US 3872647 A
In a carton loading machine wherein a plurality of modular units, such as a load of bottles, are fed in continuous row into the carton loading machine, the improvement of a divider positioning means for locating a divider panel between predetermined rows of containers. The divider positioning unit includes means for engaging the divider panel disposed in a plane extending normal to the path of travel of the containers and located above the path of travel of the containers. The divider panel means are simultaneously conveyed vertically towards the containers and longitudinally in the direction of travel of the containers to be located between predetermined rows of containers as they move continuously through a divider positioning station. The divider positioning means also includes a plurality of fingers mounted for rotation into the path of travel of the divider panels to strike the sub-divider panels to cause them to move to a position extending transversely of the divider panels.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
1 Mar. 25, 1975 plurality of es, are fed in Primary Examiner-Evon C. Blunk Assistant Examiner-Richard K. Thomson Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Fetherstonhaugh & Co.
 ABSTRACT ln a carton loading machine wherein a modular units, such as a load of bottl continuous row into the carton loading machine, the improvement of a divider positioning means for locating a divider panel between predetermined rows of containers. The divider positioning unit includes means for engaging the divider panel disposed in a plane extending normal to the path of travel of the containers and located above the path of travel of the containers. The divider panel means are simultaneously conveyed vertically towards the containers and longitudinally in the direction of travel of the containers to be located between predetermined rows of containers as they move continuously through a divider positioning station.
Ave.; Jacobus J. Langen, l0 Ringway Cres., both of Rexdale, Ontario, Canada Filed: Dec. 6, 1973 Appl. No.: 422,348
Related Application Data  Division of Ser. No. 343,724, March 22, 1973, Pat.
US. 53/157, 198/34, 271/12 lnt. B65b 35/54 Field of Search.......... 53/157; 198/34, 30, I80; 214/1 BV; 271/12, 196; 221/211, 218
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS United States Patent [1 1 Langen et al.
[ CARTON LOADER  Inventors: Marinus J. M. Langen, 21 Chilcot The divider positioning means also includes a plurality of fingers mounted for rotation into the path of travel of the divider panels to strike the sub-divider panels to cause them to move to a position extending transversely of the divider panels.
l CARTON LOADER.
RELATED APPLICATIONS This application is a division of application Ser. No. 343,724, filed Mar. 22, 1973 now U.S. Pat. No. 3,845,852.
FIELD OF INVENTION This invention relates to improvements in the art of loading containers into cartons. In particular, this invention relates to improvements in the spacing and dividing of a plurality of containers prior to loading into cartons.
PRIOR ART In carton loading machinery, containers such as bottles, cans and the like are fed to the loader in a continuous stream and it is necessary to separate a group of containers which are to be located in one shipper pack age from the remainder of the containersof the continuous stream of containers. Conventionally, containers are separated into groups by intermittently interrupting the feed of the stream of containers at a point where the containers are moving along or onto a conveyor. In one known device, a plurality of fingers are adapted to extend upwardly into the path of movement of the stream of conveyors at predetermined intervals. The fingers temporarily interrupt the flow of containers and separate the containers into distinct modular units. As a result of the use of this type of apparatus, the containers which are being directed towardsthe separating or spacing station are repeatedly stopped in their path at spaced intervals of time so that a multitude of collisions occur between the containers in each row as they are advanced towards the spacing station. This repeated stopping and starting of the forward movement of the containers and the resulting collisions is particularly undesirable when containers such as glass bottles are being separated. Glass containers frequently break as a result of this operation. With the increasing use of non-returnable glasscontainers having a relatively thin wall thickness, the likelihood of breakage is quite substantial. Any attempt to speed up loading of cartons increases the number of breakages which occur by increasing the velocity of the containers at the point when the collisions occur.
A further difficulty which has been experienced in association with the end loading of cartons has been the location of a divider panel between the adjacent rows of containers. In a convention carton such as a beer carton, a longitudinal divider panel and a plurality of transverse sub-divider panels are provided to divide the container space into a plurality of bottle receiving compartments so that the bottles are spaced from one another for shipping and handling purposes. This construction has been proved to be desirable in view of the fact that it prevents container to container contact so that the damage to the container during shipping and handling as a result of movement of the container within the carton is minimized. It has, however, not
'previously been possible to locate a divider and subated relative to the following rows of containers without requiring breaking of the following rows by engaging the leading unit by spacer finger means travelling at the same speed as the leading modular unit subsequently accelerating the finger means to cause the lead ing modular unit to be accelerated relative to the following rows to be spaced therefrom. This apparatus ensures that while the modular units which are to be loaded into the containers are spaced from one another prior to loading, the spacing is achieved without breaking of the following units so that no collisions occur. In addition to the advantages previously discussed, there is a substantial reduction in the noise level of operation of the carton loading machine resulting from the elimination of the collisions. The very high noise level resulting from the continuous collision of bottles on conveyors will be well known to those familiar with bottle filling plants and any apparatus which serves to reduce this noise level will considerably improve working conditions and reduce the likelihood of injury to the hearing of operators.
The present invention also provides a simple and inexpensive method of locating a divider panel and subdivider panels between adjacent containers and adja cent rowsof containers during the continuous movement of the containers along the moving conveyor. The positioning of the divider panels is achieved by simultaneously lowering the divider panels into the spaces between adjacent rows of containers and moving the divider panel as it is lowered in the direction of movement of the containers.
The present invention also provides an improved spacer for use in dividing adjacent rows of containers and sub-dividing adjacent containers wherein the subdivider panels are arranged to extend from opposite sides of a divider panel and the first portion of the subdivider panel arranged on one side of the main body having an upper edge disposed in a plane which is lower than the lower edge of the second portion of the subdivider panel arranged in the opposite side of the main panel. As a result, by arranging adjacent panels so that the lower portion of the sub-panels is directed downstream and the higher portion of the sub-panels is directed upstream, the sub-panels will nest with one another when located between adjacent rows of containers.
According to an embodiment of the present invention, a spacer device for use in spacing a leading modular unit from following modular units of a single file row of closely adjacent modular units moving at a substantially uniform speed in a predetermined path comprises means for engaging the leading modular unit in a manner suitable for movement of the leading modular unit relative to the following modular units of the rows of units and drive means for initially driving said engaging means into engagement with said leading modular unit while moving at the same speed as said leading modular unit and subsequently accelerating said engaging means to move the leading modular unit in a direction of the predetermined path away from the following modular units and thereafter move the engaging means out of engagement with the leading modular unit-while continuing to travel at the same velocity as the leading modular unit in a direction of the predetermined path.
According to a further embodiment of the present invention, a divider positioning means is provided for locating a divider panel between predetermined adjacent rows of the container. The divider positioning means comprises divider panel engaging means for engaging a divider panel disposed in a plane extending normal to the path of travel of the containers and located above the path of travel of the containers. Conveyor means is provided for simultaneously conveying the divider panel vertically towards the containers and longitudinally in a direction of travel of the containers to be located between predetermined adjacent rows of containers as the containers move continuously through the divider locating station.
According to a further embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a carton divider comprising a main body portion and sub-divider panel means hingedly connected to said main body panel. The subdivider panel means includes a first portion adapted to project outwardly from one side of the main body panel and a second portion adapted to project outwardly from the other side of the main body. The upper edge of the first portion is disposed in a plane below the plane of the lower edge of the second portion whereby the first portion of the sub-panel of one divider may be positioned below the second portion of the sub-panel of an adjacent divider in use.
The invention will be more clearly understood after reference to the following detailed specification read in conjunction with the drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of a bottle spacing device according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic side view of a portion of the spacing device of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a pictorial side view illustrating the apparatus used for positioning the sub-panels;
FIG. 4 is a front view of the portion of the apparatus of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a side view illustrating the manner in which the sub-panels of adjacent divider panels are nested in use;
FIG. 6 is a sectioned pictorial view of a pair of pusher fingers; and
FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic illustration of the divider locating mechanism.
With reference to the drawings, the reference numeral 10 refers generally to a spacer device for use in a bottle loading machine according to an embodiment of the present invention. The spacer device 12 of the present invention is located intermediate a bottle sorter 14 which arranges the bottles in a plurality of side by side rows and an end loading convenor 16 from which the bottles, after having been spaced apart, are transversely loaded to end loading cartons. A typical end loading machine in which a spacer device of the present invention may be used to advantage is described in US. Pat. No. 3,645,368, issued Feb. 29, 1972. This prior patent discloses the sorter and a suitable end loading apparatus.
The spacer of the present invention includes a frame (not shown) in which a pair of transversely extending shafts 18 are mounted for rotation. A sprocket 20 is mounted on either end of each shaft 18. One of the shafts I8 is rotatably driven by motor 22 and a chain 24 extends around the sprockets 20. A plurality -of bearing blocks 26 are mounted on the chain 24 at longitudinally spaced intervals for movement with the chain. Each of the bearing blocks 26 has a passage 28 extending therethrough, the passages 28 in the blocks 26 on opposite chains being axially aligned with one another to pivotably receive a transversely extending support shaft 36. The support shaft 36 has a radially extending arm 32 at one end thereof terminating in a cam follower lug 34 which may be in the form of a roller.
In the embodiment illustrated which is designed for use in a device in which the bottles are arranged in four parallel rows, five fingers 30 are rigidly secured to each shaft 36, the outermost fingers 30a having an inner surface formed with a pair of concave faces 31 and each of the side faces of the inner fingers 3017 having separate concave side faces 31 as shown in FIG. 6 of the drawings so to conform generally to the curvature of the face of the containers between which the fingers are located in use. A guide rail or guide plate 40 is located between each chain and has end edges 42 spaced inwardly from the sprockets 20. The upper edge 44 is of particular importance in the present invention in that it acts as a support and guide rail for the chain 24. The upper edge has a front portion 46 which is upwardly inclined, a central portion 48 which is substantially parallel to the path in which the containers are to be moved, and a rear end portion 50 which is downwardly inclined towards the rear sprocket 20.
An important feature of the present invention is that the fingers 30 are moved in the direction of travel of the containers at a speed equal to the speed of forward motion of the containers when the fingers are being elevated during passage along the upwardly inclined portion 46 of the guide rail. This is achieved by adjusting the linear speed of the chain and the angle of inclination of the upwardly inclined portion 46.
At the rear end of the guide rail, the downwardly inclined portion is inclined at an angle sufficient to ensure that the fingers 30 are disposed below the level of the next following modular unit of containers before the following unit of containers has advanced to make contact with the finger which is being withdrawn.
In order to ensure that the fingers 30 are vertical during the elevating, pushing and lowering operations, a cam track consisting of a pair of spaced parallel rails 52 is disposed adjacent the guide rail 46. The cam follower 34 is adapted to fit within the cam track and, as shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings, the path 62 of the cam track is positioned relative to the path 45 of the guide rail so as to cause the fingers 30 to pivot rapidly to the vertical position before the fingers 30 are raised above the level of the platform 25 of the spacer station, as shown to wards the left of FIG. 2 of the drawings. Similarly, as shown towards the right of FIG. 2 of the drawings, the fingers 30 are maintained in the vertical position until the fingers drop below the level of the platform 25 and thereafter the fingers pivot rapidly out of the vertical and are returned to the front end of the device.
The platform 25 on which the containers move in passing through the separating station consist of four support paths 23 which are supported by the frame (not shown) in a generally horizontal position. The containers, after having been arranged in spaced apart modular units, are transferred to the conveyor of the end loading device 16 by means of an overhead drive unit 72 which has a plurality of cross bars 74 which are driven during the angularly inclined portions of their path of travel at a speed which is equal to the speed of travel of the fingers 30 along the horizontal portion of the platform 25. The conveyor 70 is provided with upstanding walls 76 which sub-divide the conveyor into compartments for receiving modular units of containers which are to be end loaded. The speed of movement of the conveyor 70 is synchronized with the speed of movement of the horizontal section of the conveyor device 72. By ensuring that the transfer device 72 operates at a speed equal to the longitudinal speed of the fingers 30 in passing along the platform 25, it is possible to prevent the trailing modular unit from which the leading modular unit has been separated from catching up to the leading modular unit during decleration of the fingers 30. It will be noted that the transverse pusher bars 74 are positioned to cause movement of the containers on the platform 25 before the fingers 30 pass onto the downwardly inclined section of the guide rail.
In operation, the motor 22 drives the shaft 18 which in turn drives the sprockets 20. The sprockets 20 drive the chain 24 to cause the bearing blocks 28 and the shaft 36 to move in a direction of movement of the chain 24. The chain 24 extends over the guide rail 46 so that the guide rail 46 determines the direction of movement of the support shaft 36 in a vertical and longitudinal direction. The angular position of the support fingers 30 relative to the vertical plane is determined by the position of the cam follower 34 in the cam track 52. The longitudinal speed of the fingers 30 relative'to the platform is determined by the linear speed of the chain 24 and the position of the fingers relative to the track 52. The longitudinal speed of the fingers is adjusted so that, during the elevation of the fingers 30 resulting from the passage of the fingers along the upwardly inclined portion of the track, it is equal to the velocity of the containers as they enter the spacing station so that the fingers will rise to a position disposed between adjacent containers without causing any breaking of the forward motion of the containers which are downstream of the fingers as they rise between the containers. It will be apparent that when the pair of fingers are disposed on the horizontal section of the track, they are spaced apart a greater londitudinal distance than they are during the portion of the track in which they are being elevated, with the result that the containers on the platform 25 will be divided into spaced apart modular units by the acceleration of one set of fingers relative to the other set of fingers as a result of movement from the upwardly inclined portion of the guide track onto the horizontally extending portion of the guide track. Obviously if the fingers are lowered in the same manner in which they are raised, the containers would be grouped together again in the same abutting relationship which exists at the point where they are initially engaged by the fingers. This is prevented by the pick-off device or unloading device which engages the containers prior to or substantially simultaneously with the point at which the fingers are lowered. It follows that the space formed between each modular units of containers is retained and the modular units of containers pass onto the discharge conveyor 70 in a spaced relationship.
From the foregoing it will be apparent that the spacing device of the present invention ensures that the modular units or pay loads which are to be loaded into cartons are spaced apart while continuously moving, with the result that the collisions which were previously experienced no longer occur.
A further important feature of the machine of the present invention is the provision of a divider locating device 80. The divider locating device 80 is illustrated in FIGS. 1, 3, 4 and 7 of the drawings and includes a pair of chains 84 which extend over two sets of sprockets 82. Each set of sprockets 82 consists of three sprockets which are arranged in aspaced aligned relationship. The'sprockets 82 are mounted on drive shafts 86 and the chains 84 extend thereabout and provide a substantially vertically extending section 85 and a downwardly and rearwardly inclined section 88. A plurality of support bars 83 extend transversely between the chains 82 and each transverse bar 83 carries a pair of transfer elements 87. Each of the transfer elements 87 consists of a hook-shaped lug 89 and a suction cup 81. A cam track construction substantially in accordance with the cam track 52 is located in a position spaced outwardly from at least one of the chains (see FIG. 7). A lever arm 93 projects outwardly from the cross bar 83 at one end thereof and has a follower 95 which is engaged by the cam track 91 so as to control the angular position of the hooks 89 and suction cup 81 with respect to the chains 84 so that over the lengths 85 and 88 the divider panel is retained in a vertical position.
In use, a plurality of divider panels 100 are located in a dispenser device capable of dispensing a single divider panel 100 into a position in which the upper edge is engaged by the hooks 89 and the outer face of the panel is engaged by the suction cups 8]. The divider panel 100 moves with the chains 84 through a subdivider positioning station in which the sub-divider panels are positioned and passes along the angularly inclined portions 88 of the path of travel of the chain. The speed of travel of the clamps and the chains 84 is such that the velocity of the divider panels in the horizontal direction during travel along the angularly inclined sections 88 is equal to the velocity of the containers moving through the separating station so that the dividers are lowered into a position between rows of containers without disrupting the forward movement of the containers. When the divider panels are located in the required position, the suction cups 81 are released and the clamping assembly is elevated out of the path of travel of the containers.
The divider panels preferably include a plurality of sub-divider panels 102 which are hingedly connected to the main body of the divider panels along hinge lines 104. An important feature of the sub-divider panels of the divider of the present invention is that the subdivider panel consists of a first portion 106 and a second portion 108, each having a nestable edge 110 and 112. The nestable edge 110 is upwardly inclined in a direction away from the hinge line 104 while the nestable edge 112 is downwardly inclined in a direction away from the hinge line 104. Each of the divider panels 100 also has end flaps 114.
The sub-divider panels 102 are positioned prior to the location of the divider panel by means of a subdivider location apparatus which, as shown in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, includes a shaft 122 which is mounted for rotation in a plane extending in a spaced parallel relationship transversely of the path of movement of the divider panels. The shaft 122 has a pair of legs 124 extending radially therefrom and each leg 124 has a foot portion 126 at the outer end thereof. In the embodiment illustrated, two legs 124 are shown because of the fact that the containers are arranged in modular units including three side by side parallel rows. If four rows of containers were used to form a modular unit, it would be necessary to provide a third leg 124 so as to group together three divider panels for location in each modular unit. In this regard, it will be noted that in FIG. 1 of the drawings two divider panels are shown closely adjacent to one another on the divider location apparatus with the next following divider spaced a substantial distance therefrom to correspond with the spacing of the modular units. To assist in the opening operation, a guide rail 128 projects into the path of travel of the legs 124 in a spaced apart adjacent relationship with respect to each set of legs 124.
In use, a carton 100 is lowered into the sub-divider locating station and the foot 126 of the leg 124 strikes the sub-divider panel 102 causing the portion 108 to be directed downstream of the direction of travel of the containers with the portion 106 directed upstream. The relative positions of the portions 106 and 108 with respect to the direction of travel of the containers is important as this relationship permits one sub-divider panel to be located after another in an overlying relationship.
FIG. 4 of the drawings shows the manner in which the guide rail 128 is located with respect to the legs 124 so that when the legs 124 drive a sub-divider panel to the open position, it is engaged and held in the open position by the guide rail 128. The guide rail 128 is angularly inclined with respect to the longitudinal plane of the divider panel so as to force the sub-divider panels to an inclined position greater than 90 with respect to the plane of the main body of the panel so that the subdivider panels will be permanently set at an angle of at least 90 with respect to the main body of the panel and will not, therefore, tend to return to the plane of the main body of the panel after they are released by the guide rails 128 prior to the point at which they are located between the containers.
FIG. 5 of the drawings illustrates the importance of locating the sub-divider panels with the portions 108 directed downstream and the portions 106 directed upstream. As previously indicated, it is this relationship which permits the second and each subsequent panel of a set of divider panels being located one after the other in a series of panels.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the present invention provides a simple and inexpensive subdivider panel which may be located between adjacent rows of containers and a simple and inexpensive apparatus for locating the sub-divider panel between adjacent rows of containers prior to loading of the containers into a carton.
What we claim as our invention is:
1. In a carton loading machine wherein containers are arranged in a plurality of side by side rows prior to loading into a carton, said containers being continuously driven through a divider locating station wherein a divider panel is transferred from a dispensor which is adapted to dispense divider panels one by one into the path of a transfer mechanism, the improvement of divider positioning means for locating a divider panel between predetermined rows of containers, said divider positioning means comprising divider panel engaging means for engaging a divider panel disposed in a plane extending normal to the path of travel of the containers and located above said path of travel, and endless conveyor means for simultaneously conveying said divider panel means along an endless path, guide means for guiding said conveyor means in at least a portion of said path which is-straight and angularly inclined downwardly towards said path of travel in the direction of travel of said containers through said divider locating station, and drive means for driving said conveyors along said guide means at a linear speed which is greater than the speed of said containers through said station to locate said divider panels between predetermined adjacent rows of containers.