EP2471716B1 - Bulk pack napkin separator - Google Patents

Bulk pack napkin separator Download PDF

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Publication number
EP2471716B1
EP2471716B1 EP11196156.1A EP11196156A EP2471716B1 EP 2471716 B1 EP2471716 B1 EP 2471716B1 EP 11196156 A EP11196156 A EP 11196156A EP 2471716 B1 EP2471716 B1 EP 2471716B1
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EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
bulk packs
bulk
packs
wrapper
array
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Active
Application number
EP11196156.1A
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
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EP2471716A1 (en
Inventor
James R Michler
Thomas W Schneider
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
CG Bretting Manufacturing Co Inc
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CG Bretting Manufacturing Co Inc
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201061428771P priority Critical
Application filed by CG Bretting Manufacturing Co Inc filed Critical CG Bretting Manufacturing Co Inc
Publication of EP2471716A1 publication Critical patent/EP2471716A1/en
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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B63/00Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on articles or materials to be packaged
    • B65B63/02Auxiliary devices, not otherwise provided for, for operating on articles or materials to be packaged for compressing or compacting articles or materials prior to wrapping or insertion in containers or receptacles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H31/00Pile receivers
    • B65H31/30Arrangements for removing completed piles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B25/00Packaging other articles presenting special problems
    • B65B25/14Packaging paper or like sheets, envelopes, or newspapers, in flat, folded, or rolled form
    • B65B25/145Packaging paper or like sheets, envelopes, or newspapers, in flat, folded, or rolled form packaging folded articles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2301/00Handling processes for sheets or webs
    • B65H2301/30Orientation, displacement, position of the handled material
    • B65H2301/34Modifying, selecting, changing direction of displacement
    • B65H2301/341Modifying, selecting, changing direction of displacement without change of plane of displacement
    • B65H2301/3411Right angle arrangement, i.e. 90 degrees
    • B65H2301/34112Right angle arrangement, i.e. 90 degrees changing leading edge
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2301/00Handling processes for sheets or webs
    • B65H2301/40Type of handling process
    • B65H2301/42Piling, depiling, handling piles
    • B65H2301/422Handling piles, sets or stacks of articles
    • B65H2301/4223Pressing piles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2701/00Handled material; Storage means
    • B65H2701/10Handled articles or webs
    • B65H2701/19Specific article or web
    • B65H2701/1924Napkins or tissues, e.g. dressings, toweling, serviettes, kitchen paper and compresses

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates to apparatuses and methods for producing bulk packs of napkins and the like from a stack of folded sheets, and more particularly to a separating apparatus and method for separating a continuously building stack of sheets into bulk packs at a rate allowing equipment upstream and downstream from the separator to operate continuously at optimal speeds.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Napkin folders use a separator to isolate a specified number of sheets into packs and send the packs to a wrapper. Packs larger than a certain size, typically about 160 napkins, are known as bulk packs. Bulk pack separators handle the packs with the napkins oriented vertically, and sometimes compress the packs one at a time before they enter the wrapper.
  • A bulk pack separator begins by separating a continuous stack of folded napkins into bulk packs. Prior bulk pack separators then transport the bulk packs to a compression area, compress the packs one at a time, and transport the compressed packs to the wrapper infeed conveyor. With recent improvements in high speed napkin folding, and high speed wrappers, the separator is a choke point in a bulk pack napkin folding line.
  • In commonly assigned US Patent No. 6,832,886 , titled "Apparatus and Method for Stacking Sheets Discharged from a Starwheel Assembly," to Michler et al., separator fingers move through starwheels to separate packs.
  • In commonly assigned US Patent No. 7,470,102 , titled "Apparatus and Method for Stacking and Separating Sheets Discharged From a Starwheel Assembly," to Gendron et al., split count fingers are used to separate the bulk packs.
  • Prior bulk pack napkin separators typically make the initial separation using the separator fingers as described in 6,832,886 and 7,470,102. After initial separation, the uncompressed bulk packs are moved to a paddle gate area, after which the paddle gate closes, and the separator fingers retract. The packs are then confined between a paddle gate, a backstop, and the plates of a paddle conveyor. The paddle conveyor moves the uncompressed packs to a compression station in the separator or the wrapper. The paddle and compression operation is done one pack at a time. After compression, each compressed pack is transferred to the wrapper infeed conveyor. Since the transfer - compress - transfer process is done one pack at a time, it is inherently slow.
  • Prior separators of the type described above typically are limited to a maximum speed of about 30 packs per minute. What is needed is a bulk pack separator that is faster than existing bulk pack napkin separators.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Aspects of the invention are set out according to the appended independent claims whereas embodiments of the invention are set out according to the appended dependent claims.
  • The invention provides an improved bulk pack napkin separator and method having several innovative aspects including simultaneous compression of several bulk packs and a bulk pack accumulator, in various forms of the invention.
  • In some forms of the invention, the separator simultaneously compresses multiple bulk packs formed in parallel lanes by the separator, utilizing a movable backstop for simultaneously compressing the multiple bulk packs against a paddle gate of the separator.
  • Some forms of the invention include a small accumulator that allows a wrapper downstream from the separator to run continuously, instead of stopping at every separation as was required in prior approaches.
  • Some forms of the invention include a large accumulator which allows a folder upstream from the separator, and the separator to keep running during short wrapper downtimes inherent in operation of a wrapper, such as for clearing jams or changing sleeve stock rolls. In some forms of the invention, a large accumulator, according to the invention, also allows the wrapper to keep running during a short downtime of a folder upstream from the separator.
  • According to an embodiment of the invention the invention comprises a bulk pack napkin separator apparatus configured for operative connection between a folder and a wrapper, with the separator apparatus having a backstop and a paddle gate and being further configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins disposed in a space between the backstop and a paddle gate and arranged in a parallel array of bulk packs extending substantially perpendicular to the folded sheet paths, the apparatus comprising at least one of the arrangements from the group of arrangements consisting of:
    • a movable backstop arrangement wherein the backstop is movable to simultaneously compress the bulk packs in the parallel array of bulk packs in the space between the backstop and the paddle gate into an array of bulk packs in a compressed state;
    • a compressed pack transport arrangement for transporting the compressed bulk packs in the array of bulk packs in the compressed state to the wrapper;
    • an uncompressed bulk pack transport arrangement for transporting the uncompressed bulk packs in the array of bulk packs to the wrapper;
    • a small accumulator for receiving one array of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator;
    • a large accumulator for receiving one or more arrays of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate and storing the received array(s) of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array(s) of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator; and
    • a small accumulator for alternatively receiving one array of the bulk packs from either the space between the backstop and the paddle gate or the large accumulator and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator.
  • The wrapper may include an infeed path extending generally parallel to the folded sheet paths; and
    the arrays of bulk packs may be transported out of the space between the backstop and paddle gate to the infeed path by the transport arrangement in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths;
  • The wrapper may include an infeed path extending generally parallel to the folded sheet paths;
    the small accumulator may store the array of bulk packs in a direction extending parallel to the infeed path; and
    the arrays of bulk packs may be transported out of the space between the backstop and paddle gate to the small accumulator by the transport arrangement in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths;
  • The wrapper may include an infeed path extending generally parallel to the folded sheet paths;
    the small accumulator may store the array of bulk packs in a direction extending parallel to the infeed path;
    the large accumulator may store the array(s) of bulk packs in a direction extending generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths with each array of the one or more arrays being disposed in an array of rows disposed from one another in a direction parallel to the folded sheet paths;
    the arrays of bulk packs may be transported out of the space between the backstop and paddle gate to the small accumulator by the transport arrangement in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths;
    the arrays of bulk packs may be alternatively first transported out of the space between the backstop and paddle gate the transport arrangement in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths and then inserted as adjacent rows into the large accumulator in a direction parallel to the folded sheet paths.
  • The transport arrangement may receive the rows of bulk packs from the large accumulator in a direction opposite to the folded sheet path
  • The apparatus may comprise the movable backstop arrangement; and
    the small accumulator for receiving one array of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator;
    wherein, the small accumulator may receive the array of bulk packs in a compressed state from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate, maintains the compressed bulk packs in the compressed state and delivers the bulk packs to the wrapper in the compressed state.
  • The apparatus may further comprise a large accumulator operatively connected to the small accumulator and the space between the backstop and paddle gate by the compressed pack transport arrangement for receiving the array of bulk packs in a compressed state from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate, maintaining the compressed bulk packs in the compressed state and returning the array of compressed bulk packs to the compressed pack transport arrangement in the compressed state.
  • According to an embodiment the invention comprises a method for operating a bulk pack napkin separator apparatus configured for operative connection between a folder and a wrapper, with the separator apparatus having a backstop and a paddle gate and being further configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins disposed in a space between the backstop and a paddle gate and arranged in a parallel array of bulk packs extending substantially perpendicular to the folded sheet paths, the method comprising at least one of the steps from the group of steps consisting of:
    • operating a movable backstop arrangement wherein the backstop is movable to simultaneously compress the bulk packs in the parallel array of bulk packs in the space between the backstop and the paddle gate into an array of bulk packs in a compressed state;
    • operating a compressed pack transport arrangement for transporting the compressed bulk packs in the array of bulk packs in the compressed state to the wrapper;
    • operating an uncompressed bulk pack transport arrangement for transporting the uncompressed bulk packs in the array of bulk packs to the wrapper;
    • operating a small accumulator for receiving one array of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator;
    • operating a large accumulator for receiving one or more arrays of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate and storing the received array(s) of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array(s) of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator; and
    • operating a small accumulator for alternatively receiving one array of the bulk packs from either the space between the backstop and the paddle gate or the large accumulator and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator.
  • According to an aspect the invention comprises a method for operating a bulk pack napkin separator apparatus configured for operative connection between a folder and a wrapper, with the separator apparatus being configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins, the method comprising simultaneously compressing the bulk packs in the independent streams into a compressed state prior to delivering the bulk packs to the wrapper.
  • The bulk, packs may be stored in the compressed state in an accumulator prior to delivering the compressed bulk packs to the wrapper, and optionally or preferably the apparatus may include a controller operatively connected between the folder, the wrapper and the separator and the method may further comprise controlling the apparatus with the controller to operate the folder and separator at a lower speed when bulk packs are being exchanged with the accumulator.
  • The method may further comprise simultaneously compressing several bulk packs with a movable backstop.
  • According to an aspect the invention comprises a bulk pack napkin separator apparatus configured for operative connection between a folder and a wrapper, with the separator apparatus being configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins, the apparatus further including a simultaneous pack compression arrangement for simultaneously compressing the bulk packs in the independent streams into a compressed state prior to delivering the bulk packs to the wrapper.
  • The apparatus may further comprise, an accumulator for storing the bulk packs in the compressed state in the accumulator prior to delivering the compressed bulk packs to the wrapper.
  • The apparatus may further comprise, a controller operatively connected between the folder, the wrapper and the separator for controlling the speed of the folder wrapper and separator relative to one another. The controller may operate the folder and separator at a lower speed when bulk packs are being exchanged with the accumulator.
  • The simultaneous pack compression arrangements may include a movable backstop for simultaneously compressing the bulk packs in the independent streams.
  • Other aspects, objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description and accompanying drawings of exemplary embodiments of the invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings illustrate several aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:
    • FIGS. 1-5 are perspective schematic illustrations of a first exemplary embodiment of a separator, according to the invention operatively disposed between a folder and a wrapper, and having a movable backstop for compressing a parallel array of bulk packs between the backstop and a paddle gate, with FIGS. 1-5 sequentially illustrating operation of the movable backstop to simultaneously compress the bulk packs.
    • FIGS. 6-10 illustrate a second exemplary embodiment of a separator apparatus, according to the invention disposed between a folder and a wrapper, with the second exemplary embodiment of the apparatus including both a movable backstop for simultaneous compression of eight bulk packs in conjunction with a small accumulator, according to the invention, with FIGS. 6-10 sequentially illustrating operation of the movable backstop and small accumulator of the separator.
    • FIGS. 11-17 are schematic perspective illustrations of a third exemplary embodiment of a separator apparatus, according to the invention. The third exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus includes a movable backstop, according to the invention, in combination with a small accumulator, according to the invention, and also a large accumulator, according to the invention, with FIGS. 11-17 sequentially illustrating operation of the movable backstop, small accumulator, and a large accumulator of the third exemplary embodiment of the separator.
    • FIGS. 18-22 are perspective illustrations of a fourth exemplary embodiment of a separator apparatus, according to the invention. FIGS. 18-22 show the fourth exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus from various directions. The fourth exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus includes a movable backstop for simultaneously compressing four bulk packs (not shown), and a small accumulator, according to the invention. The small accumulator also includes a pack turner arrangement, in the fourth exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus to rotate the compressed packs degrees into an orientation more amenable to use with a particular wrapper.
  • The invention may also take the form of a method for operating a bulk pack napkin separator apparatus configured for operative connection between a folder and a wrapper, with the separator apparatus being configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins. Such a method, according to the invention, may include simultaneously compressing the bulk packs in the independent streams into a compressed state prior to delivering the bulk packs to the wrapper. A method according to the invention may also include storing the bulk packs in the compressed state in an accumulator prior to delivering the compressed bulk packs to the wrapper.
  • While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Four exemplary embodiments of bulk pack separator apparatuses 100, 200, 300 and 400 are discussed below, with reference to respective drawing views. In all of these exemplary embodiments, the bulk pack separator apparatuses 100, 200, 300 and 400 are disposed between a multi-lane folder A and a wrapper B.
  • It will be appreciated that, in practicing the invention, that bulk pack separator arrangements, such as the exemplary embodiments 100, 200, 300, 400 may use the same separator finger system as prior bulk pack separators, such as those disclosed in commonly assigned US Patents 6,832,886 and 7,470,102 . These separators typically have a series of separator fingers operating in conjunction with a paddle gate and a backstop to gather individual folded sheets from the multiple lanes of a folder and form an array of uncompressed bulk packs which are transferred by the separator fingers to a space between the backstop and the paddle gate. The array of uncompressed bulk packs is then typically transferred sideways out of the space between the backstop and the paddle gate to an infeed conveyor of a wrapper. The wrapper or separator typically includes a compression station at which one bulk pack at a time is compressed prior to being wrapped.
  • The present invention differs both structurally and functionally, as compared to the teachings and disclosure of prior separator apparatuses and methods such as those disclosed in commonly assigned US Patents 6,832,886 and 7,470,102 , with regard to how the bulk packs are handled downstream from the paddle gate.
  • As will be discussed in greater detail below, all four of the exemplary embodiments of bulk pack separator apparatuses 100, 200, 300 and 400 include a novel moveable backstop arrangement to simultaneously compress all of the newly separated packs in a particular array of packs against the paddle gate. After simultaneous compression, a bulk pack transport arrangement in the form of a paddle conveyor moves the compressed packs to a wrapper infeed conveyor. Because the packs are already compressed when they reach the wrapper infeed conveyor, the one-at-a-time pack compression station and operation required in prior separators or wrappers can be eliminated. Those having skill in the art will appreciate that by simultaneously compressing an entire array of bulk packs and by eliminating the need for the one-at-a-time pack compression station utilized in prior separator and wrapper arrangements, the present invention provides for significant increases in operational speed in the production of wrapped, compressed bulk packs.
  • The first exemplary embodiment 100 includes only the simultaneous pack compression with a movable backstop aspect of the invention. The other three exemplary embodiments 200, 300, 400 also include other aspects of the invention using one or more accumulators, according to the invention, in combination with the movable backstop. It will be understood, however, that the various movable backstop and accumulator aspects of the invention can be used independently from one another, or in other combinations, in other embodiments of the invention.
  • FIGS. 1-5 show the first exemplary embodiment of a separator 100, according to the invention, in simplified block form.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1-5 the first exemplary embodiment of the separator 100, is operatively disposed between an eight lane folder A and a wrapper B. The separator 100 includes a movable backstop 102 for compressing a parallel array of bulk packs 104 between the backstop 102 and a paddle gate 105. In FIGS. 1-5, the eight lane folder is represented by the block A on the left, the wrapper is the block B on the right, and the separator 100 is in the middle.
  • As discussed in greater detail below, FIGS. 1-5 sequentially illustrate specific operation of the movable backstop 102 to simultaneously compress the bulk packs 104, in the first exemplary embodiment of the bulk pack separator 100. Structure and operation of the movable backstops 202, 303, 402 in the other exemplary embodiments are similar to the movable backstop 102 of the first exemplary embodiment 100.
  • Those having skill in the art will recognize that the folder A of the first exemplary embodiment is an eight-lane folder, producing eight, parallel, continually moving, independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths, in a direction generally indicated by arrow 118 in FIG. 1. The separator 100 includes a plurality of separator fingers (not shown) of the type known in the art for receiving the independent streams of folded napkins, and forming the array of bulk packs 104. The separator fingers also transport the array of bulk packs 104 to the space 101 between the movable backstop 102 and the paddle gate 105.
  • As will be described in more detail below, the first exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus 100 also includes a bulk pack transfer arrangement, in the form of an overhead paddle conveyor 107, for transporting the array of bulk packs 104 out of the space 101 between the movable backstop 102 and paddle gate 105 in a direction perpendicular to the folded sheet path 118, as generally indicated by arrow 120 in FIG. 1. The overhead paddle conveyer 107 is not shown in FIGS. 2-5 for clarity.
  • As also illustrated in FIG. 1, the bulk packs 104 in the first exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus 100 travel along the wrapper infeed conveyor 116 in a direction substantially parallel to the folded sheet path 118, as indicated by arrow 122 in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 1 shows the array of newly separated bulk packs 104 passing under the open paddle gate 105 toward the backstop 102. The wrapper infeed conveyor 116, loaded with compressed bulk packs 104, is shown in the rear of FIG. 1. For clarity of illustration, the separator fingers that are supporting the packs 104 are not shown, nor are side guides and table slots that are typically present in separators and wrapper infeed conveyors of the type known in the art.
  • FIG. 2 shows the newly separated bulk packs 104 in the paddle gate area 101, and the paddle gate 105 closed. The backstop 102 is ready to start the simultaneous compression of the array of bulk packs 104.
  • In FIG. 3, the simultaneous compression of the packs 104 into their compressed state is complete. The paddle conveyor 107 (represented by the rectangular block of dashed lines above the compressed packs in FIG. 1) starts to push the compressed packs 104 toward the wrapper infeed conveyor 116.
  • In FIG. 4, the compressed packs 104 are almost clear of the paddle gate area 101 between the paddle gate 105 and the backstop 102, and the next separation is beginning. Both the compressed pack paddle conveyor 107 and the wrapper infeed conveyor 116 operate in indexing mode. The paddle conveyor 107 moves one lane center to the next bulk pack in the array, and then the wrapper infeed conveyor 116 moves one bucket pitch to advance a bulk pack 104 into the wrapper B.
  • FIG. 5 shows the compressed packs 104 clear of the paddle gate area 101. The next batch of uncompressed bulk packs 104 are separated and approaching the paddle gate 105. The paddle gate 105 is raising up to let the uncompressed packs 104 through.
  • Small Accumulator
  • The speed of the separator 100 disclosed above is partly limited by the speed of the wrapper B. Another speed limiter is the time needed to close the paddle gate 105, lower the separator fingers of the separator 100, and compress the uncompressed packs 104. That time interrupts the steady flow of compressed packs 104 to the wrapper infeed conveyor 116. The maximum throughput is less than the steady state wrapper speed could otherwise be.
  • It is desired that throughput of the separator 100 be equal to the steady state wrapper speed. This can be done by adding a small accumulator 206 to a separator 200, according to the invention, in the manner shown in the second exemplary embodiment of a separator apparatus 200 allowing the wrapper B to run continuously at its maximum speed. Operation and construction of the small accumulator 206 is shown in FIGS. 6-10.
  • FIGS. 6-10 illustrate the second exemplary embodiment of a separator apparatus 200, according to the invention disposed between a folder A and a wrapper C. The exemplary embodiment of the apparatus 200 includes both a movable backstop 202 for simultaneous compression of eight bulk packs 204 in conjunction with a small accumulator 206, according to the invention. FIGS. 6-10 sequentially illustrate operation of the movable backstop 202 and small accumulator 206 of the separator 200.
  • FIG. 6 shows an eight lane folder A and a wrapper B in combination with a bulk pack separator 200 that includes the small accumulator 206. The folder A is represented by a block A on the far left, the wrapper by a block B on the far right, with the small accumulator 206 next to the wrapper infeed conveyor 216. The wrapper infeed conveyor 216 is full, as shown in FIG. 6, and the first compressed pack 204 is starting to enter the small accumulator 206, with a newly separated set of uncompressed packs 204 being compressed between the movable backstrap 202 and the paddle gate 205.
  • FIG. 7 shows the small accumulator 206 partly loaded with compressed packs 204 and the wrapper infeed conveyor 216 partly empty. The newly separated packs 204 are compressed and partly transferred out of the pack compression area 201.
  • FIG. 8 shows the small accumulator 206 fully loaded, the wrapper infeed 216 conveyor almost empty, and the compressed packs 204 almost fully transferred out of the compression area 201.
  • In FIG. 9, the packs 204 in the small accumulator 206 are being transferred into the wrapper infeed conveyor 216. This occurs during a normal dwell of the wrapper infeed conveyor 216. A newly separated set of uncompressed packs 204 are entering the paddle gate area 201.
  • In FIG. 10, a pusher 211 of the small accumulator 206 is retracted and the first compressed pack 204 is entering the accumulator 206. One separation cycle is complete, and the wrapper B runs continuously at its rated speed.
  • Large Accumulator
  • Wrappers B need to make frequent stops to clear jams and change sleeve stock rolls. These stops may only last two or three minutes, but they also force the folder A to stop. When the folder A stops and restarts, it typically rejects at least one set of packs. This waste can be prevented by adding an accumulator between the separator and the wrapper infeed conveyor which is capable of holding several rows of arrays of bulk packs. This type of accumulator will be referred to herein as a "large accumulator."
  • Such an accumulator is shown in FIGS. 11-17. It is located after the compressed pack paddle conveyor 307 and before the wrapper infeed conveyor 316. While the figures show a small accumulator 306 (of the type described above with reference to FIGS. 6-10) after the large accumulator 308, the small accumulator 306 is not necessary for operation of the large accumulator 308.
  • FIGS. 11-17 are schematic perspective illustrations of a third exemplary embodiment of a separator apparatus 300, according to the invention. The third exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus 300 includes a movable backstop 302, according to the invention, in combination with a small accumulator 306, according to the invention, and also a large accumulator 308, according to the invention. FIGS. 11-17 sequentially illustrate operation of the movable backstop 302, small accumulator 306, and a large accumulator 308 of the third exemplary embodiment of the separator 300.
  • FIG. 11 shows normal running mode of operation. A set of uncompressed packs 304 has been separated, with the packs 304 about to pass under the paddle gate. The wrapper infeed conveyor 316 is almost empty, and is ready to be loaded from the small accumulator 306. The compressed pack paddle conveyor 307 is shown in dashed lines only in FIG. 11, and omitted in FIGS. 12-17 for clarity of illustration. It extends from the pack compression area 301 to the small accumulator 306.
  • In FIG. 12, the wrapper B has stopped, stopping the wrapper infeed conveyor 316. The folder A slows down to half speed. One set of compressed packs 304, located between the compression area 301 and the small accumulator 306, are starting to transfer into the large accumulator 308.
  • In FIG. 13, the wrapper B is still shut down, and two sets of compressed packs 304 are stored in parallel rows extending perpendicular to the folded sheet path 318 in the large accumulator 308. The folder A continues to run at half speed. Another set of uncompressed packs 304 are starting to pass under the paddle gate 305.
  • FIG. 14 shows the large accumulator 308 containing three sets of compressed packs 304. The wrapper B now starts up at full speed. The folder A continues to run at half speed. The set of packs 304 most recently transferred into the large accumulator 308 will now be transferred back to the paddle conveyor 307. The small accumulator 306 will load the wrapper infeed conveyor 316.
  • FIG. 15 shows the large accumulator 308 with two sets of packs 304 stored in parallel rows. The folder A is running at half speed, the wrapper B at full speed. The set of packs 304 recently separated from the folder A are on the compressed pack paddle conveyor 307. There is gap behind those packs. That gap will be filled by the first row of packs 304 in the large accumulator 308. A subsequent set of uncompressed packs 304 have just been separated, and are moving toward the paddle gate 305.
  • In FIG. 16, the first row of packs 304 in the large accumulator 308 is moving into the paddle conveyor 307 in a direction opposite the folded sheet path 318. The array of compressed packs 304 between the backstop 302 and paddle gate 305 is the same array of uncompressed packs 304 shown in FIG. 15.
  • FIG. 17 shows the last row of packs 304 transferring from the large accumulator 308 to the paddle conveyor 307 while another array of packs 304 from the compression area 301 between the backstop 302 and the paddle gate 305 follow immediately behind. The folder A now speeds up to full speed. The large accumulator 308 is empty, and stays empty until the wrapper B is shut down again.
  • FIGS. 18-22 show a fourth exemplary embodiment 400 of a four-lane separator apparatus, according to the invention, having movable backstop 402 and a small accumulator 406 according to the invention. The small accumulator 406 also includes a pack turner arrangement 413.
  • FIGS. 18-22 show the fourth exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus 400 from various directions. The fourth exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus 400 includes a movable backstop 402 for simultaneously compressing four bulk packs (not shown), and a small accumulator 406, according to the invention. The movable backstop 402 simultaneously compresses the multiple bulk packs between the backstop 402 and a movable paddle gate 405 to simultaneously compress the bulk packs.
  • The separator 400 utilizes a folder having four starwheel arrangements 430 to form a continuously building stack of folded sheets which are then separated into individual bulk packs and transported to a bulk pack transfer area 401 between the backstop 402 and the paddle gate 405 by separator finger arrangements 403. Once the bulk packs are compressed in the bulk pack transfer area 401 between the movable backstop 402 and the paddle gate 405, a bulk pack transfer arrangement in the form of a paddle conveyor 407 transports the compressed bulk packs to the small accumulator 406. The small accumulator 406 includes a lower paddle conveyor 409 for transporting the compressed bulk packs from the first paddle conveyor 407 to an overhead paddle conveyor 411 which feeds the compressed bulk packs to an infeed conveyor of the wrapper (not shown).
  • In all embodiments of the invention, a controller such as controller 450 of FIG. 19, may be operatively connected between the folder, the separator and the wrapper for controlling speeds and functionality of those elements.
  • The small accumulator 406 also includes a pack turner arrangement 413, in the fourth exemplary embodiment of the separator apparatus 400 to rotate the compressed packs 90 degrees into an orientation more amenable to use with a particular wrapper. Those having skill in the art will readily recognize that in other embodiments of the invention, such a pack turner may not be utilized, or other pack turning arrangements may be utilized.
  • The use of the terms "a" and "an" and "the" and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms "comprising," "having," "including," and "containing" are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning "including, but not limited to,") unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.
  • Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law.

Claims (15)

  1. A bulk pack napkin separator apparatus (100), (200), (300), (400) configured for operative connection between a folder (A) and a wrapper (B), with the separator apparatus (100), (200), (300), (401) being configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins, the apparatus further including a simultaneous pack compression arrangement (102), (202), (302), (402) for simultaneously compressing the bulk packs (104), (204), (304), (404) in the independent streams into a compressed state prior to delivering the bulk packs to the wrapper (B).
  2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising, an accumulator (206), (306), (406) for storing the bulk packs in the compressed state in the accumulator prior to delivering the compressed bulk packs (204), (304), (404) to the wrapper (B), and optionally or preferably further comprising, a controller (450) operatively connected between the folder, the wrapper and the separator for controlling the speed of the folder wrapper and separator relative to one another.
  3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein, the controller (450) operates the folder (A) and separator (200), (300), (400) at a lower speed when bulk packs are being exchanged with the accumulator (206), (306), (406), and optionally or preferably wherein, the simultaneous pack compression arrangement (202), (302), (402) includes a movable backstop for simultaneously compressing the bulk packs (204), (304), (404) in the independent streams.
  4. The bulk pack napkin separator apparatus of claim 1, wherein the compression arrangement includes:
    a movable backstop (102), (202), (302), (402) arrangement wherein the backstop is movable to simultaneously compress the bulk packs (104), (204), (304), (404) in the parallel array of bulk packs in the space between the backstop and a paddle gate (105), (205), (305), (405) into an array of bulk packs in a compressed state;
    the apparatus further comprising at least one of the arrangements from the group of arrangements consisting of:
    a compressed pack transport arrangement (107, 116); (206, 207, 211, 216); (306, 307, 308, 311, 316) for transporting the compressed bulk packs in the array of bulk packs in the compressed state to the wrapper (8);
    a small accumulator (206), (306), (406) for receiving one array of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop (202), (302), (402) and the paddle gate and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper (B), to thereby allow the wrapper (B) to operate at a different speed than the folder (A) and separator;
    a large accumulator (308) for receiving one or more arrays of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop (302) and the paddle gate (305) and storing the received array(s) of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array(s) of bulk packs to the wrapper, to thereby allow the wrapper (B) to operate at a different speed than the folder (A) and separator; and
    a small accumulator (306) for alternatively receiving one array of the bulk packs from either the space (301) between the backstop (302) and the paddle gate (303) or a large accumulator (308) and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper (B), to thereby allow the wrapper (B) to operate at a different speed than the folder (A) and separator.
  5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein:
    the wrapper (B) includes an infeed path extending generally parallel to the folded sheet paths; and
    the arrays of bulk packs are transported out of the space (101), (201), (301), (401) between the backstop (102), (202), (302) and paddle gate (105), (205), (305) to the infeed path by the transport arrangement (107), (207), (307) in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths.
  6. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein:
    the wrapper (B) includes an infeed path extending generally parallel to the folded sheet paths;
    the small accumulator (206), (306), stores the array of bulk packs in a direction extending parallel to the infeed path; and
    the arrays of bulk packs are transported out of the space (201), (301) between the backstop and paddle gate to the small accumulator (206), (306) by the transport arrangement in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths.
  7. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein:
    the wrapper (B) includes an infeed path extending generally parallel to the folded sheet paths;
    the small accumulator (306) stores the array of bulk packs in a direction extending parallel to the infeed path;
    the large accumulator (308) store the array(s) of bulk packs in a direction extending generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths with each array of the one or more arrays being disposed in an array of rows disposed from one another in a direction parallel to the folded sheet paths;
    the arrays of bulk packs are transported out of the space between the backstop (302) and paddle gate (305) to the small accumulator (306) by the transport arrangement (307) in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths;
    the arrays of bulk packs are alternatively first transported out of the space between the backstop (302) and paddle gate (305) by the transport arrangement (307) in a direction generally perpendicular to the folded sheet paths and then inserted as adjacent rows into the large accumulator (308) in a direction parallel to the folded sheet paths.
  8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein, the transport arrangement (307) receives the rows of bulk packs from the large accumulator (308) in a direction opposite to the folded sheet path.
  9. The apparatus of any one of claims 4 to 8 wherein, the wrapper (B) does not include a bulk pack compression arrangement, and the separator apparatus delivers the bulk packs to the wrapper (B) in a compressed state.
  10. The apparatus of claim 4, comprising:
    the movable backstop (102), (202), (302) arrangement; and
    the small accumulator (206), (306), (406) for receiving one array of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop (202), (302), (402) and the paddle gate (205), (305), (405) and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper (B), to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator;
    wherein, the small accumulator (206), (306), (406) receives the array of bulk packs in a compressed state from the space between the backstop and the paddle gate, maintains the compressed bulk packs in the compressed state and delivers the bulk packs to the wrapper (B) in the compressed state.
  11. The apparatus of claim 10, further comprising a large accumulator (308) operatively connected to the small accumulator (306) and the space (301) between the backstop (302) and paddle gate (305) by the compressed pack transport arrangement (307) for receiving the array of bulk packs in a compressed state from the space between the backstop (302) and the paddle gate (305), maintaining the compressed bulk packs in the compressed state and returning the array of compressed bulk packs to the compressed pack transport arrangement (307) in the compressed state.
  12. A method for operating a bulk pack napkin separator apparatus configured for operative connection between a folder (A) and a wrapper (B), with the separator apparatus being configured for receiving two or more independent streams of folded napkins along separate parallel folded sheet paths from the folder (A) and separating the independent streams of napkins into uncompressed bulk packs of the folded napkins, the method comprising simultaneously compressing the bulk packs (104), (204) in the independent streams into a compressed state prior to delivering the bulk packs (104), (204) to the wrapper (B).
  13. The method of claim 12, further comprising, storing the bulk packs (204) in the compressed state in an accumulator (206), (306), (308), (406) prior to delivering the compressed bulk packs (204) to the wrapper, and optionally or preferably wherein, the apparatus includes a controller (450) operatively connected between the folder (A), the wrapper (B) and the separator (200), (300), (400) and the method further comprises controlling the apparatus with the controller to operate the folder (A) and separator at a lower speed when bulk packs are being exchanged with the accumulator (206), (306), (308), (406).
  14. The method of claim 13, further comprising, simultaneously compressing several bulk packs (204), (304), 404) with a movable backstop (202), (302), (402).
  15. The method of claim 12 comprising at least one of the steps from the group of steps consisting of:
    operating a movable backstop arrangement (102), (202), (302) wherein the backstop (102), (202), (302) is movable to simultaneously compress the bulk packs in the parallel array of bulk packs in the space (101), (201), (301) between the backstop (102), (202), (302) and the paddle gate (105), (205), (305) into an array of bulk packs in a compressed state;
    operating a compressed pack transport arrangement (107), (207), (307) for transporting the compressed bulk packs in the array of bulk packs in the compressed state to the wrapper (B);
    operating a small accumulator (206), (306) for receiving one array of the bulk packs from the space (201), (301) between the backstop (202), (302) and the paddle gate (205), (305) and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper (B), to thereby allow the wrapper to operate at a different speed than the folder (A) and separator;
    operating a large accumulator (308) for receiving one or more arrays of the bulk packs from the space between the backstop (302) and the paddle gate (305) and storing the received array(s) of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array(s) of bulk packs to the wrapper (B), to thereby allow the wrapper (B) to operate at a different speed than the folder (A) and separator; and
    operating a small accumulator (306) for alternatively receiving one array of the bulk packs from either the space (301) between the backstop (302) and the paddle gate (305) or the large accumulator (308) and storing the received array of bulk packs for a period of time prior to delivering the bulk packs in the stored array of bulk packs to the wrapper (B), to thereby allow the wrapper (B) to operate at a different speed than the folder and separator.
EP11196156.1A 2010-12-30 2011-12-30 Bulk pack napkin separator Active EP2471716B1 (en)

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