Alignment conveyor  

Research Title: Alignment conveyor

Research Category: Conveyor System

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Researchers: Lawrence A. Ward
Location: Philadelphia, United States

Research Details

Abstract: An alignment conveyor adapted to align a row of products in a side-by-side fashion is provided. The products are aligned in an alignment region of the conveyor by causing, a reverse rotation of the rollers, thereby halting progress of the products in the run on the conveyor until the row of products are aligned. Thereafter, the aligned row continues down the conveyor for further processing or packaging.

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/603,119.
FIELD OF INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is generally directed to conveyors and, more specifically, to a conveyor that can generally align a row of products in a side by side fashion.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Many manufacturing processes require the alignment of rows of products through various stations for processing and/or packaging. It is not uncommon for rows of product to become misaligned during processing. For example, when transporting rows of food items through a spiral cooking station, it is common for rows of food items to become misaligned. This can result in downstream inefficiencies and difficulties in further processing or packaging.

[0004] It would be advantageous to provide a conveyor and/or a method for aligning one or more rows of products in a side-by-side fashion on a conveyor that can preferably align multiple rows of products without interrupting the transport and/or processing of the products.

SUMMARY

[0005] The present invention is an alignment conveyor adapted to align a row of products in a side by side fashion. The alignment conveyor according to the present invention includes a plurality of free rolling rollers, having sufficient width to hold a row of products in a generally side by side arrangement, and connected together to define a conveyor path. The alignment conveyor also includes a conveyor mechanism for transporting the free rolling rollers in a direction of the conveyor path, and an alignment region. The alignment region includes an upstream area containing an acceleration mechanism and a downstream area containing a deceleration mechanism. The acceleration mechanism works to accelerate the products by rotating the rollers, located in the upstream area, in the same direction as the conveyor is moving. The deceleration mechanism works to decelerate the row of products on the conveyor by rotating the rollers, located in the downstream area, in an opposite direction to the direction that the conveyor is traveling.

[0006] The present invention also presents a method for aligning a row of products on a conveyor including the following steps. First, moving the row of products down the conveyor toward an alignment region. Then, rotating the rollers in a downstream area of the alignment region so that the product supporting surface of the rollers moves in a direction opposite to the conveyor. Then, continuing to rotate the rollers in the down stream area until the products in the first row are in an aligned side-by-side arrangement. Once the products are aligned in a side-by-side arrangement, the row of products continues down the conveyor path. The process can be repeated to align a second and subsequent rows of products.



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