Material handling apparatus
United States Patent 3910297

An apparatus for washing, coating, plating or mixing of industrial parts, chips, discrete pieces of high-value scrap or any similar materials, the apparatus including a conveyor for supporting a basket, an elevator for raising the basket to a level higher than the tops of one or more washing tanks, means for transferring the basket laterally to positions successively over each of said tanks, means for moving the basket vertically into and out of each of said tanks, means for moving a basket support around a horizontal axis to invert, oscillate or rotate the basket in each said tank, and means for delivering the basket and its contents from the delivery end of the apparatus. Controls are provided so that the cycle of operation is automated, to require minimal supervision.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
134/133, 134/141, 134/160, 134/161, 414/416.09
International Classes:
B65G49/04; (IPC1-7): B08B3/04
Field of Search:
134/76,77,141,164,160,161,133 118
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3006351Roto dunker and processing hot tank1961-10-31Grube

Primary Examiner:
Bleutge, Robert L.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Delio, And Montgomery
What I claim is

1. An apparatus for conditioning solid materials in a liquid bath comprising a material container, a tank adapted to contain a liquid bath, an open-ended cage having a bottom, sides and top adapted to receive a material container in a position above said tank, means for supporting and moving said cage and container vertically into and out of said tank, said cage being supported for pivotal movement about a horizontal axis no higher than the bottom of the cage, and means carried by said supporting means for rotating said receiving means about said axis.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said rotating means is adapted to invert said cage.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said rotating means is adapted to rock said cage through an arc of approximately 90°.

4. An apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said arc is disposed equally in each direction from the upright position.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the supporting and moving means include a supporting member extending from a point beneath the cage to a substantially higher horizontal element, means guiding said horizontal element for vertical movement, and a power source for moving said horizontal element up and down.

6. An apparatus according to claim 5 wherein the rotating means includes levers carried by said horizontal element, linkage connecting said levers to said cage and a power source for operating said levers.

7. An apparatus for conditioning solid materials in a liquid bath comprising, a plurality of tanks disposed side by side, each tank being adapted to contain a liquid bath, means adapted to receive a material container in a position above each said tank, means for supporting and moving each said receiving means and container vertically into and out of each said tank, said receiving means being supported for pivotal movement about a horizontal axis, means carried by said supporting means for rotating said receiving means about said axis, a first pushing means for moving a container into a first receiving means, additional pushing means for moving containers from each receiving means into an adjacent receiving means or out of the last receiving means, and means for reciprocating said pushing means, each said receiving means being traversed by an elongated opening extending from end to end, and said additional pushing means having a part adapted to pass through said opening and to be moved therealong from end to end of said receiving means.

8. An apparatus according to claim 7 which includes a track extending over said plurality of tanks and a carriage movable along said track, said pushing means being fixed to said carriage.

9. An apparatus for conditioning solid materials in a liquid bath comprising, a material container, a plurality of tanks disposed side by side and having open tops, each tank being adapted to contain a liquid bath, means for delivering a material container to a first position adjacent to and higher than the top of a first tank, open-ended container receiving means associated with each said tank, a first pushing means for moving a container from said first position into a first container receiving means, additional pushing means for moving material containers from each receiving means into an adjacent receiving means or out of the last receiving means, means for reciprocating said pushing means, means for supporting said receiving means and for moving said receiving means vertically into and out of each tank, each said receiving means being supported for pivotal movement about a horizontal axis no higher than the bottom of said receiving means, and means for rotating each said receiving means about said axis.

10. An apparatus according to claim 9 wherein the rotating means is adapted to rotate said receiving means in a reciprocatory manner through arcs no greater than approximately 180°.

11. An apparatus according to claim 10 which includes an electro-hydraulic operating circuit for effecting each movement of each element in sequence automatically, the rotating means being programmed to reciprocate the receiving means a plurality of times each time it is in the bath.

This invention relates to an apparatus for washing or otherwise liquid-treating industrial parts, chips, high-value scrap or other discrete materials. The apparatus is specifically an improvement on the apparatus shown and described in applicant's U.S. Pat. No. 3,476,126, filed on Nov. 4, 1969.

The apparatus of this invention is constructed to use water solutions of soaps, bases, detergents, etc. at high temperatures to remove cutting oils, chips and industrial soil from parts in process. The apparatus of this invention does not require industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene and, accordingly, it will function with substantial cost saving. Additionally, the apparatus of this invention does not require an operator in attendance, as with prior art vapor degreasing techniques. Further, with the apparatus of this invention, there is no industrial health hazard nor objectionable odor developed during the cleansing process.

It is an object of this invention to provide an apparatus in which each basket containing materials to be treated is moved vertically into and out of the treating liquids in a tank or series of tanks and is agitated while in such liquids by movement around a horizontal axis, whereby the basket is inverted, oscillated or rotated, to ensure thorough and effective exposure of every part of the surface of every piece of material to the liquids in the tank or series of tanks.

Practical embodiments of the invention are shown in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 represents a front elevation of a three-tank unit, parts being broken away and parts being in section;

FIG. 2 represents a vertical section on the line II--II of FIG. 1, the lowered and inverted position of a basket being shown in broken line;

FIG. 3 represents a somewhat diagrammatic perspective view of three baskets and their inverting mechanism, other parts of the apparatus being omitted for clarity of illustration;

FIG. 4 represents a detail horizontal section on the line IV--IV of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5, 6 and 7 represent diagrammatic end views of alternative forms of basket agitating mechanism, FIG. 5 showing how the basket may be rocked 90° forward, while FIG. 6 shows how the basket may be oscillated from its level position, 45° in each direction, forward and backward, and FIG. 7 illustrates an alternative form of cable drive for 180° rotation.

FIG. 8 is a wiring diagram of the electrical control adapted to operate the apparatus according to this invention.

FIG. 9 is a fluid pressure circuit diagram.

Referring to the drawings, there is shown a material handling apparatus which includes an automatic feed conveyor 10 for delivering a wire basket or other porous container, shown at 11, from the rollers 12, fixed adjacent the apparatus frame, to the rollers 13 of the elevator platform 14. The elevator platform 14 is adapted to be lifted by means of a frame having horizontal member 15, vertical members 17, 18 and an upper cross-bar 19, the vertical position of which is determined by the pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder 20 and piston 21. In its elevated position, the platform 14 is at a level such that the basket carried thereby can be moved laterally into a cage for treatment in the first tank, as will be described.

The apparatus illustrated herein comprises three tanks 25, 26 and 27, which are substantial duplicates so that a description of the basket-handling mechanism of one will apply to all three except where otherwise noted. As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 each tank is provided with a cage 28 having longitudinal side and bottom skid strips 29, corner posts 30 and upper restraining bars 31, the inner ends of the latter being spaced for a purpose to be described. The cage may include also a strong wire mesh 28', coextensive with the bottom, sides and bars just referred to. Beneath each end of the cage is a mounting plate 32, fixed on a pivot shaft 33 the ends of which are journaled in bearings at the ends of horizontal support bars 34. The bars 34 are connected by vertical bars 35 and upper bars 36 and plates 37 to the cage lifting frame 38 which extends across the upper rear of the machine with its ends affixed to frame end posts 39, 40 (slidably guided by roller assemblies 53 on fixed vertical columns 54), the lifting and lowering of the whole cage assembly being effected by the agitating cylinder 41 and its piston 42.

The means for inverting the cage 28 (and its basket 11) includes a semicircular pulley 43 fixed near one end of the pivot shaft 33 with its straight diameter parallel to the bottom of the cage and its arcuate rim 44 extending downward, a cable 45 having one end anchored at 45' to the front end 46 of the pulley and its other end connected to the actuating lever 47 which is fixed to a rod 48. The rod 48 is journaled in the rear ends of a series of brackets 49, each mounted on the lifting frame 38, the rod being actuated by a tilt cylinder 50 through a lever 51 fixed to one end of the rod and the tilt cylinder being conveniently mounted on the vertically slidable end post 40. A strong helical spring 52 surrounds each pivot shaft 33, having one end 52' selectively engageable in one of the sockets 43' on the side of the pulley and at the other end fixed to a support bar 34, and being biased to urge the bottom of the cage into parallelism with the support bar. Each of the cages is in the form of an open-ended sleeve, proportioned to receive a basket with free clearance as the baskets are moved endwise through the apparatus, slidably guided by the bottom and side skid strips 29.

The basket-moving assembly, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, comprises a pair of tracks 55 extending horizontally across the entire top of the apparatus, an elongated carriage 56 being supported on rollers 57 running in said tracks and a series of pushers 58, 59 being rigidly mounted on the carriage and projecting downwardly therefrom. The pusher 58, positioned to move a basket from the elevator platform into the first cage, may be substantially rectangular, while the pushers 59 have an hour-glass profile such that the narrowed portion can pass freely along the open slot between the ends of the upper restraining bars 31, as shown in FIG. 2. The pusher carriage 56 is actuated by the cylinder 60 and piston 61.

In operation, a basket 11 containing materials to be treated is delivered, as from a gravity fed or mechanically driven conveyor 10, onto the elevator platform 14. The piston and cylinder 21, 20 are actuated to raise the platform to its upper position, shown in broken lines in FIG. 1, all the cages 28 being also in their upper positions. The cylinder and piston 60, 61 are then actuated, causing the pusher 58 to slide or roll the basket laterally off the platform 14 and into the first cage 28, above tank 25. The agitating cylinder 41 and piston 42 are operated to lower the whole cage assembly to its in-tank position, it being assumed that the tanks contain whatever liquid is being used for material treatment, and the agitating cylinder and piston can then be operated on a short cycle to oscillate the cage and basket vertically in the liquid. Additionally, the tilt cylinder 50 can be actuated to pull the cables 45, thus rotating each cage on its pivot shaft 33 to an inverted position, shown in broken lines at the bottom of FIG. 2. Such rotation is against the bias of the springs 52 which act to return the cages to upright position when tension on the cables is relaxed; inversion and righting of the cages can be repeated in any desired time relation to the vertical oscillation of the cage assembly, so that the agitation of materials in the baskets and exposure thereof to the treating liquid can be as intense as desired.

While the tanks 25, 26 and 27 may be structurally similar the liquids contained therein are not necessarily the same, or a single type of liquid (e.g., detergent) may be supplied sequentially in a counter-current manner, as is well understood. The apparatus shown is designed to subject each basket to three separate liquid treatments, whether the same or different. The treatment of basket 11 in tank 25 having been completed, as described above, the cylinder and piston 41, 42 raise the cage assembly to its upper (loading) position, a second basket is elevated, and the pusher carriage (returned to its ready position while the cage assembly was lowered) is actuated, causing the pusher 59 to move the first basket from the cage of tank 25 to the cage of tank 26, while the pusher 58 moves the second basket off the elevator platform and into the cage 28 of tank 25. The treatment cycle is repeated, as described above, as long as baskets of materials are supplied, each basket being subjected to treatment in each of the three tanks and being pushed by the last pusher 59 out of the cage of tank 27 onto a suitable delivery conveyor or station D, the details of which are not part of this invention. It may be noted, however, that delivery of the baskets of treated materials at a high level has the important practical advantage of facilitating the conveyance of the baskets and/or their contents to other locations (e.g., for storing, sorting, packing and preparation for shipment) with the aid of gravity and a consequent saving in power requirements.

While it has been mentioned that the several operating cylinders may be pneumatic or hydraulic, the use of air cylinders for power is preferred, particularly as compared to electric motors and/or cables for the lifting operations; such air cylinders are found to contribute greatly to the reliability of the machine, being very simple to install, operate and service, if and when servicing may be needed.

An alternative form of cage rocker is illustrated in FIG. 5 where the cage 65, similar to cage 28, is pivotally supported at 66 on the ends of support bars 67 (like bars 34) and has projecting from its bottom a tilting arm 68. The lift rod 69 connects a corner of the arm with an actuating lever 70 which is actuated by a tilt cylinder 71 through a second lever 72, the movement of said levers being sufficient to tilt the cage through a 90° angle, as indicated in broken lines.

Another alternative form of rocker is shown in FIG. 6 wherein the cage 75 is pivoted at 76 on top of a stub shaft 77 rising above the end of the support bar 78. A tilting arm 79 projects rearwardly from the bottom of the cage and is coupled to the drive rod 80 which is connected at its upper end to a lever 81, similar to the actuating lever 70, on a bar 82. In this case the bar 82 is oscillated through a second lever 83 by a back-to-back cylinder and piston assembly 84 wherein the cage is held level (full lines) when one piston is extended and the other retracted, is tilted 45° forward (broken lines 75') when both pistons are extended, and is tilted 45° rearward (broken lines 75") when both pistons are retracted. By this arrangement each of the three definitive positions of the cage corresponds to a combination of terminal positions of the pistons and the cage can be held level with great precision.

The cage rocking mechanism of FIG. 7 resembles that of FIGS. 1 to 3 in that the cage 90 is supported on a mounting plate 91 which may be fixed on a pivot shaft 92 having its ends journaled in bearings at the ends of horizontal support bars 93, corresponding substantially to the parts 28, 32, 33 and 34. The semi-circular pulley 43 is here replaced by a smaller pulley 94 carrying an endless cable 95, the respective runs of which are guided over pairs of idler pulleys 96 and 97 to a drive pulley 98 at the top of the lifting frame. The cable 95 is fixed at 99 to the rim of the pulley 94 and is fixed at 100 to the pulley 98, the points of fixation being such that the pulley 94 can be rotated 180° in a direction to rock the cage 90 through a corresponding arc. The drive pulley 98 can be driven by a reversible electric motor or could be piston operated, and its size may be varied to produce a desired effect on pulley 94 consistent with the manner in which it is driven.

Apparatus embodying the invention may conveniently be operated on an automatic cycle. A circuit 100 for controlling such automatic cycle of operation is shown in FIG. 8. Circuit 100 comprises a pair of control power bus lines 101 and 102 connected to a source of electric power (not shown) through the usual control switch 103 and fuse 104. The circuit comprises timers T1 and T2 each of which have reset coils RS and include a timer motor TM1 and TM2, respectively. Each timer further includes normally open and normally closed contacts T1a, T1b, T2a, and T2b which are shown in the timed out position. A solenoid S1 controls the operation of lowering cylinder 41. A second solenoid S2 controls oscillating cylinder 50 and a third solenoid S3 controls the movement of the pusher carriage 56.

The circuit further includes an oscillating control circuit 105 and a pusher control circuit 106. The oscillating control circuit includes a relay R1 having controlled contacts R1a and R1b. Relay R1 is energized initially at the start of a cycle of operation, and also through a normally closed limit switch LS2. A second limit switch LS1, which is normally open, is arranged to energize relay R1 during an oscillating mode of operation after it has been de-energized as hereinafter described. To commence a cycle of operation, a cycle start pushbutton switch PB1 is closed. This applies power over line 107. Also when switch PB1 is closed it will energize reset coils RS over line 108 and reset the timer motors TM1 and TM2. At reset the contacts T1a, T1b, T2a and T2b are reversed from the position shown. At timer reset solenoid S1 is energized over line 109 through contact T2a. Energization of solenoid S1 will cause fluid pressure to be admitted to cylinder 41 so that cylinder 41 will retract its piston and draw the cages 30 down into the tanks. Simultaneously with this relay R1 is initially energized over line 107. Power is applied to line 110 through contact T1a. When relay R1 picks up its contacts R1a and R1b, solenoid S2 is energized over line 110.

When solenoid S2 is energized it admits fluid pressure to the cylinder 50 causing it to extend its piston, thus rotating shaft 48 through lever 51 and producing rotation of the cages. The cages rotate to a position such that arm 48', FIG. 2, engages limit switch LS2. When limit switch LS2 is opened relay R1 is de-energized, dropping out its contacts R1a and R1b and de-energizing solenoid S2. Then under the influence of the heavy springs 52, the cages will be rotated into an upright position and the piston of cylinder 50 will retract. When arm 48' strikes limit switch LS1, relay R1 is again energized. At this time, limit switch LS2 has closed, relay R1 is latched in through its contact R1a and solenoid S2 again energized to cause cylinder 50 to again extend its piston. As the limit switches LS1 and LS2 are engaged by the arm 48', the oscillatory motion of the cages in the tanks will continue throughout the time cycle set. When timer T2 turns out, the contacts T2a and T2b thereof turn to the position shown in FIG. 8, timer motor T2 is de-energized. However, motor TM1 of timer T1 is energized through contact T2b. Oscillating control circuit 105 still receives power over line 110 and contact T1a until timer T1 times out. During the cycle of operation of timer T1, solenoid S1 is de-energized, reversing the operation of cylinder 41 which now raises the cages out of the tank. The oscillation of the cages will continue until timer T1 times out. At this point, a second pushbutton switch PB2 is closed to energize a relay R2 causing it to pick up its contact R2a and supply power through a normally closed switch 111 to solenoid S3. Solenoid S3 controls the application of fluid pressure to cylinder 60 to produce operation of pusher carriage 56 which advances the pushers 58, 59 a predetermined distance to push baskets from one cage to the next, including loading of a new basket and unloading of the last basket. Thereafter, a new cycle may be commenced by depressing pushbutton PB1, and after cages have again been lowered under the control of solenoid S1 switch 111 is opened to de-energize solenoid S3 and cause the pushers to retract.

It will be appreciated that switches PB2 and 111 may be under the control of the timers T1 or T2 or an additional timer to automatically cycle the operation of the pushers. Additionally, the timing cycle could be arranged such that once the switch PB1 was closed, it could be cyclically operated on a time basis for complete automatic operation.

A simplified fluid pressure circuit which may be utilized with the invention is shown in FIG. 9 and comprises a source of fluid pressure 112, a pump 113 with accompanying relief valve 114 which supplies fluid pressure to a pressure line 115. A return line 116 returns fluid to source 112. Pressure line 115 is connected through two-way valves 117, 118 and 119 to the cylinders 41, 50 and 60 which are in turn controlled by the solenoids S1, S2 and S3, respectively; only one line is necessary to cylinder 50 in view of the return springs 52. The fluid pressure which shown as hydraulic may also be pneumatic, or a combination of hydraulic and pneumatic for the various cylinders.

It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in carrying out the above method and in the construction set forth without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described, and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.