US20100139215A1 - Device and Method for Packing Syringes in Nests - Google Patents

Device and Method for Packing Syringes in Nests Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100139215A1
US20100139215A1 US12/625,802 US62580209A US2010139215A1 US 20100139215 A1 US20100139215 A1 US 20100139215A1 US 62580209 A US62580209 A US 62580209A US 2010139215 A1 US2010139215 A1 US 2010139215A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
syringes
pitch
chain
gripping
gripping means
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US12/625,802
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Pierre Jacques Van Roy
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SYBERMAT
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SYBERMAT
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Priority to EP08171045A priority Critical patent/EP2196395B1/en
Priority to EP08171045.1 priority
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Assigned to SYBERMAT reassignment SYBERMAT ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: VAN ROY, PIERRE JACQUES
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B5/00Packaging individual articles in containers or receptacles, e.g. bags, sacks, boxes, cartons, cans, jars
    • B65B5/08Packaging groups of articles, the articles being individually gripped or guided for transfer to the containers or receptacles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61MDEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY; DEVICES FOR TRANSDUCING BODY MEDIA OR FOR TAKING MEDIA FROM THE BODY; DEVICES FOR PRODUCING OR ENDING SLEEP OR STUPOR
    • A61M5/00Devices for bringing media into the body in a subcutaneous, intra-vascular or intramuscular way; Accessories therefor, e.g. filling or cleaning devices, arm-rests
    • A61M5/008Racks for supporting syringes or needles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65BMACHINES, APPARATUS OR DEVICES FOR, OR METHODS OF, PACKAGING ARTICLES OR MATERIALS; UNPACKING
    • B65B35/00Supplying, feeding, arranging or orientating articles to be packaged
    • B65B35/30Arranging and feeding articles in groups
    • B65B35/36Arranging and feeding articles in groups by grippers
    • 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
    • B65G47/02Devices for feeding articles or materials to conveyors
    • B65G47/04Devices for feeding articles or materials to conveyors for feeding articles
    • B65G47/06Devices for feeding articles or materials to conveyors for feeding articles from a single group of articles arranged in orderly pattern, e.g. workpieces in magazines
    • B65G47/08Devices for feeding articles or materials to conveyors for feeding articles from a single group of articles arranged in orderly pattern, e.g. workpieces in magazines spacing or grouping the articles during feeding
    • B65G47/082Devices for feeding articles or materials to conveyors for feeding articles from a single group of articles arranged in orderly pattern, e.g. workpieces in magazines spacing or grouping the articles during feeding grouping articles in rows
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61MDEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY; DEVICES FOR TRANSDUCING BODY MEDIA OR FOR TAKING MEDIA FROM THE BODY; DEVICES FOR PRODUCING OR ENDING SLEEP OR STUPOR
    • A61M2207/00Methods of manufacture, assembly or production

Abstract

A device for packing syringes in nests comprising means of setting the syringes to the right pitch and first means of gripping the said syringes set to the said pitch. The device is characterised in that it also comprises a transport chain with links having the said pitch, in closed circuit and in movement at least about two driving axes, the said gripping means being in movement synchronised with the movement of the chain, in order to pick up a predetermined quantity of syringes in movement from the said chain,

Description

  • The present invention relates to a device for packing syringes in nests, comprising:
      • means for setting syringes to the right pitch, arranged to separate and move the brought syringes to the said pitch,
      • first means of gripping said syringes set to the said pitch, having a gripping position in which the gripping means grip a predetermined quantity of syringes and a release position in which the gripping means release the said predetermined quantity of syringes in order to arrange them in nests.
  • Syringes are usually packed in displays that hold the syringes in an ordered manner spaced apart from one another in order to avoid contact between the syringes, in particular during transport.
  • The nests are syringe displays, generally made from polypropylene. The nests comprise a base plate provided with tubes all extending the same direction through which the syringes are fitted and having a height h. The syringes have at one end, opposite to the injection orifice to which possibly a needle will be fixed, a collar with a diameter greater than that of the syringe. When the syringes are inserted in the tubes, the collars rest on the end of these tubes that is free, that is to say not connected to the base plate.
  • Syringes are usually sold empty in this conformation and often without the piston, which will be fixed only after filling of the syringe.
  • Companies producing syringes therefore require a device for packing the manufactured syringes in nests in order to be able to supply them with the least possible breakage. Though a broken syringe does not represent any real financial hole for the producer, the possible presence of miniscule, or even microscopic, shards of glass in the other syringes is a major problem since the risk of causing serious problems in the patient in whom this microscopic fraction of glass has been injected is highly present. It is therefore clear that syringe manufacturers must reduce the risk of the presence of these shards and this consideration occupies a very important place in the packing of syringes.
  • In addition, when a pharmaceutical company wishes to package a product in a syringe, in particular in a glass syringe, it goes to syringe manufacturers and they are supplied in displays (nests). Generally the nests are provided with a protective cover that protects the syringes from breaking, the syringes being disposed in parallel and kept substantially separated from one another precisely by virtue of the said nests. However, to fill them, the syringes may be denested and conveyed on a conveyor belt where they are then filled, fitted with a piston, autoclaved and then once again conveyed for repacking in nests. Naturally, for this step also, the risk of the presence of a glass shard is to be reduced as far as possible and consequently it is crucial to reduce the risk of breakage of the syringes.
  • In known nesting devices, the syringes arrive on a conveyor belt at the point where they are to be placed in nests. A direction system orients them and spaces them at an appropriate distance from one another like a spacing worm. Next, a robotised clamp takes one or more of them simultaneously, presents them above the orifices in the nest and releases them. In this way the syringes are nested or renested after filling.
  • Unfortunately, such a device for packing syringes in nests requires stoppage of the pitch worm whenever the robotised clamp is to take off syringes. Any stoppage and restarting, although expensive in terms of energy, is in addition a potential source of damage to the syringes. This is because the conveying of the syringes is each time stopped abruptly, striking the syringes against one another by way of stoppage. In the case of breakage, even if the syringes are not completely broken, glass shards form and increase the risk of finding a glass shard in the content of a syringe.
  • The purpose of the invention is to overcome the drawbacks of the prior art by procuring a device for packing syringes in nests make it possible not to have to stop the direction system that orients them and spaces them by an appropriate distance from one another. In addition, the device according to the invention makes it possible to achieve packing efficiencies from 2 to 3 times higher. This is because no longer being limited by the risk of breakage makes it possible to increase the number of syringes packed per hour.
  • To solve this problem, there is provided according to the invention a device as indicated at the start also comprising a conveying chain with links having the said pitch, in closed circuit and moving at least about two drive shafts, arranged to transport and move the syringes coming from the means of setting at the right pitch, each link being arranged to house at least part of a syringe, and in that the said first gripping means pass from the release position to the gripping position, in a movement synchronised with the movement of the chain, in order to take a predetermined quantity of moving syringes from the said chain.
  • In this way, the syringes regularly spaced apart by the said pitch by the said pitch-setting means are then each transported in a chain with links, which conveys then without stoppage time for the pitch-setting means. The gripping means in synchronised movement with the chain come up against the transport chain and grip the said moving syringes. There is therefore no time during which the chain or the pitch-setting means are stopped. Once the syringes are gripped by the gripping means, that is to say once the gripping means are in the gripping position, the gripping means separate from the chain and are directed towards the nest, where the syringes will be released from the said gripping means and therefore packed in the tubes projecting from the base plate of the said nest and the collars of the said syringes will rest on the free end of the said tubes. The collars of the said syringes serving as a stop for the penetration of the syringes into the tubes. Very surprisingly, packing yields of 30,000 per hour can be achieved according to the invention whereas with the known devices scarcely 12,000 syringes per hour was achieved while risking having shards in the syringes. It goes without saying that the device according to the invention represents a significant and particularly inventive improvement on the known devices.
  • Advantageously, the syringe packing device according to the invention comprises a transfer wheel arranged to load the syringes set at the right pitch by the said pitch-setting means in the said transport chain.
  • In this way, the continuity of transport between the pitch-setting means and the transport chain is improved, which reduces further the risk of breakage and further increases the profitability of the device according to the invention. In addition, such a transfer wheel allows a change of axis where necessary between the direction of the pitch setting and the direction of transfer in the transport chain, which may in certain cases when necessary reduce the overall size of the device according to the invention, in places such as white rooms where this is particularly essential since any space to be maintained is very expensive.
  • In a particular embodiment, the said links of the chain are connected together by a pivot point enabling the links to be movable with respect to one another unidirectionally from a chain spindle passing through each pivot point.
  • The word “unidirectionally” means that, with respect to the direction of travel of the transport chain, the links can start to rotate about the said pivot point on one side only, that is to say, since the chain is in closed circuit, solely towards the inside of the shape produced by the closed circuit or solely towards the outside thereof. Consequently, in order to achieve this, the link has for example a stop that locks the rotation of the link in one direction with respect to the direction of travel of the chain. This stop may, by way of example, be a projecting element or an external wall that comprises a ridge.
  • It is clear from this that the chain can form any shape, which will be termed a simple shape, such as an ellipse, a circle, a rectangle, a square, a trapezium, a hexagon, an octagon or the like.
  • In a particular variant, the said chain links are connected together by a pivot point enabling the links to be movable with respect to each other bidirectionally from a chain spindle passing through each pivot point.
  • The word “bidirectionally” means that, with respect to the direction of travel of the transport chain, the links can start to rotate about the said pivot point on each side, that is to say, since the chain is in closed circuit, towards the inside of the shape produced by the closed circuit and towards the outside thereof. Consequently, to achieve this, the link preferably has a rounded external wall that allows the rotation of the link in both directions with respect to the direction of travel of the chain.
  • It is clear from this that the chain can form any shape, which will be termed a complex shape, for example a closed shape comprising one or more S-shaped portions.
  • Naturally all combinations are possible, for example the pivot point enabling the links to be movable with respect to one another bidirectionally can also be used for a chain travelling in closed circuit in a simple shape within the meaning presented above, for example in order to make uniform the manufacture of these chains and not to have to manufacture two different chains for circuits with simple or complex shapes.
  • Preferably, each link has a cross section substantially identical to the cross section of the syringe to be packed. Consequently the syringe is housed in an adjusted manner in the said link, which avoids any clearance within the latter. This represents a considerable asset since it makes it possible to use a maximum speed of movement in the chain without risk of breakage, since the syringes do not move therein. In addition, the gripping means can be optimised since the position at which they will grip the syringes will be predetermined and will not necessarily have to accept a difference in position for the cases where the syringes have moved. It is clear that, in a device according to the invention that allows the packing of syringes that are objects of small size and are fragile in a world where everything must be particularly clean and free from glass shards, such precision is a considerable asset.
  • Advantageously, each link arranged to house at least part of a syringe comprises a lateral opening for entry or exit of the syringe facing a syringe set to the right pitch by the said pitch-setting means.
  • For reasons of fluidity of movement, it is preferable for the syringes to pass from the pitch-setting means (via the transfer wheel or not) to the link intended to house them through a lateral opening, rather than for example through the top opening thereof.
  • Preferably, the said opening has a width adjusted with respect to the cross section of the syringe to be housed in the said link. This is because, when the width of the opening is substantially identical to the diameter of the syringe, the device according to the invention makes it possible to form an adjusted passage and to reduce to a maximum the clearance between the syringe and the link and therefore to reduce the risk of fortuitous escape of the syringe from the link.
  • In a particular embodiment, each link has a top surface provided with a projection arranged to lock the said syringe housing the said link. In fact, in a preferential case the projection is situated at the top of the opening in the link. In this way, when the syringe passes through the opening, it rests on the projection. When the syringe is completely housed in the link, it rests on the top edge thereof and is therefore situated at a lower height than when it rested on the projection. Any movement towards the opening is therefore prevented and therefore fortuitous escape is very improbable. This improves the precision of the device according to the invention a little more.
  • The invention advantageously also comprises a conveyor preferably external to the said transport chain in closed circuit for transporting nests that are to be packed or have been packed.
  • In a particularly advantageous embodiment of the device according to the invention, the said spacing means are supplied by means of bringing syringes, in particular by means of a conveyor or a conveyor belt.
  • According to the invention, the said spacing means have a homogeneous pitch. In a variant, they have a variable pitch, according to the type of conveyor used upstream of the device according to the invention. If the syringes arrive already spaced regularly from one another, pitch-setting means can comprise an even pitch. If the syringes arrive close to one another, preferably the pitch-setting means will comprise a variable pitch that will at the end of travel of the pitch-setting means make it possible to space the syringes at the pitch of the chain or transfer wheel, that is to say at the required pitch.
  • In addition, the transfer wheel and its pitch-setting means can be replaced by a variable pitch-setting means coupled to a chain return roller which, although more complex, is an alternative envisaged according to the invention.
  • In addition, in particular embodiment, the device according to the invention comprises second means of gripping the said syringes set to the said pitch, having a gripping position in which the second gripping means grip a predetermined quantity of syringes and a release position in which the second gripping means release the said predetermined quantity of syringes in order to arrange them in nests, the said second gripping means passing from the release position to the gripping position, in movement synchronised with the movement of the chain, in order to take a predetermined quantity of syringes in movement from the said chain.
  • In this advantageous embodiment, the second gripping means make it possible to process twice the number of syringes per hour. The second gripping means can of course either work in synchronisation with the first gripping means, but also in an offset manner.
  • The first and second gripping means decide to grip and release a batch of X syringes, which may be 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or any other appropriate number. Preferably, the gripping means can grip as many syringes as there are tubes in a row in a nest.
  • When the first and second gripping means work in synchronisation, they come up against the chain together, each at a predetermined position at which a complete batch of syringes is situated, they grip at the same time, each their own batch of syringes, and in leaving go towards the nest together in order to release their syringes therein.
  • In a particular embodiment of the invention, the first gripping means and the second gripping means come together close to each other and, once above the nest, the gripping means release the syringes in the tubes intended to receive them. The collected-together first and second gripping means then pack the syringes in two consecutive rows, or in two rows spaced apart from each other by an empty row that will be packed subsequently by the following arrival.
  • Naturally the first and second gripping means can also not come together or come together to a greater or lesser extent, for example if it wished to fill rows further spaced apart from each other. In this case, for a nest comprising 20 rows, it may desirable for the first gripping means to pack row 1 and the second gripping means to pack row 10, and next respectively rows 2 and 11, and then respectively rows 3 and 12, and so on.
  • When the first and second gripping means work in an offset manner, the first gripping means can come up against the chain and grip the syringes while the second gripping means leave the chain and are directed towards the nest in order to release therein the syringes gripped and transported.
  • Next, the first gripping means leave the chain and are directed towards the nest in order to release therein the syringes gripped and transported while the second gripping means come up against the chain and grip the syringes.
  • In particular, in a variant of the invention, the number of driving axes is at least 4 and the said chain comprises more than one outward section and more than one return section.
  • “More than one outward section and more than one return section” means that the chain forms at least an S. Naturally the direction of forward movement of the syringes is always that of the chain, but with respect to two fixed points, the direction is reversed between the said outward section and the said return section.
  • In this advantageous variant, the said first and second gripping means are synchronised and pass from the release position to the gripping position and grip the said syringes together and release them in the nest together, the said first and second gripping means being arranged to take the said syringes in movement from the chain, each on a different outward section or each on a different return section.
  • In this advantageous embodiment, the gripping means come up against different places, but on sections where, with respect to two fixed points, the direction of forward movement is identical. In this case, if it is considered that the first and second gripping means comprise a gripping side and a closed side, and that the gripping axis goes from the closed side to the gripping side, the gripping axis of the first gripping means and that of the second gripping means are aligned. Consequently the second gripping means and the first gripping means work with the same orientation.
  • In another embodiment, the said first and second gripping means are synchronised and pass from the release position to the gripping position and grip the said syringes together and release them in the nest together, the said first and second gripping means being arranged to take the said syringes in movement from the chain, one on an outward section and the other on a return section. In this case, the gripping axis of the first gripping means and that of the second gripping means are reversed and the second gripping means and the first gripping means work with a reversed orientation.
  • Advantageously, the syringe packing device according to the invention comprises a device for ejecting syringes at the end of the circuit that makes it possible, amongst other things, when the chain is stopped, at the end of operation, to be able to empty it of the syringes in the links but not yet packed in the nest.
  • In addition, when a syringe is defective or has been broken, or one of the links is not occupied by a syringe, the said gripping means advantageously detect that the batch is not complete. In this case, they are for example programmed not to take this batch and to await the next one. In such a case, it is preferential for the device to comprise the aforementioned syringe ejection means in order to empty the links not yet occupied at the end of the circuit. In addition, this avoids having to regulate the entry of the syringes into the transport chain, which would inevitable lead to a stoppage of the transfer wheel or the pitch-setting means, which would result in a banging together as mentioned above and the breaking that is generally associated therewith.
  • In an advantageous embodiment, the said means of setting the syringes to the right pitch, the said transport chain with links having the said pitch, the said transfer wheel and possibly the said ejection device are arranged on an exchangeable platform.
  • In this case, when the packing device according to the invention is to pack another size of syringe, for example with a smaller diameter, it is not necessary to replace the device, but only the platform, and this operation takes only a few minutes, rather than having to position new elements separately.
  • Other embodiments of the device according to the invention are indicated in the accompanying claims.
  • Another subject matter of the invention is a method comprising the steps of:
      • bringing and setting to the right pitch syringes to be packed in a pitch-setting zone with an obtaining of syringes set to the right pitch,
      • a gripping of the syringes set to the right pitch, using gripping means,
      • a movement of the syringes taken towards the said nests in which the said syringes are to be packed by the gripping means.
  • This method is characterised in that it also comprises transport, by a chain, of the syringes between the said pitch-setting zone and a picking-up zone and in that the picking up by the gripping means is carried out in movement and comprises, in a cyclic manner, a phase of bringing the gripping means up against the said chain, a gripping phase and a phase of moving the syringes taken towards the said nest with release of the syringes in the aforementioned nest.
  • Other embodiments of the method according to the invention are indicated in the accompanying claims.
  • Other characteristics, details and advantages of the invention will emerge from the description given below, non-limitatively and making reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a nest comprising 100 syringes.
  • FIG. 2A is a profile of a particularly simple embodiment of the syringe-packing device according to the invention.
  • FIG. 2B is a view from above of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2A.
  • FIGS. 3A, B and C illustrate the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2 in operation, that is to say during the three phases of the cycle of the gripping means, namely the approach phase, the gripping phase and the release phase.
  • FIG. 4A is a view from above of parts of the transport chain with links having the said pitch driven by one of the at least two drive shafts.
  • FIG. 4B is a view from above of a link of the said transport chain.
  • FIG. 4C is a front view of a link of the said transport chain.
  • FIG. 4D is a side view of a link of the said transport chain.
  • FIG. 4E is a front view of a link of the said transport chain containing a syringe.
  • FIG. 4F is a front view of a set of links of the said transport chain.
  • FIG. 5 is a view from above of a variant according to the invention illustrating a pivot point with finks able to move bidirectionally.
  • FIG. 6A is a profile view of a particular embodiment of the syringe-packing device according to the invention.
  • FIG. 6B is a view from above of the particular embodiment of the syringe packing device illustrated in FIG. 6A, in which the said chain comprises two outward sections and two return sections.
  • FIGS. 7A to 7C are views from above of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6A or FIG. 6B, illustrated in operation and showing the three phases of the cycle of the gripping means, the approach phase, the gripping phase and the release phase with packing in the said nest.
  • FIGS. 8A and 8C are views from above of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6A or FIG. 6B, illustrated in operation and showing the three phases of the cycle of the gripping means, the approach phase, the gripping phase and the release phase with packing in the said nest, in which the gripping means grip the syringes on the opposite side.
  • In the figures, the identical or similar elements bear the same reference signs.
  • As can be seen in FIG. 1, a nest 1 is a syringe display that comprises a base plate 2 provided with tubes 3 all extending in a direction perpendicular to the base plate 2, through which the syringes 4 are inserted. The collars 5 of the syringes 4 then rest on the ends of the tubes 3 that are opposite to the base plate 2.
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate particularly simplified embodiments of the device for packing syringes in nests.
  • The syringes manufactured or packed are brought by way of example by a conveyor belt 6 to the device according to the invention. In the illustration here, the syringes 4 are positioned with collars 5 uppermost and the collars 5 rest on two parallel walls 6A and 6B between which the body of the syringe hangs.
  • As can be seen, the syringes 4 arrive in an irregular fashion, that is to say they are stuck to one another and oriented differently, which means that the oval collar 5 may be perpendicular, or parallel to the two parallel walls 6A and 6B, or may have any intermediate orientation. In addition, the syringes 4 can be spaced apart to a greater or lesser extent, according to the delivery thereof.
  • The devices for packing syringes in a nest comprises means 7 of setting the syringes 4 at the right pitch, arranged to separate and distance or bring closer together at the said pitch the syringes brought, so that their separation is regular. This zone is called the pitch-setting zone.
  • In the case illustrated here in FIG. 2, the pitch-setting means comprise an even pitch worm 7. It goes without saying that in certain embodiments a worm with a convergent or divergent pitch may be more appropriate.
  • The device for packing syringes 4 in nests 1 also comprises a transport chain 8 with links 9 having the said pitch. The chain is in movement at least around two drive axes 10 and 11. When the syringes 4 arrive on the conveyor belt 6, they are set to the right pitch by the worm 7 for setting at the right pitch and then transferred by means of the transfer wheel 12 and next the syringes are housed at least partially in a link 8 of the transport chain 9. The syringes 4 are therefore transported and set in motion after the pitch-setting zone.
  • The device for packing syringes in nests 1 according to the invention comprise in addition first gripping means 13 comprising an end 14 connected to an actuation arm (for example robotic) and a free end 15, for example provided with fingers or suckers, for gripping the syringes 4 in the transport chain 8. The first gripping means 13 take the syringes 4 from the said transport chain 8 to a so-called take-off zone, which will not necessarily always be the same, depending on the way in which the gripping means 13 are programmed. The syringes are therefore transported between the said pitch-setting zone and the take-off zone.
  • As can be seen in FIGS. 3A to 3C, the gripping means 13 take off the syringes 4 in movement and the taking off comprises, cyclically, a phase where the gripping means 3 approach (FIG. 3A) the said transport chain 8, a phase of gripping the syringes 4 (FIG. 3B) and a phase of moving the syringes 4 taken off towards the said nests 1 with release of the syringes 4 in the aforementioned nest 1 (FIG. 3C).
  • The gripping means therefore have a gripping position (FIG. 3B) in which the gripping means grip a predetermined quantity of syringes. In this particular case where the capacity of the nest is 100 syringes (10 lines of 10 syringes), the gripping means grip 10 syringes at a time. The gripping means 13 also have a release position in which the gripping means 13 release the said predetermined quantity of syringes 4 in order to dispose them in nests 1 (FIG. 3C). In addition, the first gripping means 13 are also in the release position during the phase (FIG. 3A) of approaching the transport chain 8 (before the syringes are gripped) and the gripping means pass from the release position to the gripping position, in movements synchronised with the movement of the chain, in order to take off the batch of syringes in movement from the said chain.
  • As will easily be understood, the advantage of this system for packing syringes 4 in nests 1 according to the invention lies in the fact that the syringes 4 move forward constantly, there is no stoppage of the chain 8 or conveyor 6 or even of the pitch-setting worm 7 to effect the gripping by the gripping means 13, which makes it possible to eliminate jolts on the conveyor or input transporter belt 6 that generally cause much breakage.
  • FIG. 4A illustrates part of the transport chain 8 with links 9 having the said pitch p of a packing device, for example for syringes 4. The transport chain 8 is driven by drive axes, which comprise for example a toothed wheel 10 rotating about a spindle, in which the chain 8 cooperates in order to start to move.
  • The link 9, as can be seen in FIG. 4, comprises an external wall 16 with a cross section substantially identical to the cross section of the syringe 4 to be packed or any other object to be packed. In the external wall 16, at least one projection 17 having a central orifice 18 makes it possible to allow to pass a spindle 19 acting as a pivot point between two consecutive links 9. More particularly, one of the two sides has a female projection 17 a and the other side has a male projection 17 b (see FIG. 4C). Two consecutive links 9 are arranged so that the projections 17 a and 17 b having a central orifice 18 fit together and so that the spindle 19 between the two links 9 serves as a common pivot point (see FIG. 4A).
  • As can be clearly in FIG. 4B, each link 8 arranged to house at least part of a syringe 4 comprises a lateral entry or exit opening 20 for the syringe 4.
  • When the link 9 of the transport chain 8 is in movement in the syringe packing device according to the invention, this lateral opening 20 faces a syringe 4 set at the right pitch by the said pitch-setting means 7 or kept at the right pitch by the said transfer wheel 12.
  • Preferably, the said opening 20 has a width adjusted with respect to the cross-section of the syringe 4 to be housed in the said link 9. In this way, as can be seen in FIG. 4E, the syringe is positioned in a stable manner, by a housing of the syringe 4 fitted in the link 9.
  • In a particular embodiment, the pivot point 19 enables the links 9 to be movable with respect to one another unidirectionally from an axis X of the chain 8 passing through each pivot point 19, that is to say either towards the front or towards the rear. In FIG. 2B, the pivot point must enable the links only to be movable from the axis X towards the inside of the closed circuit and to be returned into position aligned with the axis X. In a variant, the pivot point 19 enables the links 9 to be movable with respect to one another bidirectionally from a chain spindle 8 passing through each pivot point 19, that is to say towards the front and towards the rear as can be seen in FIG. 5. In this figure, the link is designed so as to coil either on the face having the lateral opening 20 or on the rear face, that is to say along the external wall 16, and the device according to the invention then comprises at least a third drive spindle 23.
  • In an advantageous embodiment, each link 9 has a top surface 21 provided with a projection 22 arranged to lock the said syringe 4 housed in the said link 9 and thus in a sure manner prevent any fall and therefore any breakage (see FIG. 9D). As already mentioned, the syringe 4 presented by the pitch-setting means 7 or by the transfer wheel 12 passes over the said projection 22 and redescends as it advances in the said link 9. Next the collar 5 of the said syringe 4 rests on the top surface 21 and is then housed in a secure manner.
  • FIG. 4F is a front view of a set of links of the said transport chain.
  • In FIGS. 6A and 6B, a variant of the device for packing syringes 4 according the invention can be seen, in which the closed circuit of the transport chain 8 comprises two outward sections (respectively I and III or II and IV) and two return sections (respectively II and IV or I and III), by virtue of the presence of a fourth drive spindle 24 and fifth drive spindle 25. The terms outward sections (I-III or II-IV) and return sections (II-IV or mean that the direction of travel of the chain is reversed. This particularly efficient embodiment comprises first gripping means 13 and second gripping means 13. The first and second gripping means 13 are synchronised and therefore perform the steps of their aforementioned three-phase cycle at the same time. Here the gripping means 13 preferably comprise suckers 26 at the free end 25 enabling them, using the creation of a vacuum, to grip the syringes 4. In this embodiment, the gripping means 13 grip the syringes 4 through the opening 20 in the link 9, which therefore also serves as an exit orifice.
  • In a variant, provision is also made according to the invention for the gripping means 13 to comprise fingers or a comb the teeth or fingers of which slip between the syringes 4 and in which the collars 5 will rest on two adjacent fingers or teeth.
  • The gripping means 13 lift slightly to allow the syringes 4 to pass over the projections 22 on the top surface 21 of each link 9.
  • FIGS. 7A to 7C are views from above of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6A or FIG. 6B, in operation. FIG. 7A shows the first phase of the cycle of the first and second gripping means 13, namely the approach phase. FIG. 7B illustrates the second phase of the cycle of the first and second gripping means 13, namely the gripping phase. FIG. 7C illustrates the third phase of the cycle of the first and second gripping means 13, namely the phase of releasing the syringes 4 with packing in the said nest 1.
  • The packing device according to the invention comprises two outward sections and two return sections on the transport chain 8 with the gripping of the syringes 4 by the first and second gripping means 13 on the same side.
  • The device also advantageously comprises two parallel conveyors (not illustrated) for transporting the nests 1.
  • In this particularly profitable and rapid advantageous embodiment, the same robot controls the first and second gripping means 13. The first and second gripping means 13 respectively approach a first I and third III section of the transport chain that are synchronised, that is to say they move at the same speed.
  • In this embodiment, the first gripping means of the transport chain takes a batch of 10 syringes every 20 syringes in the first section 1 and the second gripping means at the same time take a batch of 10 syringes on the third section III.
  • These two batches of 10 syringes move in the same direction and in phase with the first section I of the transport chain. In this way the robot simultaneously loads 20 syringes in two batches of 10 syringes.
  • In this case, the first and second gripping means 13 load on the same side of the chain 8. The gripping of the syringes by the clamp is effected by way of example by suckers that pull the syringes into a guidance cavity in the free end 15 of the said gripping means. This is illustrated in FIG. 7B and represents the gripping phase.
  • Before loading the syringes 4 into the nest 1, the two gripping means 13 move closer together in order to reach the spacing of the nest 1.
  • This type of machine is used for renesting nests 1 where the number of rows is a multiple of 4. This is because, the rows being too close to one another, the gripping means 13 cannot load two consecutive rows.
  • This makes it necessary to load one row out of two (the even or odd rows). During the first loading, the first and second gripping means load rows 1 and 3 and next rows 2 and 4. In a variant of the invention, two robots each having two arms to which first and second gripping means are respectively connected work in alternating fashion. In this case, the overall functioning is the same except that, during the first loading, the first and second gripping means of the first robot load rows 1 and 3, the first and second gripping means of the second robot loads rows 2 and 4, and next once again the first robot loads rows 5 and 7 and so on.
  • In this way each robot has a cycle time corresponding to 40 syringes, that is to say 4 seconds in total corresponding to 4 batches of 10 syringes per second. The use of this principle eliminates the stoppage each time a batch of syringes is formed and gives a constant linear speed at the entry of the syringes.
  • The assembly is driven at one point, which makes it possible to produce one plate per syringe format. The transport chain is for example produced by means of links made from injected plastic. It goes without saying that the pitch of the transport chain and of the pitch-setting means as well as of any transfer wheel corresponds to the pitch of the nest.
  • Generally the packing device according to the invention comprises a device (not illustrated) for ejecting syringes at the end of the circuit and preferably the said pitch-setting means 7 for the syringes 4, the said transport chain 8 with links 9 having the said pitch, the said transfer wheel 12 and possibly the said ejection device are arranged on an exchangeable platform in order to be able to change platform quickly, when the syringes 4 to be packed have a different diameter.
  • In FIGS. 8A to 8C, the device for packing syringes 4 according the invention comprises two outward sections I and III and two return sections II and IV on the transport chain 8 with the gripping of the syringes 4 by the first and second gripping means 13 on the opposite side.
  • The device also advantageously comprises two parallel conveyors (not illustrated) for transporting the nests 1.
  • This packing device according to the invention is preferably designed for nests 1 where the number of rows is a multiple of two.
  • In this case, the first and second gripping means (clamps) 13 must load two contiguous lines. This makes it necessary for the gripping means 13 to be outside and the syringes 4 inside, when the gripping means 14 move together in order to reach the right spacing for the nest 1.
  • The gripping of the syringes 4 on the transport chain will be identical to that explained for FIGS. 6 and 7 for the first section I but on the other hand the gripping of the syringes will be on the opposite face for the third section. The second gripping means of the third section must pass through the aperture in the top part of the link (FIG. 1).
  • Otherwise the whole of the syringe packing device according to the invention is identical to what was detailed for the previous embodiments in FIGS. 6 and 7.
  • Naturally the present invention is in no way limited to the embodiments described above and many modifications can be made thereto without departing from the scope of the accompanying claims.
  • For example, the present invention refers to syringes, but it goes without saying that it also applies to bottles or any type of receptacle or object for which the packing device may be useful, for example sterile antibiotic bottles that must be packed in packages in an ordered and prearranged manner or ballpoint or felt pens in displays.
  • In addition, the invention has been clearly illustrated by causing two gripping means to function in a synchronised manner. It goes without saying that the first and second gripping means may be offset exactly, so that the said first gripping means pass from the release position to the gripping position and grip the said syringes when the said second gripping means take off the said moving syringes from the chain and release them in the nest.
  • In addition, the invention has been illustrated generally with approach to the first and second section, it goes without saying that this can also take place on the second and fourth sections or other sections when there are fewer or more of them, according to the way in which the robot that controls the gripping means is programmed.

Claims (16)

1. Device for packing syringes in nests comprising:
means of setting the syringes to the right pitch, arranged to separate and move the brought syringes to the said pitch,
first means of gripping the said syringes (4) set to the said pitch, having a gripping position in which the gripping means grip a predetermined quantity of syringes (4) and a release position in which the gripping means release the said predetermine quantity of syringes in order to arrange them in nests,
characterised in that it also comprises a transport chain with links having the said pitch, in closed circuit and moving at least around two drive spindles, arranged to transport and move the syringes coming from the pitch-setting means, each link being arranged to house at least part of a syringe, and in that the said first gripping means pass from the release position to the gripping position, in movement synchronised with the movement of the chain, in order to take off a predetermined quantity of syringes in movement from the said chain.
2. Device according to claim 1, also comprising a transfer wheel arranged to load the syringes set to the right pitch by the said pitch-setting means in the said transport chain.
3. Device according to claim 1, in which the said links in the chain are connected together by a pivot point enabling the links to be able to move with respect to one another unidirectionally from an axis (X) of the chain passing through each pivot point.
4. Device according to claim 1, in which the said links in the chain are connected together by a pivot point enabling the links to move with respect to one another bidirectionally from an axis X of the chain passing through each pivot point.
5. Device according to claim 1, in which each link has a cross section substantially identical to the cross section of the syringe to be packed.
6. Device according to claim 1, in which each link arranged to house at least part of a syringe comprises a lateral entry or exit opening for the syringe facing a syringe set to the right pitch by the said pitch-setting means.
7. Device according to claim 6, in which the said opening has a width adjusted with respect to the cross section of the syringe to be housed in the said link.
8. Device according to claim 1, in which each link has a top surface provided with a projection arranged to lock the said syringe housed in the said link.
9. Device according to claim 1, also comprising a conveyor preferably external to the said transport chain in closed circuit for transporting nests to be packed or that have been packed.
10. Device according to claim 1, in which the said pitch-setting means are supplied by syringe feed means, in particular by a conveyor or a transporter belt.
11. Device according to claim 1, comprising second means of gripping the said syringes set to the right pitch, having a gripping position in which the second gripping means grip a predetermined quantity of syringes and a release position in which the second gripping means release the said predetermined quantity of syringes in order to arrange them in nests, the said second gripping means passing from the release position to the gripping position, in movement synchronised with the movement of the chain, in order to take off a predetermined quantity of syringes in movement from the said chain.
12. Device according to claim 1, in which the number of driving spindles is at least four and in which the said chain comprises more than one outward section and more than return section.
13. Device according to claim 12, in which the said first and second gripping means are synchronised and pass from the release position to the gripping position and grip the said syringes together and release them in the nest together, the said first and second gripping means being arranged to take off the said moving syringes from the chain, each on a different outward section or each on a different return section.
14. Device according to claim 1, also comprising a device for ejecting syringes at the end of the circuit.
15. Device according to claim 1, in which the said means of setting the syringes to the right pitch, the said transport chain with links having the said pitch, the said transfer wheel and possibly the said ejection device are arranged on an exchangeable platform.
16. Method of packing syringes in nests, comprising the steps of:
bringing and setting to the right pitch syringes to be packed in a pitch-setting zone with obtaining of syringes set to the right pitch,
gripping of the syringes set to the right pitch by gripping means,
movement of the syringes picked up to the said nests in which the said syringes are to be packed by the gripping means,
characterised in that it also comprises transportation by a chain of the syringes between the said pitch-setting zone and a picking-up zone and in that the picking up by the gripping means is carried out in motion and, in a cyclic manner, comprises a phase of approaching the said chain by the gripping means, a gripping phase and a phase of moving the picked-up syringes towards the said nests with the release of the syringes in the aforementioned nest.
US12/625,802 2008-12-09 2009-11-25 Device and Method for Packing Syringes in Nests Abandoned US20100139215A1 (en)

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US20120093618A1 (en) * 2010-10-14 2012-04-19 Marchesini Group S.P.A. Method And An Apparatus For Transferring Fragile Receptacles From A Container To A Packing Machine
US20120090276A1 (en) * 2010-10-14 2012-04-19 Marchesini Group S.P.A. Method And An Apparatus For Transferring Articles From A Packaging Machine To Containers
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CN104590622A (en) * 2015-01-19 2015-05-06 浙江大学台州研究院 Automatic packaging machine of disposable syringe
CN106865113A (en) * 2017-04-06 2017-06-20 宁波富邦电池有限公司 The bunching mechansim of the automatic box-packed machine of battery

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