Traveling Items Shifted To Form Line, Or Into End Or Edge Alignment, To Facilitate Inspection Or Separation Patents (Class 209/539)
  • Patent number: 10875057
    Abstract: An object processing system within a trailer for a tractor trailer is discloses. The object processing system includes an input area of the trailer at which objects to be processed may be presented, a perception system for providing perception data regarding objects to be processed, and a primary transport system for providing transport of each object in one of at least two primary transport directions within the trailer based on the perception data.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 6, 2017
    Date of Patent: December 29, 2020
    Assignee: Berkshire Grey, Inc.
    Inventors: Thomas Wagner, Kevin Ahearn, Benjamin Cohen, Michael Dawson-Haggerty, Christopher Geyer, Thomas Koletschka, Kyle Maroney, Matthew T. Mason, Gene Temple Price, Joseph Romano, Daniel Smith, Siddhartha Srinivasa, Prasanna Velagapudi, Thomas Allen
  • Patent number: 10315859
    Abstract: Singulation system may utilize various features to singulate items, e.g., which may be different sizes from one another. For example, a conveyor may advance items along the length of the conveyor, and paddles arranged for protruding over respective portions of the conveyor may be selectively positionable based on conditions (such as a size or a jammed state) of items detected as present on a relevant part of the conveyor. Additionally or alternatively, a first conveyor may advance items at a first speed and in a first direction to sequentially drop the items onto a second conveyor positioned below the first conveyor, and the second conveyor may advance the received items at a second speed higher than the first speed and in a second direction different from the first direction, e.g., to increase space between items.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 20, 2017
    Date of Patent: June 11, 2019
    Assignee: Amazon Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Longyu Zhao, Martin Peter Aalund, Stephanie Tomasetta
  • Patent number: 10176662
    Abstract: An empties sorting device includes a sorting table with a table surface, a feed section, and a discharge section. The discharge section has a dividing device with at least one section partition wall. The device further includes a conveying device, which is designed in such a way that the empties can be transferred from the feed section to the discharge section, and a guiding device with a guiding element, designed to be movable at least into a first guiding position associated with a first collecting channel, and a second guiding position associated with a second collecting channel, and a controller designed to control the movement of the guiding element into the first and second guiding positions in accordance with the type of empties. A discharge section partition wall between the collecting channels can be moved parallel to the table surface, thus allowing an associated collecting channel size to be varied.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 14, 2017
    Date of Patent: January 8, 2019
    Assignee: Wincor Nixdorf International, GmbH
    Inventor: Berthold Schroeder
  • Patent number: 10029858
    Abstract: Equipment for stacking and arranging items according to a predetermined order on a platform includes at least: one conveyor belt extending along a feed direction; one plurality of rollers arranged transversely to the feed direction; the conveyor belt being combined with the rollers so that rotation of the rollers in a way causes rotation of the conveyor belt in the same way; one first roller of the plurality of rollers being driven by a motor for driving the rotation of the conveyor belt; one transmission assembly for transmitting the motion from the motor to the driven roller; the conveyor belt including at least a first central and at least two side portions opposed with respect to the central portion; the central portion moving at a speed v1 along the feed direction, the first side portion moving at a speed v2 along the feed direction; and v2>v1.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 13, 2014
    Date of Patent: July 24, 2018
    Assignee: AKMER-SERVICIOS DE CONSULTADORIA E MARKETINGS LDA
    Inventor: Pio Guido Giacomini
  • Patent number: 9845205
    Abstract: A method for targeted detection and segregation of individual piece goods being conveyed in a conveying direction on an extensive conveying element. A position-determining device detects positional information of the piece good to be segregated. The piece good to be segregated is displaced transversely to the conveying device by a push element, which is moved transversely to the conveying direction into the conveying region of the piece goods. Before pushing of the piece good, the push element is now moved into a forward position that lies above the conveying element in the conveying region. The piece good is subsequently pushed by the push element over the conveying element by way of accelerating the push element out of the forward position in a push direction. The forward position is set by a control device depending on positional information concerning the piece good to be segregated on the conveying element.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 6, 2015
    Date of Patent: December 19, 2017
    Assignee: FERAG AG
    Inventor: Roland Keller
  • Patent number: 9592759
    Abstract: A method of loading at least one item onto a vehicle is provided. The method includes providing at least one vehicle for operation in a desired environment, providing at least one mechanism operably connected to a portion of the vehicle, and gathering at least one item as the vehicle travels in the desired environment. The method further includes arranging the items on the vehicle via the mechanism based on at least one criterion, such as the weight of the items, so that the items can be loaded onto the vehicle without needing the vehicle to travel to the items in a specific order to thereby enable the vehicle to operate more quickly in the desired environment and conserve power.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 29, 2014
    Date of Patent: March 14, 2017
    Inventor: Daniel Theobald
  • Patent number: 9052395
    Abstract: An amplitude modulated continuous wave range imaging device has a signaling device configured to emit an intensity modulated illumination signal. An image sensor is configured to capture a plurality of images of a reflection of the modulated illumination signal. The captured images include intensity and/or phase components for a plurality of pixels of the image sensor. Each pixel includes a first modulation terminal having a first capacitive component. A first driver is configured to charge a first set of modulation terminals of the plurality of pixels. A second driver is configured to charge a second set of modulation terminals of the plurality of pixels. A charge transfer circuit is connected between the first set of modulation terminals and the second set of modulation terminals. The charge transfer circuit is configured to transfer charge between the first set of modulation terminals and the second set of modulation terminals.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 27, 2012
    Date of Patent: June 9, 2015
    Assignee: WaikatoLink Limited
    Inventors: Richard Michael Conroy, Adrian Andrew Dorrington, Cyrus Bamji
  • Patent number: 9035210
    Abstract: An optical robotic sorting method and apparatus for identifying and sorting a product is provided. In the preferred embodiment, the method comprises the steps of illuminating the product with a light source, imaging the product using at least one imaging device, analyzing the image, and activating a robotic sorter to sort the product.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 12, 2011
    Date of Patent: May 19, 2015
    Assignee: Bratney Companies
    Inventor: Curt Matthew Davis
  • Patent number: 8915377
    Abstract: A method of determining the length distribution in the population of glass or plastic fibers in, for example, a fiber reinforced polymeric article wherein the fibers recovered from a representative article are immersed in a non-polar liquid and the combination of the liquid and fibers is passed through a sieve stack while an applied high electric field produces a relatively uniform alignment of the fibers as they pass through the sieves thereby improving the accuracy of the filtering process.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 21, 2012
    Date of Patent: December 23, 2014
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventor: Umesh N. Gandhi
  • Patent number: 8893723
    Abstract: Method and device for removing foreign bodies from a first tobacco stream that is conveyed via an air flow in a region of a first foreign body detection device. Method includes detecting, with a first foreign body detection device, the foreign bodies in the first tobacco stream based on at least one property, and removing, with a jet of compressed air, the foreign bodies from the first tobacco stream. In this manner, a foreign body freed tobacco stream and a second tobacco stream including tobacco particles and the foreign bodies entrained by the jet of compressed air are formed. Method also includes at least one of: accelerating the second stream at a distance from the first tobacco stream; and detecting, with a second foreign body detector, foreign bodies in the second stream based on at least one property and removing the detected foreign bodies with a second jet of compressed air.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 7, 2010
    Date of Patent: November 25, 2014
    Assignee: Hauni Maschinenbau AG
    Inventors: Matthias Jahnke, Harry Drewes, Torsten Grigutsch, Hans Dierken, David Felts, Jeroen Erinkveld, Diederick van Klaarbergen
  • Patent number: 8545094
    Abstract: The invention exposes rock fragments of a material to electromagnetic radiation, such as microwave radiation, and detects the thermal response of the material of the rock fragments during or immediately after exposure to detect a mineral within the material.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 23, 2010
    Date of Patent: October 1, 2013
    Assignee: Technologies Resource Pty Limited
    Inventor: Nenad Djordjevic
  • Patent number: 8528742
    Abstract: A package-culling conveyor system and a method for culling flat packages from a bulk flow of flat and non-flat packages. The conveyor system includes a tilted conveyor belt that conveys flat packages along its length while non-flat packages tumble off its lower side edge to initially cull flat packages from a bulk flow of packages. Retention means, such as a high-friction outer conveying surface or a raised barrier along the length of the outer conveying surface of the tilted conveyor belt, holds flat packages on the tilted conveyor belt. The initially separated packages are more fully culled in a conveyor comprising a roller conveyor belt with package-supporting belt rollers rotated in a direction to push packages sidewise toward a culling element that extends along the length of the roller conveyor belt. Examples of culling elements include powered rollers and vertical walls forming side guards. The powered roller lifts the contact side of non-flat packages to free flat packages underneath.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 4, 2011
    Date of Patent: September 10, 2013
    Assignee: Laitram, L.L.C.
    Inventors: Stephen G. Wargo, Eric M. Pressler, John M. Dunlop
  • Patent number: 8476545
    Abstract: A piece of material that includes low-Z elements is classified based on photonic emissions detected from the piece of material. Both XRF spectroscopy and OES techniques, for example, Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) and spark discharge spectroscopy, may be used to classify the piece of material. A stream of pieces of material are moved along a conveying system into a stimulation and detection area. Each piece of material, in turn, is stimulated with a first and second stimulus, of a same or different type, causing the piece of material to emit emissions, for example, photons, which may include at least one of x-ray photons (i.e., x-rays) and optical emissions. These emissions then are detected by one or to more detectors of a same or different type. The piece of materials is then classified, for example, using a combination of hardware, software and/or firmware, based on the detected emissions, and then sorted.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 29, 2010
    Date of Patent: July 2, 2013
    Assignee: Spectramet, LLC
    Inventors: Edward J. Sommer, David B. Spencer, R. Lynn Conley, Richard E. Hill, Robert H. Parrish, Charles E. Roos
  • Patent number: 8469200
    Abstract: A device for sorting a plurality of articles which vary in size by linearly translating the articles over a plurality of apertures that also vary in size. An article may be accepted into a guide that releasably retains the article while the guide and the article are linearly translated across a sorting surface by an actuator until the article falls through an aperture for which the article was intended. The article is supported from below by a support surface. The sorting surface may be angled relative to the horizontal plane to facilitate passage of the articles through the apertures. The base portion of the article may slide along the support surface as the guide translates the article across the sorting surface.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 23, 2011
    Date of Patent: June 25, 2013
    Assignee: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
    Inventor: Fred Wendeln
  • Publication number: 20130146512
    Abstract: An orienting device for receiving a bulk flow of unshelled pistachio nuts and aligning and orienting them to provide single flows of nuts having a desired, common orient, the device comprises: an orienting section (27) comprising a plurality of tracks (25), which receive a flow of nuts from an infeed section, and align and orient the nuts, each track (25) comprising an orienting part (29), which comprises a base and first and second lateral orienting guides (39) makes the nuts rotate. The tray is a vibrating tray.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 12, 2011
    Publication date: June 13, 2013
    Inventors: Nicholas Reynolds, Sean Brennan
  • Patent number: 8446156
    Abstract: The invention provides a method and apparatus for the analysis of rocks and rock fragments. A method for the analysis of a rock fragment including: feeding the rock fragment to a microwave irradiation zone of microwave energy generated by a microwave source; gauging energy absorbed by the rock fragment; and correlating rate of change of the gauged energy absorbed by the rock fragment with compositional characteristics of the rock fragment.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 10, 2007
    Date of Patent: May 21, 2013
    Assignee: The University of Queensland
    Inventor: Robert D. Morrison
  • Patent number: 8393476
    Abstract: A machine enabling automatic sorting of defective gelatin capsules based on the diameter and the weight of the capsule. The machine enables the automatic selection and rejection of the gelatin capsules having assembly and metering defects. The device consists of a rimmed selection disk rotating on an inclined plane of about 20 degrees relative to the horizontal direction. The disk has one or two rows of suitably sized apertures drilled about its circumference for holding the defective gelatin capsules until the defective gelatin capsules are automatically expelled by a blast nozzle. The properly assembled gelatin capsules pass freely through the sized apertures. While falling, the gelatin capsules individually pass a blast screen which expels the flawed gelatin capsules. Acceptable gelatin capsules are not deflected by the air blast and are discharged from the machine via the outlet chute.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 5, 2008
    Date of Patent: March 12, 2013
    Assignee: Soldopha S.A.R.L.
    Inventor: Roland Vicherat
  • Patent number: 8369985
    Abstract: A mail sorter, method, and software product are used for sorting inbound mail pieces and outbound mail pieces. The mail sorter includes sorter modules cooperatively engaged with each other, so as to receive mail pieces that are a mixture of both inbound mail pieces and outbound mail pieces, and so as to sort both the inbound mail pieces and the outbound mail pieces. The mail sorter also includes an unsorted mail piece path that is utilized by both the inbound mail pieces and the outbound mail pieces. The outbound mail pieces are mail pieces destined for sorting at a remote postal facility prior to delivery to destination addresses, whereas the inbound mail pieces are mail pieces that are not destined for sorting at a remote postal facility prior to delivery to destination addresses.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 7, 2006
    Date of Patent: February 5, 2013
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventor: Denis J. Stemmle
  • Patent number: 8061527
    Abstract: A grain classifying device for accurately classifying the grains of uniform length, and an adhesive containing grains classified by the device and capable of connecting electrodes under a low pressure and being applicable to electrodes arranged in fine pitches. The grain classifying device (1) includes a dispersing means (2) for dispersing a plurality of grains (P). A grain orienting means (3) orients each of the dispersed grains in a transfer direction (X) of the grains (P) while spacing the grains apart from one another in the transfer direction (X) of the grains. A grain length measuring means (4) measures the length of each of the grains (P) oriented in the transfer direction (X). A grain separation means (5) separates the grains (P) having a predetermined length based on data related to the lengths of the measured grains (P).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 22, 2006
    Date of Patent: November 22, 2011
    Assignee: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.
    Inventors: Keiji Koyama, Tetsuya Kuwabara, Masaru Haga, Hideki Kashihara
  • Patent number: 8047381
    Abstract: A grain classifying device for accurately classifying the grains of uniform length, and an adhesive containing grains classified by the device and capable of connecting electrodes under a low pressure and being applicable to electrodes arranged in fine pitches. The grain classifying device (1) includes a dispersing means (2) for dispersing a plurality of grains (P). A grain orienting means (3) orients each of the dispersed grains in a transfer direction (X) of the grains (P) while spacing the grains apart from one another in the transfer direction (X) of the grains. A grain length measuring means (4) measures the length of each of the grains (P) oriented in the transfer direction (X). A grain separation means (5) separates the grains (P) having a predetermined length based on data related to the lengths of the measured grains (P).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 17, 2010
    Date of Patent: November 1, 2011
    Assignee: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.
    Inventors: Keiji Koyama, Tetsuya Kuwabara, Masaru Haga, Hideki Kashihara
  • Patent number: 7718912
    Abstract: A outer surface-inspecting method for judging whether a defect of a defective portion (27) extracted from an inspection area in an image (21A) of an object to be inspected through comparison with a template is acceptable or not, including: dividing the inspection area into a plurality of sections (22, 23, 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b, 28a, 28b, 28c) respectively having different acceptable levels (CONDITION 1-6); judging, when at least one extracted defective portion (27) spreads out over some of the sections (28a, 28b, 28c) respectively having different acceptable levels, whether the defect of the defective portion (27) is acceptable or not based on a strictest acceptable level (CONDITION 3) of all the acceptable levels (CONDITION 3-5) respectively set on the plurality of sections (28a, 28b, 28c) on which the defective portion (27) is located.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 2005
    Date of Patent: May 18, 2010
    Assignee: Kabushiki Kaisha TOPCON
    Inventor: Shigeyuki Akimoto
  • Publication number: 20100051517
    Abstract: Actuators, pumps, clutches, brakes and other assemblies may utilize field-responsive fluids that include a plurality of particles suspended in a base fluid. A positive displacement pump is provided by causing particles to align into chains and walls which inhibit traversal by fluid within a fluid enclosure. The field which aligns the particles is moved, thereby causing the walls of aligned particles to move. Because traversal of the walls by the fluid is inhibited, fluid is displaced by movement of the walls of aligned particles. A reciprocating positive displacement pump can be provided by ceasing particle alignment and returning the particles to a starting position. Objects may also be moved in response to collision with chains or walls of aligned particles that move in response to field movement. Fluid circulation features are provided for preventing agglomeration of particles when translating torque between plates in relative rotational movement.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 29, 2008
    Publication date: March 4, 2010
    Applicant: Schlumberger Technology Corporation
    Inventors: Murat Ocalan, Nathan Wicks
  • Patent number: 7654380
    Abstract: A handling system able to efficiently process information relating to a plurality of conveyed articles, the handling system provided with a conveyer for conveying workpieces, a visual sensor for detecting positions of workpieces by acquiring images of a plurality of tracking ranges obtained by dividing a belt into sections, an encoder for detecting an amount of movement of the belt, a tracking manager for monitoring amounts of movement of the plurality of tracking ranges based on the amount of movement detected by the encoder and specifying the tracking range passing through a workpiece detection area, a workpiece manager for selecting the article in the tracking range specified by the tracking manager, and a controller for controlling operations of robots so as to hold the workpiece selected by the workpiece manager.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 22, 2006
    Date of Patent: February 2, 2010
    Assignee: Toshiba Kikai Kabushiki Kaisha
    Inventors: Yasunori Nishihara, Toshihiko Nakane
  • Patent number: 7607544
    Abstract: Apparatus for use to check potatoes or similar items, the apparatus including a feeding device for advancing the potatoes in a plurality of rows, a conveying device adapted to receive the rows of potatoes from the feeding device and advancing them while maintaining the row structure, at least one camera with associated image processor for recording and evaluating each individual potato on the conveying device and a sorting device controlled by the image processor, the sorting device being adapted to sort the potatoes. The conveying device includes a plurality of substantially horizontal rollers, the axes of rotation of the rollers extending parallel to the advance direction of the potatoes, the rollers being rotatably mounted in a support frame and connected with a first driving device for rotating the rollers. The rollers are each independently additionally displaceable in parallel forwards and backwards in a substantially straight line.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 22, 2004
    Date of Patent: October 27, 2009
    Assignee: Newtec Engineering A/S
    Inventors: Gunnar Petersen, Anders Petersen
  • Publication number: 20090218258
    Abstract: A storage tray for storing mail items in the sorting outlets of a mail sorting machine having a carousel with buckets that hold mail items and move in a transport direction such that the mail items describe an arcuate path when released from the buckets. The storage tray includes a bottom surrounded by side walls defining a horizontal top portion of the tray and a horizontal bottom portion of the tray, wherein the bottom of the tray includes a landing wall and a jogging wall intersecting in the bottom portion of the tray, the landing wall extending from the jogging wall in a first direction towards the top portion of the tray at an angle relative to the horizontal bottom portion of the tray, and the jogging wall extending away from the landing wall in a second direction along a generally arcuate curved path toward the top portion of the tray. The shape of the jogging wall preferably corresponds generally to the path of a mail item released from a bucket carousel of a sorting machine.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 28, 2008
    Publication date: September 3, 2009
    Inventors: Stanley K. WAKAMIYA, Pierre J. Campagnolle
  • Publication number: 20090083198
    Abstract: Mail items (3) are supplied individually to, through, and away from a device (1) for franking and/or printing images on flat mail items (3) by a franking system (2) which indicates a franking unit (4) for franking and/or printing images on the mail items (3). Conveyor system (7) is assigned to the franking system (2), the end of the conveyor system leading to a transport system (10), installed underneath the franking system (2) for receiving the mail items (3) for further transport and driven in a transport direction opposite to that in which the mail items (3) to be franked are conveyed in the franking system (2).
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 3, 2008
    Publication date: March 26, 2009
    Inventor: Thomas Peter Haug
  • Publication number: 20080202894
    Abstract: The disengagement system is for use at an output of a centrifugal disc singulator in which elongated articles exit lengthwise following a substantially tangential output path at a periphery of a rotary disc. The rotary disc has a vertical rotation axis and an upper article-receiving area surrounded by a peripheral wall. The disengagement system comprises a lateral conveyor positioned at a radially-outer side of the output, and a vertically-extending fulcrum member positioned at a radially-inner side of the output. In use, a misaligned article is moved out of the output by the disengagement system and back to the article-receiving area.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 28, 2007
    Publication date: August 28, 2008
    Inventor: Real PERREAULT
  • Patent number: 7128217
    Abstract: A bun laner sorts buns into a predetermined number of lanes, for providing buns to a packaging unit. The bun laner detects when some lanes are filling faster than other and closes those lanes while the other lanes fill. A vacuum may be used to hold buns in a filled lane in order to close the lane. An optical detection unit may be used to determine when a bun has been stationary at a certain position in the lane for a predetermined amount of time.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 11, 2004
    Date of Patent: October 31, 2006
    Assignee: The Henry Group, Inc.
    Inventor: James T. Henry
  • Patent number: 7111740
    Abstract: This invention provides a seed-sorting apparatus that includes an alignment trough having a plurality of grooves into which the seeds are distributed, a line sensor camera for inspecting the seeds, a nozzle device having a number of nozzles that is the same as the number of grooves on the upper surface of the alignment trough, and a control unit. The control unit, through a series of calculations, is capable of differentiating between different types of seeds and can direct a seed sorting and sucking device to suck the seed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 10, 2003
    Date of Patent: September 26, 2006
    Assignee: Daiichi Jitsugyo Viswill Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Fumihiro Ogawa, Koji Tsutsumi, Satoko Hirahara
  • Patent number: 6994220
    Abstract: A mixed mail sorting machine includes a feeder that receives a stack of incoming mail pieces and outputs the mail pieces one at a time in a vertical position; a scanner which receives mail pieces from the feeder and scans each mail piece in a vertical position to read sorting information thereon; a reorientation conveyor which receives the scanned mail pieces from the scanner and re-orients each mail piece from a vertical to a horizontal position; a transport device for turning mailing through a 180° arc; a splitter conveyor including a movable divert section which diverts each mail piece to an upper path or a lower path; a bin module which includes upper and lower bin sections which receive mail pieces from the upper and lower paths, respectively, wherein each bin section includes a row of bins and an associated series of tiltable conveyor sections which can be actuated to drop a mail piece into the associated bin; and a control system which tracks each mail piece as it moves from the scanner to the bins and
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 2, 2001
    Date of Patent: February 7, 2006
    Assignee: Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
    Inventors: Holger Schererz, Dieter Powollik, Peter Enenkel
  • Patent number: 6637600
    Abstract: A waste plastics separator is provided which includes a charging device for charging waste plastics; a first alignment device for arranging the waste plastics in a row in the lengthwise direction of the waste plastics; a second alignment device for selecting and discharging waste plastics having not been arranged in the row; a detection device for detecting the waste plastics arranged in the row; a sorting device for sorting the waste plastics; and a sorting control device for controlling sorting work.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 12, 2002
    Date of Patent: October 28, 2003
    Assignee: NKK Corporation
    Inventors: Hideyuki Miyamoto, Nobuo Takasu, Akio Aoki, Keishi Akiu
  • Patent number: 6613998
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for processing mail is provided. The mail is serially fed from a stack of mail into a system transport. The system transport conveys the mail to an imaging station, which scans the mail to obtain image data corresponding to at least a portion of each piece. From the imaging station, the mail is conveyed to a buffer, which selectively maintains the mail while the address printed on the mail is determined. After the address for a piece of mail is determined, the piece is conveyed out of the buffer to a printer, which prints a POSTNET barcode onto the piece. The POSTNET barcode corresponds to the address that was determined for the piece. Optionally, the apparatus may include a labeler for applying a blank label onto the mail, and the POSTNET barcode can then be printed onto the label after it is applied to the mail. After the POSTNET barcode is printed on a piece, it is conveyed past a verifier, which scans the printed POSTNET barcode to ensure that the barcode was printed properly.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 23, 2001
    Date of Patent: September 2, 2003
    Assignee: Opex Corporation
    Inventors: Robert R. DeWitt, George L. Hayduchok, Thomas F Dibiaso
  • Patent number: 6547078
    Abstract: An apparatus for the automated processing of bulk mail in a continuous and automatic procedure includes an operative combination of processing stations including an input station for receiving incoming mail in bulk fashion and for separating the pieces of mail for individual delivery to the remainder of the apparatus a station for detecting irregularities in the contents of the envelopes, such as metal items, folded contents, or oversized items; a station for outsorting envelopes rejected in accordance with determinations made at the detection station; a station for opening the envelopes, preferably along multiple edges; a station for removing the contents from the opened envelopes, for subsequent processing of the contents; and a series of stations for handling and orienting the contents for subsequent delivery to a plurality of output stackers.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 23, 1999
    Date of Patent: April 15, 2003
    Assignee: Opex Corporation
    Inventors: William R. Lile, Albert F. Stevens, Mark A. Stevens, Robert R. Dewitt, Michael E. York, Roy E. Patterson
  • Patent number: 6520342
    Abstract: A product handling apparatus, components of a product handling apparatus, a method of handling products and a software program for controlling a product handling apparatus. The apparatus includes an induct area, in which products are inducted or fed, either automatically or manually, into the product handling apparatus, an identification area, in which the product configuration, the product type and the product title are identified, a labeling area, in which product labels are printed, applied to each product and verified, and a product sorting area, in which the products are sorted into the individual customer order product collection locations for packaging and shipment to the customer. In the product sorting area, products are diverted by air knife diverter mechanisms, and stackable products are stacked in stacker assemblies. An “endless” main conveyor assembly conveys products from the induct area, through the product handling apparatus, to the product sorting area.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 16, 2000
    Date of Patent: February 18, 2003
    Assignees: Aladdin Engineering & Manufacturing, Inc., Professional Control Corporation
    Inventors: Robert D. Dumke, Edward R. Horn, Gerald A. Kohlman, John Wolf, Mike Gross, Todd Sherbinow, Mark Troeger
  • Patent number: 6484886
    Abstract: In one embodiment, an article sorting system includes successive coarse and fine singulators and a recirculating loop for processing a disordered stream of items including three-dimensional non-flat articles. A coarse singulator includes cascaded ramped conveyors, preferably operating at progressively greater speeds. A detection system, such as a vision system, for monitoring the stream of articles and identifying and/or tracking individual items passing through the system is used in conjunction with a fine singulator such as a chevron, hold-and-release or strip conveyor downstream from the coarse singulator. A control system is utilized in connection with the vision system to regulate the flow of articles through the system by, for example, diverting doubles or clusters for separations.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 7, 2000
    Date of Patent: November 26, 2002
    Assignee: Siemens Dematic Postal Automation, L.P.
    Inventors: Gerald A. Isaacs, James M. Pippin, Stephen T. Kugle, George M. Mondie, M. Wayne Neff
  • Patent number: 6481579
    Abstract: A multi-stream singulator has two continuously laterally adjacent streams of cups, which carry and advance articles to be graded to a discharge zone. Articles from the discharge zone are received onto a single stream grading conveyor. At least one of the streams of cups of the multi-stream singulator is a partial cup in advance of the other stream so that the items are discharged non-simultaneously at the discharge zone. Optical scanning of the articles is undertaken by a scanner scanning a zone of the singulating conveyor to determine a physical attribute of each article. Means are provided to associate the scanned attribute of each article from the singulating conveyor with its subsequent position on the single stream grading conveyor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 4, 2001
    Date of Patent: November 19, 2002
    Inventor: Hamish Alexander Nigel Kennedy
  • Patent number: 6454100
    Abstract: A semiconductor element carrying apparatus for surely recovering semiconductor elements dropped in the environs of an electric driver. A lower base member is disposed under a carrying inlet, an inspecting part and a carrying outlet for semiconductor elements, such as semiconductor integrated circuit devices. On the lower base member, an electric driver cover covering an electric driver and a collector is disposed for collecting the semiconductor elements dropped. The semiconductor elements dropped on the electric driver cover are guided to the collector. The collector is equipped with a collector outlet, and a semiconductor collecting vessel is arranged under the collector outlet. Furthermore, an air blower blows compressed air along a slope from a nozzle to move dropped semiconductor devices.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 15, 2001
    Date of Patent: September 24, 2002
    Assignee: Mitsubishi Denki Kabushiki Kaisha
    Inventors: Makoto Yanagihara, Masamitsu Shimasaki, Iwao Sakai
  • Patent number: 6445808
    Abstract: Envelopes with unspecified contents are inspected by a “magnetic imaging” device which operates to identify magnetic indicia associated with the contents of the envelopes in order to identify the orientation of contents within the envelopes and/or to identify magnetic indicia indicative of the magnetic stripe of a credit/debit card or its remnants, in addition to a second detection device (e.g., a thickness measuring device or a metal detecting device) which can then verify whether the indicia indicative of a magnetic stripe signify the presence of a credit/debit card or some other stimulus such as a paper clip or the like. Similar assurances can be provided by employing a thickness measuring device and a metal detecting device, in operative combination (with or without the addition of a magnetic imaging device).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 7, 1996
    Date of Patent: September 3, 2002
    Assignee: Opex Corporation
    Inventors: William R. Lile, Mark A. Stevens, George L. Hayduchok
  • Patent number: 6435352
    Abstract: A sorting machine at the end of a sheet metal slitting and shearing line receives side-by-side stacks of sheet metal panels and separates and rearranges those stacks so that they are more easily wrapped, banded, or otherwise processed. The machine includes a roller conveyor which receives the side-by-side stacks and a platform located to one side of the conveyor. The platform has support beams which align with the rollers of the conveyor such that spaces exist between the succession of aligned rollers and support beams. Beneath the conveyor and platform a transfer carriage moves on tracks that extend transversely with respect to the conveyor. The carriage has transfer beams which occupy the spaces between successive aligned rollers and support beams.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 24, 2000
    Date of Patent: August 20, 2002
    Assignee: Red Bud Industries, Inc.
    Inventors: Elroy Schoenbeck, Kalin Liefer
  • Publication number: 20020029999
    Abstract: A multi-stream singulator has two continuously laterally adjacent streams of cups, which carry and advance articles to be graded to a discharge zone. Articles from the discharge zone are received onto a single stream grading conveyor. At least one of the streams of cups of the multi-stream singulator is a partial cup in advance of the other stream so that the items are discharged non-simultaneously at the discharge zone. Optical scanning of the articles is undertaken by a scanner scanning a zone of the singulating conveyor to determine a physical attribute of each article. Means are provided to associate the scanned attribute of each article from the singulating conveyor with its subsequent position on the single stream grading conveyor.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 4, 2001
    Publication date: March 14, 2002
    Inventor: Hamish Alexander Nigel Kennedy
  • Publication number: 20020026768
    Abstract: The invention pertains to a process and apparatus for automatically sorting and sequencing a random assemblage of products associated with a particular order for same. In one embodiment, the invention sequences the random products to match a predetermined label application sequence.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 11, 2001
    Publication date: March 7, 2002
    Inventors: Gregory Scott Duncan, John M. Lepper, Stephen R. Beaton, Donnie J. Duis
  • Patent number: 6332543
    Abstract: There is provided an apparatus which can simplify, expedite and enhance the segregation of undesirable particles from desirable particles in a multiple-layer flow wherein the desirable and undesirable particles are randomly intermixed with each other. This is accomplished by a stepwise reduction of the thickness of the flow to thus locate all or nearly all undesirable particles at or close to the exposed sides of the resulting relatively thin flow so that the undesirable particles can be readily detected and segregated from the thin flow.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 14, 2000
    Date of Patent: December 25, 2001
    Assignee: Hauni Maschinenbau AG
    Inventors: Heiko Niehues, Torsten Koch, Renke Schlarmann, Harry Drewes, Hans Dierken
  • Patent number: 6234321
    Abstract: Automatic semiconductor part handler. In one aspect the handler includes a source of parts and a transfer mechanism for transferring a part from the source to a belt assembly. The belt assembly includes a belt, a belt displacement controller, and an image forming device for forming an image of the part with respect to a desired end point. The belt displacement controller is coupled to the belt to move the belt based upon the image of the part with respect to the desired end point, thereby positioning the part in a precise location with respect to the direction of motion of the input belt.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 27, 2000
    Date of Patent: May 22, 2001
    Assignee: Aseco Corporation
    Inventors: R. Bruce O'Connor, Zinovy Alshine
  • Patent number: 6152282
    Abstract: A laned conveyor apparatus includes an infeed roller and an outfeed roller rotatably mounted to a frame in spaced apart relation for movably supporting a flexible product-carrying belt that forms a closed loop about the rollers to define a conveying region having a length and a width. A plurality of elastic separating bands are removably positioned around the rollers and the product-carrying belt and spaced apart at intervals along the width of the conveying region to form lanes along the length of the conveying region. The separating bands contact an outer surface of the product-carrying belt to form a frictional interface with the product-carrying belt that causes the separating bands to move in coordination with movement of the product-carrying belt. A guide mechanism mounted to the frame includes multiple guide features spaced apart at intervals along the width of the conveying region for guiding the separating bands so that the lanes are accurately and precisely positioned in relation to the frame.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 1, 1999
    Date of Patent: November 28, 2000
    Assignee: SRC Vision, Inc.
    Inventors: James Ewan, Philip L. Hoffman
  • Patent number: 6149016
    Abstract: An apparatus for sorting from a group of different articles at least one batch of articles where members of the batch are either the same of have some unifying visual characteristic, said apparatus including: (a) a conveying means for transporting the articles along a predetermined path; (b) at least one vision recognition unit; (c) removal means for selectively removing those articles from the conveying means which have been recognised by the vision recognition unit as having the one or more predetermined visual characteristics.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 15, 1998
    Date of Patent: November 21, 2000
    Assignee: Rosebay Terrace Pty Ltd.
    Inventor: Mario Matkovich
  • Patent number: 6112905
    Abstract: Automatic seminconductor part handler. In one aspect the handler includes a source of parts and a transfer mechanism for transferring a part from the source to a belt assembly. The belt assembly includes a belt, a belt displacement controller, and an image forming device for forming an image of the part with respect to a desired end point. The belt displacement controller is coupled to the belt to move the belt based upon the image of the part with respect to the desired end point, thereby positioning the part in a precise location with respect to the direction of motion of the input belt.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 31, 1996
    Date of Patent: September 5, 2000
    Assignee: Aseco Corporation
    Inventors: R. Bruce O'Connor, Zinovy Alshine
  • Patent number: 6026967
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for automatically sorting and feeding flat articles. The method stacks flat articles into cartridges in output compartments of a sorting machine, robotically transfers filled cartridges from the output compartments of a sorting machine to a buffer shelf; and from the buffer shelf to a docking station of a cartridge unloader and automatic feeder to the input of the sorting machine, and for transferring empty cartridges from the docking station to either the buffer or the output compartments of the sorter.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 28, 1997
    Date of Patent: February 22, 2000
    Assignee: ElectroCom Automation
    Inventors: Gerald A. Isaacs, Luiz C. Harres, John W. Kulas, Joseph C. Rotenberry, Kenneth A. McKee, Lynn V. Hill, Mark L. Carlile, Richard C. Hickey, Charles M. Combs, Harold G. Burkett, Jr.
  • Patent number: 5878863
    Abstract: A conveying system (10) for foodstuffs comprising a first conveyor (11) and a second conveyor (12) placed side by side with the end of the first conveyor overlapping the start of the second conveyor. The overlapping portions of the conveyors are in close proximity so as to define a transfer zone (25). Each conveyor has a plurality of foodstuff supports each adapted to support a single piece of foodstuff, and a tilting device to tilt the foodstuff support of the first conveyor to cause the foodstuff to roll from the support of the first conveyor to the support of the second conveyor. The first conveyor (11) includes a photographic zone and the second conveyor includes a weighing zone and multiple ejection zones.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 1, 1997
    Date of Patent: March 9, 1999
    Assignee: Colour Vision Systems Pty Ltd.
    Inventors: Ian Robert Madden, Charles Edward Esson, Peter Gary Brown
  • Patent number: 5813668
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for conveying and staggering envelope contents includes a driven, substantially vertically positioned conveyor belt with an associated conveying slit, through which the envelope contents including documents to be staggered, are moved past an operator. On the side of the envelope contents opposite the conveyor belt (i.e., facing the operator) there is a non-rotary or slowly rotatable delay roller which can be pressed against the document facing it. The delay roller is preferably moved by an electromagnet. The friction between the delay roller and the document facing it is much greater than the friction between the two envelope contents, so that the front document facing the delay roller is decelerated, while the back document is advanced by the conveyor belt until the two documents are staggered. The operator can then detect whether or not there is a document behind the front document, and whether it is correctly oriented.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 5, 1997
    Date of Patent: September 29, 1998
    Assignee: Stielow GmbH & Co.
    Inventor: Bernd Lund
  • Patent number: 5810173
    Abstract: A system for processing documents is provided for use in remittance processing of bulk mail. An extraction unit opens envelopes and extracts the envelope contents, typically in the form of a pair of documents such as an invoice stub and an accompanying check. The extraction unit discards the opened envelopes and feeds the pair of documents in parallel disposition to a document sorting apparatus. The paired, parallel documents are conveyed through a document shifter in the form of nip rollers wherein one document of each pair is at least partially shifted relative to the other document of the pair to expose at least a portion of the covered document to an operator. The documents are then conveyed to a viewing area where the operator visually inspects each pair of documents and manually designates a selected path of movement using a manual input device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 7, 1995
    Date of Patent: September 22, 1998
    Assignee: Opex Corporation
    Inventors: Albert F.. Stevens, Robert R. Dewitt, James G. Robertson, Jeffrey L. Chodack, Ilya Chachkes, Marjory A. McCahill, George L. Hayduchok