|Publication number||US20050039858 A1|
|Application number||US 10/644,459|
|Publication date||24 Feb 2005|
|Filing date||20 Aug 2003|
|Priority date||20 Aug 2003|
|Publication number||10644459, 644459, US 2005/0039858 A1, US 2005/039858 A1, US 20050039858 A1, US 20050039858A1, US 2005039858 A1, US 2005039858A1, US-A1-20050039858, US-A1-2005039858, US2005/0039858A1, US2005/039858A1, US20050039858 A1, US20050039858A1, US2005039858 A1, US2005039858A1|
|Original Assignee||Fmc Technologies, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (8), Classifications (9), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to a labeling apparatus and more particularly, to a labeling apparatus for the application of labels to fruit and/or vegetables.
Labels are applied to fruit and vegetables in packing houses, where the speed at which the labels are applied and the accuracy of the label application are important considerations. Speed is important because the fruit must be packed and shipped quickly so that the shelf life in stores will be as long as possible and the speed of the labeler may be a limiting constraint. The constraint of labeler speed may also result in inefficient use of other equipment and personnel in the packing house, thus increasing the overall cost of operation. Accuracy, in the form of the successful application of the proper label to the fruit, is important because packing house profitability is adversely affected when a label that would have permitted a higher selling price is not applied to fruit otherwise capable of commanding such a higher price.
One known type of labeler used to label fruit and vegetable includes an extendable bellows for placing the labels (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 4,547,252 and EP 0113256). With this type of labeler, the bellows is moved past a magazine or cassette which dispenses the labels from a carrier strip. The labels are held in position on the end of the bellows by application of a vacuum to the bellows that is pulled through openings in the end of the bellows. The vacuum also serves to maintain the bellows in a retracted position. As the bellows is moved to an application position adjacent a fruit, positive pressure is applied and the bellows is extended to contact the fruit and apply the label thereto.
The repeated extension and retraction of the bellows during the labeling process subjects the bellows to stresses and strains that adversely affect the service life of the bellows. These stresses and strains are exacerbated in a rotary bellows arrangement, which includes a plurality of expandable bellows mounted on a rotatable carrier. In particular, because the bellows are rotating at the same time that they are extending, a relatively larger stress is applied to the leading edge of the bellows body. As a result, the leading edge of the bellows body eventually can fail, such as by a crack or tear, leading to decreased labeler performance or even a fault mode due to loss of vacuum pressure in the bellows.
A labeler for applying labels to articles is provided. The labeler includes a label application device having an opening in an end thereof. The label application device being expandable when subjected to pressure. The label application device including a first component defining a working face of the label application device on which labels are carried and a second component defining a body of the label application device to which the first component is secured. The first component being constructed of a first material to which the label adhesive will not readily adhere and the second component being constructed of a second material that is relatively more fatigue resistant than the first material.
Referring now to
In the illustrated embodiment, the labeler 10 includes a rotatable bellows wheel 20 that supports a plurality of expandable bellows 22 which serve, in this case, as label application devices. Each bellows is movable between extended and retracted positions responsive to positive and negative internal fluid pressure, respectively applied through, in this instance, an open end thereof. Each bellows 22 includes an end wall 24 having, at least one, but in this case multiple openings 26 therein (see, e.g.,
Additional details regarding the illustrated labeler are provided in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 09/187,441 and 09/453,757 the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. While the present invention is described in connection with a rotary bellows type labeler, those skilled in the art will appreciate from the following description that the invention is equally applicable to any type of labeler having a label application device that uses a vacuum for picking up a label and pressure to effect the deposit of a label on an article. For example, instead of a bellows, the label application device could comprise a piston, an expandable balloon-type mechanism or any other mechanism which is expandable when subject to pressure.
For retracting the individual bellows 22, the labeler 10 is connected to a vacuum tube 30 (see
A flexible bellows is provided for each of the projections 36. Each of the bellows 22 is retained by an outward projecting flange 38 on a relatively rigid cup 40 having a slotted end for insertion into a cylindrical projection 36 as shown in
For controlling the extension and retraction of each of the flexible bellows 22 so as to allow application of a label to an article, the illustrated labeler 10 is configured to selectively connect each of the bellows 22 to the vacuum and pressure sources such that each of the individual bellows is subjected to pressure when adjacent a label application position and subjected to vacuum for picking up a label at a label pick-up position. To this end, each of the cylindrical projections 36 is provided with a slot 42 to permit communication with the tube 30 via a plurality of equally spaced radial holes 44 as shown in
The width of the slots 42 in the projections is wider than the space between the holes 44 so that vacuum is always available to each projection 36, except when the projection is at the six o'clock position. As the slot 42 for each projection 36 rotationally approaches that position, vacuum access is interrupted and communication with the pressure slot 48 is initiated. Similarly, as each projection rotationally leaves the 6 o'clock position, pressure is cut-off just before access to vacuum is permitted. Thus, the bellows 22 are contracted throughout the rotation of the tubular member 34 except when in proximity to the six o'clock position. It is in that position that each of the bellows 22 is extended toward the fruit to effect the application of a label thereto. Of course, other arrangements for controlling the extension and retraction of the bellows could be employed.
For feeding labels to the individual bellows 22, the label cassette 14 includes a label feed mechanism. A drive mechanism 56 is also provided which, in this case, is operable to advance the label feed mechanism. The illustrated label feed mechanism includes a cassette sprocket 50 carried on a shaft 52 supported by a cassette frame 53 and a hub 54 which is also affixed to the shaft 52 as shown in
After being drawn around the hub 54, the label feed mechanism advances the carrier strip 58 along a separation plate 66 (see
To rotate the bellows wheel 20, the drive assembly 56 is linked to a gear 72 (see
To ensure that the label is not prematurely blown off of the end of the bellows 22 as the bellows 22 is extended, each bellows 22 includes a flow control element 76 which delays the application of pressure to the end of the bellows when the bellows is extended. To this end, the flow control element 76 is arranged adjacent the openings 26 in the end wall 24 of the bellows 22 (see
The air flow passages allow air flow through the flow control element 76 whether positive or negative pressure is being applied to the bellows 22. However, the air flow passages are configured such that the one or more air flow paths to the end openings 26 are sufficiently long, narrow and/or tortuous such that when pressure is applied to the bellows 22 through the open end thereof there is a delay in the air flow reaching the end chamber. This delay prevents the label from being blown off the end of the bellows 22 as the bellows 22 is being extended. It will be appreciated that this delay can be accomplished with a single air flow passage defining a single air flow path through the flow control element, with multiple interconnected air flow passages defining a single path through the flow control element or with multiple air flow passages defining multiple paths through the flow control element as in the illustrated embodiment.
To ensure that air flow does not bypass the air flow passages, the illustrated flow control element 76 divides the bellows so as define an end chamber 78 that communicates with the openings 26 in the end wall 24 of the bellows 22. Thus, in this case, the flow control element is configured to engage the side wall 28 of the bellows 22 near the end wall 24 thereof so as to inhibit the flow of air around the perimeter of the flow control element 76. The illustrated flow control element 76 includes a thin disk shaped portion 84 and a cone shaped portion 86 extending outward from, in this case, the center of one side of the disk shaped portion 84. When installed in the bellows 22, the disk portion 84 extends into engagement with the side wall 28 of the bellows 22 while the cone portion 86 extends inward towards the open end of the bellows as shown in
The cone portion 86 of the flow control element 76 provides a thicker or enlarged section of the element within which the air flow passages can be provided. In particular, the enlarged size of the cone portion 86 allows the air flow passages to be of sufficient length so as to provide the desired delay in the flow of air to the openings 26 in the end wall 24 of the bellows 22. The use of a configuration featuring a relatively thinner portion that engages the side wall 28 of the bellows 22 and a relatively thicker portion for housing the air passages also ensures that the flow control element 76 is relatively lightweight and requires a minimal amount of space. However, while the illustrated configuration can provide certain advantages, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the flow control element can have any suitable configuration which separates the end openings 26 from the remainder of the bellows such that air flow to and from the end openings 26 caused by the application of pressure and vacuum to the bellows passes through the one or more air flow passages in the flow control element. For example, the flow control element 76 could be attached directly to the inside face of the end wall 24 of the bellows 22 or molded into the end wall 24 itself.
To ensure that there is a suitable delay in the flow of air through the flow control element 76, the air flow passages in the illustrated embodiment are interconnected so as to provide multiple continuous air flow paths through the flow control element. The air flow passages include passages which extend through the cone portion 86 as well as passages defined by recesses or grooves in the surface of the cone portion 86 and a cap 90 which is arranged over the cone portion. In particular, two longitudinally extending grooves 92 (one of which is shown in
As shown in
To ensure proper relative positioning of the flow control element 76 and the end wall 24 of the bellows 22 as the bellows moves between the extended and retracted positions, a projection 104 can be provided on the side of the flow control element 76 facing the end wall of the bellows. As shown in
To help extend its useful service life, the bellows 22 can have a construction in which the majority of the bellows body is made of a relatively more fatigue resistant material than is presently used in conventional bellows while the working face is made of a different material which is capable of releasing the adhesive labels onto the objects to be labeled and to which the label adhesive does not adhere. Conventional bellows are molded entirely from a silicon material. Unfortunately, silicon has a relatively low tear strength, leading to a short service life in an application such as a labeler involving repeated, rapid expansion and contraction. As a result, time-consuming and costly shut downs of the labeler equipment are frequently necessary in order to replace the bellows.
As shown in
The end wall 24 can be secured in position relative to the sidewall 28 of the bellows 22 using any suitable method or system such as an adhesive, welding, melting or mechanical fasteners such as staples. Alternatively, the end wall 24 could be captured by the bellows sidewall 28 in such a manner that adhesives or mechanical fasteners are not necessary. For example, the end wall 24 piece could be provided with a skirt configured as a pleat within which the flow control element 76 can be captured. The end wall 24 component and flow control element 76 assembly then could be captured in the sidewall 28 component of the bellows 22. Moreover, as opposed to using a two-piece or component construction, the bellows could be an integral body in which the working face portion is constructed of the adhesive resistant material and the bellows body is constructed of the more fatigue resistant or longer service life material.
As will be appreciated, while in the illustrated embodiment the two pieces generally comprise the sidewall 28 portion of the bellows 22 and the end wall 24 portion of the bellows, other configurations are also possible. For example, it is only necessary that the working face of the bellows 22 (i.e., the portion of the end wall 24 that will carry the labels) be constructed of a material to which the label adhesive will not adhere. Thus, the entire end wall 24 does not need to be constructed of the adhesive resistant material. Moreover, while it is generally desirable to construct all of the portions of the bellows 22 that will be subject to movement during the expansion and retraction of the bellows of the longer service life or more fatique resistant material, it is possible that the sidewall 28 portion of the bellows 22 would not be made entirely of the longer service life material.
One example of a material suitable for use with the working face, or the end wall 24 in the illustrated embodiment, of the bellows 22 is silicon. Of course, other adhesive resistant materials could also be used such as for example a teflon impregnated material. An example of a material suitable for use with the body, or in the illustrated embodiment the sidewall 28 of the bellows 22, is black natural rubber. Other extended service life materials also could be used such as for example neoprene. One advantage of the two-piece bellows construction of the embodiment illustrated in
All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.
The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.
Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Of course, variations of those preferred embodiments will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US3450590 *||8 Apr 1966||17 Jun 1969||Mers Herbert La||Apparatus for applying thermoplastic adhesive coated labels|
|US5829351 *||23 May 1997||3 Nov 1998||Fmc Corporation||Labeler having stepper motor driving plural elements|
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|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US7168472 *||1 Mar 2005||30 Jan 2007||Sinclair Systems International, Llc||Method and apparatus for applying variable coded labels to items of produce|
|US7363954 *||23 Jan 2004||29 Apr 2008||Joe & Samia Management||Tamping labeler|
|US8110064||12 Aug 2008||7 Feb 2012||John Bean Technologies Corporation||Labeling apparatus with housing having fluid pump and related methods|
|US8114240||12 Aug 2008||14 Feb 2012||John Bean Technologies Corporation||Labeling apparatus with sidewall shaft and related methods|
|US8122930||12 Aug 2008||28 Feb 2012||John Bean Technologies Corporation||Labeling apparatus having porting arrangement and related methods|
|US8157946||12 Aug 2008||17 Apr 2012||John Bean Technologies Corporation||Labeling apparatus with pay-out and take-up stepper motors and related methods|
|US20050161164 *||23 Jan 2004||28 Jul 2005||Joe & Samia Management Inc.||Tamping labeler|
|US20050211371 *||1 Mar 2005||29 Sep 2005||Richard Hirst||Method and apparatus for applying variable coded labels to items of produce|
|U.S. Classification||156/540, 156/556, 156/541|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10T156/1707, B65C9/36, Y10T156/1744, Y10T156/1705|
|20 Aug 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: FMC TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ARRINGTON, CLINT P.;REEL/FRAME:014417/0248
Effective date: 20030812