US3448846A - Apparatus for assembling batches of rod-shaped articles - Google Patents

Apparatus for assembling batches of rod-shaped articles Download PDF

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US3448846A
US3448846A US3448846DA US3448846A US 3448846 A US3448846 A US 3448846A US 3448846D A US3448846D A US 3448846DA US 3448846 A US3448846 A US 3448846A
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means
groups
cigarettes
articles
conveyor
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Dietrich Bardenhagen
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Hauni-Werke Koerber and Co KG
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Hauni-Werke Koerber and Co KG
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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
    • B65B19/00Packaging rod-shaped or tubular articles susceptible to damage by abrasion or pressure, e.g. cigarettes, cigars, macaroni, spaghetti, drinking straws, welding electrodes
    • B65B19/02Packaging cigarettes
    • B65B19/04Arranging, feeding, or orientating the cigarettes
    • B65B19/10Arranging cigarettes in layers each comprising a predetermined number

Description

*June 10, 1969 D. BARDENHAGEN- 3,

APPARATUS FOR ASSEMBLING BATCHES OF ROD-SHAPED ARTICLES Filed on; 22, 1965 1 Sheet Z 01' 4 In ven tor:

June 10, 1969 v p. BARDENHAGE-N 3,443,846

' APPARATUS FOR ASSEMBLING BATCHES OF ROD-SHAPED ARTICLES Filed Oct. 22, 1965 Sheet 3 of 4 June 10, 1969 I o. BARDENHAGEN': 3,448,846

APPARATUS FOR ASSEMBLING BATCHES OF ROD-SHAPED ARTICLES Filed Oct. 22, 1965 1 Sheet 4 or 4 United States Patent-Oflice 3,448,846 Patented June 10, 1969 3,448,846 APPARATUS FOR ASSEMBLING BATCHES OF. ROD-SHAPED ARTICLES Dietrich Bardenhagen, Hamburg-Lohbrugge, Germany,

assignor to Hauni-Werke Korber & Co. KG., Hamburg- Bergedorf, Germany Filed Oct. 22, 1965, Ser. No. 501,769 Claims priority, application Great Britain, Oct. 23, 1964, 43,227 64 Int. Cl. B6Sb 19/04, 35/30; B65g 57/00 U.S. Cl. 198-35 36 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Apparatus for stacking cigarettes comprises a conveyor which advances cigarettes sideways, a suction head which removes long layers of cigarettes from the conveyor, a plunger cooperating with a subdividing device to remove long layers from the suction head, to break such layers without remainder into shorter layers, and to transfer shorter layers into the cells of an intermittently advancing conveyor wherein the shorter layers form stacks ready to be fed toward a packing machine.

The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for treating rod-shaped articles, and more particularly to a method and apparatus for stacking cigarettes, filter cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, cheroots, filter cigars and/or other rod-shaped articles preparatory to wrapping, packing or similar treatment. Still more particularly, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for assembling cigarettes or the like into batches, stacks or blocks which are ready for introduction into packs.

In mass production of cigarettes or similar rod-shaped articles, the articles must be assembled or arrayed to form batches, stacks or blocks which are thereupon introduced into soft or hard packs. In accordance with presently preva-iling practice, cigarettes which issue from a cigarette machine or filter cigarette machine are stacked in so-called trays which are thereupon conveyed to a packing machine to have their contents transferred into a stationary hopper provided with suitable partitions to arrange the cigarettes in rows. The cigarettes are then withdrawn from the lower end of the hopper, always in such a way that a batch or stack is withdrawn in a single operation. This conventional method of forming stacks exhibits two serious drawbacks, namely, (a) cigarettes must be stacked twice (first in the trays and thereupon in the hopper), and (b) the conveyor system for the trays occupies too much room and is very complicated, particularly if the trays are to be conveyed in a fully automatic way. Still further, repeated stack-ing and dumping of cigarettes invariably results in escape of tobacco particles from cigarette ends, and such repeated manipulation causes the cigarettes to remain in contact with atmospheric air for excessive periods of time. It was also found that the presently used hoppers which discharge stacks or blocks of cigarettes to the packing machine are prone to malfunction so that the number of rejects in cigarette packs is rather high.

Accordingly, it is an important object of the present invention to provide a novel method of arranging cigarettes or other rod-shaped articles in stacks or blocks which are ready for transfer into packs or other types of wrappers and according to which the articles may be asem-bled into stacks without necessitating a stacking in trays and/ or dumping into hoppers.

Another object of the invent-ion is to provide a method of the just outlined characteristics according to which the articles may be assembled into stacks or blocks of any desired size or shape, for example into blocks of twenty,

ten, twelve or eight articles, and according to which each block may contain two or more groups or strata of properly positioned articles.

A further object of the invention is to provide a method of the above outlined character according to which a series of randomly spaced articles coming from one or more cigarette machines, filter cigarette machines or other types of producing machine's may be rapidly and accurate- 'ly converted into stacks or blocks with little danger of (losing tobacco particles during stacking and in such a way that the articles remainexposed for extremely short intervals of time.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a method of assembling cigarettes or the like into stacks or blocks according to which such stack-ing may be carried out in a small area, by resorting to a relatively simple and compact apparatus, and in such a way that all of the articles are stacked in the same sequence in which they are being fed to the stacking or arraying station.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a method of the above outlined characteristics according to which all of the articles which form a series of randomly spaced or distributed articles are invariably assembled into stacks or blocks without any remainder so that, by resorting to my method, the manufacturer knows that the stacking operation will be carried out without any loss, particularly if the articles are tested for integrity prior to stacking.

A concomitant object of my instant invention is to provide a novel apparatus which may be used for carrying out the above method and to construct the apparatus in such a way that it maybe rapidly and conveniently converted for assembling of difierent types of stacks.

Another object of the invention is to provide an apparatus for stacking cigarettes or the like wherein the cigarettes are stacked only once, which may constitute a bridge between one or more producing machines and one or more consuming machines, which can be operated in such a manner that the output of one or more consuming machines is changed in a fully automatic'way when the output of one or more producing machines changes or vice versa, which is capable of feeding stacks to one or more consuming machines after the producing'machines come to a halt, which can store the output of one or more producing machines if the consuming machines are idle, and which can treat the articles gently so that the number of rejects is reduced to a minimum.

A further object of the invention is to provide a stacking apparatus which can be readily coupled with presently known producing and consuming machines for cigarettes,

cigars or other rod shaped smokers productsl An additional object of the invention is to provide an apparatus which can transform a series of randomly spaced cigarettes or similar rod shaped articles into stacks wherein the articles form groups or strata which may but need not contain the same number of articles, wherein one group may be staggered with reference to the other group or groups to reduce the overall size of the stack and the quantity of wrapping material needed, and wherein each of a large number of consecutive stacks contain the same number of articles in an accurately determined array.

A further object of the invention is to provide a stacking apparatus which can form one, two, three or more stacks at a time.

Briefly stated, one feature of my present invention resides in the provision of a method of stacking cigarettes or similar rod-shaped articles. The method comprises the steps of moving a series of articles sideways along a predetermined path which is preferably located in a substantially horizontal plane, consecutively moving equal numbers of articles from such path and into a preferably hori- During subdivision of a layer into a row of smaller groups, the articles preferably move lengthwise and are simultaneously caused to move apart in fanwise fashion so that the formation of smaller groups is a result of a composite lengthwise and sidewise movement of articles. For stacking, the smaller groups of articles of each preceding row are preferably moved sideways to provide room for deposition of the smaller groups of the next following row, and the thus obtained stacks are thereupon transported to a transfer station where the stacks are introduced into one or more packing machines or another consuming machine. The series of articles which are fed toward the layer-forming station may be supplied by one or more cigarette machines, filter cigarette machines, cigar machines or other types of producing machines.

Each smaller group of any given row may contain the same number of articles or each such row may be composed of smaller groups which contain different numbers 'of articles. For example, a row may contain smaller groups in a-b-a or aa-bb-aa or aaa-bbb-aaa formation wherein a and b are whole numbers each of which is a multiple of one. If the smaller groups are disposed in aaa-bbb-aaa formation, and if each smaller group comprises cigarettes or filter cigarettes, the method of my invention may be resorted to in forming stacks or blocks of twenty cigarettes each (such as are customary in the United States) and wherein a median smaller group of six cigarettes is disposed between two outer smaller groups of seven cigarettes each. The median smaller group is preferably staggered with reference to the outer smaller groups by a distance which approximates the radius of a cigarette, i.e., the cigarettes of the median smaller group extend partially into channels or recesses between the cigarettes of the adjoining outer smaller groups.

The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The improved stacking apparatus itself, however, both as to its construction and the mode of operating the same, together with additional features and advantages thereof, will be best understood upon perusal of the following detailed description of certain specific embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagram showing the steps of a first method which may be resorted to in assembling stacks of twenty rod-shaped articles which are disposed in three superimposed groups:

FIG. 2 is a similar diagram and illustrates the steps of a modified method which may be resorted to in assembling stacks each of which is composed of two superimposed groups;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary top plan view of an apparatus which may be utilized for carrying out the method of FIG. 1, the consuming machine which receives stacks of articles for packing or other treatment having been omitted for the sake of clarity;

FIG. 4 is a somewhat schematic side elevational view as seen in the direction of the arrow IV in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a view substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line V--V of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the structure shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of a conveyor which is utilized to deliver stacks of articles to the consuming machine;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged section substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line VIII-VIII of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary section substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line IX-IX of FIG. 8.

Referring to the drawings in detail, FIG. 1 illustrates the steps of a first method which may be resorted to in assembling stacks or blocks 27 of twenty cigarettes each in an array as is customary in the United States, i.e., two outer groups or strata each of which contains seven cigarettes are disposed at the opposite sides of a median or central group containing six cigarettes. In the initial step A, a series 99 of randomly spaced cigarettes 3 is advanced sideways on the upper stringer of a take-off conveyor belt 2 or the like toward a first arraying or condensing station where the consecutively arriving cigarettes are caused to move rather close to each other (step B) and to form a condensed larger group or layer 100 containing, for example, sixty parallel cigarettes. The layer 100 is then removed from the path defined by the belt 2 so that the remaining cigarettes 3 can advance toward the first arraying station (this station is located to the left of the series 99 shown at A) and may be assembled to form the next condensed layer 100. In the step C, the layer 100 (which has been removed from the belt 2) is subdivided or broken up into a row containing a total of nine smaller groups or strata 102 whereby the combined number of cigarettes which form the nine groups 102 equals the number of cigarettes in a condensed layer 100. In other Words, the subdivision of condensed layers 100 is carried out without a remainder. Of the nine groups 27, the median three groups contain six cigarettes each, and the remaining six groups 102 contain seven cigarettes each. This formation of groups can be identified as aaa-bbb-aaa wherein a is a group of seven cigarettes and b is a group of six cigarettes.

For example, and as disclosed in US. Patent No. 3,190,459 to Kochalski et al., the conveyor belt 2 may deliver cigarettes 3 from the discharge station of one or more cigarette machines, filter cigarette machines or other producing machines which turn out rod-shaped articles, and the first arraying station accommodates a pneumatic or mechanical collector or layer former which can remove from the belt 2 sixty cigarettes at a time (or sixty cigarettes one after the other) to thereby form condensed layers 100. Thus, while moving on the belt 2, the cigarettes 3 advance sideways (substantially at right angles to their respective axes), and the collector thereupon moves consecutively assembled layers upwardly (again side- Ways) and sufliciently above the upper stringer of the belt 2 to avoid interference with the foremost cigarettes of the loose series 99. Alternatively, and as also disclosed in the aforementioned patent to Kochalski et al., the collector may operate in such a way that it arrests the cigarettes of the series 99 while the freshly assembled condensed layer 100 is being moved out of the way. In each instance, the collector can convert a series 99 of randomly spaced rod shaped articles 3 into a plurality of successive layers 100 wherein the articles are preferably parallel to and equidistant from each other. The cigarettes which form the series 99 may but need not be equidistant from each other; in fact, a very important feature of the aforementioned collector or layer former is that it can convert consecutive sections of a series of randomly spaced cigarettes or similar rod shaped articles into a plurality of identical layers each of which contains a predetermined number of cigarettes in predetermined position with reference to each other.

During subdivision of a condensed layer 100 into a row containing nine groups 102, the cigarettes may move axially, i.e., transversely of the belt 2 as indicated by the arrows 101a, so as to be out of the way prior to subdivision of the next following layer 100. This is the step D of FIG. 1 and, in the next following step E, the cigarettes forming the row of nine groups 102 are moved sideways, as indicated by the arrow 101, and through a distance corresponding to the combined width of three groups 102 of six cigarettes each. The manner in which the groups 102 are shifted sideways will be more readily understood from the description of FIGS. 3 to 9.

The step E also includes transferring or depositing onto the six srearmost groups 102 six groups 102' which are obtained on subdivision of the next following condensed layer 100. The transfer is carried out in such a way that a group 102 which contains six cigarettes overlies or comes to rest on a group 102 which contains seven cigarettes and that a group 102 which contains seven cigarettes comes to rest on a group 102 which contains six cigarettes. In FIG. 1, the groups 102 and 102' are identified symbolically in part by shorter lines (indicating that such groups contain six cigarettes) and in part by longer lines (which indicate that such groups contain seven cigarettes each). Also, and merely for the sake of clarity, the lines indicating the groups 102 are heavier than the lines indicating the groups 102'.

In the step F, the groups 102, 102 are simultaneously advanced in the direction of the arrow 101, again by a distance corresponding to the combined width of three adjoining groups 102 or 102' of six cigarette-s each, and the next row of nine groups 102" is deposited onto six of the groups 102 in such a way that the three rearmost groups 102, the three groups 102 thereabove, and the three groups 102" above such groups 102 (i.e., above the three rearmost groups 102) already form three complete stacks or blocks 27 of twenty cigarettes each whereby the cigarettes of each stack 27 are arrayed in the exact manner as desired in a cigarette pack. The groups 102" are indicated by broken lines, and the groups 202 which are obtained on subdivision of a fourth layer 100 are indicated by dotted lines (step G). In the step H, the foremost six of nine groups 202' (again shown by heavy solid lines) are placed on top of the last six groups 202.

The same procedure is repeated again and again so that the transfer of each row of nine groups of properly arranged cigarettes results in the formation of three stacks or blocks 27. Such stacks are then transferred into one or more packing machines to be introduced into soft or hard packs.

FIG. 2 illustrates the steps of a modified method. In the step A, a series 99a of randomly spaced cigarettes 3 is conveyed sideways as indicated by the arrow 101b. In the step B, the foremost cigarettes of the series 99a are assembled into layers 104 each of which contains fortyeight cigarettes 3. The step C comprises subdividing or breaking up a layer 104 into a row of eight groups 106 each of which contains six cigarettes. The row of eight groups 106 is then advanced in the axial direction of the cigarettes (arrows 101a) as shown in the step D, and the step E comprises shifting the row of cigarette groups 106 sideways (arrow 101) and thereupon moving the next row of eight groups 106' into the zone previously occupied by the groups 106. In this way, the rearmost four groups 106 are overlapped by the foremost four groups 106' to form therewith four stacks or blocks 108 which are ready for transfer into a packing machine, not shown. The step F comprises shifting the groups 106, 106' by a distance corresponding to the combined width of four groups 106 or 106', and moving into the zone previously occupied by the groups 106 eight additional groups 106 so that the foremost four groups 106" overlap the rearmost four groups 106' whereby the overlapping and overlapped groups 106, 106" together form four additional blocks or stacks 108. The same procedure is then repeated again and again so that each shifting of the preceding rows of groups and each transfer of the next following row of groups results in the formation of four stacks or blocks 108.

Each block 108 comprises two superimposed groups but the cigarettes of the upper group are not staggered with reference to the cigarettes of the lower group.

It is clear that the method of FIG. 1 or 2 may be modified in a number of ways without departing from the spirit of my invention. For example, each row of groups may contain groups in the formation a-b-a-, aabb-aa, nXb wherein a, b and n are whole numbers each of which is a whole multiple of one. Referring again to FIG. 2, it is obvious that each layer 104 may contain, for example, thirty-six cigarettes and may be subdivided into a row of six groups each of which contains six cigarettes. Such rows of groups are then shifted by distances corresponding to the combined width of three groups so that each such shifting and subsequent transfer of a fresh row will result in the formation of three stacks or blocks of twelve cigarettes each.

If each row contains groups in the formation aa-bb-aa, such rows will be shifted by distances corresponding to the width of two groups b, and each such shifting, combined with the transfer of a fresh row, will result in the formation of two stacks or blocks which will contain twenty cigarettes each if a=7 and b=6 and if three consecutive rows of groups aa-bb-aa are caused to partially overlap each other. The situation is analogous if the rows contain groups in the formation a-b-a with the exception that each step will result in the formation of a single stack or block.

An apparatus which may be used for carrying out the method of FIG. 1 is shown in FIGS. 3 to 9. FIG. 3 shows an endless take-off conveyor belt 2 whose upper stringer advances a series of randomly spaced rod-shaped articles 3 sideways and receives such articles from one or more producing machines PM. For example, the producing machine PM shown in FIG. 3 may constitute a single cigarette machine or a battery of two or more cigarette machines or filter cigarette machines. In the following description, the articles 3 -will be called cigarettes or filter cigarettes.

The path defined by the upper stringer of the belt 2 is preferably located in a horizontal or nearly horizontal plane, and this plane is located below a collector or layer former 1 which may constitute a suction head and serves to convert the series of rod-shaped articles into layers each of which contains sixty cigarettes 3. The suction head 1 'has its underside provided with sixty parallel equidistant pockets or holders 6, see FIG. 4, each of which can accommodate a single cigarette at a time. The means which is embodied in and combined with the suction head 1 for lifting consecutive cigarettes 3 from the belt 2 and into consecutive holders or pockets 6 is fully disclosed in the aforementioned patent to Kochalski et al. It suffices to say here that the collector or suction head 1 begins to collect the cigarettes at its forward end (i.e., at the lower end as the parts appear in FIG. 3) and fills its holders 6 seriatirn to form a layer 100 of sixty parallel, closely adjacent, equidistant cigarettes 3.

The freshly assembled layer 100 is then ready for transfer onto a subdividing device 4 which serves to break up or subdivide the layer 100 into a row of groups 102 in the formation aaa-bbb-aaa as described in connection with FIG. 1. This subdividing device 4 resembles a flat platelike carriage whose upper side is provided with elongated grooves 5. Each such groove 5 has a first or front portion 5a which is nearer to the suction head 1 and a second or rear portion 5b which is nearer to a second conveyor or receiving means 8 serving to transport or shift the groups 102 sideways (arrow 101). The first portions 5a of the grooves 5 are distributed in the same way as and register with the holders 6 at the underside of the suction head 1. The second portions 5b of the grooves 5 diverge or spread out fanwise and form nine distinct groups which are separated from each other by wedgelike spacers 7. The width of the grooves 5 may diminish in a direction toward the second conveyor 8, i.e., the width of the first portions a and of the holders 6 may exceed the diameter of a cigarette 3, but the width of each portion 5b may equal or at least approximate the diameter of a cigarette. It is clear that, when the freshly formed layer 100 of cigarettes 3 is ejected from the holders 6 and is caused to slide first in the groove portions 5a and thereupon in the groove portions 5b, the layer 100 will be broken up or subdivided into nine groups 102 the median three of which will contain six cigarettes each and the remaining six of which will contain seven cigarettes each. Thus, the distribution of the second groove portions 5b is the same as that of a row of groups 102.

In addition to serving as a means for subdividing layers 100 into rows of groups 102, the carriage 4 also serves as a means for assisting in transfer of groups 102 into the U-shaped receptacles or cages 15 of the second conveyor 8. This carriage 4 is reciprocable by a suitable motor 10 which includes a fluid-operated (preferably pneumatic) cylinder and piston unit 10a having a reciprocable piston 10b which is coupled to the carriage by a simple mechanical motion transmitting device including a bell crank lever 12 and a piston rod 11 attached to the piston 10b. The lever 12 is f ulcrumed at 12a and its longer arm carries a pin 12b which extends into an elongated slot 4a provided at the underside of the carriage. The latter is guided by horizontal rails or ways 9. The two end positions of the carriage 4 are respectively indicated by solid and by phantom lines (as at 4). FIG. 4 shows that the second portions 5b of the grooves on the carriage 4 are located at a level slightly above the median group of cigarettes in the cages of the second conveyor 8 so that the third group of cigarettes may be readily transferred into such cages 15 which are held in registry with the groups of groove portions 5b. In other words, the two lower groups of cigarettes in each cage 15 must descend from a higher level to a lower level, but the third or uppermost group of each stack or block 27 may be transferred into the registering cage 15 without any drop or with a minimal descent.

The means for transferring layers 100 of cigarettes 3 from the holders 6 into the grooves 5 and thereupon into the registering cages 15 comprises a first ejector in the form of a flat plunger 13 which is reciprocable in direction indicated by a double-headed arrow 13a and has a smooth front end face 14 which comes into abutment with the right-hand end faces of cigarettes which form a layer 100. A stationary stop bar 16 extends along the rear open sides of the cages 15 to prevent excessive shifting of cigarettes during transfer from the holders 6, over the carriage 4, and into the cages 15.

The operation of the motor 10 is synchronized with the operation of the suction head 1 and/ or plunger 13 in such a way that the carriage 4 is shifted to the phantom-line position 4 while the row of groups 102 travels through the groove portions 5b and into the registering cages 15.

The second conveyor 8 comprises an endless train of U-shaped cages 15 and is trained over two sprockets 17 and 18 shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. FIG. 5 illustrates that the cages 15 are secured to the links of an endless chain 8a and are equidistant from each other. Each of these cages has a fiat bottom wall 15a, an open front side which is adjacent to the carriage 4, an open rear side which is located opposite the front side and is adjacent to the stop bar 16, and an open top which may be temporarily closed by a cover 20. The covers 20 are carried by a further conveyor 19 which is trained around a pair of sprockets 21, 22 and whose stringers are guided by arcuate deflectors 23, 24. The covers 20 are arranged to close the open tops of such (filled) cages 15 which travel in an arcuate path along the right-hand end turn of the conveyor 8, namely, in an arcuate path defined by the sprocket 18, see FIG. 5. The conveyor 19 is not driven because it can be moved in stepwise fashion in response to intermittent movements of the conveyor 8. Motion is transmitted to the conveyor 19 by such covers 20 which are in temporary engagement with the corresponding cages 15. During travel around the right-hand end turn of the conveyor 8, the open tops of the cages 15 face outwardly, i.e., toward the concave side of the deflector 23. The arcuate inner run 19a of the conveyor 19 surrounds the end turn of the conveyor 8.

The apparatus of my invention further comprises another conveyor 25 (hereinafter called third conveyor) which includes an endless train of containers or boxes 26, each adapted to accommodate a fully assembled block or stack 27. Each box 26 has two open sides which are located opposite each other. The front open side of each box 26 may be moved into registry with the rear open side of a filled cage 15, and such registry will take place at a first transfer station I which accommodates a second ejector or ram 44 serving as a means for automatically transferring a stack 27 from a filled cage 15 into an empty box 26. The ram 44 is caused to enter through the open front side of a cage 15 and to shift the stack 27 through the open rear side of the cage, through the open front side of the registering box 26, and into the interior of such box. The endless trains of cages 15 and boxes 26 cross each other at the transfer station I.

In the illustrated embodiment of my apparatus, the orientation of cages 15 on the conveyor 8 is different from the distribution of boxes 26 on the conveyor 25. This is due to the fact that the two conveyors cross each other at the transfer station I. While the groups of cigarettes which are transferred into the cages 15 are parallel to the stringers of the conveyor 8, the groups of cigarettes in the blocks 27 contained in the boxes 26 are normal to the stringers of the conveyor 25. The dimensions of the spaces defined by the cages 15 are identical or nearly identical with the dimensions of spaces in the boxes 26. The drive for the conveyors 8 and 25 is constructed in such a way that a filled cage 15 which reaches the transfer station I remains in registry with the corresponding box 26 for a certain interval of time such as is required by the ram 44 to effect transfer of a stack 27.

The function of the third conveyor 25 is to deliver stacks 27 from the first transfer station I to a second transfer station II which accommodates one or more packing machines or other types of consuming or processing machines CM, see FIG. 7. During such travel, the stacks 27 are located in filled boxes 26 which travel with a stringer 25a of variable length. The stringer 25a serves as a magazine and may accommodate a greater or lesser number of filled boxes 26, depending on variations in the output of the producing machine PM and/or the consuming machine CM. The conveyor 25 comprises an endless link chain which carries -the boxes 26 and is trained around a series of fixed and movable rotary guide members or sprockets. The upper stringer 25a extends between two fixed sprockets 62, 49 and is additionally trained around three intermediate fixed sprockets 28 and around three movable sprockets 29 supported by a barlike horizontal holder 30. FIG. 7 shows that the stringer 25a travels in a meandering path and that the length of this stringer may vary in dependency on the momentary position of the holder 30 and movable sprockets 29. The sprocket 49 is rotated by a separate drive, which will be described in connection with FIGS. 8 and 9, always in dependency on the output of the consuming machine CM. The sprocket 62 is mounted on a horizontal shaft 61 and is rotated by the drive for the second conveyor 8 so that its rotation is a function of the output of the producing machine PM. The stringer 25a is maintained under tension by 'biasing means shown in FIG. 7 as including two helical springs 31 which are secured to the holder 30 and to the floor or to a fixed part of the machine frame. These springs 31 tend to maintain the holder 30 and the movable sprocket 29 in the lower end positions 30', 29. Means may be provided to prevent tilting of the holder 30 so that the V-shaped portions of the stringer 25a which surround the movable sprockets 29 are always of identical shape. However, the springs 31 normally sufiice to keep the 'holder 30 against tilting. FIG. 7 shows the holder 30 in a median position whereby the stringer 25a stores an average number of filled boxes 26. The capacity of the magazine composed of the stringer 25a is reduced to a minimum when the holder 30 assumes the upper end position 30". When the number of filled boxes 26 is reduced to a minimum (i.e., when the length of the stringer 25a is reduced to a minimum), the requirements of the consuming machine CM exceed the output of the producing machine PM, or the machine PM is idle. On the other hand, when the length of the stringer 25a increases, the number of filled boxes 26 also increases and this signifies that the consuming machine CM is idle or that it cannot process the entire output 'of the producing machine PM.

The common 'drive for the conveyor 8, for the sprocket 62 at the upstream end of the stringer 25a, and for the fourth conveyor 19 (by way of the conveyor 8) includes an electric motor 32 which is shown in FIGS. and 6, and a first transmission which is driven by the output shaft 32a of the motor 32. This transmission includes a large bevel gear 33 secured to the output shaft 32a of the motor 32, a smaller bevel gear 3 4 which meshes with the bevel gear 33, a worm 35 which is coaxially secured to the bevel gear 34, and a star-shaped worm wheel 36 coaxially secured to the sprocket 18 of the second conveyor 8. A second transmission receives motion from the shaft 40 of the worm wheel 36 and serves to drive the sprocket 62 at the upstream end of the stringer 25a. The second transmission comprises two sprockets 37, 38 which are respectively mounted on shafts 40, 61 and an endless chain 39 which is trained around the sprockets 37, 38.

The shaft of the worm 35 further serves to drive a motion transmitting device 43 (shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) which reciprocates the second ejector or ram 44. As mentioned before, the ram 44 is mounted at the transfer station I and its function is to transfer stacks or blocks 27 from filled cages 15 into empty boxes 26. The motion transmitting device 43 includes a first spur gear 41 which is fixed to the worm 35, a second spur gear 42 which meshes with the gear 41 and drives a disk 42a, and a linkage 420 which is coupled to the ram 44 and is connected to the disk 42a by an eccentric pin 42b. While it is possible to provide a separate drive for the ram 44, the motion transmitting device 43 has been found to be very practical because its operation can be readily synchronized with operation of the drive for the conveyor 8. Also, the drive including the worm 35 is closely adjacent to the transfer station I so that the device 43 must transfer motion through a relatively short distance.

The control means for operating the drive for the second conveyor 8 and for the sprocket 62 at the upstream end of the stringer 25a of the third conveyor 25 comprises two control units 45, 46 and 47, 48. The control unit 45, 46 is shown in FIG. 3 and serves to start the motor 32 at predetermined intervals depending on the position of the plunger 13. This first control unit comprises a starter switch 45 which is connected in the circuit of the motor 32 and is adjacent to the second conveyor 8, and a trip 46 which is attached to and moves with the plunger 13. When the plunger 13 completes a working or forward stroke, i.e., when a freshly formed row of groups 102, 102, etc. is transferred into the registering cages 15, the trip 46 closes the switch 45 to thereby temporarily complete the circuit of the motor 32. The plunger 13 is then free to perform a return stroke and to disengage the trip 46 from the starter switch 45 without causing a stoppage of the motor 32 because the circuit of the motor remains completed by the second control unit 47, 48 shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. This second control unit comprises a stationary control switch 47 whose movable contact 47a extends into the path of a rotary control element here shown as a cam 48 mounted on the output shaft 32a 6, the control cam 48 allows the switch 47 to open. However, when the circuit of the motor 32 is temporarily completed by the starter switch (which is connected in parallel with the switch 47), the angular position of the cam 48 changes and this cam then closes the switch 47 for a full revolution of the output shaft 32a and bevel gear 33. In other words, each closing of the starter switch 45 results in rotation of the output shaft 32a and bevel gear 33 through one complete revolution, whereupon the motor 32 comes to a halt because the switches 45, 47 are open. The ratio between the bevel gear 33 and bevel gear 34 is three-to-one so that the worm 35 completes three full revolutions in response to a single revolution of the output shaft 32a. Such three revolutions sufiice to advance the train of cages 15 by a distance corresponding to the combined width of three cages because the apparatus of 'FIGS. 3-9 is used for carrying out the method which was described in connection with FIG. 1.

As stated before, the sprocket 49 at the downstream end of the upper stringer 25a of the third conveyor 25 is rotated by a second drive which is shown in FIGS. 7, 8 and 9. This second drive rotates the sprocket 49 at a rate which depends on the output of the consuming machine CM. A driver gear 70 which forms part of the second drive meshes with a driven spur gear 69 mounted on a horizontal shaft 71. The spur gear 69 is rigidly connected to or integral with the sprocket 49. The gear 70 rotates at a rate which corresponds to the output of the machine CM; therefore, the rotational speed of the sprocket 49 also reflects the output of this machine. The sprocket 49 comprises a series of radial motion transmitting lugs 50 which are reciprocable in radial slots 51 and are provided with pins 72 for roller followers 52 which extend into an endless cam groove 53 provided inone end face of a stationary cam 54. The configuration of the cam groove 53 is such that the motion transmitting lugs 50 are either retracted into or expelled from the respective slots 51, depending on the angular position of the respective lugs 50. The cam 54 is preferably eccentric with reference to the sprocket 49. Such lugs 50 which extend radially outwardly and beyond the respective slots 51 engage the links of the third conveyor 25 and thereby advance the downstream end of the stringer 25;: so that the filled boxes 26 enter seriatim the second transfer station II to be relieved of their contents (stacks 27) by a third ejector 80 which forms part of the evacuating unit of the consuming machine CM.

The apparatus of my invention further comprises regulating means for automatically changing the output of the machine PM or CM in dependency on changes in the length of the stringer 25a of the third conveyor 25. Such regulating means includes the aforementioned holder 30, the springs 31, the movable guide members or sprockets 29 which are ro-tatably supported by the holder 30, an actuating member or trip 55 which is mounted on the holder 30, and four speed controlling switches 56, 57, 58, 59 which may be actuated by the trip 55. The switch 56 is connected in the circuit of the drive for the consuming machine CM and serves to reduce the speed of this machine when the length of the stringer 25a decreases, i.e., when the holder 30 leaves the median position of FIG.

. 7 and moves toward but short of the upper end position 30." The switch 58 will arrest the drive for the consuming machine CM when the holder 30 reaches the upper end position 30", i.e., when the length of the stringer 25a is reduced to a minimum which indicates that the producing machine PM is idle or operates at an abnormally low speed. The switch 57 can reduce the speed of the producing machine PM when the holder 30 moves toward the lower end position 30. Finally, the switch 59 will arrest the drive for the producing machine PM or the motor 32 when the holder 30 reaches the lower end position 30 which indicates that the consuming machine CM is idle or operates at an abnormally low speed. When the holder 30 assumes the median position which is shown in FIG. 7 by solid lines, the two machines CM, PM operate at normal maximum speed so that the requirements of the machine CM are met or substantially met by the output of the producing machine PM, i.e., the length of the stringer 25a then remains substantially unchanged. All of the four speed controlling switches 56-59 are open when the trip 55 is located in a zone somewhere between the two median switches 56, 57. The operative connection between each of the switches 56-59 and the respective machine preferably comprises a suitable time lag relay, not shown.

The second or lower stringer 25b of the third conveyor 25 comprises a loop 60 which is located immediately downstream of the stringer 25a (namely, immediately downstream of the second transfer station II which accommodates the ejector 80). The purpose of the loop 60 is to accommodate a surplus of empty boxes 26 when the rate at which filled boxes are evacuated at the stat-ion II exceeds the rate at which empty boxes are filled at the station I. The size of the loop 60 will decrease when the consuming machine CM is idle while the producing machine PM continues to turn out cigarettes, i.e., while the plunger 13 continues to transfer rows of groups 102 into the cages 15 of the second conveyor 8 and the ejector or ram 44 continues to transfer stacks 27 into the boxes 26.

The remainder of the second stringer 25b should remain taut to make sure that it can supply empty boxes 26 to the transfer station I at the top of the sprocket 62. This is achieved by training the stringer 25b about two fixed guide members or sprockets 63, 64 and around a tensioning device 67 which is located upstream of the sprocket 64 and immediately downstream of the loop 60. The tensioning device 67 includes a sprocket 65 which insures that the stringer 25b is properly trained around the sprockets 63, 64 regardless of the size of the loop 60. The shaft 66 of the sprocket 65 is engaged by two brake shoes 67a, 67b which are connected to a linkage 67c and are biased by a spring 68. The bias of the spring 68 is selected in such a way that it allows the stringer 25b to advance in response to rotation of the sprocket 62 (transmission 37-39) but the brake shoes 67a, 67b invariably prevent uncontrolled shifting of the stringer 25b, for example in response to changes in the weight of empty boxes 26.

The operation of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 3 to 9 is as follows:

The cigarettes 3 which are turned out by the producing machine PM are delivered onto the upper stringer of the conveyor belt 2 and advance sideways to form a series 99 of loose rod shaped articles. The suction head 1 accumulates the cigarettes seriatim into layers 100 each of which contains sixty cigarettes, and such cigarettes are then closely adjacent to and equidistant from each other because they are held by suction in the holders or pockets 6 at the underside of the suction head 1. In the next step, i.e., when it has accumulated a full layer 100, the suction head 1 is moved from a lower end position (close to the path of cigarettes 3 on the belt 2) to an upper end position in which the freshly assembled layer 100 is located in a predetermined horizontal plane, namely, in the plane of the plunger 13 and grooves on the carriage 4. When in such upper end position, the suction head 1 produces a signal which causes the motor to move the first portions 5a of the grooves 5 below the layer 100 in the holders 6 so that each first portion 5a registers with one of the holders. Such movement of the carriage 4 (or the movement of the suction head 1 to its upper end position) produces a signal which causes the plunger 13 to perform a working stroke (in a direction to the left, as viewed in FIG. 3 or 4) and the end face 14 is caused to strip the layer 100 off the underside of the suction head 1 whereby the cigarettes which form the layer 100 slide in the grooves 5 and are automatically subdivided into nine groups 102 including three median groups of six cigarettes each and six groups of seven cigarettes each. The suction head 1 then sends to the motor 10 a delay impulse which reverses the movement of the piston 10b so that the carriage 4 is caused to advance to the phantom-line position 4 of FIG. 3 and places the discharge ends of groove portions 5b in close proximity to the registering cages 15 of the second conveyor 8. During shifting of the carriage 4 to the end position 4', the carriage and the plunger 13 may travel at the same speed while the cigarettes rest in the groove portions 5b. The carriage 4 then remains for a while in the end position 4 but the plunger 13 continues to move toward the conveyor 8 so that its end face 14 transfers the row of groups 102 into the cages 15 whereby such groups come to rest on the bottom walls 15a of the respective cages. The forward end faces of the cigarettes come into abutment with the stop bar 16 when the plunger 13 reaches the end of its working stroke. The trip 46 then closes the starter switch 45 so that the circuit of the motor 32 is completed and the output shaft 32a completes a full revolution to rotate the bevel gear 34 and the worm 35 through three complete revolutions. Such three complete revolutions of the worm 35 suffice to advance the conveyor 8 by a distance corresponding to the combined width of three cages 15. The transmission 37-39 drives the third conveyor 25 through a distance corresponding to the combined width of three boxes 26. The cages 15 and boxes 26 move intermittently so that a rotation of the bevel gear 33 through a full revolution corresponds to three intermittent advances of the cages 15 and boxes 26. This will be readily understood by looking at the configuration of the helix on the worm 35. This helix comprises inclined portions which alternate with straight portions located in a plane which is normal to the worm axis so that, when the teeth of the wheel 36 are engaged by such straight portions of the helix, the conveyors 8 and 25 remain idle. The intervals during which the conveyors 8 and 25 remain idle (while the bevel gear 33 rotates) suffice to allow for transfer of stacks 27 from a filled cage 15 which is held at the transfer station I into the registering box 26 of the conveyor 25. The ram 44 is reciprocated in synchron-ism with operation of the drive for the conveyor 8 and automatically performs a working stroke when the conveyors 8 and 25 come to a standstill (while the output shaft 32a continues to rotate).

It will be seen that each movement of the suction head 1 to and from its lower end position corresponds to move men-t of the carriage 4 "to and from the solid-line position of FIG. 3, to a three-stage movement of conveyors 8, 25, and to three working strokes of the ram 44.

When the apparatus is started, all of the cages 15 and boxes 26 are empty. Thus, when the plunger 13 is caused to perform a first working stroke to break up a first layer .100 into a row of nine groups 102, such nine groups enter separate cages 15 and come to 'rest on the bottom walls 15a. The drive which includes the motor 32 then advances the conveyor 8 and the sprocket 62 of the conveyor 25 by a distance corresponding to the combined width of three cages 15 so that, when the plunger 13 transfers the next row of groups (102', see FIG. 1), the three foremost partially filled cages 15 will be moved out of registry with the grooves 5 onthe carriage 4 but the remaining six partially filled cages will receive groups 102' which come to rest on top of the corresponding groups 102 whereby the superimposed groups 102' are automatically staggered sideways by a distance corresponding substantially to the radius of a cigarette 3. This will be readily understood because the cigarettes are round and, therefore, the superimposed groups 102 of cigarettes 3 will automatically roll and come to rest in the recesses or grooves "between the upper halves of cigarettes which form the lower groups 102. The groups 102' must descend a smaller distance than the groups 102, and the next-following groups 102" descend a still smaller distance. Five cigarettes of each superimposed group 102" come to rest in the grooves between the upper halves of cigarettes which form the groups 102', i.e., each cigarette of the uppermost group 102 in a complete stack 27 is accurately aligned with a cigarette of the lowermost group 13 102 inthe same stack. The first three stacks 27 will be formed when the conveyor 8 is moved for a second time, namely, in response to second rotation of the output shaft 32a, and subsequent to transfer of the third row of groups 102".

The first six cages 15 remain partially tilled (see FIG. 1, step F) and, therefore, their contents must be discarded prior to entry into the consuming machine CM. Alternatively, the first six cigarette packs which are turned out by the machine CM will be discarded if the first six cages '15 are not evacuated prior to transfer of their contents into the boxes 26. However, each cage 15 from the sixth cage on will receive a full stack 27 and will deliver such stack to the first station I for transfer into the registering box 26 and for delivery to the second station II where the ejector 80 transfers the stacks 27 into soft or hard packs. It will be seen that the first three cages 15 will contain a group 102 and a group 102' each, and that each following cage 15 will contain a complete stack including a group 102, a group 102' and a group 102".

The ejector 80 removes the stacks 27 from consecutive boxes 26 at a rate depending on the output of the consuming machine, i.e., independently of the rate at which the stacks 27 are transferred at the station -I and independently of the output of the producing machine PM. However, the output of the consuming machine CM is normally adjusted in such a way that it corresponds to the output of the producing machine PM so that the upper stringer a of the third conveyor 25 normally assumes the position which is shown in FIG. 7 whereby the holder 30 maintains the trip 55 in a zone between the speed controlling switches 56, 57. In other words, the stringer 25a normally constitutes a magazine which contains an average surplus or reserve of filled boxes 26.

If the output of one of the machines PM, CM changes for whatever reason, for example, if the machine CM or PM is brought to a standstill, the length of the stringer 25a will reflect such change in output and the trip 55 will actuate the switches 56-59 in a predetermined sequence. Such changes in the length of the stringer 25a will develop if the rate at which the sprocket 62 is driven by the motor 32 is different from the rate at which the sprocket 49 is driven by the gear 70. When the consuming machine CM is idle but the machine PM continues to turn out cigarettes 3, the sprocket 62 continues to deliver empty boxes 26 from the lower stringer 25b to the first transfer station I whereby the length of the loop 60 decreases but the length of the stringer 25a increases, i.e., the holder 30 moves toward the lower end position 30'. When the trip 55 engages the switch 57, the latter reduces the speed of the producing machine so that this machine turns out a lesser number'of cigarettes 3, but the motor 32 continues to drive the sprocket 62 at intervals which depend on the reduced output of the machine PM. The length of the stringer 25a continues to increase and, when the holder 30 reaches the lower end position 30', its trip 55 engages the switch 59 to thereby arrest the drive for the machine PM so that the length of the stringer 25a then remains unchanged until the operator decides to start the consuming machine CM.

On the other hand, if the producing machine PM is idle or operates at less than full speed but the consuming machine CM continues to operate full speed or at a speed at which the machine CM consumes more than the momentary output of the machine PM, the length of the stringer 2511 will decrease simultaneously with an increase in the length of the loop 60. While moving toward its upper end position 30", the holder 30 causes the trip 55 to actuate the switch 56 which reduces the speed of the consuming machine CM. If the latter machine still consumes more than the output of the machine PM, the length of the stringer 25a decreases again and the trip 55 ultimately actuates the switch 58 which arrests the drive for the machine CM. The length of the stringer 25a then remains unchanged until the operator decides to start the machine PM which turns out cigarettes and brings about renewed rfilling of boxes 26.

An important advantage of the stringer 25a is that it allows for independent operation of the machine CM while the machine PM is idle or vice versa. Also, this stringer 25a can build up a sufficient supply of spare stacks 27 to allow for operation of one machine at less than full capacity While the other machine continues to operate at normal speed.

The switches 56, 57 serve to increase the length of the interval during which the machine CM can operate while the machine PM is idle or vice versa. This will be readly understood from the preceding description since the output of the machine CM or PM is first reduced before the corresponding machine is brought to a complete halt. The arrangement may be such that the consuming machine CM may be caused to operate at a higher speed when the trip 55 engages the switch 57, i.e., when the output of the producing machine OM is reduced, and that the switch 56 may cause the machine PM to operate at a higher speed at the time when the output of the machine CM is reduced. The switches 58, 59 will be actuated only when the supply of surplus stacks 27 on the stringer 25a is reduced or increased beyond desirable limits.

The apparatus of FIGS. 3-9 may be readily converted to produce groups in aa-bb-aa or a-b-a formation. The suction head 1 is then replaced with a suction head having =forty or twenty holders 6 and the drive for the conveyors 8, 25 is adjusted so that these conveyors respectively advance by distances corresponding to the width of two cages 15 and boxes 26. Of course, the same holds true if the apparatus is to be converted to assemble rows of groups in aaaa-bbbb-aaaa or aaaaa-bbbbb-aaaaa etc. formation. Also, the apparatus of FIGS. 3-9 may be used for assembling rows of groups wherein each group contains seven cigarettes. Each stack will then contain twentyone cigarettes.

The apparatus for carrying out the method of FIG. 2 is analogous to the apparatus of FIGS. 3-9. If the method of FIG. 2 is used for assembling stacks of twenty cigarettes each, each of the groups 106 will contain ten cigarettes.

The conveyor 25 replaces the customary trays which are used in conventional production lines for conveying cigarettes from cigarette machines to packing machines. The cigarettes are stacked only once, namely, during transfer into the cages 15 so that the likelihood of losing tobacco particles at the ends is very remote. The conveyor 25 also insures that the packing machine receives stacks 27 in the same sequence in which the stacks are being assembled.

The cells 15 of the conveyor 8 may be replaced with cells having closed tops. The fourth conveyor 19 is then dispensed with. It is further obvious that the conveyor 19 may be provided with a separate drive.

If the transfer station I is adjacent to the upper stringer of the conveyor 8, the position of the boxes 26 with reference to the chain of the conveyor 25 may be the same as the position of cages 15 with reference to the chain 8a of the conveyor 8. In such apparatus, the distribution of cages 15 equals the distribution of boxes 26.

The provision of switches 5659 is of considerable importance because the output of a cigarette machine and the output of a packing machine often varies for a number of reasons. In the absence of the magazine 25a and switches 5659, the packing machine would have to be shut down simultaneously with the cigarette machine or vice versa. The rate at which the suction head 1 assembles layers of cigarettes 3 reflects the momentary output of the machine or machines PM because the head 1 assembles such layers at the speed at which the cigarettes are discharged onto and advance with the conveyor belt 2.

As mentioned hereinbefore, the method and apparatus of my invention may be used with equal advantage for stacking of cigars, cigarillos, cheroots or other types of rod shaped articles.

Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features which fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic and specific aspects of my contribution to the art and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the following claims.

What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is:

1. An apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising first conveyor means for advancing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a series of layers each of which contains the same number of articles; subdividing means for breaking up successive layers into rows of groups so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer, said subdividing means comprising a carriage provided with groups of grooves, said grooves having first portions each of which registers with one article of a layer on said collector means and second portions, the last groove of each group of grooves and the first groove of the adjacent group of grooves diverging in the second portions of said groups of grooves; intermittently operated second conveyor means comprising a train of receptacles, a portion of said second conveyor means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said second conveyor means; ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said second conveyor means, said ejector means being reciprocable in the plane of a layer of articles on said collector means to transfer a layer first into the first portions of said groups of grooves, thereupon into the second portions of said groups of grooves whereby the layer is broken up into a row of groups, and finally into registering receptacles so that each group of a row enters a separate receptacle; and drive means for moving said second conveyor means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of rod shaped articles.

2. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein each of said receptacles comprises a bottom wall and wherein the bottom walls of receptacles which register with said groups of grooves are located at a level sufficiently below such grooves to permit for unimpeded transfer of at least one group of articles into each receptacle whose bottom wall already supports a group of articles.

3. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, further comprising motor means for reciprocating said carriage between a first position nearer to said second conveyor means and a second position nearer to said collector means at such intervals that the carriage assumes said second position during transfer of a layer into the first portions of said grooves and that the carriage assumes said first position during transfer of groups of articles into the respective receptacles.

4. An apparatus as set forth in claim 3, wherein said motor means comp-rises a fluid operated cylinder and piston unit and mechanical motion transmitting means coupling the piston of said unit with said carriage.

5. An apparatus as set forth in claim 4, wherein said motor means is operated in synchronism with said ejector means.

6. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said ejector means comprises a plunger having an end face which engages the ends of a layer of articles on said collector means during transfer onto said carriage and into said receptacles.

7. An apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein said plane is a substantially horizontal plane and said collector means comprises a suction head located at a level above said path and having an underside provided with holder means each of which receives one article of a layer, said plunger being arranged to strip a layer of articles off said suction head and to move the thus stripped articles lengthwise into and along the first portions of said grooves.

8. An apparatus as set forth in claim 7, wherein said path is a substantially horizontal path in which the articles are conveyed sideways and wherein said suction head is movable between a lower end position in which it removes articles sideways from said path and retains such articles in said holder means and an upperend position in which the thus lifted layer of articles is maintained in said plane, said plunger being operated in synchronism with said suction head so that it performs a working stroke and removes the layer of articles from said holder means in the upper end'position of said suction head.

9. Apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising conveyor means for advancing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a series of layers each of which contains the same number of articles; subdividing means for breaking up successive layers into rows of groups so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer; intermittently operated receiving means comp-rising an endless train of receptacles, a portion of said receiving means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said receiving means; ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said receiving means; drive means for moving said receiving means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of rod shaped articles; second conveyor means including a train of containers; and second ejector means for transferring stacks of articles from said receptacles into said containers.

10. An apparatus as set forth in claim 9, wherein the orientation of containers of said second conveyor means is different from the orientation of receptacles of said receiving means.

11. An apparatus as set forth in claim 9, wherein the dimensions of the space within each receptacle at least approximate the dimensions of the space within a container.

12. An apparatus as set forth in claim 9, wherein said second ejector means comprises a reciprocable ram which is movable into a filled receptacle to thereby transfer a stack of articles into the registering container.

13. An apparatus as set forth in claim 12, further comprising motion transmitting means operatively connected with said drive means for moving said ram into filled receptacles during intervals between intermittent movements of said receiving means.

14. An apparatus as set forth in claim 9, wherein said second conveyor means comp-rises an endless train of containers and wherein said receiving means and said second conveyor means cross each other at a transfer station which accommodates said second ejector means, each container and each receptacle having a pair of open sides located opposite each other and one open side of at least one container at said transfer station being in registry with one open side of a receptacle and with said second ejector means.

15. An apparatus as set forth in claim 14, wherein said drive means includes transmission means for moving a 17 portion of said second conveyor means in synchronism with said receiving means so that at least one filled receptacle registers with an empty container at said transfer station during each interval between intermittent movements of said receiving means.

16. An apparatus as set forth in claim 15, wherein said drive means further comprises a motor and second transmission means driven by said motor and drivingly connected with said receiving means and with said first named transmission means.

17. An apparatus as set forth in claim 15, further comprising control means for said drive means including a first control unit for starting said drive means and a second control unit for arresting said drive means.

18. An apparatus as set forth in claim 17, wherein said first control unit comprises a starter element operative to send starting impulses to said drive means and a trip movable with said first named ejector means and arranged to operate said starter element on completion of the transfer of a row of groups into the receptacles of said receiving means.

19. An apparatus as set forth in claim 17, wherein said second control unit comprises a stationary control element operative to arrest said drive means and a rotary control element driven by said drive means and arranged to operate said stationary control element in a predetermined angular position thereof.

20. An apparatus as set forth in claim 9, wherein said receptacles are of U-shaped cross section and each thereof having two open sides and an open top, one of said open 7 sides being adjacent to said subdividing means when the respective receptacle registers with a group of said grooves.

21. An apparatus as set forth in claim 20, wherein each of said containers has two open sides located opposite each other, one open side of an empty container being in registry with one open side of a filled receptacle during transfer of a stack from a receptacle into the respective container.

22. An apparatus as set forth in claim 9, further comprising third ejector means for evacuating the stacks from said containers.

23. An apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising first conveyor means for advancing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a series of layers each of which contains the same number of articles; subdividing means for breaking up successive layers into rows of groups so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer; intermittently operated second conveyor means comprising an endless train of receptacles, a portion of said second conveyor means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said second conveyor means; first ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said second conveyor means; drive means for moving said second conveyor means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of rod shaped articles; third conveyor means including an endless train of containers; second ejector means for transferring stacks of articles from said receptacles into said containers; and third ejector means for evacuating the stacks from said containers, said third conveyor means comprising a stringer of variable length extending between said second and third ejector means and being arranged to change its length in response to variations in the rate at which the stacks are transferred into and evacuated from said containers.

24. An apparatus as set forth in claim 23, further comprising a variable-output producing machine for supplying articles to said first conveyor means, a variable-output consuming machine for receiving stacks of articles from said containers at the downstream end of said stringer, and regulating means for changing the output of said machines in response to variations in the length of said stringer.

25. An apparatus as set forth in claim 24, wherein said regulating means comprises a holder, guide means supported by said holder and engaging said stringer, resilient means connected with said holder for tensioning said stringer, the length of said stringer decreasing and increasing in response to changes in the output of one of said machines with reference to the output of the other machine, a plurality of speed controlling members for each of said machines, and actuating means provided onsaid holder for operating said speed controlling members' in dependency on the length of said stringer so that the output of said producing machine is reduced in response to lengthening of said stringer and that the output of'said consuming machine is reduced in response to shortening of said stringer.

26. An apparatus as set forth in claim 23, wherein said third conveyor means comprises a second stringer located downstream of said first named stringer for advancing empty containers back to said second ejector means, and further comprising tensioning means for tensioning a portion of said second stringer upstream of said second ejector means.

27. An apparatus as set forth in claim 26, wherein said tensioning means comprises a brake.

28. An apparatus as set forth in claim 23, wherein said third conveyor means comprises fixed guide means and second guide means movable toward and away from said fixed guide means, said stringer being trained around said guide means.

29. An apparatus as set forth in claim 28, further comprising actuating means connected for movement with said movable guide means, at least one producing machine for supplying articles to said first conveyor means, at least one consuming machine for receiving stacks from said containers, and means for regulating the output of said machines, said regulating means comprising speed controlling members extending into the pathway of said actuating means to vary the output of the respective machines in dependency on the position of said second guide means with reference to said fixed guide means.

30. An apparatus as set forth in claim 28, wherein said third conveyor means comprises a second stringer and fixed guide means for said second stringer, said second stringer having a loop adjacent to the downstream end of said first named stringer and said third ejector means being adjacent to the upstream end of said loop.

31. An apparatus as set forth in claim 28, further comprising means for biasing said second guide means in a direction away from said fixed guide means.

32. An apparatus as set forth in claim 31, wherein each of said guide means comprises at least one sprocket and further comprising a holder supportingly connected with said second guide means, said biasing means comprising at least one spring connected with said holder.

33. An apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising first conveyor means for advancing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a series of layers each of which contains the same number of articles, said collector means comprising a suction head having means for lifting consecutive articles from said path and for maintaining layers of the thus lifted articles in said plane; subdividing means for breaking up successive layers into rows of groups so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer; intermittently operated second conveyor means comprising a train of receptacles, a portion of said second conveyor means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said second conveyor means; ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said second conveyor means; and drive means for moving said second conveyor means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of rod shaped articles.

34. An apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising first conveyor means for advancing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a series of layers each of which contains the same number of articles; subdividing means for breaking up successive layers into rows of groups so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer; intermittently operated second conveyor means comprising an endless train of receptacles, a portion of said second conveyor means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said second conveyor means; first ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said second conveyor means; first drive means for moving said second conveyor means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of rod shaped articles; third conveyor means including an endless train of containers; second ejector means for transferring stacks of articles from said receptacles into said containers, said second and third conveyor means crossing each other at a transfer station which accommodates said second ejector means, each container and each receptacle having a pair of open sides located opposite each other and one open side of at least one container at said transfer station being in registry with one open side of a receptacle and with said second ejector means, said drive means including transmission means for moving a first portion of said third conveyor means in synchronism with said second conveyor means so that at least one filled receptacle registers with an empty container at said transfer station during each interval between intermittent movements of said second conveyor means; and second drive means for driving a second portion of said third conveyor means independently of said transmission means.

35. An apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising first conveyor means for advanoing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a series of layers each of which contains the same number of articles; subdividing means for breaking up successive layers into rows of groups so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer; intermittently operated second conveyor means comprising an endless train of receptacles, a portion of said second conveyor means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said second conveyor means, said receptacles being of U-shaped cross section and each thereof having two open sides and an open top, one of said open sides being adjacent to said subdividing means when the respective receptacle registers with a group of grooves in said subdividing means and said second conveyor means further comprising an end turn where the receptacles travel in an arcuate path with said open tops facing outwardly; first ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said second conveyor means; drive means for moving said second conveyor means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of rod shaped articles; third conveyor means including a train of containers; second ejector means for transferring stacks of articles from said receptacles into said containers; and fourth conveyor means including an endless train of covers for the open tops of said receptacles, said fourth conveyor means having an arcuate run extending along said end turn of said second conveyor means and said covers being arranged to close the open tops of receptacles in said arcuate path. 1

36. Apparatus for stacking cigarettes or similar rodshaped articles, comprising conveyor means for advancing articles along a predetermined path; collector means for moving the thus conveyed articles from said path into a given plane and for assembling the articles into a layer which consists of a predetermined number of equidistant articles; subdividing means for breaking up said layer into a row of groups, while maintaining the articles in each of such groups in substantially unchanged positions relative to each other, so that the total number of articles in each row of groups equals the number of articles in the respective layer; the spacing between each adjacent two of said groups being greater than said equidistant spacing between each two adjacent articles in each of said groups, intermittently operated receiving means comprising a plurality of receptacles, a portion of said receiving means being adjacent to said subdividing means so that each group of a row on said subdividing means registers with a receptacle during each interval between successive movements of said receiving means; ejector means for transferring said rows of groups seriatim into the registering receptacles of said receiving means; and drive means for moving said receiving means at such intervals and by such distances that each receptacle receives a group from at least two successive rows whereby such groups form stacks of group rod-shaped articles.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,939,512 12/1933 Molins 5349 X 3,190,459 6/1965 Kochalski 53-236 X 1,870,533 8/1932 Scott et al 53-252 2,048,281 7/1936 Muller 5315O 2,853,177 9/1958 Engleson et al. 19835 GERALD M. FORLENZA, Primary Examiner.

R. I. SPAR, Assistant Examiner.

US. Cl. X.R.

US3448846A 1964-10-23 1965-10-22 Apparatus for assembling batches of rod-shaped articles Expired - Lifetime US3448846A (en)

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GB4322764A GB1075827A (en) 1964-10-23 1964-10-23 Method and apparatus for forming cigarette blocks

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Cited By (17)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3583130A (en) * 1969-05-27 1971-06-08 Amf Inc Cigarette packers
US3675792A (en) * 1970-12-11 1972-07-11 Nat Biscuit Co Cracker stacking and segregating apparatus
US3738514A (en) * 1971-06-16 1973-06-12 R Jones Method for handling and stacking articles
US3904043A (en) * 1971-06-16 1975-09-09 Robert E Jones Apparatus for handling and stacking bricks
US3910012A (en) * 1973-01-11 1975-10-07 Alfred Schmermund Device for wrapping block-like articles
US3923173A (en) * 1965-06-23 1975-12-02 Hauni Werke Koerber & Co Kg Apparatus for transporting receptacles
US4099637A (en) * 1971-08-02 1978-07-11 Molins Limited Receptacle emptying device for elongated cylindrical elements
US4217979A (en) * 1977-08-20 1980-08-19 Maschinenfabrik Alfred Schmermund Gmbh & Co. Production of blocks of rod-shaped articles
US4229137A (en) * 1971-08-02 1980-10-21 Molins, Limited Process of conveying cigarettes or other rod-like articles
US4306648A (en) * 1979-05-18 1981-12-22 Cir S.P.A. Divisione Sasib Apparatus for the formation of cigarette groups
US4367618A (en) * 1974-02-16 1983-01-11 Heinz Focke Variable capacity buffer storage conveyor for cigarette packaging apparatus
US4565284A (en) * 1982-04-13 1986-01-21 G.D. Societa Per Azioni Apparatus for transferring individual or batch formed products from a first to a second machine
US4735032A (en) * 1985-08-02 1988-04-05 Focke & Co. (Gmbh & Co.) Apparatus for conveying cigarette groups
US4750607A (en) * 1985-08-02 1988-06-14 Focke & Co. (Gmbh & Co.) Apparatus for conveying cigarette groups
US5718102A (en) * 1995-09-25 1998-02-17 G.D Societa' Per Azioni Method and device for forming and transferring groups of cigarettes on a packing machine with multiple wrapping lines
US6006492A (en) * 1997-06-20 1999-12-28 G.D. Societa'per Azioni Machine for packing groups of cigarettes
WO2007107284A3 (en) * 2006-03-20 2007-12-21 Hans-J Bretthauer Apparatus and method for conveying cigarette groups or other objects

Families Citing this family (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
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GB2245537B (en) * 1990-07-04 1994-04-06 Gd Spa A device for the formation and transfer of groups of commodities

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US1870533A (en) * 1931-07-24 1932-08-09 Liggett & Myers Tobacco Compan Method of and machine for packaging cigarettes
US1939512A (en) * 1931-04-23 1933-12-12 Molins Walter Everett Cigarette packing machine
US2048281A (en) * 1930-08-18 1936-07-21 Muller Carl Wilhelm Apparatus for arranging and stacking a plurality of rows of cigarettes in superposed layers
US2853177A (en) * 1956-06-19 1958-09-23 Redington Co F B Conveyer loading mechanism
US3190459A (en) * 1961-03-23 1965-06-22 Hauni Werke Koerber & Co Kg Method of and apparatus for handling cigarettes and like elongated articles

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US2048281A (en) * 1930-08-18 1936-07-21 Muller Carl Wilhelm Apparatus for arranging and stacking a plurality of rows of cigarettes in superposed layers
US1939512A (en) * 1931-04-23 1933-12-12 Molins Walter Everett Cigarette packing machine
US1870533A (en) * 1931-07-24 1932-08-09 Liggett & Myers Tobacco Compan Method of and machine for packaging cigarettes
US2853177A (en) * 1956-06-19 1958-09-23 Redington Co F B Conveyer loading mechanism
US3190459A (en) * 1961-03-23 1965-06-22 Hauni Werke Koerber & Co Kg Method of and apparatus for handling cigarettes and like elongated articles

Cited By (19)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3923173A (en) * 1965-06-23 1975-12-02 Hauni Werke Koerber & Co Kg Apparatus for transporting receptacles
US3583130A (en) * 1969-05-27 1971-06-08 Amf Inc Cigarette packers
US3675792A (en) * 1970-12-11 1972-07-11 Nat Biscuit Co Cracker stacking and segregating apparatus
US3738514A (en) * 1971-06-16 1973-06-12 R Jones Method for handling and stacking articles
US3904043A (en) * 1971-06-16 1975-09-09 Robert E Jones Apparatus for handling and stacking bricks
US4099637A (en) * 1971-08-02 1978-07-11 Molins Limited Receptacle emptying device for elongated cylindrical elements
US4229137A (en) * 1971-08-02 1980-10-21 Molins, Limited Process of conveying cigarettes or other rod-like articles
US3910012A (en) * 1973-01-11 1975-10-07 Alfred Schmermund Device for wrapping block-like articles
US4367618A (en) * 1974-02-16 1983-01-11 Heinz Focke Variable capacity buffer storage conveyor for cigarette packaging apparatus
US4217979A (en) * 1977-08-20 1980-08-19 Maschinenfabrik Alfred Schmermund Gmbh & Co. Production of blocks of rod-shaped articles
US4306648A (en) * 1979-05-18 1981-12-22 Cir S.P.A. Divisione Sasib Apparatus for the formation of cigarette groups
US4565284A (en) * 1982-04-13 1986-01-21 G.D. Societa Per Azioni Apparatus for transferring individual or batch formed products from a first to a second machine
US4735032A (en) * 1985-08-02 1988-04-05 Focke & Co. (Gmbh & Co.) Apparatus for conveying cigarette groups
US4750607A (en) * 1985-08-02 1988-06-14 Focke & Co. (Gmbh & Co.) Apparatus for conveying cigarette groups
US5718102A (en) * 1995-09-25 1998-02-17 G.D Societa' Per Azioni Method and device for forming and transferring groups of cigarettes on a packing machine with multiple wrapping lines
US6006492A (en) * 1997-06-20 1999-12-28 G.D. Societa'per Azioni Machine for packing groups of cigarettes
CN1111490C (en) * 1997-06-20 2003-06-18 吉第联合股份公司 Machine for packing groups of cigarettes
WO2007107284A3 (en) * 2006-03-20 2007-12-21 Hans-J Bretthauer Apparatus and method for conveying cigarette groups or other objects
EP2123563A1 (en) * 2006-03-20 2009-11-25 Focke & Co. (GmbH & Co. KG) Method and device for transporting cigarette groups or other objects

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