States Patent JHiKQ Polit et al.
[451 Dec. 12,1972
 ARTICLE HANDLING APPARATUS 2,109,208 2/1938 Crighton ..271/44 1,693,928 12/1928 Labombarde ..271/DIG. 7 2,177,460 10/1939 Renz ..271/76 2,853,296 9/1958 Skow ..271/5 Primary Examiner-Joseph Wegbreit Attorney-James J. Ralabate, Donald F. Daley and Frederick E. McMullen  ABSTRACT An automatic loading apparatus especially designed to handle folded articles such as newspapers, the apparatus including a supply conveyor for bringing newspapers forward to a feeder-hopper, the hopper being below and extending beyond the discharge of the supply conveyor; means to place the articles in shingled relationship before the articles reach the supply conveyor discharge; a pressure roller disposed to rest on the supply conveyor adjacent the discharge thereof to assure sustained driving contact of the articles trailing end with the supply conveyor as the articles pass from the supply conveyor to the feederhopper; and means to drive the pressure roller in unison with and at substantially the same speed as the supply conveyor.
3 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures PATENTED 12 3,705,719
SHEET 1 0F 3 FIG. .1
INVENTORS NEIL A. POLIT ALBERT G. ENSKAT BY Wwvw A TTORNEY PATENTEDHEE 12 1972 Ads SHEET 2 OF 3 FIG. 2
PATENTED DEC 1 2 I972 SHEET 3 [IF 3 1 ARTICLE HANDLING APPARATUS This invention relates to an article handling apparatus, and more particularly, to a handling apparatus for relatively bulky or folded articles such as newspapers.
In high speed mailing or labeling systems for processing folded articles such as newspapers, the folded nature of the articles renders handling thereof difficult. As can be readily envisioned, the folded portion of the article is normally somewhat thicker and more rigid than the unfolded portion thereof, and as such may interfere with subsequent feeding-of the article through the inability of the feeder to effectively engage the article. For example, where a vacuum type feeder is used, the curved or folded portion of the article may interfere with displacement of the article into physical contact with the feeder and thereby prevent the feeder from effectively gripping the article. This may result in a total failure of the article to feed or a delayed or out of phase feeding of the article.
During handling, the normally loose trailing edges of articles such as newspapers tend to lose driving contact with the conveyor as the articles pass over the conveyor discharge end and into the feeder-hopper. This loss in driving contact between the article and the conveyor may so reduce the impetus imparted to the article by the conveyor as to prevent the article from fully entering the supply hopper. This problem is even more prevalent in arrangements where the article itself is relied upon to lift or raise a supply control finger, which for effective operation, is normally biased downwardly against the articles. In this latter arrangement, the impetus of the entering article must be sufficient to overcome both the finger bias as well as the friction force between the finger and the article.
It is a principal object of the present invention to provide a new and improved article handling apparatus.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved high speed apparatus for reliably handling folded articles such as newspapers.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a high speed loading apparatus for folded material incorporating means to sustain driving engagement between the relatively loose sheets of the material and the supply conveyor to assure proper loading of the material.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a newspaper handling mechanism with a driven roller at the output of the supply conveyor to stack the newspapers in a feeder hopper against the bias of the stack height sensor.
It is an object of the present invention to provide means to break folded articles along the fold to assure reliable feeding thereof.
This invention relates to an apparatus for supplying folded articles such as newspapers and the like to a feeder hopper, the combination comprising, an article supply conveyor, the conveyor being arranged so that the articles are discharged outwardly and downwardly by the conveyor into the feeder hopper; means for placing the articles in shingled relationship before the articles are discharged by the conveyor to facilitate proper stacking of the articles in the feeder hopper; and means adapted to restrain lifting of the articles as the articles leave the conveyor whereby to assure sustained driving engagement of the articles with the conveyor, and assured feed of the articles into the feeder hopper and subsequent feeding therefrom, the restraining means including a pressure roller adapted to rest on the conveyor adjacent the conveyor discharge and under which articles pass, the roller being adapted to hold the articles in driving engagement with the conveyor and to crease the articles longitudinally to facilitate subsequent refeeding of the articles from the feeder hopper; and drive means for rotating the pressure roller.
Other objects and advantages will be apparent from the ensuing description and drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view partially in section showing the article handling apparatus of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the article handling apparatus of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view of the apparatus pressure roller; and
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view showing the driving arrangement for the pressure roller of FIG. 3.
Referring to the drawings, there is shown the improved article handling or supply apparatus, designated by the numeral 10 of the present invention. As will appear, the article handling apparatus 10 functions to supply loose, folded articles 12 such as newspapers to a feeder hopper 14. In the exemplary arrangement shown, the base portion of hopper 14 comprises a vacuum assisted reciprocable shuttle 15 adapted to carry one article 12 at a time forward under gate 27 and into the nip of transport 18. Transport 18 may serve to carry the articles 12 to a suitable article processor or user, such as a labeling machine (not shown).
Article handling apparatus 10 includes a suitable I support or base 19 having a substantially flat table-like surface 19'. A slot-like opening 20 in surface 19' has shuttle 15 disposed therewithin. Shuttle 15 consists of a plate-like part suitably supported for reciprocable sliding movement on base 19. A perforated vacuum plate 25 is provided adjacent the discharge end of shuttle 15, plate 25 communicating with a suitable source of vacuum (not shown) through vacuum line 26. The surface of shuttle 15 is substantially flush with surface 19' of base 19 and cooperates therewith to form a support on which articles entering hopper 14 rest.
Shuttle 15 is reciprocated by a suitable crank mechanism 21 in a manner known to those skilled in the art. To facilitate feeding of newspapers 12, suitable needlelike projections 22 may be provided on shuttle 15. As can be understood, needles 22 serve, on forward movement of shuttle 15, to engage the bottom side of the lowermost article in hopper 14 and, together with the vacuum holddown effect of plate 25, carry the article forward under gate 17 to transport 18.
Gate 18 serves to prevent feeding of more than one article at a time. Gate 17, which may be rectangular in shape, is suitably supported above shuttle 15 adjacent the inlet to transport 18 by a distance designed to limit feed to one article 12 at a time. Gate 17 is preferably mounted for vertical adjusting movement to enable the space between the bottom of gate 17 and the top of shuttle 15 to be varied to correspond with the thickness of the particular articles being fed.
lO60l0 0342 Upstanding side edges 27 are provided on either side of shuttle 15. Sides 27 are preferably arranged for transverse movement to enable the effective width of the feeder hopper 14 to be varied in accordance with changes in the width of the articles being fed. Vertical guides 28 are disposed between belts 42 of supply conveyor 38. Guides 28, which are supported by the conveyor frame 39, are disposed slightly inside conveyor belts 42 at the discharge end of conveyor 38. Guides 28 serve to limit backwardmovement of newspapers in hopper 14 as may be occasioned by retraction of shuttle 15. An article support 31 having inclined edge 32 is mounted on surface 19' of base 19 on each side of shuttle 15. The inclined edge 32 of supports 31 serve to support the articles 12 in tilting fashion, with the folded edge down, in hopper 14. This aids in offsetting the tendency of the folded articles 12 to stack unevenly when resting on a horizontal plane.
The article handling apparatus includes a suitable supply conveyor 38. Supply conveyor 38 comprises one or more endless transport belts 42 supported by driven and idler rollers 43, 44 respectively. Rollers d3, 44 are suitably journaled in sides 45 of the conveyor frame 39. Frame 39 is in turn supported from base 19 by means of a pair of rod-like projections 47. This construction permits the spacing between the discharge end of conveyor 38 and gate 17 to be varied to accommodate changes in the size of the articles being handled.
Supply conveyor 38 is disposed above feeder shuttle and hence articles 12 are discharged therefrom both outwardlyand downwardly into hopper 14 and onto shuttle 15. As will appear, supply control ski 65 responds to the level of articles 12 in hopper 14 to maintain a proper supply of articles 12 in hopper 14 during operation of the article handling system 10.
Spaced shingling gates 48 are supported above conveyor 38, the lower edges thereof cooperating with belts 42 of conveyor 38 to form a restricted passage through which articles 12 on conveyor 38 pass to feeder hopper 14. Gates 48, which are preferably inclined, are suitably supported on a transversely extending shaft. Preferably, gates 48 are adjustable to enablethe height and spacing of gates 48 to be varied. As will be understood, gates 48 serve to rearrange the stacks of articles 12 supplied to conveyor 38 into shingled or overlapping relationship before discharge of the articles into hopper 14.
Supply control ski 65, which is mounted above feeder hopper 1 6, is designed to regulate operation of the article handling apparatus 10 in accordance with demand to provide an assured quantity of articles 12 in hopper 1d at all times. A suitable housing 66, conveniently supported on the inside wall of discharge gate 17 for limited vertical adjusting movement, encases the operating components of control ski 65 including switching means (not shown) for starting and stopping supply conveyor 38 in response to the level of articles 12 in hopper M as sensed by an inclined ski-like member 65. A more detailed description of control 65; may be found in copending application Ser. No. 774,957, filed Nov. 12, 1968 in the name of Donald W. Watson.
To assure contact of ski 65 with articles 12, to obviate any tendency for ski 65 to bounce or over-react as each article 12 is discharged thereunder from supply conveyor 38, and to sustain the creasing action initiated by pressure roller 711 as will appear, a relatively strong downward bias is placed on ski 65 by suitable spring means (not shown). The heavy bias on ski 65 however tends to increase the braking tendency of ski 65 on the articles 12. As can be understood, the force of the articles 12 entering hopper 14 is relied upon to raise ski 65 against both the weight of ski 65 and the spring bias thereon. The effective force of articles 12 is however directly related to the velocity with which articles 12 enter hopper 14. If the article velocity is inadequate, the articles are incapable of lifting ski 65.
With folded articles such as newspapers, applicants have found that the loose trailing portions thereof tend to lift or float as the article approaches the discharge end of conveyor 38. This may result in a premature loss or reduction in driving impetus from conveyor 38. There results a corresponding reduction in the velocity with which articles 12 enter hopper 14 so that the articles may not have sufficient force or impetus to raise the pass under control ski 65.
While each shingled article tends to hold the loose trailing edge portion of the preceding article in contact with conveyor 38, the downward thrust imparted by the succeeding article is not always sufficient to prevent slippage between the article and the conveyor 38. And, shingling gates 48, although limiting the maximum height to which the articles 12 may rise, cannot be relied upon to exercise the necessary downward thrust.
The reciprocating shuttle 15 employs vacuum to temporarily couple the article being fed thereto as the shuttle 15 moves forward. Since folded articles such as newspapers feed folded edge first, the shuttle vacuum works against the relatively rigid article fold in attempting to draw the lower-surface of the article into physical engagement therewith. However, the inherent curvature of the articles along the folded edge thereof may render effective engagement between the folded article and the vacuum plate 25 difficult or impossible to obtain.
To assure requisite driving contact between articles 12 and conveyor 38 throughout the article length and particularly adjacent the loose ends of folded articles while at the same time facilitating vacuum holddown by the shuttle, a pressure roller is provided.
Pressure roller 70 consists of a relatively large diameter roller 70, preferably formed from a relatively hard rubber or rubber-like material, swingably suspended above the discharge edge of conveyor 38 adjacent conveyor driven roller 43. As will appear, pressure roller 70 is suspended from drive shaft 71. Roller 70 includes a drive pulley 72 fixed to one side thereof and coaxial therewith. The roller-pulley combination '70, 72 is journaled for rotation by a shaft 74 supported between arms 75, 76. Arms 75, 76 are in turn rotatably journaled on drive shaft 71. A drive pulley 78 secured to shaft 71 and connected to pulley 72 by means of drive belt 79, serves to drive roller 70.
Drive shaft 71 is itself rotatably journaled at one end by link 80 and, at the other end by side plate 51. The end 71 of shaft 71 extends past plate 51 and has drive pulley 81 affixed thereto. Journal link 80 is supported by a cross shaft 49 carried in side plates 51. As will be understood, roller 70 by virtue of the journaling con,- nection between arms 75, 76 and drive shaft 71, is free to swing or pivot about drive shaft 71 and ordinarily rests, due to its own weight, on conveyor 38 adjacent roller 43 thereof. Spring 82 is provided between shaft 49 and pin 83 on arm '75, spring 82 serving, when roller '70 is in the position shown in FIG. 3, to bias roller 70 in a clockwise direction and into pressure contact with conveyor belt 42.
Pin 83 is located on arm 75 to enable spring 83 to act as an overcenter spring. On upward swinging of roller 70 (in a counterclockwise direction) beyond the spring center line, spring 82 serves to bias roller 70 upwardly and away from conveyor 38. This construction facilitates clearing of any jams and other service work.
As best seen in FIG. 4, pulley 8i is connected by means of drive belt 84 with pulley 85. Pulley 85 is rotatably supported on stub shaft 86 mounted on conveyor side plate 51. Pulley 85 carries gear 88 which in turn meshes with gear 89. Gear 89 is mounted on extension 90 of conveyor drive roller 43. By this arrangement, roller 70 is driven in unison with conveyor 38, the various gear-pulley ratios being chosen so that drive roller 78 rotates or turns at substantially the same speed as conveyor 38.
As articles 12 on conveyor 38 move under shingling gates 48 and pressure roller 70, the weight of roller 70 serves to press the articles downward into physical contact with conveyor 38. This action helps obviate any tendency for the article loose ends to float or slip on conveyor 38 as they pass into hopper 14. The positive drive to roller 70 reduces any tendency for the various leaves or pages of the folded articles to slip or slide one with respect to the other.
At the same time, the pressure generated by roller 70 on the article midportion serves to crease or break the articles longitudinally. This initial creasing facilitates secondary creasing of the articles by the ski 65 which assures effective driving engagement between the articles and shuttle 15 during the feeding cycle.
While the invention has been described with reference to the structure disclosed, it is not confined to the details set forth; but is intended to cover such modifications or changes as may come within the scope of the following claims. What is claimed is:
1. In an apparatus for supplying folded articles such as newspapers and the like to a feeder hopper for refeeding thereof, the combination of:
an article supply conveyor, said conveyor being arranged so that said articles are discharged outwardly and downwardly by said conveyor into said feeder hopper;
means adapted to place said articles in shingled relationship before said articles are discharged from said conveyor to facilitate proper stacking of said articles in the feeder hopper, and
means cooperation with said conveyor to restrain lifting of said articles as said articles leave said conveyor whereby to assure sustained driving engagernent of said articles with said conveyor and assured feed of said articles into said feeder hopper and subsequent feeding therefrom, said restraining means including a combination pressure and creasing roller adapted to rest on said conveyor adjacent said conveyor discharge and under which said artic les pass said roller being adapted to hold said articles in d nving engagemen with said conveyor and to crease said articles longitudinally to facilitate subsequent refeeding of said articles from said feeder hopper; and drive means for positively rotating said pressure roller.
2. The apparatus according to claim 1 in which said feeder hopper includes vacuum feeder means for feeding said articles from said hopper; and means for mounting said pressure roller substantially in alignment with said feeder means whereby said roller creases said articles in preparation for feeding of said articles by said vacuum feeder means.
3. The apparatus according to claim 1 in which said drive means includes a power transfer means for driving said roller from and at the same speed as said conveyor.