US 3876075 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Wesner 5] Apr. 8, 1975 1 SYSTEM AND APPARATUS FOR SORTING AND COUNTING LAUNDRY  Inventor: Robert Jay Wesner, 2| 151 Burndale Rd., Sonoma, Calif. 95476 221 Filed: Mar. 19, 1974 211 Appl. No.: 452,632
 US. Cl. 209/123  Int. Cl. B07c 7/00  Field of Search 209/123, 125, 111.7, 111.6. 209/71; 108/50; 273/118 A-l26 A; 250/222,
223; 198/40; 235/92 PK, 92 V Primary Examiner-Robert B. Reeves Assistant ExaminerThomas E. Kocovsky Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Flehr, Hohbach, Test, Albritton & Herbert DATA ENTRY COMUTER TEMNAL  ABSTRACT A system for sorting laundry items including a table on which items to be laundered are manually separated. A data entry terminal is provided in conjunction with a computer whereby customer identification can first be input to the computer and subsequently identifcation of the particular type of laundry item to be handled can be entered. Thereafter those particular laundry items are individually passed through an opening in the top surface of the sorting table and are counted by a series of photocell light sources the output of which are also applied to the computer. As the items are passed through the opening in the top surface of the table they fall on a conveyor disposed below the opening and which, at the time, is stationary. Upon completion of the sorting of the particular type of item a signal is applied to the computer through the data entry terminal and the computer, in turn, not only registers the total number of the particular item counted but also momentarily operates the conveyor belt whereby the counted items may be passed on to other areas of the laundry for treatment.
4 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures FAJEHTEUAFR' Ems 3876075 DATA ENTRY COMPUTER 45 TERMINAL FIG-3 SYSTEM AND APPARATUS FOR SORTING AND COUNTING LAUNDRY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In the past, the sorting of laundry in commercial laundry facilities has required either a great deal of manual work or alternatively, the use of mechanically complex laundry machinery built for the specific purposes of the laundry. Since the mat itinery is both complex and suited only to the laundry industry is has necessarily been extremely expensive. Accordingly, there has long been a need in the laundry industry for a simplified system of sorting and counting laundry items which, insofar as it is related strictly to the laundry industry, includes relatively simple and inexpensive components.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND OBJECTS The invention is incorporated in a system including a table having a top surface with an opening therein through which laundry items may be passed. A conveyor belt is disposed below the opening and a plurality of photocell-light source units are located adjacent the opening with their lines of light extending across the opening whereby articles passed through the opening may be counted. A data entry terminal is utilized and signals therefrom are directed to a computer. The out put of the photocell-light source units is likewise directed to the computer. Customer identification is manually input to the computer through the data entry terminal as is identification of the particular item to be counted. Specific items thus sorted by an operator are then individually passed through the opening and by the photocell-light source units onto the waiting conveyor. When all of one particular type items have been passed through the opening the computer registers the count thereof and activates the conveyor to pass the counted items to another location in the laundry. The invention also includes the table itselffor use in the system.
In general it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved system and apparatus for sorting and counting laundry items whereby increased efficiency in the laundry may be obtained with relatively simple and inexpensive apparatus.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is an elevational view of a sorting table used in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view at one end of the sorting table showing the opening therein; and
FIG. 3 a schematic block diagram showing the electrical connections of the various apparatus in the sys tern.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring specifically to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown a table 11 having a top surface 13, defining an opening 15 at one end thereof. A deflector 17 is located about the opening 15 and includes a back wall 19 located between the opening 15 and the edge 21 at the end of the table.
A conveyor belt 23 is disposed below the opening 15 and connected by means ofa drive chain 25 to a motor 27. Preferably guide rails 29 are provided adjacent the conveyor. The discharge end of the conveyor may be conveniently disposed above a second conveyor system 31 for further transport oflaundry items to other parts of the laundry establishment.
A series of photocelhlight source units including light sources 33 and photocells 35 are disposed adjacent the opening 15. The lines of light between said light sources 33 to the photocells 35 extend across the opening 15. Photocells 35 are connected in series such that if an article passed through the opening I5 crosses the line of light from any one of the photocell-light source units the signal expressing the interruption of the light source is transmitted from the plurality of units.
Referring more particularly to FIG. 3. the sorting table 11 is shown interconnected with a computer 37 and a data entry terminal 39. In one embodiment of the invention actually constructed and operated by the inventor, the computer 37 was a System 7 computer manufacturedand distributed by IBM Corporation and the data entry terminal 39 was a Model 735 terminal manufactured and distributed by lnterphase Technology Inc., of St. Louis Missouri. The operation of the IBM System 7 computer and the Interphase Technology Model 735 are well known and documented in the art and further description thereof, other than with respect to connections as used in the invention herein, will not be set forth.
Specifically the data entry terminal 39 includes a multikeyed keyboard having a SEND function key for use in transmitting data from the terminal after it has been verified on a display thereof.
The computer 37 includes a first input 41 for receiving the output of the data entry terminal and a second input 43 for receiving the output of the photocells 35. The computer also includes an output 45 from which a signal is supplied to the motor 27 to operate the conveyor 23.
In use of the system in accordance with the invention the laundry to be sorted is placed on the top surface 13 of the table 11 and the operator enters into the data entry terminal coded indication of the particular customer whose laundry is being sorted. As an example, such a customer identification might be 842" to indicate XYZ Restaurant. The operator then pushes the SEND key to enter the customer identification into the computer. Thereafter the operator enters into the data entry terminal a coded indication of the items to be first counted. For instance, the number l3" entered into the terminal 39 might indicate that towels are to be counted.
The operator then proceeds to individually pass the towels located on the top surface 13 through the opening 15. The deflector 17 serves to assist the operator in this respect and deflects towels generally thrown in the direction of the opening 15 through the opening itself and across the lines of light provided by the photocelllight source units. The lines of light being interrupted by the passing towel, an indication thereof is provided to the computer at the input 43. At this time, the conveyor 23 is stationary and the towels are assembled in a pile on the conveyor 23 below the opening 15. When the operator has finished passing all the towels through the opening 15, he then pushes the SEND button and the computer not only registers the count of the towels passed through the opening but the coded information identifying that they are towels. In addition, the computer passes through its output 45 a signal to the motor 27 to momentarily activate the conveyor 23 sufficient that the towels may be transferred to the additional conveyor 31 as shown in FIG. 1.
The operator may then prepare to count additional items such as napkins by entering into the data entry terminal another coded identification, this time indicating napkins. The process is repeated, the computer keeping track not only of what the various items are but how many are counted by the photocell-light source units 33, 35.
1. A system for sorting and counting laundry items comprising a table having a top surface. said top sur face defining an opening therein through which laundry items may be passed, a conveyor belt disposed below said opening motive means connected to said conveyor belt for selectively operating same. a plurality of photocell-light source units disposed adjacent said opening and having lines of light extending across said opening, the photocells of said photocell-light source units being electrically connected in series. a data entry terminal having means to generate a signal in response to manual actuation thereof, and a computer adapted to receive the output of said data entry terminal as a first input and the output of said photocells as a second input, means in response to a first signal from said data entry terminal to the first input of said computer for registering a customer identification, and means in response to both a second signal from said data entry terminal to the first input of said computer and an output from said photocells to the second input of said computer for registering an item identification and count and for momentarily activating said motive means.
2. Apparatus for use in a system for sorting and counting laundry items comprising a table having a top surface. said top surface defining an opening therein through which laundry items may be passed. and a plu rality of photocell-light source units disposed adjacent said opening and having lines of light extending across said opening, the photocells of said photocell-light source units being electrically connected in series.
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 together with a conveyor belt disposed below said opening. and motive means connected to said conveyor belt for selectively operating same.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 2 wherein said opening is disposed near one edge of said top surface, and a deflector means disposed between said opening and said one edge for directing laundry items through said opening and said lines of light.