Title:
Manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails is described. The manually guided vehicle has a frame, a set of moving wheels, a guiding wheel, and a supporting device. The moving wheels provide the manually guided vehicle with the capability of moving on rails or on the ground. The guide wheel provides the manually guided vehicle with the capability of moving along rails. The guide wheel can be raised to move the manually guided vehicle off of the rails directly. The supporting device provides double direction forking and horizontal rotating capabilities. The rails include a U-type guiding rail to limit the guide wheel to motion thereon. The manually guided vehicle further has a laser pointer to indicate the position of the manually guided vehicle and further cooperates with position labels stuck on working stations along the rail to enhance the parking position accuracy of the manually guided vehicle.



Inventors:
Yang, Meng-en (Taipei City, TW)
Chiu, Hsien-tsung (Taoyuan City, TW)
Application Number:
10/834402
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
04/29/2004
Assignee:
YANG MENG-EN
CHIU HSIEN-TSUNG
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60F1/00; B62B3/00; B66F9/06; B66F9/075; B66F9/14; (IPC1-7): B61D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCARRY JR, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS | HORSTEMEYER, LLP (3200 WINDY HILL ROAD, SE SUITE 1600E, ATLANTA, GA, 30339, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails, the manually guided vehicle comprising: a frame; a handle disposed on a rear side of the frame for ease of operation; a set of moving wheels providing the manually guided vehicle a capability of moving on rails or ground, wherein the rails comprise a U-type guiding rail; a guide wheel clamping on the U-type guiding rail to limit the manually guided vehicle to moving along the rails; and a supporting device disposed above the frame, wherein the supporting device is capable of double side forking.

2. The manually guided vehicle of claim 1, wherein the supporting device further comprises a telescopic fork providing the double side forking capacity for the supporting device.

3. The manually guided vehicle of claim 2, wherein the supporting device further comprises a turntable to allow the supporting device to turn upon a horizontal surface.

4. The manually guided vehicle of claim 1, wherein the manually guided vehicle further comprises a parking device to provide parking and fixing functions for the manually guided vehicle.

5. The manually guided vehicle of claim 1, wherein the manually guided vehicle further comprises a laser pointer to indicate a position of the manually guided vehicle.

6. The manually guided vehicle of claim 5, wherein the laser pointer emits a laser beam on a position label attached on a work station to indicate a parking position of the manually guided vehicle.

7. The manually guided vehicle of claim 6, wherein the position label comprises a dark ground and a light reflection line.

8. The manually guided vehicle of claim 7, wherein the position label comprises a blue ground and a white reflection line.

9. The manually guided vehicle of claim 6, wherein the laser beam is a visible red laser beam to indicate the position of the manually guided vehicle.

10. The manually guided vehicle of claim 1, wherein the guide wheel is able to be raised for releasing from the U-type guiding rail so that the manually guided vehicle can be pushed off of the rails directly.

11. A manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails to transport a liquid crystal display (LCD) cassette, the manually guided vehicle comprising: a frame; a handle disposed on a rear side of the frame for ease of operation; a set of moving wheels providing the manually guided vehicle a capability of moving on rails or ground, wherein the rails comprise a U-type guiding rail; a guide wheel clamping the U-type guiding rail to limit the manually guided vehicle to moving along rails, wherein the guide wheel is able to be raised for pushing the manually guided vehicle off of the rails; a supporting device disposed above the frame, wherein the supporting device is capable of double side forking and turning the LCD cassette, wherein the supporting device further comprises. a telescopic fork providing the double side forking capacity for the supporting device; and a turntable providing the supporting device with an ability to turn the LCD cassette on a horizontal surface; a parking device for parking and fixing the manually guided vehicle; and a laser pointer indicating a position of the manually guided vehicle.

12. The manually guided vehicle of claim 11, wherein the laser pointer emits a laser beam on a position label attached on a work station to indicate a parking position of the manually guided vehicle.

13. The manually guided vehicle of claim 12, wherein the position label comprises a dark ground and a light reflection line.

14. The manually guided vehicle of claim 13, wherein the laser beam is a visible red laser beam to indicate the position of the manually guided vehicle.

15. The manually guided vehicle of claim 13, wherein the position label comprises a blue ground and a white reflection line.

16. A manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails to transport a liquid crystal display (LCD) cassette, the manually guided vehicle comprising: a frame; a set of moving wheels providing the manually guided vehicle a capability of moving on rails or ground; a guide wheel for limiting the manually guided vehicle to moving along rails, wherein the guide wheel is able to be raised for pushing the manually guided vehicle off of the rails; and a supporting device disposed above the frame for double side forking and rotating along a horizontal surface.

17. The manually guided vehicle of claim 16, wherein the rails comprise a U-type guiding rail, the guide wheel clamping the U-type guiding rail to limit the manually guided vehicle to moving along the rails.

18. The manually guided vehicle of claim 16, wherein the supporting device further comprises: a telescopic fork providing the double side forking capacity for the supporting device; and a turntable providing the supporting device with a function of turning along a horizontal surface.

19. The manually guided vehicle of claim 16, wherein the manually guided vehicle further comprises a laser pointer to indicate a position of the manually guided vehicle.

20. The manually guided vehicle of claim 19, wherein the laser pointer emits a laser beam on a position label attached on a work station to indicate a parking position of the manually guided vehicle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a manually guided vehicle and especially to a manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) perform in an important role of material transportation in an automatic factory. Most of the automated guided vehicles are rail guided vehicles (RGVs). The RGV not only provides an efficient material transportation for the automatic factory and the automatic warehouse but also provides a powerful transportation for movement of heavy goods, weighing perhaps more than a hundred tons.

[0003] If the factory layout is changed, the rail will be modified to fit the new layout. Generally speaking, although a factory is highly automated, the rail guided vehicle still cannot reach all the working areas of the factory due to the rail layout limitation. Therefore, manually guided vehicles are still utilized in both ordinary and automated factories. A manually guided vehicle is especially utilized in a factory whose rails are not established, in a factory whose rails have been damaged, or in places lacking rails in a factory. The manually guided vehicle provides an important capability with highly flexible operations.

[0004] Due to the rapid progress of optical technology and semiconductor technology, liquid crystal displays (LCD) have been widely applied in electrical products. From a LCD monitor having a small display size to a LCD television having a large display size, the LCD size is extending. More and more people choose to purchase large size LCD televisions.

[0005] LCD manufacture requires a very clean environment, such as a clean chamber, to enhance the yield rate and quality level thereof. A cassette is utilized to protect and isolate the LCDs during transportation within a factory. Therefore, the size of the LCD cassette is increased according to the size of the LCD. The large size LCD cassette is very difficult to move, especially in a new factory without an established RGV system. Hence, the quality of the LCD is difficult to control in the initial stage of the new factory, because that the LCD cassettes are loaded and unloaded by manpower.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] One object of the present invention is to provide a manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails to transport materials and storage boxes thereof

[0007] Another object of the present invention is to provide a manually guided vehicle that possesses a turntable and a telescopic fork to load and unload a LCD cassette in two directions, left and right, of the manually guided vehicle,

[0008] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a manually guided vehicle that possesses a storable guide wheel that allows convenient entrance and exit from the rails.

[0009] Still another object of the present invention is to provide a manually guided vehicle with a laser pointer to improve a working position accuracy of the manually guided vehicle.

[0010] To achieve these and other advantages and in accordance with the object of the invention, the present invention provides a manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails. The manually guided vehicle includes a frame, a handle, a set of moving wheels, a guide wheel, and a supporting device. The moving wheels enable the manually guided vehicle to move on rails or on the ground. The guide wheel limits the manually guided vehicle when moving on rails and the guide wheel can be raised to allow the manually guided vehicle to be pushed off the rails directly. The supporting device is disposed above the frame to provide functions of double side forking and horizontal rotation.

[0011] The rails further include a U-type guiding rail and the guide wheel clamps the U-type guiding rail to limit the manually guided vehicle to movement on the rails. The supporting device further has a telescopic fork for double side forking and a turntable for rotating along a horizontal surface.

[0012] The manually guided vehicle according to the present invention further utilizes a laser pointer to indicate a position of the manually guided vehicle. The laser pointer cooperates with a position label attached on a work station to indicate a parking position of the manually guided vehicle so that the parking position accuracy of the manually guided vehicle can be enhanced.

[0013] The position label includes a dark ground and a light reflection line. While the laser pointer emits a red laser beam, the position label having a blue ground and a white reflection line is detected to show the position of the laser beam clearer.

[0014] The manually guided vehicle according to the present invention further has a handle for moving the manually guided vehicle and a parking device for parking and fixing the manually guided vehicle. The manually guided vehicle according to the present invention is preferred for transport of a liquid crystal display cassette.

[0015] Hence, the manually guided vehicle according to the present invention not only works on rails but also works on the ground of the factory so that the work area of the manually guided vehicle is efficiently extended. The manually guided vehicle according to the present invention further provides a laser positioning function, a double side forking function, and a function of directly pushing the manually guided vehicle of the rails from one side of the rails. Therefore, the manually guided vehicle according to the present invention enhances the LCD transportation convenient ability and reliability for the LCD manufacture especially during a test run period.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will be more readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0017] FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a manually guided vehicle capable working on a rail according to the present invention and rails;

[0018] FIG. 2A is a front view of the manually guided vehicle capable working on a rail according to the present invention;

[0019] FIG. 2B is a top view of the manually guided vehicle capable working on a rail according to the present invention; and

[0020] FIG. 3 is schematic view of a laser pointer of the manually guided vehicle and a work station with a position label.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0021] The following description is the best presently contemplated mode of carrying out the present invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense but is made merely for the purpose of describing the general principles of the invention. The scope of the invention should be determined by referencing the appended claims.

[0022] FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a manually guided vehicle capable of working on rails according to the present invention and rails. The manually guided vehicle 100 includes a frame 104, a supporting device 106 disposed on the frame 104, and a handle 102 disposed on the rear side of the frame 104. The handle 102 allows a user to push the manually guided vehicle 100. A cassette 120 is disposed on the supporting device 106 to hold substrates, semifinished products, and LCD products for transport to a work station 110. The cassette 120 provides functions of protection and isolation for these substrates, semifinished products, and LCD products.

[0023] When the manually guided vehicle 100 is utilized to transport the cassette 120 to the work station 110 and place the cassette 120 on the work station 110, the manually guided vehicle 100 is moved along a rail 130 and a rail 140 until the manually guided vehicle 100 arrives at the position of the work station 110. The rail 130 is flat rail for supporting the manually guided vehicle 100 moving thereon. The rail 140 is an anti-lateral movement rail to prevent the manually guided vehicle 100 from derailing.

[0024] Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B simultaneously. FIG. 2A is a front view of the manually guided vehicle capable of working on a rail according to the present invention and FIG. 2B is a top view of FIG. 2A. A lift control device 210, a telescopic fork control device 220, a telescopic fork fixing device 280, a parking device 290 and handles 102 are disposed on the rear side of the frame 104 of the manually guided vehicle 100 for a user to conveniently control the manually guided vehicle 100.

[0025] The supporting device 106 having a telescopic fork 230 and a turntable 240 is disposed on the front end of the frame 104. The moving wheels 250 are assembled on the bottom of the frame 104 so that the manually guided vehicle 100 can move on the rail 130 and the rail 140, as well as the ground anywhere in the factory. A guide wheel 260 clamps on the rail 140, such as a U-type guiding rail, to constrain the manually guided vehicle 100 to movement on the rail 130 and the rail 140 and prevent the manually guided vehicle 100 from derailing. The manually guided vehicle 100 further includes a laser pointer 270 to indicate an accurate position of the manually guided vehicle 100. A laser pointer 270 is coordinated with a position label 310 (see FIG. 3) to further improve the position accuracy of the manually guided vehicle 100,

[0026] The following description details each element of the manually guided vehicle 100 and functions thereof. The description is illustrative of the present invention rather than limiting of the present invention. When the manually guided vehicle 100 is moving along the rail 130 and the rail 140, the guide wheel 260 clamps the rail 140, the U-type guiding rail, to constrain the manually guided vehicle 100 moving along the rail 130 and the rail 140 and prevent derailing. When the manually guided vehicle 100 wants to move on the ground and leave the rail 130 and the rail 140, the guide wheel 260 is raised so as to release the rail 140, the U-type guiding rail. Accordingly, the manually guided vehicle 100 easily leaves the rail 130 and the rail 140 from a side of the rail 130. A preferred moving wheel 250 is made of a non-metal material, such as plastic or rubber, so that the manually guided vehicle 100 may easily anywhere move on the ground of a factory. However, a metal moving wheel is still within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

[0027] The manually guided vehicle 100 can efficiently move in the factory to deliver materials, semifinished product, and LCD product to anyplace in the factory so as to efficiently support the manufacture of the production line.

[0028] When the LCD panel is in a test run or in mass production, the manually guided vehicle 100 is normally utilized to delivery the cassette 120. The cassette 120 stores and isolates the substrate and the semifinished product to transfer conveniently the same to another working station. In transporting a LCD cassette, the manually guided vehicle 100 is pushed to a work station 110 (see FIG. 1) along the rail 130 and the rail 140. The manually guided vehicle 100 is then stopped at a predetermined position of the work station 100 when the operator steps on the parking device 290. At that moment, the operator tuns on the telescopic fork fixing device 280 and then loads or unloads the cassette 120.

[0029] If the cassette 120 is unloaded from the work station 110, that is to say, the cassette 120 is removed from the work station 110, the operator first moves the telescopic fork 230 with the telescopic fork control device 220. The telescopic fork 230 provides a double direction forking function, that is to say, the telescopic fork 230 can fork the cassette 120 deposited on the work station from both left side and right side of the manually guided vehicle 100. A conventional manually guided vehicle has to turn the vehicle 180 degrees when a cassette deposited on another side is to be loaded onto or unloaded from the manually guided vehicle. The manually guided vehicle 100 according to the present invention efficiently improves the operation inconvenience incurred by a conventional manually guided vehicle.

[0030] After the telescopic fork 230 has been extended to the bottom of the cassette 120, the lift control device 210 is turned to move the supporting device 106 up a predetermined height. Therefore, the cassette 120 is separated from the work station 110. The telescopic fork control device 220 is turned for returning the telescopic fork 230 until the telescopic fork 230 is restored to the center position of the supporting device 106. Then, the telescopic fork 230 is locked by the telescopic fork fixing device 280 to fix the telescopic fork 230 and the turntable 240.

[0031] If the cassette 120 is unloaded onto the work station 110, that is to say, the cassette 120 is removed from the manually guided vehicle 100 to the work station 110, the operator first unlocks the telescopic fork fixing device 280 and then moves the telescopic fork 230 with the cassette 120 toward the work station 110 by the telescopic fork control device 220. After the telescopic fork 230 has been extended to the top position of the work station 110, the lift control device 210 is turned to move the supporting device 106 down the predetermined height. Therefore, the cassette 120 is placed on the work station 110 and then the telescopic fork 230 is moved down more to separate from the cassette 120. Subsequently, the telescopic fork control device 220 is turned for returning the telescopic fork 230 until the telescopic fork 230 is restored to the center position of the supporting device 106.

[0032] If the cassette 120 has to be placed on a new work station opposite to the work station 110, that is, on the other side of the manually guided vehicle 100, the manually guided vehicle 100 according to the present invention can easily turn the cassette 120 to face the new direction and place the cassette 120 onto the new work station opposite to the work station 110 by way of turning the turntable 240 about 180 degrees along a horizontal surface.

[0033] The manually guided vehicle 100 according to the present invention further includes the laser pointer 270 to enhance the position accuracy thereof. FIG. 3 is schematic view of a laser pointer of the manually guided vehicle and a work station with a position label. The laser pointer 270 emits a laser beam, such as a visible red laser beam, to indicate the position of the manually guided vehicle 100. As the manually guided vehicle 100 is moving along moving direction 340, the laser beam emitted by the laser pointer 270 is synchronized moving along the moving direction 340. Furthermore, the laser pointer 270 cooperates with the position label 310 stuck on the work station 110 so as to manifest the accurate position of the manually guided vehicle 100.

[0034] The position label 310 combines a dark label ground 320 with a light reflection line 330. The label ground 320 is preferably blue and the reflection line 330 is preferably white when the laser beam is a visible red color. Hence, the red laser beam can distinguish the white reflection line 330 so that the laser pointer 270 can precisely indicate the position of the manually guided vehicle 100 and the operator can park the manually guided vehicle 100 more accurately according to the indications of the laser pointer 270 on the position label 310. The manually guided vehicle 100 according to the present invention can efficiently enhance the working position accuracy to improve the poor position recognition capacity of the conventional manually guided vehicle.

[0035] The lift control device 210 and the telescopic fork control device 220 utilize manual wheels to control the supporting device 106 and the telescopic fork 230. However, the lift control device 210 and the telescopic fork control device 220 are not limited to the manual wheels. A power control device, such as an electrical power control device or a similar control device, is within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Further, the parking device 290 can directly link with the moving wheel 250 or utilize a stopping wheel to stop the manually guided vehicle.

[0036] As is understood by a person skilled in the art, the foregoing preferred embodiments of the present invention are illustrative of the present invention rather than limiting of the present invention. It is intended that various modifications and similar arrangements be included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims, the scope of which should be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and similar structures.