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Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR CLOSING THE WRAPPER OF CONFECTIONERY PRODUCTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2022/229997
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The method for closing the wrapper of confectionery products and the like provides for feeding in ordered succession individual confectionery products (2) wrapped in respective wrapping sheets into a first operating station (10) and into a second operating station (12) arranged peripherally at a wrapping head (3) of said confectionery products (2). In the first operating station (10) the closure of the bottom flaps of said wrapping sheet wound on the product (2) is carried out. In the second operating station (12) the lifting of a bottom flap of the wrapping sheet and the application of a dab of gluing material on the opposite bottom flap are carried out in a suitable phase relationship.

Inventors:
SALICINI SANDRO (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IT2022/050109
Publication Date:
November 03, 2022
Filing Date:
April 26, 2022
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
M C AUTOMATIONS S R L (IT)
International Classes:
B65B11/28; B65B11/54; B65B25/00; B65B49/00; B65B51/02; B65B51/14; B65B65/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2000061436A12000-10-19
Foreign References:
EP0865987A11998-09-23
US5992494A1999-11-30
US20110152050A12011-06-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MANZELLA & ASSOCIATI (IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1) A method for closing the wrapper of confectionery products and the like, comprising the steps of

(a) feeding, in an ordered succession, the products (2) to be wrapped associated with a wrapping sheet into a wrapping head (3) driven in stepwise rotation to bring said products (2) to a plurality of operating stations;

(b). wrapping and closing in a first operating station (10) the bottom flaps of said wrapping sheet on a flat base of said product (2);

(c). lifting a bottom flap of said wrapping sheet wound on said product (2) in a second operating station (12), located downstream of said first operating station (10);

(d). applying in a suitable phase relationship a dab of gluing material on the bottom of said wrapping sheet wrapped on said product (2);

(e). folding said raised flap on the bottom of said wrapping sheet bearing applied said dab of material of gluing material to complete the closure of the wrapping.

2) A method as in claim 1 , wherein it provides for lifting said bottom flap of the wrapping sheet in said second operating station (12) by means of a gripping member (14) operable with reciprocating motion between a gripping position adjacent to said flat base of the product (2), for holding a bottom flap of said wrapping sheet, and a lifting position, wherein the same gripping member (14) keeps said bottom flap of the wrapping sheet raised with respect to said flat base of the product (2).

3) A method as in claim 1 or 2, wherein it provides for lifting said bottom flap of the wrapping sheet in said second operating station (12) by means of a gripping member (14) having on a surface facing said wrapping head (3) a suction mouth in continuous connection with suction means capable of keeping the suction mouth itself in depression.

4) A method as in one of the preceding claims, wherein it provides for the application of a dab of gluing material to the bottom of said wrapping sheet by means of a spray gun (13) capable of being operated with reciprocating motion between a position of disengagement and a position of application of said dab of gluing material close to said flat base of the product (2).

5) An apparatus for closing the wrapper of confectionery products and the like, comprising: a wrapping head (3) operable stepwise to feed in succession individual confectionery products (2) wrapped in respective wrapping sheets at a plurality of operating stations arranged peripherally to the same wrapping head (3); folding means (11), arranged at a first operating station (10), for wrapping and closing said wrapping sheet on said product (2); a gripping member (14), arranged at a second operating station (12) located downstream of said first operating station (10), capable of lifting a bottom flap of said wrapping sheet wound on said product (2); a spray gun (13) capable of operating in a suitable phase relationship, at said second operating station (12), the application of a point of gluing material on the bottom of said wrapping sheet wrapped on said product (2).

6) An apparatus as in claim 5, wherein said gripping member (14) may be operated with reciprocating motion between a gripping position adjacent to said flat base of the product (2), to hold a bottom flap of the said wrapping sheet, and a lifting position, wherein the same gripping member (14) keeps said bottom flap of the wrapping sheet raised with respect to said flat base of the product (2).

7) An apparatus as in claim 5 or 6, wherein said gripping member (14) has on a surface facing said wrapping head (3) a suction mouth in continuous connection with suction means suitable for keeping in pressure the same suction mouth, to hold said bottom flap of the wrapping sheet.

8) An apparatus as in one of claims 5 - 7, wherein said spray gun (13) may be operated with a reciprocating motion between a disengagement position and a position for applying said point of gluing material close to said flat base of the product (2).

9) An apparatus as in claim 8, wherein said spray gun (13) is operable with a reciprocating roto-translation motion on a vertical plane perpendicular to the rotation axis of said wrapping head (3) to pass from said disengagement position to said position of application of the dab of gluing material.

10) An apparatus as in any one of claims 5 - 9, wherein it comprises pressing means (24), arranged at a third operating station (23) located downstream of said second operating station (12), for imparting a controlled pressure on said flat base of the product (2), to ensure a homogeneous distribution of said gluing material.

Description:
Description

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR CLOSING THE WRAPPER OF CONFECTIONERY

PRODUCTS Technical field

[01] The present invention relates to a method for closing the wrapper of confectionery products and the like in wrapping machines for said products, as well as an apparatus for implementing this method.

Prior art

[02] It is known that confectionery products, in particular sweets and chocolates, are generally placed on the market in individual packages of various types depending on the shape and type of the product. To make such packages, apparatuses are used whereby the individual products are associated with a single sheet of wrapping material and fed into a wrapping head, where the wrapping sheet is wrapped around the product. The wrapping head is generally made up of a rotating member which peripherally has suitable gripping members for the individual products to be wrapped. The individual products are at first partially wrapped in a respective wrapping sheet and then grasped by the gripping members. The wrapping head is rotated to carry the products through a series of operating stations, at which the wrapping is completed by folding means. The products are finally released at an unloading station so as to be transferred to the following operating stations.

[03] An apparatus for packaging confectionery products of this type is disclosed, for example, in the European patent EP 2 942291.

[04] The products to be packaged can have a different shape, for example a truncated pyramid or parallelepiped or a spheroid-like shape, with or without a flat base. Likewise, different types of wrapping are known, such as those called for example single bow, double bow, bunch, fantasy and others. Each type of wrapping requires the use of a suitable wrapping material. In fact, the wrapping performs the function of protecting the product from external agents that could alter its integrity and edibility, as well as ensuring the necessary hygiene.

[05] The closure of the wrapping is essential step of the product packaging process, as an incorrect closure can cause deterioration of the product, both during storage and during the "shelf-life" of the product itself.

[06] It is therefore necessary that, at the end of the packaging operation, the wrapping sheet is stably wrapped on the product in order to prevent accidental opening. Depending on the shape of the product, different types of closure may be provided. In particular, for products having a truncated pyramid or parallelepiped shape, which have at least a flat base, types of closure are often used which first involve wrapping the wrapping sheet on top of the product, then folding the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet on a surface of the products, for example at the flat base.

[07] The simple folding of the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet on the base of the product, however, does not guarantee a durable closure of the wrapping because, if wrapping materials with an elastic deformation are used, then the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet folded over the surface of the base of the product may have a tendency to rise, while if wrapping materials with plastic deformation are used, such as aluminum foil, the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet may deform during the packaging and transport operations of the product.

[08] To ensure a better seal of the wrapping closure, the use of a dab of glue between the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet is known. For the application of the dab of glue, the use of a spray gun is usually provided operating at the folding members associated with the wrapping head.

[09] In practice, in the dedicated station, the folding members first fold the head of the wrapping sheet on the product; then the folding members fold the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet. During the folding of the bottom flaps, the spray gun approaches the product being wrapped and sprays the dab of glue on one of the same bottom flaps, before the other is folded over. To this end, it is necessary that the folding members provide a central opening of a size such that the spray gun may move close the product to spray the required amount of gluing material.

[10] However, this method of applying the glue has various drawbacks that limit the efficiency and productivity of the machine.

[11] In particular, it is complained that, due to the size of the various parts, the spray gun is not able to approach the product in the wrapping phase so that the gluing material may partly disperse beyond the provided area, i.e. the point of gluing on a bottom flap of the wrapping sheet. This can cause contamination that requires more frequent maintenance of the parts involved, to avoid permanent damage to the functionality of the machine.

[12] Another problem identified in the use of this method of closing of wrapping is due to the fact that it involves the overlapping of various successive operations, in the designated station, such as folding a bottom flap of the wrapping sheet, approaching the spray gun and the spray of the adhesive, retracting the spray gun and folding the opposite bottom flap. This requires a relatively long time, in relation to the operating speed required for this type of machine. In practice, the duration of this phase affects the stepwise rotation speed of the wrapping head and consequently limits the productivity of the wrapping machine.

[13] Patent application WOOO/61436 in turn discloses a known method of closing the wrapping. Disclosure

[14] It is the purpose of the present invention to solve the above problems, devising a method that permits to close in the optimal way the wrapping of confectionery products and the like in a wrapping machine for said confectionery products.

[15] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method for closing the wrapping of confectionery products capable of operating at a high speed, so as not to cause a reduction in the productivity required of the machine.

[16] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method for closing the wrapping of confectionery products and the like capable of reducing the interference between the folding means and the means for applying the dab of gluing material during the operations of closing of wrapping sheet.

[17] It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a method for closing the wrapping sheets of confectionery products capable of operating effectively on any wrapping material.

[18] It is an even further object of the invention to provide an apparatus for closing the wrapping sheets of confectionery products capable of implementing the aforementioned method by a structure of simple constructive and functional conception, which is certain in operation, versatile in use, and relatively inexpensive.

[19] The aforementioned purposes are achieved, according to the present invention, by the method and apparatus for closing the wrapping of confectionery products according to claims 1 and 5.

[20] The method for closing the wrapping of confectionery products includes the steps of

(a) feeding, in an ordered succession, the products to be wrapped associated with a wrapping sheet into a wrapping head driven in stepwise rotation to bring said products to a plurality of operating stations;

(b). wrapping and closing in a first operating station the bottom flaps of said wrapping sheet on a flat base of said product;

(c). lifting a bottom flap of said wrapping sheet wound on said product in a second operating station, located downstream of said first operating station;

(d). applying in a suitable phase relationship a dab of gluing material on the bottom of said wrapping sheet wrapped on said product;

(e). folding said raised flap on the bottom of said wrapping sheet bearing applied said dab of gluing material to complete the closure of the wrapping.

[21] Said products are held by respective gripping members of said wrapping head with said flat base facing the outside of the wrapping head.

[22] Advantageously, the method provides for lifting said bottom edge of the wrapping sheet in said second operating station by a gripping member adapted to be operated with reciprocating motion between a gripping position adjacent to said flat base of the product, to retain a bottom flap of said wrapping sheet, and a lifting position, in which the same gripping member holds said bottom flap of the wrapping sheet raised with respect to said flat base of the product.

[23] Preferably, the method provides for lifting said bottom edge of the wrapping sheet in said second operating station by a gripping member having on a surface facing the wrapping head a suction mouth which is in continuous connection with suction means suitable for maintaining in depression the same suction mouth.

[24] Advantageously, the method provides for applying a dab of gluing material to the bottom of said wrapping sheet by means of a spray gun capable of being operated with an alternating motion between a disengagement position and a position for applying said dab of gluing material close to said flat base of the product.

[25] Preferably, the method provides for operating, at the end of said step of applying a dab of gluing material, the return of the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet held by the said suction mouth of the gripping member in the position of closing the wrapper.

[26] The method permits to close the wrapping of confectionery products by means of a dab of glue material at a high speed, since the closing of the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet on the flat base of the product and the gluing of the flaps of bottom of the wrapping sheet by the spray gun take place in two distinct operating stations. This obviously makes it possible to close the wrapping sheet of a product in a first operating station, at the same time as the bottom flaps of the previously closed wrapping sheet of another product are glued in a subsequent second operating station.

[27] The present invention also relates to an apparatus for closing the wrapping of confectionery products and the like, comprising: a wrapping head adapted to be operated stepwise to feed in succession individual confectionery products wrapped in respective wrapping sheets at a plurality of operating stations arranged peripherally to the same wrapping head; folding means, arranged at a first operating station, suitable for wrapping and closing said wrapping sheet on said product; a gripping member, arranged at a second operating station placed downstream of said first operating station, capable of lifting a bottom edge of said wrapping sheet wound on said product; a spray gun capable of applying in a suitable phase relationship, at said second operating station, a dab of gluing material on the bottom of said wrapping sheet wrapped on said product.

[28] According to the present invention, said gripping member is adapted to be operated with reciprocating motion between a gripping position adjacent to said flat base of the product, to retain a bottom flap of said wrapping sheet, and a lifting position, in which the same gripping member holds said bottom edge of the wrapping sheet raised with respect to said flat base of the product.

[29] Preferably, said gripping member is movable between said gripping position, adjacent to the flat base of the product, and a lifting position, rotated angularly with respect to said flat base of the product, in which the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet is held raised by the gripping element in almost perpendicular position with respect to the same flat base of the product.

[30] Advantageously, said gripping member has on a surface facing said wrapping head a suction mouth in continuous connection with suction means adapted to keep the suction mouth in depression, to retain said bottom edge of the wrapping sheet.

[31] Advantageously, said spray gun is adapted to be operated with an alternating motion between a disengagement position and a position of applying said dab of gluing material close to said flat base of the product.

[32] Preferably, said spray gun is adapted to be operated with an alternating roto-translation motion on a vertical plane perpendicular to the rotation axis of said wrapping head to pass from said disengagement position to said position for applying the dab of gluing material.

[33] Thanks to said reciprocating roto-translation motion, said spray gun can be brought into a position for applying the dab of gluing material having a distance from said flat base of the product of the order of 2 mm. This permits to guarantee the precise application of the gluing material on the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet, avoiding soiling and the like.

[34] According to another aspect of the invention, the apparatus comprises pressure means, arranged at a third operating station located downstream of said second operating station, suitable for imparting a controlled pressure on said flat base of the product, to ensure a homogeneous distribution of said gluing material.

[35] Preferably downstream of said second operating station there are further folding means adapted to accompany the product wrapped in the wrapping sheet towards said third operating station, said further folding means acting on the bottom of said product to keep said bottom edges of the sheet overlapping in the closed position of the wrapper.

Description of drawings

[36] The details of the invention will become more evident from the detailed description of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus for closing the wrapper of confectionery products, illustrated as a non-limitative example in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 is a front view of the wrapping head of a wrapping machine for confectionery products equipped with the apparatus for closing the wrapping of said confectionery products according to the present invention;

Figures 2, 3 and 4 are a detail front view of said apparatus for closing the wrapper in different operating steps.

Description of embodiments of the invention

[37] With particular reference to these figures, the numeral 1 indicates the apparatus for closing the wrapper of confectionery products 2 in a wrapping machine.

[38] In the shown case, the confectionery products 2 have a truncated pyramidal or parallelepiped shape with at least one flat base. However, it is obviously possible to provide for the use of the apparatus for closing the wrapper of confectionery products of different shapes.

[39] The apparatus 1 is associated with the wrapping head 3 of the wrapping machine, known per se. The wrapping head 3 comprises a rotating member 4 which is able to be rotated along a horizontal axis, in the direction indicated by the arrow A, to receive single products 2 from a feed line and pack them by means of single wrapping sheets. Conveniently, the rotating member 4 of the wrapping head 3 is operated in stepwise rotation.

[40] The wrapping head 3 is equipped with a plurality of angularly distributed gripping means 5, suitable for receiving, holding and releasing the products 2. The gripping means 5 shapes, for example, respective gripper members 6, the claws 7 of which are rotatably constrained to the rotating member 4 and are oscillating between a reciprocal opening position, for receiving a single product 2 between respective gripping portions 8 or for releasing it, and a closing position, for holding the same product 2 during wrapping operations. The claws 7 of the gripper members 6 for example may be operated by the same operation means suitable for controlling the rotation motion of the wrapping head 3 or alternatively by autonomous means for operating the gripping means.

[41] The gripper members 6 of the wrapping head 3 are adapted to be rotated by the rotating member 4 through a series of operating stations to operate the wrapping and closing of the products 2 with a respective wrapping sheet. In the illustrated case, the wrapping machine has six gripper members 6, operated stepwise at the same number of operating stations. However, it is obviously possible to provide a different number of gripper members.

[42] In particular, the wrapping head 3 is adapted to carry stepwise the confectionery products 2 at a station 9 in which said products are taken up from the feeding line to be transferred to a first station 10 in which the wrapping and the closure of the wrapping sheet are performed. The wrapping and closing of the wrapping sheet are performed by suitable folding means 11 , known per se.

[43] It should be noted that the products 2 are held by the gripper members 6 with the flat base facing the outside of the wrapping head 3. In the wrapping and closing station 10 of the wrapping sheet, the folding members 11 fold the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet onto said flat base of the products 2. [44] Downstream of the first operating station 10, the second operating station 12 is arranged, in which the stable closure of the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet is carried out by applying a dab of glue material. As specified below, the dab of glue material is applied using a spray gun 13.

[45] At the second operating station 12, the apparatus has a gripping member 14 suitable for lifting a bottom flap of the wrapping sheet, in a suitable phase relationship with the actuation of the aforementioned spray gun 13. The gripping member 14 consists of a parallelepiped-shaped metal bar having a suction mouth on the surface facing the wrapping head 3, in continuous connection with suction means adapted to maintain the suction mouth itself in depression.

[46] The gripping member 14 is movable between a gripping position, substantially adjacent to the flat base of the product 2, to retain a bottom flap of the wrapping sheet, and a lifting position, rotated angularly with respect to the flat base of the product 2, in which the gripping member 14 keeps the bottom edge of the wrapping sheet raised in a position almost perpendicular to the same flat base of the product 2.

[47] The gripping member 14 is connected to a lever system 15 comprising an oscillating arm 16 adapted to be operated along a horizontal axis parallel to the rotation axis of the wrapping head 3 and articulated to a tie rod 17 to impart the gripping member 14 the reciprocating motion between the aforementioned gripping and lifting operating positions.

[48] The raised bottom flap of the wrapping sheet is subsequently folded on the bottom of the wrapping sheet, after applying the dab of glue material, by the same gripping member 14, operated to return to the position adjacent to the bottom of the wrapping.

[49] The spray gun 13 is movable with a roto-translational motion on a vertical plane perpendicular to the axis of the wrapping head to move from a disengagement position to a position for applying the dab of gluing material. In the disengagement position of the spray gun 13, the gripping member 14 is placed in the gripping position adjacent to the flat base of the product 2, to withdraw by suction or close the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet; in the position for applying the dab of gluing material, the gripping member 14 is placed in the position substantially perpendicular to the flat base of the product 2 and keeps the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet raised.

[50] To this end, the spray gun 13 is articulated to a double crank mechanism 18 comprising a first rocker arm 19 and a second rocker arm 20 adapted to be operated in angular rotation according to horizontal axes parallel to the rotation axis of the wrapping head 3, by motor members, not shown. The first rocker arm 19 and the second rocker arm 20 are arranged in sequence and a lever 21 pivotally connected to the spray gun 13 is pivoted to the respective free ends. Therefore, the double crank mechanism 18 allows the spray gun 13 to be operated, for applying the dab of gluing material to the bottom of the wrapping sheet, maintaining an appropriate phase relationship with respect to the alternate movement of the gripping member 14.

[51] Advantageously, the gluing operation is carried out using a non-toxic glue suitable for applications in the food sector.

[52] Downstream of the second operating station 12 there is further folding means 22 which accompanies the product towards a third operating station 23 in which pressing means 24 operates and is able to impart a controlled pressure on the flat base of the products 2, wrapped in the respective wrapping sheet subjected to gluing operation previously described. Said further folding means 22 acts on the bottom of the product keeping the bottom flaps overlapped in the position of closing the wrapper.

[53] In the embodiment here described, the pressing means 24 is connected to an arm 25 articulated to the second rocker arm 20 which causes its reciprocating oscillating motion between a disengagement position and a position of applying the pressure. The action of the pressing means 24 is able to ensure a homogeneous distribution of the gluing material for joining the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet.

[54] The method for closing the wrapping of confectionery products is easily understandable from the above description.

[55] The confectionery products 2 to be wrapped, partially wrapped in a relative wrapping sheet, are taken up by the gripper members 6 of the wrapping head 3, rotated stepwise, and fed in succession to the operating stations of the machine.

[56] In the first operating station 10, the folding means 11 closes the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet on the flat base of the product 2.

[57] The wrapped product is then transferred to the second operating station 12, where the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet are glued. In the second operating station 12, the flat base of the product 2 facing the outside of the wrapping head faces the suction mouth of the gripping member 14, which is in continuous connection with suction means suitable for keeping the same suction mouth in depression (Figure 2). The gripping member 14 therefore holds the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet adjacent to the suction mouth in depression.

[58] The aforementioned bottom flap of the wrapping sheet is then raised, by activating the angular rotation of the gripping member 14 from the gripping position to the lifting position of the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet held by the suction mouth of the same gripping member 14 (Figure 3).

[59] In a suitable phase relationship, simultaneously with the lifting of the bottom edge of the wrapping sheet, the roto-translation of the spray gun 13 is made from the disengagement position to the position of applying the dab of gluing material (see again Figure 3). Arriving in front of the bottom of product 2, the spray gun 13 applies a dab of glue material on the bottom flap of the wrapping sheet wrapped on product 2.

[60] Advantageously, the spray gun can be brought to a very small distance from the bottom of the product, for example of the order of 2 mm.

[61] At the end of the gluing operation, the spray gun 13 is moved away from the bottom of the product 2 and brought back to the disengagement position, while at the same time the gripping member 14 brings back the bottom edge of the wrapping sheet held by the suction mouth (Figure 4).

[62] The product 2 wrapped by the glued wrapping sheet is then fed from the wrapping head 3 into the subsequent operating station 23 engaging with the flat base the curved surface of the further folding means 22. In the third operating station 23, the pressing means 24 is operated to impart a controlled pressure on the flat base of the product 2. The pressure exerted by the pressing means 24 ensures a homogeneous distribution of the gluing material applied between the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet.

[63] The method according to the present invention achieves the purpose of optimally closing the wrapper of confectionery products.

[64] In particular, the above method permits to close the wrapper of confectionery products by a dab of glue at high speed, so as not to cause a reduction in the productivity required of the machine.

[65] The aforementioned purpose is achieved thanks to the distinct presence of a first operating station 10 in which the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet are closed on a flat base of the products 2 and of a second operating station 12 specifically dedicated to the gluing operations of the bottom flaps of the wrapping sheet using the spray gun 13.

[66] The presence of two operating stations dedicated to the various operations required for the type of closing of the wrapping sheet described also permits to reduce the interference between the folding means and the means for applying the dab of gluing material during the closing operations of the wrapping sheet.

[67] Obviously, the gluing of the bottom flaps of the wrapping allows an effective closure of the wrapping of confectionery products with any wrapping material, both with wrapping materials having an elastic deformation and with wrapping materials having a plastic deformation.

[68] The apparatus described by way of example is subject of numerous modifications and variations according to the different needs.

[69] In the practical embodiment of the invention, the materials used, as well as the shape and the dimensions, may be modified depending on needs.

[70] Should the technical features mentioned in any claim be followed by reference signs, such reference signs were included strictly with the aim of enhancing the understanding of the claims and hence they shall not be deemed restrictive in any manner whatsoever on the scope of each element identified for exemplifying purposes by such reference signs.