delayed Strobe pulse. The S pulse on the line 140 is applied to one input terminal of the NAND gate 272 and the Second Half pulse on line 145 is applied to the other terminal of the NAND gate 272. When both signals are high, as occurs only during the last half of state S the NAND gate 272 produces a low, which is inverted by the inverter 272 to provide a high Delayed Read Strobe signal during the last half of state S as illustrated by FIG. 6K. This Delayed Read Strobe signal is applied over a line 146 to the rejection mechanism control 148.

The rejection mechanism control may operate substantially as illustrated in the aforementioned US Pat. No. 3,616,901 to produce on the respective lines 149 and 150 appropriate signals for producing air blasts of suitable duration whenever the cigarette at the respective operating station 64 or 65 is indicated by the read out of the memory 112 to be a reject. To this end, the reject signals on the lines 142 anad 143 may be applied to holding circuits, such as flip-flop circuits, where the reject signals are held until the Delayed Read Strobe signal on the line 146 enables the rejection mechanism control 148 to act, whereupon the air blasts are thereafter generated at the appropriate times as directed by the programing of the rejection mechanism control.

At the end of state S the timing counter 159 reaches 10, driving the output of the NAND gate 162 low and stopping the oscillator 161, as described above and illustrated by FlG. 6L. This completes the cycle, and the apparatus remains dormant until the occurrence of the next cigarette pulse, whereupon the cycle is repeated.

To complete the description of the circuit illustrated, the CLR/SAMP" conductor of line 72 is normally positive whereby the circuit operates as described above. For some purposes, it is desired to provide a different mode of operation. When the CLR/SAMP' conductor is driven low by closing the respective switch 73, this low is applied to the NAND gate 244 to keep its output high at all times. The result of this is that all of the auxiliary reject signals on conductors ARI to AR6 of line 87 are entered in the upper memory. At the same time the low on the CLR/SAMP' conductor of line 72 is inverted by an inverter 276 and applied to one input of a NAND gate 278, the other input terminal of which receives the S signal over the line 203. The result of this is that the output of the NAND gate 278 goes low during state S thus overriding any high output of NAND gate 232 and placing all cigarette classification information in the lower memory.

A CLEAR conductor of line 72 is normally high. It is connected by a line 280 to one input of the OR gate 250 and to one input of the NAND gate 266. When this conductor is high, the circuit operates as described above. When, however, the conductor is placed in the low state by closure of the respective switch 73, and NAND gate 266 is disabled and rejection occurs only from the upper memory.

A classifier system has been described employing a Read/Write memory which has two parts each containing a number of memory cells at least equal to the number of cigarettes in the delay path between the first sensing station and the ultimate rejection station. The input and output controls of the memory are achieved by the use of a cyclic switching means which operates a memory address control and an input data multiplexer which is thus maintained in synchronism with the memory address control. Whether information is placed in one or the other parts of the memory is at the selection of the operator. The memory address control includes preprogramed station address constants, a counter and a subtractor, and the counter preferably has as many states as cells in each part of the memory, so that if there are N memory cells in each part of the memory, the counter registers N states before it recycles. With the binary circuitry employed in the illustrated embodiment, the subtractor advantageously performs subtraction of the constants from the count register by using twos complement binary arithmetic; that is, inverting the binary constants to obtain the ones complement, adding one to obtain the twos complement, and adding this sum to the registered count.

Each time a cigarette moves through one cigarette interval, the counter is incremented by one state. Then within the time period of this cigarette interval the weight accept/reject information is stored in the memory at the cell address corresponding to the state of the counter (assuming that this station is taken as the reference point for the system). The category signals for the other sensing stations are then sequentially interrogated, and a reject category signal is written in the memory cell of one or the other parts of the memory corresponding to the present counter state minus the number of cigarettes delay existing between the reference point and each of the respective stations in sequence. Thus, this operation logically ORs all classification information for a given cigarette from all sensors into one or the other of two memory cells as the cigarette reaches each respective station in turn. Then,

I the accept/reject information is read from the memory cells corresponding to the present counter state minus the number of cigarettes delay between the reference point and the respective operating stations, and if there are two different delays, such as for successive A and B of a pair, a suitable alternate delay or offset is subtracted, depending on whether the cigarette in the operating station is an A or B cigarette.

in a particular construction of an apparatus embodying the principles of the present invention, a 1024 cell memory of two practically identical 512 cell parts was employed to accommodate a weight classification sensor and six optional additional sensors located any place on the line before the reject mechanism. The memory address signal or 9-bit word is obtained, in the manner previously described, by adding 9 bits from the counter to 9 bits from the diode array and a carry-in. The counter can be in any binary state through 511, and the diode array output can also vary between 0 and 51 1. As a specific example of an application of such apparatus, assume that the reference point is at the first sensing station 30, which may be taken as the weight classification station, and that for A cigarettes the second rejection station 65 is located 437 cigarette intervals downstream from the weight classification station. Referring to the address constant selection diode array 120 in FIG. 4, no diodes would be connected for the weight classification station address constant (since it is 0 predetermined intervals from the reference), and this is equivalent to having all logical Os on the output line 124 from the diode array. Therefore, there are all logical 1's on the respective output lines from the set of inverters 190. When the l carry-in from carry-in 194 is added to the least significant bit of the inverted output, the sum is 0 since the carry-out 1 bit is ignored in reading out only 9 bits. Thus, the memory address from the adder 192 during states S and S is simply the contents of the counter 108.

The memory address is modified for each of the other stations by arranging the diode array 120 so that the number to be subtracted from the counter contents is the binary representation of the number of cigarette intervals from the reference point to the station. This is accomplished by providing a diode wherever there is a 1-bit in the binary representation of the address constant. Thus, if we consider the reject mechanism at 437 cigarette intervals away from the weight classification in our example, then in the state of the system corresponding to the occurrence of the control signal S the number 437 should be subtracted from the counter state to obtain the memory address. To do this, the binary equivalent of 437 is obtained. This number to the base 2 is 110110101. Then, as shown in FIG. 4, diodes are placed in the 1, 4, 16, 32, 128, and 256 places of the diode array 120 from input terminal 8A to each respective output terminal, the output terminals going from the least to the most significant bit from the bottom to top as illustrated.

Also shown, are the diode connections for the alternate path for B cigarettes, the diodes being connected from input terminal 88 to the respective output terminals. in this example, it is assumed that there is a 10- cigarette interval difference between the B and A cigarette paths with the B path 10 intervals longer. Thus, with respect to B cigarettes, the rejection station is 447 cigarette intervals from the weight classification station. The number 447 to the base 2 is 1101111 11. Referring to the input terminal 8B, it can be seen that a diode is present for each of the places except for the 64 place, which is 0, and no diode is there employed.

Any other delay can be programed in the same manner, and it is necessary only to know in which state of the cyclic switching means it is desired to have the memory modified, and the distance from the respective station to the reference point.

Although in the present embodiment the control signals from the cyclic switching means followed a predetermined sequence corresponding to the order of the stations along the production line, this does not necessarily have to be the case, and these control signals may bear a scrambled relation to the actual order of the sensing stations. Furthermore, although a particular type of nondestructive type of memory has been disclosed, other types of memory may alternatively be employed. Additionally, suitable counters may be coupled to the outputs of the read-out circuit 138 to provide an indication of the toal number of rejects rejected at each station.

Although particular logic circuits principally utilizing NAND gates have been herein illustrated and described for implementation of the present embodiment of the invention, it is of course understood that many other equivalent logic configurations, utilizing other types of logic gates as well as NAND gates, may be alternatively employed. For example, it is possible to invert the logic and write accept signals into the memory cells. These and other modifications of the various aspects of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art; and thus, the scopeof the invention should be defined only by the appended claims, and equivalents thereof.

Although the categories specifically mentioned herein have been reject and accept, the product need not be rejected at all but merely separated from the rest. Further, the selection at the first operating station may remove articles from the stream having certain particular properties and the second operating station may remove articles having certain other particular properties, all at the election of the operator.

There may be more than one sensor at the same sensing station, and more than one category signal may be written in at a given sensing station.

Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.

What is claimed is:

1.1n a system for classifying a plurality of articles into either of two categories according to sensed characteristics of each article, which articles are moved successively along at least one prescribed path past at least one sensing station and first and second operating stations, said system having sensing means disposed along said path responsive to a plurality of given characteristics of each article by providing respective information signals indicative of said given characteristics, categorizing means responsive to each of said infor' mation signals for providing a category signal indicative of the category of the respective article.

first and second operating means at the respective first and second operating stations for acting on an article according to the category of the respective article,

and memory means having a plurality of addressable memory cells in first and second sets, with each cell in one set having an address corresponding to the address of a respective cell in the other set, input means by which signals may be written into the memory cells of one or the other of said sets for storage, output means by which the stored signals may be read out, and address selection means for selecting the cells into which the signals are written and from which the stored signals are read, apparatus comprising selectively operable selection means for directing the writing of said category signals corresponding to a respective selected given characteristic of the articles into respective cells of a selected one of said first and second sets of cells selected at the election of the operator, which cells have addresses corresponding to respective ones of said articles, I

means for utilizing the signals read from said cells of said first set to actuate said first operating means when the respective articles are at said first operating station, and

means for utilizing signals read from said cells of said second set of cells to actuate said second operating means when the respective articles are at said second operating station,

whereby at the respective operating stations the articles are acted upon according to their categories in respect to the respective particular given characteristics selected by the operator.

2. In a system for classifying a plurality of articles into either of select and pass categories according to sensed characteristics of each article, which articles are moved successively along at least one prescribed path past at least one sensing station and first and second operating stations, said second operating station being the last of said stations along said path, said system having a plurality of sensing means each responsive to a given characteristic of each article at a respective sensing station by providing respective information signals indicative of said given characteristic, categorizing means responsive to each of said information signals for providing a select signal whenever the respective article is in said select category, first and second operating means at the respective first and second operating stations for removing an article in the select category from said path,

and memory means having a plurality of addressable memory cells in first and second sets, with each cell in one set having an address corresponding to the address of a respective cell in the other set, input means by which signals may be written into the memory cells of one or the other of said sets for storage, output means by which the stored signals may be read out, and address selection means for selecting the cells into which the signals are written and from which the stored signals are read, apparatus comprising selectively operable selection means for directing the writing of said select signals corresponding to a respective selected given characteristic of the articles into respective cells of a selected one of said first and second sets of cells selected at the election of the operator, which cells have addresses corresponding to respective ones of said articles, means for utilizing the stored select signals read from said cells of said first set to actuate said first operating means when the respective articles are at said first operating station to remove from the path such articles in the select category in respect to a selected given characteristic as to which select signals are directed to cells in said first set and means for utilizing stored select signals read from said cells of said second set of cells to actuate said second operating means when the respective articles are at said second operating station to remove from the path such articles in the select category in respect to a selected given characteristic as to which select signals are directed to cells in said second set.

3. Apparatus according to claim 2 including means responsive to said stored signals read from said cells of said first set for clearing the memory cells of corresponding address in said second set prior to the utilization of the signals stored therein by said means responsive thereto.

4. In a system for classifying a plurality of articles into either of first and second categories according to sensed characteristics of each article, which articles are moved successively along at least one prescribed path past a reference point, at least one sensing station, and first and second operating stations, each of said sensing and operating stations being located at a respective predetermined number of article intervals from said reference point, said second operating station being the last of said stations along said path, said system having timing means synchronized with the movement of the articles along said path for providing timing pulses indicative of each article interval movement along said path,

a plurality of sensing means each responsive to a respective given characteristic of the article at a respective sensing station by providing a respective information signal indicative of said respective given characteristic,

categorizing means responsive to each of said infor mation signals for providing a first category signal whenever the article at a respective sensing station is in said first category,

first and second operating means at the respective first and second operating stations for acting on an article at said operating station according to the category of the respective article,

a counter responsive to said timing pulses for counting each article interval movement and providing a count signal indicative of the number registered in the counter,

memory means having a plurality of addressable memory cells in first and second sets, the cells in said sets having corresponding addresses, input means by which signals may be written into said memory cells for storage, output means by which the stored signals may be read out, and address selection means for selecting the cells into which the signals are written and from which the stored signals are read,

programed addressing means for providing a station address signal corresponding to each respective predetermined number of article intervals.

cyclic switching means responsive to a timing pulse to provide a plurality of timing control signals successively in a predetermined sequence,

combining means responsive to said timing control signals for combining said count signal and respective station address signals to produce respective memory address signals corresponding to the difference between the number registered in the

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3616901 *Mar 23, 1970Nov 2, 1971Industrial Nucleonics CorpArticle-classifying system and method
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4273649 *Nov 24, 1978Jun 16, 1981Leverett William HApparatus and process for weighing articles successively
US6420866 *Sep 21, 1998Jul 16, 2002Reliance Electric Technologies, LlcApparatus and method for detecting metallized containers in closed packages
US7079912 *Nov 25, 2002Jul 18, 2006Philip Morris Usa Inc.System and method for high speed control and rejection
EP0489267A1 *Nov 7, 1991Jun 10, 1992Halton OyA method and a device for sorting returnable bottles, cans and other returnable packages
Classifications
U.S. Classification209/555, 209/576, 209/564, 209/592
International ClassificationB07C5/36, F03D3/04, F03D3/00
Cooperative ClassificationF03D3/0472, Y02E10/74, B07C5/361
European ClassificationF03D3/04E4, B07C5/36B
Legal Events
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Effective date: 19790702
Owner name: PROCESS AUTOMATION BUSINESS INC.,
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Effective date: 19880412