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Title:
LUG BRUSHING OF TUBULAR POSITIVE PLATES OF LEAD ACID BATTERY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/203292
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure discloses a lug brushing machine for cleaning/brushing of lugs of tubular plates of lead acid storage batteries. The lug brushing machine incorporates feeder conveyor 210, a main conveyor 220 and a rotary table 230. The lug brushing machine further consists of a first brushing station 222 that brushes top and bottom surfaces of lug, a second brushing station 224 that brushes thickness surface of lug, a third and a fourth brushing stations 234 and 236 that brush two side surfaces of lug. The brushing stations are located on linearly moving main conveyer and rotary table. In an alternate embodiment, the machine can have six stations to carry out the required operations along a feeder conveyor, a main conveyor and a stacker conveyor, with handling stations for stacking/un-stacking and loading/unloading the plates. Dust generated during brushing process at the brushing machine 200 is collected by an exhaust system and conveyed to dust collection unit or a central dust collection system where lead in the dust can be extracted and recycled.

Inventors:
SHINGNE, Sadanand ('Profile Crest', #3 Gulmohar Path,Erandavane, Pune, Maharashtra 4, 411004, IN)
PANDIT, Jayada ('Pracheeti', 43/2 Khandoba Mandir Rd,Paud Rd,Near Chandni Chowk, Pune, Maharashtra 1, 411021, IN)
Application Number:
IB2018/053111
Publication Date:
November 08, 2018
Filing Date:
May 04, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SHINGNE, Sadanand ('Profile Crest', #3 Gulmohar Path,Erandavane, Pune, Maharashtra 4, 411004, IN)
PANDIT, Jayada ('Pracheeti', 43/2 Khandoba Mandir Rd,Paud Rd,Near Chandni Chowk, Pune, Maharashtra 1, 411021, IN)
International Classes:
H01M2/28; B08B1/00; B08B1/02; B08B1/04; B24B7/04; B24B7/06; B24B27/033; B24B29/00; B24B55/06; H01M4/14
Domestic Patent References:
WO1999016692A11999-04-08
Foreign References:
US3032795A1962-05-08
US20010029663A12001-10-18
DE9217054U11993-02-11
CH418167A1966-07-31
US3032795A1962-05-08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KHURANA & KHURANA, ADVOCATES & IP ATTORNEYS (E-13, UPSIDC Site-IV, Behind-Grand Venice,Kasna Road, Greater Noida, National Capital Region, Uttar Pradesh 0, 201310, IN)
Download PDF:
Claims:
We Claim:

1. A brushing machine for brushing lugs of battery plates to remove contaminants from surfaces of the lugs, the lugs having rectangular cross section and two opposing sides, a top side, a bottom side opposite the top side, and an end surface; the machine comprising: one or more side brushing stations adapted to brush the two sides of the lugs of a plurality of battery plates in stacked condition;

a top side and bottom side brushing station to simultaneously brush the top side and the bottom side of the lugs of individual battery plates one by one, using a pair of brushes mounted on top and bottom sides of the machine respectively; and a thickness brushing station to brush the end face of the lugs of the battery plates individually one by one by at least one rotating brush mounted on the side wall of the machine.

2. The machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the top side and bottom side brushing station and the thickness brushing station are arranged along a main conveyor.

3. The machine as claimed in claim 2, wherein the one or more sides brushing stations comprises two side brushing stations each adapted to brush one of the two side of the lugs of the battery plates in stacked condition; and wherein the two side brushing stations are arranged on a rotary conveyor.

4. The machine as claimed in claim 3, wherein rotary conveyor further includes a stacking station to pick the battery plates from the main conveyor and stack them on the rotary conveyor, and an unloading station to unload stacks of the battery plates.

5. The machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the one or more sides brushing stations are located on a feeder conveyor; and wherein the top side and bottom side brushing station is arranged on a main conveyor.

6. The machine as claimed in claim 5, wherein the one or more sides brushing stations is a single sides brushing station, and the feeder conveyor feeds stacks of horizontally stacked battery plates to the single sides brushing station, and the single sides brushing station is configured to brush the two sides of the lugsof the stacked battery plates together by reciprocating brushes.

7. The machine as claimed in claim 6, wherein the stack of battery plates is picked up from the feeder conveyor by a pick-and-place mechanism and placed on a battery plate-feeding unit configured to drop the battery plates one-by-one on the main conveyor, from bottom of the stack of the horizontally placed battery plates.

8. The machine as claimed in claim 5, wherein the one or more sides brushing stations are located on a feeder conveyor that is configured to feed the battery plates in stacks of vertically oriented battery plates; and wherein the feeder conveyor is made-up of duplex chains having plastic fingers for holding the stack of vertically oriented battery plates.

9. The machine as claimed in claim 9, wherein the chain on lug side is in two sections with space between the two sections, wherein the space between the two sections is used for locating one of the one or more sides brushing stations.

10. The machine as claimed in claim 9, wherein the vertically oriented battery plates from the stack are picked up by a series of vacuum pick-up cups and released on the main conveyor.

11. The machine as claimed in claim 5, wherein the main conveyor also includes a lug top milling station and a lug bottom milling station where the lug top and the lug bottom respectively are milled to a specified length.

12. The machine as claimed in claim 11, wherein the main conveyor also includes an additional top side and bottom side brushing station to brush the milled lug portion of the lug top and the lug bottom.

13. The machine as claimed in claim 1, wherein the machine further includes dust collection unit to collect dust generated during brushing at each of the different brushing stations.

Description:
LUG BRUSHING OF TUBULAR POSITIVE PLATES OF LEAD ACID BATTERY

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present disclosure relates generally to the field of cleaning/brushing operations. In particular, the present disclosure pertains to a machine for cleaning/brushing of lugs of tubular positive plates such as those used in storage batteries. In addition, the present disclosure also relates to a method of releasing a tubular plate horizontally and vertically on a corresponding conveyor for processing

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Background description includes information that may be useful in understanding the present invention. It is not an admission that any of the information provided herein is prior art or relevant to the presently claimed invention, or that any publication specifically or implicitly referenced is prior art.

[0003] During manufacture of lead acid storage batteries, series of Positive and Negative plates are stacked sequentially to form a "group," before they are welded on "Cast-on-strap (COS)", along the "Lug" of each Positive and Negative plates. These "group welded" plates are then placed in the housing of the battery, and connected to battery terminals.

[0004] However, a Lug of a Positive tubular plates during their manufacturing, tend to form a layer of Lead oxide and other contaminants on lug and other exposed areas of the plate. This layer of lead oxide and other contaminants on the lug has to be removed prior to Cast-on-strap (COS) process for better performance of welded joint in turn better performance of a battery.

[0005] This layer of lead oxide and contaminants is usually removed by a suitable process to prevent undesirable effects. Typically, manual cleaning is followed, wherein operator holds individual plates and brushes top and bottom sides of the lugs on a standalone brushing machine. Positive plates can weigh from couple of hundred grams as in case of tall tubular plates, to few kilograms or more, such as in case of some positive tubular plates of industrial batteries. Therefore, individual plate handling can not only be cumbersome but also time consuming, causing uneven brushing leading to quality problems and low productivity. Besides, lead dust generated during manual brushing process; cannot be effectively collected and operator is constantly exposed to the hazardous environment.

[0006] United States Patent number US3032795 A discloses a machine for lug cleaning having a work carrier in form of a conveyor for carrying one or a group of battery plates in tandem relationship past a plurality of brushes which remove paste or other foreign material adhering to the plate lugs. In particular, stacks of battery plates having aligned lugs separated a small distance are carried past two cylindrical brushes by a main conveyor and a second or hold down conveyor. One brush cleans one side and other brush cleans other side of the lug and thus top and bottom sides of lug are cleaned simultaneously. A discharge conveyor carries the brushed elements away from the machine. The machine disclosed in the above referred reference limits the cleaning of the lugs only to two sides and cleaning along the thickness and other two sides of lug.

[0007] Thus, neither conventional manual method nor the known mechanized method for brushing of lugs of positive plates of storage lead acid battery provides a complete solution. There is, therefore, a need for an improved cleaning method and device for brushing all sides of lug of tubular plate of lead acid battery, overcoming deficiencies of known machines.

[0008] All publications herein are incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application were specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference. Where a definition or use of a term in an incorporated reference is inconsistent or contrary to the definition of that term provided herein, the definition of that term provided herein applies and the definition of that term in the reference does not apply.

[0009] In some embodiments, the numbers expressing quantities of ingredients, properties such as concentration, reaction conditions, and so forth, used to describe and claim certain embodiments of the invention are to be understood as being modified in some instances by the term "about". Accordingly, in some embodiments, the numerical parameters set forth in the written description and attached claims are approximations that can vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained by a particular embodiment. Insome embodiments, the numerical parameters should be construed in light of the number of reported significant digits and by applying ordinary rounding techniques. Notwithstanding that the numerical ranges and parameters setting forth the broad scope of some embodiments of the invention are approximations, the numerical values set forth in the specific examples are reported as precisely as practicable. The numerical values presented in some embodiments of the invention may contain certain errors necessarily resulting from the standard deviation found in their respective testing measurements.

[0010] As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of "a," "an," and "the" includes plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein, the meaning of "in" includes "in" and "on" unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

[0011] The recitation of ranges of values herein is merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range. Unless otherwise indicated herein, each individual value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g. "such as") provided with respect to certain embodiments herein is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element essential to the practice of the invention.

[0012] Groupings of alternative elements or embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are not to be construed as limitations. Each group member can be referred to and claimed individually or in any combination with other members of the group or other elements found herein. One or more members of a group can be included in, or deleted from, a group for reasons of convenience and/or patentability. When any such inclusion or deletion occurs, the specification is herein deemed to contain the group as modified thus fulfilling the written description of all Markush groups used in the appended claims.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0013] A general object of the present disclosure is to provide an efficient cleaning/brushing/ milling machine for brushing all exposed sides of rectangular shaped lugs such as those of positive tubular plate of batteries. [0014] An object of the present disclosure is to provide a cleaning/ machine that overcomes deficiencies of known machines An object of the present disclosure is to provide a lug cleaning/brushing/ milling machine that includes milling of the lugs where necessary.

[0015] Another object of the present disclosure is to provide a method of releasing tubular plates horizontally, one- by- one, from a horizontal stack of plates.

[0016] Another object of the present disclosure is to provide a method of releasing tubular plates vertically, one-by-one, from a vertical stack of plates.

[0017] An object of the present disclosure is to provide a lug cleaning/brushing/ milling machine that cleans/brushes lugs wherever possible in stacked condition and thus speeds up process of cleaning/brushing.

[0018] Another object of the present disclosure is to provide a lug cleaning/brushing/ milling machine that cleans/brushes/mills all or only the required sides of lugs sequentially.

[0019] Yet another object of the present disclosure is to provide an environmentally healthy lug cleaning/brushing machine.

[0020] Yet another object of the present disclosure is to provide an automatic brushing process wherein lug thickness is maintained evenly.

[0021] Still another object of the present disclosure is to reduce handling of tubular plates to optimize workforce utilization.

[0022] Still another object of the present disclosure is to reduce fatigue of the worker/operator doing lug cleaning operation of positive plate

SUMMARYOF THE INVENTION

[0023] Aspects of the present disclosure relate to a cleaning/brushing/milling machine for cleaning/brushing all exposed sides of lugs having rectangular cross section such as those of tall tubular plates used in storage batteries. In an aspect, the lug cleaning/brushing machine incorporates multiple brushing stations, where all five sides of lugs can be sequentially cleaned by any or both of brushing action and milling, either partially or fully, on the required surfaces of the lug depending on requirement.

[0024] In an aspect, lug cleaning/brushing/milling machine includes a feeder conveyor, a main conveyor and a rotary table. Stack of tubular plates (also referred to as battery plates and the terms used interchangeably hereinafter) are loaded horizontally onto the feeder conveyor that transports the plates to main conveyer. Thereafter, at least one pick and place mechanism provided at the feeder conveyor, picks at least one plate from the stack and places it onto main conveyor so that the plate is passed through first brushing station and second brushing station located on the main conveyer. The rotary table consists of at least four substations, out of which at least two substations are side-brushing substations.

[0025] In an aspect, cleaning/brushing/milling arrangement includes at least four brushing stations. Further, in an exemplary embodiment, at the first brushing station of main conveyor, top and bottom sides of the lug are brushed simultaneously, with at least a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides of the machine respectively. Thereafter, the tubular positive plate is moved to the second brushing station where the lug is brushed along thickness of the lug (i.e. end face of the lug) by at least one rotating brush mounted on the side wall of the machine. The plates are then moved to the rotary table that consists of at least four substations wherein at first substation plates coming from main conveyor are made to fall over one another until a stack of plates of desired number is formed. Thereafter, the stack is moved to second sub-station (third brushing station) where the stack is aligned, clamped and first side of lug is brushed with at least one rotating brush. Thereafter, the stack is moved to third sub-station (fourth brushing station) where the stack is again aligned, clamped and second side of lug is brushed with at least one rotating brush. The stack of plates is further moved to the fourth sub-station where operator unloads the stack of tall tubular positive plates whose lugs are brushed on all five sides.

[0026] In an alternate embodiment, the lug brushing machine can consist of a feeder conveyor, a main conveyor and a stacker conveyor; and may consist of at least six stations along the main conveyor and the stacker conveyor. A stack of tubular plates is loaded on the feeder conveyor and the stacked plates are moved to first station where first side and second side of the lugs are brushed together by reciprocating brushes. Thereafter, the stack is picked- up from the feeder conveyor by a pick and place mechanism, and fed to a battery plate- feeding unit that is configured to drop tubular plates one-by-one, from bottom of the stack of horizontally placed tubular plates. The plate-feeding unit drops the tubular plates on the main conveyor, which carries them to further stations placed along the main conveyor.

[0027] The next station is lug top milling station and positioned on the main conveyor, where top portion of the lug is milled to a specified length. Thereafter, plate is carried to a third station - lug bottom milling station, where bottom portion of the lug is milled through a specified length. Plate is then moved to fourth station lug top and lug bottom brushing station, for brushing of the milled lug portion, where top and bottom sides of the lug which were milled on second and third station are brushed simultaneously with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides respectively (the station also referred to as additional top side and bottom side brushing station). Thereafter, plate is moved to fifth station, top and bottom lug brushing station of un-milled lug portion(the station also referred to simply as the top side and bottom side brushing station), where top and bottom sides of the lug, which are un-milled on second and third station are brushed simultaneously with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides respectively. The plate is then moved to sixth station, thickness brushing station, where the lug is brushed along the thickness of the lug (i.e. the end face of the lug) by rotating brush mounted on the side wall of the machine. Thereafter, plate is moved to unloading station where plates are stacked in groups before unloading. Alternatively, there can be a take-off conveyor in lieu of the unloading station, where the tubular plates fall one over another as in 'shingling' manner to be picked up either manually or mechanically. In an aspect, the lug top milling station, and the lug bottom milling station can be configured such that they may be made inactive when only brushing suffices the requirement.

[0028] In an alternate embodiment, the tubular plates can be fedin the feeder conveyor in vertical orientation instead of stack of horizontally oriented plates. For feeding the plates vertically, the feeder conveyor is made-up of duplex chains having plastic fingers for holding a stack of vertically oriented plates. The chain on lug side shall be in two sections, and space between the two sections is used for cleaning one of the two sides(one which faces towards the chain conveyor), using a rotary brush located in the space between two sections. Further, other of the two sides (one which faces away from the chain conveyor) is brushed by another brush located in any suitable position above the stack of the vertically oriented plates., In another aspect, the chain conveyor incorporates two separate gear motors to balance the movement of the plates at feeding point such that face of the tubular plate is parallel to the series of vacuum pick-up cups which are used to pick up the plates and release them on the main conveyor. [0029] In an aspect, the lead dust generated during the cleaning/brushing process at the brushing stations is suitably collected and conveyed to a standalone dust collection unit or can be connected to central dust collection facility of the plant through exhaust points provided on the brushing station enclosures, where the lead in the dust is extracted and recycled leading to an economic lug brushing machine.

[0030] Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the inventive subject matter will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, along with the accompanying drawing figures in which like numerals represent like components.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0031] The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the present disclosure, and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the present disclosure.

[0032] FIG. 1A illustrates an exemplary view of a tubular positive plate that comprises a lug with multiple exposed surfaces in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0033] FIG. IB illustrates an exemplary view of various exposed surfaces of lug in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0034] FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary front view of the cleaning/brushing machine in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0035] FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary top view of the cleaning/brushing machine in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0036] FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary front view of the cleaning/brushing machine with alternate layout in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0037] FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary block diagram showing various brushing stations milling stations in the alternate layout of the brushing machine in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure. [0038] FIGs.6 to 9 illustrate different views of a battery plate-feeding unit for feeding the tubular plates one-by-one, from a stack of horizontal plates to the main conveyor in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

[0039] FIGs.9 to 11 illustrate different views showing chain conveyor for feeding the tubular plates in vertical orientation for brushing two sides and end face of the lugs, in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0040] The following is a detailed description of embodiments of the disclosure depicted in the accompanying drawings. The embodiments are in such detail as to clearly communicate the disclosure. However, the amount of detail offered is not intended to limit the anticipated variations of embodiments; on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure as defined by the appended claims.

[0041] Each of the appended claims defines a separate invention, which for infringement purposes is recognized as including equivalents to the various elements or limitations specified in the claims. Depending on the context, all references below to the "invention" may in some cases refer to certain specific embodiments only. In other cases it will be recognized that references to the "invention" will refer to subject matter recited in one or more, but not necessarily all, of the claims.

[0042] Unless the context requires otherwise, throughout the specification which follow, the word "comprise" and variations thereof, such as, "comprises" and "comprising" are to be construed in an open, inclusive sense that is as "including, but not limited to."

[0043] Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, the appearances of the phrases "in one embodiment" or "in an embodiment" in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. [0044] As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of "a," "an," and "the" includes plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein, the meaning of "in" includes "in" and "on" unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

[0045] In some embodiments, the numbers expressing quantities of ingredients, properties such as concentration, reaction conditions, and so forth, used to describe and claim certain embodiments of the invention are to be understood as being modified in some instances by the term "about". Accordingly, in some embodiments, the numerical parameters set forth in the written description are approximations that can vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained by a particular embodiment. In some embodiments, the numerical parameters should be construed in light of the number of reported significant digits and by applying ordinary rounding techniques. Notwithstanding that the numerical ranges and parameters setting forth the broad scope of some embodiments of the invention are approximations, the numerical values set forth in the specific examples are reported as precisely as practicable.

[0046] The recitation of ranges of values herein is merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range. Unless otherwise indicated herein, each individual value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein.

[0047] All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided with respect to certain embodiments herein is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element essential to the practice of the invention.

[0048] The headings and abstract of the invention provided herein are for convenience only and do not interpret the scope or meaning of the embodiments.

[0049] Various terms are used herein. To the extent a term used in a claim is not defined, it should be given the broadest definition persons in the pertinent art have given that term as reflected in printed publications and issued patents at the time of filing. [0050] Reference will now be made in detail to the exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers are used in the drawings and the description to refer to the same or like parts.

[0051] The following discussion provides many example embodiments of the inventive subject matter. Although each embodiment represents a single combination of inventive elements, the inventive subject matter is considered to include all possible combinations of the disclosed elements. Thus if one embodiment comprises elements A, B, and C, and a second embodiment comprises elements B and D, then the inventive subject matter is also considered to include other remaining combinations of A, B, C, or D, even if not explicitly disclosed.

[0052] The present disclosure relates to a brushing/cleaning/milling machine for cleaning all five sides of lugs of tubular plates of lead acid storage batteries. It is to be appreciated that though various embodiments have been explained herein with reference to tubular plates of lead acid storage batteries, however the disclosed concept with suitable modifications that would be apparent to those skilled in art, can as well be applied to any other work pieces having rectangular cross section and requiring cleaning/brushing of all five sides of lug of a tubular plate and all such applications and modifications are well within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0053] Embodiments explained herein relate to a lug brushing machine for cleaning/brushing/milling for removal of lead oxide and other contaminants from lugs (having rectangular cross section) of tubular plates/battery plates. The contaminants, if left there, can be detrimental to life and performance of lead acid storage batteries. In an aspect, the lug brushing machine can have multiple brushing stations where all five sides of lugs of tubular plates can be brushed by brushing action.

[0054] In an aspect, brushing of sides of lugs, where possible (such as in case of front side and rear side), is done on stacked plates so as to minimize cycle time. The machine can include a stacking station where plates are made to fall over one another until a stack of plates of desired number is formed. The brushing station includes feature to align and clamped the stack. [0055] In an aspect, sides of lug that cannot be brushed in stacked condition such as top and bottom sides are brushed simultaneously at a single station with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides of the machine. Likewise brushing along thickness of the lug (i.e. end face of the lug) is also done on individual plates at a separate brushing station by at least one rotating brush mounted suitably on the side wall of the machine.

[0056] Thus, the disclosed lug brushing machine can comprise: one or more side brushing stations adapted to brush the two sides of the lugs of a plurality of battery plates in stacked condition; a top side and bottom side brushing station to simultaneously brush the top side and the bottom side of the lugs of individual battery plates one by one, using a pair of brushes mounted on top and bottom sides of the machine respectively; a bottom side brushing station to brush the bottom side of the lugs of battery plates individually one by one; and a thickness brushing station to brush the end face of the lugs of the battery plates individually one by one by at least one rotating brush mounted suitably on the side wall of the machine.

[0057] In an embodiment, brushing of individual plates is done on a main conveyer that moves the plates linearly as brushing is done as also from one station to other. Brushing of stacked plates is done at brushing stations located on a rotary table that includes a stacking station and an unloading station from where plates can be unloaded manually.

[0058] In an embodiment, lug cleaning/brushing machine also consists of a feeder conveyor that transports stack of tubular plates loaded onto the feeder conveyor to the main conveyer. At least one pick and place mechanism is provided at the feeder conveyor that picks one plate from the stack and places it onto main conveyor so that the plate can be passed through a first brushing station and a second brushing station that carry out brushing of top/bottom sides and thickness respectively.

[0059] In an embodiment, the disclosed cleaning/brushing/milling arrangement includes at least four brushing stations. In an exemplary embodiment, on the first brushing station of main conveyor, top and bottom sides of the lug are brushed simultaneously, with at least a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides of the machine respectively. Thereafter, the tubular positive plate is then moved to the second brushing station where the lug is brushed along the thickness of the lug by at least one rotating brush mounted suitably on the side wall of the machine. The plates are then moved to the rotary table that consists of at least four substations wherein at first sub-station plates coming from main conveyor are made to fall over one another until a stack of plates of desired number is formed. Thereafter, the stack is moved to the second sub-station (third brushing station) where the stack is aligned, clamped and first side of lug is brushed with at least one rotating brush and then this stack of plates is moved to third sub-station (fourth brushing station) where the stack is again aligned, clamped and second side of lug is brushed with at least one rotating brush. The stack of plates is further moved to the fourth sub-station where operator unloads the stack of tubular positive plates whose lugs are brushed on all five sides.

[0060] In an alternate embodiment, the lug brushing machine can consist of a feeder conveyor, a main conveyor and a stacker conveyor; and may consist of at least six stations along the main conveyor and the stacker conveyor. A stack of tubular plates is loaded on the feeder conveyor and the stacked plates are moved to first station where first side and second side of the lugs are brushed together by reciprocating brushes.

[0061] After brushing at the first station, the stack of plates is moved to next station where they are picked up one-by-one and are placed onto the main conveyor by a pick and place mechanism, and further brushing/milling stations are placed along the main conveyor. Alternatively, the whole of the stack can be picked-up from the feeder conveyor by a pick & place mechanism, and fed to a battery plate-feeding unit that is configured to drop tubular plates one-by-one, from bottom of the stack of horizontally placed tubular plates. The plate- feeding unit drops the tubular plates on the main conveyor, which carries them to further stations placed along the main conveyor.

[0062] In an alternate embodiment, the feeder conveyor can be configured to handle the tubular plates in stack of vertically oriented plates instead of stack of horizontally oriented plates. For feeding the plates vertically, the feeder conveyor is made-up of duplex chains having plastic fingers for holding a stack of vertically oriented plates. The chain on lug side shall be in two sections, and space between the two sections is used for cleaning one of the two sides (one which faces towards the chain conveyor), using a rotary brush located in the space between two sections. Further, other of the two sides (one which faces away from the chain conveyor) is brushed by another brush located in any suitable position above the stack of the vertically oriented plates. In another aspect, the chain conveyor incorporates two separate gear motors to balance the movement of the plates at feeding point such that face of the tubular plate is parallel to the series of vacuum pick-up cups which are used to pick up the plates and release them on the main conveyor.

[0063] The next station is lug top milling station on the main conveyor, where top portion of the lug is milled to a specified length. Thereafter, plate is carried to a third station, lug bottom milling station, where bottom portion of the lug is milled to a specified length. Plate is then moved to fourth station, lug top and lug bottom brushing station for brushing of the milled lug portion (referred to as additional lug top and lug bottom brushing station), where top and bottom sides of the lug which are milled on second and third station are brushed simultaneously with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides respectively. Thereafter, plate is then moved to fifth station, top and bottom lug brushing station of un-milled lug portion, where top and bottom sides of the lug which are un-milled on second and third station are brushed simultaneously with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides respectively. The plate is then moved to sixth station, thickness brushing station, where lug is brushed along the thickness of the lug (i.e. the end face of the lug) by rotating brush mounted on the side wall of the machine. Thereafter, plate is moved to unloading station where plates are stacked in groups before unloading.

[0064] FIG. 1 A illustrates an exemplary view of a tubular positive plate 100 that consists of a tubular plate 102 and a lug 104 with multiple surfaces that get exposed to lead oxide and other contaminations and can lead to inefficient performance of the lead acid storage battery if not properly cleaned.

[0065] FIG. IB illustrates an exemplary view of all five exposed sides of lug 104 that require brushing. The lug 104 consists of a top brushing surface 152, a bottom brushing surface 154, a thickness brushing surface 156 and two side brushing surfaces 158 and 160. These brushing surfaces are brushed sequentially at multiple brushing stations of the lug bushing machine.

[0066] FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary front view of the lug brushing machine 200in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure. Shown there is an arrangement of feeder conveyer 210, main conveyer 220and rotary table 230. The feeder conveyer 210 consists of a pick and place mechanism 212 that picks one plate from the stack of plates 202 on the feeder convey er210 and places it onto the main conveyor 220. Further, main conveyer transports one plate at a time to the first brushing station 222 that brushes top and bottom sides 152/154 of the lugl04 simultaneously with at least a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides of the machine respectively. Thereafter, the tubular positive plate is then moved to the second brushing station 224 where the lug 104 is brushed along the thickness 156 of the lugl04by at least one rotating brush mounted on the side wall of the machine and then the plate is moved to the rotary table 230 that consists of at least four substations wherein at first sub-station 232, plates coming from main conveyor are made to fall over one another until a stack 204 of plates 100 of desired number is formed. Thereafter, this stack 204 is moved to the second sub-station (third brushing station) 234 where the stack 204 is aligned, clamped and first side 158 of lug 104 is brushed with at least one rotating brush and then this stack is moved to third sub-station (fourth brushing station) 236 where the plate stack 204 is again aligned, clamped and second side 160 of the lug 104 is brushed with at least one rotating brush. The stack of plates 204 is further moved to the fourth sub-station 238 where operator unloads the stack of tubular positive plates whose lugs are brushed on all five sides.

[0067] In an embodiment, stack of plates 202 is transferred from feeder conveyor 210 to main conveyor 220 with the help of a pick and place mechanism 212 that is installed along the periphery of feeder conveyor 210 and it picks up at least one plate 100 at a time and places it on the main conveyor 220 so that the plate 100 can be transported further to various brushing stations.

[0068] As an alternative to the pick & place mechanism, the whole of the stack of plates 202 can be picked-up from the feeder conveyor 210 by a pick & place mechanism (not shown), and fed to a battery plate-feeding unit (Refer to FIGs. 6 to 8) that is configured to drop tubular plates 100 one-by-one, from bottom of the stack of horizontally placed plates 202. The plate-feeding unit drops the tubular plates 100 on the main conveyor, which carries them to further stations placed along the main conveyor.

[0069] In an alternate embodiment, the feeder conveyor can be configured to handle the tubular plates in stack of vertically oriented plates instead of stack of horizontally oriented plates, more details of which are provided against description of FIGs, 9 to 11.

[0070] In an embodiment, first brushing station 222 and second brushing station 224 are installed at the main conveyor 220 and third brushing station 234 and forth brushing station 236 are installed at the rotary table. [0071] In an embodiment, top and bottom brushing surfaces 152/154 of lug 104 are cleaned at first brushing station 222, thickness brushing surface 156 is cleaned at second brushing station 224 and first and second side surfaces 158 and 160 are cleaned at third and fourth brushing stations 234 and 236 respectively.

[0072] FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary top view of the lug brushing machine 200 in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure. The figure shows a stack of plates 202 available on the feeder conveyor 210 that are transported onto main conveyor 220with help of a pick and place mechanism 212. The main conveyor 220 consists of a first brushing station 222 that brushes top and bottom surfaces 125 and 154 of lug and a second brushing station 224 that brushes thickness surface of lug 156. Further, rotary table 230 consists of a first sub-station (stacking station) 232, a second sub-station (first aligning and side brushing station) 234, a third sub-station (second aligning and side brushing station) 236 and a fourth sub-station (unloading station) 238.

[0073] In an embodiment, rotary table consists of a first sub-station (stacking station) 232 that forms a stack of plates 204 of desired number by collecting the plates coming from main conveyor 220, a second sub-station (first aligning and side brushing station) 234 where plate stack 204 is aligned, clamped and first side of lug 158 is brushed with at least one rotating brush and then this stack is moved to third sub-station (second aligning and fourth brushing station) 236 where the stack 204 is again aligned, clamped and second side of lug 160 is brushed with at least one rotating brush and a fourth sub-station (unloading station) 238 where operator unloads the stack of tubular positive plates whose lugs are cleaned/brushed on all five sides.

[0074] FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary front view of an alternate arrangement of stations for lug milling and brushing operations. The disclosed machine can include a feeder conveyor 410, a main conveyor 420 and a stacker conveyor 430. There can be at least six stations along the feeder conveyor 410, the main conveyor 420 and the stacker conveyor 430. In addition there can be handling stations such as for stacking/un-stacking of plates or for loading/unloading the plates. Stacks of tubular plates 202 can be loaded on the feeder conveyor 410 and moved to a first station 402 where sides of the lugs 158 and 160 can be brushed using a reciprocating brush. The stack of plates 202 can then move to a station 404 where they are picked up one-by-one and are placed onto the main conveyor 420 by pick and place mechanism 212 and moved to a second station 404. At the second station 404, top portion of the lug 152 can be milled to a specified length. Thereafter, the plate is carried to a third station, bottom lug milling station, 406, where bottom portion of the lug 154 is machined to a specified length. The plate is then moved to fourth station, top and bottom lug brushing station for milled lug portions (an additional top side and bottom side brushing station), 408, where top and bottom sides of the lug 152 and 154 which were milled on stations404 and 406 can be brushed simultaneously with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides respectively. Thereafter, the plate is moved to a fifth station, top and bottom lug brushing station of un-milled lug portion412, where top and bottom sides of the lug 152 and 154 which are un-milled on second and third station 404 and 406 respectively can be brushed simultaneously with a pair of brushes mounted on the top and bottom sides respectively. The plate is then moved to sixth station, thickness brushing station, 414, where lug is brushed along thickness of the lug 156 by rotating brush mounted on the side wall of the machine. Thereafter, plate is moved to an unloading station 432 of the stacker conveyor 430 where plates are stacked in groups before unloading.

[0075] FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram corresponding to brushing machine of FIG. 4 showing various brushing stations in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure wherein feeder conveyor 410 consists of a plate loading station 502, a side brushing station 402 and a pick and place mechanism 212. The main conveyor 420 incorporates a top milling station 404, a bottom milling station 406, a top and bottom side brushing station for milled lug portion 408, a top and bottom side brushing station for un-milled lug portion 412 and a lug thickness brushing station 414. The stacker conveyor 430 consists of a plate unloading station 432 where plates are stacked in groups before unloadingA

[0076] FIGs.6 to 9 illustrate exemplary perspective, top and sectional views of the battery plate-feeding unit 600 for feeding the tubular plates one-by-one, from a stack of horizontally oriented plates to the main conveyor. The battery plate-feeding unit provides an alternate method for transferring the tubular plates from a stack on the feeder conveyor to the main conveyor. In the alternate arrangement, the stack of horizontally oriented plates is picked-up from the feeder conveyor by a pick & place mechanism, and fed to the battery plate-feeding unit 600. Lowest plate in the stack is dropped on the main conveyor by withdrawing a pair of first plate holder angles 602 while rest of the stack is held by a pair of second plate holder angles 606. Thereafter, the pair of first plate holder angles 602 is returned to position and the pair of second plate holder angles 606 is withdrawn causing the stack of plates to move down to get supported on the pair of first plate holder angles 604. The pair of second plate holder angles 604 and pair of second plate holder angles 606 are moved between the two positions by a set of cylinders 608. Thus, the tubular plates are dropped one-by-one, from bottom of the stack of horizontally placed tubular plates. The plate-feeding unit drops the tubular plates on the main conveyor, which carries them to further stations placed along the main conveyor.

[0077] FIGs.9 to 11 illustrate different views showing chain conveyor 900 for feeding the tubular plates in vertical orientation for brushing two sides and end face of the lugs, For feeding the plates vertically, the feeder conveyor 900 is made-up of duplex chains such as 902, having plastic fingers for holding a stack of vertically oriented plates. The chain on lug side shall be in two sections such as 904 and 906, and space 908 between the two chains 604 and 606, is used for cleaning side 160 (one which faces towards the chain conveyor), using a rotary brush 910 located in the space 908 between the two chains 904 and 906. Further, the other side 158 opposite the side 160, is brushed by another brush 912 located in any suitable position above the stack of the vertically oriented plates.

[0078] In another aspect, the chain conveyors incorporate two independent gear motors to balance the movement of the plates at feeding point such that face of the tubular plate is parallel to the series of vacuum pick-up cups (not shown here), which are used to pick up the plates and release them on the main conveyor. Thus, with the alternative arrangement of the feeder conveyor having chain conveyor 900, a series of vacuum pick-up cups which are used to pick up the plates and release them on the main conveyor in place of the pick & place mechanism, or the battery plate-feeding unit 600 to transfer the plates 100 from the feeder conveyor to the main conveyor one-by-one.

[0079] In an embodiment, the lead dust generated during the cleaning process at the lug brushing machine 200 can be suitably collected through an exhaust system and can be further connected to dust collection units or to a central dust collection system of the facility where the lead in the dust can be extracted and recycled. To help proper collection of the dust complete machine can be housed within an enclosure with only loading end of the feeder conveyer 210 positioned out of the enclosure. As such, a tidier and hazard free working environment is extremely important for the health and safety of the operators. [0080] In an embodiment, lug brushing machine can be fully automated and therefore would not need continuous presence of an operator except at loading station & unloading station. As such, the disclosed lug brushingmachine can be extremely economical to operate.

[0081] While the foregoing describes various embodiments of the invention, other and further embodiments of the invention may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof. The scope of the invention is determined by the claims that follow. The invention is not limited to the described embodiments, versions or examples, which are included to enable a person having ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention when combined with information and knowledge available to the person having ordinary skill in the art.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

[0082] The present disclosure provides an efficient cleaning/brushing/ milling machine for brushing all exposed sides of rectangular shaped lugs such as those of positive tubular plate of batteries.

[0083] The present disclosure provides a cleaning/ machine that overcomes deficiencies of known machines

[0084] The present disclosure provides a lug cleaning/brushing/ milling machine that includes milling of the lugs where necessary.

[0085] The present disclosure provides a method of releasing tubular plates horizontally, one- by- one, from a horizontal stack of plates.

[0086] The present disclosure provides a method of releasing tubular plates vertically, one-by-one, from a vertical stack of plates.

[0087] The present disclosure provides a lug cleaning/brushing/ milling machine that cleans/brushes lugs wherever possible in stacked condition and thus speeds up process of cleaning/brushing.

[0088] The present disclosure provides a lug cleaning/brushing/ milling machine that cleans/brushes/mills all or only the required sides of lugs sequentially.

[0089] The present disclosure provides an environmentally healthy lug cleaning/brushing machine.

[0090] The resent disclosure provides an automatic brushing process wherein lug thickness is maintained evenly. [0091] The present disclosure reduces handling of tubular plates to optimize workforce utilization.

[0092] The present disclosure reduce fatigues of the worker/operator doing lug cleaning operation of positive plate