"COLLECTION VEHICLE FOR RECYCLABLE ELEMENTS" TECHNICAL FIELD This invention relates to a collection vehicle for recyclable elements and has been devised particularly though not solely for collecting elements that have been pre-sorted into two categories.
In the collection of recyclable waste from domestic and commercial situations it is desirable to provide containers for the gathering of recyclable elements which are divided into at least two compartments so that, eg: waste paper can be collected in one compartment and bottles, cans and plastic containers in the other compartment. This pre-sorting is normally done at the time of filling the container.
Alternatively garbage may be placed in one part of the container and recyclable material in the other part, or multiple compartments may be created within the container by the use of multiple partitions. To efficiently collect recyclable materials it has been proposed to use automated collection vehicles having lifter arms adapted to engage a bin, which is typically a wheeled bin having a hinged lid and manufactured from resilient plastics material, and to lift and invert the bin over a suitable collection chute in the vehicle.
In the past this operation has entailed manually engaging the bin with the lifter arm mechanism in a desired orientation, typically in a rear loading vehicle and then emptying the contents of the bin into aligned chutes on to the back of the vehicle so that waste paper is emptied into one side of the vehicle and bottles, cans and plastic containers into the other side. This can result in an extremely uneven weight distribution in the collecting vehicle which can cause the vehicle to tilt making operation difficult or even dangerous.
Furthermore it has been difficult when emptying bins into vehicles of this type to prevent discrete elements falling from the bin at a premature moment during the
tilting of the bin and falling into the wrong collection chute.
DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION The present invention seeks to ameliorate these problems using a collection vehicle with a side lifter arm in a one-man operation, although the invention can equally be applied to rear loading collection vehicles.
The present invention therefore provides a collection vehicle arranged to collect discrete elements sorted into two or more compartments in a bin, the vehicle incorporating a mechanical lifting arm arranged to engage the bin in a lowered position remote from the vehicle and move the bin to a raised position up-ended over the mouths of two or more chutes arranged in the vehicle such that the mouth of each chute is aligned with a predetermined compartment in the bin when the bin is in the raised position, each chute communicating with one of a plurality of storage zones in the body of the vehicle, each storage zone being located on a different horizontal plane.
Preferably the storage zones are layered one above the other, each extending substantially across the width of the body of the vehicle.
Preferably each storage zone has an associated receiving zone at one end on the same level and positioned to receive elements from the respective chute.
Preferably one or more of the storage zones have a conveyor in the floor of the zone arranged to convey elements from the receiving zone to the opposite end of the storage zone.
Preferably each receiving zone has either a further conveyor or a slide packer arranged to move elements from the receiving zone onto the conveyor in the storage zone.
Typically there are two storage zones in the vehicle, one for receiving waste paper and having a slide packer operable in its associated receiving zone, and the other being for bottles, cans and plastic containers having a further conveyor in its associated receiving
Preferably the bin has a substantially vertical partition dividing the bin into two compartments and the lifting arm is provided with a cover engageable with the top of the bin and adapted to hold the contents of the bin within the compartments while the bin is being inverted by the mechanical lifting arm, said cover comprising a hinge pin supported from the lifting arm and positionable across the top of the bin aligned with the upper edge of the partition, a pair of flaps hingedly connected to and extending outwardly from the hinge pin over the open top of the bin, biasing means arranged to bias the flaps into a position covering the open top of the bin, and release means operable to pivot the flaps toward one another and away from the contents of the bin.
Preferably the mechanical lifting arm is arranged to position the inverted bin for emptying into two discrete chutes separated by a divider and aligned with each compartment respectively when the bin is in the inverted position, and wherein the hinge pin is aligned with the divider in the inverted position with the flaps opening either side of the divider when actuated by the release means.
Preferably the release means are actuated by striking the divider.
In a further aspect the present invention provides a cover for the open top of a bin having a substantially vertical partition dividing the bin into two compartments adapted to hold the contents of the bin within the compartments while the bin is being inverted by a mechanical lifting arm; said cover comprising a hinge pin supported from the lifting arm and positionable across the top of the bin aligned with the upper edge of the partition, a pair of flaps hingedly connected to and extending outwardly from the hinge pin over the open top of the bin, biasing means arranged to bias the flaps into a position covering the open top of the bin, and release means operable to pivot the flaps toward one another and
away from the contents of the bin.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS Notwithstanding any other forms that may fall within its scope, one preferred form of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:-
Fig. 1 is a side view of a collection vehicle according to the invention, showing the body of the vehicle in cross-section; Fig. 2 is a rear end view of the vehicle shown in Fig. 1 with the rear unloading doors removed for clarity;
Fig. 3 is a diagrammatic end view of the body of a vehicle according to the invention;
Fig. 4 is a longitudinal vertical section through the body of a collection vehicle according to the invention;
Fig. 5 is a perspective view of the lifter arm mounted on a collection vehicle according to the invention, engaged with a bin as lifting is commenced; Fig. 6 is a perspective view similar to Fig. 5 showing the bin lifted by the lifting arm to the up-ended discharge position;
Fig. 7 is a plan view of a cover to be placed over the bin during the up-ending process; and Fig. 8 is a cross-sectional view on the line A-A of Fig. 7.
MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
The preferred form of the invention will be described by reference to a truck equipped to collect recyclable material pre-sorted into two categories, one for waste paper and the other for bottles, cans and plastic containers. It will however be appreciated that the invention can equally be applied to other categories of pre-sorted discrete elements and to the handling of containers with larger numbers of compartments.
The collection vehicle typically in the form of a truck (1) having a cab (2) and a body (3) is provided with a side lifter mechanical lifting arm (4) arranged to
lift a wheeled collection bin (5) , typically from a roadside location, and up-end the bin in a raised position (6) (Fig. 6) for emptying the contents of the bin into the body of the vehicle. This technology is already well known for the collection of refuse in single compartment bins which is frequently carried out using so-called "one-man" collection vehicles.
In order to adapt the system for the collection of pre-sorted recyclable waste, the bin (5) is typically divided into two compartments by a vertical partition extending transversely across the bin and typically having edges aligned as shown in broken outline at (7) in Fig. 5.
The collection vehicle is provided with chutes (8) and (9) which are aligned with the respective compartments in the divided bin when in the up-ended position (6) .
The body of the vehicle is divided into two storage zones (10) and (11) , each storage zone being located on a different horizontal plane and typically being layered one above the other and extending substantially across the width of the body of the vehicle. This arrangement can clearly be seen with reference to Fig. 3 and also to Fig. 2 which shows the rear of the vehicle with the unloading doors (to be described further below) removed.
Associated with the storage zone (10) is a receiving zone (12) and associated with the storage zone (11) is a receiving zone (13) . The receiving zone (13) is located directly beneath chute (9) so that material emptied from the corresponding compartment in the bin (5) lands in the receiving zone (13) , while the receiving zone (12) is aligned beneath chute (8) which is separated from chute (9) by a divider (14) . In this manner chute (8) extends downwardly through an aperture in floor (15) to the compartment (11) so that recyclable material tipped through the horizontally separated chutes (8) and (9) ends up in the vertically separated receiving zones (12) and (13) respectively.
Receiving zone (12) is typically equipped to handle waste paper for recycling and to this end is equipped with a slide packer shown diagrammatically at (16) arranged to reciprocate as shown by arrow (17) to push material landing in receiving zone (12) into the storage zone (10) . To facilitate packing of the paper in the storage zone (10) , the floor (18) of the zone is provided with a conveyor (19) having an upper surface (20) moving in the direction of arrow (21) to take paper material pushed onto the end of the conveyor by the slide packer (16) and convey it to the rear end (22) of the storage zone (10) . Obviously as paper material builds up within the storage zone (10) the conveyor moves incoming paper to a position abutting the paper already in place until the storage zone is full.
Similarly the storage zone (13) , adapted to receive bottles, cans and plastic containers is provided with a conveyor belt (23) adapted to move material falling into the receiving zone (13) onto the end of a conveyor (24) located on the floor (15) of storage zone (11) and moving in the direction of arrow (25) toward the rear end (26) of the storage zone.
A secondary conveyor (23) is used rather than a slide packer as it is necessary to handle bottles in a gentle fashion to minimise breakage which causes problems at the discharge sorting station.
In order to keep the conveyor (24) from jamming, the distal end of the conveyor is provided with a counter rotating elongate brush (27) to keep the recyclable elements from falling between the end of the conveyor
(24) and the rear wall (28) of the truck body.
The rear wall (28) is typically in the form of opening doors (not shown) which may be opened when the vehicle reaches its discharge destination so that the rear of the vehicle can be aligned with receiving conveyors or chutes and the contents discharged by operation of the conveyors (19) and (24) .
As can be clearly seen in Figs. 2 and 3, each
storage zone (10, 11) extends substantially across the width of the body of the vehicle so that the weight of material contained within the zone is evenly laterally distributed across the vehicle. This avoids uneven loading which can lead to tipping and in extreme situations overturning of a collection vehicle.
In order to keep the contents of the bin from falling prematurely when the bin is raised and inverted by the lifter arm (4) , it is desirable to provide a removable cover for the bin as part of the lifter arm mechanism. When the lifter arm engages with the bin, the hinged lid (29) (Fig. 5) of the bin is flipped open by any suitable means, eg: by a high pressure water jet attached to the lifter arm and operating under the rim of the lid, and a cover (30) is clamped in place over the open top of the bin.
The cover may be more clearly seen with reference to Figs. 7 and 8 where there is shown attachment means (31) for securing the cover to the lifter arm mechanism, typically by way of a further arm which causes the entire cover to engage over the top of the bin to the position shown in Fig. 5 at the time of, or shortly after the lifter arm is engaged with the bin.
A surround frame (32) is mounted from attachment means (31) and in turn supports a hinge pin (33) which is located to be positioned across the top of the bin (5) aligned with the upper edge of the vertical partition located within the bin.
A pair of flaps (34, 35) are hingedly connected to the hinge pin (31) and extend outwardly from the hinge pin over the open top of the bin as can be seen in Figs. 5 and 7.
The cover is further provided with biasing means in the form of coil springs (36) engaged about the hinge pin and having extending legs (37) bearing against the flaps (34) and (35) and biasing those flaps into a position covering the open top of the bin as shown in Figs. 7 and 8.
Release means are provided in the form of lugs (38) protruding upwardly from the flaps (34) and (35) and arranged such that force exerted on the lugs causes the flaps (34) and (35) to pivot toward one another and away from the contents of the bin against the biasing action of the springs (36) .
When the bin is up-ended to the position shown in
Fig. 6, the hinge pin (33) is aligned with the upper edge
(39) of the divider (14) between chutes (8) and (9) with the flaps in the closed position. Further movement of the lifter arm causes the lugs (38) to bear against the edge (39) of the divider (14) forcing the lugs to act against the operation of the spring (36) and open the flaps on either side of the divider (14) allowing the contents of the bin to fall evenly into the respective chutes (8) and (9) .
Once the bin has been emptied and moved away from the divider (14) , the springs (36) cause the flaps to return to the closed position.