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Title:
COLLECTOR FOR SNOW-CLEARING INDICATOR STICKS AND METHOD OF COLLECTING SNOW-CLEARING INDICATOR STICKS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/077149
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
There is described a collector (1) for snow-clearing indicator sticks provided with a multi joint gripping arm (12) pivotal between an initial position substantially coincident with an operative direction of motion (F) of a vehicle (2) which is carrying the collector (1) for snow-clearing indicator sticks, and a position directed away from a carriageway (3) for the vehicle (2) and towards a storage element (13) for the snow-clearing indicator sticks (4) that are picked up. A front arm section (123) which includes a gripping device (124) is arranged to be pivoted, by the pivoting movement of the gripping arm (12) in a first sequence of movements, towards the carriageway (3) and then be pivoted back into its initial position. There is also described a method of collecting snow-clearing indicator sticks (4) by the use of the collector (1) for snow-clearing indicator sticks.

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Inventors:
ROB, Frank (Vatland, Kvinesdal, N-4480, NO)
Application Number:
NO2009/000448
Publication Date:
July 08, 2010
Filing Date:
December 28, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RØYNESTAD, Tom, Toralv (N-4480 Kvinesdal, NO)
ROB, Frank (Vatland, Kvinesdal, N-4480, NO)
NILSEN, Jan, Ove (Oftedal, Tonstad, N-4440, NO)
International Classes:
E01F9/70; E04H17/26
Foreign References:
DK9700322U41998-12-28
FI913604A1993-01-31
NO175322C1994-09-28
DE3238945A11984-05-03
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HÅMSØ PATENTBYRÅ ANS (P.O. Box 171, Sandnes, N-4302, NO)
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Claims:
C l a i m s

1. A collector device (1) for snow-clearing indicator sticks arranged for releasable connection to a vehicle (2) , comprising a movable gripping arm (12) which is provided with a gripping device (124) at a projecting end portion, the gripping arm (12) being provided with rear and front pivot joints (121a, 123a) , the front pivot joint (123a) being arranged at a distance from the rear pivot joint (121a) , a rear arm section (121) being supported in the rear pivot joint (121a) , pivotal between an, in the position of use, initial position, projecting substantially in an operative direction of motion (F) of the vehicle (2), and a second position, directed away from the carriageway (3) on which the vehicle (2) is moving, c h a r a c t e r i - z e d i n that a front arm section (123) is supported in the front pivot joint (123a) , pivotal between an, in the position of use, initial position, projecting substantially in the operative direction of motion (F) of the vehicle (2) , and a second position, in which the front arm section is pivoted counter to the pivotal direction of the rear arm section (121) .

2. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the initial position of the rear arm section (121) is substantially parallel to the carriageway (3) .

3. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the longitudinal direction of the front arm section (123) is substantially coin- cident with the longitudinal direction of the rear arm section (121) .

4. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the gripping arm (12) is provided with a middle pivot joint (122a) which is arranged on the rear arm 5 section (121) between the rear and front pivot joints (121a, 123a) ; and a middle arm section (122) is supported in the middle pivot joint (122a) , pivotal between an initial position, in which the longitudinal direction of saido arm section (122) is substantially coincident with the longitudinal direction of the rear arm section (121) , and a second position, in which it has been pivoted towards a storage element (13) .

5. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c -5 t e r i z e d i n that a gripping device (124) is arranged at the free end portion of the front arm section (123) .

6. The device in accordance with claim 5, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the gripping device (124)0 includes gripping elements (124c) provided with one or more elongated gripping fingers (124d) and arranged to mutually engage in a releasable manner.

7. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the gripping arm (12) is5 provided with one or more sensors (127) , which is/are arranged to detect the presence of a snow-clearing indicator stick (4) , arranged adjacent to the free end portion of the gripping elements (124c) .

8. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c -o t e r i z e d i n that a control unit (23) includes means which are arranged to synchronize the pivotal movement of the gripping arm (12) with the propulsive motion of the vehicle at least during part of the movement of the front and rear arm sections (121, 123) from their initial positions.

9. The device in accordance with claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the pivotal movement of the front arm section (123) is provided by an actuator (123b) which has an associated biasing element arranged to be compressed by a load which is applied to the free end portion of the front arm section (123) .

10. The device in accordance with claim 9, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the biasing element is taken from a group including a hydraulic accumulator, a torsion spring, a disc spring and a helical spring.

11. A method of collecting snow-clearing indicator sticks (4) placed upright in the immediate vicinity of a carriageway (3) , by the continuous movement on the carriageway (3) of a vehicle (2) on which a collector (1) for snow-clearing indicator sticks is arranged, the method including the steps of : a) positioning a gripping arm (12) , extended in an operative direction of motion (F) of the vehicle (2) , with a gripping device (124) arranged in its open state at the front end portion (123) of the gripping arm (12) ; b) moving the vehicle (2) towards a snow- clearing indicator stick (4) until the snow-clearing indicator stick (4) activates a sensor (127) arranged ahead of a stick abutment (126) in the gripping device (124) ; c) in a first sequence of movements, closing the gripping device (124) around a portion of the snow- clearing indicator stick (4) , pivoting a rear arm sec- tion (121) upwards from an initial position, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the step c) also includes pivoting a front arm section (123) downwards from an initial position as the snow-clearing indica- tor stick (4) is released from the ground; and that the method includes the further step of : d) in a second sequence of movements, pivoting the front arm section (123) back into its initial position and pivoting the extended gripping arm (12) into a po- sition substantially extending up from the carriageway (3) .

12. The method according to claim 9, c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n that the method includes the further steps of: e) in a third sequence of movements, pivoting a middle arm section (122) and the outer arm section (123) to position the snow-clearing indicator stick (4) above a storage element (13) ; and f) opening the gripping device (124) to release the snow-clearing indicator stick (4) .

Description:
COLLECTOR FOR SNOW-CLEARING INDICATOR STICKS AND METHOD OF COLLECTING SNOW-CLEARING INDICATOR STICKS

There is described a collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks provided with a multijoint gripping arm which is piv- otal between an initial position, substantially coincident with an operative direction of motion of a vehicle carrying the stick collector, and a second position, directed away from a carriageway for the vehicle and towards a storage element for the sticks that are picked up. During the pivotal movement of the gripping arm, a front arm section including a gripping device is arranged to be pivoted, in a first sequence of movements, towards the carriageway and then be pivoted back into its initial position. There is also described a method of collecting snow-clearing indicator sticks by the use of the collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks.

Even though the term "snow-clearing indicator stick" suggests a pole- shaped body used for marking carriageway boundaries to facilitate the manoeuvring of snow-clearing equipment, the invention as such is not restricted to applying only to snow- clearing indicator sticks, but also includes the collecting of other pole-shaped elements projecting from the ground at the edge of the carriageway.

As a means of defining the boundaries of snow-covered roadways and other traffic areas against surrounding areas, large quantities of so-called snow-clearing indicator sticks are used. A large part of them are installed before the snow season starts and removed before summer. This work is time- consuming and expensive.

The invention has for its object to remedy or reduce at least one of the drawbacks of the prior art .

The object is achieved through features which are specified in the description below and in the claims that follow.

The invention provides a collector device for snow-clearing indicator sticks which enables the picking up of upright snow-clearing indicator sticks from the outer edge of a carriageway during the continuous propulsion of a vehicle on which the collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks is arranged. This is made possible by a gripping arm, which extends in the direction of propulsion of the vehicle, being provided with rear and front pivot joints around which, respectively, a rear and a front arm section can be pivoted in such a way that when the upward pivotal movement of the rear arm section starts, the front arm section pivots downwards during a first phase to reduce the strain on the snow- clearing indicator stick during the initial lifting sequence. In this critical phase, the snow-clearing indicator stick is still fixed in the ground, it is held in a firm grip by a gripping device connected to the front arm section while, at the same time, being bent constantly more forwards because of the continuous propulsion of the collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks. By the front arm section being bent downwards, the propulsive speed of the gripping device relative to the anchorage point of the snow-clearing indicator stick in the ground is reduced. At the same time, subjecting the snow-clearing indicator stick, from the portion against which the gripping device is bearing and upwards, to a secondary bending back towards the vertical position is avoided, which would be the situation for a gripping arm without the deflecting front arm section.

In a first aspect, the invention relates more specifically to a collector device for snow-clearing indicator sticks which is arranged to be detachably connected to a vehicle and includes a movable gripping arm which is provided with a gripping device at a projecting end portion, characterized by the gripping arm being provided with rear and front pivot joints; the front pivot joint being arranged at a distance from the rear pivot joint; a rear arm section being supported in the rear pivot joint pivotal between an, in the position of use, initial position projecting substantially in an operative direction of motion of the vehicle, and a second position directed away from a carriageway on which the vehicle is moving; and a front arm section being supported in the front pivot joint pivotal between an, in the position of use, initial position projecting substantially in an operative direction of motion of the vehicle and a second position in which the front arm section has been pivoted counter to the pivotal direction of the rear arm section.

The initial position of the rear arm section may be substantially parallel to the carriageway.

The longitudinal direction of the front arm section may be substantially coincident with the longitudinal direction of the rear arm section.

The gripping arm may be provided with a middle pivot joint which is arranged on the rear arm section between the rear and front pivot joints; and a middle arm section is supported in the middle pivot joint, pivotal between an initial posi- tion, in which the longitudinal direction of said arm section is substantially coincident with the longitudinal direction of the rear arm section, and a second position, pivoted towards a storage element.

A gripping device may be arranged at the free end portion of the front arm section.

The gripping device may include gripping elements provided with one or more elongated gripping fingers, these being arranged to mutually engage in a releasable manner.

The gripping arm may be provided with one or more sensors which are arranged to detect the presence of a snow-clearing indicator stick, the sensor (s) being arranged adjacent to the free end portion of the gripping element.

A control unit may include means that are arranged to syn- chronize the pivotal movement of the gripping arm with the propulsive motion of the vehicle, at least during part of the movement of the front and rear arm sections from their initial positions.

The pivotal movement of the front arm section may be provided by an actuator which has an associated biasing element arranged to be compressed by a load applied to the free end portion of the front arm section.

The biasing element may be taken from a group including a hydraulic accumulator, a torsion spring, a disc spring and a helical spring.

In a second aspect, the invention relates more specifically to a method of collecting a snow-clearing indicator stick placed upright in the immediate vicinity of a carriageway, by the continuous movement on a carriageway of a vehicle on which there is arranged a collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks, characterized by the method comprising the steps of: a) positioning a gripping arm, extended in an operative di- rection of motion of the vehicle with a gripping device arranged in its open state at the front end portion of the gripping arm; b) moving the vehicle towards a snow-clearing indicator stick until the snow-clearing indicator stick activates a sensor arranged ahead of a stick abutment in the gripping device; c) in a first sequence of movements, closing the gripping device around a portion of the snow-clearing indicator stick, pivoting a rear arm section upwards from an initial position and pivoting a front arm section downwards from an initial position as the snow-clearing indicator stick is released from the ground; and d) in a second sequence of movements, pivoting the front arm section back into its initial position and pivoting the extended gripping arm into a position substantially extending up from the carriageway.

The method may include the further steps of : e) in a third sequence of movements, pivoting a middle arm section and the front arm section to position the snow- clearing indicator stick above a storage element; and f) opening the gripping device to release the snow- clearing indicator stick.

In what follows is described an example of a preferred embodiment which is visualized in the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 shows in perspective, viewed from the side, a collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks according to the invention, viewed from the side, a gripping arm being extended in the initial position to grip a snow-clearing indicator stick;

Figure 2 shows, in perspective, the collector for snow- clearing indicator sticks in a front view, the gripping arm having been pivoted somewhat up from its initial position;

Figure 3 shows, on a larger scale, a section of the front part of the gripping arm, a front arm section hav- ing been cut through for reasons of exposition;

Figure 4 shows, on a smaller scale, the collector for snow- clearing indicator sticks mounted on a front loader arranged on a tractor; and

Figures 5, 6 and 7 show, on a larger scale, the gripping arm in three phases of the picking up of a snow- clearing indicator stick.

In the figures, the reference numeral 1 indicates a collector for snow-clearing indicator sticks connected to the implement mounting 21 of a front loader arranged on a tractor 2. The tractor 2 is arranged to move along the edge of a carriageway 3 at which snow-clearing indicator sticks 4 are arranged in a manner known per se, projecting up from the ground. In figure 4, an arrow F indicates the operative direction of motion of the tractor 2.

The collector 1 for snow-clearing indicator sticks is provided with a frame 11, at whose end portion a gripping arm 12 is supported. A storage element 13 arranged for the collection of snow-clearing indicator sticks 4 is arranged on the middle portion of the frame 11. The frame 11 is also arranged for the attachment of implement couplings (not shown) ar- ranged for releasable connection to the implement mounting 21 of the vehicle 2.

In a manner known per se, the tractor 2 is provided with an energy supply unit 22 in the form of a motorized hydraulic aggregate and a control unit 23 for its control.

The gripping arm 12 includes a rear arm section 121 which is supported, at an end portion, on the frame 11 in a rear pivot joint 121a and is pivotal between an, in the position of use, initial position substantially parallel to the carriageway 3 for the vehicle 2 and a second position directed away from the carriageway 3.

At its opposite end portion, the rear arm section 121 is connected to a middle arm section 122 via a middle pivot joint 122a which is pivotal between an initial position, in which the longitudinal direction of said arm section 122 is substantially coincident with the longitudinal direction of the rear arm section 121, and a second position, in which it has been pivoted towards the storage element 13.

At the front end portion of the middle arm section 122, the front arm section 123 is supported in a front pivot joint

123a, pivotal between an initial position, in which the longitudinal direction of said arm section 123 is substantially coincident with the longitudinal direction of the rear arm section 121, and a second position, in which the front arm section has been pivoted counter to the pivotal direction of the rear arm section 121.

In the exemplary embodiment shown, the rear arm section 121 may thereby be pivoted upwards, the middle arm section is pivoted away from the outer edge of the carriageway 3 and the front arm section 123 is pivoted down towards the carriageway 3. In connection with the pivot joint of each arm section 121, 122, 123, there is arranged an actuator 121b, 122b, 123b, respectively, in the form of double-acting hydraulic cylinders connected to the hydraulic system 22 of the tractor 2 by means of hydraulic hoses 128.

The front arm section 123 is provided with a gripping device 124 arranged as two cooperating gripping elements 124c, each pivotably supported around a respective fourth pivot joint 124a, the opening of the gripping device 124 being directed, in an operative position, towards the operative direction of motion F of the vehicle 2.

The gripping elements 124c are provided with elongated gripping fingers 124d and are arranged to mutually engage in a releasable manner as one finger 124d of one gripping element 124c can be moved in between the two fingers 124d of the opposite gripping element 124c and thereby move the snow- clearing indicator stick 4 into abutment against a stick abutment 126 at the bottom of the opening of the gripping device 124.

The gripping elements 124c are connected to a fourth actuator 124b which is arranged to move the gripping elements 124c synchronously between an open and a closed position. Here the fourth actuator 124b is provided as a double-acting hydraulic cylinder connected to the hydraulic system 22 of the tractor 2 by means of hydraulic hoses 128.

Adjacent to the free end portion of a gripping element 124c and thus at a distance from the stick abutment 126, there is arranged a sensor 127 which is connected in a signal- communicating manner to the control unit 23 and is arranged to indicate that an object is being moved into the opening of the gripping device 124, to provide, thereby, for the control unit 23 to generate the control signal necessary for closing the gripping device 124.

The gripping arm 12 is placed in the initial position; that is to say, extended in the operative direction of motion F of the vehicle 2 and substantially parallel to the carriageway 3, and is being moved with the open gripping device 124 towards a snow-clearing indicator stick 4 which is to be picked up. As the snow-clearing indicator stick 4 activates the sensor 127, the gripping device 124 is closed by means of the fourth actuator 124b, as the snow-clearing indicator stick 4 rests supportingly against the stick abutment 126. The front arm section 123 is pivoted downwards around the front pivot joint 123a as the gripping arm 12 is simultaneously pivoted upwards around the rear pivot joint 121a in a synchronized movement. Thereby, there is achieved a lifting movement of the snow-clearing indicator stick 4 which is pulled up from the ground. Then the front arm section 123 is pivoted back into its initial position while the gripping arm 12 continues its pivotal movement around the rear pivot joint 121a until the rear arm section 121 has reached its second position, substantially directed away from the carriageway 3. In this position, or in a last phase of this pivotal movement, the middle arm section 122 is pivoted around the middle pivot joint 122a from its initial position into its second position in the direction towards the storage element 13, and the gripping device 124 is opened so that the snow-clearing indicator stick 4 is released and falls into the storage element 13. Then the rear and middle arm sections 121, 122 are pivoted back into their initial positions, so that the gripping arm 12 takes its initial position to collect the next snow- clearing indicator stick 4.

It is obvious to a person skilled in the art to provide means for synchronizing the movements of the arm sections 121, 122, 123 and the gripping device 124, for example by arranging sensors at the pivot joints 121a, 122a, 123a, 124a, connected to control unit 23, with timed activation of the different sequences of movements .

In an alternative embodiment, not shown, a biasing element in the form of an accumulator arranged in the hydraulic circuit is connected to the front actuator 123b. The biasing element is activated when the load applied to the gripping device 124 as the snow-clearing indicator stick is gripped and pulled loose exceeds a certain limit. Thereby, when loaded, the front arm section 123 will perform the intended downward pivoting without the actuator 123b being activated. This solution may reduce the strain on the collector 1 for snow- clearing indicator sticks and the snow-clearing indicator stick 4. The biasing element may also be formed as a resilient attachment of the front actuator 123b. Alternatively, the biasing element may replace the actuator 123b.

Even though the exemplary embodiment shows a gripping arm 12 which lies, in its initial position, parallel to the carriageway 3 and has a longitudinal extent which is coincident with the operative direction of motion of the vehicle 2, it is to be understood from the invention that the collector 1 for snow-clearing indicator sticks will produce the desired effect also when the gripping arm 12 exhibits a direction deviating somewhat from that, especially as far as parallelism with the carriageway 3 is concerned.