Title:
Method for Collating Documents and Device for Carrying Out this Method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collating method, particularly for a continuous production line of mailing covers that makes it possible to simultaneously collate the documents to be folded and their envelope and fold them in order to obtain a mailing cover finished in a single pass. The method includes, during the collating step, that the documents (1) to be enclosed are stacked and then advanced at a predetermined pace (P). The envelope (2) is next stacked such that the envelope (2) at least partially covers the documents (1) and the envelope (2), which are offset and carried away at the predetermined pace (P) toward a folding area. The collating method is for use in production lines for mailing covers of the like.



Inventors:
Freyburger, Hubert (Colmar, FR)
Frebourg, Thierry (Labaroche, FR)
Application Number:
12/090266
Publication Date:
12/18/2008
Filing Date:
10/25/2006
Assignee:
MEGASPIREA PRODUCTION (Colmar, FR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H43/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CUMBESS, YOLANDA RENEE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIS & BUJOLD, P.L.L.C. (CONCORD, NH, US)
Claims:
1. 1-14. (canceled)

15. A method for collating documents (1, 2) comprising the steps of delivering the documents; collating the documents by stacking and aligning the documents along at least one edge; evacuating the stacked documents; the collating step including, at least one first type of document (1) is stacked, the first type of document (1) is advanced for a predetermined distance (P), at least one second type of document (2) is stacked, partially covering the first type of document (1); and the evacuation step including, a combination formed by the first and the second types of document (1, 2) stacked and displaced for the predetermined distance (P) is evacuated.

16. The method according to claim 15, further comprising the step of folding the combination of the documents (1, 2), following the evacuation step, to form a rolled unit such that one of the documents (2) is outside the rolled unit and creates an envelope surrounding the other type of document (1).

17. The method according to claim 16, further comprising the step of designing the second type of documents to be outside the rolled unit and constitute an open envelope (2) and designing the first type of document to be inside the rolled unit and constitute the documents (1) contained within the envelope (2).

18. The method according to claim 16, further comprising the step of designing the second type of document (2) to be shorter in length than the first type of document (1).

19. The method according to claim 15, further comprising the step of basing parameters of the predetermined distance (P) on a length of the documents (1, 2) to be collated.

20. The method according to claim 15, further comprising the step of setting the predetermined distance (P) to be essentially equal to one-third a length of the first type of document (1).

21. The method according to claim 17, further comprising the step of moving the documents and the envelopes, during the delivery step, along one after another in a continuous process such that each envelope follows a corresponding document, with the combination of the envelope and the corresponding document forming the rolled unit.

22. The method according to claim 21, further comprising the step of aligning each envelope (2) to follow a number (n) of the documents (1) destined to be contained in the envelope (2).

23. The method according to claim 15, further comprising the step of detecting the documents (1) corresponding to the first type and the documents (2) corresponding to the second type prior to the collating step and regulating at least the collating step by a control unit on a basis of data detected.

24. The method according to claim 15, further comprising the step of integrating the method with a more general method of producing mailing covers according to a continuous procedure from a width of one of blank material and printed material culminating in closed mailing covers.

25. A device (10) for collating documents (1, 2) comprising at least two superimposed, parallel and adjacent conveyors (11, 12) defining a trajectory (T) allowing documents (1, 2) to circulate between a delivery zone and an evacuation zone, and at least one alignment stop (15) interposed on the trajectory (T) to form a zone for collating documents (1, 2), the alignment stop (15) being connected to a drive means, at least one control unit regulating at least the means for driving the alignment stop (15) so as to advance at least one first type of document (1) for a predetermined distance (P) before at least one second type of document (2) is stacked to at least partially cover the first type of document (1) and evacuating a combination formed by the first and the second types of document (1, 2) stacked and displaced for a predetermined distance (P), the control unit being governed by a detector which identifies the first and the second types of document (1, 2).

26. The device according to claim 25, wherein the alignment stop (15) comprises at least one pair of driving guide wheels (16) in contact with a generatrix located in the trajectory (T) of the first and the second types of documents (1, 2).

27. The device according to claim 25, further comprising, in the collating zone, at least one deflector (17) for displacing the first and the second types of documents (1, 2) one of upwardly and downwardly relative to the trajectory (T) defined by the conveyors (11, 12) so as to stack the documents (1, 2) collated one of above and below.

28. The device according to claim 25, wherein the device is integrated into a production line for continuous production of mailing covers from a width of one of blank and printed material culminating in closed mailing covers.

Description:

This is a national stage completion of PCT/FR20061002394 filed Oct. 25, 2006 which claims priority from French Application Serial No. 0510923 filed Oct. 26, 2005.

TECHNICAL REALM

The present invention concerns a method for collating documents comprising at least a step of delivering the documents, a step of collating the documents by stacking and aligning them along at least one edge, and a step of evacuating the stacked documents, especially for production lines for creating mailing covers from a width of material such as paper or the like.

The invention also concerns a document collating device comprising at least two superimposed conveyors that are parallel and adjacent, the space between them defining a trajectory for said documents that connects a delivery zone and an evacuation zone, and at least one alignment stop interposed on said trajectory to form a document collating zone, said alignment stop being connected to a drive means.

PRIOR ART

Document collation devices are well known throughout the paper industry, for example, in machines used to manufacture mailing covers, Collating devices known in the art are designed to stack documents of essentially the same size that will be folded and inserted into a previously formed envelope, such as the devices described in Publications U.S. Pat. No. 6,796,558 and DE 103.35.418. Other devices are designed to collate documents differing in size, such as those described in publications DE 94.04.431 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,445,368. However, these devices require supply and/or collating zones dedicated to each document format, making the mechanism complex and expensive to manufacture.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention proposes a novel method of collating documents in response to the recent need for a more global method of continuously producing mailing covers, in which the documents to be inserted and the envelopes which will hold these documents are created simultaneously from a single width of paper in the order of mailing covers to be produced, which ensures the integrity of the mailing covers and reduces their unit cost by using a simple, economical, and reliable collating device.

For this purpose the invention concerns a method of the type described, characterized in that during the collating step, a least one first type of document is stacked, this first type of document is advanced by a predetermined step, at least one second type of document is stacked at least partially covering the first type of document, and in that during the evacuation step, the combination formed of the first and second types of document that have been stacked and displaced is evacuated for said predetermined step.

In a preferred embodiment, this method comprises a folding step following the evacuation step, in which the combination of documents is folded to form a rolled unit folded in such a way that one of the documents is outside the folded unit and creates an envelope surrounding the other type of document.

The second type of document remains outside the rolled unit, for example, and preferably constitutes an open envelope. The first type of document is designed to remain inside the rolled unit, for example, and preferably constitutes the contents of the envelope that may be formed by a number n of documents. The second type of document constituting the envelope may be shorter in length than the first type of document.

The parameters of the predetermined step may advantageously be determined by the length of the documents for collating. For example, it may be equal to ⅓ the length of the first type of document.

In the preferred embodiment, prior to the collating step, the documents corresponding to the first type and those corresponding to the second type are detected and at least the collating step is controlled by a control unit on the basis of the data detected.

This collating method is advantageously integrated with a more general method of using a continuous process to produce mailing covers from a width of blank or printed material, culminating in closed mailing covers.

To achieve this, the invention further concerns a collating device of the type indicated characterized in that it comprises at least one control unit regulating at least the means driving said alignment stop in order to control advancement of at least a first type of document for a predetermined distance before at least one second type of document is stacked to at least partially cover the first type of document, and evaluating the combination formed of the first and second types of document stacked and displaced for said predetermined distance, said control unit being connected to a detector unit which identifies the first and the second types of document.

SUMMARY DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention and its advantages will be more readily apparent from the following description of one embodiment provided by way of non-limiting example, with reference to the attached drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a collating device according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged detailed view in transverse cross-section of the device of FIG. 1 taken along arrows II-II;

FIG. 3 is a schematic of five steps in the collating method of the invention;

FIGS. 4A-C are schematic representations of the device of FIG. 1 in a first operating step respectively seen from the side, from the top, and in detail;

FIGS. 5A-C through FIGS. 10A-C are similar to FIGS. 4A-C in different operating steps.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE INVENTION AND BEST WAY OF ACHIEVING THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a collating device 10 for documents 1, 2 according to the invention followed by a folding device 20, both devices 10, 20 being supported by the same chassis 30, which is partially shown. This chassis comprises, in a known manner which is not shown, a footed structure that is carinated and equipped with a means for driving the moving parts, at least one control unit for the drive means, etc. Obviously the two collating and folding devices 10 and 20 may be separated and each supported by a different chassis.

Said collating device 10 comprises, in known manner, two conveyors 11, 12 superimposed in parallel and adjacent one another to define a trajectory T for circulation of documents 1, 2 in the direction of arrow F, between an intake zone and an evacuation zone, passing through a collating zone. This trajectory T is preferably situated in a horizontal plane, but may also be in a slightly inclined plane. In the example shown, each conveyor 11, 12 is formed of four drive belts 13 distributed at regular intervals along an expanse that at least covers the expanse of documents 1, 2. This is not a limitation on the number of drive belts 13, which may vary according to the width of the documents 1, 2 to be collated. These drive belts 13 are guided by drive rollers 14, preferably grooved, located in the intake and evacuation zones, and connected to a drive means, not shown, of any known type such as a reduction motor, for example, with a gear train, notched belt, or chain transmission, etc. Drive belts 13 for the two conveyors 11, 12 are obviously arranged facing each other in order to use friction for driving documents 1, 2 in the direction of arrow F.

Collating device 10 also comprises in known manner an alignment stop 15 interposed in the trajectory T of documents 1, 2 to define the collating zone between the two conveyors 11, 12. In the example shown this alignment stop 15 is formed of two pairs of drive wheels 16 contacting a generatrix passing through circulation trajectory T of documents 1, 2, These two pairs of drive wheels 16 are inserted between the four pairs of drive belts 13 symmetrically in relation to the median plane of collating device 10 in order to balance the drive force applied to documents 1, 2. They are rotated by drive means, not shown, of any known type such as servomotors, for example, that cause them to stop in order to collate documents 1, 2 by stacking them with their edges aligned and abutting drive wheels 16 and cause them to rotate in order to drive stacked documents 1, 2 toward the evacuation zone. These drive means control drive wheels 16 during an intermediate collating step in order to make stacked documents 1 advance for a predetermined distance P, the parameters of which are determined according to the length of documents 1, 2 to be collated using the collation process described below.

This collating device 10 also comprises in its collating zone, in a known manner, at least one deflector 17 or lifting device located upstream of alignment stop 15 for shifting documents 1, 2 upward or downward relative to trajectory T defined by conveyors 11, 12 so as to stack documents 1, 2 at the top or at the bottom. In the example shown, collating device 10 comprises four deflectors 17, two of which are integrated within conveyor 11 located below and two of which are integrated in conveyor 12 situated above the trajectory T of documents 1, 2. Each deflector 17 is formed of four discs 18 located opposite the four corresponding drive belts 13, said discs 18 being supported by an axle 19 mounted on chassis 30. This axle 13 may be fixed or it may rotate freely. It can also be regulated to adjust the height of discs 18 relative to trajectory T of documents 1, 2. Discs 18 comprise a deep peripheral groove 18′ defining two lateral walls used to guide drive belts 13 in translation. In this example the two lower deflectors 17 are slightly raised relative to trajectory T of documents 1, 2 to lift them and create a stack of documents 1, 2 below (see FIG. 2). Obviously, other types of deflectors or lifting devices can be used, such as, for example, inclined ramps interposed between belts 13.

Folding device 20 comprises in known manner several pairs of parallel drive cylinders 21-24 combined with at least two folding pockets 25, 26 adjustable in depth. These cylinders are driven in rotation by a drive means, not shown, of any known type that allows them to be regulated according to the length of documents 1, 2 and the depth of the folds to be made. The number of folding pockets 25, 26 may vary according to the number of folds to be made, as may the number of pairs of cylinders.

Documents 1, 2 to be collated, in the example shown in FIG. 31 are a first document type 1, for example sheets of A4 paper to be inserted into an envelope and a second document type 2 which will form the envelope, for example, a 110×220 mm envelope. Obviously these examples are not limiting and any other format for documents 1 and envelope 2 may be used. According to the novel method for the continuous production of mailing covers briefly described in the introduction, said documents 1, 2 are printed one after the other in the order of insertion from a single width of material, for example, paper. They are then cut apart, separated by a predetermined interval and then moved along to collating and folding devices 10 and 20. Next, the flaps of envelope 2 are glued and creased to close the mailing cover, which is ready for mailing. Said FIG. 3 provides an illustration in five steps of the collation method for documents 1, represented by the light gray areas, and envelopes 2, represented by the darker gray areas, with the solid line at the right extremity representing alignment stop 15 on collating device 10 and arrow F representing the direction in which documents 1, 2 circulate continuously in this device:

Step 1: alignment stop 15 is stopped and retains a first document 1;

Step 2: alignment stop 15 is stopped and retains a second document 1 which is stacked on top of or beneath the first document 1;

Step 3: alignment stop 15 moves and takes with it the two stacked documents 1 for a predetermined distance P, for example, about ⅓ the length of the documents, or approximately 95 mm for A4 format documents;

Step 4: alignment stop 15 is stopped and retains envelope 2;

Step 5: alignment stop 15 moves and evacuates the stack formed by the two documents 1 and envelope 2 towards folding device 20.

Possible Industrial Applications:

The different steps in this collating method are detailed in FIGS. 4 through 10 illustrating the collating and folding devices 10 and 20.

FIGS. 4A-C correspond to step 1 of FIG. 3: alignment stop 15 is stopped, a first document 1 driven by conveyors 11, 12 is blocked against it in the collating zone and a second document 1 arrives in collating device 10. FIG. 4C shows the detail A of FIG. 4A enlarged to depict the slightly raised position of lower left deflector 17 and its effect on first document 1 which is slightly raised relative to lower conveyor 11 in order to receive second document 1 which follows beneath it, driven by conveyors 11, 12.

FIGS. 5A-C correspond to step 3 in FIG. 3: alignment stop 15 is moving to displace the first and second documents 1 for a predetermined distance P towards folding device 20. FIG. 5C shows the detail B of FIG. 5A enlarged to depict the slightly raised position of lower right deflector 17 and its effect on the stack formed by the first and second documents 1 that are slightly raised relative to lower conveyor 11 in order to receive envelope 2 which follows beneath them, driven by conveyors 11, 12.

FIGS. 6A-C correspond to step 4 of FIG. 3: alignment stop 15 is stopped and envelope 2 driven by conveyors 11, 12 is stacked below documents 1 that are blocked and displaced by a predetermined distance P, as shown in FIG. 6C showing the detail B of FIG. 6A.

FIGS. 7A-B correspond to step 5 of FIG. 3: alignment stop 15 is moving to evacuate the stack formed by documents 1 and envelope 2 toward folding device 20.

In FIGS. 8A-C, the stack consisting of documents 1 and envelope 2 is directed toward first pocket 25 of folding device 20 by a first pair of drive cylinders 21 to form a first fold, during which procedure the displaced portion of documents 1, approximately the first one-third of their length, is folded over the second third, between drive cylinders 21, 22 as illustrated by FIG. 8C showing the detail C of FIG. 8A.

FIGS. 9A-C illustrate the formation of the second fold, during which the first fold, previously directed toward second pocket 26 on folding device 20 by a second pair of drive cylinders 22, is directed between drive cylinders 22 and 23, folding the second one-third of documents 1 over the third one-third, while simultaneously folding the first half of envelope 2, as shown in FIG. 9C which depicts the detail D of FIG. 9A.

FIGS. 10A-C illustrate the resulting rolled packet in which documents 1, having been folded twice, are located inside envelope 2, having been folded once, with the lateral flaps and the closing flap of envelope 2 remaining open. This rolled packet is evacuated by a fourth pair of drive cylinders 24 as illustrated in FIG. 10C showing the detail E of FIG. 10A, towards the mailing cover finishing zone (not shown) in which the lateral flaps are glued and folded to the back of envelope 2 and then the closing flap is also glued and folded to the back of envelope 2, closing the mailing cover.

Collating and folding devices 10 and 20 are regulated by a control unit (not shown) governed by detectors (not shown) which identify the type of documents 1, 2 entering collating unit 10, either documents 1 forming the envelope contents, or the envelope 2 itself, in order to control guide wheels 16 for alignment stop 15 as a consequence and in conformity with the cycle of the collating method described above. These detectors may consist of any known type of sensor: touch, optical, ultrasound, infrared wave, camera, etc., and are capable of detecting the beginning and end of each type of document 1, 2, reading bar codes, and so forth.

The description makes it clear that this invention achieves its stated goals: e.g., by specifically regulating alignment stop 15, it allows different types of documents 1, 2, to be collated, particularly documents of different lengths, in order to form a mailing cover in a single operation, and ensures the integrity of the contents and the envelope since the different types of documents 1, 2 each follow a unique trajectory T, eliminating any risk of error.

The present invention is not limited to the exemplary embodiment described, but extends to any modification and variation obvious to a person skilled in the art while remaining within the scope of protection defined in the attached claims.