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Publication numberUS3885683 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 27, 1975
Filing dateJun 14, 1973
Priority dateJun 21, 1972
Also published asDE2319584A1
Publication numberUS 3885683 A, US 3885683A, US-A-3885683, US3885683 A, US3885683A
InventorsBornfleth Ulrich, Scharnetzke Horst, Selonke Fritz
Original AssigneeHauni Werke Koerber & Co Kg
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for temporary storage and transport of cigarettes or the like
US 3885683 A
Abstract
Apparatus for temporary storage and transport of cigarettes between a maker and a packing machine has a variable-capacity reservoir with a movable floor which carries a first end wall and can be driven to move the first end wall toward or away from a second end wall. The inlet of the reservoir receives cigarettes from a feeding device which in turn receives cigarettes from the maker and is designed to deliver cigarettes into the inlet from above. The feeding device employs endless conveyors which positively engage the cigarettes during transport from the maker to the inlet of the reservoir. The outlet of the reservoir is connected with an evacuating device which transports a stream of cigarettes to the block forming assembly of the packing machine.
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United States Patent [191 Bornfleth et al.

[451 May 27, 1975 1 APPARATUS FOR TEMPORARY STORAGE AND TRANSPORT OF CIGARETTES OR THE LIKE [75] lnventors: Ulrich Bornfleth; Fritz Selonke;

Horst Scharnetzke, all of Hamburg, Germany [73] Assignee: Hauni-Werke Korber & Co. KG,

Hamburg, Germany [22] Filed: June 14, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 369,954

[30] Foreign Application Priority Data June 21, 1972 United Kingdom 29049/72 Sept. 19, 1972 United Kingdom 43421/72 Feb. 20, 1973 United Kingdom 8152/73 [52] US. Cl 214/17 CA; 198/37; 198/110 [51] Int. Cl. B65g 37/00 [58] Field of Search 214/17 C, 17 CA; 198/37, 198/110; 222/56; 131/21 A [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,355,004 11/1967 Rupert 214/17 CA X 3/1969 Molins et a1. 198/37 X 8/1971 Wallenborn 131/21 A X Primary ExaminerRobert G. Sheridan Attorney, Agent, or FirmMichael S. Striker 57 ABSTRACT Apparatus for temporary storage and transport of cigarettes between a maker and a packing machine has a variable-capacity reservoir with a movable floor which carries a first end wall'and can be driven to move the first end wall toward or away from a second end wall. The inlet of the reservoir receives cigarettes from a feeding device which in turn receives cigarettes from the maker and is designed to deliver cigarettes into the inlet from above. The feeding device employs endless conveyors which positively engage the cigarettes during transport from the maker to the inlet of the reservoir. The outlet of the reservoir is connected with an evacuating device which transports a stream of cigarettes to the block forming assembly of the packing machine.

16 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures APPARATUS FOR TEMPORARY STORAGE AND TRANSPORT OF CIGARETTES OR THE LIKE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to apparatus for temporary storage and transport of rod shaped articles, such as plain or filter tipped cigarettes, cigarillos or cigars and/or filter rod sections. More particularly, the invention relates to improvements in apparatus for transporting rod-shaped smokers products (hereinafter called cigarettes for short) between a source which may include one or more producing machines (such as one or more machines for the production of plain or filter cigarettes) and one or more consumers (e.g., one or more packing machines wherein groups or blocks of cigarettes are confined in soft or hard packs). Still more particularly, the invention relates to improvements in transporting apparatus which include one or more reservoirs for temporary storage of cigarettes to thus insure that the producing machine or machines can remain in operation in the event of a slowdown or stoppage of the consumer or consumers (the output of the producing machines is then temporarily stored in the reservoir) or that the consumer or consumers can remain in operation in the event of a slowdown or complete stoppage of one or more producing machines (the consuming machine or machines then receive cigarettes from the reservoir) German Pat. No. 1,532,271 discloses a transporting apparatus which includes a reservoir and is constructed and assembled in such a way that the cigarettes pass through the reservoir when the output of the producer matches the requirements of the consumer, e.g., of one or more packing machines or one or more pneumatic conveyors for transport of cigarettes to the respective consumer or consumers. The reservoir is constructed in such a way that its capacity can be changed in order to insure that its interior can accept the output of the producing machine in the event of malfunctioning of the consumer or that the reservoir can supply cigarettes to the consumer in the event ofmalfunctioning of the producer. The means for supplying cigarettes to the reservoir comprises an endless belt and a felt finger which is adjacent to the end turn of the belt in the region of the inlet to the reservoir and serves to insure that the orientation of cigarettes (with travel sideways) does not change appreciably during entry into the reservoir.

A drawback of the just described apparatus is that, when the quantity of cigarettes in the reservoir decreases (for example, because the producer is idle while the consumer continues to process the cigarettes which are being furnished by the reservoir), the cigarettes which leave the aforementioned end turn of the belt must descend by gravity, and in a fully unsupported condition, through a considerable distance so that they are likely to rebound on the uppermost layer of cigarettes in the reservoir and to come to rest in improper positions for accurate stacking and/or for orderly removal from the reservoir. The likelihood of random orientation in the reservoir is particularly pronounced if the apparatus transports filter cigarettes. This is due to the fact that the tabacco-containing ends of filter cigarettes are more readily deformable than the filter stubs so that the height and/or width of that side of the stack of cigarettes in the reservoir which is formed by the tobacco-containing ends is less than the height and/or width of the opposite side which is formed by the filter stubs. Such formation of stacks in the reservoir is conducive to misalignment of cigarettes, especially if the cigarettes must fall by gravity through a considerable distance when the reservoir is not filled to capacity.

The just discussed reservoir comprises a mobile bottom wall or floor which carries one end wall of the reservoir. The height of the supply of cigarettes in the reservoir is monitored by one or more photoelectric detectors which furnish signals serving to move the end wall on the mobile floor in a direction to increase or to reduce the capacity of the reservoir. The photoelectric detectors are mounted directly or closely below the end turn of the aforementioned endless belt. When the mo bile end wall moves in a direction to reduce the capacity of the reservoir, the contents of the reservoir are pressed together so that the cigarettes rise to and above the level of the detectors which then produce signals for termination of the movement of the end wall. Such mode of changing the capacity of the reservoir is not entirely satisfactory because the cigarettes are subjected to considerable compressive stresses which can bring about premanent deformation and/or breakage. Moreover, the compacting of cigarettes in the reservoir is likely to interfere with the evacuation of cigarettes, especially since the reservoir is provided with relatively small outlet openings.

The German Offenlegungschrift No. 1,957,002 discloses a modified apparatus wherein the inlet is provided in the bottom region of the reservoir. Thus, the cigarettes enter the reservoir from below to thereby reduce the likelihood of misalignment in the interior of the reservoir. However, a reservoir which receives articles from below cannot accommodate a relatively high stack or supply of cigarettes because the cigarettes which enter from below must be introduced by overcoming the weight of cigarettes thereabove. It will be readily appreciated that a cigarette which is forced into a stack of cigarettes from below is likely to undergo permanent deformation (and/or to permanently deform the adjacent cigarettes in the reservoir) if the stack is relatively high, especially since the just discussed mode of feeding insures that the cigarettes in the reservoir are parallel and therefore closely adjacent to each other. Consequently, a reservoir which receives cigarettes from below must have a substantial length in order to store a sufficient number of cigarettes which will enable the consumer to operate while the producer is idle for a certain period of time or vice versa. Such period of time cannot be very short because it must suffice to enable the attendant to locate and to eliminate the cause of malfunction. Furthermore, a modern cigarette making machine can turn out up to and in excess of seventy cigarettes per second so that, even if the consumer remains idle only for a short period of time (e.g., one or more minutes), the reservoir must be capable of accepting and properly storing a very large number of cigarettes. Relatively long reservoirs for cigarettes are impractical, especially in tobacco processing plants wherein the machines are closely adjacent to each other so that a single attendant can supervise the operation of several production lines each of which consists of two or more directly or indirectly coupled machines. A production line may include a cigarette rod making machine for the production of plain cigarettes, a filter cigarette making machine which receives plain cigarettes from the cigarette rod making machine,

a machine for the production or transport of filter rod sections to the filter cigarette making machine, a packing machine which receives the output of the filter cigarette making machine, and a second packing machine which provides soft or hinged-lid cigarette packs with transparent outer envelopes and tear strips.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved apparatus for transport and temporary storage of rod-shaped smokers products (including plain or filter-tipped cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos and/or filter rod sections) between one or more producing machines and one or more consumers, for example, between a filter cigarette machine and a packing machine.

Another object of the invention is to construct and assemble the reservoir of the apparatus in such a way that it can receive a relatively large number of articles without occupying much floor space and without adversely affecting the appearance and/or other desirable characteristics of the articles.

A further object of the invention is to provide an apparatus wherein the articles are transported, temporarily stored and/or otherwise manipulated while being maintained in an optimum orientation for entry into, storage in or evacuation from the reservoir as well as for entry into and movement in the consumer or consumers.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved variable-capacity reservoir for use in an apparatus of the above outlined character.

Still another object of the invention is to provide the apparatus with a novel and improved device for feeding articles to the reservoir from one or more producers and with a novel and improved device for evacuating articles from the reservoir for introduction into one or more consumers.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a reservoir which can receive and properly store a relatively high stack of rod-shaped smokers products so that its floor space requirements are small and which can be used with particular advantage for temporary storage of articles having ends of different diameters so that the articles tend to accumulate in the form of stacks of non-uniform height and/or width.

Another object of the invention is to provide an apparatus wherein the articles can be observed during transport from one or more producers to one or more consumers, which permits for manual or automatic re-' moval of samples for visual or automatic inspection, and which can be installed in existing production lines as a superior substitute for conventional transporting apparatus.

A further object of the invention is to provide the ap paratus with novel and improved means for automatically changing the capacity of the reservoir as a function of the relationship between the output of one or more producers and the requirements of one or more consumer of rod-shaped smokers products.

The apparatus of our invention is utilized for transporting rod-shaped articles from a source to a consumer, particularly for transporting filter rod sections, cigarettes or analogous rod-shaped smokers products from at least one producing machine (e. g., a filter cigarette making machine) to at least one packing or other processing machine. In accordance with the invention,

the apparatus comprises a plurality of units defining an elongated path extending from the source to the con-; sumer and being preferably configurated in such a way that the articles move sideways or substantially sideways all the way from the source to the consumer.

The units include a first or storing unit which consti- I tutes a variable-capacity reservoir or magazine arranged to store a variable supply of preferably parallel articles and having an inlet for admission of articles' into and an outlet for discharge of articles from .its interior. A second unit of the apparatus constitutes feeding means for moving the articles from the source to the inlet of the reservoir, and the path includes a downwardly extending portion along which the articles move in the feeding means toward the inlet of the reservoir.

The feeding means comprises conveyor means which: preferably includes a plurality of endless conveyors (such as one or more drums, rollers, rolls, endless flexible elements and drive means therefor) for positively engaging and moving the articles between the source and the inlet of the reservoir. i

The novel features which are considered as charac* teristic of the invention are set forth in particular inithe appended claims. The improved apparatus itself, however, both as to its construction and its mode of operation, together with additional features and advantages thereof, will be best understood upon perusal of the following detailed description of certain specific embodi j ments with reference to the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a fragmentary schematic side elevational view of an apparatus which embodies one form of the invention and serves to transport filter cigarettes from a filter cigarette making machine to a packing machine; a

FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of a detail in .the apparatus of FIG. 1, showing theregion of the inlet of the reservoir for temporary storage of filter cigarettes;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged horizontal sectional view of a chute as seen in the direction of arrows from'the line I paratus which constitutes a first modification of the apparatus shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary side elevational view of an apparatus which constitutes a second modification of the apparatus shown in FIG. 4; and

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary side elevational view of a modified reservoir for rod-shaped smokers products,

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring first to FIGS. 1 to 3, there is shown an apparatus for the transport and temporary storage ofrodshaped articles 2 from a producing machine or source 42 to a consuming or processing machine 8. The producing machine 42 is a filter cigarette making machine of the type produced by the West German firm Hauni- Werke of Hamburg-Bergedorf. The consuming machine 8 is a packing machine wherein blocks or groups of 20 cigarettes each are introduced into discrete soft or hard packs. The exact details of the machines 42 and 8 form no part of the present invention. Each rod- 3 shaped article 2 is assumed to be a filter cigarette of unit length.

The apparatus of the present invention comprises a first unit here shown as a magazine or reservoir 1 of variable volume or capacity which can accommodate a supply of filter cigarettes 2 in a region between the filter cigarette making machine 42 and the packing machine 8, preferably at a level above the two machines. The apparatus further comprises a second unit which constitutes an article feeding device 3 serving to deliver filter cigarettes 2 from the machine 42 to the inlet 47 of the magazine 1, and a third unit constituting an evacuating device 4 which serves to transport filter cigarettes 2 from the outlet 18 of the magazine 1 to the packing machine 8. The evacuating device 4 comprises a distributor 6 which can divide a single stream of filter cigarettes 2 issuing from the magazine 1 into two discrete streams before the cigarettes reach a group or block forming assembly 7 of the packing machine 8.

The reservoir 1 comprises a mobile bottom portion or floor 13 constituting the upper stretch of an endless band conveyor which is trained over rollers 9, 11 and 12. The roller 9 is driven by a belt transmission 14 wich receives motion from a prime mover 16, for example,

a rotary electromagnet. The reservoir 1 further com-.

prises a first end wall 19 forming part of a pressureresponsive detector or feeler l7 and a second end wall 21 which is mounted on the upper stretch of the floor 13. The end wall 19 is adjacent to the right-hand side of the outlet 18 through which the cigarettes 2 can leave the reservoir 1 to enterthe evacuating device 4. The upper stretch of the floor 13 is movable back and forth so that the end wall 21 can be moved toward or away from the end wall 19. It will be noted that the floor 13 constitutes a displacing means which is actuatable by the parts 9, 14 and 16 to move the end wall 21 toward or away from the end wall 19. Still further, the reservoir 1 comprises two side walls (not shown) which are parallel to the plane of FIG. 1 and are spaced apart a distance which preferably slightly exceeds the length of a filter cigarette 2.

The aforementioned feeler 17 further comprises a pivot 22 for the lower edge portion of the end wall 19. A biasing device (not shown), for example, a torsion spring, is provided to urge the end wall 19 in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 1, so that the end wall 19 tends to reduce the volume of the reservoir 1 and to assume the phantom-line position shown in FIG. 1. The torsion spring insures that the left-hand surface of the end wall 19 abuts and bears against the adjacent filter cigarettes 2 of the supply of cigarettes in the reservoir l.

The article feeding device 3 comprises a plurality of endless conveyors which serve to transport filter cigarettes 2 sideways, first upwardly from the outlet of the filter cigarette making machine 42, and thereupon downwardly so that the filter cigarettes enter the reservoir 1 by way of the inlet 47 which is located above the outlet 18 and to the left of the upper portion of the end wall 19. The conveyors of the feeding device 3 comprise a first conveyor including two parallel endless belts 27 the inner stretches of which extend along but are normally spaced apart from a portion of theperiphcry of a second endless conveyor here shown as a driven drum 26 located at a level above the end wall 19. The endless bands 27 are trained over pairs of rollers 28, 29, 31 and 32 and define with the adjacent portion of the drum 26 an arcuate gap wherein the filter cigarettes 2 travel sideways toward the inlet 47 of the reservoir 1. The endless bands 27 are preferably spaced apart in such a way that they engage the respective ends of the adjacent filter cigarettes 2. Such filter cigarettes contact the periphery of the drum 26 during travel toward and beyond the lowermost pair of rollers 28 for the bands 27.

The article device 3 further comprises a third endless conveyor 33 and a fourth endless conveyor 34. The conveyors 33 and 34 are belts which serve to transport filter cigarettes 2 from the filter cigarette making machine 42 into the range of the drum 26 and endless bands 27. The conveyor 33 is trained over the drum 26 and rollers 36, 37. The roller 36 is mounted in or on the frame of the filter cigarette making machine 42. The conveyor 34 is trained over a roller 38 in or on the 'frame of the machine 42 and over a further roller 39 which is adjacent to the drum 26. The upwardly travelling stretches of the conveyors 33, 34 define an elongated gap the lower end of which receives successive filter cigarettes 2 from a transfer drum 41 of the filter cigarette making machine 42,

The drive means for the endless conveyors of the article feeding device 3 comprises an electric motor 47 or another suitable prime mover which drives the drum 26 by way of a belt transmission 43. The motor 47 also drives the rollers 28 for the bands 27 by way of a further belt transmission 44 and the roller 39 for the conveyor 34 by way of still another belt transmission 46. The conveyor 33 is driven by the drum 26.

It will be noted that the inlet 47 of the reservoir 1 extends between the drum 26 and the rollers 28 for the bands 27. This inlet 47 is located almost exactly above the roller 11 for the floor 13, i.e., above the region between the floor 13 and the outlet 18 of the reservoir 1. Since the inlet 47 is adjacent to the lowermost point of the drum 26, successive filter cigarettes 2 which leave the gap between the drum 26 and the bands 27 have a component of movement in a direction toward the lefthand surface of the end wall 19. Such cigarettes tend to pivot the end Wall 19 clockwise, i.e., counter to the action of the aforementioned torsion spring. The reservoir 1 further comprises a top wall 48 or cover which extends substantially tangentially of the rollers 28 and toward the second end wall 21.

In order to insure a controlled entry of filter cigarettes 2 into the reservoir 1 when the filter cigarette making machine 42 is arrested so that the supply of cigarettes in the reservoir begins to decrease, the end wall 19 is provided or articulately connected with a pivotable L-shaped guide 49 (best shown in FIG. 2). The guide 49 normally extends into a circumferential recess 26a of the drum 26 and tends to pivot by gravity in a clockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 2, to thereby reduce the width of the inlet 47 so that the filter cigarettes 2 travel along the bands 27 all the way to the driven rollers 28 before they begin to descend by gravity onto the uppermost layer of cigarettes in the interior of the reservoir 1. When the reservoir 1 is filled with filter cigarettes 2, the cigarettes at the inlet 47 pivot the guide 49 counterclockwise, as viewed in FIG. 2, so that the width of the inlet 47 increases and the cigarettes can descend onto the topmost layer of cigarettes in the inlet 47 even before they reach the rollers 28. If desired, the guide 49 can be biased clockwise by one or more weak torsion springs or by other suitable resilient means, not shown.

The feeler 17 further comprises two limit switches 51 and 52 which serve to transmit electric signals to the corresponding inputs of an electronic relay circuit 50. The output of the circuit 50 is connected to the prime mover 16 for the belt transmission 14 which can move the floor 13 of the reservoir 1 in a direction to the right or to the left, as viewed in FIG. 1. A third limit switch 53 is outwardly adjacent to the end wall 21 and serves to arrest the prime mover 16 when its movable portion is depressed by the second end wall 21. Thus, the switch 53 can terminate the leftward movement of the end wall 21 in a position corresponding to the maximum capacity of the reservoir 1. The limit switch 53 further serves to arrest the prime mover (not shown) of the filter cigarette making machine 42 when the end wall 21 reaches its leftmost position, as viewed in FIG. 1.

A fourth limit switch 54 is mounted in the space between the rollers 9 and 11 below the upper stretch of the floor 13 and can be actuated by a trip 56 of the floor so as to arrest the prime mover l6 and the prime mover (not shown) of the packing machine 8 when the end wall 21 reaches its right-hand end position, as viewed in FIG. 1, i.e., when the capacity of the reservoir 1 has been reduced to a permissible minimum.

The evacuating device 4 comprises a first conveyor in the form of a downwardly inclined chute 61 the upper end portion of which is defined in part by two mutually inclined walls 58 and 59. The wall 58 constitutes an extension of the end wall 19, and the wall 59 extends substantially tangentially of the rollers 11 and 12 for the floor 13 of the reservoir 1. As shown in FIG. 3, the walls 58 and 59 are not exactly parallel to each other but diverge in a direction from one side wall 58a toward the other side wall 59a of the chute 61. The reason for such divergence is to insure that the filter cigarettes 2 in and below the outlet 18 of the reservoir 1 remain substantially parallel to each other. As shown, those ends of the cigarettes 2 which are provided with filter tips or stubs F have larger diameters than the other ends which contain tobacco shreds. The divergence of the walls 58 and 59 is such as to account for the difference between the diameters of the respective ends of the filter cigarettes 2. The side walls 58a and 59a constitute downward extensions of the aforementioned side walls of the reservoir 1.

Each cigarette 2 which descends in the chute 61 has a horizontal and a vertical component of movement toward the distributor 6. The cigarettes at the outlet 18 leave the reservoir 1 by gravity and move in the chute 61 sideways toward the distributor 6 which divides the single stream of cigarettes leaving the chute 61 into two streams respectively advancing in the auxiliary conveyors or ducts 62 and 63 of the evacuating device 4. The duct 62 includes walls 64 and 66 which preferably diverge in the same way as shown in FIG. 3 for the walls 58 and 59. The duct 63 includes walls 67 and 68 which also diverge in the manner as shown for the walls 58 and 59 of FIG. 3. The distributor 6 includes a substantially roof-shaped deflector or stream divider 69 which is formed by the upper end portions of the walls 66 and 67 and serves to steer the cigarettes 2 into the ducts 62 and 63. The walls 66 and 67 are preferably stationary.

The exact construction of the block forming assembly 7 of the packing machine 8 forms no part of the present invention. It suffices to say that the assembly 7 serves to accumulate groups or blocks of20 parallelfiL' ter cigarettes each and to array the cigarettes of each group or block in such a way that they are ready to be introduced into a prefabricated soft or hard pack or to allow for the formation of a soft or hard pack there-- around in a manner known from the art of packing machines. It is further clear that the chute 61 of the evacuating device 4 can deliver discrete streams of filter cigarettes 2 to two or more discrete packing machines.

It is already known to employ in .atransporting apparatus for cigarettes or the like a vertical chute the lower end of which is located above a stream divider serving to direct cigarettes into two discrete ductsfor introduction of two cigarette streams into a packing machine.

is likely to be squashed and to thereby interfere with proper steering of the next-following cigarettes the chute into the ducts.

The evacuating device 4 of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 has been found to operate properly, particularly without jamming of cigarettes 2 in the region .of

from

the stream divider 69, mainly because the chute 61 is:

inclined so that each cigarette 2 therein has a horizon? tal and a vertical component of movement. This reduces the pressure of the stream of cigarettes in the chute 61 upon those cigarettes which travelalong the inclined upper surfaces of the stream divider 69. The

distance between the outlet 18 of the reservoir 1 and the stream divider 69 may greatly exceed the. width of the stream of cigarettes 2 in the chute 61, as long as the chute is sufficiently inclined to insure thatthe weight of cigarettes therein cannot cause a deformation or destruction of cigarettes which travel along the stream divider 69. While it is within the purview of the invention to connect the stream divider 69 with a vibrator or with other suitable agitating means which would further reduce the likelihood ofjamming in the region of the distributor 6, the evacuating device 4 can operate satisfactorily without the vibrator, i.e., by employing a fixedly mounted stream divider.

The ducts 62, 63 can deliver smaller streams of cigarettes 2 to two or more block builders of the block forming assembly 7 which forms part of the packing machine 8. This is desirable in certain modern highspeed packing machines whose output depends to a large degree on the number of blocks or groups which their block forming assemblies can accumulate per'unit of time. It is clear that the contents of the. duct 62 and- /or 63 can be divided further if the block forming as- I sembly 7 comprises three or more discrete block forming or arraying devices each capable of assembling cigarettes 2 into groups or blocks of 20 cigarettes (or another selected number) whichare ready for the introduction into prefabricated or simultaneously made soft or hard packs.

The likelihood ofjamming of cigarettes in the outlet 18, chute 61 and/or duct 62 and/or 63 is further reduced by providing such parts with mutually inclined walls in a manner as shown for the walls 58, 59 of FIG. 3. The provision of mutually inclined walls is especially desirable in the region of the distributor 6 wherein the single stream of cigarettes 2 descending in the chute 61 must be subdivided into smaller streams for entry into the intake ends of the ducts 62, 63.

The operation of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 is as follows:

The transfer drum 41 of the filter cigarette making machine 42 delivers a row of filter cigarettes 2 into the lower end of the gap between the endless conveyors 33 and 34 of the article feeding device 3. The conveyors 33 and 34 transport the filter cigarettes 2 sideways and upwardly, as viewed in FIG. 1, toward the periphery of the rotating drum 26. The cigarettes 2 which reach the periphery of the drum 26 are simultaneously engaged by the inner stretches of the endless bands 27 so that they travel about the axis of the drum 26 and toward the inlet 47 of the reservoir 1. It will be noted that each filter cigarette 2 which leaves the machine 42 travels upwardly during the first stage and thereupon downwardly during the second stage of its movement toward and into the reservoir 1. When the production line in cluding the machines 42 and 8 operates normally, the output of the filter cigarette making machine 42 matches the requirements of the packing machine 8 so that the capacity of the reservoir 1 need not change because the number of cigarettes which enter the reservoir by way of the inlet 47 equals the number of cigarettes which leave the reservoir by way of the outlet 18. In other words, when the operation of the machines 42 and 8 is normal, the left-hand portion of the reservoir 1 contains a supply or reserve of filter cigarettes 2 whereas the cigarettes which are being delivered by the feeding device 3 merely pass through the right-hand portion of the reservoir on their way from the article feeding device 3 to the chute 61 of the evacuating device 4.

If the requirements of the packing machine 8 decrease, for example, when the prime mover of the packing machine is arrested or is operated at the lower of two or more speeds, the number of cigarettes which enter the reservoir 1 by way of inlet 47 exceeds the number of cigarettes which leave the reservoir by way of the outlet 18. As mentioned before, the cigarettes which leave the article feeding device 3 have a component of movement toward the left-hand surface of the end wall 19 which forms part of the feeler 17. When the rate of delivery of cigarettes to the reservoir 1 exceeds the rate of evacuation of cigarettes from the reservoir, the freshly admitted cigarettes exert a pressure against the end wall 19 so that the latter beings to pivot clockwise, as viewed in FIG. 1 or 2, about the axis of the pivot 22 and the end wall 19 utimately reaches the position which is shown in FIG. 1 by a heavy solid line. In such position, the end wall 19 actuates the limit switch 52 which transmits a signal to the corresponding input of the electronic relay circuit 50. The output of the circuit 50 thentransmits a signal to the prime mover 16 which causes the belt transmission 14 to rotate the roller 9 in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 1, whereby the end wall 21 travels away from the end wall 19 to increase the capacity of the reservoir 1. The pressure which the cigarettes exert against the end wall 19 decreases so that this end wall begins to pivot counswitch 52 to open whereby the circuit 50 arrests the primer mover 16 for the belt transmission 14. The end wall 21 is arrested and the volume of the reservoir 1 remains unchanged until the end wall 19 again reaches the solid-line position of FIG. 1. The just-described pivotal movements of the end wall 19 between the solidline position in which the limit switch 52 is closed and a neutral position in which the limit switches 51 and 52 are open is repeated as often as necessary until the packing machine 8 again begins to accept the entire output of the filter cigarette making machine 42. If the packing machine 8 remains idle for a longer interval of time or if the requirements of the packing machine do not match the output of the filter cigarette making ma chine 42 for an extended period of time, theend wall 21 of the reservoir 1 reaches and actuates the limit switch 53 which automatically arrests the prime mover 16 and simultaneously arrests the prime mover of the filter cigarette making machine 42. The signal from the limit switch 53 overrides the signal from the limit switch 52 so that the prime mover 16 is arrested as soon as the end wall 21 reaches its left-hand end position, as viewed in FIG. 1, even though the pressure upon the end wall 19 is sufficient to cause this end wall to close the limit switch 52.

If the cause of malfunctioning of the packing machine 8 is eliminated so that this machine again starts to consume or process filter cigarettes 2 furnished by the reservoir 1, the filter cigarette making machine 42 preferably remains idle for a certain period of time. Consequently, the number of cigarettes in the reservoir 1 decreases and the aforementioned torsion spring is free to pivot the end wall 19 toward and finally all the way to the phantom-line position of FIG. 1. In such position, the end wall 19 actuates the limit switch 51 which transmits to the circuit 50 a signal serving to start the prime mover 16 for the belt transmission 14 in a direction to advance the end wall 21 toward the end wall 19, i.e., to reduce the capacity of the reservoir 1. As the end wall 21 travels toward the end wall 19, the pressure which the cigarettes 2 in the reservoir 1 exert against the end wall 19 increases so that this end wall returns to the neutral position in which the limit switches 51 and 52 are open. This causes the circuit 50 to transmit to the prime mover 16 an arresting signal so that the end wall 21 comes to a halt. The same procedure is repeated again and again until the end wall 21 reaches a median position intermediate its left-hand and righthand end positions at which time the prime mover of the filter cigarette making machine 42 is started again, either by hand or automatically as soon as the end wall 21 reaches a position at a preselected distance from the end wall 19.

If the, output of the filter cigarette making machine 42 decreases, i.e., if the filter cigarette making machine turns out fewer filter cigarettes 2 per unit of time or comes to a complete stop, the packing machine 8 consumes or processes more cigarettes than delivered by the feeding device 3. Consequently, the number of cigarettes in the reservoir 1 decreases and the end wall 19 is free to pivot in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 1, to ultimately close the limit switch 51 which transmits a signal to the circuit 50 whereby the prime mover 16 begins to move the end wall 21 toward the end wall 19. If the filter cigarette making machine 42 remains idle or operates at less than full capacity for a longer period of time, the end wall 21 reaches its right-hand end position in which the trip 56 on the mobile floor 13 actuates the limit switch 54 whereby the signal from the limit switch 54 overrides the signal from the limit switch 51 so that the prime mover 16 is immediately arrested. At the same time, the signal from the limit switch 54 effects a stoppage of the prime mover for the packing machine 8.

When the cause of malfunctioning of the filter ciga rette making machine 42 is eliminated and the machine 42 is started again, the packing machine 8 preferably remains idle unitl the supply of filter cigarettes 2 in the reservoir 1 is replenished, i.e., until the end wall 21 returns to a predetermined median position. The packing machine 8 can be started by hand or automatically, for example, by the end wall 21 or by the floor 13 of the reservoir 1.

The cigarettes 2 which enter the chute 61 by way of the outlet 18 of the reservoir 1 descend therein by gravity toward the distributor 6. The divergent walls 58, 59 of the chute 61 insure that the cigarettes 2 which leave the reservoir 1 remain parallel to each other (see FIG. 3). It is preferred to incline the end wall 19 of the reservoir 1 in the same way as the wall 58 therebelow. The roof-shaped stream divider 69 of the distributor 6 divides the stream of cigarettes 2 in the chute 61 into two smaller streams which respectively descend in the inclined ducts 62 and 63. The aforementioned mutual inclination of the walls 64, 66 and 67, 68 insures that the cigarettes 2 remain parallel to each other during travel toward the block forming assembly 7 of the packing machine 8. Due to the illustrated inclination of the chute 61 relative to a vertical plane, the pressure of cigarettes upon the stream divider 69 is relatively low. This, combined with the inclination of the ducts 62 and 63, prevents or reduces the likelihood of jamming of filter cigarettes on their way toward the block forming assembly 7. Such jamming would be likely to occur if one or more cigarettes were permitted to assume a position which is not exactly or substantially normal to the plane of FIG. 1 or FIG. 2.

An important advantage of the improved apparatus is that the endless conveyors of the feeding device 3 positively engage the cigarettes 2 during transport from the filter cigarette making machine 42 to the inlet 47 of the reservoir 1. This reduces the likelihood of misalignment and/or deformation of cigarettes due to excessive pressure against each other. Another advantage of the apparatus is that the reservoir 1, the feeding device 3 and the evacuating device 4 are located at a level above the machines 8 and 42 so that their floor space requirements are minimal or nonexistent. The height of the supply of cigarettes 2 in the reservoir 1 can exceed the height of cigarettes in the reservoirs of conventional apparatus wherein the reservoir receives cigarettes from below. The feature that the inlet 47 is located in the upper part of the reservoir 1 further contributes to compactness of the feeding device 3 because the endless conveyors 26, 27, 33, 34 of the feeding device can transport the cigarettes 2 first upwardly (endless conveyors 33, 34) and thereupon downwardly (drum 26 and bands 27) so that the feeding device can transport a large number of cigarettes even if its height is less than the overall length of that portion of the path for cigarettes 2 which extends between the machine 42 and the inlet 47 of the reservoir 1.

12 The placing of the inlet 47 directly substantially above the outlet 18 of the reservoir 1 is desirable because the height of the supply of cigarettes 2 in the reservoir decreases first in the region above the outlet, not only when the capacity of the reservoir 1 is constant but also when the end wall 21 is being moved away from the end wall 19 to thereby increase the capacity of the reservoir. Therefore, the cigarettes which enter the reservoir by way of an inlet which is located above the outlet and is remote from the mobile end wall 21 encounter very little resistance and are thus less likely to undergo deformation and/or to deform the adjacent cigarettes of the supply in the interior of the reservoir.

FIG. 4 illustrates a second apparatus which constitutes a modification of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1. All such pats of the apparatus of FIG. 4 which are identical with or clearly analogous to the corresponding parts of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1-3 are denoted by similar reference characters plus 100.

The lower or discharge end 171 of the inclined chute 161 which receives a stream of filter cigarettes 102 from the reservoir 101 is spaced apart from a receiving station 172 of the packing machine 174. The receiving station 172 is followed by a block forming assembly 173 of the packing machine 174. The means for transporting cigarettes 102 from the discharge end 171 of the chute 161 to the receiving station 172 comprises a horizontal conveyor 176 which constitutes a levelling means for the cigarettes 102 and includes an endless belt 179 trained over rollers 177 and 178. The upper stretch of the belt 179 serves to transport cigarettes 102 from the discharge end 171 to the receiving station 172. The roller 177 of the conveyor 176 can be driven by a belt transmission 181 which receives motion from a rotary electromagnet 182. The electromagnet 182 can drive the belt 179 at different speeds. The conveyor 176 further comprises two side walls (not shown) which are parallel to the plane of FIG. 4. The receiving station 172 accommodates a monitoring device in the form of a level detector 183 which is connected with the electromagnet 182 by way of an electronic regulating circuit 184.

The operation of the apparatus of FIG. 4 is similar to that of the apparatus which is shown in FIGS. 1-3. The differences between the operation of the two apparatus are as follows: The filter cigarettes 102 which reach the discharge end 171 of the chute 161 accumulate on the upper stretch of the endless belt 179 and form thereon several layers extending all the way to the receiving station 172. The uppermost layer of the supply of filter cigarettes 102 on the upper stretch of the belt 179 is exposed so that the attendants are free to examine the quality (particularly the appearance) of filter cigarettes 102 as well as to remove samples which can be examined (either by the naked eye or by suitable instrumentalities) and, if satisfactory, returned onto the belt 179. The level detector 183 at the receiving station 172 monitors the quantity of cigarettes at the station 172 and transmits appropriate signals to the regulating circuit 184 which controls the speed of the electromagnet 182 for the roller 177. Thus, the speed of counterclockwise rotation of the roller 177 is a function of the quantity of cigarettes on the upper stretch of the belt 179. This insures that the rate of delivery of cigarettes to the receiving station 172 and the block forming assembly 173 of the packing machine 174 remains substantially constant.

It will be noted that the chute 161 of FIG. 4 does not deliver a stream of cigarettes to two or more conveyors in the form of ducts such as those shown at 62 and 63 in FIG. I. This is due to the fact that the consumption of the packing machine 174 of FIG. 4 is assumed to be lower than that of the packing machine 8. The latter packing machine is assumed to have a very high output; therefore. it must receive two or more streams of cigarettes each of which is converted into a succession of blocks or groups containing arrays of parallel articles and being ready to be introduced into prefabricated or simultaneously produced soft or hard packs. As a rule, the subdivision of the multi-layer stream of cigarettes in the duct 61 into two or more smaller streams will take place immediately upstream of the block forming assembly of the packing machine.

FIG. 5 illustrates a portion of a third apparatus which constitutes a slight modification of the apparatus shown in FIG. 4. All such parts of the apparatus of FIG. 5 which are clearly analogous to or identical with the corresponding parts of the apparatus shown in FIG. 4 are denoted by similar reference characters plus 100. The main difference between the apparatus of FIGS. 4 and 5 is that the latter comprises two level detectors 291, 292 which are located slightly upstream of the receiving station 272 between a first horizontal conveyor 276 and a second horizontal conveyor 286. The purpose of the detectors 291., 292 is to monitor delivery of cigarettes to the packing machine 274 with a high degree of accuracy so as to insure that the packing machine receives cigarettes at the exact rate at which the cigarettes are being consumed or processed. The detectors 291 and 292 are conventional photoelectric detectors which respectively transmit signals to a first relay 293 and a time delay relay 294. The signals from the relay 293 control the prime mover 296 for the roller 277 of the endless belt 279 forming part of the conveyor 276. The prime mover 296 is a reversible-polarity multispeed electric motor which can drive the roller 277 clockwise or counterclockwise. The conveyor 286 has an endless belt 286a which is trained over rollers 287 and 288. The roller 287 is driven by a belt transmission 289 which receives motion from the prime mover (not shown) of the packing machine 274 so that the speed of the belt 286a is synchronized with the speed of moving parts of the machine 274. The upper stretch of the belt 286a is parallel and preferably coplanar with the upper stretch of the belt 279.

The motor 296 can drive the belt 279 at two or more speeds. The exact speed at which the roller 277 drives the belt 279 is determined by the nature and/or intensity of the signal which is transmitted to the motor 296 by the first relay 293.

The operation of the structure shown in FIG. 5 is as follows:

The chute 261 receives a stream of filter cigarettes from the outlet of the reservoir (not shown), and its lower or discharge end 271 delivers such cigarettes onto the upper stretch of the endless belt 279. The motor 296 drives the belt 279 in the direction indicated by the arrow so that the layers of cigarettes thereon advance toward the upper stretch of the belt 286a prior to reaching the receiving station 272 which is located immediately upstream of the block forming assembly 273 of the packing machine 274.. If the speed of the packing machine 274 is reduced, or if this machine is arrested due to malfunctioning or for any other reason,

the conveyor 286 comes to a standstill because the belt transmission 289 receives motion from the prime mover of the packing machine. Consequently, filter cigarettes will accumulate in the region between the conveyors 276 and 286 so that they form a pile extending above the level of both photoelectric detectors 291 and 292. The detector 291 then transmits a signal which causes the first relay 293 to arrest the motor 296, preferably by interrupting the connection between the motor 296 and a suitable source of electrical energy, not shown. Thus, the belt 279 of the conveyor 276 is arrested and the conveyor 276 ceases to deliver cigarettes 202 from the discharge end 271 of the chute 261 toward the receiving station 272 of the packing machine 274.

If the packing machine 274 is started again, the conveyor 286 begins to deliver cigarettes to the block forming assembly 273 so that the supply of cigarettes in the region of the detectors 291, 292 decreases. Consequently, the level of cigarettes descends below the detector 291 which causes the first relay 293 to transmit a signal which starts the motor 296 for the belt 279 of the conveyor 276. The motor 296 preferably comprises a low-speed winding and a high-speed winding. When the detector 291 is exposed, the relay 293 energizes the low-speed winding of the motor 296 so that the belt 279 begins to transport filter cigarettes at the lower of two speeds.

If the packing machine 274 consumes or processes more cigarettes than supplied by the belt 279, the level of cigarettes on the belt 279 descends below the photoelectric detector 292 which causes the relay 293 to energize the high-speed winding of the motor 296 so that the belt 279 begins to supply cigarettes at a higher rate. As the belt 279 is driven at a higher speed, the supply of cigarettes in the region of the detectors 291 and 292 increases so that the cigarettes rise to a level above the lower detector 292. This causes the detector 292 to transmit a signal to the time delay relay 294 which changes the condition of the first relay 293 after the elapse of a preselected and preferably variable interval of time so that the first relay 293 energizes the lowspeed winding of the motor 296. Thus, as soon as the supply of cigarettes rises to or above the level of the detector 292, the speed of the belt 279 is reduced to the lower of two speeds. If desired, the signal from the time delay relay 294 to the first relay 293 can cause the relay 293 to operate the motor 296 at a speed which is proportional to the average speed of the packing machine 274 so that the rate of consumption of cigarettes is then identical with or closely approaches the rate of delivery of cigarettes to the reservoir which supplies cigarettes to the chute 261. The first relay 293 comprises a holding circuit which insures that the motor 296 continues to drive the roller 277 after the time relay 294 is deenergized.

If the rate of consumption of cigarettes by the packing machine 274 decreases again, the just-described sequence of operations is repeated to thus insure that the rate of delivery of cigarettes to the receiving station 272 closely approximates or matches the requirements of the packing machine. The exact details of the relays 293 and 294 form no part of the present invention; such relays are well known in the art.

FIG. 6 illustrates a slight modification of the structure shown in FIG. 5. All such parts of the structure shown in FIG. 6 which are identical with or clearly analogous to the corresponding parts of the structure shown in FIG. 5 are denoted by similar reference characters plus 100. The main difference between the two structures is that the apparatus of FIG. 6 employs a roller conveyor having a row of rollers 397 which replace the conveyor 286 of FIG. 5. The rollers 397 are driven by the prime mover of the packing machine 374 or by a separate prime mover (not shown) which is preferably operated in synchronism with the prime mover of the packing machine. The distance between the rollers 397 is such that they allow filter cigarettes to pass therebetween on their way toward the block forming assembly 373 of the packing machine 374.

The evacuating devices 104, 204 and 304 of FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 exhibit the advantage that they allow for visual inspection of cigarettes immediately or shortly before the cigarettes enter the packing machine or another consumer. Such visual inspection is often desirable in spite of the fact that all or nearly all modern machines for the making of rod-shaped smokers products are equipped with more or less sophisticated testing devices which are capable of detecting leaks in the wrappers, unsatisfactory density of tobacco in the tobacco containing ends and/or other defects of such products. For example, visual inspection of cigarettes between the inclined chute 161 and the receiving station 172 of the packing machine 174 shown in FIG. 4 may allow for detection of improper imprinting of the wrappers with the trade name and/or other indicia of the manufacturer. Visual inspection may result in detection of the absence of printed matter, for example, due to exhaustion of the supply of bronze powder or other coloring matter in the imprinting apparatus. The art is replete with proposals for the construction of devices which can detect the absence of printed matter or unsatisfactory imprints; however, such devices are extremely complex and unreliable, mainly due to the fact that the cigarettes are likely to roll through an unpredictable angle before they reach the inspecting station and also because the detecting device is likely to react to the presence ofa tobacco shred or other foreign particle. The inspection of at least some cigarettes of the stream which travels toward the packing machine is made possible by using in the evacuating unit of FIG. 4, 5 or 6 at least one horizontal conveyor which receives cigarettes from the chute and is open at the top so that it exposes at least those cigarettes which form the uppermost layer of the stream of cigarettes thereon. It has been found that the inspection (even spotwise inspection) of a portion of the stream of cigarettes on the horizontal conveyor 176, 276, or 376 and/or 397 suffices to insure timely detection of improperly imprinted or otherwise defective cigarettes on the upper stretches of these horizontal conveyors. Horizontal conveyors which employ endless belts having upper stretches which support one or more layers of cigarettes constitute extremely simple, inexpensive and reliable means for allowing visual inspection of cigarettes thereon.

The photoelectric or otherwise constructed level de tectors which are associated with the horizontal conveyors of FIGS. 46 insure that the packing machine receives a continuous supply of cigarettes, i.e.. that the stream of cigarettes on the horizontal conveyor or conveyors is not interrupted (which could lead to automatic stoppage of the packing machine) as well as that the horizontal conveyor or conveyors do not carry an excessive number of cigarettes such as could interfere with timely detection of improperly imprinted or otherwise defective articles. The quantity of cigarettes on the horizontal conveyor or conveyors can be readily regulated by the simple expedient of varying the speed of the conveyor or conveyors by a drive which can be operated stepwise or at two or more different speeds. This insures proper delivery of cigarettes to the packing machine as well as satisfactory removal of cigarettes from the lower end of the chute.

Referring finally to FIG. 7, there is shown a portion of a further apparatus which comprises a magazine or reservoir 401, an article feeding device 403 and an evacuating device 404. All such parts of the apparatus shown in FIG. 7 which are clearly analogous to or identical with the corresponding parts of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 1-3 are denoted by similar reference characters plus 400. The L-shaped guide 49 of FIG. 2 is replaced with a loop-shaped guide or wall 501 which is mounted on a stationary support 502 and can pivot between the solid-line and phantom-line positions of FIG. 7 to thereby determine the width of the inlet of the reservoir 401. The guide or wall 501 is mounted directly below the driven-drum 426 and is located to the right of the driven rollers 428 for the endless bands 427 of the article feeding device 403. The guide 501 may consist of elastomeric material, for example, of a suitable synthetic plastic substance. The filter cigarettes 402 which travel in the gap between the bands 427 and the periphery of the drum 426 must pass between a stationary wall 503 of the inlet 507 and the pivotable loopshaped guide 501 on their way into the interior of the reservoir 401. When the supply of cigarettes in the inlet 507 of the reservoir 40] increases, the guide 501 pivots counterclockwise from the solid-line position to the phantom-line position of FIG. 7.

The apparatus of FIG. 7 further comprises a roll 504 which is located between the top wall or cover 448 of the reservoir 401 and the stationary wall 503 of the inlet 507 so that it is contacted by the cigarettes 402 which enter the interior of the reservoir. The roll 504 is driven clockwise or counterclockwise by the belt transmission for the movable floor 413 of the reservoir 401. The roll 504 rotates clockwise when the roller 411 for the floor 413 rotates counterclockwise, and the roll 504 rotates counterclockwise when the roller 411 is driven by the floor 413 to rotate in a clockwise direction. The purpose of the roll 504 is to assist in properly filling the interior of the reservoir 401 with filter cigarettes 402. The speed of this roll corresponds to the speed of the floor 413 of the reservoir 401. It was found that the roll 504 allows for proper filling of the reservoir 401 even if the top wall 448 is located at a considerable distance from the floor 413. Furthermore, the roll 504 reduces the pressure which the filter cigarettes 402 exert against the left-hand side of the end wall 419 of the reservoir 401.

The end wall 419 is provided with a substantially V- shaped projection 506 which is located opposite the roll 504 at a level below the stationary support 502 for the pivotable guide 501. The purpose of the projection 506 is to effect a partial seeparation of the inlet 507 from the main portion of the internal space of the reservoir 401. Moreover, the projection 506 insures that the cigarettes 402 between the end wall 419 and roll 504 are closely adjacent (firmly packed) to each other.

In the apparatus of FIG. 7. the end wall 419 is pivotable about the horizontal pivot member 422 and is further pivotable about the axis of a hinge 505 which axis is normal to and intersects or crosses in space the axis of the pivot member 422. The hinge 505 is movable lengthwise with respect to guide means 508, 511 respectively provided on the end wall 419 and on a fixed holder 509. The arrangement is such that the hinge 505 is movable in parallelism with the axes of cigarettes 402 in the reservoir 401. The holder 509 for the guide means 51 1 further supports the pivot member 422. The purpose of the end wall 419 which is movable about two mutually inclined axes (of the member 422 and hinge 505 is to insure that the left-hand surface of the end wall 419 can abut against the adjacent cigarettes 402 along the full length of such cigarettes irrespective of the thickness and/or density of the cigarettes. As explained hereinbefore, the hardness of the filter stub of a filter cigarette normally exceeds the hardness of the other end which is filled with tobacco. The justdescribed mounting of the end wall 419 insures that the latter can abut against such cigarettes irrespective of the difference between the hardness of their filtertipped and tobacco-containing ends.

The possibility of moving the hinge 505 in parallelism with the cigarettes 402 in the reservoir 401 renders it possible to place the end wall 419 in an optimum position with respect to the adjacent cigarettes irrespective of the length and/or hardnesses of cigarettes in the reservoir. It was found that the end wall 419 (in view of its mounting and in view of the provision of the projection 506 thereon) is capable of properly conforming to the position of cigarettes 402 in the adjacent portions of the reservoir 401 and its inlet 507 even though the cigarettes may not be exactly parallel to each other.

The roll 504 further insures that the reservoir 401 retains a certain number of cigarettes 402 even when the packing machine (not shown) operates at full speed, i.e., when the reservoir discharges a large number of cigarettes per unit of time.

The end wall 419 has a projection or arm 419d which is pivotable between two proximity switches 512, 513 each of which constitutes a so-called contactless initiator. These switches replace the limit switches 51 and 52 of FIG. 1. The positions of the switches 512, 513 with respect to the arm 419d are preferably such that the electronic relay circuit (not shown) in FIG. 7 but corresponding to the circuit 50 of FIG. 1) can react in response to relatively small angular displacements of the end wall 419. This is desirable because it insures that the cigarettes 402 can move toward and through the reservoir 401 with less turbulence and are subjected to less pronounced deforming stresses.

A reflection-type photoelectric detector 514 is adjacent to the gap between the bands 427 and the drum 426 of the article feeding device 403. This detector produces a signal when the cigarettes 402 begin to pile up between the parts 426 and 427 whereby such signal results in slowing down or stoppage of the filter cigarette making machine (not shown).

The inlet 507 of the reservoir 401 shown in FIG. 7 reduces the likelihood of misalignment of cigarettes 402 in the interior of the reservoir even if the upper level of the supply of'cigarettes in the reservoir is well below the drum 426. This is due to provision of the mobile. loop-shaped elastic wall 501 which cooperates with the stationary wall 503 of the inlet 507 to engage and control the movement of cigarettes during travel from the periphery of the drum 426 onto the cigarettes in the inte rior of the reservoir 401. The arrangement may be such that the detector or feeler including the end wall 419 causes the other end wall to move with the floor 413 toward the end wall 419 as soon as the level of cigarettes 402 in the inlet 507 descends below the mobile wall 501. This insures that the cigarettes 402 which enter the reservoir 401 are guided by the walls 501 and 503 all the way from the gap between the drum 426 and bands 427 to the point of contact with the uppermost layer of cigarettes in the interior of the reservoir. The

mounting of the end wall 419 is preferably such that I this end wall reacts to relatively small changes in the pressure of cigarettes 402 against its left-hand surface so that the capacity of the reservoir 401 can be increased before the pressure reaches a value which would be likely to bring about permanent deformation of cigarettes in the reservoir. The sensitivity of the feeler including the end wall 419 (and particularly the end wall 19 of FIG. 1) is enhanced if each cigarette which enters the reservoir has a horizontal component of movement toward the adjacent surface of the end wall 19 or 419.

The guide 501 of FIG. 7 constitutes an adjustable element of the guide means 501, 503 which flanks the inlet 507 to insure that the effective height or length of the guide means conforms to the height of the supply of cigarettes 402 in the inlet. The effective length or height of the guide means 501, 503 decreases in response to pivoting of the guide 501 toward the phantom-line position of FIG. 7. The cigarettes 402 which 7 enter the reservoir 401 in such phantom-line position of the guide 501 have a horizontal component of movement so that they can bear against the lefthand surface tors and feelers insure that the movable parts of the reservoir can react with little delay to thus guarantee that the height of the supply of cigarettes in the reservoir need not fluctuate within a wide range. This also contributes to gentle treatment of cigarettes as well as to practically trouble-free transport of cigarettes from the article feeding device to the evacuating device.

Another advantage of the improved apparatus is that the inclined chute of the evacuating device need not contain a large number of superimposed cigarettes. This reduces the pressure which the cigarettes therein exert against each other and thereby reduces the likelihood of excessive deformation of cigarettes, particularly of the tobacco containing portions of cigarettes. The gentle treatment of cigarettes in'the reservoir and in the evacuating device is further enhanced by the aforementioned divergent mounting of the walls which flank portions of the reservoir and of the conveyor or conveyors of the evacuating device. This is particularly important when the articles are filter cigarettes because the filter-tipped ends of such cigarettes are normally harder and their diameters larger than the hardness and diameters of the tobacco-containing ends. The justmentioned divergence of the walls reduces the likelihood of misalignment of filter cigarettes on their way through the reservoir and the evacuating device.

Still another important advantage of the improved apparatus is that the operators can observe the flow of cigarettes from the producing machine or machines to the consuming machine or machines in spite of the fact that such machines are directly or substantially directly coupled to each other. The observation of the flow of articles is particularly convenient when the apparatus embodies the structure shown in FIGS. 4, or 6. The structures shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 exhibit the additional advantage that the flow and condition of articles can be inspected immediately or shortly before the articles enter the consuming (packing) machine, i.e., during the last stage of transport so that the thus inspected articles are unlikely to be damaged during further transport into the consumer. 7

Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features which fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic and specific aspects of our contribution to the art and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the claims.

What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims:

1. Apparatus for transporting rod-shaped articles from a source to a consumer, particularly for transporting rod-shaped smokers products from at least one producing machine to at least one packing or other processing machine, comprising a plurality of successive units defining an elongated path extending from said source to said consumer, said units including a first unit constituting a variable-capacity reservoir arranged to store a variable supply of articles and having an inlet for admission of articles into and an outlet for discharge of articles from the interior thereof, said reservoir comprising a first end wall adjacent to said inlet, a second end wall located opposite said first end wall, displacing means actuatable to move said second end wall toward and away from said first end wall to thereby change the capacity of said reservoir, and actuating means for said displacing means including pressure-responsive feeler means, said feeler means including said first end wall and said first end wall being movable by the articles of said supply between a plurality of positions each of which is indicative of a different number of articles in said supply, said units further including a second unit constituting feeding means for moving the articles from said source to said inlet, said path having a downwardly extending portion along which the articles move toward said inlet and said feeding means including conveyor means for positively engaging and moving the articles between said source and said inlet.

2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said displacing means comprises an endless flexible element constituting the floor of said reservoir.

3. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said reservoir further comprises means for limiting the height of the supply of articles therein.

4. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said conveyor means comprises at least one pair of endless conveyors located opposite each other and defining a gap for the articles moving toward said inlet, and drive means for said conveyors.

5. Apparatus as defined in claim 4, wherein said conveyors include at least one endless flexible element, said path further having a second portion defined by said second unit and extending upwardly toward said first mentioned portion.

6. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said reservoir further comprises top wall means adjacent to said inlet.

7. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said displacing means is a floor, said inlet being located substantially vertically above said outlet of said reservoir.

8. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said reservoir further comprises guide means flanking said inlet thereof and being adjustable so that the effective length thereof conforms to the height of the supply of articles in said inlet.

9. Apparatus as defined in claim 8, wherein said guide means comprises a stationary wall adjacent to one side of that portion of said path which extends through said inlet and a mobile wall located opposite said stationary wall.

10. Apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein at least one of said last mentioned walls consists at least in part of elastomeric material.

11. Apparatus as defined in claim 9, wherein said mobile wall is loop-shaped.

12. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said feeding means comprises a portion adjacent to said inlet and arranged to deliver into said reservoir articles in a direction having a horizontal component so that the articles entering said reservoir by way of said inlet tend to bear against said first end wall.

13. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 for transporting articles of the type having a larger-diameter end and a smaller-diameter end, wherein said first end wall is positioned to compensate for differences in the width of said supply as a result of the different diameters of the ends of articles forming said supply.

14. Apparatus as defined in claim 13, wherein said reservoir comprises two additional walls flanking said outlet thereof and being inclined relative to each other to compensate for the different diameters of the ends of articles leaving said reservoir by way of said outlet.

15. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said actuating means further comprises reversible drive means for said displacing means and control means for said drive means, said control means including said pressure-responsive feeler means and said feeler means being arranged to produce first signals in response to increasing pressure and second signals in response to decreasing pressure of articles forming said supply, said drive means being responsive to said first and second signals to respectively move said second end wall away from and toward said first end wall by way of said displacing means.

16. Apparatus as defined in claim 15, wherein each of said plurality of positions of said first end wall corresponds to a different pressure of articles forming said supply, said feeler means further comprising signal generating limit switches actuatable by said first end wall in predetermined positions of said first end wall.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4023669 *Mar 27, 1975May 17, 1977Molins LimitedConveyor systems for cigarettes and the like
US4078647 *Oct 16, 1974Mar 14, 1978Hauni-Werke Korber & Co. KgApparatus for transporting cigarettes or the like
US4142622 *Apr 7, 1977Mar 6, 1979G.D. Societa Per AzioniStorage unit for compensating production imbalances between cigarette-manufacturing machines and a packeting machine
US4147247 *May 9, 1977Apr 3, 1979Molins LimitedApparatus for feeding rod-like articles
US4149545 *Feb 4, 1977Apr 17, 1979Liggett Group Inc.Cigarette making and packing system
US4311229 *Sep 8, 1976Jan 19, 1982Molins LimitedApparatus for handling rod-like articles
US4380286 *Nov 5, 1980Apr 19, 1983G. D. Societa' Per AzioniConveyor system for bar-shaped articles, particularly cigarettes
US4574938 *Dec 22, 1983Mar 11, 1986Sasib S.P.A.Buffer magazine for rod-like articles
US4580939 *Dec 8, 1983Apr 8, 1986Molins Machine Company Inc.Feeding device for cigarette filters and similar rods
US4948321 *Jan 27, 1989Aug 14, 1990Griffin & CompanyAutomated storage system
US5040941 *May 9, 1990Aug 20, 1991Griffin & CompanyAutomatic storage system
US5135008 *Mar 18, 1991Aug 4, 1992Korber AgMethod of and apparatus for making filter cigarettes
US5235379 *May 16, 1989Aug 10, 1993Minolta Camera Kabushiki KaishaCamera system
US6368041 *Sep 26, 2000Apr 9, 2002Philip Morris IncorporatedDrum elevator system
Classifications
U.S. Classification198/347.3, 198/524, 414/295, 414/327, 414/323
International ClassificationA24C5/00, A24C5/35
Cooperative ClassificationA24C5/35
European ClassificationA24C5/35
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 1, 1987ASAssignment
Owner name: KORBER AG
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNORS:HAUNI-WERKE KORBER & CO. KG (MERGED INTO);KORBER GESELLSCHAFT MIT BESCHRANKTER HAFTUNG (CHANGED TO);REEL/FRAME:004889/0874;SIGNING DATES FROM 19870617 TO 19870713