US 3895477 A
An apparatus for advancing articles along a path of travel and for selectively positioning the articles at various positions along the path comprises a vertical guideway for guiding a stack of articles and a set of claws disposed around the guideway releasably engage with the articles to successively position them in an initial starting position. A collapsible linkage extends into engagement with the article while in the initial position and the linkage collapses to effect advancement of the article to a working position. The linkage is alternately extended and collapsed by a reciprocatory motor. During the advancement of each article from the initial position to the working position, the article engages with the preceding article and pushes same to another position along the path of travel. A lifting device successively lifts the articles from the other position and raises them along another vertical guideway. A set of pawls disposed around this guideway releasably engage with the lifted articles to hold them in a final terminal position.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 11 1 Yamashita July 22, 1975  Inventor: Kameshiro Yamashita, Tokyo,
Japan  Assignee: Kabushiki Kaisha Seikosha, Japan  Filed: Mar. 21, 1973  Appl. No.: 343,499
 Foreign Application Priority Data Mar. 21, 1972 Japan 47-27447  U.S. Cl 515/59 R; 53/252; 214/1 BB; 254/122  Int. Cl B651) 57/20  Field of Search 53/59 R, 252, 251, 250, 53/249; 254/122; 74/521; 214/1 BB, 1 BT  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,834,165 5/1959 Bonebrake 53/252 X 2,896,384 7/1959 Carlsen et a1. 53/250 X 3,077,950 2/1963 Brown 53/390 X 3,165,869 l/l965 Cox 53/252 X 3,259,369 7/1966 Gridley 254/122 3,343,335 9/1967 Pearson 53/252 X 3,370,845 2/1968 Newcomb... 214/1 BT 3,421,283 I/l969 Schieser 53/250 X 6/1970 Ferguson 74/521 X 5/1973 Kramer et a1. 53/59 R Primary Examiner-J. M. Meister Attorney, Agent, or FirmRobert E. Burns; Emmanuel J. Lobato; Bruce L. Adams  ABSTRACT An apparatus for advancing articles along a path of travel and for selectively positioning the articles at various positions along the path comprises a vertical guideway for guiding a stack of articles and a set of claws disposed around the guideway releasably engage with the articles to successively position them in an initial starting position. A collapsible linkage extends into engagement with the article while in the initial position and the linkage collapses to effect advancement of the article to a working position. The linkage is alternately extended and collapsed by a reciprocatory motor. During the advancement of each article from the initial position to the working position, the article engages with the preceding article and pushes same to another position along the path of travel. A lifting device successively lifts the articles from the other position and raises them along another vertical guideway. A set of pawls disposed around this guideway releasably engage with the lifted articles to hold them in a final terminal position.
4Claims, 8 Drawing Figures APPARATUS FOR ADVANCING AND POSITIONING ARTICLES 7 The present invention relates generally to'an appartus for advancingand positioning articles along a path of travel and more particularly,relates to such an apparatus especially suitable for successively advancing boxes into a working position wherein the boxes may be charged with products manufactured .byautomated equipment. l
Conventionally, the products manufactured with press machines, automatic lathes zor other automated equipement are usually received in-boxes and then manually removed from the boxes at,a. later time. Even in the case of an automatic discharge system, such a system usually employs a plurality 'of sectoral boxes arranged on a turn table so that the :sectoral boxes are charged with products while the turn table rotates. Such a system is disadvantageous whenthe products are very numerous or so large that the'turntable must be unusually heavy since special fast-acting or heavyduty drive systems must be used- Moreover, such systems are disadvantageous because .they occupy too much working area.
It is therefore a primary feature of the present invention to provide a products discharging apparatus comprising vertical positioning means for supporting a plurality of boxes in a supporting position and for lowering the boxes on-by-one to an initial starting position, and a transverse positioning means for transversely advancing the boxes in a one-by-one manner'from the initial position to a working position wherein the hoses are charged with products.
A primary object of the present invention is to eliminate the disadvantages mentioned above by providing an apparatus for automatically advancing and positioning a great number of products having a larger dimension by weight than has been practicable with the prior art apparatuses. I
The above objects" as well as other objects and characteristic features of the present invention will become apparent upon a reading of the-following description and claims when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. in which: r 1
FIG. 1 is an elevational side view, partly in section, of one embodiment of the apparatus of-'t'he"present invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the apparatus of FIG. 1 with some parts removed for clarity;
FIG. 3 is a right side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;
FIGS. 4(a), 4(band 4(a) areexplanatory views showing the operation of the claws of the vertical positioning means A;
FIG. is an explanatory view showing the operation of the claws of the retaining means'D; and
FIG. 6 is a wiring schematic of an electric circuit for controlling the operation of the apparatus of the present invention. t
Now one embodiment of the-present invention will be described with reference to the drawings. A frame assembly 2 is supported on'a basetabl'e 8 and forms a guideway system for guiding a series- 0f "receiving boxes 1 along the frame assembly 2 to 'aplu'rality of different positions. As seen in FIG. 1, the boxes 1 are initially 'pos'itioned in the righthand guidewayan'd fall by gravity to an initial position 2a. Each receiving box 1 has a flange 4 extending around its upper periphery and the flanges cooperate with a set of pawl means 3,25 to effect vertical positioning of the boxes in both the righthand and lefthand guideways.
Vertical positioning means A is provided along the righthand guideway to vertically lower the boxes 1 in succession to initial position 2a. The vertical positoining means A comprises brackets 5, 5a mounted on the frame assembly and rods 6, 6a rotatably supported by the brackets 5, 5a. A pair of claws 3, 3 are affixed to each of the rods 6, 6a and each claw 3 is provided with an upper engaging pawl 3a and a lower engaging pawl 31). Links 7, 7a are connected to the rods 6, 6a from the brackets 5, 5a and the links are respectively pivotally connected through levers 12, 12a to driving rod 11. A reciprocatory fluid motor is connected to the rod 11 to drive same and the motor comprises an air cylinder 9 mounted on the base table 8 and a ram 10 slidably mounted in the cylinder and connected at one end to the driving rod 11.
When the air cylinder 9 is operated to move the ram 10 upwards, the rods 6, 6a are angularly displaced due to'the coaction of the driving rods 11, levers 12, 12a and links 7, 7a to swing or pivot the claws 3 upwardly as shown by the arrow in FIG. 4(a). Then the upper engaging pawls 3a disengage from the flange 4a of the receiving box 1a whereupon the box falls down a short distance by its own weight and the falling of the box is interrupted when the lower engaging pawls 3b engage the flange 4a as shown in FIG. 4(b). When the ram 10 retracts into the cylinder 9, the claws 3 swing downwardly so that the engaging pawls 3b disengage from the flange 4a. The receiving box la is no longer supported by the'vertical positioning means A and falls down into position 2b and the flange 4b of the receiving box 1b above the box 1a falls into engagement with the upper engaging pawls 3a. Therefore, the next successive receiving box lb becomes supported by the vertical positioning means A as shown in FIG. 4(c).
A transverse positioning means B coacts with the boxes which are moved into position 2b and effects successive movement of the boxes along a horizontal guideway. The transverse positioning means B comprises a collapsible and extendable linkage, shown as lazy-tongs 13 mounted on the base table 8. The left end portion of the linkage 13 is fixed, while the right end portion of the linkage has pins 14, 14 which are engageable with the right side of each receiving box 1. The
linkage 13 is actuated by a reciprocatory fluid motor comprising a ram 16 of an air cylinder 15. A rod 17 interconnects the ram 16 and the linkage 13 to extend and retract the linkage in response to operation of the air cylinder 15.
In this manner, when the air cylinder 15 is operated to advance the ram 16 to the left, the linkage 13 engages the box 1 by means of the pins 14, 14 and the linkage contracts to the position 13 to move the pins to positions 14', 14 as shown by chain lines in FIG. 2. Accordingly, the receiving box 1 is transferred to a products feeding position 2c. When the ram 16 retracts into the cylinder the linkage 13 is restored to its original position.
At the time of the return motion of the linkage, there is no receiving box 1 in the position 2b and the next receiving box is still retained in the position 2a. The pins 14, 14 can therefore return to their original positions, without interruption. After pins 14, 14 return to their original positions, the cylinder 9 is again operated to advance the receiving box 1 in the position 2a down to the position 2b in the same manner described above.
A lid 18 is mounted above the products feeding position 2c and the open end of a feed pipe 19 for feeding products from a press machine (not shown in the drawings) is fitted into a hole in the lid 18. The receiving box which is in the position 20 is then charged with products through the feed pipe 19.
When the receiving box 1 has been filled with products, the cylinder 15 is operated to contract the linkage 13. As a result the receivng box in the position 2b and thereby the receiving box in the products feeding position 20 are transferred one space to the left, and the receiving box filled with products reaches the discharge position 2d at the base of the lefthand guideway.
The charged receiving box transferred to the discharge position 2d is then lifted by elevating means C which comprises a lift 22 connected to a ram 21 of a cylinder 20. The receiving box 1 filled with products is automatically placed on the lift 22 when the box is moved to position 2d. When the cylinder 20 is operated to extend the ram 21, the lift 22 rises with the receiving box supported thereon.
The receiving box 1 is lifted to a position 22 and is temporarily retained in the position by a retaining means D. The retaining means D comprises brackets 23, 23a mounted to the frame assembly 2 and a pair of rods 24, 24a are pivotally supported by the brackets 23, 23a and a set of pawls 25 are mounted on the rods 24, 24a. A set of retaining pawls 26, 26a are also mounted on the rods 24, 24a. The ends of the pawls 26, 26a abut against the frame assembly 2 and the ends of flat springs 27, 2711 respectively bias the pawls 26, 26a as shown in FIG. 5. The other ends of the springs 27, 27a are affixed to the frame assembly 2.
Referring now to FIG. 5, when a receiving box is raised by the action of the cylinder 20 as mentioned above, the pawls 25 engage with the flange 4c of the receiving box 10 and the pawls are pivoted clockwise by the flange as the flange as the box is raised. The retaining pawl 26, 26a also pivot clockwise against the springs 27, 27a. When the flange 4c has passed the pawls 25, the retaining pawls 26, 26a are pushed by the springs 27, 27a in a counterclockwise direction till they are stopped by the frame assembly 2 and the pawls 25 also pivot counterclockwise and move up under the flange 40'. Then when the ram 21 retracts to bring the lift 22 down, the receiving box 10 is held by the pawls 25 at the elevated position 22.
By the above-mentioned operation, the receiving box 1 is transferred from the initial position 2a to the final elevated position 22. The box may then be taken out manually from the position 2e or may be removed automatically by means of a belt conveyor or the like.
' One embodiment of an electric circuit for controlling the actuation of the apparatus will now be described with reference to FIG. 6. A pair of power source terminals 32, 33 are connected to an electrical power source and a push button 34 is pushed to close the circuit whereupon a pilot lamp 35 is lighted to indicate that the circuit is ready for operation. At the starting time, the receiving box 1 which has been introduced from the upper part of the righthand guideway is supported at the initial position 2a by the vertical positioning means A. A manual switch 36 is then closed to light an indicating lamp 37 to indicate that a box is in the initial position 2a. Then a switch 38 for controlling the vertical positioning means A is closed to flow current through a solenoid 39.
The solenoid 39 controls the supplying and exhausting of motive fluid to the cylinders 9, 20. When the cylinders 9, 20 commence operating, there is no receiving box in the discharge position 2d so that the lift 22 initially moves up and down without lifting a box. The operation of the cylinder 9 pivots the pawl 3, 3a so that the receiving box 1 drops from the initial position 2a to the position 2b and then a switch 28 is closed. When a switch 38 is opened and a switch 40 is closed. current flows through a solenoid 41 which controls the application of motive fluid to the cylinder 15. The cylinder 15 then operates to contract the linkage l3 and transfer the receiving box to the products feeding position 2c. Then the switch 40 is again opened and the swithc 38 is closed and the next receiving box is transferred to the position 2b and the switch 28 is closed.
Then, as the switch 30 together with manual switch 36 are opened and an automatic switch 42 is closed an indicating lamp 43 is lighted. Subsequently the products formed by a press machine (not shown) are introduced through the feed pipe 19 into the receiving box which is in the products feeding position 2c. A counter (not shown) may be employed for counting the products and generating an output signal when a predetermined number of products has been counted and this output signal can then be used to close a switch 44. When the receiving box 1 reaches the position 2b, the switch 28 is closed as mentioned above, and a switch 30a for affirming that a receiving box has reached the discharge position 211 is closed.
Further, a switch 45a controlled by a timer (not shown) is normally closed and opens after current has flowed for a period of time set by the timer, but then immediately closes. In this manner, the current from the power source passes through switches 30a, 44, 28 to actuate a relay 46, when then closes switches 46a and 46b. The switch 46a permits the self-sustaining operation of the relay 46 while the switch 46b is closed to pass current to the solenoid 41. Therefore, the cylinder 15 is operated to transfer the two receiving boxes lo cated at the positions 2b and 20 to the left.
When the leading receiving box 1 arrives at the discharge position 2d, the switch 30a is opened and the other switch 30b is closed. As the switch 30a opens, the self-sustaining switch 46a opens and the relay 46 becomes deenergized whereupon the switch 46b opens so that no current flows through the solenoid 41. When the linkage l3 retracts, the switch 29 for detecting the retraction of the transverse positioning means B is closed. A switch 31 for detecting the lifting of the receiving box 1 is normally closed. The switch 45b is controlled like the switch 45a by the timer and is normally closed, and thus when current flows continuously for a predetermined period, the switch 45b is opened but immediately and automatically returns to the closed state.
The power source current passed through switches 30b, 29, 31 to energize the relay 47 which operates to close the switches 47a, 47b. The switch 47a permits the self-sustaining operation of the relay 47. When the switch 47b closes, the power source current flows through the solenoid 39 to actuate the cylinders 9, 20. ln-this case, since a receiving box 1 filled with products is located also at the discharge position 2d, the cylinder 9 operates to transfer a receiving box to the position 2b while the cylinder 20 operates to lift a receiving box in the discharge position 2d to the final elevated position 2e and the box is retained in the position 2e by the retaining means D. When the receiving box arrives at the final position 22, the switch 31 is opened to interrupt the energization of the relay 47, and then switches 47a and 47b are opened so that current does not flow through the solenoid 39.
When the next receiving box 1 which is located in feeding position 20 is filled with a predetermined number of products, the switch 44 is closed and the aforementioned cycle of operation is repeated whereby the receiving boxes are successively charged with products and transferred to a final position wherein they may be removed, from the apparatus.
If trouble is encountered during the operation of the apparatus such that the switch 45a or 45b flows current longer than a predetermined time period (normally 5-6 seconds) as determined by the timer, the timer will operate to open the switch 45aand close the switch 450. Switches 45a and 45b are once opened and then automatically closed, but this interim opening stops the action of the relay 46 or 47 so that switches 46a, 46b or 47a, 47b are opened to interrupt the action of the corresponding cylinder. When the switch 450 closes, a warning lamp 48 lights to indicate this malfunctioning of the apparatus.
A switch which is operated by a timer may be used in place of the switch 44 operated by a counter. In such a case, when the predetermined time period set by the timer elapses, the switch is closed and during this preset time period, the products are received in the receiving box.
As described hereinbefore, according to the present invention, a series of receiving boxes are successively charged with products and then successively shifted to another location. Moreover, receiving boxes having a special shape are not necessary in practicing the present invention and instead, the usual square receiving boxes may be employed. In addition, a counter permits one receiving box to admit only a predetermined number of products, and a timer prevents the transverse positioning means from continuing to work for an abnormally long period. Furthermore, when a vertical positioning means is employed, a large number of receiving boxes may be piled together to minimize the working spacev 1 claim:
1. Apparatus for advancing articles along a path and selectively positioning the articles at various positions along the path comprising:
first means receptive of a plurality of articles during use of the apparatus for successively positioning the articles in an initial starting position, said first means comprising means defining a vertical guideway aligned with said initial starting position and receiving therein during use of the apparatus a vertical stack of articles for guiding the articles vertically downward, a set of claws disposed around the periphery of said guideway and jointly engageable with an article in said guideway to support said article as well as all the remaining articles stacked thereupon, means mounting said sete of claws for pivotal movement together in synchronism to disengage from said article and engage the article stacked thereon thereby allowing the disengaged article to drop along said guidway into said initial starting position, and means for effecting synchronous pivotal movement of said set of claws;
second means coacting with said first means for successively advancing the articles one-by-one from said initial starting position along a path to a working position and then after a given time delay successively advancing the articles one-by-one from said working position along the path to another position, said second means comprising extendable and collapsible engaging means for releasably engaging with an article located in said initial position, means mounting said engaging means for movement along said path from said initial starting position to said working position, and actuating means for intermittently extending and collapsing said engaging means to effect successive advancement of the articles from said initial starting position to said working position and to push each article located in said working position into said other position by a succedding article being advanced into said working position; and
third means for successively advancing the articles from said other position to a final position.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1; wherein said engaging means comprises lazy-tong linkage means extensible to an open position for engaging with an article in said initial position and collapsible to a closed position for positioning the engaged article in said working position, and wherein said actuating means comprises means for alternately extending and collapsing said linkage means to effect successive advancement of articles and preparation for renewed advancement of articles.
3. Apparatus according to claim 2; wherein said actuating means comprises a fluid reciprocatory motor connected to said linkage means to alternately extend and collapse said linkage means in response to the reciprocal output motion of said motor.
4. Apparatus according to claim 1; wherein said third means comprises means defining another vertical guideway aligned with said other position and receptive of the articles advanced to said other position for guiding the articles vertically upward, a set of pawls disposed around the periphery of said other vertical guideway and jointly engageable with an article disposed in said other vertical guideway to support said article in said final position, means mounting said set of pawls for pivotal movement together in synchronism to engage with an article in said other vertical guideway to thereby support said article in said final position, and lift means for successively lifting the articles advanced to said other position along said other vertical guideway to said final position,