Title:
Diverter gate with wear attachment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flat article handling system diverter gate includes a wear attachment. The wear attachment is easily replaceable without having to remove the diverter gate from the flat article handling system, or without having to shut down the system for extended periods of time. The wear attachment may be provided as an add-on to a conventional diverter gate, or as a replaceable diverter panel of the diverter gate.



Inventors:
Ramonowski, Roland (Schenectady, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/350427
Publication Date:
07/29/2004
Filing Date:
01/24/2003
Assignee:
RAMONOWSKI ROLAND
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
209/900
International Classes:
B07C3/06; B65H29/60; (IPC1-7): B65H39/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
JOERGER, KAITLIN S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOFFMAN WARNICK LLC (Albany, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A diverter gate for a flat article handling system, the diverter gate comprising: a diverter gate member; and a wear attachment coupled to the diverter gate member.

2. The diverter gate of claim 1, wherein the wear attachment is replaceable.

3. The diverter gate of claim 1, wherein the diverter gate member and the wear attachment are coupled by a coupling device.

4. The diverter gate of claim 3, wherein the coupling device includes a lock arm extension adapted to engage the diverter gate member.

5. The diverter gate of claim 3, wherein the coupling device includes at least one positioning member adapted to engage the diverter gate member.

6. The diverter gate of claim 3, wherein the coupling device includes a threaded fastener.

7. The diverter gate of claim 3, wherein the coupling device includes a first part of a male-female coupling on the wear attachment and a second part of the male-female coupling on the diverter gate member.

8. The diverter gate of claim 7, wherein the male-female coupling includes a dovetail connection.

9. The diverter gate of claim 1, wherein the wear attachment covers a diverter panel of the diverter gate member.

10. The diverter gate of claim 1, wherein the wear attachment forms a diverter panel of the diverter gate member.

11. The diverter gate of claim 1, wherein the diverter gate member includes at least one diverter panel support adapted to be moved into a path of a flat article by a mover.

12. The diverter gate of claim 11, wherein the diverter gate member includes two diverter panel supports coupled by a support member.

13. The diverter gate of claim 11, wherein the mover is an electric motor.

14. A diverter gate for a flat article handling system, the diverter gate comprising: means for selectively diverting a flat article; and means for preventing wear of the means for selectively diverting.

15. A diverter gate for a flat article handling system including: a diverter gate member; a replaceable wear attachment for the diverter gate member; and a coupling device for coupling the wear attachment to the diverter gate member.

16. The diverter gate of claim 15, wherein the wear attachment covers a diverter panel of the diverter gate member.

17. The diverter gate of claim 15, wherein the wear attachment forms a diverter panel of the diverter gate member.

18. The diverter gate of claim 15, wherein the diverter gate member includes at least one diverter panel support adapted to be moved into a path of a flat article by a mover.

19. The diverter gate of claim 18, wherein the diverter gate member includes two diverter panel supports coupled by a support member.

20. The diverter gate of claim 18, wherein the mover is an electric motor.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Technical Field

[0002] The present invention relates generally to flat article handling systems, and more particularly, to a flat article handling system diverter gate with a wear attachment.

[0003] 2. Related Art

[0004] Flat article handling systems such as those used to sort mail use diverter gate assemblies for directing flat articles during sorting. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is illustrated one example of a prior art diverter gate assembly 10 positioned within a flat article handling system 12. Flat article handling system 12 is configured to direct and sort a large number of flat articles 14. One illustrative application is mail such as envelopes and flats. Diverter gate assembly 10 includes a diverter gate 20 positionable between an inoperative position (FIG. 1) in which flat article 14 moves along a first flow path 22, and an operative position (FIG. 2) in which flat article 14 is directed to move along a second flow path 24. Diverter gate 20 may be positioned via, for example, a solenoid 26 between the operative and inoperative position.

[0005] Diverter gate 20 is usually made from a mold that is tooled and/or shaped to correspond to a size necessary for proper functioning of the handling system. For instance, relative to a mail processing system, the body is sized to function with a delivery bar code sorter (DBCS) or other mail processing equipment. The materials used to make the body of a diverter gate are usually a form of polyurethane, polyethylene or the like, which makes the body light and strong.

[0006] In current handling systems, each diverter gate 20 is subject to wear from the contact of flat articles 14 thereon. Wear may take a variety of forms such as nicks, cuts, burrs, or other abrasions due to passing flat articles' contact. Wear eventually hinders or prevents proper operation of diverter gate assembly 10, e.g., snags on a worn diverter gate member may tear flat articles contacting the diverter gate causing jams. Accordingly, each diverter gate 20 must be replaced periodically to insure proper operation. Current diverter gate assemblies, however, are constructed such that removal of a worn diverter gate requires closing the portion of handling system 12 that the assembly is in for an extended period of time. In terms of mail processing systems, for example, delays for extended amounts of time for servicing may cost millions of dollars each year.

[0007] In view of the foregoing, there is a need for a diverter gate assembly that is more easily repaired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In a first aspect of the invention is provided a diverter gate for a flat article handling system, the diverter gate comprising: a diverter gate member; and a wear attachment coupled to the diverter gate member.

[0009] In a second aspect of the invention is provided a diverter gate for a flat article handling system, the diverter gate comprising: means for selectively diverting a flat article; and means for preventing wear of the means for selectively diverting.

[0010] In a third aspect of the invention is provided a diverter gate for a flat article handling system including: a diverter gate member; a replaceable wear attachment for the diverter gate member; and a coupling device for coupling the wear attachment to the diverter gate member.

[0011] The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of the preferred embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] The embodiments of this invention will be described in detail, with reference to the following figures, wherein like designations denote like elements, and wherein:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art diverter gate assembly in a flat article handling machine in an inoperative position.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a prior art diverter gate assembly in a flat article handling machine in an operative position.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a diverter gate member.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a wear attachment for the diverter gate member of FIG. 3 in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a bottom perspective view of a wear attachment in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a back perspective view of a wear attachment in accordance with a third embodiment of the invention.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a diverter gate member including the wear attachment of FIG. 4.

[0020] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a diverter gate member including a wear attachment according to a fourth embodiment of the invention.

[0021] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a top portion of a diverter gate member with a wear attachment according to the fourth embodiment of the invention.

[0022] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a top portion of a diverter gate member with a wear attachment according to a fifth embodiment of the invention.

[0023] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a top portion of a diverter gate member with a wear attachment according to a sixth embodiment of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a diverter gate member including a wear attachment according to a seventh embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0025] With reference to the drawings, a diverter gate for a flat article handling system including a diverter gate member, and a wear attachment coupled to the diverter gate member will now be described. Referring to FIG. 3, there is illustrated a diverter gate 120 similar to those shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 but adapted for use according to the invention. Diverter gate 120 includes a diverter gate member 122 including at least one diverter panel support 130. Each diverter panel support 130 includes a first diverter panel 136 which contacts a flat article (not shown) as diverter gate 120 directs the flat article. Each diverter panel support 130 may also include a second diverter panel 140 where diverter gate 120 functioning requires, i.e., diverter gate 120 re-directs flat articles in two directions. In the example shown, diverter gate member 122 includes two diverter panel supports 130, each with a second diverter panel 140. Where two diverter panel supports are provided, the supports may be coupled together by a support member 134. It should be recognized that the particular diverter gate member 122 shown is merely illustrative and that the invention is applicable to any now known or later developed diverter gate member. Diverter gate 120 may be positioned via, for example, a gate mover (not shown) such as an electric motor or solenoid 26 (FIGS. 1 and 2) or any other now known or later developed mechanism for positioning gate 120 between an operative and inoperative position. The gate mover may be coupled to diverter gate 120 in any known or later developed fashion. With continuing reference to FIG. 3, diverter gate member 122 may also include one or more openings 142, 144, the use of which will be described below.

[0026] Referring to FIGS. 4-6, various wear attachments for diverter gate 120 are illustrated that can be added to a conventional diverter gate. With reference to FIG. 4, a first embodiment of a wear attachment 160 includes a base 162 including a coupling device 164 and a wear panel 168 coupled thereto. A locating member 170 may also be included for positioning wear attachment 160 on diverter gate member 122. As an alternative, locating member 170 may be extended to provide a second wear panel to protect second diverter panel 140 when the second diverter panel is provided. In this embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 7, coupling device 164 is provided in the form of a lock arm extension 165. A portion 166 of lock arm extension 165 engages an opening 142 of diverter panel support 130 to hold wear attachment 160 in place on diverter gate member 122. Wear panel(s) 168, 170 are sized to adequately cover a respective diverter panel 136, 140 and to assure proper operation of system 12 (FIGS. 1 and 2).

[0027] In operation, wear panel 168 is positioned to cover a diverter panel 136 of diverter gate member 122 to direct a flat article and prevent wear to diverter panel 136. When a wear panel(s) 168, 170 wears or is damaged, wear attachment 160 may be easily replaced using common tools, e.g., a screw driver, pliers, etc., thus making it easy for maintenance personnel to repair a diverter gate assembly without removing a diverter gate.

[0028] Wear attachment 160 may be made of any material capable of adequately preventing wear of diverter panels 136, 140. For example, wear attachment 160 may be made of a metal or hard plastic. In one embodiment, wear attachment 160 is made as a single piece, e.g., by injection molding. However, wear attachment 160 may be made in parts and coupled together to form an integral piece by, for example, gluing, welding, etc.

[0029] Turning to FIG. 5, a second embodiment of a wear attachment 260 is shown. In this embodiment, wear attachment 260 includes a base 262 supporting a first wear panel 268 and a second wear panel 270. A coupling device 264 is provided as a set of positioning members 290, 292, 294 for engaging diverter gate member 122. In operation, wear attachment 260 is positioned to cover diverter panel(s) 136, 140 (FIG. 3) of diverter gate member 122 to direct a flat article and prevent wear to diverter panel(s) 136, 140. Wear attachment 260 is held in position by positioning members 290, 292, 294 and by the impact of flat articles thereon.

[0030] FIG. 6 shows a third embodiment of a wear attachment 360 that includes a base 362, a first wear panel 368 and a second wear panel 370. In this embodiment, a connecting device includes a ledge locating member 390 for engaging a lead edge 392 (FIG. 3) of diverter gate member 122 and a fastener 394 for insertion into a mating opening 144 (FIG. 3) of diverter gate member 122 for coupling member 122 and attachment 360 together. In one embodiment, fastener 394 is a threaded fastener threadable into mating opening 144. Other types of fasteners are also possible such as snap-on fasteners, etc.

[0031] The embodiments of FIGS. 5 and 6 are advantageous because they can be adapted to couple to any wear panel (top or bottom) of the illustrated diverter gate member 122 (FIG. 3).

[0032] Turning to FIGS. 8-12, additional embodiments of a diverter gate are shown. In these embodiments, a diverter gate member does not include a diverter panel(s) or diverter panel support(s). Rather, wear attachments are provided as diverter panel(s) onto a diverter gate member.

[0033] In FIGS. 8-11, a diverter gate 420 includes a diverter gate member 422 having at least one wear support 430 (two shown only in FIG. 8), and a wear attachment 460. A coupling device 464 for positioning wear attachment 460 to form a diverter panel is also provided. In the examples shown, coupling device 464 includes a first part of a male-female coupling on wear attachment 460 and a second part of the male-female coupling on the diverter gate member 422. In FIGS. 8 and 9, coupling device 464 is provided as vertically oriented, mating female and male dovetail connectors 480, 482, respectively. In FIG. 10, horizontally oriented, mating female and male dovetail connectors 580, 582 are provided, respectively. In FIG. 11, mating opening and pin connectors 680, 682 are provided, respectively. It should be recognized that while particular connecting devices are shown in FIGS. 8-11, a variety of other devices are also possible and considered within the scope of the invention.

[0034] FIG. 12 illustrates another embodiment of a diverter gate 720 including a diverter gate member 722 and a wear attachment 760. In this case, wear attachment 760 includes at least one wear panel support 730 each including at least one wear panel(s) 768, 770. Where two wear panel supports 730 are used (as shown), a support member 734 may be provided to position the supports. Wear attachment 760 is replaceably attached to diverter gate member 722 by a connecting device 764. Diverter gate member 722 is coupled to the gate mover (not shown) in a known fashion. As illustrated, connecting device 764 includes a female part 780 on wear attachment 760 and a mating male part 782 on diverter gate member 722. Male part 782 may include a stop 792 for precisely positioning wear attachment 760. While a particular connecting device has been illustrated, it should be recognized that the connecting device may take a variety of forms other than that shown.

[0035] In operation, the invention provide a diverter gate that is capable of very quick and easy repair by removal and replacement of the wear attachment without disconnection of the diverter gate member from the gate mover.

[0036] While this invention has been described in conjunction with the specific embodiments outlined above, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the embodiments of the invention as set forth above are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the following claims. For example, while particular coupling devices have been illustrated, one with skill in the art should recognize that a variety of other coupling devices are possible, and should be considered within the scope of this invention.