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Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR LOADING FLAT ITEMS INTO MULTILEVEL CONTAINERS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/116419
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Method for loading flat items into multilevel containers (21), characterized in that it comprises the following operating steps: - collecting a matrix of flat items in a collecting device (1); moving said matrix from the collecting device (1) to a level of a first multilevel container (10) by means of at least one first loading device (7); moving said matrix from the first multilevel container (10) to a level of a second multilevel container (21) by means of at least one second loading device (14). The present invention also relates to an apparatus for carrying out said method.

Inventors:
GIBELLINI, Gianni (Via Verdi 32, I - Modena MO, 41100, IT)
Application Number:
IT2006/000243
Publication Date:
October 18, 2007
Filing Date:
April 11, 2006
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
NUOVA ERA S.R.L. (Via Ca' del Miele 8/i, I - Casalgrande RE, 42013, IT)
GIBELLINI, Gianni (Via Verdi 32, I - Modena MO, 41100, IT)
International Classes:
B65G49/08; B65G65/00
Foreign References:
EP1013575A1
EP1243532A1
EP1203737A1
EP0999158A1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PIZZOLI, Antonio (Società Italiana Brevetti S.p.A, Via Carducci 8, Milano, I-20123, IT)
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Claims:

CLAIMS

1. Method for loading flat items into multilevel containers (21), characterized in that it comprises the following operating steps: - collecting a matrix of fiat items in a collecting device (1); moving said matrix from the collecting device (1) to a level of a first multilevel container (10) by means of at least one first loading device (7); moving said matrix from the first multilevel container (10) to a level of a second multilevel container (21) by means of at least one second loading device (14). 2. Method according to the previous claim, characterized in that when said matrix of flat items is moved from the first multilevel container (10) to the second multilevel container (21) another matrix of flat items can. be moved from the collecting device (1) to the first multilevel container (10).

3. Method according to one of the previous claims, characterized in that when a matrix of flat items is moved from the collecting device (1) to the first multilevel container (10), the second multilevel container (21) can be replaced by another multilevel container.

4. Method according to one of the previous claims, characterized in that said collecting device (1), said first loading device (7), said first multilevel container (10), said second loading device (14) and said second multilevel container (21) are mutually aligned.

5. Apparatus for loading flat items into multilevel containers (21), which comprises a collecting device (1) suitable for collecting a matrix of flat items and a first loading device (7) suitable for moving said matrix from the collecting device (1) to a level of a first multilevel container (10), characterized in that at least one second loading device (14) is arranged downstream of the first multilevel container (10) for moving said matrix from the first multilevel container (10) to a level of at least one second multilevel container (21).

6. Apparatus according to the previous claim, characterized in that said collecting device (1), said first loading device (7), said first multilevel container (10), said second loading device (14) and said second multilevel container (21) are mutually

aligned.

7. Apparatus according to claim 5 or 6, characterized in that the first loading device (7) is provided with a first mobile platform (6) and with a first mobile arm (13), which can move vertically for moving said matrix from the collecting device (1) to the first multilevel container (10).

8. Apparatus according to the previous claim, characterized in that the first multilevel container (10) is provided with a plurality of rollers which are arranged side by side along overlapping horizontal planes and can be rotated by motorized clutches (11) of the first mobile arm (13). 9. Apparatus according to one of claims 5 to 8, characterized in that the second loading device (14) is provided with a second mobile platform (15) and with a second mobile arm (18), which can move vertically for moving said matrix from the first multilevel container (10) to the second multilevel container (21).

10. Apparatus according to the previous claim, characterized in that the second mobile arm (18) is fixed to the second mobile platform (15), so as to move vertically together with the latter on one side of the first multilevel container (10).

11. Apparatus according to claim 9 or 10, characterized in that the first mobile arm (13) and the second mobile arm (18) are arranged on opposite sides of the first multilevel container (10). 12. Apparatus according to one of claims 8 to 11, characterized in that the ends of the rollers of the first multilevel container (10) are accessible from both sides of the latter for being rotated by motorized clutches (11, 19) of the first mobile arm (13) or of the second mobile arm (18).

13. Apparatus according to one of claims 5 to 12, characterized in that the second loading device (14) is provided with a third mobile arm (20) fixed to a second mobile platform (15), so as to move vertically together with the latter on one side of the second multilevel container (21).

14. Apparatus according to the previous claim, characterized in that the third mobile arm (20) is provided with motorized clutches (22) for rotating the rollers of a level of the second multilevel container (21).

15. Apparatus according to one of claims 5 to 14, characterized in that the

first multilevel container (10) comprises a smaller number of levels of rollers with respect to the second multilevel container (21).

16. Apparatus according to one of claims 5 to 15, characterized in that the first multilevel container (10) comprises dividing partitions arranged between a level of rollers and the underlying level of rollers.

Description:

METHOD AMD APPARATUS FOR LOADING FLAT ITEMS INTO MULTILEVEL

CONTAINERS

The present invention relates to a method for loading flat items, in particular tiles, into multilevel containers. The present invention also relates to an apparatus for carrying out said method.

IT 1200357 discloses an apparatus for loading tiles into a pair of multilevel containers arranged side by side, wherein a loading device moves matrixes of tiles, i.e. a plurality of tiles arranged on a plane along several adjacent rows, from a collecting device to a multilevel container, while the other multilevel container is replaced by an empty one, and vice versa, so that the continuous stream of tiles coming from a transport line should not be interrupted when a multilevel container is full.

However, said apparatus occupies a doubly wide space, due to the two containers arranged side by side, so that it causes size problems when it must be arranged downstream of a series of parallel transport lines.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus which is free from said disadvantage. Said object is achieved with a method and an apparatus, the main features of which are disclosed in claims 1 and 5, respectively, while other features are disclosed in the remaining claims. Thanks to the first multilevel container which acts as a temporary stock when the second multilevel container is replaced, the method according to the present invention allows to load without problems tiles coming from a continuous stream into multilevel containers. The overall width of the apparatus according to the present invention is substantially the half of said known apparatus, since the multilevel containers and the relevant loading devices can be mutually aligned.

The apparatus according to the present invention comprises a particular second loading device preferably provided with two mobile arms, so that it can rotate the rollers not only of the second multilevel container, but also of the first multilevel container.

With this arrangement, the rollers of two levels of the first multilevel container can be simultaneously rotated in an independent manner.

Further advantages and features of the method and the apparatus according to the

present invention will become clear to those skilled in the art from the following detailed and non-limiting description of an embodiment thereof with reference to the attached drawings, wherein:

- figure 1 shows a right side view of the apparatus; - figure 2 shows a top view of the apparatus of figure 1 ; and

- figure 3 shows a left side view of the apparatus of figure 1.

Referring to said figures, it is seen that the apparatus according to the present invention comprises in a known way a collecting device 1 which is arranged downstream of a transport line 2 of flat items. The collecting device 1 collects in longitudinal rows the flat items which come from the transport line 2 in the direction of arrow 3. Thanks to a plurality of motorized rollers, the collecting device 1 moves transversally the rows of flat items in the direction of arrow 4, until its upper surface is covered by a matrix of flat items, i.e. by a plurality of adjacent rows of flat items, after which a series of conveyor belts arranged between the motorized rollers of the collecting device 1 move longitudinally in the direction of arrow 5 said matrix of flat items onto a first mobile platform 6 of a first loading device 7. Said conveyor belts can be moved vertically for not interfering during the movement of the motorized rollers. The first mobile platform 6 can be moved vertically in the direction of arrows 8 and is provided with a plurality of motorized rollers or belts for longitudinally moving said matrix of flat items in the direction of arrow 9. A first multilevel container 10 is arranged downstream of the first loading device 7, i.e. along the longitudinal transport direction of the flat items shown by arrows 5 and 9. The first multilevel container 10 is provided with a plurality of rollers arranged side by side along overlapping horizontal planes, so as to collect on a plurality of levels, for example 36 levels, the matrixes of flat items transported by the first loading device 7. The rollers of the first multilevel container 10 can be coupled with a series of motorized clutches 11 for being rotated and longitudinally moving the flat items arranged on these rollers in the direction of arrow 12. The motorized clutches 11 are arranged on a first mobile arm 13 which is fixed to the first mobile platform 6, so as to vertically move together with the latter on one side of the first multilevel container 10. The motorized clutches 11 can thus rotate the rollers of the first multilevel container 10 aligned with the first mobile platform 6. The

coupling or uncoupling of the motorized clutches 11 with the rollers of the first multilevel container 10 is obtained by moving axially, i.e. in a direction parallel to these rollers, the motorized clutches 11.

According to the invention, a second loading device 14 is arranged downstream of the first multilevel container 10, i.e. along the longitudinal transport direction of the flat items shown by arrows 5, 9 and 12. The second loading device 14 comprises a second mobile platform 15 which can be moved vertically in the direction of arrows 16 and which is provided with a plurality of motorized rollers or belts for moving longitudinally in the direction of arrow 17 a matrix of flat items. The second loading device 14 comprises also a second mobile arm 18 which is fixed to the second mobile platform 15, so as to move vertically together with the latter on one side of the first multilevel container 10, in particular the opposite side with respect to the first mobile arm 13. The second mobile arm IS is provided with motorized clutches 19 for rotating the rollers of the first multilevel container 10 aligned with the second mobile platform 15.

The ends of the rollers of the first multilevel container 10 are accessible from both sides of the latter for being coupled with the motorized clutches 11 or 19 of the first mobile arm 13 or the second mobile arm 18, respectively.

The second loading device 14 comprises also a third mobile arm 20 which is fixed to the second mobile platform 15, so as to move vertically together with the latter on one side of a second multilevel container 21 arranged downstream of the second loading device 14, i.e. along the longitudinal transport direction of the flat items shown by arrows 5, 9, 12 and 17. The collecting device 1, the first loading device 7, the first multilevel container 10, the second loading device 14 and the second multilevel container 21 are thus mutually aligned. The first multilevel container 10 preferably comprises a smaller number of rollers with respect to the second multilevel container 21 and a plurality of dividing partitions arranged between a level of rollers and the underlying level of rollers, so as to protect the flat items from accidental losses of material. For the same purpose, the loading of the multilevel containers 10, 21 with the flat items begins from the first top level and proceeds downwards.

The second multilevel container 21 is provided with a plurality of rollers arranged

- A -

side by side along overlapping horizontal levels, so as to collect on a plurality of levels, for example 60 levels, the matrixes of flat items transported by the second loading device 14. The rollers of the second multilevel container 21 can be coupled with a series of motorized clutches 22 of the third mobile arm 20 for rotating the rollers of a level of the second multilevel container 21 and translating longitudinally the flat items in the direction of arrow 23. The second multilevel container 21, after it has been filled with flat items by the second loading device 14, can be transported by a vehicle 24 for being moved away in the direction of arrow 25 from the apparatus according to the present invention. In the method according to the present invention, during the movement of the matrixes from the first multilevel container 10 to the second multilevel container 21, other matrixes can be moved from the collecting device 1 to the first multilevel container 10, while when the second multilevel container 21 is temporarily absent, for example since it is replaced by an empty multilevel container, the first multilevel container 10 continues to be filled with matrixes of flat items by the first loading device 7.

Possible modifications and/or additions maybe made by those skilled in the art to the hereinabove disclosed and illustrated embodiment of the invention while remaining within the scope of the following claims.