Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
A DEVICE AND METHOD FOR FEEDING POUCHES TO A CAROUSEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/034956
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Method of supplying to a carousel pouches intended for containing liquid, viscous or granular products, said method comprising the steps of: -positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along a first zone (31) that is part of first feeding means (3) for feeding the pouches (2) to the carousel (5); -moving the pouches (2) located in said first zone (31) as far as the carousel (5); -picking up the pouches from the first zone (31) by means of said carousel (5); -positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along a second zone (41) that is part of second feeding means (4) for feeding the pouches (2) to the carousel (5); the step of positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along the second zone (41) occurring at least in part simultaneously with the step of picking up the pouches (2) from the first zone (31) by means of the carousel (5); -moving the pouches (2) located in said second zone (41) as far as the carousel (5) queuing the pouches (2) behind the pouches located in the first zone (31); -picking up the pouches (2) from the second zone (41) by means of the carousel (5).

Inventors:
BIANCHI, Paolo (Vicolo Monte Fuso 2, Corcagnano, I-43124, IT)
Application Number:
IB2015/055686
Publication Date:
March 10, 2016
Filing Date:
July 28, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FILLSHAPE S.R.L. (Via Kennedy 17, Zola Predosa, I-40069, IT)
International Classes:
B65B43/14; B31B50/94
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005058704A12005-06-30
Foreign References:
EP0872421A11998-10-21
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MONELLI, Alberto (Largo Michele Novaro, 1/A, Parma, I-43121, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A method for feeding to a carousel pouches intended to contain liquid, viscous or granular products, said method comprising the steps of:

-positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along a first zone (31 ) belonging to first means (3) for feeding the pouches (2) to the carousel (5);

-moving the pouches (2) placed in said first zone (31 ) to the carousel (5), this comprising moving said first zone (31 ) toward the carousel (5);

-picking up the pouches from the first zone (31 ) by means of said carousel (5);

characterized in that it comprises the steps of:

-positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along a second zone (41 ) belonging to second means (4) for feeding the pouches (2) to the carousel (5);

-moving the pouches (2) placed in said second zone (41 ) toward the carousel (5), queuing them behind the pouches placed in the first zone (31 ), the step of queuing the pouches (2) behind the first zone (31 ) taking place during the step of picking up the pouches (2) from the first zone (31 ) by means of said carousel (5); the step of moving the pouches (2) placed in said second zone (41 ) toward the carousel (5) involving moving the second zone (41 ) toward the carousel (5);

-picking up the pouches (2) from the second zone (41 ) by means of the carousel (5).

2. The method according to claim 1 , characterized in that the step of picking up the pouches (2) from the first zone (31 ) by means of the carousel (5) takes place at least in part simultaneously with the step of positioning said plurality of pouches (2) along the second zone (41 ).

3. The method according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the step of positioning said plurality of pouches (2) in the first zone (31 ) takes place in a loading station (6);

after the step of picking up the pouches (2) from the first zone (31 ) by means of the carousel (5), the method comprising the step of repositioning said first zone (31 ) at the loading station (6) to receive other pouches (2) to be conveyed to the carousel (5); at least during the step of repositioning said first zone (31 ) at the loading station (6), the method comprising said step of picking up the pouches from the second zone (41 ) by means of said carousel (5);

the step of positioning a plurality of pouches (2) in the second zone (41 ) taking place in said loading station (6); after the step of picking up the pouches (2) from the second zone (41 ) by means of the carousel (5), the method comprises the step of repositioning said second zone (41 ) at the loading station (6) to receive other pouches (2) to be conveyed to the carousel (5); the step of repositioning said second zone (41 ) at the loading station (6) being accompanied by a repositioning of the first zone (31 ) at the carousel (5) and a transfer of pouches from the first zone (31 ) to the carousel (5).

4. The method according to claim 3, characterized in that the repositioning of the first zone (31 ) at the carousel (5) is preceded by a step of placing, upstream of the carousel (5), the first zone (31 ) in queue behind the second zone (41 ), this taking place during the step of picking up the pouches from the second zone (41 ) by means of the carousel (5) and after said step of repositioning said first zone (31 ) at the loading station (6). 5. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the step of positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along the first zone (31 ) comprises a step of positioning said pouches (2) in first housings (32) placed in succession along said first feeding means (3); the carousel (5) picking up in succession the pouches (2) placed in said first housings (32);

the step of positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along the second zone (41 ) comprises the step of positioning said pouches (2) in second housings (42) placed in succession along said second feeding means (4); the carousel (5) picking up in succession the pouches (2) placed in said second housings (42).

6. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the step of moving the pouches (2) positioned in the second zone (41 ) to the carousel (5) comprises the step of moving said second zone (41 ) along a travel path comprising a first part in which the second feeding means (4) are moved at higher average velocity than in a second part in which the pouches (2) placed along the second feeding means (4) are immediately queued behind the pouches (2) placed along the first feeding means (3).

7. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the step of positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along the first zone (31 ) comprises the steps of:

- releasing a plurality of pouches (2) from adjacent magazines (60);

- allowing the pouches (2) to fall by gravity into said first zone (31 );

said first zone (31 ) being stationary during the step of positioning a plurality of pouches (2) along the first zone (31 ).

8. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that said first and second zones (31 , 41 ) move annularly along a same trajectory or along two parallel trajectories.

9. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the steps of moving the pouches (2) placed in the first and second zones (31 , 41 ) to the carousel (5) envisage that:

- the pitch existing between the pouches (2) placed in the first zone (31 ) is substantially equal to the pitch between the pouches placed in the second zone (41 );

- the distance between the last pouch (2) placed in the first zone (31 ) and the first pouch (2) placed in the second zone (41 ) is substantially equal to the pitch of the pouches (2) placed in the first and second zones (31 , 41 ); the distance between the last pouch (2) placed in the first zone (31 ) and the first pouch (2) placed in the second zone (41 ) being evaluated at the carousel (5); the first pouch placed in the second zone (41 ) being defined based on the order of approach to the carousel (5); the last pouch (2) placed in the first zone (31 ) being defined based on the order of approach to the carousel (5).

10. A device for feeding pouches intended to contain liquid, viscous or granular products, comprising:

-a plurality of pouch magazines (60);

-a rotating carousel (5);

-first means (3) for feeding the pouches from said plurality of magazines (60) to said carousel (5);

characterized in that it comprises:

- second means (4) for feeding the pouches from said plurality of magazines (60) to said rotating carousel (5);

- means for synchronizing the movement of the first feeding means (3) with respect to the second feeding means (4) to enable the device to take on at least:

i) a first configuration in which the first zone (31 ) is placed in the loading station (6) and the carousel (5) interacts with the second zone (41 );

ii) a second configuration in which the first zone (31 ) is queued behind the second zone (41 ) and the carousel (5) interacts with the second zone (41 ).

Description:
DESCRIPTION

A device and method for feeding pouches to a carousel

Technical field

The object of the present invention is a device and a method for feeding to a carousel pouches intended to contain liquid, viscous or granular products.

Flexible pouches provided with specific dispensing spout are well known for containing food products such as, for example, drinks or granular products.

The pouches are usually connected to the spout upstream of a filling zone. In order to speed up production, this task is performed in continuously operating rotating carousels.

Background art

For this purpose, a system is known that comprises a rotating organ that repeatedly picks up from two distinct accumulators a pouch and a corresponding spout, transferring the pouch and spout to a rotating carousel. This system is based on a hypocycloidal mechanism that enables it to be avoided that there are relative velocities at the zone in which the rotating organ picks up the pouches and the spouts from the accumulators and at the zone of transfer of the pouches and spouts to the carousel.

The rotating organ comprises a rotatable plate and gripping means that rotate along a rotation axis that in turns rotates around the rotation axis of the plate.

One drawback of this constructional solution is the fact that at each revolution of the plate a pouch and a corresponding spout are transferred to the carousel.

In order to speed up productivity further, the number of the rotating organs indicated above should be increased, but in this manner also the constructional complexity and production costs would grow.

In this context, the technical task that is the basis of the present invention is to propose a device and a method that overcome the drawbacks of the cited prior art.

Disclosure of the invention

In particular, one object of the present invention is to provide a device and a method that enable productivity to be increased by minimizing plant costs.

The technical task set and the objects specified are substantially attained by a device and a method, comprising the technical characteristics as set out in one or more of the accompanying claims.

Brief description of drawings

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become clearer from the indicative and thus non-limiting description of a preferred but non-exclusive embodiment of a device, as illustrated in the attached drawings, in which:

-figure 1 shows a perspective view of a device according to the present invention;

-figure 2 shows a perspective view of a device according to the present invention in a different configuration;

-figures 3 and 4 show two perspective views in different configurations of a detail of a device according to the present invention.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention

In the accompanying figures, reference number 1 indicates a device for feeding pouches intended to contain liquid, viscous or granular products The device 1 comprises a plurality of magazines 60 of the pouches. These magazines 60 are accumulators of the pouches. Preferably, the magazines 60 receive the pouches that are still devoid of the spout when the latter is subsequently connected. Advantageously, the magazines extend alongside in a row.

The device 1 further comprises a rotating carousel 5. The rotating carousel 5 receives the pouches coming from the magazines 60.

The carousel 5 advantageously comprises pouch gripping means. Advantageously, the gripping means are suction retaining means (also known in the industry as suction cups).

In regular operation it is important for the carousel 5 to rotate at a constant rotation velocity.

The device 1 further comprises first feeding means 3 for feeding the pouches from said plurality of magazines 60 to said rotating carousel 5. The device 1 further comprises second feeding means 4 for feeding the pouches from said plurality of magazines 60 to said rotating carousel 5. Suitably, the first feeding means 3 comprises a first conveyor. Preferably, the first conveyor follows an annular trajectory. Advantageously, the first conveyor comprises a plurality of first housings 32 for the pouches. For example, the first conveyor comprises a belt or a chain to which the first housings 32 are connected. Below, what is disclosed with explicit reference to the belt could also be repeated in the case of the presence of a chain.

In the exemplified solution in figure 3 or 4 the first housings 32 are shaped as pockets. The pockets are open at the top and comprise a lower rest 321 and two side grooves 322 for retaining the pouches. The portion of the pockets intended to face the carousel 5 is open to enable the pouch to be extracted.

Suitably, the device 1 comprises adjustment means for adjusting the height of the first housings 32.

Similarly, the second feeding means 4 comprises a second conveyor. Suitably, the second conveyor can comprise a plurality of second housings 42 for supporting the pouches. What has been disclosed with reference to the first conveyor can be repeated for the second conveyor.

Similarly, what has been disclosed with reference to the first housings 32 can be repeated for the second housings 42.

The device 1 further comprises synchronization means for synchronizing the movement of the first feeding means 3 with respect to the second feeding means 4. In this manner, downtime is minimized during carousel 5 feeding.

The first feeding means 3 comprise a first zone 31 for receiving the pouches. Similarly, the second feeding means 4 comprise a second zone 41 for receiving the pouches.

In a first configuration in which the first zone 31 is located at the loading station 6, the carousel 5 interacts with the second zone 41 .

In a second configuration in which the first zone 31 is immediately queued behind the second zone 41 , the carousel 5 still interacts with the second zone 41 . Similarly, in a configuration in which the second zone 41 is placed at the loading station 6, the carousel 5 interacts with the first zone 31 .

In the exemplified but non-limiting solution of the accompanying figures the first and the second conveyor respectively comprise a first and a second belt that are operationally coupled with first and second end rotating means (for example one or more pulleys). The first and second belt between the two end rotating units extend along a first and a second rectilinear line 91 , 92 whereas at the first and the second end rotating means the first and the second belt extend along a curved line. The loading station 6 is at the first rectilinear line 91 and the carousel 5 is at the second rectilinear line 92. Opportunely, the device 1 comprises a first belt guide 910 and a second belt guide 920. The first and the second guide 910, 920 extend respectively at the first and the second rectilinear line 91 , 92.

The object of the present invention is a method of feeding to a carousel 5 pouches intended for containing liquid, viscous or granular products. One or more steps of this method are advantageously implemented by a device 1 having one or more of the features disclosed above. These pouches are flexible pouches, which are typically made of two impermeable sheets between which the product is placed. Possibly, there can be a support base that extends transversely to the sheets. A container using a pouch of this type can also comprise a stiff spout for dispensing product that is - in part interposed between the two sheets.

The carousel 5 advantageously operates continuously so as to maximize productivity.

The method comprises the step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along a first zone 31 that is part of first feeding means 3 feeding the pouches 2 to the carousel 5. Preferably, the step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along the first zone 31 comprises the step of positioning said pouches 2 in first housings 32 placed in succession along said first feeding means 3. Opportunely, the first housings 32 extend one after the other with respect to an advancement direction of the first feeding means 3. The pitch between the first housings 32 is substantially constant. The step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 in the first zone 31 occurs in a loading station 6.

The first feeding means 3 can comprise a first conveyor that moves along an annular trajectory. The first conveyor can comprise a chain/belt that determines the movement of the first housings 32. Preferably, the positioning of all the pouches 2 along the first zone 31 occurs simultaneously.

Preferably, the step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along the first zone 31 envisages releasing a plurality of pouches 2 from magazines 60 (that are located in the same loading station 6). The magazines 60 contain a plurality of stacked pouches Advantageously, the magazines 60 extend alongside one another along the advancement direction of the first feeding means 3. Advantageously, the pouches 2 are dropped by gravity into said first zone 31 . More in particular, the step of positioning said plurality of pouches along the first or second zone 31 , 41 envisages picking up the pouches 2 by suction means 8 and then dropping the pouches 2 by gravity.

The pouch is then guided downwards to enable the pouch to be inserted inside one of the first housings 32 of the first zone 31 .

During the step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along the first zone 31 , the first zone 31 is stationary (thus also the first conveyor). Typically, in this step each first housing 32 is below a corresponding magazines 60. Subsequently, the method comprises the step of moving the pouches 2 located in said first zone 31 as far as the carousel 5. The step of moving the pouches located in the first zone 31 as far as the carousel 5 envisages moving said first zone 31 to the carousel 5.

At this point the method comprises the step of picking up the pouches from the first zone 31 by means of said carousel 5. The pouches 2 are picked up in succession. Suitably, the advancement velocity of the first zone 31 at the carousel 5 is substantially the same as the peripheral velocity of the carousel 5. In this manner the carousel 5 can pick up the pouches 2 without being hindered by a possible significant velocity difference at the removal zone.

After the step of picking up the pouches 2 from the first zone 31 by means of the carousel 5, the method comprises the step of repositioning said first zone 31 at the loading station 6 to receive other pouches 2 to be conveyed to the carousel 5.

The method further comprises the steps of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along a second zone 41 that is part of second feeding means 4 for feeding the pouches 2 to the carousel 5 (this configuration is illustrated in figure 1 ).

The step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along the second zone 41 occurs at least in part at the same time as the step of picking up the pouches 2 from the first zone 31 (see again figure 1 ).

The step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 along the second zone 41 comprises the step of positioning said pouches 2 in second housings 42 placed in succession along said second feeding means 4.

The second feeding means 4 can comprise a second conveyor that moves along an annular trajectory. The second conveyor can comprise a chain/belt that determines the movement of the second housings 42 in which the pouches 2 are positioned. The step of positioning a plurality of pouches 2 in the second zone 41 occurs in the loading station 6. The loading station 6 is thus common to the first and second feeding means. Opportunely, what has been disclosed with reference to the positioning of the pouches 2 in the first zone 31 can be repeated for positioning pouches 2 in the second zone 41 . Opportunely, the step of positioning the pouches in the first and/or in the second zone 31 , 41 envisages placing the pouches 2 vertically or any way in such a manner as to form an angle that is 20° less than the vertical angle.

The method further comprises the step of moving the pouches 2 located in said second zone 41 as far as the carousel 5. The step of moving the pouches 2 located in said second zone 41 to the carousel 5 envisages moving the second zone 41 to the carousel 5. The step of queuing the pouches 2 of the second zone 41 behind the pouches 2 of the first zone 31 occurs during the step of picking up the pouches 2 from the first zone 31 by means of the carousel 2.

The second zone 41 moves along an annular trajectory, passing through the loading station 6 and the carousel 5. Advantageously, the second zone 41 travels along this trajectory always in the same advancement direction. Opportunely, the first zone 31 and the second zone 41 (advantageously the first and the second housings 32, 42) move along the same trajectory or any way along parallel trajectories. As exemplified in the figures, the first and the second conveyor are alongside (preferably superimposed). In particular, in the exemplified solution illustrated in the accompanying figures, the first and the second conveyor comprise respectively a first and a second belt to which the first and the second housings 32, 42 are respectively connected. In particular, the first conveyor comprises a pair of belts (the first and the third from the bottom in figure 1 or 2) to which the first housings 32 are connected. The second conveyor on the other hand comprises a second pair of belts (the first and the third from the top in figure 1 or 2) to which the second housings 42 are connected. The steps of moving the pouches 2 located in said first zone 31 and in said second zone 41 as far as the carousel 5 envisages moving the pouches 2 and maintaining the pouches 2 at the same height with respect to a horizontal imaginary plane. For this purpose, advantageously the first and the second housings 32, 42 all lie at the same height, and in particular they are identical to one another. Opportunely, the first housings 32 extend in succession along the first feeding means 3 for less than a third of the annular trajectory travelled along by the first feeding means 3. Similarly, the second housings 42 extend in succession along the second feeding means 4 for less than a third of the annular trajectory travelled along by the second feeding means 4.

The method further envisages picking up the pouches 2 from the second zone 41 by means of the carousel 5.

The step of picking up the pouches 2 from the second zone 41 occurs immediately after the step of picking up the pouches 2 from the first zone 31 . Opportunely, this occurs without interrupting rotation of the carousel 5. The carousel 5 picks up(in succession) the pouches 2 located in said second housings 42.

After the step of picking up the pouches 2 from the second zone 41 by means of the carousel 5 the second zone 41 is repositioned at the loading station 6 to receive other pouches 2 to be conveyed to the carousel 5. The step of repositioning said second zone 41 at the loading station 6 is accompanied by repositioning of the first zone 31 at the carousel 5 and by the transfer of pouches from the first zone 31 to the carousel 5.

Repositioning of the first zone 31 at the carousel 5 is preceded by the step of queueing, upstream of the carousel 5, the first zone 31 behind the second zone 41 . This occurs during the step of picking up the pouches from the second zone 41 by means of the carousel 5 and after said step of repositioning said first zone 31 at the loading station 6.

During the step of picking up the pouches from the second zone 41 by means of the carousel 5, the first zone 31 moves from the carousel 5 to the loading station 6 to pick up other pouches and then queues up behind the second zone 41 upstream of the carousel 5 to enable new pouches to be fed to the carousel 5. During the step of picking up the pouches 2 from the first zone 31 by means of the carousel 5, the second zone 41 moves from the carousel 5 to the loading station 6 to pick up other pouches and then queues up behind the first zone 31 upstream of the carousel 5 to release again the pouches to the carousel 5.

The pitch existing between the pouches located in the first zone 31 is substantially the same as the pitch of the pouches located in the second zone 41 .

The step of moving the pouches 2 positioned in the second zone 41 as far as the carousel 5 comprises the step of moving the pouches along a travel path comprising a first portion in which the second feeding means 4 is moved at a greater average velocity than a second travel path portion. The first portion affects a portion of the travel path interposed between the loading station 6 and a reference (which may also be imaginary) in which the second zone 41 is queued behind the first zone 31 .

During said second travel path portion the pouches 2 located along the second feeding means 4 are immediately queued behind the pouches 2 located along the first feeding means 3. The distance between the last pouch 2 located in the first zone 31 and the first pouch 2 located in the second zone 41 is substantially the same as the pitch of the pouches 2 located in the first and/or in the second zone 31 , 41 (there could possibly be differences that are less than 10% of the pitch existing between the pouches 2 located in the first zone 31 ). The assessment of the distance between the last pouch 2 located in the first zone 31 and the first pouch 2 located in the second zone 41 occurs at the carousel 5; the first pouch located in the second zone 41 is defined on the basis of the order of approach to the carousel 5 of the pouches located in the second zone 41 ; the last pouch 2 located in the first zone 31 is defined on the basis of the order of approach to the carousel 5 of the pouches 2 located in the first zone 31 .

The carousel 5 further comprises a plurality of pouch picking stations; the first pouch located in the second zone 41 is picked up by the picking station immediately after the picking station that picks up the last pouch in the first zone 31 .

The carousel 5, when it has finished picking up the pouches 2 located in said first zone 31 , can thus pick up the pouches 2 located at said second zone 41 without interrupting service and thus optimizing productivity. The first and second pouch 2 mentioned previously are to be assessed with reference to the direction of advancement of the pouches 2 between the loading station 6 and the carousel 5.

In the exemplified and non limiting solution of the accompanying figures, the trajectory defined by the first and by the second zone 31 , 41 is a circuit comprising a first and a second rectilinear line 91 , 92 and two curved portions 93, 94 that connect the first and second rectilinear line 91 , 92. Opportunely, the loading station 6 is placed at the first rectilinear line 91 whilst the carousel 5 is located at the second rectilinear line 92.

During the step of repositioning said second zone 41 at the loading station 6 the second feeding means 4 moves on average faster than in said second portion. In fact, in this step the second feeding means 4 is devoid of pouches and so transfer time has to be reduced.

Once said second zone 41 is located at said loading station 6 the method envisages positioning the pouches at the second zone 41 .

Opportunely, the step of positioning the pouches 2 at the second zone 41 occurs at least in part simultaneously with the step of removing the pouches from the first zone 31 by means of said carousel 5. During the step of repositioning said second zone 41 at the loading station 6 the method envisages picking up the pouches from the first zone 31 by means of said carousel 5.

The method then envisages queuing the pouches 2 located in the second zone 41 behind the pouches 2 located in the first zone 31 and which are now located at the carousel 5 (this configuration is illustrated in figure 2). In this manner, continuity of picking up by the carousel 5 is assured. During the step of queuing the pouches 2 located in the second zone 41 behind the pouches 2 located in the first zone 31 the method envisages picking up the pouches from the first zone 31 by means of the carousel 5. In general, the carousel 5 is fed with regularity and picks up the pouches either from the first zone 31 or from the second zone 41 .

The method advantageously uses at least the first and second feeding means 3, 4 that transfer the pouches from the loading station 6 to the carousel 5, but further feeding means could possibly be present (for example a third belt provided with additional housings for the pouches). The invention as it is conceived enables multiple advantages to be attained.

In particular, it enables productivity to be speeded up by providing a plant that can be easily modulated according to the user's actual needs. In fact, the increase of productivity can be based on increasing the number of parallel magazines from which the first and second feeding means 3, 4 pick up the pouches. This has fairly moderate structural costs.

The invention as conceived is susceptible to numerous modifications and variants, all falling within the scope of the inventive concept characterized thereby. Furthermore all the details can be replaced by other technically equivalent elements. In practice, all the materials used, as well as the dimensions, can be any according to requirements.