GB2203404A - Tube handling apparatus - Google Patents

Tube handling apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2203404A
GB2203404A GB08801389A GB8801389A GB2203404A GB 2203404 A GB2203404 A GB 2203404A GB 08801389 A GB08801389 A GB 08801389A GB 8801389 A GB8801389 A GB 8801389A GB 2203404 A GB2203404 A GB 2203404A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
probes
tubes
probe
pairs
tube
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Granted
Application number
GB08801389A
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GB8801389D0 (en
GB2203404B (en
Inventor
Ronald Frederick Wilson
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Filtrona Instr & Automation
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Filtrona Instr & Automation
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Priority to GB878708438A priority Critical patent/GB8708438D0/en
Application filed by Filtrona Instr & Automation filed Critical Filtrona Instr & Automation
Publication of GB8801389D0 publication Critical patent/GB8801389D0/en
Publication of GB2203404A publication Critical patent/GB2203404A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of GB2203404B publication Critical patent/GB2203404B/en
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical
Expired - Fee Related legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65GTRANSPORT OR STORAGE DEVICES, e.g. CONVEYORS FOR LOADING OR TIPPING, SHOP CONVEYOR SYSTEMS OR PNEUMATIC TUBE CONVEYORS
    • B65G47/00Article or material-handling devices associated with conveyors; Methods employing such devices
    • B65G47/74Feeding, transfer, or discharging devices of particular kinds or types
    • B65G47/90Devices for picking-up and depositing articles or materials
    • B65G47/907Devices for picking-up and depositing articles or materials with at least two picking-up heads

Abstract

Tube handling apparatus comprises probe pairs [2] spaced laterally across and extending forwardly from a support [8]. The probes [4] of each pair are caused to separate before entering the tubes and then released to be brought together by a spring to engage each other and grip an adjacent pair of tubes. The probe pairs can be advanced in unison into the open ends of a row of tubes [14] on guides [10] and then withdrawn after gripping to deposit the tubes on a conveyor [16]. The probes may be separated by pneumatic pressure and the box [12] containing the tubes raised after each row is withdrawn. Set screws associated with each pair of probes allows the centres of the free ends of the probes to be aligned with the tube centres. The pairs of probes may be actuated in unison by a bar to the rear of the probes and which actuates the probes by respective pairs of scissor-like levers. In modifications the outer probes may be semi-circular in section or the outer pairs of probes replaced by sets of three probes. <IMAGE>

Description

TUBE HANDLING APPARATUS The present invention relates to the handling of tubes via their open ends. Tubes of interest include those of flexible or malleable material which are to be filled with paste or liquid or the like through an open end which is then permanently sealed [e.g. by crimping or heat sealing etc.], the other end of the tube usually having an openable closure through which the contents can subsequently be dispensed. However, the invention is applicable to open ended tubes in general, and especially but not exclusively to those which are relatively delicate.
The apparatus according to the invention allows a row of open ended tubes to be handled [e.g. withdrawn from a carton in which they are packed with open ends exposed] simultaneously. Prior apparatus for this purpose has drawbacks, e.g. any given embodiment being applicable only to a limited range of tube sizes with inconvenient shut down and parts replacement being necessary to adjust from one size range to another. Prior apparatus is also not well suited to cope with the presence of tubes with deformed open ends, being prone rather to cause further damage, and has little or no flexibility for dealing with different tube packing arrangements.
The apparatus according to the invention employs pairs of probes, the co-operating probes of a pair being generally parallel and being resiliently biased into lateral engagement and/or provided with means for laterally separating them and bringing them together, and the pairs being spaced laterally on and extending forwardly from a support reciprocable generally longitudinally of the probes. In their normal rest mode, the probes of a pair will preferably be in their closed position, i.e. in contact or very nearly so.The probes of a pair are preferably resiliently biased to this closed position, e.g. by a spring or springs acting between them and/or on a member which moves to operate them; when the apparatus has means for laterally separating the probes of a pair and for bringing them together, the means for bringing them together preferably includes or is constituted by such resilient bias. Thus means (e.g.
pneumatic or electrical) may be provided for laterally separating the probes of a pair from their normal closed gripping position against such resilient bias under which they return to the closed position when the separating means is deactuated.
In operation, the probes of a pair enter corresponding adjacent tube ends and clamp the adjacent tube walls together between them; or in the case of a single tube (e.g. at the end of a row of an odd number of tubes) one probe enters the tube whilst the other passes outside and the tube wall is clamped between the two probes. In a tube handling operation, the tubes are aligned with their open ends towards the probes, the support is advanced so that the probes engage and grip the tubes of a row as described, and the support is then retracted to withdraw the row of tubes which can subsequently disengage or be disengaged from the probes.
Each probe preferably makes substantially line or point contact with the inner wall of the corresponding tube when in the gripping position. The engaging surface portion of a probe is suitably of smooth concave configuration, curving about the probe axis, and it preferably extends smoothly and continuously longitudinally of the probe, usually parallel to the probe axis. The probe gripping surface may be discontinuous or irregular, but is preferably smooth and continuous. The main body of a probe may be of substantially uniform cross-section, but may taper; the free end portion of a probe preferably tapers to a free distal end of smaller crosssection than the body of the probe.It is convenient for the probes to be of substantially circular cross-section, optionally with tapering free ends, but it is to be noted that the peripheral configuration of a probe away from the gripping region is immaterial, so that a probe could for example be of semi-circular section with its outwardly facing non-operative surface being planar. In practice, a pair of substantially uniform smoothsurfaced probes will usually have substantially point contact with tubes which they are gripping, since the probes are unlikely to be precisely parallel when in this position - though the probe bodies might be tapered so as to be parallel to and have line contact with the tube walls.
Where the advancing probes of a pair are simply resiliently biased together, then they are moved slightly apart on and by contact with the tube wall or walls which they are to grip, the free ends of the probes preferably being tapered (and the probe surfaces smooth) to facilitate this. Preferably, however, the probes of a pair are separated laterally and/or angularly before engaging with the tubes so that they enter the tubes freely [preferably centrally of the tube ends], are then brought together (or return under resilient bias) to grip the tube wall or walls therebetween, and after withdrawal of the tubes may be separated again for release of the tubes.
The tubes may for example be released from the probes by abutting against a step as the probe support is retracted, or they may be positively ejected [e.g. pneumatically, by air-blasts which could be directed through the probes]. In some instances where the probes are opened to unclamp the tubes, the unclamped tubes may disengage from the retracting probes without the need for any specific disengagement means, though the latter usually is provided for safety and certainty of operation.
Where the probes of a pair are opened for engagement with and disengagement from tubes, the probe pairs may be operated separately (e.g. by individual pneumatic or electrical drives) but simultaneously. Preferably, however, some or all of the probe pairs are operated simultaneously as a unit by movement of a common operating member. For example, the probe support may include a bar which extends parallel to the support behind the probe pairs and engages with the latter - e.g. by way of respective pairs of pivoted scissor-action levers; movement of the common bar as a whole perpendicular to its axis parallel to the probes (e.g. under pneumatic, hydraulic or electrical actuation) operates the probe pairs as one so that they open simultaneously.Preferably the common bar is moved to and maintained at the "open" position against resilient bias (operating e.g. between the probes of each pair and/or directly on the bar), and on release the common bar and the probe pairs return under this resilient bias alone to their normal closed rest positions.
It will be appreciated that a set of probes of a given size can conveniently handle a very wide range of tube sizes, especially when means are provided for opening and closing the probes of a pair.
The positions of the probe pairs may be adjustable along the support to further facilitate the ready adjustment of the apparatus for change in tube size, though permanently fixed probe pairs are frequently satisfactory.
The tubes handled will usually be of generally circular section, but can be of any other cross-sectional shape including elliptical or polygonal [e.g. rectangular3.
In addition to simple reciprocation generally longitudinally of the probes, which may be all that is required for straightforward tube unloading [or loading] operations, the probe support may have other movements. For example it may be able to move vertically and/or laterally, and/or it may be pivotable e.g. about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the probes; a row of tubes, once gripped by the probes and withdrawn from its original location, can be moved to one or more other locations before return of the support and probes for repetition of the cycle; at such other location the tubes could be subjected to treatment or test, or disengaged from the probes. Operation of the apparatus, and in particular the movements of the support and probes, is preferably controlled by a microprocessor, the appropriate cycle of movements being preselected from those available according to the handling operation to be conducted. Usually a row of tubes collected at one location will be released at another, e.g. immediately on retraction of the support and probes, or after retraction and rotation in the plane of the probes or to leave the probes extending downwardly; however, it is also possible for a row of tubes to be engaged and withdrawn, subjected to one or more treatments or tests, and then replaced in the same location, the cycle then being applied to a fresh row.
In one tube handling [e.g. unloading] operation according to the invention, an array of superposed rows of tubes [e.g. in a carton or box] is preferably raised stepwise in synchronism with operation of the probes so as to present a fresh row of correctly aligned tubes for each cycle. Thus after one row has been withdrawn and before the probes are fully advanced again the array [e.g. box or cartons will be raised sufficiently to bring the next row of tube ends into alignment with the probes. Adjacent rows of tubes may be laterally offset from one another, and in this case the probe support or the array [e.g.carton or box containing the tubes] is preferably shifted laterally to and fro an appropriate predetermined distance between cycles.The amount of vertical offset between adjacent rows, and the amount of lateral offset if any, depend upon the cross-sectional shape and size of the tubes and on the mode of any nesting.
Frequently the tubes will be of circular section with hexagonal close pack nesting, in which case the vertical and lateral offset between adjacent rows [and hence the necessary vertical and lateral relative movements of array and probes between cycles] is a little less than a tube diameter. Whatever their cross-sectional shape, the rows of tubes could of course be superposed without nesting and hence with no lateral offset. Whether nested or not, there may be spacers or cushions between superposed rows and/or between tubes in a row, and this will also affect tube spacing and hence the said relative movements for alignment between cycles.
Modifications of the standard probe pair arrangement may be preferred for convenient handling of some of the various possible tube arrays that may be met. In order that the machine may conveniently handle both odd and even numbers of tubes in a row, the outermost probe pair at one end may be replaced by a group of three with a fatter fixed central probe to fit the size of tube in question, and two outer probes which are like those of the standard pairs but co-operate with either side of the fixed central probe rather than with one another.In order to deal with the case where staggering leaves a gap at the end of some (e.g.alternate) rows, it may be preferred for the outermost probe at one end to be of reduced cross-section - whilst retaining a suitable tube engaging inboardfacing flank or surface; thus an outermost probe may have its outermost non-operational flank omitted - e.g. where the normal probes are cylindrical this outermost one may be semi-cylindrical with a planar outwardly facing surface; instead or in addition, the opening movement of this outermost probe may be restricted relative to that of the other probes; each of these features facilitates entry of the outermost probe between the final tube and the tube container wall without fouling the latter.As previously indicated, all of the probes could have their outward non-operationmal flanks missing or reduced or deformed, since it is only the inwardly facing flanks of a pair that are needed for gripping, but it is of course simpler to manufacture a plain symmetrical probe. The modifications described above may be employed simultaneously - e.g. an outermost group of three probes, the outermost of which is partially missing as described and/or of restricted opening movement; in a group of three probes, the fatter central probe does of course require both of its opposed gripping flanks. Whilst these modifications have been mentioned for one end, the two ends of the probe array may be modified, with the two ends being the same or different.
The supply of full boxes for unloading and removal of empty boxes is preferably continuous and automatic so as to avoid interruption of operation of the unloading apparatus. Thus full boxes may be fed [e.g. by gravity track] to a transfer unit which mounts each box beneath that currently being unloaded; as the box being unloaded is raised row by row to bring the uppermost row of tubes to be unloaded into alignment with the probes, the box below is raised simultaneously and in step therewith; on emptying of a box it is automatically transferred for removal [e.g. on a gravity track] and the next box is raised to present its top row of tubes for unloading.
The above described procedure according to the invention for unloading tubes from a box or carton can of course be carried out in reverse, with minor changes, for loading tubes into a box.
In cases where the probes are separated and brought together for engagement, gripping, and release of the tubes, this is of course appropriately synchronised with the reciprocation of the support; any other preferred steps, e.g. intermittent raising of the tube array during unloading, lateral reciprocation of the probe support or array to allow for tube row offset and additional vertical, lateral or rotational movement of the probe support, will also be synchronised with the other machine operations, e.g. under the control of a microprocessor.
The operation of the apparatus may be by any suitable means, e.g.
hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic or mechanical. Currently, pneumatic and/or electrical operation is preferred.
In a tube unloading operation, the withdrawn tubes would usually be released onto a conveyor which runs transversely of the probes and parallel to the probe support to carry the tubes away for a subsequent operation, e.g. filling. In practice, the free ends of the withdrawn tubes may droop as the probes are retracted, so that they contact the transverse conveyor; when the probe pairs are opened to unclamp the tubes, the friction between tubes and conveyor may be sufficient to disengage the tubes automatically from the probes as the latter are further retracted, so that the tubes are deposited reliably on the conveyor without the need for any specific tube disengagement device or equipment. To this end, the transverse conveyor may have a rough and/or corrugated or dimpled etc. surface.
Nonetheless it is preferred for safety to provide a stop or stops against which any retained tube or tubes will abut so as to be released on retraction of the probes. To speed operation it is preferred not to delay advance of the probes at the beginning of a cycle until the deposited tubes from the previous cycle have been removed by the conveyor; preferably the probes are advanced for the next cycle as the recently deposited tubes are still moving transversely beneath them, and with appropriate synchronisation it is possible to achieve virtually continuous delivery of tubes by the transverse conveyor, with the upstream tube of the row from one cycle being deposited on the conveyor directly next to the downstream tube of the row from the previous cycle.This may involve some vertical stepping of the probes in their advance and retraction, to avoid fouling tubes already deposited on the conveyor.
Evidently, apparatus according to the invention can be built to handle tubes of a wide range of sizes packed in a wide range of carton sizes. By way of example, one machine with probes of a single size can cope with tubes of from 12 to 50 mm diameter and 60 to 270 mm length packed in cartons of a width of from 200 to 650 mm, height 60 to 270 mm, and depth 300 to 650 mm. These figures are purely exemplary; the same probes could probably handle a wider range of tube sizes, and simple substitution of different size probes would extend this range even further.
Whilst the apparatus according to the invention is well suited for withdrawing rows of delicate tubes from cartons, it could equally be employed in other equipment where tubular objects are to be handled but circumferential. engagement is precluded or unsatisfactory because of lack of access or possible damage.
The invention is illustrated, by way of example only, by the following description to be taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals denote like parts and in which FIGURE 1 is a schematic perspective view of one apparatus according to the invention in conjunction with a carton of tubes to be unloaded; FIGURE 2 is a top plan view showing in greater detail probe pairs on the probe support of the Fig.l apparatus; FIGURE 3 shows the probes entering the tubes, and FIGURE 4 the tubes gripped by the probes and being withdrawn, in operation of the apparatus of Figs.l and 2; FIGURE 5 illustrates schematically various tube packing arrangements with which apparatus according to the invention may have to deal;; FIGURE 6 is a partial plan view, with parts broken away, of one end of a probe set and probe support arrangement different from that of Fig.2, showing the probes in their closed or gripping position; FIGURE 7 is a view, similar to that of Fig.6, of the other end of the arrangement, showing the probes in their open position; FIGURE 8 is a view, similar to Fig.6, showing one modification of the outermost probe pair; and FIGURE 9 is a view, similar to Fig.8, showing further modification of the outermost probes.
The illustrated apparatus has pairs 2 of probes 4 mounted on a common lateral support 8 which is reciprocable on horizontal guide shaft 10 perpendicular to the support. Opposite the probes 4 is a carton 12 in which tubes 14 are presented with open ends facing the probes. A transverse conveyor 16 runs in front of the carton 12 below the level of probes 4 perpendicular to the shafts 10.
The probes 4 of a pair are spring-loaded together as at 18 but can be moved angularly apart as shown inFig.2 by pneumatic pressure supplied as at 20. Setting screw 26 on each probe pair can be adjusted so that when the probes are opened apart as in Fig.2 the centres of their tapered free ends are aligned with the centres of the corresponding opposed tubes.
In operation the support 8 is initially retracted, away from carton 12, and in this position pneumatic pressure is applied to separate the probes as shown in Fig.2; simultaneously or subsequently the support 8 and probes 4 are advanced towards the tubes 14 and the probes freely enter respective tubes centrally as indicated in Fig.3. The pneumatic pressure is then released, so that the probe pairs close under their spring-loading to grip adjacent tubes by their abutting walls, and the support is retracted to withdraw the gripped tubes as indicated in Fig.4. When the withdrawn tubes are clear of carton 12 and above transverse conveyor 16 pneumatic pressure is again applied to open the probes for release of the tubes. Such release may be effected by engagement of the tube ends against the step 22 as the support continues to move to its fully retracted position.Reciprocation of the support 8 is effected pneumatically in synchronism with operation of the probes. The carton 12 is then raised to align the next row of tubes for unloading, and the procedure is repeated. Preferably, since adjacent tube rows are offset from one another, the support 8 is automatically moved laterally to and fro between unloading cycles to take account of this; alternatively, the carton 12 could be shifted sideways automatically between unloading cycles by the amount of the offset.
In Fig.2, the probe pairs are laterally adjustable on support 8, which can be calibrated to facilitate accurate positioning by scale 24.
Referring next to Figs.6 and 7, these show a currently preferred probe mounting and operation different from that of Fig.2. In the Fig.2 embodiment, opening of individual probe pairs 2 is effected pneumatically via respective individual pneumatic lines 20 which will be supplied by a common source; thus although the pairs operate simultaneously when all is in order, they in fact function independently, with each pair requiring its own valving.In the preferred modification the probe pairs 2, whose probes 4 are mounted pivotally on the underlying portion of support 8, are instead operated as one by a common operating bar 30 which extends substantially the length of the support 8 behind the probes and which is actuated pneumatically via just two terminal valves 32 (one at each end), the bar 30 being linked to probe pairs 2 by respective pairs 34 of scissor-action levers pivoted at 36 where they cross.
In the normal rest position, springs 18 hold the probes 4 of each pair together, with the pivoted levers 34 and common operating bar 30 positioned as shown in Fig.6. On pneumatic activation via valves 32, bar 30 and associated bar 31 held parallel thereto as shown are separated laterally, so that, with bar 31 held against backstop 33 which is an integral part of or fixed relative to probe support 8, bar 30 moves towards the probes, causing the lever pairs 34 and associated probe pairs 2 to pivot to the positions shown in Fig.7 against the force of the springs 18. On pneumatic release, the resilient bias of springs 18 moves the probes, levers and common operating bar back to their Fig.6 positions. It will be appreciated that other details may be as in Fig.2, though in the present embodiment the probe pairs are not adjustable laterally of the probe support.The general operation of the embodiment of Figs.6 and 7, e.g. for unloading tubes row by row from a carton onto a transverse conveyor, may also be as previously described.
The apparatus according to the invention can encounter a variety of different tube packing arrangements, and six of these are illustrated diagramatically at (A) to (F) of Fig.3. Staggered rows of alternating odd and even rows are shown at (A) where the extra tube is in even rows and at (C) where it is in the odd rows. (B) and (D) show equal staggered rows which are respectively even and odd. The staggering in (A) to (D) leaves a gap at opposite ends of adjacent rows - (B) and (D) - or gaps at both ends of alternate rows - (A) and (C). (E) and (F) show equal unstaggered rows which are respectively even and odd.
Modification of the outermost probe pairs is preferred to cater for these differences, and two possibilities are shown in Figs.8 and 9.
In Fig.8 the outermost probe is of semi-circular section, with its planar face outermost. In addition or instead, the lever of associated pair 34 to which the outermost probe is connected may be modified (not shown) so as to result in more limited opening movement of the outermost probe than for the inboard probes. These modifications are helpful for dealing with the Fig.5 (A) arrangement where, after removal of an even row, relative lateral shift between tube array and probes is necessary for alignment with the next shorter and staggered row, leaving the outermost probe at one end to penetrate the smaller gap between the outer tube and the carton wall rather than to enter a tube. Clearly, an outermost probe of reduced width and/or opening movement will facilitate this, and reduce the risk of fouling the carton wall.Only one end probe needs to be modified in this way, depending upon the direction of lateral shift between cycles, but to cater for all possibilities, the outermost probe at both ends could be so modified. As previously mentioned, all of the probes could in fact be reduced in the same or similar fashion, but it is simpler to manufacture the full bodied probe.
Fig.9 shows modification by replacement of an outermost probe pair by a set of three having a fixed fatter central probe 40 of a size to fit the diameter of the tubes to be handled, and a pair of pivoted probes 4 which co-operate with the opposite flanks of probe 40 rather than with themselves but which otherwise correspond to the probes of pairs 2. The outermost probe of the set of three is shown as of semi-circular section, as in Fig.8; this is not necessary but may be preferred for some circumstances. Probe 40 is preferably not cylindrical, but of flattened configuration with curved flanks for co-operating with the associated probes on either side. The described arrangement is suitable for dealing with some cases (e.g.
as in Figs.5 (C), (D) and (F) - where odd rows are met; thus in these cases the centre tube of the last three in the row fits over fixed probe 40 whilst the two on either side are clamped against it in usual manner between probe 40 and the respective flanking probes 4. For the arrangement of Figs.5 (D) and (F) the outermost probe could be of full cylindrical configuration, but for Fig.5 (C) the outermost probe is preferably semi-cylindrical as shown in order to facilitate handling of the shorter staggered even rows, for the same reasons as explained in connection with Fig.8.
For dealing with the arrangement of Figs.5 (B) and (E), a standard arrangement of probe pairs as in Fig.6 would of course suffice.
The preferred probe and support embodiments of Figs.6 to 9 can be employed for tube unloading onto a transverse conveyor in the manner previously described, e.g. in connection with Figs.1 to 4. In all such tube unloading operations, the withdrawn tubes preferably droop so that their free ends contact the transverse conveyor as the probes are retracted, and the conveyor surface is preferably such as to help draw the tubes off the probes when the latter open and continue to retract, so that the tubes are released onto the conveyor without the need for any special disengagement means.
Thus the conveyor preferably has a rough surface, and may be ribbed, corrugated or dimpled etc. to give significant friction between itself and tubes contacting it. In case any tubes should fail to be released automatically in this way, however, it will be usual to provide a disengagement bar against which the open end of any retained tube will abut to effect disengagement as the probes continue to retract. It is also preferred in all of these unloading operations for the probes, after retraction, to advance over the recently deposited row for the beginning of the next cycle whilst the recently deposited row is still moving thereunder, the various steps and movements in the cycle being timed and synchronised so that each row is deposited on the transverse conveyor with no significant gap from the trailing end of the previously deposited row. According to the detailed layout of the particular machine, this may necessitate movement of the probe support upwards at the beginning of a cycle and downwards after advance over the conveyor before engagement with the next row.

Claims (22)

CLAIMS:
1. Tube handling apparatus comprising probe pairs spaced laterally on and extending forwardly from a support reciprocable generally longitudinally of the probes, the probes of a pair being generally parallel and being resiliently biased into lateral engagement and/or provided with means for laterally separating them and bringing them together, so that the probe pairs can be advanced in unison into the open ends of a row of tubes with a probe pair gripping adjacent tubes by clamping their adjacent walls between them and can then be retracted carrying the gripped tubes with them.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1 including means for disengaging the tubes from the retracted or retracting probes.
3. Apparatus according to claim 1 or claim 2 including means for mounting an array of rows of tubes opposite the probes, and means for adjusting the position of the array and/or of the probes from cycle to cycle to effect alignment between the probes and the row of tubes to be engaged.
4. Apparatus according to any preceding claim including means for angularly or laterally opening the probes of a pair against resilient bias under which they return together on deactivation of said means.
5. Apparatus according to claim 4 having means for opening and closing the probe pairs in unison and in synchronism with reciprocation of the support so that the probe pairs are open on entering the tubes, close to grip the tubes, and open to release the tubes during or after retraction.
6. Apparatus according to any preceding claim including a conveyor running laterally beneath the reciprocal path of the probes for carrying away the released tubes.
7. Apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the gripping surface of a probe curves smoothly and concavely about the probe axis.
8. Apparatus according to any preceding claim having a common operating member connected to all or some of the probe pairs and actuatable to act simultaneously on said connected pairs to open them simultaneously.
9. Apparatus according to claim 8 wherein said common operating member comprises a bar extending lengthwise of the probe support and mechanically linked to said probe pairs.
10. Apparatus according to claim 9 wherein said bar is connected to said probe pairs by respective pairs of scissor-action levers pivoted where they cross, said bar being movable to pivot said levers to open said probes.
11. Apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein the probes of an outermost pair are separated by and co-operate with a fatter fixed central probe to form a group which can engage and grip three adjacent tubes.
12. Apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein an outermost probe is of reduced cross-section compared to that of inboard probes whilst retaining its inboard tube-engaging surface.
13. Apparatus according to any preceding claim wherein an outermost probe has restricted opening movement compared to that of inboard probes.
14. A method of tube handling which comprises advancing in unison towards a row of open ended tubes pairs of probes which are aligned with the tubes so that the probes of a pair enter adjacent tubes, the probes of a pair being resiliently biased together and/or being brought together from a separated position so that they grip adjacent tubes by clamping their adjacent walls between them, retracting the probe pairs in unison carrying the gripped tubes with them, disengaging the tubes from the retracted or retracting probes, and then repeating the cycle on another row of tubes.
15. A method according to claim 14 wherein the rows of tubes is deposited from the probes onto a conveyor moving transversely thereof.
16. A method according to claim 15 wherein the tube free ends contact said conveyor as the probes retract, said contact disengaging the tubes from the retracting probes.
17. A method according to claim 15 or 16 wherein the probes are advanced for the next cycle over the previously deposited row whilst the latter is being conveyed thereunder.
18. Tube handling apparatus substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Figs 1 - 4 of the accompanying drawings.
19. Tube handling apparatus substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Figs.6 and 7 of the accompanying drawings.
20. Tube handling apparatus substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Fig.8 or 9 of the accompanying drawings.
21. A tube handling method substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Figs.1 - 4 of the accompanying drawings.
22. A tube handling method substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to any of Figs.5, 6 and 7, 8 and 9 of the accompanying drawings.
GB8801389A 1987-04-08 1988-01-22 Tube handling apparatus Expired - Fee Related GB2203404B (en)

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GB2203404A true GB2203404A (en) 1988-10-19
GB2203404B GB2203404B (en) 1990-12-12

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US8007223B2 (en) * 2006-10-10 2011-08-30 Von Ardenne Anlagentechnik Gmbh Transport device, loading device and method for loading and unloading the transport device
EP2192061A3 (en) * 2008-12-01 2012-03-21 Texa AG Device for transferring, intermediate storage and forwarding of lengthwise, hollow cylinder product units and method of operating such a device
CN105059600A (en) * 2015-09-03 2015-11-18 青岛海科佳电子设备制造有限公司 Manipulator noodle grasping and bagging device
WO2019185132A1 (en) * 2018-03-28 2019-10-03 Transitions Optical, Ltd. Article transport vehicle

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GB1144946A (en) * 1965-12-29 1969-03-12 Huet Aloysius T Van Clamping means for loading and unloading of cylidrical or prismatic bodies
GB1593203A (en) * 1976-11-12 1981-07-15 Mueller H P Machine for packing foodstuffs and food supplements into beaker-shaped individual containers

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
GB850344A (en) * 1956-10-30 1960-10-05 Certus Maschb G M B H Improvements in or relating to machines for introducing or extracting bottles into or from bottle cases
GB1144946A (en) * 1965-12-29 1969-03-12 Huet Aloysius T Van Clamping means for loading and unloading of cylidrical or prismatic bodies
GB1593203A (en) * 1976-11-12 1981-07-15 Mueller H P Machine for packing foodstuffs and food supplements into beaker-shaped individual containers

Cited By (9)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2000064749A1 (en) * 1999-04-27 2000-11-02 Norden Pac Development Ab Feeder for a tube-filling machine
US6733224B1 (en) 1999-04-27 2004-05-11 Norden Pac Development Ab Feeder for a tube-filling machine
WO2005070768A1 (en) * 2004-01-22 2005-08-04 Iwk Verpackungstechnik Gmbh Tube handling device and method for the control thereof
US8007223B2 (en) * 2006-10-10 2011-08-30 Von Ardenne Anlagentechnik Gmbh Transport device, loading device and method for loading and unloading the transport device
US8033781B2 (en) * 2006-10-10 2011-10-11 Von Ardenne Anlagentechnik Gmbh Method for loading and unloading a transport device
EP2192061A3 (en) * 2008-12-01 2012-03-21 Texa AG Device for transferring, intermediate storage and forwarding of lengthwise, hollow cylinder product units and method of operating such a device
US8590690B2 (en) 2008-12-01 2013-11-26 Texal AG Device for taking over, temporarily storing and passing on elongated, hollow cylindrical product units and a method for the operation of such a device
CN105059600A (en) * 2015-09-03 2015-11-18 青岛海科佳电子设备制造有限公司 Manipulator noodle grasping and bagging device
WO2019185132A1 (en) * 2018-03-28 2019-10-03 Transitions Optical, Ltd. Article transport vehicle

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
GB8708438D0 (en) 1987-05-13
GB2203404B (en) 1990-12-12
GB8801389D0 (en) 1988-02-24

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