WO2003061923A1 - Method and apparatus for veneer lay-up - Google Patents

Method and apparatus for veneer lay-up Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2003061923A1
WO2003061923A1 PCT/CA2003/000081 CA0300081W WO03061923A1 WO 2003061923 A1 WO2003061923 A1 WO 2003061923A1 CA 0300081 W CA0300081 W CA 0300081W WO 03061923 A1 WO03061923 A1 WO 03061923A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
rearward
tablet
forward
veneer sheet
apparatus
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/CA2003/000081
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Gerald Kwan Yuen Wong
Hannu Tapio Sinko
Original Assignee
Raute Wood Ltd.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US35007502P priority Critical
Priority to US60/350,075 priority
Application filed by Raute Wood Ltd. filed Critical Raute Wood Ltd.
Publication of WO2003061923A1 publication Critical patent/WO2003061923A1/en

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B27WORKING OR PRESERVING WOOD OR SIMILAR MATERIAL; NAILING OR STAPLING MACHINES IN GENERAL
    • B27DWORKING VENEER OR PLYWOOD
    • B27D1/00Joining wood veneer with any material; Forming articles thereby; Preparatory processing of surfaces to be joined, e.g. scoring
    • B27D1/04Joining wood veneer with any material; Forming articles thereby; Preparatory processing of surfaces to be joined, e.g. scoring to produce plywood or articles made therefrom; Plywood sheets
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H29/00Delivering or advancing articles from machines; Advancing articles to or into piles
    • B65H29/26Delivering or advancing articles from machines; Advancing articles to or into piles by dropping the articles
    • B65H29/36Delivering or advancing articles from machines; Advancing articles to or into piles by dropping the articles from tapes, bands, or rollers rolled from under the articles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2404/00Parts for transporting or guiding the handled material
    • B65H2404/20Belts
    • B65H2404/25Driving or guiding arrangements
    • B65H2404/254Arrangement for varying the guiding or transport length
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2404/00Parts for transporting or guiding the handled material
    • B65H2404/20Belts
    • B65H2404/26Particular arrangement of belt, or belts
    • B65H2404/269Particular arrangement of belt, or belts other arrangements
    • B65H2404/2691Arrangement of successive belts forming a transport path
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2406/00Means using fluid
    • B65H2406/30Suction means
    • B65H2406/35Other elements with suction surface, e.g. plate or wall
    • B65H2406/351Other elements with suction surface, e.g. plate or wall facing the surface of the handled material
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2511/00Dimension; Position; Number; Identification; Occurence
    • B65H2511/20Location in space
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2511/00Dimension; Position; Number; Identification; Occurence
    • B65H2511/50Occurence
    • B65H2511/51Presence
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2513/00Dynamic entities; Timing aspect
    • B65H2513/40Movement
    • B65H2513/41Direction of movement
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2513/00Dynamic entities; Timing aspect
    • B65H2513/50Timing
    • B65H2513/51Sequence of process
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2701/00Handled material; Storage means
    • B65H2701/10Handled articles or webs
    • B65H2701/19Specific article or web
    • B65H2701/1938Veneer sheet

Abstract

Veneer sheet lay-up apparatus (10) with rearward and forward tablets (102, 202), about which rearward and forward conveyors (112, 212) are respectively entrained. A controller (302) longitudinally reciprocates the tablets toward and away from one another, between open and closed configurations. A veneer sheet (22) delivered to the rearward tablet is forwardly conveyed to the forward tablet, which forwardly conveys the sheet's forward portion. The controller detects the sheet's arrival at the desired lay-up position and thereupon simultaneously rearwardly retracts the rearward tablet and forwardly advances the forward tablet from beneath the sheet, creating a lay-up space into which the veneer sheet is gravity-displaced.

Description

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR VENEER LAY-UP

Technical Field

This invention relates to apparatus and methods for manipulation of veneer sheets. Particular embodiments of the invention have application to the manufacture of plywood and laminated veneer lumber (LVL).

Background

Veneer sheets are used to form plywood and LVL. Producing plywood or LVL from individual veneer sheets typically involves layering a plurality of glue-covered veneer sheets and then processing the sheets using a combination of pressure and heat to set the glue and fuse the veneer layers together.

The process of layering veneer sheets is known as "lay-up" or "laying up" and requires that individual veneer sheets be aligned precisely with one another. Improperly aligned veneer layers may result in excess waste, reduced yield and inferior quality products. Manual lay- up techniques involve placing glue covered veneer sheets against at least two solid fences in order to align the sheets. Manual veneer lay-up is labor intensive, dependent on worker performance and may lead to worker injury, because of the repetitive motion involved.

Because of inconsistencies between individual veneer sheets, the lay-up process is difficult to automate. Even if individual veneer sheets are cut to approximately the same size, there may be variations in their size, which can adversely affect their lay-up. For example, typically sized veneer sheets used in the production of four foot by eight foot plywood sheets may vary between 48 to 52 inches wide, 96 to 102 inches long and 1/16 to 1/6 of an inch thick. These size discrepancies may be due to variations in the shrinkage rate of wood from different sections of the tree stem that occur during processing of individual veneer sheets. In addition to size variation, each veneer sheet may vary in surface quality, waviness, location and size of defects (i.e. knot holes and splits). This invention assists in automating the laying up of veneer sheets during the production of multi-layer wood products, such as plywood and LVL, notwithstanding the aforementioned veneer sheet size deformations.

Brief Description of Drawings

Figure 1 is a top plan schematic illustration of a veneer lay-up apparatus incorporating a dual tablet lay-up device in accordance with the invention; Figure 2 is a top plan view of the Figure 1 dual tablet lay-up device in its open configuration;

Figure 3 is a partially sectioned side elevation view of the apparatus depicted in Figure 2;

Figure 4 is partially sectioned end view of a portion of the Figure 2 device depicting the rearward tablet translation mechanism;

Figure 5 is a top plan view of the Figure 1 dual tablet lay-up device in its closed configuration;

Figure 6 is a partially sectioned side elevation view of the apparatus depicted in Figure 5; Figures 7A and 7B are partial side elevation views of the rearward conveyor belt mechanism of the Figure 2 device shown respectively in open and closed configurations;

Figures 8A and 8B are respectively top plan and front elevation views of the rearward tablet portion of the Figure 2 device; Figure 9 is a partially sectioned end view of a portion of the

Figure 2 device depicting the forward tablet translation mechanism;

Figures 10A and 10B are partial side elevation views of the forward conveyor belt mechanism of the Figure 2 device shown respectively in open and closed configurations; Figures 11A and 1 IB are respectively top plan and rear elevation views of the forward tablet portion of the Figure 2 device; Figure 12 is a schematic isometric illustration of a lay-up carriage; and,

Figure 13 is a schematic illustration of a control system for controllably operating the Figure 2 device.

Description

Throughout the following description, specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding of the invention. However, the invention may be practised without these particulars. In other instances, well known elements have not been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the invention. Accordingly, the specification and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative, rather than a restrictive, sense.

Figure 1 schematically depicts veneer lay-up apparatus 10 incor- porating input conveyor 20, dual tablet lay-up device 100 and lay-up carriage 500.

Throughout this description, the terms "forward", "forwardly" and "forwardmost" correspond to the normal direction of movement of input conveyor 20 as indicated by arrow 28 A. The terms "rear", "rearward", "rearwardly" and "rearwardmost" correspond to the direction indicated by arrow 28B. The terms "longitudinal" and "longitudinally" correspond to either forward direction 28 A or rearward direction 28B. The terms "transverse" and "transversely" correspond to the direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal direction (i.e. either of the directions indicated by double-headed arrow 26).

Lay-up apparatus 10 lays up veneer sheets 22. The laid up sheets can then be used to form plywood or LVL. Veneer sheets 22 are transported along input conveyor 20 until they reach dual tablet lay-up device 100, which includes a rearward tablet assembly 102 and a for- ward tablet assembly 202. Depending on whether plywood or LVL is being produced, lay-up carriage 500 may remain stationary, such that successive veneer sheets 22 are laid on top of one another; or, lay-up carriage 500 may be indexed transversely between successive veneer sheets 22 to produce a billet of sheets in which each sheet is offset by a predefined distance relative to the immediately adjacent sheet(s).

Veneer sheets 22 are substantially rectangular in shape and may have various industry standard dimensions. The lumber grain of veneer sheets 22 may be oriented longitudinally or transversely without affecting the operation of lay-up apparatus 10. With minor modifications which will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, the invention may be applied to veneer sheets of any size and is thus independent of the size of veneer sheets 22. The drawings and description of the invention depict certain orientations of veneer sheets 22. For example, Figure 1 depicts veneer sheets 22 with their longer sides disposed in the transverse direction. Notwithstanding the drawings and accompanying description, the invention is independent of the orientation of veneer sheets 22.

One of the transverse edges of each veneer sheet 22 will be referred to as transverse edge 22 A; the forwardmost edge of each veneer sheet 22 will be referred to as forward edge 22B; and, the rearwardmost edge of each veneer sheet 22 will be referred to as rearward edge 22C. Input conveyor 20 transports veneer sheets 22 forwardly along conveyor belts 24 toward dual tablet lay-up device 100. If veneer sheets 22 have been spaced apart from one another or transverse edges 22A have been pre-aligned relative to device 100 (as is preferred), then input conveyor 20 may incorporate a mechanism or technique to maintain this spacing and/or alignment. One well known technique used to maintain such spacing and/or alignment of veneer sheets 22 involves the application of suction force to the undersides of veneer sheets 22, such that veneer sheets 22 do not move relative to conveyor belts 24.

When veneer sheets 22 reach the forwardmost end of input conveyor 20, they are transferred from the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 24 to the rearwardmost ends of conveyor belts 112 on dual tablet lay-up device 100. Dual tablet lay-up device 100 incorporates a pair of substantially parallel longitudinally extending rearward frame members 106, 108 which support rearward tablet assembly 102 and a pair of substantially parallel longitudinally extending forward frame members 206, 208 which support forward tablet assembly 202. The forward ends of rearward frame members 106, 108 abut directly against the rearward ends of forward frame members 206, 208. As explained in more detail below, rearward and forward tablet assemblies 102, 202 mutually reciprocate with one another such that dual tablet lay-up device 100 is positionable in an open configuration and a closed configuration. Dual tablet lay-up device 100 is depicted in its open configuration in Figure 2 and in its closed position in Figure 5.

Rearward tablet assembly 102 is depicted in greater detail in Figures 2 to 8. Rearward tablet assembly 102 includes: a flat, moveable, rearward tablet 110 which extends between and is longitudinally reciprocable relative to frame members 106, 108; and, a plurality of parallel endless conveyor belts 112. Preferably, at least some of conveyor belts 112 are apertured as indicated at 116; the remainder are non- apertured belts as indicated at 114 (see Figures 2, 5). In the illustrated embodiment, apertured conveyor belts 116 extend forwardly beyond the forwardmost extent of non-apertured conveyor belts 114, allowing rearward conveyor belts 112 to interleave with forward conveyor belts 212 when dual tablet lay-up device 100 is in its closed configuration (see Figure 5). Frame member 106 is a C-shaped channel member having a horizontal flange 107 which defines a lower recess 106 A and an upper recess 106B in frame member 106, as depicted in Figure 4.

Referring to Figures 3 and 4, rearward tablet assembly 102 includes a rearward tablet translation mechanism 132, which facilitates longitudinal reciprocation of rearward tablet 110 with respect to frame member 106. Rearward tablet translation mechanism 132 includes a drive motor 134 having a sprocket 136 on a rotational shaft thereof. Belt 138, which is preferably a gear belt, is entrained over sprocket 136 and exterior sprocket 140, such that the rotation of drive motor 134 (and sprocket 136) causes a corresponding rotation of exterior sprocket 140. Exterior sprocket 140 is coupled by a shaft (not shown) to interior sprocket 142, such that rotation of exterior sprocket 140 causes a corresponding rotation of interior sprocket 142, which is rotatably mounted to a rearward end of frame member 106 inside lower recess 106A.

A second sprocket 144 is also rotatably mounted in lower recess 106A of frame member 106. Second sprocket 144 is forwardly spaced apart from sprocket 142. In the illustrated embodiment, sprocket 144 is an idler sprocket. Belt 146, which is preferably a gear belt, is entrained over sprockets 142 and 144, such that belt 146 travels within lower recess 106A of frame member 106. Rearward tablet 110 is rigidly attached to an upper segment of belt 146 via horizontally extending clamp 148 and vertically extending bracket 150.

Wheel 152 is rotatably mounted to the rearward end of rearward tablet 110 via axle bolt 153 which extends through an upper portion of vertically extending bracket 150, such that wheel 152 is located in upper recess 106B of frame member 106. Inside upper recess 106B, wheel 152 rolls along track 154, which is fixed to the upper surface of flange 107. A second wheel 156 is rotatably mounted to a forward end of rearward tablet 110 through a similar vertically extending bracket (not shown), such that wheel 156 rolls along track 154 in upper recess 106B of frame member 106. Wheels 152', 156' (Figure 8A) are mounted in axial alignment with wheels 152, 156 respectively on the opposite side of rearward tablet 110.

Rearward tablet translation mechanism 132 also includes similar components (not shown) on opposing frame member 108 (see Figure 2) and/or the opposing side of rearward tablet 110. Such components include: an interior sprocket rotatably mounted inside a lower recess at a rearward end of frame member 108; a second idler sprocket rotatably mounted inside the lower recess of frame member 108 at a position forwardly spaced apart from the interior sprocket; a gear belt entrained over the interior and idler sprockets which travels in the lower recess of frame member 108; a clamp which rigidly attaches rearward tablet 110 to the belt; and, a pair of wheels rotatably mounted at spaced apart locations to the forward and rearward ends of rearward tablet 110, which roll along a track provided in an upper recess of frame member 108. A drive shaft (not shown) extends transversely between exterior sprocket 140 on frame member 106, through interior sprocket 142 and to the corresponding interior sprocket rotatably mounted on frame member 108. When drive motor 134 causes interior sprocket 142 to rotate, the drive shaft rotates, thereby causing a corresponding rotation of the interior sprocket on frame member 108.

The operation of rearward tablet translation mechanism 132 is explained with reference to the components depicted in Figures 2, 3 and 4, it being understood that the opposing components (i.e. those mounted to frame member 108 and/or on the transversely opposing side of rearward tablet 110) operate in a similar manner to facilitate the reciprocation of rearward tablet 110. Drive motor 134 causes longitudinal movement of rearward tablet 110 relative to frame member 106. More particularly, drive motor 134 drivingly rotates sprockets 136, 140 and 142 as previously explained. As interior sprocket 142 rotates, it drives belt 146 over sprockets 142, 144, such that the upper segment of belt 146 moves in the longitudinal direction. Since rearward tablet 110 is fastened to the upper segment of belt 146 by clamp 148, movement of belt 146 causes corresponding movement of rearward tablet 110 in the longitudinal direction relative to frame member 106. Such movement is facilitated by wheels 152, 156 and 152', 156' which roll along tracks 154, 154' respectively. Drive motor 134 and the corresponding movement of rearward tablet 110 relative to frame member 106 are controlled by suitable control hardware and software, as explained below.

Figures 2 and 3 depict dual tablet lay-up device 100 in its open configuration, with rearward tablet 110 positioned at (or near) the rearwardmost extent of its longitudinal travel. The closed configuration of dual tablet lay-up device 100 is depicted in Figures 5 and 6. In the closed configuration, rearward tablet 110 is positioned at (or near) the forwardmost extent of its longitudinal travel. As can be seen by compar- ing Figures 2 and 5, the forward ends of conveyor belts 112 extend forwardly when device 100 is in the closed configuration; and, retract rearwardly when device 100 is in the open configuration, thereby providing a continuous surface for transport of veneer sheets 22.

Rearward conveyor belt mechanism 160 facilitates the movement of conveyor belts 112. As depicted in Figures 7 A and 7B, rearward conveyor belt mechanism 160 allows conveyor belts 112 to extend and retract to accommodate longitudinal movement of rearward tablet 110. Figure 7A shows the disposition of rearward conveyor belt mechanism 160 when rearward tablet 110 is at or near its rearwardmost position (i.e. the open configuration) and Figure 7B shows the disposition of rearward conveyor belt mechanism 160 when rearward tablet 110 is at or near its forwardmost position (i.e. the closed configuration). Some elements of rearward tablet assembly 102 are not shown in Figures 7 A and 7B in order to avoid obscuring detail of rearward conveyor belt mechanism 160.

Conveyor belts 112 are entrained over forward pulleys 118 and rearward pulleys 120. Rearward pulleys 120 are fixed at spaced apart intervals on rearward shaft 122, which is rotatably mounted between the rearward ends of frame members 106, 108. Forward pulleys 118 are rotatably mounted on pulley supports 124, which are fixed to the forward end of rearward tablet 110 at spaced apart positions, such that each forward pulley 118 is longitudinally aligned with a corresponding one of rearward pulleys 120. Drive motor 126 (see Figure 2) rotates sprocket 128 via belt 130, which is preferably a gear belt, to drive rearward shaft 122. Shaft 122 in turn rotates rearward pulleys 120 and causes corresponding longitudinal movement of conveyor belts 112. Drive motor 126 is controlled by suitable control hardware and software, as explained below.

Shaft 122 and rearward pulleys 120 are constrained to rotational movement and do not reciprocate relative to frame members 106, 108. However, since forward pulleys 118 are attached to rearward tablet 110, they reciprocate longitudinally with rearward tablet 110 as shown in Figures 7 A and 7B. Conveyor belts 112 are also entrained over reciprocable rearward pulleys 162, 164 and fixed idler pulley 166. Reciprocable rearward pulleys 162, 164 are rotationally coupled to the rearward end of rearward tablet 110 by pulley supports 170 at positions longitudinally aligned with corresponding ones of rearward pulleys 120 and forward pulleys 118. Because they are attached to rearward tablet 110, reciprocable rearward pulleys 162, 164 reciprocate longitudinally with rearward tablet 110. Idler pulleys 166, however, are rotationally mounted to a transverse cross brace (not shown), which extends between frame members 106, 108, at positions longitudinally aligned with corresponding ones of rearward pulleys 120 and forward pulleys 118. Idler pulleys 166 rotate, but do not reciprocate with rearward tablet 110.

In the open configuration of Figure 7A, tablet 110 is at (or near) the rearwardmost extent of its travel. In this open configuration, pulleys 162, 164, 118 are in their rearward positions, such that the top segments of conveyor belts 112 extend a relatively short distance in the longitudinal direction. In contrast, in the closed configuration of Figure 7B, rearward tablet 110 is at (or near) the forwardmost extent of its travel. In this closed configuration, pulleys 162, 164, 118 are in their forward positions, with pulleys 162, 164 positioned just rearward of idlers 166 and with forward pulleys 118 extended to engage forward tablet assembly 202 (see Figure 5). In the closed configuration of Figure 7B, the top segments of conveyor belts 112 extend a relatively long distance in the longitudinal direction, as is revealed by comparing Figures 7 A and 7B. Rearward tablet assembly 102 uses suction to maintain alignment of veneer sheets 22 as they are transported by conveyor belts 112. This suction is explained with reference to Figure 8 which shows rearward tablet 110 without conveyor belts 112 to more clearly depict certain components of the suction pressure system. Figure 3 shows that rearward tablet assembly 102 includes a vacuum source 182 and a vacuum conduit 184. Vacuum conduit 184 extends from vacuum source 182 through a Y-junction (not shown), from which it diverges to form a pair of vacuum conduits (not shown) which extend longitudinally along each transverse side of rearward tablet 110. Each longitudinally extending portion of vacuum conduit 184 extends into and is slidably coupled to a corresponding one of vacuum pipes 176, 178 which extend along opposite transverse sides of rearward tablet 110, such that horizontally extending vacuum pipes 176, 178 are in communication with vacuum source 182. As rearward tablet 110 reciprocates, each of vacuum pipes 176, 178 move slidably over the longitudinally extending portions of vacuum conduit 184.

A plurality of apertures 180 are provided in the upper surface of rearward tablet 110. Vacuum pressure is applied by vacuum source 182 through vacuum conduit 184 and vacuum pipes 176, 178 to apertures 180. As shown in Figures 2 and 5, at least some of conveyor belts 112 have apertures 186. When veneer sheets 22 are transferred to conveyor belts 112, suction pressure is applied through apertures 180, 186 to the undersides of veneer sheets 22. Additionally or alternatively, suction pressure may be applied to the undersides of veneer sheets 22 through apertures 180 in rearward tablet 110 and through the gaps between conveyor belts 112.

Referring to Figures 2, 3, 5, 6, 9 and 10, dual tablet lay-up device 100 also has a forward tablet assembly 202, which includes: a flat, moveable, forward tablet 210 that extends between and is longitudinally reciprocable relative to forward frame members 206, 208; and a plurality of parallel endless conveyor belts 212. Some of conveyor belts 212 are apertured as indicated at 216; the remainder are non-apertured belts as indicated at 214. In the illustrated embodiment, apertured conveyor belts 216 extend rearwardly beyond the rearwardmost extent of non-apertured conveyor belts 214, allowing forward conveyor belts 212 to interleave with rearward conveyor belts 112 when dual tablet lay-up device 100 is in its closed configuration (see Figure 5). A transversely oriented fence 204 is mounted between frame members 206 and 208 above forward tablet assembly 202.

Referring to Figures 3 and 9, forward tablet assembly 202 includes a forward tablet translation mechanism 232, which facilitates the longitudinal reciprocation of forward tablet 210 with respect to frame member 206. Forward tablet translation mechanism 232 includes a drive motor 234 having a sprocket 236 on a rotational shaft thereof. Belt 238, which is preferably a gear belt, is entrained over sprocket 236 and exterior sprocket 240, such that the rotation of drive motor 234 (and sprocket 236) causes a corresponding rotation of exterior sprocket 240. Exterior sprocket 240 is coupled by a shaft (not shown) to interior sprocket 242, such that rotation of exterior sprocket 240 causes a corresponding rotation of interior sprocket 242, which is rotatably mounted to a forward end of frame member 206 inside upper recess 206B.

A second sprocket 244 is also rotatably mounted in upper recess 206B of frame member 206. Second sprocket 244 is rearwardly spaced apart from sprocket 242. In the illustrated embodiment, sprocket 244 is an idler sprocket. Belt 246, which is preferably a gear belt, is entrained over sprockets 242 and 244, such that belt 246 travels within upper recess 206B of frame member 206. Forward tablet 210 is rigidly at- tached to a lower segment of belt 246 via horizontally extending clamp 248 and vertically extending bracket 250. Vertically extending bracket 250 may also extend longitudinally to position forward tablet 210 in a desirable longitudinal location relative to belt 246.

Wheel 252 is rotatably mounted to the rearward end of forward tablet 210 via axle bolt 253 which extends through a lower portion of vertically extending bracket 250, such that wheel 252 is located in lower recess 206 A of frame member 206. Inside lower recess 206 A, wheel 252 rolls along track 254, which is fixed to the upper surface of a bottom flange 105 of frame member 206. A second wheel 256 is rotatably mounted to a forward end of forward tablet 210 through a similar vertically extending bracket (not shown), such that wheel 256 rolls along track 254 in lower recess 206 A of frame member 206. Wheels 252', 256' (Figure 11 A) are mounted in axial alignment with wheels 252, 256 respectively on the opposite side of forward tablet 210.

Forward tablet translation mechanism 232 also includes similar components (not shown) on opposing frame member 208 (see Figure 2) and/or the opposing side of forward tablet 210. Such components include: an interior sprocket rotatably mounted inside an upper recess at a forward end of frame member 208; a second idler sprocket rotatably mounted inside the upper recess of frame member 208 at a position rearwardly spaced apart from the interior sprocket; a gear belt entrained over the interior and idler sprockets which travels in the upper recess of frame member 208; a clamp which rigidly attaches forward tablet 210 to a lower segment of the belt; and a pair of wheels rotatably mounted at spaced apart locations to the forward and rearward ends of forward tablet 210, which roll along a track provided in an lower recess of frame member 208. A drive shaft 203 (see Figure 2) extends transversely between exterior sprocket 240 on frame member 206, through interior sprocket 242 and to the corresponding interior sprocket rotatably mounted on frame member 208. When drive motor 234 causes interior sprocket 242 to rotate, drive shaft 203 rotates, thereby causing corre- sponding rotation of the interior sprocket on frame member 208.

The operation of forward tablet translation mechanism 232 is explained with reference to the components depicted in Figures 2, 3 and 9, it being understood that the opposing components (i.e. those mounted to frame member 208 and/or on the transversely opposing side of for- ward tablet 210) operate in a similar manner to facilitate reciprocation of forward tablet 210. Drive motor 234 causes longitudinal movement of forward tablet 210 relative to frame member 206. More particularly, drive motor 234 drivingly rotates sprockets 236, 240 and 242 and shaft 203 as previously explained. As interior sprocket 242 rotates, it drives belt 246 over sprockets 242, 244, such that the lower segment of belt 246 moves in the longitudinal direction. Since forward tablet 210 is fastened to the lower segment of belt 246 by clamp 248, movement of belt 246 also moves forward tablet 210 in the longitudinal direction relative to frame member 206. Such movement is facilitated by wheels 252, 256 and 252', 256' which roll along tracks 254, 254' respectively. Drive motor 234 and the corresponding movement of forward tablet 210 relative to frame member 206 are controlled by suitable control hardware and software, as explained below.

Figures 2 and 3 depict dual tablet lay-up device in its open configuration, with forward tablet 210 positioned at (or near) the forwardmost extent of its longitudinal travel. The closed configuration of dual tablet lay-up device 100 is depicted in Figures 5 and 6. In the closed configuration, forward tablet 210 is positioned at (or near) the rearwardmost extent of its longitudinal travel. As can be seen by comparing Figures 2 and 5, both forward tablet 210 and conveyor belts 212 translate rearward when device 100 is in the closed configuration and translate forward when device 100 is in the open configuration.

Forward conveyor belt mechanism 260 facilitates the movement of forward conveyor belts 212. As depicted in Figures 10A and 10B, forward conveyor belt mechanism 260 allows conveyor belts 212 to reciprocate longitudinally with forward tablet 210. Figure 10 A shows the disposition of forward conveyor belt mechanism 260 when forward tablet 210 is at or near its forwardmost position (i.e. the open configuration) and Figure 10B shows the disposition of forward conveyor belt mechanism 260 when forward tablet 210 is at or near its rearwardmost position (i.e. the closed configuration). Some elements of forward tablet assembly 202 are not shown in Figures 10A and 10B in order to avoid obscuring detail of forward conveyor belt mechanism 260. Conveyor belts 212 are entrained over forward pulleys 218, rearward pulleys 224 and drive pulleys 220 and are entrained under forward idler pulleys 258 and rearward idler pulleys 209.

Rearward pulleys 224 are rotatably mounted to pulley supports 264 which are fixed to the rearward end of forward tablet 210 at transversely spaced apart positions. Forward pulleys 218 are rotatably mounted to pulley supports 262 which are fixed to the forward end of forward tablet 210 at spaced apart locations, such that each forward pulley 218 is longitudinally aligned with a corresponding one of rearward pulleys 224. Conveyor belts 212 are also entrained over drive pulleys 220. Drive pulleys 220 are fixed at spaced apart locations on drive shaft 222, which extends transversely and is rotatably mounted between frame members 206, 208. The position of each drive pulley 220 is longitudinally aligned with a corresponding forward pulley 218 and a corresponding rearward pulley 224.

Conveyor belts 212 are also entrained under forward idler pulleys 258 and rearward idler pulleys 209. Forward idler pulleys 258 are rotatably mounted to pulley supports 259 which are fixed, at transversely spaced apart locations, to transverse cross-member 257 (see Figures 2 and 5). Rearward idler pulleys 209 are rotatably mounted to drive shaft 203 of forward tablet translation mechanism 232 at transversely spaced apart locations (see Figure 2). Rearward idler pulleys 209 rotate independently of the rotation of shaft 203. Each forward idler pulley 258 and each rearward idler pulley 209 are located in longitudinal alignment with corresponding ones of drive pulleys 220, forward pulleys 218 and rearward pulleys 224.

Conveyor belts 212 are driven by drive motor 226 (see Figures 2 and 5), which rotates sprocket 228 through belt 230 to drive shaft 222. Belt 230 is preferably a gear belt. Drive shaft 222 in turn rotates drive pulleys 220, which cause corresponding longitudinal movement of conveyor belts 212. Drive motor 226 is controlled by suitable control hardware and software, as explained below. Shaft 222 and drive pulleys 220 are constrained to rotational movement because they are mounted to frame members 206 and 208. Rearward and forward idler pulleys 209, 258 are also constrained to rotational movements because they are respectively mounted to trans- verse shaft 203 and transverse cross-member 257. Consequently, shaft 222, drive pulleys 220, rearward idler pulleys 209 and forward idler pulleys 258 do not reciprocate relative to frame members 206, 208. However, since forward pulleys 218 and rearward pulleys 224 are attached to forward tablet 210, they reciprocate longitudinally with forward tablet 210 as shown in Figures 10A and 10B.

In the open configuration of Figure 10A, forward tablet 210 is at (or near) the forwardmost extent of its travel. In this open configuration, forward pulleys 218 are positioned near the forward end of dual tablet lay-up device 100 and rearward pulleys 224 are positioned just rearward of rearward idlers 209. In contrast, in the closed configuration of Figure 10B, forward tablet 210 is at (or near) the rearwardmost extent of its travel. In the closed configuration, forward pulleys 218 are positioned just forward of forward idlers 258 and rearward pulleys 224 are extended rearward to engage rearward tablet assembly 102 (see Figure 5). Forward tablet assembly 202 uses suction to maintain alignment of veneer sheets 22 when they move over top of conveyor belts 212. This suction mechanism is explained with reference to Figure 11 , which shows forward tablet 210 without conveyor belts 212 to more clearly depict certain components of the forward tablet suction pressure system. Figure 3 shows that forward tablet assembly 202 includes a vacuum source 282 and a vacuum conduit 284. Vacuum conduit 284 extends from vacuum source 282 through a Y-junction (not shown), from which it diverges (see Figure 2) to form a pair of vacuum conduits which extend longitudinally along each transverse side of forward tablet 210. Each longitudinally extending portion of vacuum conduit 284 extends into and is slidably coupled to a corresponding one of vacuum pipes 276 and 278 which extend along opposite transverse sides of forward tablet 210, such that vacuum pipes 276 and 278 are in communication with vacuum source 282. As forward tablet 210 reciprocates, each of vacuum pipes 276, 278 move slidably over the longitudinally extending portions of vacuum conduit 284. A plurality of apertures 280 are provided in the upper surface of forward tablet 210. Vacuum pressure is applied by vacuum source 282 through vacuum conduit 284 and vacuum pipes 276, 278 to apertures 280. As shown in Figures 2 and 5, at least some of conveyor belts 212 have apertures 286. When veneer sheets 22 move over top of conveyor belts 212, suction pressure is applied through apertures 280, 286 to the undersides of veneer sheets 22. Additionally or alternatively, suction pressure may be applied to the undersides of veneer sheets 22 through apertures 280 in forward tablet 210 and through the gaps between conveyor belts 212. Figure 13 schematically depicts a control system 300 used for controlling the operation of dual tablet lay-up device 100. Control system 300 includes a controller 302, which may be, for example, a programmable computer, an embedded processor or the like. Controller 302 may include more than one data processor. Controller 302 may also include memory (not shown) which stores program information and the like. In a preferred embodiment (not shown), controller 302 includes an embedded processor and a programmable logic circuit (PLC).

As shown schematically in Figure 13, controller 302 is connected to control the movement of: (i) rearward tablet 110; (ii) rearward con- veyor belt 112; (iii) forward tablet 210; and, (iv) forward conveyor belt 212.

Controller 302 is independently connected to each of a plurality of variable speed drive controllers 304, 306, 308, 310. Each drive controller 304, 306, 308, 310 is associated with a corresponding one of drive motors 126, 134, 226, 234. Controller 302 controllably transmits: (i) rearward conveyor belt drive signal 312 to variable speed drive controller 304; (ii) rearward tablet drive signal 314 to variable speed drive control- ler 306; (iii) forward conveyor belt drive signal 316 to variable speed drive controller 308; and, (iv) forward tablet drive signal 318 to variable speed drive controller 310. Drive signals 312, 314, 316, 318 are preferably analog control signals which are amplified by variable speed drive controllers 304, 306, 308, 310 to actuate their associated drive motors 126, 134, 226, 234. Alternatively, power amplifiers can be used in the place of variable speed drive controllers 304, 306, 308, 310. As another alternative, drive signals 312, 314, 316, 318 can be digital signals, with drive controllers 304, 306, 308, 310 configured to convert the drive signals into corresponding analog signals to actuate their associated drive motors 126, 134, 226, 234.

Controller 302 is electronically coupled to optical sensor 328 and to inductive proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346. Optical sensor 328 detects the forward edge 22B of a veneer sheet 22 (not shown in Figure 13) when the sheet is transferred from input conveyor 20 to dual tablet lay-up device 100 (see Figure 1). As explained below, controller 302 uses inductive proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346 to limit and control the longitudinal motion of rearward tablet 110 and forward tablet 210. Reflector 330 is positioned below rearward tablet 110 in alignment with optical sensor 328. Optical sensor 328 is positioned above rearward tablet 110 and emits a downwardly oriented optical beam (not shown), which is normally reflected by reflector 330. Optical detector 328 detects the reflected beam. When a veneer sheet 22 travelling forwardly on conveyor belts 112 interrupts the beam, optical sensor 328 produces a veneer sheet position signal 329 which is electronically transmitted to controller 302.

Inductive proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346 are positioned at longitudinally spaced apart locations. Preferably, detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346 are mounted on either of frame members 106, 108. Each proximity detector 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346 establishes a localized electromagnetic field - IS

using an oscillator and a coil (not shown). When a metal object (such as rearward tablet 110 or forward tablet 210) enters a region proximate to one of detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346, the detector senses a change in its corresponding electromagnetic field and outputs a corresponding signal 333, 335, 337, 339, 341, 343, 345, 347.

Four proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338 are associated with rearward tablet translation mechanism 132 and assist controller 302 to control the motion of rearward tablet 110. A rearward pair of proximity detectors 332, 334 is positioned proximate to the rearward translational limit of rearward tablet 110. A forward pair of proximity sensors 336, 338 is positioned proximate to the forward translational limit of rearward tablet 110.

Of the rearward pair of proximity detectors associated with rearward tablet translation mechanism 132, detector 332 is located more forwardly than detector 334. When detector 332 detects the presence of rearward tablet 110, it transmits a rearward tablet rearward limit signal 333 to controller 302 indicating that rearward tablet 110 is at or near its rearward translational limit. If rearward tablet 110 is travelling rearwardly past detector 332, then rearward tablet rearward limit signal 333 indicates that rearward tablet 110 should be decelerated to a stop. Rearwardmost detector 334 is spaced apart rearwardly from detector 332. When rearwardmost detector 334 detects rearward tablet 110, it transmits an emergency stop signal 335 to controller 302 indicating that rearward tablet 110 has travelled too far in the rearward direction. Controller 302 receives emergency stop signal 335 and immediately shuts off rearward tablet drive signal 314. Alternatively, emergency stop signal 335 may trigger a switch which directly shuts off rearward tablet drive signal 314 without communicating with controller 302.

Of the forward pair of proximity detectors associated with rear- ward tablet translation mechanism 132, detector 336 is located more rearwardly than detector 338. When detector 336 detects the presence of rearward tablet 110, it transmits a rearward tablet forward limit signal 337 to controller 302 indicating that rearward tablet 110 is at or near its forward translational limit. If rearward tablet 110 is travelling forwardly past detector 336, then rearward tablet forward limit signal 337 indicates that rearward tablet 110 should be decelerated to a stop. Forwardmost detector 338 is spaced apart forwardly from detector 336. When forwardmost detector 338 detects rearward tablet 110, it transmits an emergency stop signal 339 to controller 302 indicating that rearward tablet 110 has travelled too far in the forward direction. Controller 302 receives emergency stop signal 339 and immediately shuts off rearward tablet drive signal 314. Alternatively, emergency stop signal 339 may trigger a switch which directly shuts off rearward tablet drive signal 314 without communicating with controller 302.

Four proximity detectors 340, 342, 344, 346 are associated with forward tablet translation mechanism 232 and assist controller 302 to control the motion of forward tablet 210.- A rearward pair of proximity detectors 340, 342 is positioned proximate to the rearward translational limit of forward tablet 210. A forward pair of proximity detectors 344, 346 is positioned proximate to the forward translational limit of forward tablet 210. When activated by the presence of forward tablet 210, the rearward pair of proximity detectors 340, 342 respectively transmit signals 341, 343 to controller 302. Forward tablet rearward limit signal 341 indicates that forward tablet 210 is at or near its rearward translational limit and signal 343 is an emergency stop signal, triggered when forward tablet 210 has travelled too far in the rearward direction. Similarly, when activated by the presence of forward tablet 210, the forward pair of proximity detectors 344, 346 respectively transmit signals 345, 347 to controller 302. Forward tablet forward limit signal 345 indicates that forward tablet 210 is at or near its forward travel limit and signal 347 is an emergency stop signal, triggered when forward tablet 210 has travelled too far in the forward direction.

Control system 300 also includes encoders 320, 322. Encoder 320 measures the shaft angle of rearward conveyor belt drive motor 126 and electronically transmits a "rearward conveyor movement" signal 324 to controller 302. Rearward conveyor movement signal 324 is representative of the position and speed of rearward conveyor belts 112. In a similar manner, encoder 322 measures the shaft angle of forward con- veyor belt drive motor 226 and electronically transmits a "forward conveyor movement" signal 326 to controller 302. Forward conveyor movement signal 326 is representative of the position and speed of forward conveyor belts 212.

The operation and control of dual tablet lay-up device 100 is now described with reference to Figures 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 13. Input conveyor 20, rearward tablet assembly 102 and forward tablet assembly 202 are aligned to position the top segments of conveyor belts 24, 112 and 212 at substantially the same height. A veneer sheet 22, which has been pre- aligned on its transverse edge 22 A, travels forwardly on input conveyor 20 toward the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 24. Conveyor belts 24 run at a known speed. The speed of conveyor belts 24 is preferably controlled by a controller (not shown) or human operator. Alternatively, conveyor belts 24 may be provided with a constant drive signal so that they run at a preset speed. Prior to veneer sheet 22 reaching the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 24, controller 302 moves dual tablet lay-up device 100 into its open configuration (see Figures 2 and 3) by rearwardly retracting rearward tablet 110 and forwardly advancing forward tablet 210.

To move dual tablet lay-up device 100 into its open configuration, controller 302 outputs rearward tablet drive signal 314 to variable speed drive controller 306, which drives rearward tablet drive motor 134, causing the rearward retraction of rearward tablet translation mechanism 132 and rearward tablet 110. As rearward tablet 110 nears its rearward translational limit, proximity detector 332 detects the presence of rear- ward tablet 110 and transmits rearward tablet rearward limit signal 333 to controller 302. In response to the receipt of signal 333, controller 302 controllably reduces the amplitude of rearward tablet drive signal 314, causing the rearward retraction of rearward tablet 110 to decelerate to a stop.

Rearward tablet drive signal 314 is provided as a constant amplitude drive signal during the rearward retraction of rearward tablet 110, until controller 302 receives rearward tablet rearward limit signal 333 from proximity detector 332. When controller 302 receives signal 333, controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of rearward tablet drive signal 314, so that rearward tablet 110 comes to a stop in a position just forward of emergency stop proximity detector 334. This longitudinal position is the open configuration position for rearward tablet 110. If, for some unforeseen reason, rearward tablet 110 travels too far in the rearward direction, then proximity detector 334 outputs emergency stop signal 335, which cuts off rearward tablet drive signal 314, immediately stopping any further rearward retraction of rearward tablet 110. At substantially the same time as the rearward retraction of rearward tablet 110, controller 302 outputs forward tablet drive signal 318 to variable speed drive controller 310, which drives forward tablet drive motor 234, causing the forward advance of forward tablet translation mechanism 232 and forward tablet 210. As forward tablet 210 nears its forward translational limit, proximity detector 344 detects the presence of forward tablet 210 and transmits forward tablet forward limit signal 345 to controller 302. In response to the receipt of signal 345, controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of forward tablet drive signal 318, causing the forward advance of forward tablet 210 to decelerate to a stop.

Forward tablet drive signal 318 is provided as a constant amplitude drive signal during the forward advance of forward tablet 210, until controller 302 receives forward tablet forward limit signal 345 from proximity detector 344. When controller 302 receives signal 345, controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of forward tablet drive signal 318, so that forward tablet 210 comes to a stop in a position just rearward of emergency stop proximity detector 346. This longitudinal position is the open configuration position for forward tablet 210. If, for some unforeseen reason, forward tablet 210 travels too far in the forward direction, then proximity detector 346 outputs emergency stop signal 347, which cuts off forward tablet drive signal 318, immediately stopping any further forward advance of forward tablet 210.

Prior to veneer sheet 22 reaching the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 24, controller 302 also controUably adjusts the speed of rearward conveyor belt drive motor 126, such that rearward conveyor belts 112 are brought to substantially the same speed as conveyor belts 24. More specifically, controller 302 monitors rearward conveyor movement signal 324 (produced by encoder 320) and uses rearward conveyor movement signal 324 to controUably generate rearward conveyor belt drive signal 312. Controller 302 outputs rearward conveyor belt drive signal 312 to variable speed drive controller 304, which controUably drives rearward conveyor belt drive motor 126 until the speed of conveyor belts 112 reaches substantially the same speed as conveyor belts 24. Alternatively, controller 302 may output a predetermined rearward conveyor belt drive signal 312, such that the speed of conveyor belts 112 approaches the speed of conveyor belts 24 in an "open loop" manner (i.e. without incorporating feedback information from rearward conveyor movement signal 324).

Controller 302 controUably adjusts the speed of forward conveyor belt drive motor 226, such that the speed of forward conveyor belts 212 continually tracks the speed of rearward conveyor belts 112. More specifically, controller 302 monitors rearward conveyor movement signal 324 (produced by encoder 320) and forward conveyor movement signal 326 (produced by encoder 322) and uses these encoder signals 324, 326 to controUably generate forward conveyor belt drive signal 316. Controller 302 outputs forward conveyor belt drive signal 316 to variable speed drive controller 308, which controUably drives forward conveyor belt drive motor 226 in such a manner that the speed of forward conveyor belts 212 tracks the speed of rearward conveyor belts 112. The speed of forward conveyor belts 212 need not track the speed of rearward conveyor belts 112 at all times. For example, it is only necessary that forward conveyor belts 212 track the speed of rearward conveyor belts 112 when a forward portion of a veneer sheet 22 is located on forward conveyor belts 212 and a rearward portion of the veneer sheet 22 is located on rearward conveyor belts 112. The speeds of rearward and forward conveyor belts 112, 212 can alternatively be independently controlled, such that both rearward and forward conveyor belts 112, 212 independently track desired target speeds. Dual tablet lay-up device 100 is in its open configuration when veneer sheet 22 reaches the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 24. As a veneer sheet 22 is conveyed forwardly past the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 24, it passes onto conveyor belts 112 and is thereby transferred from input conveyor 20 to rearward tablet assembly 102. As discussed above, the speeds of conveyor belts 112, 24 are approximately the same during the transfer to avoid bending or stretching veneer sheet 22. Alignment of the sheet's transverse edge 22 A is maintained during the transfer by suction applied through apertures 180, 186 as previously explained. When the forward edge 22B of sheet 22 intersects the notional plane formed by optical detector 328 and reflector 330, optical detector 328 transmits veneer sheet position signal 329 to controller 302, which indicates that a veneer sheet 22 has been transferred onto rearward conveyor belts 112. In response to veneer sheet position signal 329, controller 302 causes veneer sheet 22 to be conveyed forwardly on dual tablet lay-up device 100 until sheet 22 reaches its desired lay-up position.

Upon receipt of veneer sheet position signal 329, controller 302 causes dual tablet lay-up device 100 to advance to is closed configuration (see Figures 5 and 6) by forwardly translating rearward tablet 110 and rearwardly translating forward tablet 210.

To forwardly translate rearward tablet 110 into its closed configuration position, controller 302 outputs rearward tablet drive signal 314 to variable speed drive controller 306, which drives rearward tablet drive motor 134, causing the forward translation of rearward tablet translation mechanism 132 and rearward tablet 110. As rearward tablet 110 nears its forward translational limit, proximity detector 336 detects the pres- ence of rearward tablet 110 and transmits rearward tablet forward limit signal 337 to controller 302. In response to the receipt of signal 337, controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of rearward tablet drive signal 314, causing the forward translation of rearward tablet 110 to decelerate to a stop. Rearward tablet drive signal 314 is provided as a constant amplitude drive signal during the forward translation of rearward tablet 110, until controller 302 receives rearward tablet forward limit signal 337 from proximity detector 336. When controller 302 receives signal 337, controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of rearward tablet drive signal 314, so that rearward tablet 110 comes to a stop in a closed configuration position just rearward of emergency stop proximity detector 338. This longitudinal position is the closed configuration position for rearward tablet 110. If, for some unforeseen reason, rearward tablet 110 travels too far in the forward direction, then proximity detector 338 outputs emergency stop signal 339, which cuts off rearward tablet drive signal 314, immediately stopping any further forward translation of rearward tablet 110.

At substantially the same time as the forward translation of rearward tablet 110, controller 302 causes the rearward translation of for- ward tablet 210 into its closed configuration position. Controller 302 outputs forward tablet drive signal 318 to variable speed drive controller 310, which drives forward tablet drive motor 234, causing the rearward translation of forward tablet translation mechanism 232 and forward tablet 210. As forward tablet 210 nears its rearward translational limit, proximity detector 340 detects the presence of forward tablet 210 and transmits forward tablet rearward limit signal 341 to controller 302. In response to the receipt of signal 341 , controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of forward tablet drive signal 318, causing the rearward translation of forward tablet 210 to decelerate to a stop.

Forward tablet drive signal 318 is provided as a constant amplitude drive signal during the rearward translation of forward tablet 210, until controller 302 receives forward tablet rearward limit signal 341 from proximity detector 340. When controller 302 receives signal 341, controller 302 controUably reduces the amplitude of forward tablet drive signal 318, so that forward tablet 210 comes to a stop in a closed configuration position just forward of emergency stop proximity detector 342. This position is the closed configuration position for forward tablet 210. If, for some unforeseen reason, forward tablet 210 travels too far in the rearward direction, then proximity detector 342 outputs emergency stop signal 343, which cuts off forward tablet drive signal 318, immediately stopping any further rearward translation of forward tablet 210. After veneer sheet 22 is transferred to rearward conveyor belts 112 and controller 302 receives veneer sheet position signal 329, controller 302 continues to controUably actuate rearward and forward conveyor belt drive motors 126, 226 and rearward and forward conveyor belt mechanisms 160, 260 to control the motion of rearward and forward conveyor belts 112, 212. The controlled motion of rearward and forward conveyor belts 112, 212 permits controlled forward conveyance of veneer sheet 22 to its desired lay-up position which is just rearward of fence 204 (see Figures 2 and 5).

Controller 302 is pre-programmed with the desired longitudinal lay-up position for veneer sheet 22. This desired lay-up position is preferably expressed as the number of encoder counts (i.e. of encoder 320) required to move a veneer sheet 22 between the longitudinal position of optical sensor 328 and the desired lay-up position. When controller 302 receives veneer sheet position signal 329, controller 302 monitors rearward conveyor movement signal 324 and uses rearward conveyor movement signal 324 along with the desired lay-up position to controUably generate rearward conveyor belt drive signal 312. Controller 302 outputs rearward conveyor belt drive signal 312 to variable speed actuator 304, which drives rearward conveyor belt drive motor 126 to control- lably convey veneer sheet 22 in a forward direction until veneer sheet 22 reaches the desired lay-up position. Preferably, the control algorithms used by controller 302 are configured such that, after the receipt of veneer sheet position signal 329, dual tablet lay-up device 100 moves between its open configuration and its closed configuration relatively quickly in comparison to the movement of veneer sheet 22 along rearward conveyor belts 112. In this manner, dual tablet lay-up device 100 is in its closed configuration before veneer sheet 22 reaches the forwardmost ends of rearward conveyor belts 112. When dual tablet lay-up device 100 is in its closed configuration, the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 112 are interleaved with the rearwardmost ends of conveyor belts 212 (see Figure 5). As the forward edge 22B of veneer sheet 22 is conveyed forwardly towards and past the forwardmost ends of conveyor belts 112, a forward portion of veneer sheet 22 passes onto conveyor belts 212. As discussed above, controller 302 preferably actuates forward conveyor belt drive motor 226 and forward conveyor belt assembly 260, such that forward conveyor belts 212 continually track the speed of rearward conveyor belts 112. Because the speed of conveyor belts 212 tracks the speed of conveyor belts 112, veneer sheet 22 is not stretched or bent as its forward portion is transferred to conveyor belts 212. The alignment of veneer sheets 22 is maintained during the passage of the forward portion of veneer sheet 22 onto conveyor belts 212 by the combined suction force applied through apertures 180, 186, 280, 286 as previously explained.

As veneer sheet 22 approaches its desired lay-up position, controller 302 causes rearward and forward conveyor belts 112, 212 to control- lably decelerate until veneer sheet 22 comes to rest in its desired lay-up position.

Once veneer sheet 22 has reached its desired lay-up position, controller 302 actuates rearward and forward tablet drive motors 134, 234 and rearward and forward tablet translation mechanisms 132, 232 to controUably move dual tablet lay-up device 100 into its open configuration again. As described above, controller 302 moves dual tablet lay-up device 100 to its open configuration by rearwardly retracting rearward tablet 110 and forwardly advancing forward tablet 210. As forward tablet 210 advances forwardly from under forward edge 22B of veneer sheet 22 and rearward tablet 110 retracts rearwardly from under the rearward edge 22C of veneer sheet 22, veneer sheet 22 drops onto lay-up carriage 500 (see Figure 1). During the initial movement of dual tablet lay-up device 100 towards its open configuration (i.e. while veneer sheet 22 remains atop of conveyor belts 112, 212), conveyor belts 112, 212 remain motionless. Because conveyor belts 112, 212 are motionless and because suction force is continually applied through apertures 180, 186, 280, 286, veneer sheet 22 does not move transversely or longitudinally during the movement of dual tablet lay-up device 100 towards it open configuration. Consequently, veneer sheet 22 drops onto lay-up carriage 500 precisely in the desired lay-up position.

The process of transferring veneer sheets 22 from input conveyor 20 to rearward tablet assembly 102 and controlling the reciprocating movement of the components of rearward tablet assembly 102 and forward tablet assembly 202 to drop veneer sheet 22 onto lay-up carriage 500 is repeated for a plurality of veneer sheets 22 in order to lay-up a multi-ply lumber product having the desired number of plies.

A particular embodiment of lay-up carriage 500 is depicted in Figure 12. Lay-up carriage 500 is generally located underneath dual tablet lay-up device 100 (see Figure 1). Lay-up carriage 500 includes a pair of substantially parallel transversely extending base members 502, 504, which support a mobile frame assembly 506 for transverse movement relative to dual tablet lay-up device 100 (see Figure 1). Mobile frame assembly 506 supports a plurality of vertically moveable tines 508, which extend generally forwardly from mobile fame assembly 506 at transversely spaced apart locations. The upper surfaces of tines 508 are preferably substantially horizontally oriented.

Lay-up carriage 500 includes a drive motor 510, control hardware and software (not shown) and suitable mechanism(s) (not shown) for controUably moving mobile frame assembly 506 in a transverse direction relative to dual tablet may up device 100. Lay-up carriage 500 also includes a hydraulic cylinder 512, control hardware and software (not shown), and suitable mechanism(s) (not shown) for controUably moving tines 508 is a vertical direction relative to dual tablet lay-up device 100. Lay-up carriage 500 cooperates with dual tablet lay-up device to lay-up veneer sheets 22. Input conveyor 20 feeds individual veneer sheets 22 onto dual tablet lay-up device 100 and dual tablet lay-up device 100 lays up the successive individual sheets 22 onto lay-up carriage 500 as described above. The operation of lay-up carriage 500 depends on the type of multi-ply lumber product being produced.

In the case of plywood, it is desirable to lay-up multiple veneer sheets 22 directly on top of one another. During the lay-up of a plywood product, therefore, mobile frame assembly 506 remains at a single transverse location as successive veneer sheets 22 drop from dual tablet lay-up device 100 and are layed up onto tines 508 (or onto preceding veneer sheets 22). As each successive veneer sheet 22 is layed up, hydraulic cylinder 512 is controUably actuated to incrementally lower tines 508. Alternatively, hydraulic cylinder 512 may be controUably actuated to incrementally lower tines 508 on an intermittent basis. In this manner, lay-up carriage 500 cooperates with dual tablet lay-up device 100 to maintain the precise alignment of each successive veneer sheet 22. When the desired number of plies (i.e. sheets 22) has been layed up onto tines 508, hydraulic cylinder 512 and drive motor 510 are respectively actuated to move the stack of veneer sheets (not shown) downwardly away from, and transversely out from underneath, dual tablet lay-up device 100. Spaced apart tine members 508 allow the layed up stacks of veneer to be easily transported off of lay-up carriage 500 for further processing by forklift or other means.

In the case of LVL, it is desirable to lay-up successive veneer sheets 22 that are transversely offset by a predetermined amount with respect to one another. Such inter-ply displacement may be used to form butt joints between two or more pieces of LVL. To fabricate LVL, drive motor 510 is controUably actuated between each successive veneer sheet 22, such that mobile frame assembly 506 (and hence tines 508) move incrementally in a transverse direction with respect to dual tablet lay-up device 100. Hydraulic cylinder 512 is also controUably actuated to incrementally lower tines 508 between each successive veneer sheet 22. Alternatively, hydraulic cylinder 512 may be controUably actuated to incrementally lower tines 508 on an intermittent basis. In this manner, lay-up carriage 500 cooperates with dual tablet lay-up device 100 to align the transverse edge 22 A of each successive veneer sheet 22 in a position which is transversely offset from that of the immediately preceding veneer sheet 22. When the desired number of plies (i.e. sheets 22) has been layed up onto tines 508, hydraulic cylinder 512 and drive motor 510 are respectively actuated to move the stack of veneer sheets (not shown) downwardly away from, and transversely out from underneath, dual tablet lay-up device 100, such that the stack of sheets may be removed from lay-up carriage 500 by forklift or other means.

As will be apparent to those skilled in the art in the light of the foregoing disclosure, many alterations and modifications are possible in the practice of this invention without departing from the spirit or scope thereof. For example:

• When dual tablet lay-up device 100 is in its closed configuration (Figure 5), rearward conveyor belts 112 interleave with forward conveyor belts 212. Such an interleaved configuration is not a neces- sary aspect of the invention. Each rearward conveyor belt 112 may extend equidistantly in the forward direction and each forward conveyor belt 212 may extend equidistantly in the rearward direction. • Rearward frame member 106 and forward frame member 206 may be integral with one another. Similarly, rearward frame member 108 and forward frame member 208 may be integral with one another.

• The actuation mechanisms of forward conveyor belt mechanism 260, forward translation mechanism 232, rearward conveyor belt mechanism 160 and rearward translation mechanism 132 are depicted as pulleys and belts. Other mechanisms, such as gears and/or chains may be used. In addition, any type of controllable actuators may be used for these mechanisms, including without limitation: electric motors, combustion engines, hydraulic motors, hydraulic cylinders and the like.

• Optical sensor 328 may generally be any type of edge-detect sensor capable detecting a forward edge 22B of veneer sheets 22 at precise locations. For example, acoustic sensors, imaging sensors, mechanical edge detectors and/or capacitive edge detectors may be used in place of optical sensor 328.

• Inductive proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346 may generally be implemented using any type of proximity or distance detectors. For example, acoustic, infra red or imaging sensors may be used in place of inductive proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346.

• Other types of sensors could replace proximity detectors 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 342, 344, 346 to provide the feedback required to control the motion of rearward and forward tablet mechanisms 132, 232. For example, encoders coupled to the shafts of motors 134, 234 could also be used as feedback devices to control the motion of rearward and forward tablet mechanisms 132, 232.

• Controller 302 may use any of a wide variety of well known control algorithms to effect the speed and/or position control of conveyor belt drive motors 126, 226, conveyor belt assemblies 160, 260, rearward and forward tablet drive motors 134, 234 and rearward and forward tablet assemblies 132, 232. • Input conveyor 20 and lay-up carriage 500 are not essential to the invention. In general, dual tablet lay-up device 100 may receive veneer sheets 22 from any source and lay-up veneer sheets 22 onto any surface. Preferably, the surface onto which veneer sheets 22 are layed up is substantially horizontal.

• When laying up veneer sheets for the production of plywood, lay-up carriage 500 may be implemented as a stationary hoist. Such a hoist is not required to move transversely. Preferably, however, the hoist may be incrementally lowered between the lay-up of successive veneer sheets 22. Alternatively, the hoist may be intermittently lowered.

• To fabricate LVL according to the embodiment of Figure 12, lay-up carriage 500 is described as moving transversely by a predetermined amount between successive veneer sheets 22. Lay-up carriage 500 may alternatively be constructed to move longitudinally by a predeter- mined amount between successive veneer sheets 22, so as to create LVL wherein successive plies are longitudinally offset from one another.

• Vertical movement of fork assembly 534 is not required. Tines 538 may be positioned at a suitable height (relative to dual tablet lay-up device 100) that a sufficient number of veneer sheets 22 can be layed up onto one another without interfering with the operation of dual tablet lay-up device 100.

The scope of the invention is to be construed in accordance with the substance defined by the following claims.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. Veneer sheet lay-up apparatus (10), characterized by:
(a) a longitudinally reciprocable rearward tablet (102); (b) a rearward conveyor (112) entrained around the rearward tablet for forwardly conveying a veneer sheet (22) received thereupon;
(c) a longitudinally reciprocable forward tablet (202);
(d) a forward conveyor (212) entrained around the forward tablet for forwardly conveying a forward portion of the veneer sheet; and,
(e) a controller (302) for detecting arrival of the veneer sheet at a desired lay-up position and thereupon simultaneously:
(i) rearwardly retracting the rearward tablet; and, (ii) forwardly advancing the forward tablet; from beneath the veneer sheet, creating a lay-up space beneath the veneer sheet for gravity-displacement of the veneer sheet into the lay-up space.
2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 , wherein opposing transverse sides of the rearward tablet are moveably supported between first and second longitudinally extending frame members (106, 108).
3. Apparatus as defined in claim 2, further characterized by: (a) a first plurality of wheels (152, 156), each of which is rotatably mounted to a first transverse side of the rearward tablet and rollable atop a surface of the first longitudinally extending frame member; and,
(b) a second plurality of wheels (152', 156'), each of which is rotatably mounted to a second transverse side of the rearward tablet and rollable atop a surface of the second longitudinally extending frame member.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 3, wherein: (i) the surface of the first longitudinally extending frame member further comprises a substantially horizontal track (154) inwardly recessed in the first frame member; and, (ii) the surface of the second longitudinally extending frame member further comprises a substantially horizontal track inwardly recessed in the second frame member.
5. Apparatus as defined in claim 3, further characterized by drive means (134) coupled to the rearward tablet for longitudinally reciprocating the rearward tablet by drivably rolling the first and second pluralities of wheels on the surfaces of the first and second longitudinally extending frame members.
6. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 , further characterized by drive means (134) coupled to the rearward tablet for longitudinally reciprocating the rearward tablet.
7. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, the drive means comprising an electronically controllable drive motor.
8. Apparatus as defined in claim 7, the drive means comprising a sprocket (136) mounted on a shaft of the drive motor and a gear belt (138) entrained over the sprocket.
9. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, further characterized by a rearward tablet position sensor (332, 334, 336, 338) electronically coupled to the controller, the rearward tablet position sensor producing a rearward tablet position output signal representative of the rearward tablet's longitudinal position, the controller controUably actuating the drive means in response to the rearward tablet position signal.
10. Apparatus as defined in claim 9, further characterized by:
(a) a rearward tablet forward limit sensor (336) electronically coupled to the controller, the rearward tablet forward limit sensor producing a rearward tablet forward limit output signal (337) representative of proximity of a predetermined location on the rearward tablet to a first predetermined position; and,
(b) a rearward tablet rearward limit sensor (332) electronically coupled to the controller, the rearward tablet rearward limit sensor producing a rearward tablet rearward limit output signal (333) representative of proximity of a predetermined location on the rearward tablet to a second predetermined position.
11. Apparatus as defined in claim 9, the rearward tablet position sensor comprising an encoder coupled to the drive means.
12. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, further characterized by a veneer sheet position sensor (328) electronically coupled to the controller, the veneer sheet position sensor producing a veneer sheet position output signal (329) representative of the veneer sheet's longitudinal position on the rearward conveyor, the controller controUably actuating the drive means in response to the veneer sheet position signal.
13. Apparatus as defined in claim 12, the veneer sheet position sensor comprising an optical detector mounted to optically detect arrival of a predetermined point on the veneer sheet at a predetermined longitudinal position.
14. Apparatus as defined in claim 12, the veneer sheet position sensor comprising an edge detector mounted to detect arrival of a forward edge of the veneer sheet at a predetermined longitudinal position.
15. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 , further characterized by a plurality of apertures (180) in an upper surface of the rearward tablet.
16. Apparatus as defined in claim 15, further characterized by a vac- uum source (182) pneumatically coupled to draw air through the rearward tablet apertures.
17. Apparatus as defined in claim 16, further characterized by a plurality of apertures (186) in the rearward conveyor.
18. Apparatus as defined in claim 2, further characterized by:
(a) a shaft (122) extending between and rotatably mounted to the first and second frame members; (b) at least one rearward pulley (120) mounted on the shaft, each rearward pulley longitudinally aligned with a selected belt portion (114, 116) of the rearward conveyor; and,
(c) at least one forward pulley (118) rotatably mounted on a forward end of the rearward tablet, each forward pulley longitudinally aligned with a selected belt portion (114, 116) of the rearward conveyor; wherein each belt portion of the rearward conveyor is entrained over a corresponding pair of the rearward and forward pulleys.
19. Apparatus as defined in claim 18, further characterized by conveyor extension and retraction means (162, 164, 166) for:
(i) incrementally forwardly extending each belt portion of the rearward conveyor during and in proportion to forward displacement of the rearward tablet; and,
(ii) incrementally rearwardly retracting each belt portion of the rearward conveyor during and in proportion to rearward displacement of the rearward tablet.
20. Apparatus as defined in claim 18, further characterized by drive means (126) coupled to the shaft for simultaneously:
(i) drivingly rotating the at least one rearward pulley; and, (ii) longitudinally forwardly driving an upper surface of the rearward conveyor.
21. Apparatus as defined in claim 20, the drive means comprising an electronically controllable drive motor.
22. Apparatus as defined in claim 21 , the drive means further characterized by a first sprocket (128) mounted on the shaft, a second sprocket mounted on a drive shaft of the drive motor, and a gear belt (130) entrained over the first and second sprockets.
23. Apparatus as defined in claim 6, further characterized by drive means (126) coupled to the rearward conveyor for longitudinal forwardly driving an upper surface of the rearward conveyor.
24. Apparatus as defined in claim 20, further characterized by a veneer sheet position sensor (328) electronically coupled to the controller, the veneer sheet position sensor producing a veneer sheet position output signal (329) representative of the veneer sheet's longitudinal position on the rearward conveyor, the controller controUably actuating the drive means in response to the veneer sheet position signal.
25. Apparatus as defined in claim 24, the veneer sheet position sensor comprising an encoder coupled to the drive means.
26. Apparatus as defined in claim 20, further characterized by a rearward conveyor movement sensor (320) electronically coupled to the controller, the rearward conveyor movement sensor producing a rearward conveyor movement output signal (324) representative of movement of the rearward conveyor, the controller controUably actuating the drive means in response to the rearward conveyor movement signal.
27. Apparatus as defined in claim 26, the rearward conveyor movement sensor comprising an encoder coupled to the drive means.
28. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 , wherein opposing transverse sides of the forward tablet are moveably supported between first and second longitudinally extending frame members (206, 208).
29. Apparatus as defined in claim 28 characterized by:
(a) a first plurality of wheels (252, 256), each of which is rotatably mounted to a first transverse side of the forward tablet and rollable atop a surface of the first longitudinally extending frame member; and,
(b) a second plurality of wheels (252', 256'), each of which is rotatably mounted to a second transverse side of the forward tablet and rollable atop a surface of the second longitudinally extending frame member.
30. Apparatus as defined in claim 29, wherein:
(i) the surface of the first longitudinally extending frame member further comprises a substantially horizontal track (254) inwardly recessed in the first frame member; and, (ii) the surface of the second longitudinally extending frame member further comprises a substantially hori- zontal track inwardly recessed in the second frame member.
31. Apparatus as defined in claim 29, further characterized by drive means (234) coupled to the forward tablet for longitudinally recip- rocating the forward tablet by drivably rolling the first and second pluralities of wheels on the surfaces of the first and second longitudinally extending frame members.
32. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 , further characterized by drive means (234) coupled to the forward tablet for longitudinally reciprocating the forward tablet.
33. Apparatus as defined in claim 32, the drive means comprising an electronically controllable drive motor.
34. Apparatus as defined in claim 33, the drive means comprising a sprocket (236) mounted on a shaft of the drive motor and a gear belt (238) entrained over the sprocket.
35. Apparatus as defined in claim 32, further characterized by a forward tablet position sensor (340, 342, 344, 346) electronically coupled to the controller, the forward tablet position sensor producing a forward tablet position output signal (341, 343, 345, 347) representative of the forward tablet's longitudinal position, the controller controUably actuating the drive means in response to the forward tablet position signal.
36. Apparatus as defined in claim 35, further characterized by:
(a) a forward tablet rearward limit sensor (340) electronically coupled to the controller, the forward tablet rearward limit sensor producing a forward tablet rearward limit output signal (341) representative of proximity of a predetermined location on the forward tablet to a first predetermined position; and, (b) a forward tablet forward limit sensor (344) electronically coupled to the controller, the forward tablet forward limit sensor producing a forward tablet forward limit output signal (345) representative of proximity of a predetermined loca- tion on the forward tablet to a second predetermined position.
37. Apparatus as defined in claim 35, the forward tablet position sensor comprising an encoder coupled to the drive means.
38. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 , further characterized by a plurality of apertures (280) in an upper surface of the forward tablet.
39. Apparatus as defined in claim 38, further characterized by a vac- uum source (282) pneumatically coupled to draw air through the forward tablet apertures.
40. Apparatus as defined in claim 39, further characterized by a plurality of apertures (286) in the forward conveyor.
41. Apparatus as defined in claim 2, further characterized by:
(a) a shaft (222) extending between and rotatably mounted to the first and second frame members;
(b) at least one drive pulley (220) mounted on the shaft, each drive pulley longitudinally aligned with a selected belt portion (214, 216) of the forward conveyor;
(c) at least one rearward pulley (224) rotatably mounted on a rearward end of the forward tablet, each rearward pulley longitudinally aligned with a selected belt portion (214, 216) of the forward conveyor; and,
(d) at least one forward pulley (218) rotatably mounted on a forward end of the forward tablet, each forward pulley longitudinally aligned with a selected belt portion of the forward conveyor; wherein each belt portion of the forward conveyor is entrained over corresponding ones of the drive pulleys, rearward pulleys and forward pulleys.
42. Apparatus as defined in claim 41 further characterized by drive means (226) coupled to the shaft for simultaneously:
(i) drivingly rotating the at least one drive pulley; and, (ii) longitudinally forwardly driving an upper surface of the forward conveyor.
43. Apparatus as defined in claim 42, the drive means comprising an electronically controllable drive motor.
44. Apparatus as defined in claim 43, the drive means further characterized by a first sprocket (228) mounted on the shaft, a second sprocket mounted on a drive shaft of the drive motor, and a gear belt (230) entrained over the first and second sprockets.
45. Apparatus as defined in claim 32, further characterized by drive means (226) coupled to the forward conveyor for longitudinal forwardly driving an upper surface of the forward conveyor.
46. Apparatus as defined in claim 42, further characterized by a for- ward conveyor movement sensor (322) electronically coupled to the controller, the forward conveyor movement sensor producing a forward conveyor movement output signal (326) representative of movement of the forward conveyor, the controller controUably actuating the drive means in response to the forward conveyor movement signal.
47. Apparatus as defined in claim 46, the forward conveyor movement sensor further comprising an encoder coupled to the drive means.
48. A veneer sheet lay-up method, characterized by:
(a) receiving a veneer sheet (22) atop a rearward tablet (102);
(b) conveying the veneer sheet forwardly atop the rearward tablet into a desired lay-up position in which a forward portion of the veneer sheet extends forwardly beyond a forwardmost end of the rearward tablet onto a forward tablet
(202);
(c) substantially simultaneously:
(i) rearwardly retracting the rearward tablet; (ii) forwardly advancing the forward tablet; from beneath the veneer sheet to create a lay-up space beneath the veneer sheet; and, (d) gravity-displacing the veneer sheet into the lay-up space.
49. The method of claim 48, wherein conveying the veneer sheet forwardly atop the rearward tablet further comprises:
(i) longitudinally forwardly displacing the rearward tablet; and, (ii) longitudinally forwardly conveying the veneer sheet beyond the forwardmost end of the rearward tablet.
50. The method of claim 49, wherein conveying the veneer sheet forwardly atop the rearward tablet further comprises:
(i) receiving a forward portion of the veneer sheet atop the forward tablet; and,
(ii) longitudinally forwardly conveying the forward portion of the veneer sheet atop the forward tablet.
51. The method of claim 50, the longitudinally forwardly conveying the forward portion of the veneer sheet atop the forward tablet further characterized by forwardly conveying the veneer sheet with respect to the forward tablet.
52. The method of claim 51 , further characterized by stopping convey- ance of the veneer sheet during simultaneous rearward retraction of the rearward tablet and forward advance of the forward tablet.
53. The method of claim 48, further characterized by applying suction force to a bottom surface of the veneer sheet through the rearward and forward tablets.
54. Veneer sheet lay-up apparatus, characterized by:
(a) a rearward tablet (102) and a forward tablet (202), the tablets longitudinally reciprocable between: (i) an open configuration in which the tablets are longitudinally spaced apart from one another to create a lay- up space between the tablets; and, (ii) a closed configuration in which the tablets are longitudinally adjacent one another, within and eliminating the lay-up space;
(b) a rearward conveyor (112) entrained around the rearward tablet for forwardly conveying a veneer sheet received thereupon;
(c) a forward conveyor (212) entrained around the forward tablet for forwardly conveying a forward portion of the veneer sheet; and, (d) a controller (302) for detecting arrival of the veneer sheet at a desired lay-up position and thereupon simultaneously: (i) rearwardly retracting the rearward tablet; and, (ii) forwardly advancing the forward tablet; from beneath the veneer sheet, creating the lay-up space beneath the veneer sheet for gravity-displacement of the veneer sheet into the lay-up space.
55. A veneer sheet lay-up method, characterized by:
(a) receiving a veneer sheet atop a rearward conveyor (112); (b) conveying the veneer sheet forwardly atop the rearward conveyor into a desired lay-up position in which a forward portion of the veneer sheet extends forwardly beyond a forwardmost end of the rearward conveyor onto a forward conveyor (212); (c) substantially simultaneously:
(i) rearwardly retracting the rearward conveyor; (ii) forwardly advancing the forward conveyor; from beneath the veneer sheet to create a lay-up space beneath the veneer sheet; and, (d) gravity-displacing the veneer sheet into the lay-up space.
PCT/CA2003/000081 2002-01-23 2003-01-22 Method and apparatus for veneer lay-up WO2003061923A1 (en)

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CA 2473415 CA2473415A1 (en) 2002-01-23 2003-01-22 Method and apparatus for veneer lay-up
DE2003192231 DE10392231T5 (en) 2002-01-23 2003-01-22 Method and device for veneering

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