Research Category: Conveyor System
Researchers: Lawrence A. Ward|
Location: Philadelphia, United States
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
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser.
FIELD OF INVENTION
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.