(19)
(11)EP 3 647 211 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 19205286.8

(22)Date of filing:  25.10.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B65B 43/46  (2006.01)
B65B 1/02  (2006.01)
B65B 39/10  (2006.01)
B65B 43/54  (2006.01)
B65B 51/32  (2006.01)
B65B 43/30  (2006.01)
B65B 1/28  (2006.01)
B65B 9/13  (2006.01)
B65B 1/06  (2006.01)
B65B 1/26  (2006.01)
B65B 51/26  (2006.01)
B65B 39/00  (2006.01)
B65B 43/14  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 30.10.2018 IT 201800009899

(71)Applicant: Concetti S.p.A.
06083 Bastia Umbra (PG) (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • CONCETTI, Teodoro
    06083 BASTIA UMBRA (PG) (IT)
  • CONCETTI, Emanuele
    06083 BASTIA UMBRA (PG) (IT)

(74)Representative: Stucovitz, Alessandro et al
Dott. Ing. Prof. Alfredo Raimondi S.r.l. Piazzale Luigi Cadorna, 15
20123 Milano
20123 Milano (IT)

  


(54)AUTOMATIC BAG FILLING MACHINE WITH SEVERAL FILLING STATIONS


(57) Machine for filling bags (1) with loose products, extending along a longitudinal direction (X-X) of movement of the bags (1), there being defined a sense (V1) concordant with the advancing movement of the bags from upstream to downstream and a sense (V2) opposite to the first sense in the longitudinal direction (X-X), the machine comprising: a station (A,F) for feeding, to a single pick-up position, a bag (1); a plurality of stations (R1,R2,Rn) for filling a respective bag (1), arranged in succession along the longitudinal direction (X-X), downstream of the pick-up position; means (100,1100) for transporting the bags from one station to the other, movable in both senses (V1,V2) of the longitudinal direction (X-X) and provided with pairs of means (110) for gripping a bag;
said pick-up position and at least two filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) being arranged at a predefined and equal distance from each other, corresponding to a step between adjacent stations in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and the machine being configured so that the transport means (100,1100) perform single translation movements in the longitudinal direction (X-X), each with a displacement equal to one step in the sense (V2) opposite to the sense of advancing movement of the bags and with a displacement equal to a number of steps equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) in a sense (V1) concordant with the advancing movement of the bags. The number of pairs of means (110a,110b,110c,110d) for gripping a bag is equal to at least twice the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) and each pair of gripping means is arranged at a distance of one step in the longitudinal direction (X-X) from the pair(s) of means (110) for gripping a bag adjacent thereto.




Description


[0001] The present invention relates to an automatic machine for filling bags with a metered quantity of loose material and to a method for filling bags.

[0002] It is known in the products sector relating to the packaging of loose material that there exists the need to arrange said material inside bags which must be filled with a given quantity of material and then sealed.

[0003] It is also known that, for this purpose, automatic bag filling machines have been developed, an example of such machines consisting of so-called forming and filling machines which are able to perform at high speed the cycle for forming the bag, filling the bag and performing final sealing of the bag mouth.

[0004] Said machines, known per se, are for example illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2 which show an FFS machine with a forming station F, a filling station R with fixed grippers for filling the bag which are attached to the product filling mouth, provided with a rotating opening/closing valve 210, and a station S for sealing the mouth of the bag and a conveyor 113 for conveying the filled and sealed bag out of the machine. Fig. 2 also shows the working sequence performed by means for transporting the bag from one station to another with opening of the mouth, closing of the mouth after filling and sealing of the mouth with release by the grippers.

[0005] Figure 3 shows a further example of embodiment of an FFS machine according to the patent EP 2,889,590, which comprises two filling stations, arranged in-line along a longitudinal direction of advancing movement of the bags, where a first and second partial metered amount of product is fed to a same bag so as to allow, in the case of very voluminous and/or fluidified products, the compaction of the bag in two partial processes which are more efficient because they are carried out on smaller amounts of products.

[0006] Although performing its function, said bag filling operation, which takes place in two steps, involves a substantial reduction in the productivity of the machine, due to the need to wait for completion of the second partial filling operation before transporting the bag to the following stations.

[0007] Also known from EP 2,925,622 are machines which comprise two filling stations which are arranged in-line, along a longitudinal direction of feeding of the bags through the machine, to which pairs of bags arranged alongside each other in the longitudinal direction and with their mouth oriented parallel to said longitudinal direction are fed.

[0008] The machine according to EP 2,925,622 works with pairs of pre-formed bags which are fed simultaneously to pairs of transport means, which perform always a same translation movement, both forwards and backwards, between the feeding stations and the filling stations.

[0009] This solution is inconvenient because it requires essentially a duplication of the machine configuration with a single filling station, in particular for feeding and movement of the bags, with a consequent significant increase in the dimensions of the machinery, but with only a corresponding partial increase in the production capacity.

[0010] Further examples of filling machines according to the prior art are described in GB 2,098,165 A, EP 0,844,175 A1 and WO 2009/041909 A1.

[0011] The technical problem which is posed, therefore, is that of providing a machine for filling bags with loose material, able to fill bags working at high speed so as to achieve a further increase in the hourly production rate and satisfy the demands of the modern-day industry concerned.

[0012] In connection with this problem it is also required that the machine should have small dimensions, be easy and inexpensive to produce and assemble and be able to be easily installed at any user location.

[0013] It is also desirable that the machine should be able to fill with voluminous and fluidified products bags which are formed from a roll of tubular material associated with the said machine.

[0014] These results are achieved according to the present invention by an automatic machine for filling bags with an increased productivity according to the characteristic features of Claim 1.

[0015] With such a machine it is in fact possible to achieve an increased hourly production, in particular owing to the fact that two or more bags may be filled during each machine cycle, reducing substantially the idle time due to the intermittent movement of the transport means which displace the bags and ensuring compact dimensions of the machine.

[0016] According to a preferred embodiment, the transport means are operated so as to perform a number of single translation movements in a sense (V2) opposite to the sense of advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction, equal to the number of filling stations, before performing a single translation movement in a sense concordant with the sense of advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction. In a particularly preferred manner the number of filling stations is equal to two.

[0017] The teachings of the present invention may be applied in particular to a forming and filling machine, in which the bags fed one at a time to the single pick-up position are formed along the line from a tubular material, preferably by means of a forming station provided with means for sealing the bottom of each bag, arranged in said pick-up position.

[0018] In particularly preferred applications, the machine may comprise a number of bag mouth sealing stations equal to the number of filling stations arranged in succession at a relative distance of one step from each other and from the last filling station in the longitudinal direction and, optionally, a corresponding number of stations for cooling the sealed mouth of the bag, arranged in succession at a relative distance of one step from each other and from the last bag mouth sealing station.

[0019] As regards the number of pairs of gripping means, this is preferably a multiple ≥2 of the number of filling stations, in particular it may be equal to twice the number of filling stations, plus the number of cooling stations.

[0020] The transport means may comprise a polygonal, preferably quadrangular, frame or carriage which carries the pairs of gripping means and is movable translatably in both senses of the longitudinal direction.

[0021] The present invention relates furthermore to a method for filling bags with material according to the characteristic features of Claim 9.

[0022] Preferred embodiments of the method are described in the respective dependent claims.

[0023] Further details may be obtained from the following description of non-limiting examples of embodiment of the subject of the present invention, provided with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1: is a schematic side view of a forming and filling machine with a filling apparatus according to the prior art;

Figure 2: is a schematic view of the operating sequence of the forming and filling machine according to Fig. 1;

Figure 3: is a schematic side view of a further forming and filling machine with a metering and filling apparatus according to the prior art;

Figure 4: is a side view of a first example of embodiment of a machine according to the present invention during picking up of a first bag;

Figure 5: is a view similar to that of Fig, 4 with a machine during picking up of a second bag;

Figure 6: is a view similar to that of Fig. 4 with a machine during transportation of the two bags to the respective filling station;

Figure 7: is a view similar to that of Fig. 4 with a machine during filling of the first pair of bags and picking up of a third bag;

Figure 8: is a view similar to that of Fig. 4 with a machine during filling of the first pair of bags and picking up of a fourth bag;

Figure 9: is a simplified diagram illustrating operation of the machine according to Fig. 4;

Figure 10: is a side view of a second example of embodiment of a machine according to the present invention provided with stations for sealing the mouth of the bags (mouth sealing of first pair and transportation of a third and fourth bag for filling);

Figure 11: is a view similar to that of Fig. 10 with a machine during sealing of the first pair of bags; filling of the second pair of bags; picking up of a third pair of bags;

Figure 12: is a simplified diagram illustrating operation of the machine according to Fig. 10;

Figure 13: is a side view of a third example of embodiment of a machine according to the present invention provided with stations for cooling the sealed mouth of the bags;

Figure 14: is a simplified diagram illustrating operation of the machine according to Fig. 13;

Figure 15: is a plan view of the carriage for moving the bags;

Figure 16: is a side view of a general diagram of realization of a machine according to the present invention.



[0024] As shown in Fig. 4, the following are assumed, solely for easier description and without a limiting meaning: a pair of reference axes, respectively, in a longitudinal direction, corresponding to the direction of movement of the bag inside the machine from an upstream inlet M to a downstream outlet V (with the longitudinal direction also defined is a first sense of movement V1 of means 100 for transporting the bags concordant with the advancing movement of the bags from upstream to downstream and a second sense of movement V2 thereof, from downstream to upstream, opposite to the advancing movement); and a transverse direction Y-Y perpendicular to the preceding direction and corresponding to the direction of orientation of the bag mouth (Fig. 9).

[0025] The machine according to the invention is therefore designed to fill bags with the mouth arranged perpendicularly relative to the direction of advancing movement thereof through the machine.

[0026] A first example of a machine according to the invention comprises essentially:
  • a station for feeding bags 1, designed to feed one bag 1 at a time, with the mouth arranged parallel to the transverse direction Y-Y, to a predefined sole pick-up position.


[0027] In the preferred example shown, a device A is provided for feeding a tubular material 101 unwound from a reel (not shown) and with a widthwise dimension and therefore an orientation of the bag mouth parallel to the transverse direction Y-Y and perpendicular to the longitudinal direction X-X of movement of the bags through the machine.

[0028] In this case the pick-up position coincides with a station F for forming bags 1 from the tubular material 101, with which means for sealing the bottom of the bag are associated, so as to form said bag 1 in said bag pick-up position. Preferably and in order to speed up the formation process, auxiliary means 201 may be provided for cooling said bottom seal, said means being associated with the forming station;
  • a first filling station R1 and a second filling station R2, each designed to fill with the material, from a metering apparatus (not shown), a respective bag, arranged in a respective first filling position R1 or second filling position R2 in the longitudinal direction X-X;
said feeding/forming stations F, first filling station R1 and second filling station R2 being arranged so that the pick-up position, the first filling position and the second filling position are arranged at a predefined equal distance from each other in the longitudinal direction X-X; below reference will be made to this distance also as a (uniform) step between the stations.

[0029] The machine also comprises:

-) means 100 for transporting the bags 1 from one station to the other in the longitudinal direction X-X, provided with devices for gripping the bags; the transport means consist, for example, of a generally polygonal and preferably quadrangular frame, which is displaceable in both the senses V1, V2 of the longitudinal direction X-X.



[0030] In detail, the means for gripping the bags 1 comprise: a plurality of pairs of means 110 for gripping bags being processed, the means of one pair being arranged opposite each other in the transverse direction Y-Y. Each pair of gripping means 110 is arranged along the carriage at a distance of one step from the preceding pair and from the next pair in the longitudinal direction X-X.

[0031] The number of said pairs of gripping means 110 is equal to at least twice the number of filling stations R1,R2.

[0032] The gripping means may be movable towards/away form each other in the transverse direction Y-Y in order to slacken/tension the mouth of the bag which is held, so as to allow opening/alignment thereof.

[0033] The first example of embodiment of the machine therefore envisages four pairs 110a,110b,110c,110d of gripping means 110 associated with the movable frame 100.

[0034] The frame or carriage 100 is generally designed to move, performing single translation movements in the longitudinal direction, each with a displacement equal to one step V2 in the sense V2 opposite to the sense of advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction X-X, and with a displacement equal to a number of steps equal to the number of filling stations R1, R2 present in the machine, in the sense V1 concordant with the advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction X-X.

[0035] Each translation movement is understood as being a continuous translatory movement between the point of departure and the point of arrival.

[0036] In the example of the first embodiment shown, the carriage 100 performs a translation movement with a displacement equal to two steps at a time in the sense V1 concordant with the advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction X-X.

[0037] According to preferred embodiments of the invention it is envisaged that:
  • in a first embodiment the filling stations comprise: grippers for gripping and retaining the bag during filling; valves which can be opened and closed for feeding/intercepting the product to be bagged supplied from an overlying storage hopper; stations of this type are known per se and are not described in detail. For this first embodiment, the carriage 100 may comprise grippers for gripping the bag 1 movable in both senses of the transverse direction Y-Y so as to cause opening of the bag mouth during transportation or underneath the associated filling station, and allow the entry of valves for guiding dropping of the product to be bagged; and closing of the mouth once filling has been performed, for example during transportation towards the machine outlet;
  • in a second embodiment of the machine, the filling stations comprise grippers for gripping and retaining the bag during filling, which are displaceable in both senses of the transverse direction Y-Y so as to cause opening of the bag mouth, allow entry of the valves of the filling device, and closing of the mouth, once filling has been performed, in each filling station; in this case, the carriage 100 may comprise grippers for gripping the bag to be filled which are fixed in the transverse direction Y-Y.


[0038] For both configurations sucker means may be provided, these being supplied under a vacuum and being movable in both senses of the longitudinal direction X-X so as to cause adhesion to the surfaces of the bag and facilitate opening of the bag mouth, the movement of the suckers being suitably synchronized with the approach movement of the bag gripping means arranged in the filling station and/or on the transport carriage 100. Conveniently the machine may comprise devices 200 for supporting the bags which are being filled and/or are filled, said devices being designed to cooperate: initially with the grippers of the filling station and, thereafter, with the grippers of the carriage 100 during transportation of the bags which have in the meantime increased considerably in weight during filling.

[0039] The support device 200 may comprise a first section 210, situated underneath at least the filling stations R1 and R2, having an inclination variable from a lowered position, not interfering with the advancing movement of the bags which are still empty, into a position parallel to the longitudinal/transverse plane X-Y, and a second flat section 220 fixed and parallel to the same plane X-Y. Both sections comprise rotating rollers which are preferably motorized.

[0040] The support device 200 may furthermore be configured to support also the device 201 for cooling the seals on the bottom of the bag in the feeding/forming station.

[0041] Although only schematically indicated by 500, it is envisaged that the machine is associated with means for programming and controlling the various detection sensors and actuating elements which perform the automatic cycle of the machine.

[0042] Preferably, it is envisaged that each filling station R1,R2 comprises a respective deaeration device (conventional per se) which is installed on a respective bag mouth R1;R2 and which, once filling has been performed, enters into the bag in order to reduce the volume of the product before the bag mouth is closed.

[0043] With the apparatus configurations described and illustrated above (Figs. 4 and 10) for the first example of embodiment of the machine according to the invention, it is envisaged that the apparatus operates in accordance with the steps of the following method:
  1. a) feeding a tubular material from the feeding unit A to the forming station F;
  2. b) sealing of the bottom and cutting of a first bag 1a in the forming station F with forming of a first bag 1a arranged in the pick-up position;
  3. c) translation of the transport means 100 with a displacement equal to one step in the longitudinal direction X-X and in the opposite sense V2 to the sense V1 of advancing movement of the bags from upstream M to downstream V, so as to bring the first gripping means 110a of the carriage 110a into the position for feeding the bag into the forming station F;
  4. d) gripping of the first bag 1c by the first gripping means 110a in the pick-up position;
  5. e) displacement of the carriage 100 by a further step in the longitudinal direction X-X and in the sense V2 opposite to the sense of advancing movement of the bags;
  6. f) forming of a second bag 1b in the station F for forming and feeding the bag to the pick-up position; (it is understood that feeding of a bag to the pick-up position and translation of the transport carriage to said position may occur substantially simultaneously);
  7. g) gripping of the second bag 1b formed by the second gripping means 110b in the pick-up position;
  8. h) translation of the carriage 100 with displacement by a number of steps equal to the number of filling stations R1,R2 (in the example two steps), in the longitudinal direction X-X and in the sense V1 concordant with the sense of advancing movement of the bags from upstream M towards downstream V, so as to bring simultaneously the two bags, first bag 1a and second bag 1b, oposite the respective first filling station R1 and second filling station R2;
  9. i) opening of the bag mouth during transportation from F to R1,R2 or preferably opposite the filling station;
  10. j) gripping of the respective bag 1a, 1b by the grippers associated with the respective filling station R1,R2;
  11. k) releasing of the bags by the gripping means 110 of the carriage 100;
  12. l) formation of a further third bag 1c in the forming station F;
  13. m) translation of the carriage 100 by one step in the sense V2 opposite to the advancing movement of the bags 1 so as to bring the first gripping means 110 into the pick-up position in the forming station F for picking up the third bag 1c formed and gripping of the third bag 1c by the first gripping means 110a in the pick-up station;
  14. n) translation of the carriage 100 by one step in the sense V2 opposite to the advancing movement of the bags so as to bring the second gripping means 110b into the pick-up position in the forming station F;
  15. o) formation of a fourth bag 1d in the forming station and positioning thereof in the pick-up position;
  16. p) gripping of the fourth bag 1d by the gripping means 110b adjacent downstream to the gripping means which picked up the third bag 1c;
  17. q) simultaneous filling of the two bags 1a, 1b in the respective station R1,R2 with operation, if necessary, of the respective deaeration devices; preferably filling is performed at the same time as one or more of the steps for forming and gripping the third and fourth bags;
  18. r) gripping of the two bags 1a, 1b of the first pair respectively by the third gripping means 110c and fourth gripping means 110d of the carriage 100 which have arrived underneath one of the filling stations R1, R2 during the previous step n) of translation of the transport carriage 100;
  19. s) closing of the valves of the filling mouths and releasing of the first pair of bags 1a,1b by the gripping means of the respective filling station R1,R2;
  20. t) translation of the carriage 100 with displacement by two steps in the longitudinal direction X-X and in the sense V1 concordant with the advancing movement of the bags for simultaneous transportation of the first pair of bags 1a,1b to the outlet and the second pair of bags 1c,1d to a respective filling station R1,R2;
  21. u) repetition of the cycle for the following bags to be formed, transported and filled.


[0044] Although not shown, for all the embodiments it is also envisaged that the bags, instead of being formed along the line, are prefabricated, for example picked up from a store associated with the filling machine and fed one after the other to the sole pick-up position for gripping by the gripping means 110 in a bag feeding station.

[0045] As shown in Figs. 11-12, a second embodiment of the machine according to the invention is envisaged where a first station S1 and a second station S2 for sealing the mouth of one of the pair of bags 1a,1b filled and transported by the transport carriage 100 is inserted; the first station S1 is arranged at a distance of one step from the second filling station R2 and the second sealing station S2 is arranged at one step from the first sealing station S1 along the longitudinal direction X-X.

[0046] As shown in Fig. 12, the forming, transportation and filling steps a) to s) of the cycle are repeated unchanged, but, when filling of the bags 1a, 1b has been completed, the bags are removed by the pair of gripping means 110a, 110d of the carriage 100 arranged in the respective filling station and brought (step t) to one of the two stations S1, S2 for sealing the bag mouth by the translation movement of the carriage which brings the new bags 1c, 1d to the respective filling stations.

[0047] The bags with a sealed mouth may be then extracted by suitable means, for example by means of a suitable section of motorized rollers situated underneath the stations S1,S2.

[0048] Figs. 13 and 14 show a further embodiment of the machine according to the invention in which a first station C1 and a second station C2 for cooling the sealed mouth of a closed and sealed bag are inserted. The first station C1 is arranged at a distance of one step from the second sealing station S2 and the second cooling station C2 is arranged at one step from the first station C1 along the longitudinal direction X-X.

[0049] The two cooling stations may be advantageously added in order to speed up cooling of the seal and reduce the waiting time of the two bags before they exit from the machine, said exit operation allowing the cycle to be continued with a further third pair of bags to be filled, resulting in an overall increase in productivity.

[0050] Correspondingly and as shown in Fig. 15, the transport carriage 1100 comprises at least two further pairs 110e,110f of gripping means arranged at a relative distance of one step downstream of the gripping means 110c, 110d.

[0051] As shown in Figs. 13,14 the steps of the cycle are repeated unchanged as in the case of the machine with sealing stations S1,S2, but, when sealing of the bag mouths has been completed, the bags are removed by the further pairs of gripping means of the carriage 1100 and brought to a respective cooling station C1,C2.

[0052] In this way, the translation movement of the carriage 1100 corresponding to a number of steps equal to the number of filling steps, designed to transport the picked-up bags to the filling stations R1, R2 and the filled bags to the sealing stations S1,S2, causes the simultaneous transportation of the bags with a sealed mouth from the stations S1,S2 to the cooling stations C1,C2. This variation of embodiment of the carriage 1100 can be used also with the embodiment of the machine with only sealing stations S1,S2, where the further pairs of gripping means 110e,110f will be used to pick up the bags with a sealed mouth and transport them towards the machine outlet.

[0053] As shown in the example of Figure 16, it is also envisaged that, in the case of an increased number n of filling stations R1,R2,...,Rn, for example three filling stations, there will be a corresponding increase in the length of both the frame and carriage which will carry a corresponding number of pairs of gripping means 110 equal at least to twice the number of filling stations, and in general equal to a multiple ≥2 of said number n of filling stations, depending on the presence of corresponding n sealing stations S1...Sn and/or cooling stations C1,...,Cn. In particular, in a preferred configuration there is a number of pairs of gripping means equal to twice the number n of filling stations plus the number of cooling stations C1,...,Cn.

[0054] Similarly, the machine with n filling stations R1, R2, ..., Rn may have a length suitable for allowing a displacement of the carriage in the sense V2 opposite to the direction of advancing movement of the bags by a total number of single steps upstream of the pick-up position corresponding to the number (n-1) of filling stations, less one, in order to allow the gripping of a corresponding number of formed bags 1a, 1b,... ,1n, before their transportation to the filling stations by means of a single translation movement in the same sense V1, with a displacement by a number of steps equal to the number n of filling stations Rn.

[0055] It is therefore clear how with the machine and the method according to the invention, which implement a continuous cycle within machines of the FFS type or the like, it is possible to achieve a substantial reduction in the downtime and a consequent increased hourly productivity compared to similar machines of the prior art, allowing for example the production for example of up to 1000 bags/h also in the case where the filling material is formed by powders which are difficult to process, in particular because it allows the filling of two or more bags in each machine cycle, reducing as far as possible the downtime due to the intermittent movement of transport means which displace the bags, and maintaining a compact size of the machine, in particular because of the single pick-up station and the fact that the direction of advancing movement is perpendicular to the bag mouth. Although described in connection with a number of embodiments and a number of preferred examples of implementation of the invention, it is understood that the scope of protection of the present patent is determined solely by the claims below.


Claims

1. Machine for filling bags (1) with predefined quantities of loose products, the machine extending in a longitudinal direction (X-X) of movement of the bags (1) from an upstream inlet (M) to a downstream outlet (V), there being defined a sense of movement (V1) concordant with the advancing movement of the bags from upstream to downstream and a sense of movement (V2) opposite to the preceding sense (V1) in the longitudinal direction (X-X), the machine comprising:

- a station (A,F) for feeding, to a single pick-up position, a bag (1) oriented with its mouth extending in a transverse direction (Y-Y) perpendicular to the longitudinal direction (X-X) of advancing movement;

- at least a first filling station (R1) and a second filling station (R2) of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) for filling a respective bag (1), which are arranged in succession along the longitudinal direction (X-X) of movement of the bags (1), downstream of the pick-up position, each filling station (R1,R2,Rn) being associated with respective gripping means for gripping the bag;
said pick-up position and at least two filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) being arranged at a predefined and identical relative distance from one another, which corresponds to a step between adjacent stations in the longitudinal direction (X-X);

- transport means (100,1100) for transporting the bags from one station to the other station, which are movable in both senses (V1,V2) of the longitudinal direction (X-X) and are provided with pairs of gripping means (110) for gripping a bag, the gripping means of a pair being arranged opposite each other in the transverse direction (Y-Y);

the machine being configured so that the said transport means (100,110) perform single translation movements, each with a displacement equal to one step in the sense (V2) opposite to the sense of advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and with a displacement equal to a number of steps which is equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) in the sense (V1) concordant with the advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction (X-X),
wherein said pairs of gripping means (110a,110b,110c,110d) for gripping a bag comprise a number of pairs at least equal to twice the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn), each pair of gripping means being arranged at a distance of one step in the longitudinal direction (X-X) from the pair/s of bag gripping means (110) adjacent thereto.
 
2. Machine according to Claim 1, characterized in that the transport means (100;1100) are operated so as to perform a number of single translation movements in the sense (V2) opposite to the sense of advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction, equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn), before performing a single translation movement in the sense (V1) concordant with the advancing movement of the bags in the longitudinal direction (X-X).
 
3. Machine according to Claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the number of filling stations is equal to two.
 
4. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it is a forming and filling machine, in which the bags fed one at a time to the single pick-up position are formed along the line from a tubular material (101), preferably by means of a forming station (F) provided with means for sealing the bottom of each bag and arranged in said pick-up position.
 
5. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a number of stations (S1,S2,Sn) for sealing the mouth of the bag equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn), said stations being arranged in succession at a relative distance of one step from each other and from the last filling station in the longitudinal direction (X-X).
 
6. Machine according to the preceding claim, characterized in that it comprises a number of stations (C1,C2,Cn) for cooling the sealed bag mouth, equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn), said cooling stations being arranged in succession at a relative distance of one step from each other and from the last bag mouth sealing station.
 
7. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a number of pairs of gripping means which is a multiple ≥2 of the number of filling stations, preferably equal to twice the number of filling stations, plus the number of cooling stations.
 
8. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the transport means comprise a polygonal, preferably quadrangular, frame or carriage (100) which carries said pairs of gripping means (110) and is movable translatably in both senses (V1,V2) of the longitudinal direction X-X.
 
9. Method for filling bags (1) with quantities of loose products, by means of a machine according to one of the preceding claims, comprising the following steps:

a) feeding a first bag (1) to the pick-up position (F);

b) translation of the transport means (100;1100) with a displacement equal to one step in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and in the opposite sense (V2) to the sense (V1) of advancing movement of the bags from upstream (M) to downstream (V), so as to bring a first pair of gripping means (110a) into the pick-up position;

c) gripping of the first bag (1a) by the first pair of gripping means (110a) in the pick-up position;

d) translation of the transport means (100;1100) with a displacement equal to a further step in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and in the opposite sense (V2) to the sense (V1) of advancing movement of the bags from upstream (M) to downstream (V);

e) feeding a further bag (1b) to the pick-up position (F);

f) gripping of the further bag (1b) by a pair of gripping means (110b) which are adjacent, downstream in the longitudinal direction (X-X), to the gripping means which picked up the preceding bag (1a), in the pick-up position;

g) translation of the transport means (100;1100) in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and in the sense (V1) concordant with the advancing movement of the bags, with a displacement equal to a number of steps corresponding to the number of filling stations, so as to bring with a single translation movement each picked-up bag (1a,1b) into a respective filling station (R1,R2,Rn);

h) gripping of the respective bag (1a,1b) by the gripping means associated with the filling station (R1,R2,Rn) and releasing of the bags by the gripping means (110) associated with the transport means (100; 1100);

i) simultaneous filling of the bags (1a,1b) in the respective filling station (R1,R2,Rn);

j) conveying away of the filled bags towards the machine outlet.


 
10. Method according to the preceding claim, comprising a step of:

- repeating the steps d) to f) a number of times equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) of the machine less two;

before the step g) of translation in the sense (V1) concordant with the sense of advancing movement from upstream (M) to downstream (V) in the longitudinal direction.
 
11. Method according to Claim 9 or 10, comprising the following steps performed following the releasing step h) performed by the gripping means (110):

a1) feeding a further bag (1c) to the pick-up position (F);

b1) translation of the transport means (100;1100) with a displacement equal to one step in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and in the opposite sense (V2) to the sense (V1) of advancing movement of the bags from upstream (M) to downstream (V), so as to bring the first pair of gripping means (110a) into the pick-up position;

c1) gripping of the further bag (1c) by the first pair of gripping means (110a) in the pick-up position;

d1) translation of the transport means (100;1100) with a displacement equal to a further step in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and in the opposite sense (V2) to the sense (V1) of advancing movement of the bags from upstream (M) to downstream (V);

e1) feeding of a further bag (1d) to the pick-up position (F);

f1) gripping of the further bag (1b) by a pair of gripping means (110b) which are adjacent downstream in the longitudinal direction (X-X) to the gripping means (110a) which picked up the preceding bag (1c) in the pick-up position;

f2) repetition of the steps d1) to f1) a number of times equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) of the machine less two;

and the following steps performed following the step i) of simultaneous filling of the bags in the filling station:

f3) gripping of each filled bag (1a,1b) arranged in a filling station (R1,R2,Rn), by a respective pair of gripping means (110) carried by the transport means (100;1100) and releasing of the respective bag (1a,1b) by the gripping means associated with the filling station (R1,R2,Rn);

g1) translation of the transport means (100;1100) in the longitudinal direction (X-X) and in the sense (V1) concordant with the advancing movement (V1) of the bags, with a displacement equal to a number of steps corresponding to the number of filling stations, so as to bring with a single translation movement each further bag (1c,1d), previously picked up, into a respective filling station (R1,R2,Rn) and convey away each filled bag towards the outlet;

h1) gripping of a respective further bag (1c,1d) by the gripping means associated with the filling station (R1,R2,Rn) and releasing of the bags by the gripping means (110) associated with the transport means (100;1100);

ii) simultaneous filling of the further bags (1c,1d) in the respective filling station (R1,R2,Rn).


 
12. Method according to Claim 9, 10 or 11, wherein, following simultaneous filling of the bags in the respective filling station, each filled bag (1a, 1b) is gripped by a respective pair of gripping means (110) of the transport means (100;1100), and the transport means are made to advance in the longitudinal direction (X-X) in the sense concordant with the direction of advancing movement of the bags by a number of steps equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) so as to bring each filled bag into a respective one of a plurality of sealing stations (S1,S2,Sn) for sealing the mouth of the bag, said sealing stations being arranged in succession and in a number equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn) at a relative distance of one step from each other and from the last filling station in the longitudinal direction (X-X).
 
13. Method according to the preceding claim, wherein, following sealing of the mouth of the bags in the respective sealing station (S1,S2,Sn), each bag (1a,1b) with its mouth sealed is gripped by a respective pair of gripping means (110) of the transport means (100;1100), and the transport means (100;1100) are made to advance in the longitudinal direction (X-X) in the sense concordant with the direction of advancing movement of the bags by a number of steps equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn), so as to bring each bag with its sealed mouth opposite a respective one of a plurality of cooling stations (C1,C2,Cn) for cooling the sealed bag mouth, said cooling stations being arranged in succession at a relative distance of one step from each other and from the last bag mouth sealing station and being in number equal to the number of filling stations (R1,R2,Rn).
 
14. Method according to one of Claims 10-13, comprising a step of opening the mouth of the bag before the step of filling the bags (1), opening of the bag mouth being performed by the gripping means (110) carried by the transport means (100;1100) or by the gripping means associated with the corresponding filling station, preferably with the aid of sucker means associated with each filling station and acting parallel to the longitudinal direction (X-X).
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description