Device for self-service stores

Abstract

An arrangement for self-service stores, in which containers loaded with goods selected by a customer are by chain means including stud means moved from a check-out station to an unloading station for withdrawal by the customer of the checkedout goods, while each container is provided with entraining means cooperating with stud means of said chain means, said entraining means being so controlled as to block and free the entraining means for respectively transporting and freeing the respective container.

Claims

1. An arrangement for self-serving stores, which includes: a plurality of containers each having entraining means connected thereto, at least one checking station for checking the goods selected by a customer in one container and placing the checkedout goods into another container, at least one unloading station for withdrawal of the checked-out goods by the customer from said other container, flexible conveying means leading from said checking station to said unloading station for conveying a container with checked-out goods from said checking station to said unloading station, said conveying means including stud means operable to engage with said entraining means pertaining to a container with checked-out goods therein and in response to a movement of said conveying means to take said last mentioned container from said checking station to said unloading station, each of said entraining means including T-shaped guiding means having substantially vertical guiding passage means and substantially horizontal guiding passage means for respectively receiving and guiding the respective stud means entering the said vertical and horizontal passage means, blocking means respectively associated with said entraining means and normally blocking the horizontal passage means thereof to thereby establish a coupling connection between stud means and the entraining means engaged thereby and thereby between the pertaining container and said conveying means, and control means stationarily supported at the respective unloading station and operable when a checked-out container reaches said last mentioned unloading station to unblock the respective horizontal passage means to permit the respective stud means engaging the entraining means of said last mentioned contaiNer to leave the same. 2. An arrangement according to claim 1, in which said blocking means are pivotally supported by the respective containers for pivoting about an axis substantially perpendicularly to the side walls of the respective container, each of said containers having two blocking means and connecting rod means interconnecting said two blocking means for a simultaneous and unidirectional pivot moment thereof. 3. An arrangement according to claim 2, which includes abutment means with an inclined surface respectively arranged at said checking station and said unloading station, and in which said connecting rod means is provided with cam means operable at said checking station and said unloading station to engage said abutment means for actuating said connecting rod means and thereby said blocking means. 4. An arrangement according to claim 1, which includes a transfer station interposed between said checking and unloading stations, and in which said conveying means includes a pair of endless first articulated chain means movable in either direction and leading from said checking station to said transfer station and second pairs of articulated chain means corresponding in number to the number of unloading stations and independent of each other and of said first articulated chain means, said second articulated chain means being movable in either direction and leading from the respective unloading station to said transfer station whereby an empty container can be moved from the respective unloading station through said transfer station to said checking station and a loaded container can be moved from said checking station through said transfer station to the respective unloading station. 5. An arrangement according to claim 4, with a plurality of unloading stations, in which said second pairs of articulated chain means have their sections within the region of said transfer station in common. 6. An arrangement according to claim 4, in which the stud means of said first articulated chain means and the stud means of said second articulated chain means are respectively arranged for engagement with different guiding passage means. 7. An arrangement according to claim 4, which includes a substantially horizontal roller conveyor extending from said transfer station to a portion below said withdrawing stations. 8. An arrangement according to claim 1, in which said conveying means includes a section for moving said containers in a vertical direction, and in which each of said containers has its upper and lower longitudinal sides provided with coupling means for temporary coupling engagement with an adjacent container in said last mentioned section. 9. An arrangement according to claim 5, in which the common section of said second pairs of articulated chain means within the region of said transfer station is so designed that the stud means at the end portion of the respective container at said transfer station leave the pertaining entraining means in downward direction to thereby free said pertaining entraining means.
United States Patent Potrafke 51 June 27, 1972 [54] DEVICE FOR SELF-SERVICE STORES [72] Inventor: Werner Potrafke, Hufeisenstrasse 6, 4320 Hattingen, Germany [22] Filed: Oct. 6, 1970 [21] Appl.No.: 78,474 [52] US. Cl. 4 [51] Int. Cl..., [5 8] Field of Search ..186/1 A, 198/85 ..E04h 3/04 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2/1960 Grondona ..l86/1AC 2/1965 Thomas ..198/85 ..186/l, 1 A, 1 AC; 198/85' 3,521,738 7/1970 Coleman ..198/85 Primary Examiner-Harvey C. Hornsby Attorney-Walter Becker [5 7] ABSTRACT An arrangement for self-service stores, in which containers loaded with goods selected by a customer are by chain means including stud means moved from a check-out station to an unloading station for withdrawal by the customer of the checked-out goods, while each container is provided with entraining means cooperating with stud means of said chain means, said entraining means being so controlled as to block and free the entraining means for respectively transporting and freeing the respective container. 9 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures DEVICE FOR SELF-SERVICE STORES My copending application Ser. No. 722,364, filed Apr. 18, 1968, now US. Pat. No. 3,561,566, describes an apparatus for self-serving stores in which the goods brought by the buyer in a basket or a carriage to the cashier's stand are, one after another, placed by the cashier into a receiving container and registered as to price in the cash register. After the goods have thus been registered, the buyer can withdraw the goods from said receiving container at a different station (withdrawal station) and pack them into his or her own shopping bag. The above mentioned device comprises at least three receiving containers which along fixed paths are movable from a loading station easily accessible to the cashier to one or more withdrawing stations and vice versa while for the move ment of the containers there are provided flexible conveyor means which grasp the containers at entraining means on oppositely located outer sides. The discharging stations are preferably located behind the loading stations. The movements of the receiving containers are effected along paths which extend vertically and horizontally. The flexible conveyor elements are driven independently of each other by individual drives, especially electric motors. It is an object of the present invention to further develop the apparatus according to the above mentioned patent application, especially with regard to the design of the flexible conveyor elements, the entraining means on the receiving containers and the course of movement between the loading station and the unloading or withdrawing stations. These and other objects and advantages of the invention will appear more clearly from the following specification, in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which: FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic side view of an apparatus according to the invention with three receiving containers for selfserving stores. FIG. 2 illustrates a diagrammatic side view of the apparatus according to the invention which, however, differs from that of FIG. 1 in that two containers occupy a different position. FIGS. 3 and 4 represent a side view of entraining means on a larger scale than FIGS. 1 and 2 while the blocking members respectively occupy the blocking position and the open positron. FIG. 5 is an end view of two receiving containers in engagement with the introducing guiding means. FIG. 6 is a top view of the receiving container. 1 FIG. 7 illustrates a switch forming the connection of two guiding paths for the articulated chains. FIG. 8 is a side view of the central portion of a receiving container during the movement over a roller path. FIG. 9 represents an illustration similar to that of FIG. 8, according to which the stud of the articulated chain has just reached the horizontal flange of the guiding member. The apparatus according to the present invention is characterized primarily in that the flexible conveyor elements, for instance, articulated chains are provided with inwardly extending studs, and is furthermore characterized in that the entraining means include a T-shaped guiding member as well as pivotally arranged blocking members which, laterally of the vertical web of the guiding member, respectively define a passage extending to the horizontal flange of said guiding member and when in outwardly pivoted position define a passage which is adjacent to said first mentioned passage and extends parallel to the horizontal flange, abutments being provided on the housing of the apparatus for the pivoting movement of the blocking member. The blocking members are, according to the invention, respectively pivotally mounted on a shaft which extends perpendicularly to the wall of the container and when two blocking members are associated with an entraining means are interconnected by a pushrod for a simultaneous pivoting movement in the same direction. According. to a further development of the invention, the abutments provided for the pivoting movement of the blocking members from the blocking position into the open position are within the region of the loading station and at the unloading stations provided with an inclined surface for the displacing movement of the free end of a pushrod. According to a further development of the invention, there is provided a pair of endless articulated chains for the movement of the containers from the loading station to the transfer station and vice versa. For the movement from the transfer station to the unloading stations and vice versa, there is provided a number of pairs of articulated chains which are movable independently of each other and which are formed by endless chains. Within the region of the transfer station there is, in conformity with a still further development of the invention, provided a guiding path which is common for the movement of the pairs of articulated chains associated with the discharging stations. The guiding means for the endless pair of articulated chains on one hand, and for the other pairs of articulated chains on the other hand, are in conformity with the present invention, within the range of the transfer station, so arranged that the studs of the two different pairs of articulated chains will engage the entraining means on different sides of the T-shaped guiding member. According to a still further feature of the present invention, there is provided a roller path and another path element for the horizontal movement of the containers after they have left the transfer stations up to the respective unloading station. The containers will, during this horizontal movement, rest on the roller path and, by means of studs of the articulated chains, will be moved merely toward one or the other side. This roller path serves for additionally stabilizing the container. During the movement of an empty receiving container into the loading station, the container which was previously filled and had been lowered downwardly below the transfer station is attached to the empty container. To this end, according to a further feature of the invention, on one hand the upper longitudinal sides, and on the other hand the lower longitudinal sides of the containers have interengaging feeding-in guiding means. The end of the guiding path for the pairs of articulated chains associated with the discharging stations are, in conformity with the present invention, so designed that the studs, after the container has reached its end position, during the further i.e. of the articulated chains leave the entraining means in downward direction and release the same. The design of the entraining means according to the invention and. of the articulated chains with the stud for grasping the receiving container has the great advantage that in the end positions of the containers and at the deviating sections, i.e., when moving from the horizontal to the vertical movement and vice versa, no rigid connection exists between the studs and the entraining means. If first, for instance, the end phase of a movement to an unloading station is considered, it will be appreciated that shortly prior to reaching said unloading station, by means of the stationary abutments, the two blocking members located at opposite sides of a container are pivoted into open position so that the studs located on each side will be able to move out in the free passage after the container has reached its end position. At the reversing stations, the container will, during the horizontal movement, first rest on the roller path and is grasped by the stud only after the studs have finished the horizontal movement and have started a purely vertical movement. The container itself will thus, during the movement of the stud within the curved portion of the path, be braked from the horizontal movement to zero and only then will be subjected to the upwardly directed vertical movement. Although the receiving containers are moved between the loading station and the unloading stations exclusively by the different pairs of articulated chains, the individual end positions of the receiving containers will no longer depend on the standstill of the respective driving pair of articulated chains. The pair of chains may rather from the time on at which the receiving container has reached the desired end position, in view of the freeing of the above mentioned passages by the tilting movement of the blocking members carry out a slowdown movement. For the drive of the pairs of articulated chains, thus ordinary electric motors can be employed instead of complicated brake motors. The employment of insert guiding means at the longitudinal sides of the container has the further advantage that the receiving container kept in readiness for further movement to an unloading station may be coupled to the container to be moved to the loading station and may simultaneously with said container be moved to the transfer station. In this way, during the movement of the endless pairs of chains, always only one pair of studs is in engagement with the entraining means of a single container, although during the upward movement of the empty container, two containers are moved simultaneously by said pair of articulated chains. Referring now to the drawings in detail, and FIG. 1 thereof in particular, the structure shown therein comprises two unloading stations El, E2, a loading station B and a transfer station U. Of the three receiving containers, one container la occupies the loading station B, while another container lb is at the unloading station El and the third container 10 is at the unloading station E2. For purposes of moving the container from the loading station B to the transfer station U and vice versa, there is provided a pair of endless articulated chains with studs 3 connected thereto. The drive of this pair of articulated chains is effected by means of a reversing roller 4. Two further pairs 5, 6 of articulated chains are associated with the two unloading stations El and E2. These two pairs of articulated chains having one pair of studs 7, 8 each, which are provided at the front end of the pairs of articulated chains. The pair is driven by the deviating roller 9, while the pair 6 is driven by the deviating roller 10. Past the said deviating rollers 9, 10, for the outlet (Auslauf) of the rear ends of the pairs of articulated chains there is respectively provided an outlet path l1, 12. At the other end, the path leads into a common path of movement 13 which, within the range of the transfer station U, is deflected by 180 and has a corresponding outlet. The design of the entraining means can best be seen from FIGS. 3 and 4. Each entraining means comprises a T-shaped guiding member 14 and two blocking members 15, 16 which are pivotally journalled on shafts 17, 18 which extend at a right angle with regard to the wall of the container. The two blocking members 15, 16 pertaining to an entraining means are interconnected by a pushrod 19 for effecting a pivoting movement in the same direction. At the end of rod 19 there is provided a cam 20 which is guided in a longitudinal hole 21. The blocking members in cooperation with the T-shaped guiding member define a vertical passage 22, 22a, and in open position define an adjacent horizontal passage 23, 23a. For purposes of displacing the pushrod 19, the housing is provided with abutments 24a, 24b, and 24c which have an inclined surface 25 adapted to be engaged by the cam 20 shortly prior to reaching the loading station or unloading station (FIG. 3). For coupling an empty receiving container to a filled container therebelow, there are provided in-feed guiding means at the upper and lower longitudinal sides of the container in the form of interengaging U-profiles 26a, 26b and 27a, 27b (see FIG. 5). The device furthermore comprises a roller path 28 on which the containers rest during their horizontal movement after having left the transfer station. The operation of the device is as follows: It may be assumed that the container lalocated at the loading station B is filled and is to be replaced by an empty container, for instance, the container lb located at the unloading station El. The cashier first turns on the drive for the endless pair 2 of articulated chains whereby the container la is lowered until it rests upon the floor. Subsequently thereto, the drive for the pair 5 of articulated chains is turned on whereby the empty container lb is conveyed to the transfer station U. While the container moves into the transfer station U, the U- shaped infeed guiding means 26a, 26b; 27a, 27b will be engaged. The pair of studs 7 which previously engaged the entraining means will, during the slowdown of the pair 5 of the articulated chains be moved further to such an extent that the entraining means of the empty container 1b are free (FIG. 2). Thereupon the drive for the pair 2 of the articulated chains is again turned on, and the empty container 117 is conveyed to the loading station B while simultaneously the filled container la is moved to the transfer station U. Thus, the cashier has a new empty container available even before the previously filled container has reached one of the unloading stations. Now the drive for the pair 5 of articulated chains is turned on but for the opposite direction of movement. The pair of studs 7 will now from below extend into the passages 22a of the entraining means of the container 1a and after leaving the curved portion of the guiding path will bring about a horizontal displacement of the container la to a point below the unloading station El. During the horizontal movement of the container la, the pair of studs 7 will occupy the position shown in FIG. 7 within the passages 22a. When the pair of articulated chains moves into the curved portion of the guiding path, the pair of studs 7 will move within the passages 22a in upward direction until it engages the horizontal flange of the guiding member 14. The receiving container will thus during the time period in which the pair of studs 7 passes through a quarter arc be braked from the previous horizontal movement to a standstill and subsequently thereto will again be accelerated by the vertically upward movement, in this direction. Shortly prior to reaching the unloading station E1, the earns 20 of the pushrods 19 have arrived at the inclined surface of the abut ment 24a and thereby have pivoted the blocking members 15 into their open position. The pair of studs 7 can thus move into the horizontal passage 23a of the entraining means and can also come to a standstill in this passage without affecting the position of the receiving container by the respectively obtained end position of the pair of studs. In view of the deviation of the guiding path within the region of the loading station B and of the two unloading stations El, E2, it will be appreciated that in the same manner as when transferring from a horizontal to a subsequent vertical position, the receiving container will be braked to a standstill. This braking starts at the very moment at which the pair of studs, which drive thecontainer, moves into the curved portion of the guiding path. With the movement of the filled container la into the unloading station E1, the above mentioned and assumed starting position is again reached. The decision which of the two containers at the unloading stations, namely, containers la, lb, is to be next for movement to the loading station B will depend on the container which was emptied first. FIG. 7 shows the connection of the two guiding paths for the articulated chain pairs 5 and 6. The connection is effected in the manner of a switch with a pivotable tongue 29. The switch tongue 29 is rectilinear on the side 30, and at the side 31 is designed arc-shaped in conformity with the curvature of the path. The switch tongue 29 may be journalled so as to be freely pivotable. The shifting over is efiected by the first member of the articulated chains. In view of this switch tongue, a proper guiding of the pairs of articulated chains at the transfer area to the common guiding path 13 will be assured. The device includes a number of drives for the pairs of articulated chains, which number corresponds to the number of receiving containers while said articulated chain pairs are locked with regard to each other in such a way that faulty operations will be impossible. If desired, also a control may be employed according to which by a one-time actuation or operation, the course of the conveying of an empty receiving container to the loading station and the further conveying of the filled receiving chamber to an unloading station is efiected automatically. It is, of course, to be understood that the present invention is, by no means, limited to the particular showing in the drawings, but also comprises any modifications within the scope of the appended claims. What I claim is: 1. An arrangement for self-serving stores, which includes: a plurality of containers each having entraining means connected thereto, at least one checking station for checking the goods selected by a customer in one container and placing the checked-out goods into another container, at least one unloading station for withdrawal of the checked-out goods by the customer from said other container, flexible conveying means leading from said checking station to said unloading station for conveying a container with checked-out goods from said checking station to said unloading station, said conveying means including stud means operable to engage with said entraining means pertaining to a container with checked-out goods therein and in response to a movement of said conveying means to take said last mentioned container from said checking station to said unloading station, each of said entraining means including T-shaped guiding means having substantially vertical guiding passage means and substantially horizontal guiding passage means for respectively receiving and guiding the respective stud means entering the said vertical and horizontal passage means, blocking means respectively associated with said entraining means and normally blocking the horizontal passage means thereof to thereby establish a coupling connection between stud means and the entraining means engaged thereby and thereby between the pertaining container and said conveying means, and control means stationarily supported at the respective unloading station and operable when a checked-out container reaches said last mentioned unloading station to unblock the respective horizontal passage means to permit the respective stud means engaging the entraining means of said last mentioned container to leave the same. a 2. An arrangement according to claim 1, in which said blocking means are pivotally supported by the respective containers for pivoting about an axis substantially perpendicularly to the side walls of the respective container, each of said containers having two blocking means and connecting rod means interconnecting said two blocking means for a simultaneous and unidirectional pivot moment thereof. 3. An arrangement according to claim 2, which includes abutment means with an inclined surface respectively arranged at said checking station and said unloading station, and in which said connecting rod means is provided with cam means operable at said checking station and said unloading station to engage said abutment means for actuating said connecting rod means and thereby said blocking means. 4. An arrangement according to claim 1, which includes a transfer station interposed between said checking and unloading stations, and in which said conveying means includes a pair of endless first articulated chain means movable in either direction and leading from said checking station to said transfer station and second pairs of articulated chain means corresponding in number to the number of unloading stations and independent of each other and of said first articulated chain means, said second articulated chain means being movable in either direction and leading from the respective unloading station to said transfer station whereby an empty container can be moved from the respective unloading station through said transfer station to said checking station and a loaded container can be moved from said checking station through said transfer station to the respective unloading station. 5. An arrangement according to claim 4, with a plurality of unloading stations, in which said second pairs of articulated chain means have their sections within the region of said transfer station in common. 6. An arrangement according to claim 4, in which the stud means of said first articulated chain means and the stud means of said second articulated chain means are respectively arran ed for engagement with d ifierent uiding passage means. . An arrangement according to c arm 4, which includes a substantially horizontal roller conveyor extending from said transfer station to a portion below said withdrawing stations. 8. An arrangement according to claim 1, in which said conveying means includes a section for moving said containers in a vertical direction, and in which each of said containers has its upper and lower longitudinal sides provided with coupling means for temporary coupling engagement with an adjacent container in said last mentioned section. 9. An arrangement according to claim 5, in which the common section of said second pairs of articulated chain means within the region of said transfer station is so designed that the stud means at the end portion of the respective container at said transfer station leave the pertaining entraining means in downward direction to thereby free said pertaining entraining means.

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Patent Citations (3)

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    US-3168187-AFebruary 02, 1965Baker Perkins IncContinuous proofer
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    Publication numberPublication dateAssigneeTitle