Title:
AUTOMATIC BOTTLE FEEDER
United States Patent 3643780


Abstract:
This invention relates to an apparatus for handling bottles being fed to a bottling-washing machine. A plurality of bottles are placed in an upright position on a first conveyor means. At the output end of the first conveyor means is found a plurality of parallel divider plates for forming a plurality of discrete rows of bottles. A rotatable lift having diametrically extending claw means thereon receives each row of upright bottles and places each bottle in a horizontal position on a second conveyor. Detection means located above the second conveyor serve to produce a detection signal to the operator if the bottle is fed from the second conveyor to the bottle-washing machine conveyor with its bottom directed forward. If this condition is not corrected in a predetermined time, the drive connection to the lift is broken and bottle-feeding operation for the particular row is stopped.



Inventors:
Shimogaki, Toshio (Tokyo, JA)
Suzuki, Saburo (Osaka, JA)
Shigematsu, Hiroaki (Nara, JA)
Application Number:
05/075302
Publication Date:
02/22/1972
Filing Date:
09/24/1970
Assignee:
BARRY-WEHMILLER CO.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
198/719
International Classes:
B08B9/44; (IPC1-7): B65G47/52
Field of Search:
198/25,37,232
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
2861670Loading apparatus for bottle washing machines1958-11-25Read et al.
1310128N/A1919-07-15Meyer



Primary Examiner:
Sheridan, Robert G.
Assistant Examiner:
Werner, Frank E.
Parent Case Data:


This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 808,166 filed Mar. 18, 1969, now abandoned.
Claims:
What is claimed is

1. An automatic bottle feeder for use with a bottle washing machine, comprising: first conveyor means for conveying a plurality of bottles standing upright thereon in a predetermined direction; a plurality of parallel divider plates for dividing the space above the output end portion of said first conveyor means into a plurality of longitudinally extending sections, one between each adjacent two of said divider plates, through each of which sections said bottles are successively conveyed in a single row in said predetermined direction; a shaft extending transversely of said predetermined direction below said divider plates adjacent the output end of said first conveyor means; drive means for rotating said shaft; a plurality of lifting arms mounted on said shaft for rotation therewith, each said arm comprising a pair of diametrically oppositely extending claws so that as each said arm is rotated, said claws alternately receive one of said bottles after another from each said conveyor section, lifts and conveys said bottle further ahead, bringing said bottle into a substantially horizontal position; guide means associated with said divider plates for guiding said bottles as they are lifted and moved by said lifting arms; second conveyor means for receiving said bottles from said lifting arms to convey them toward the input of said bottle-washing machine; and means disposed above said second conveyor means for detecting any of said bottles on said second conveyor means with its bottom directed toward said washing machine input to produce a detection signal.

2. The bottle feeder of claim 1, further including torque limit clutch means disposed between said shaft and each lifting arm.

3. The bottle feeder of claim 1 wherein said shaft is divided into two axially aligned portions separately driven and said detecting means comprises two portions each being in controlling relation to one of said two shaft portions.

4. The bottle feeder of claim 1, further including clutch means disposed between said shaft and said shaft driving means; and means operable in response to said detection signal to cause said clutch means to break the drive connection between said driving means and said shaft, said clutch means being so arranged as to establish said drive connection at a predetermined position thereof relative to said drive shaft.

5. In a loading mechanism for container-processing apparatus, the combination with a container-receiving conveyor in said processing apparatus, of a rotary member spaced from said container-receiving conveyor to receive and initiate container movement toward said processing apparatus, conveying means cooperating with and extending from said first rotary member toward said processing apparatus and adapted to convey the containers into said container receiving conveyor of said processing apparatus, container supply conveyor means adjacent said rotary member on the side opposite from said conveying means, elements moved by said rotary member to pick up successive containers from said supply conveyor and move the containers onto said conveying means, said conveying means continuing container movement into said receiving conveyor of said processing apparatus, drive means operatively connected to said rotary member to move said means in timed relation with said container receiving conveyor, means disposed above said conveying means to detect any of said containers moved by said means bottom first toward said receiving conveyor to produce a detection signal, clutch means operative between said drive means and said rotary member, and means operable in response to said detection signal to operate said clutch means to break the drive connection between said drive means and said rotary member.

6. An automatic bottle feeder for use with a bottle washing machine comprising: first conveyor means to move bottles toward the washing machine in generally upright positions, the discharge of said first conveyor being spaced from the washing machine, bottle-aligning means cooperating with said first conveyor to arrange the bottles in a plurality of rows, rotary means adjacent said first conveyor discharge adapted to engage the respective rows of bottles and simultaneously move the bottles toward the washing machine, bottle delivering means generally horizontally directed and cooperating with said rotary means and extending to a discharge end adjacent the washing machine for loading bottles thereinto, said rotary means acting to move the upright bottles into a generally horizontal position for conveyance by said bottle-delivering means, means disposed adjacent said bottle-delivering means to detect any of said bottles on said delivering means with its bottom directed foremost toward the washing machine and produce a detection signal, means driving said rotary means in a predetermined timed relation with the washing machine, and means operable in response to said detection signal to stop the driving of said rotary means by said drive means upon detection of a bottle with its bottom directed foremost.

Description:
This invention relates to improvements in an automatic bottle feeder for use with a bottle-washing machine.

In recent years there has been a tendency for bottling plants to become larger in size and speedier in operation. The bottle-washing machine is one of the important components in a bottling plant and generally has a high capability of handling no less than 1,200 bottles per minute. With such a high capability, if the washing machine gets out of order, the efficiency thereof is greatly reduced even when the time during which the machine is shut down due to the disorder is relatively short. Therefore, it is advisable to remove any disorder or trouble from the machine as soon as possible and without shutting down the machine. Statistics show that no less than 80 percent of the troubles in the bottle-washing machine are caused in the bottle feeder provided at the input side of the washing machine to feed dirty bottles thereinto. Therefore, to provide a trouble-free bottle feeder is to improve the working efficiency of the washing machine as a whole.

One known type of bottle-washing machine includes a plurality, say, forty belt or chain conveyors arranged side by side each having a plurality of bottle-carrying baskets attached thereto for bottles to be cleaned to be put into one by one, so that as the conveyors circulate inside the washing machine, the bottles in the baskets are cleaned and sterilized. A bottle feeder is provided at the input side of the washing machine. The feeder receives many dirty bottles, arranges them in proper rows and feed them onto the washing machine, so that the bottles are put into the baskets of the machine one by one. The baskets are so dimensioned and contoured that they can receive a bottle only when it is put thereinto with its mouth forward. Otherwise, the bottle cannot be put into the basket but is often broken, or even if it has been pushed into a basket, it is impossible to clean the bottle because of its reverse position relative to the detergent-jetting nozzles of the washing machine. In the following description, when a bottle is positioned relative to the bottle receiving basket in a direction opposite to that in which it should properly be, it will be called a "reverse" bottle.

In one known type of bottle feeder, when a reverse bottle is forced into a basket, the basket is deformed or the bottle is broken and the broken pieces of glass are brought into the washing machine to cause further troubles therein. Moreover, even if a single reverse bottle occurs in one of the many rows of baskets, the whole machine must be stopped for removal or positional correction of the reverse bottle, with a resulting decrease in the working efficiency of the washing machine.

Accordingly, it is the primary object of the invention to provide an automatic bottle feeder for a bottle-washing machine, which is free from the troubles generally caused by reverse bottles. In accordance with the invention, a detector detects reverse bottles in front of the baskets, so that only those bottles which are properly positioned may further proceed to be received into the baskets, thereby preventing the breaking down of reverse bottles and/or deformation of the baskets. At the same time, when the detector has detected a reverse bottle, a warning, whether visual or acoustic, is given so that the operator of the machine corrects the reversed position of the bottle. If such correction requires a considerable period of time, the detection signal may be utilized to temporarily stop the operation of the machine.

The invention will be better understood by reading the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein;

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of the principal portion of the bottle feeder embodying the invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view taken along the line A--A in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 1 but showing a reverse bottle being detected;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged vertical section of a clutch means provided at one end of the drive shaft shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged elevation as viewed from the line B--B in FIG. 5.

Now referring in detail to the drawings, first to FIGS. 1 and 2, there are shown a plurality of endless chain conveyors 1 laterally spaced a suitable distance apart from each other and each running around a pair of sprocket wheels, only one of which is shown at 3, rigidly secured to a drive shaft 2 for rotation therewith. In practice there are provided 40 or more such conveyors, but only six of them are illustrated in the drawing. When the shaft 2 is rotated, the conveyors run at a constant speed in a predetermined direction, say, clockwise in FIG. 1.

A crossbeam 4 extends between a pair of opposite side panels 5 of the bottle feeder and carries thereon a bearing block 6 for supporting the drive shaft 2. Between each adjacent pair of conveyors 1 there extends a spacer bar 8 supported by a pair of metallic pieces 7 fixed to the upper surface of the crossbar 4 in such a manner that the upper surface of each bar 8 is positioned a little below the level of the conveyors. The right-hand end of the bar 8 terminates at a point in the direction of 45° upward from the center of the drive shaft 2 in FIG. 1, so that below this point a space is left between each adjacent pair of conveyors for a purpose to be described later. The right-hand end of the bar 8 has its upper surface 9 so curved downward and contoured as to conform to the arc of the conveyor as it begins to pass round the sprocket wheel 3.

A pair of crossbeams 10 and 11 extend between the opposite side panels 5 of the machine. A plurality, say, 41 upright divider plates 12, only four of which is shown in FIG. 2, laterally spaced a little greater distance than the diameter of the bottle a have their respective leg portions 13 secured to the cross beam 10. Each divider plate 12 has a pair of wings 12a and 12b extending in opposite directions along the length of the conveyor 1. The wing 12a extends backward (or leftward in FIGS. 1 and 2) over the sprocket 3 and thence over the rear (or right-hand) end portion of the conveyor along the center line thereof, while the right-hand wing 12b extends forward (or rightward) as far as the input side of a bottle-washing machine, not shown, terminating in a short leg 14 vertically pending to be secured to a crossbeam 15. Thus, each divider plate 12 stands securely on its two legs 13 and 14.

Bottles are successively and at random placed upright on the front (left-hand) end of the conveyors 1. As they are carried on the conveyors, they are arranged into 40 rows in a manner well known in the art and enter the space between each adjacent two of the divider plates 12. As previously mentioned, each divider plate is portioned above the center line of each conveyor, so that the bottles that have entered the space between each adjacent two of the divider plates are carried on two adjacent conveyors, as shown in FIG. 2, without having their bottom surfaces contacting the upper surface of the two spacer bars 8 disposed between the two adjacent conveyors. As each bottle reaches the rear (right-hand) end of the conveyors, it is tilted rightward (see the bottle b in FIG. 1) due to the arc of the conveyor passing round the sprocket wheel 3 and the conforming curvature of the right-hand end of the bar 8.

A drive shaft 16 extends between the opposite side panels 5 of the machine. The shaft 16 comprises two separate axially aligned portions each having its inner end journaled in a bearing block 17 secured to a plate 18 supported by the beams 10 and 11 and its outer end projecting outside through each side panel 5 of the machine.

A pair of guide members 20 are secured to the opposing side surfaces of each adjacent two divider plates 12. Each guide 20 is curved substantially along the arc of a circle about the center of the axis of the drive shaft 16 and so arranged as to receive the tilted bottle b from the end of the conveyor. Forty lifting arms 21 are mounted on the drive shaft 16 for rotation therewith. Each arm comprises two claws 21' extending in diametrically opposite directions. As the drive shaft 16 rotates, the claws 21' alternately enter the space between the two adjacent conveyors 1 so as to engage with the bottom surface of the tilted bottle to lift it up along the opposed guide members 20.

Each claw 21' is provided at its inner end with a semicircular boss 22, which is secured by means of bolts 23 to the correspondingly semicircular boss 22 of the other claw to securely encircle a clutch hub 25 keyed as at 24 to the drive shaft 16. Each claw 21' is formed with a side tube 26 enclosing an iron ball 27 and a coil spring 28 therein and closed at the outer end by a screw plug 29. The ball 27 engages in a depression 30 formed in the outer peripheral surface of the clutch hub 25. Thus, the 40 lifting arms are all connected to the drive shaft 16 through the above-mentioned torque limit clutch.

Normally, as the shaft 16 rotates, the lifting arm 21 is rotated, with its claws alternately lifting a bottle. However, if any of the claws is overloaded, the balls 27 disengages from the depressions 30, thereby breaking the drive connection between the lifting arm 21 and the shaft 16.

Forty pairs of sprocket wheels 35 are rigidly mounted on 40 short shafts 36, each being journaled in the right wing 12b of the divider plate 12 adjacent the upper end of the guide member 20. Each pair of sprocket wheels 35 are secured to the opposite ends of each shaft 36 at the opposite lateral sides of the right-hand wing 12b of each divider plate 12. Forty pairs of sprocket wheels 34 are mounted on a single drive shaft 31 for rotation therewith, each pair being spaced a predetermined distance apart from the adjacent pairs and so disposed as to correspond to one pair of sprocket wheels 35 (see FIG. 2). The drive shaft 31 is spaced apart from the shafts 36 longitudinally of the divider plates 12 and journaled at its middle portion by a bearing arm 33 standing on the cross beam 15, and has its opposite ends projecting outward through the metal fittings fixed to the opposite side panels 5 of the machine.

At the opposite lateral sides of each divider plate wing 12b there extend a pair of endless chain conveyors 37 each passing round the sprocket wheels 34 and 35. The sprocket wheel 35 is positioned adjacent the upper end of the guide member 20 as previously mentioned, while the sprocket wheel 34 is positioned a little below the height of the sprocket wheel 35, so that the conveyor 37 is inclined a little downward toward the right as viewed in FIG. 1. Thus, between each adjacent pair of divider plate wings 12b a pair of chain conveyors 37 are provided laterally spaced from each other by a short distance just enough to accommodate the width of the lifting arm 21, so that the two conveyors 37 receive the bottle that has been brought by the lifting arm claw 21' as far as the upper end of the guide member 20 and carry it along onto the next stage of the machine.

A plate 38 secured to each of the opposite lateral sides of each divider plate wing 12b supports the upper portion of each conveyor 37, thereby preventing the conveyor portion from being flexed downward due to the weight of the bottle placed thereon.

A plurality of baskets 40 are mounted on an endless chain 41, only a small portion of which is shown in FIG. 1, at a predetermined distance from each other. Each basket 40 is formed with a large opening at that one end thereof which faces the conveyors 37 and a smaller opening at the opposite end thereof. The chain 41 carrying the baskets 40 is intermittently moved upward by one predetermined pitch upon every half a revolution of the shaft 16 to pass by the right-hand end of the conveyor 37, with the larger opening of the basket directed toward the conveyor end, so that the bottles on the conveyor may be successively put into the baskets to be held therein, with their neck engaging the edge of the smaller opening of the basket to prevent the bottle from dropping out of the basket when it is held upside down during the washing operation. There are provided 40 pairs of such chains 41 with the baskets corresponding to the 40 rows of bottles on the conveyors 37. The shafts 16 and 31 and the conveyors 41 are moved in a synchronous relation to each other.

Above the chain conveyors 37 there extends a crossbeam 42 of an inverted U-shaped cross section between the opposite side panels 5 of the machine. Two pairs of bearings 43 are secured to the beam 42, each pair supporting the opposite end of a shaft 44 having a square cross section. As shown in FIG. 3, pending from the opposite ends of each shaft 44 there are a pair of vertical bars 46, to the lower ends of which is secured a horizontal bar 47 having an inverted U-shaped cross section. Twenty sensing levers, only six of which are shown at 48 in FIG. 3, have their respectively upper ends pivotally connected to each horizontal bar 47. Each sensing lever 48 extend aslant downward to have its lower free end positioned in the space between each adjacent pair of divider plate wings 12b above each paired chain conveyors 37, as best shown in FIG. 3.

If a bottle is moved on the paired conveyors 37 with its mouth e forward, the smooth shoulder g of the bottle gradually raises the lower end of the sensing lever 48 as high as the bottle can freely pass therebeneath. However, if a "reverse" bottle f comes with its bottom forward as shown in FIG. 4, the bottom edge thereof hits on the sensing lever end, so that as the bottle is forced further on by the lifting arm 21, it causes the shaft 44 to be rotated counterclockwise through the bars 47, 46. Each shaft 44 is provided outside the side panel 5 of the machine with an actuating finger 50 adapted to normally act on a limit switch 51. When the shaft 44 is rotated counterclockwise, the finger 50 swings away from the limit switch 51 so that a circuit, not shown, is closed to give a suitable warning. A pair of stoppers 52 define the opposite limits of the swinging of the finger 50.

Now turning to FIGS. 5 and 6, the drive shaft 16 is shown having one end projecting through a metal fitting 53 secured to the side panel 5 of the machine. A gear 54 is loosely mounted on the projecting end of the drive shaft 16 and driven by a suitable motor, not shown, which also drives the basket conveyors 41. The gear 54 rotates clockwise, that is, in the direction of the arrow D in FIG. 6. An annular plate 55 is secured to the outer side face of the gear 54 by a plurality of bolts 56. A lever 58 is pivoted to the annular plate 54 as at 57. A roller 59 is provided at the outer free end of the lever 58 so as to roll on the outer surface of the annular plate 55. A spring 60 having one end secured to the outer end of the lever 58 and the opposite end fixed to the annular plate 55 urges the lever 58 clockwise in FIG. 6. The lever 58 has a claw 61 incorporated therewith and having its outer end 62 projecting inwardly of the inner periphery of the annular plate 55. A generally elliptical plate 63 has a boss 64 keyed as at 65 to the outer end of the drive shaft 16 for rotation therewith. In the diametrically opposite portions of the plate 63 there are formed a pair of slots 66. A disc 67 is loosely mounted on the boss 64 of the elliptical plate 63 and has a pair of pins 68 engaging in the slots 66, respectively. A pair of springs 70, each having one end secured to the disc 67 by a pin 68' and the opposite end secured to the plate 63 by a pin 69, bias the disc 67 counterclockwise. Thus the springs 70, the pins 68 and slots 66 connect the plate 63 to the disc 67.

A notch 71 is formed in the periphery of the disc 67 so that normally the outer end 62 of the lever claw 61 engages the notch, thereby connecting the gear 54 to the disc 67 through the lever 58 and thence to the drive shaft 16.

A bracket 72 is secured to the side panel 5 below the drive shaft 16. A bearing 73 is mounted on the basket 72 and receives a plunger 75 aligned with the axis of the drive shaft 16. The plunger 75 has a conical head 74 directed toward a corresponding recess 76 formed in the outer end face of the drive shaft. The previously mentioned lever 58 pivoted to the annular plate 55 partially covers the recess 75. When the plunger 75 is pushed toward the outer end of the shaft 16, the conical head 74 thereof engages into the recess 76, pushing aside the lever 58 from over the recess 76 against the force of the spring 60. As the lever 58 is thus pushed aside, it is tilted leftward in FIG. 6, whereupon the outer end 62 of the claw 61 disengages from the notch 71 in the periphery of the disc 67, thereby breaking the drive connection between the gear 54 and the shaft 16.

Below the bracket 72 there is provided an air cylinder 77 supported by another bracket 78. The cylinder has a piston rod 79 pivotally connected through a link 80 to the plunger 75. When a reverse bottle is detected, a signal is produced in a control circuit, not shown, to actuate an electromagnetic valve 81, whereupon air is supplied into the cylinder to project the plunger 75. When a reset switch, not shown, is pressed, the piston rod 79 is retracted to withdraw the plunger 75.

In operation, bottles are placed at random onto the conveyors 1 and as they are carried thereon, they are arranged into 40 rows to enter the spaces between the adjacent pairs of divider plates 12. When a bottle in each row reaches the right-hand end of the paired conveyors 1, it is tilted rightward to lean against the opposed guide members 20. Presently, the lifting arm 21 comes round so that its claw 21' engages with the bottom surface of the bottle and as the claw is moved upward between the laterally opposed guide members 20, it lifts the bottle to be guided along the guide members 20, gradually bringing it down into a generally horizontal position. The bottle is then transferred onto the two adjacent parallel chain conveyors 37. If the bottle lies thereon with its mouth ahead, it can pass beneath the sensing lever 48 to be further moved into a basket 40 that has just arrived at the right-hand end of the conveyors 37. If the bottles in all of the 40 rows properly lie on the conveyors 37 with their mouths directed forward, they are all simultaneously put into the corresponding 40 baskets. If the arrangement is such that the bottle and the basket meet at the right-hand end of the conveyor 37, it is not necessary to stop the basket in order to receive the bottle thereinto Thus, 40 from on the conveyor, provided that the diameter of the bottle receiving end opening of the basket is considerably greater than that of the mouth of the bottle.

If any of the bottles on the conveyors 37 falls down to lie thereon with its bottom forward, that is if a reverse bottle occurs as shown at f in FIG. 4, its bottom g engages the sensing lever 48 and moves it forward so that the shaft 44 is turned counterclockwise, thereby causing the actuating finger 50 to swing away from the limit switch 51. This gives a warning to the operator, who comes and corrects the reverse bottle to a proper position. Otherwise, the reverse bottle is held there by the sensing lever 48 and cannot be moved further forward. Under the condition, as the shaft 16 is further rotated clockwise, the lifting arm 21 pushing the blocked reverse bottle is overloaded, so that the balls 27 in the side tubes 26 disengage from the recesses 30 in the hub 25, thereby breaking the drive connection between the lifting arm 21 and the shaft 16. As a result, the shaft 16 rotates, leaving that arm alone stationary there but rotating the other arms. Therefore, the reverse bottle will never be broken. When the position of the reverse bottle has been corrected, the overload on the lifting arm 21 is removed, so that as the arm engages the next bottle, the balls 27 come round to engage in the recesses 30, thereby again establishing the drive connection between the arm 21 and the shaft 16.

If the reverse bottle is retained by the sensing lever 48 for a predetermined period of time, the control circuit produces a signal to energize the electromagnetic valve 81 thereby to supply pressurized air into the cylinder 77. As a result, the piston rod 79 projects outwardly of the cylinder to move the plunger 75 as far as its conical head 74 engages into the recess 76 in the outer end of the drive shaft 16. During the projecting motion, the conical head pushes the lever 58 aside toward the left in FIG. 6 against the force of the spring 60, thereby causing the claw end 62 to disengage from the notch 71 in the disc 67. This breaks the drive connection between the gear 54 and the shaft 16, so that the shaft 16 and, consequently all the lifting arms will not rotate, thereby temporarily stopping the bottle feeding operation. Since the shaft 16 is divided at its midpoint into two portions, it is that one of the portions where a reverse bottle has been detected that stops rotation.

When a reset switch, not shown, provided in the control circuit has been closed after removing the reverse bottle or correcting its position, the valve 81 is again operated to cause the piston rod 79 to be withdrawn, thereby disengaging the conical head 74 of the plunger 75 from the recess 76 of the drive shaft. As a result, the spring 60 turns the lever 58 clockwise in FIG. 6 as far as the claw end 62 thereof abuts on the periphery of the disc 67. As the gear 54 and consequently the annular plate 55 with the lever 58 thereon rotate, the claw end 62 comes round to again engage in the notch 71 of the disc 67, thereby again establishing the drive connection between the gear 54 and the shaft 16.

When the claw end 62 disengaged from the notch 71 of the disc 67, the springs 70 caused the disc 67 to turn counterclockwise in FIG. 6, so that each pin 68 thereon was moved to that end of the slot 66 in the elliptical plate 63 opposite to the end thereof where the pin 68 is shown in FIG. 6. Then, when the claw end 62 again engages in the notch 71, the lever 58 first turns only the disc 67 clockwise a little against the force of the springs 70 until the pins 68 thereon hit on the opposite ends of the slots 66 as shown in FIG. 6, whereupon the rotation of the gear 54 is transferred onto the drive shaft 16. In other words, the play due to the pin-and-slot connection 66, 68 and the cushion provided by the springs 70 help reduce any shocks with which, upon reestablishment of the drive connection between the gear 54 and the shaft 16, each lifting arm 21 would strike the bottom of a bottle to destroy it into pieces.