US 3392853 A
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y 1958 L.. MITCHELL ETAL 3,392,853
Filed Nov. 8, 1966 INVENTOR. GALE L. GREER BY REX L. MITCHELL WMVZ/ ATTORNEY July 16. 1968 R. L. MITCHELL ETAL 3,392,853
HIGH SPEED COUNTING AND STACKING APPARATUs Filed Nov. 8, 1966 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. GALE LGREER REX L. MITCHELL ATTORNEY I5 Sheets-Sheefi 5 l mvzzmoa GALE L. GREER 4 y /Q:;kI-. MITCHELL R. L. MITCHELL ET AL HIGH SPEED COUNTING AND STACKING APPARATUS July 16. 1968 Filed Nov- 8, 1966 ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,392,853 HIGH SPEED COUNTING AND STACKING APPARATUS Rex L. Mitchell, 3815 E. Fairmount, Phoenix, Ariz.
85018, and Gale L. Greer, 6625 E. Cypress, Scottsdale, Ariz. 85257 Filed Nov. 8, 1966, Ser. No. 592,796 2 Claims. (Cl. 214-6) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A high-speed apparatus for automatically counting and stacking a predetermined number of flat objects such as tortillas and other disc-like objects. An electric light source is mounted to have its light beam interrupted by the passing objects whereby two photocells control the flow of electric current through a solenoid whose plunger sequentially opens and closes horizontal receiving and discharge doors upon which said objects are deposited in sequence. These doors are positioned one above the other; the upper door opens each time a flat object is deposited thereupon, and the lower door opens after a desired number of objects has been counted and stacked thereupon.
This invention relates to a counting apparatus and more particularly to an apparatus for the high speed automatic counting and stacking of objects such as tortillas, sandpaper discs, metal discs, etc., into a predetermined grouped quantity for packaging.
It is a common practice in the manufacture of tortillas and similar products to package such products in predetermined quantities, such as a dozen, two dozen, and so forth, to a package. Such products are counted either by hand or by weight. Packaging by weight is inaccurate, and usually overweig-hin'g is resorted to in order to pack at least the required number of objects in a package. Hand packaging is expensive as well as inaccurate, and where the objects to be packaged are fragile, there is the further drawback of possible damage to such objects.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an object counting and stacking machine which will avoid the above disadvantages, and which will enable the objects to be counted and stacked at high speed into predetermined grouped quantities for packaging.
Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus of the above type which will handle articles of various sizes.
Another object of this invention is to provide an apparatus for stacking of fragile articles, such as tortillas and the like, without damaging the articles during the handling process.
A further object is to provide an apparatus of the above type in which the number of articles to be stacked may be predetermined and easily changed.
For the purpose of explaining a preferred embodiment of the invention, reference is made to the following drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a diagrammatic view of one embodiment of the counting and stacking machine;
FIGURE 2 is a plan view of the object positioning doors, and the door opening and closing means;
FIGURE 3 is a plan view of the positioning doors and the feed rollers which supply the objects to the stacking mechanism;
FIGURE 4 is a sectional view taken along line 44 of FIGURE 3;
FIGURES 5, 6, 7 and 8 show the succession of the operating stages of the stacking mechanism; and
FIGURE 9 shows a circuit diagram of a suitable control circuit for use in the apparatus of our invention.
3,392,853 Patented July 16, 1968 In the following description of the present invention, (a) similar numerals refer to similar parts in the several views, and (b) except for FIGURES 1 and 9, the description has reference to one single unit of the invention, it being understood by those skilled in the art that in commercial use the invention may consist of any suitable plurality of units such as units A and B which are shown in part in FIGURES 1 and 9, and which may be substantially identical with each other except that the roller driving means and conveyer driving means shown at 6, 8, 62 and 63 of FIGURE 1 are utilized to drive any desired number of individual units instead of two units as shown in FIGURE 1.
As shown in FIGURES 1, 2 and 4, unit cover 1 has a substantially rectangular shaped body including a downwardly slanting guide 1a and a pair of wells 1b. The sides of each well converge rearwardly and stop at a curved inner end. The slanting guides 1a have a rectangular shaped opening 10 to expose the top portion of each of the feed rollers 2.
The feed rollers 2 are mounted in suitable mounting plates 23 and are connected, eg by a chain and sprocket drive 63, to a belt 64 driven by a variable speed motor 6.
In operative relation with the frame of the counting apparatus thus far described, there are provided two endless conveyer bands shown at 50 and 57 respectively, 50 being the input or feed conveyer for the objects to be processed, and 57 the output conveyer for the objects having been counted and stacked.
As best shown in FIGURES 3 and 4, the invention further comprises a light source 25 and two light sensitive devices such as photocells 4 and 5, these elements being so arranged that the objects to be counted will pass between the light source and the photocells as the objects progress from right to left (FIG. 4), driven by the feed rollers 2. To insure a positive grip or contact of the feed rollers 2 with the objects 10 to be counted and stacked without causing damage to the articles in case they are of a fragile nature such as tortillas, for example, the feed rollers are provided with circumferential rubber treads or bands as shown at 2a of FIGURE 1.
FIGURES 2 and 5 through 8 show the object positioning, guiding and stacking device. As shown, each device comprises an upper door or shutter 3 and a lower door or shutter 3a, of which 3 is actuated by the electric control mechanism 13a, and the lower door 3a is actuated by the electric control mechanism 131;. Since the two control mechanisms are substantially identical in their construction, only one of them is illustrated in FIGURE 2. As shown, solenoid 13a actuates a plunger 14 the outer portion of which has the shape of a wedge 14a which is adapted to move in the triangular opening 14b of the door or shutter member 3. Two pivots are provided so that, when the core or plunger 14 is pulled inwardly by the energization of the solenoid 13a, the doors will pivot around points 140 and will open to the position shown in dotted lines in FIGURES 2 and 6; this, in turn, will cause the object 10 to drop through the door opening to the bottom of the stacking guide or container 19. The duration of the opening period is just sufi'icient to permit the unloading of the object, whereupon springs 14e pull the doors back to the closed position; 14 shows the springs in retracted position.
To correlate and control the timing of the various steps of the apparatus described, there are provided electric circuit elements including relay 37, stepping mechanism 38, light source 25, photocells 4 and 5, and the other circuit elements shown in FIGURE 9. The circuit shown is connected to a suitable source of power as shown conventionally at 40. The stepping mechanism 38 is adapted to be preset to close a circuit through switch 39, after for example, twelve objects are counted and registered by the stepping mechanism. The closure of switch 39 causes current to flow through solenoid winding 13b, thereby actuating the lower doors 3a as described above.
The operation of the automatic counting and stacking apparatus of the invention is substantially as follows:
The input conveyer belt 50 carries the objects 10 to be counted and stacked in the direction of the arrow, so that they may be engaged by the feed rollers 2 and moved into the path of the light beam emanating from light source 25 (FIG. 4) said beam being received by photocells 4 and 5 respectively. The relay 37 in the control circuit (FIG. 9), is not energized when light is incident on photocell 4. However, when the light is interrupted by the passage of the object 10 between the light source and the photocell 4, relay 37 is operated to close its contacts 29 and to feed current to the stepping mechanism 38. Mechanism 38 is adapted to step and thus rotate its ratchet by one tooth when the coil of relay 37 is deenergized. Thus, each object is automatically counted as it moves past the light source 25, upon the upper doors 3 of the stacking mechanism 39. The light beam emanating from source 25 passes freely through aperture 60 (FIGS. 2 and 3) when no object upon the door 3 obstructs the passage of the beam. But when the door 3 is loaded by an object, as described above, the light beam is interrupted, and photocell 5 closes its contact to send current through solenoid 13a, thus opening the upper door 3 and permitting the object to drop into stack box 19. When the number of objects which have accumulated in stack box 19 equals the predetermined setting of the stepping mechanism, switch 39 automatically closes its contacts, solenoid 13b is energized, and the lower doors 3a of stack box 19 are opened, thus dropping the entire stack, containing the desired number of objects, upon the output conveyer 57, ready for packaging.
Having now particularly described and ascertained the nature of our invention and the manner in which it is to be performed, it will be understood by those skilled in the ar-t that the above description is illustrative rather than restrictive and that ch-anges and modifications may be made without departing from the scope thereof as set forth in the appended claims.
1. An apparatus for counting and stacking objects into predetermined quantities, comprising, in combination,
input means for feeding said objects singly in a row in which each object succeeds a preceding object, output means for said objects when arranged in stacks, a source of light adapted to impinge a beam of light upon each of two light sensitive means, counting means operatively connected to said light sensitive means to count each of said objects upon exposu-re to said light sensitive means, said counter means being adapted to be preset so that upon the accumulation of a desired number of objects a release mechanism is actuated to drop said number of objects upon said output means, object stacking means for stacking a desired number of objects, said stacking means comprising upper and lower doors, said upper doors comprising means for opening said doors automatically when the light source indicates a loaded condition on said door, and said lower door comprising means for automatically opening said door when said counting device indicates the accumulation of said desired number of objects, said door opening and closing means being of substantially similar construction and including an electromagnetic device actuated upon the passage of electric current therethrough to move the core of said device, said core being integral with a wedge-shaped cam element movable in a triangular cut out portion in such a manner that the core and wedge device cause each half of the door to pivot about a fulcrum suitably provided on each of said half doors.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1, in which the contour of the aperture of the upper and lower shutter mechanisms is so dimensioned that where the object to be counted and stacked is of a fragile nature, said aperture contour and the gravity of said object will cooperate to insure a faultless descent of said object into the stacking means below, and thence upon the stack output means.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,563,071 11/1925 Brecknell 214-6 X 3,054,516 9/1962 Joa 214-6 3,205,794 9/ 1965 Califano et al. 214-6 X 3,291,010 12/ 1966 Williamson 214-6 X ROBERT G. SHERIDAN, Primary Examiner.
R. J. SPAR, Assistant Examiner.
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