(19)
(11)EP 3 663 212 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
10.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/24

(21)Application number: 19213448.4

(22)Date of filing:  04.12.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B65B 5/06(2006.01)
B65B 35/36(2006.01)
B65B 59/00(2006.01)
B65B 63/04(2006.01)
B65B 43/52(2006.01)
B65B 5/10(2006.01)
B65B 35/56(2006.01)
B65B 63/02(2006.01)
B65B 65/00(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: 06.12.2018 JP 2018228876

(71)Applicant: ISHIDA CO., Ltd.
Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 606-8392 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • YOKOTA, Yuji
    Ritto-shi, Shiga, 520-3026 (JP)

(74)Representative: Lang, Johannes 
Bardehle Pagenberg Partnerschaft mbB Patentanwälte, Rechtsanwälte Prinzregentenplatz 7
81675 München
81675 München (DE)

  


(54)BAG CHAIN POSTURE CONVERTER AND CASE PACKER


(57) [Problem] It is an object of the present invention to provide a bag chain posture converter that can shorten a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain and a case packer that uses the bag chain posture converter.
[Solution] A bag chain posture converter 30 converts the posture of a bag chain 90, in which a plurality of bags 91 form a continuous chain in a first direction D1 via seal portions 92, so that the length of the bag chain 90 in the first direction D1 becomes shorter. The bag chain posture converter 30 has an application member 32 that applies force in a second direction D2 from above or from below to the seal portions 92. The application member 32 applies force in the second direction D2 to only either one of a first seal portion 92a and a second seal portion 92b.




Description

BACKGROUND


Technical Field



[0001] The present invention relates to a bag chain posture converter that converts the posture of a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain and a case packer that uses the bag chain posture converter to put the bag chain into a case.

Related Art



[0002] In a case packer that puts a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain into a case, when the bag chain is longer than the box, it is necessary to shorten the bag chain by folding it before putting the bag chain into the case. For example, patent document 1 (JP-A No. 2012-245988) discloses a case packer that puts into a case a bag chain that has been shortened by being folded onto itself at predetermined positions.

SUMMARY


Technical Problem



[0003] However, in the case packer disclosed in patent document 1 (JP-A No. 2012-245988), the bag chain is folded onto itself in such a way that at most two bags lie on top of each other, so the length of the bag chain that has been folded onto itself is at least half the length of the bag chain before it was folded onto itself. For that reason, there are instances where the case packer cannot put the bag chain into the case because the bag chain that has been folded onto itself is longer than the box.

[0004] It is an object of the present invention to provide a bag chain posture converter that can shorten a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain and a case packer that uses the bag chain posture converter.

Solution to Problem



[0005] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a first aspect of the invention converts the posture of a bag chain, in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain in a first direction via seal portions, so that the length of the bag chain in the first direction becomes shorter. The bag chain includes a first bag, a second bag connected to the first bag via a first seal portion, and a third bag connected to the second bag via a second seal portion. The bag chain posture converter has an application member that applies force in a second direction from above or from below to the seal portions. The application member applies force in the second direction to only either one of the first seal portion and the second seal portion.

[0006] This bag chain posture converter can, by applying force in the second direction to a specific seal portion of the bag chain, incline the bags of the bag chain to shorten the length of the bag chain in the first direction.

[0007] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a second aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the first aspect, wherein the bag chain posture converter has a plurality of the application members that apply force in the second direction to at least two of the seal portions in the bag chain that includes four or more of the bags.

[0008] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a third aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the second aspect, wherein the plurality of application members apply force in the second direction to the seal portions so that in the first direction there are, between two of the seal portions to which force in the second direction is applied, an odd number of the seal portions to which force in the second direction is not applied.

[0009] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a fourth aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the third aspect, wherein in relation to the bag chain that includes an even number of the bags, the plurality of application members apply force in the second direction to a number of the seal portions that is equal to half the number of the bags included in the bag chain.

[0010] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a fifth aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the second to fourth aspects, further comprising a shortening unit that shortens intervals between the application members in the first direction in a state in which the plurality of application members are applying force in the second direction to the seal portions.

[0011] This bag chain posture converter can hold the bag chain whose posture has been converted.

[0012] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a sixth aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the first to fifth aspects, wherein the second direction is a direction in a plane including a longitudinal direction of the seal portions and is a direction that intersects the first direction.

[0013] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to a seventh aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the sixth aspect, wherein the second direction is a direction downward in the vertical direction.

[0014] A bag chain posture converter pertaining to an eighth aspect of the invention is the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the first to seventh aspects, wherein the application member has a contact portion that contacts the seal portions and a changing unit that changes the position of the contact portion along the second direction.

[0015] This bag chain posture converter can hold and move the bag chain whose posture has been converted.

[0016] A case packer pertaining to a ninth aspect of the invention puts into a case a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain in a first direction via seal portions. The case packer comprises a conveyance unit, the bag chain posture converter pertaining to the first to eighth aspects, and a control unit. The conveyance unit conveys the bag chain. The bag chain posture converter converts the posture of the bag chain that has been conveyed by the conveyance unit so that the length of the bag chain in the first direction becomes shorter. The control unit controls the bag chain posture converter. The control unit puts into the case, while holding with the application member of the bag chain posture converter, the bag chain whose posture has been converted so that the length of the bag chain in the first direction is shorter.

[0017] This case packer has the bag chain posture converter that shortens the length of the bag chain in the first direction, so it can efficiently case pack a bag chain that is longer than the box.

[0018] A case packer pertaining to a tenth aspect of the invention is the case packer pertaining to the ninth aspect, further comprising a placement table on which the bag chain that has been conveyed by the conveyance unit is placed. The control unit further controls the position of the placement table. The control unit holds with the application member the bag chain that has been placed on the placement table, moves the placement table from a position on the vertical direction lower side of the bag chain being held, and puts the bag chain into the case that is positioned on the vertical direction lower side of the bag chain being held.

[0019] A case packer pertaining to an eleventh aspect of the invention is the case packer pertaining to the tenth aspect, wherein a plurality of the bag chains are placed, along a longitudinal direction of the seal portions, on the placement table. The control unit puts into the case, while holding with the application member, the plurality of bag chains that have been placed on the placement table.

[0020] This case packer can case pack at one time a plurality of the bag chains.

[0021] A case packer pertaining to a twelfth aspect of the invention is the case packer pertaining to the ninth to eleventh aspects, further comprising a restraining member. The control unit separates from the bag chain the application member holding the bag chain after the control unit has put the bag chain into the case. The restraining member holds down at least part of the bag chain toward the case while the application member separates from the bag chain.

[0022] This case packer can inhibit the bag chain from coming out of the case when it separates the application member from the bag chain that has been put into the case.

[0023] A case packer pertaining to a thirteenth aspect of the invention is the case packer pertaining to the ninth to twelfth aspects, wherein the control unit shakes the application member at least one of when the control unit brings the application member into contact with the seal portions and when the control unit separates from the bag chain the application member holding the bag chain that has been put into the case.

[0024] This case packer can inhibit the bag chain from coming out of the case when it separates the application member from the bag chain that has been put into the case.

Advantageous Effects of Invention



[0025] The bag chain posture converter pertaining to the invention can shorten a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain.

[0026] The case packer pertaining to the invention can efficiently case pack a bag chain that is longer than the case.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0027] 

FIG. 1 is a general external view of a case packer 100 equipped with a bag chain posture converter 30 that is an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a block configuration diagram of the case packer 100.

FIG. 3 is a side view of a bag chain 90 being conveyed by a first conveyor 10.

FIG. 4 is a general external view of the case packer 100 in a state in which the bag chain 90 has been pushed by a pusher 50.

FIG. 5 is a top view of a shutter 40 on which three bag chains 90 in a first posture have been disposed.

FIG. 6 is a side view of the shutter 40 on which are the bag chains 90 in the first posture.

FIG. 7 is a side view of the shutter 40 on which are the bag chains 90 in a second posture.

FIG. 8 is a side view of a state in which intervals between five contact portions 32b in a first direction D1 have been shortened from the state shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a general external view of the case packer 100 in the state shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a side view showing a state just after the bag chain posture converter 30 has taken hold of the bag chains 90.

FIG. 11 is a side view showing a state in which the shutter 40 has been removed from under the bag chains 90 in a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding the bag chains 90.

FIG. 12 is a side view showing a state just after the bag chain posture converter 30 has carried the bag chains 90 into a cardboard box B in a state in which it is holding the bag chains 90.

FIG. 13 is a side view of the shutter 40 on which is a bag chain 90 in the second posture in example modification A.

FIG. 14 is a view showing a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding a bag chain 90 having three bags 91 in example modification B.

FIG. 15 is a view showing a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding a bag chain 90 having five bags 91 in example modification C.

FIG. 16 is a view showing an example of the bag chain posture converter 30 equipped with restraining members 36 in example modification F.

FIG. 17 is a view showing an example of the bag chain posture converter 30 equipped with the restraining members 36 in example modification F.

FIG. 18 is a side view of the bag chain posture converter 30 equipped with cylinder mechanisms 37 that hold down the restraining members 36 from above in example modification F.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0028] An embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the drawings. The embodiment described below is a specific example of the invention and is not intended to limit the technical scope of the invention.

(1) Overall Configuration of Case Packer 100



[0029] FIG. 1 is a general external view of a case packer 100 equipped with a bag chain posture converter 30 that is an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2 is a block configuration diagram of the case packer 100. The case packer 100 is, for example, an apparatus that is installed on a production line of a food factory, packs articles a predetermined number at a time into cardboard boxes B, and seals the cardboard boxes B after the packing. The case packer 100 mainly has a first conveyor 10, a second conveyor 20, the bag chain posture converter 30, a shutter 40, a pusher 50, and a control unit 60. The control unit 60 is a microcomputer that controls the actions of the first conveyor 10, the second conveyor 20, the bag chain posture converter 30, the shutter 40, and the pusher 50.

[0030] In this embodiment, the articles packed into the cardboard boxes B are a bag chain 90 in which a plurality of bags 91 are connected to each other in a single line. The bags 91 are, for example, packages in which contents such as potato chips have been bag packed a predetermined weight at a time. In one bag chain 90, the plural bags 91 form a continuous chain along a first direction D1 via seal portions 92.

[0031] The bag chain 90 is made by a bag-making and packaging machine (not shown in the drawings). The bag-making and packaging machine conveys downward a film that has been formed into a tubular shape, at the same time longitudinally seals the film, and thereafter transversely seals the film in a direction intersecting the film conveyance direction. Next, the bag-making and packaging machine conveys the tubular film and at the same time supplies contents from above into the tubular film and again transversely seals the tubular film. By repeating these actions, the bag-making and packaging machine continuously makes the bags 91 filled with contents between transverse seal portions formed at predetermined intervals in the conveyance direction of the tubular film. The bag-making and packaging machine cuts a transverse seal portion at a predetermined timing to thereby cut away from the tubular film the bag chain 90 comprising a predetermined number of individual bags 91 and output the bag chain 90. The bag chain 90 that has been output from the bag-making and packaging machine is switched to a first posture, in which all the bags 91 lay flat, via a conveyor and a chute and the like. When the bag chain 90 is in the first posture, the bags 91 do not contact each other and the bags 91 and the seal portions 92 are alternately lined up along the first direction D1. The seal portions 92 are portions transversely sealed by the bag-making and packaging machine and are portions located between every two bags 91 in the first direction D1.

[0032] On the production line of the food factory where the case packer 100 is installed, the bag chain 90 made by the bag-making and packaging machine installed upstream of the case packer 100 is switched to the first posture, thereafter undergoes a weight inspection and a contamination inspection, for example, and is placed on the first conveyor 10 of the case packer 100. The first conveyor 10 is a belt conveyor that conveys in a predetermined direction the bag chain 90 in the first posture. FIG. 3 is a side view of the bag chain 90 being conveyed by the first conveyor 10. In FIG. 3, the bag chain 90 is in the first posture. The bags 91 filled with the contents bulge, so as shown in FIG. 3, the seal portions 92 are away from a conveyance surface 10a of the first conveyor 10. Below, as shown in FIG. 3, the bag chain 90 will have ten bags 91 and nine seal portions 92.

[0033] The first conveyor 10 conveys one at a time the bag chain 90 in the first posture. The direction in which the bag chain 90 is conveyed by the first conveyor 10 is a direction substantially parallel to the first direction D1 in which the bags 91 of the bag chain 90 form a continuous chain. The first conveyor 10 conveys the bag chain 90 in the first posture to a predetermined push position. FIG. 1 shows the bag chain 90 that has been conveyed to the push position.

[0034] The shutter 40 is a tabular member installed adjacent to the first conveyor 10 in the push position. An upper surface 40a of the shutter 40 is located in the same height position as the conveyance surface 10a of the first conveyor 10. The upper surface 40a of the shutter 40 and the conveyance surface 10a of the first conveyor 10 are parallel to a horizontal plane.

[0035] The pusher 50 is a member installed on the opposite side of the shutter 40 across the first conveyor 10. The pusher 50 pushes toward the shutter 40 the bag chain 90 that is in the push position on the first conveyor 10. The bag chain 90 pushed by the pusher 50 becomes placed on the upper surface 40a of the shutter 40. The direction in which the bag chain 90 is pushed is a direction that is substantially orthogonal to the direction in which the bag chain 90 is conveyed and parallel to a horizontal plane.

[0036] FIG. 4 is the same general external view of the case packer 100 as FIG. 1. FIG. 4 shows the bag chain 90 that has been pushed by the pusher 50 and placed on the upper surface 40a of the shutter 40. The pusher 50 has, as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 4 for example, a tabular member for pushing the bag chain 90 from the first conveyor 10 toward the shutter 40. In FIG. 1 and FIG. 4, the direction in which the bag chain 90 is conveyed is indicated by arrow X, and the direction in which the bag chain 90 is pushed is indicated by arrow Y. The direction in which the bag chain 90 is conveyed and the direction in which the bag chain 90 is pushed are substantially orthogonal to each other.

[0037] The pusher 50 uses a servo mechanism or the like to push, a predetermined distance toward the shutter 40, the bag chain 90 that has been conveyed to the push position by the first conveyor 10. The pusher 50 pushes a single bag chain 90 in one push. In second and subsequent pushes by the pusher 50, the bag chain 90 that has already been pushed onto the shutter 40 is further pushed by a bag chain 90 that has been pushed by the pusher 50. Through plural pushes of the pusher 50, a plurality of the bag chains 90 in the first posture become disposed side by side, along the direction in which the bag chains 90 are pushed, on the upper surface 40a of the shutter 40. FIG. 5 is a top view of the shutter 40 on which three bag chains 90 in the first posture have been placed. In FIG. 5, the three bag chains 90 are located in the same position in the first direction D1. In other words, the seal portions 92 of the respective bag chains 90 are located in the same positions in the first direction D1. The number of bag chains 90 that become placed on the shutter 40 by the pushes of the pusher 50 is the same as the number of bag chains 90 that become packed into the cardboard box B. Below, three bag chains 90 will be packed into the cardboard box B by the case packer 100. The bag chains 90 are packed into the cardboard box B in such a way that they do not lie on top of each other in the vertical direction.

[0038] The second conveyor 20 is installed under the shutter 40. The second conveyor 20 is a belt conveyor that conveys the cardboard boxes B in a predetermined direction. The direction in which the cardboard boxes B are conveyed by the second conveyor 20 is the same as the direction in which the bag chains 90 are conveyed by the first conveyor 10. Flaps F on the upper sides of the cardboard boxes B conveyed by the second conveyor 20 stand upright. For that reason, the openings on the upper sides of the cardboard boxes B are open. The second conveyor 20 conveys the cardboard boxes B to a predetermined case packing position. FIG. 1 and FIG. 4 show a cardboard box B that has been conveyed to the case packing position.

[0039] The bag chain posture converter 30 is installed above the shutter 40. The bag chain posture converter 30 can convert the posture of the plural bag chains 90 that have been placed on the shutter 40 and hold the plural bag chains 90. In a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding the plural bag chains 90, the shutter 40 is removed from under the bag chains 90. At this time, the cardboard box B that has been conveyed to the case packing position by the second conveyor 20 is under the bag chains 90 being held by the bag chain posture converter 30. The bag chain posture converter 30 moves downward the bag chains 90 it is holding and carries the plural bag chains 90 into the cardboard box B. The configuration and actions of the bag chain posture converter 30 will be described in detail further below.

[0040] Thereafter, the case packer 100 closes the flaps F on the upper side of the cardboard box B into which the plural bag chains 90 have been carried and seals the cardboard box B. A weight checker (not shown in the drawings) that checks the weight of the cardboard box B after it has been sealed is installed downstream of the case packer 100.

(2) Configuration of Bag Chain Posture Converter 30



[0041] The bag chain posture converter 30 mainly has an extension/contraction mechanism 31, plural application members 32, a first motor 33, and a second motor 34. The first motor 33 and the second motor 34 are servo motors controlled by the control unit 60 to change the position of the extension/contraction mechanism 31.

[0042] The extension/contraction mechanism 31 is a pantograph link mechanism having plural joints 31a, 31b. A pantograph link mechanism is a mechanism in which plural links are linked to each other to form one or plural rhombuses. The joints 31a, 31b are portions where two links are linked to each other. The joints 31a, 31b comprise a fixed joint 31a and drive joints 31b. The extension/contraction mechanism 31 can change the positions of the drive joints 31b in the first direction D1 by extending and contracting along the first direction D1. The position of the fixed joint 31a in the first direction D1 is fixed.

[0043] In this embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 4, the extension/contraction mechanism 31 has one fixed joint 31a and four drive joints 31b. The five joints 31a, 31b are lined up along the first direction D1. The fixed joint 31a is positioned at the end of the five joints 31a, 31b. Regardless of the extended/contracted state of the extension/contraction mechanism 31, the five joints 31a, 31b are lined up at regular intervals along the first direction D1. The control unit 60 controls the first motor 33 to adjust the intervals between the five joints 31a, 31b of the extension/contraction mechanism 31 in the first direction D1.

[0044] One application member 32 is attached to each of the five joints 31a, 31b. That is, the bag chain posture converter 30 has five application members 32. Each of the application members 32 has a base portion 32a, which is attached to the joints 31a, 31b, and a contact portion 32b, which is attached to the base portion 32a.

[0045] The base portions 32a are members that extend along the direction in which the bag chains 90 are pushed. As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 4, the five base portions 32a of the bag chain posture converter 30 are supported by limiting members 35. The limiting members 35 limit the moving direction of the base portions 32a to which the drive joints 31b are attached to only the first direction D1 when the extension/contraction mechanism 31 extends and contracts to change the positions of the drive joints 31b in the first direction D1. The limiting members 35 are, for example, a pair of rod-like members that run through both end portions of each of the five base portions 32a in the first direction D1. In this instance, for example, the base portions 32a have holes through which the limiting members 35 pass, and both end portions of each of the limiting members 35 are fixed.

[0046] The contact portions 32b are tabular members that hang downward in the vertical direction from the base portions 32a. The thickness of the contact portions 32b is shorter than the dimension of the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90 in the first direction D1. The thickness of the contact portions 32b is, for example, 3 mm to 5 mm. Main surfaces of the contact portions 32b are parallel to the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 and the vertical direction. What is called "the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92" is a direction that is parallel to a horizontal plane and passes through the seal portions 92 of the plural bag chains 90 in the first posture that have been placed on the shutter 40. The definition of "the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92" will be described by way of an example. In FIG. 5, three bag chains 90 have been placed on the shutter 40. The three bag chains 90 are adjacent to each other, and the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90 in the first direction D1 are located in the same positions. For that reason, there are three seal portions 92 substantially adjacent to each other. In this instance, as shown in FIG. 5, there are, in the direction in which the seal portions 92 are adjacent to each other, end portions 93a, 93b of the three seal portions 92 that are adjacent to each other. The longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 is an arbitrary direction that passes through both ends 93a, 93b in FIG. 5. For that reason, the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 is not limited to a specific single direction. Below, the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 is a direction orthogonal to the first direction D1. It is preferred that the lengths of the lower ends of the contact portions 32b in the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 be equal to or greater than the sum total of the lengths of the plural bag chains 90 that have been placed on the shutter 40.

[0047] The lower ends of the five contact portions 32b of the bag chain posture converter 30 are always located in the same positions in the vertical direction. The control unit 60 controls the second motor 34 to change the positions of the application members 32 in the vertical direction and adjust the positions of the contact portions 32b in the vertical direction.

[0048] Thus, the bag chain posture converter 30 has the five contact portions 32b that are always lined up at regular intervals in the first direction D1, and the intervals between the five contact portions 32b in the first direction D1 and the positions of the five contact portions 32b in the vertical direction can be controlled by the control unit 60.

(3) Actions of Bag Chain Posture Converter 30



[0049] The actions by which the bag chain posture converter 30 changes the posture of the plural bag chains 90, holds the plural bag chains 90, and carries them into the cardboard boxes B will now be specifically described.

[0050] First, the actions by which the bag chain posture converter 30 changes the posture of the three bag chains 90 that have been placed on the shutter 40 and holds the three bag chains 90 will be described. The bag chains 90 each have ten bags 91 and nine seal portions 92. The control unit 60 controls the first motor 33 of the bag chain posture converter 30 to adjust beforehand the positions of, and intervals between, the five joints 31a, 31b of the extension/contraction mechanism 31 in the first direction D1 in accordance with the positions of, and intervals between, the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90 in the first direction D1.

[0051] At the point in time when the bag chain 90 has been pushed three times by the pusher 50 so that three bag chains 90 have been placed on the shutter 40, the application members 32 of the bag chain posture converter 30 are not in contact with the bag chains 90. Specifically, the lower ends of the contact portions 32b of the application members 32 are not in contact with the bag chains 90. After the three bag chains 90 have been placed on the shutter 40, the control unit 60 controls the second motor 34 to lower the positions of the contact portions 32b in the vertical direction and bring the lower ends of the contact portions 32b into contact with some of the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90. The control unit 60 then lowers the positions of the contact portions 32b in the vertical direction to apply force to some of the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90. Because of this, the posture of the bag chains 90 is converted from the first posture to a second posture.

[0052] FIG. 6 is a side view of the shutter 40 on which are the bag chains 90 in the first posture. FIG. 7 is a side view of the shutter 40 on which are the bag chains 90 in the second posture. FIG. 6 and FIG. 7 show the contact portions 32b of the application members 32. The first posture is a posture when the bag chains 90 are conveyed by the first conveyor 10 and pushed onto the shutter 40 by the pusher 50. The second posture is a posture when the contact portions 32b are contacting from above in the vertical direction some of the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90 in the first posture and force in a second direction D2 is being applied to the seal portions 92. The second direction D2 is a direction in a plane including the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 and is a direction that intersects the first direction D1. Below, the second direction D2 will be parallel to the downward direction in the vertical direction. In FIG. 1 and FIG 4, the second direction D2 is indicated by arrow Z.

[0053] When the bag chains 90 are in the second posture, the number of the seal portions 92 to which force in the second direction D2 is applied by the application members 32 is fewer than the number of the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90. As shown in FIG. 7, out of the nine seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90, force in the second direction D2 is applied to only five of the seal portions 92, and force in the second direction D2 is not applied to the remaining four seal portions 92. Below, the seal portions 92 to which force in the second direction D2 is applied are called first seal portions 92a, and the seal portions 92 to which force in the second direction D2 is not applied are called second seal portions 92b.

[0054] As shown in FIG. 7, in one bag chain 90, there are five first seal portions 92a and four second seal portions 92b alternately positioned in the first direction D1. In other words, there is one second seal portion 92b positioned between two every first seal portions 92a that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1. The bags 91 are positioned between one first seal portion 92a and one second seal portion 92b. The two seal portions 92 located on both sides of one bag chain 90 in the first direction D1 are first seal portions 92a.

[0055] As shown in FIG. 6, when the bag chains 90 are in the first posture, the positions of all the seal portions 92 in the vertical direction are substantially the same. For that reason, when the bag chains 90 are in the first posture, the bags 91 of the bag chains 90 are substantially not inclined with respect to the upper surface 40a of the shutter 40 (a horizontal plane). Below, the vertical direction position of the seal portions 92 of the bag chains 90 in the first posture shown in FIG. 6 is called a reference position. FIG. 6 shows a length L1, in the first direction D1, of the bag chains 90 in the first posture. FIG. 7 shows a length L2, in the first direction D1, of the bag chains 90 in the second posture.

[0056] As shown in FIG. 7, when the bag chains 90 are in the second posture, the vertical direction positions of all the seal portions 92 are different from the reference position. When the posture of the bag chains 90 is converted from the first posture to the second posture, the first seal portions 92a are pushed down by the contact portions 32b of the application members 32 until the first seal portions 92a contact the upper surface 40a of the shutter 40. The bags 91 have a thickness, so when the first seal portions 92a are pushed down, the bags 91 become inclined with respect to a horizontal plane and the second seal portions 92b are pushed up. For that reason, when the bag chains 90 are in the second posture, the vertical direction positions of the first seal portions 92a are lower than the reference position and the vertical direction positions of the second seal portions 92b are higher than the reference position. The bags 91 between the first seal portions 92a that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1 and the second seal portions 92b are inclined with respect to a horizontal plane. The two bags 91 at both ends of each of the bag chains 90 are also inclined with respect to a horizontal plane. The dimension, in the first direction D1, of the bags 91 when they are inclined is shorter than the dimension, in the first direction D1, of the bags 91 when they are not inclined. For that reason, the length L2, in the first direction D1, of the bag chains 90 when they are in the second posture is shorter than the length L1, in the first direction D1, of the bag chains 90 when they are in the first posture.

[0057] In the process of the posture of the bag chains 90 being converted from the first posture to the second posture, the length of the bag chains 90 in the first direction D1 becomes shorter and the intervals between the first seal portions 92a in the first direction D1 also become shorter. For that reason, as shown in FIG. 6 and FIG. 7, in the process of the posture of the bag chains 90 being converted from the first posture to the second posture, the bag chain posture converter 30 causes the extension/contraction mechanism 31 to contract so that the intervals, in the first direction D1, between the contact portions 32b that apply force to the first seal portions 92a gradually become smaller.

[0058] Thus, the bag chain posture converter 30 can, by applying force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a of the bag chains 90 in the first posture, convert the posture of the plural bag chains 90 from the first posture to the second posture and shorten the length of the bag chains 90 in the first direction D1.

[0059] Furthermore, the bag chain posture converter 30 can hold the plural bag chains 90 by shortening the intervals between the five contact portions 32b in the first direction D1 in a state in which it has converted the posture of the plural bag chains 90 from the first posture to the second posture. FIG. 8 is a side view of a state in which the intervals between the five contact portions 32b in the first direction D1 have been shortened from the state shown in FIG. 7. FIG. 9 is the same general external view of the case packer 100 as FIG. 1 in the state shown in FIG. 8. In FIG. 9, the contact portions 32b are indicated by thick lines.

[0060] In the state shown in FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, the two bags 91 between every two contact portions 32b that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1 are compressed to an extent that does not damage their contents, and their internal pressures are higher than they are in the first posture. For that reason, as shown in FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, the contact portions 32b receive force from the bags 91 because of the pressure inside the bags 91, so each of the contact portions 32b is sandwiched by two bags 91. Because of this, the bag chains 90 are held by the five application members 32 of the bag chain posture converter 30 because of the force with which each of the five contact portions 32b is sandwiched by two bags 91. In a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding the bag chains 90, the bag chains 90 do not fall downward even when the shutter 40 is removed from under the bag chains 90.

[0061] Next, the actions by which the bag chain posture converter 30 carries the plural bag chains 90 it is holding into the cardboard box B will be described with reference to FIGS. 10 to 12. FIGS. 10 to 12 are the same side views as FIGS. 6 to 8. FIGS. 10 to 12 show the cardboard box B into which the three bag chains 90 are packed along the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92. The cardboard box B is conveyed to the case packing position by the second conveyor 20.

[0062] FIG. 10 is a side view showing a state just after the bag chain posture converter 30 has taken hold of the bag chains 90. In FIG. 10, the shutter 40 is disposed on the vertical direction lower side of the bag chains 90 being held by the five contact portions 32b, and the cardboard box B is disposed on the vertical direction lower side of the shutter 40.

[0063] FIG. 11 is a side view showing a state in which the shutter 40 has been removed from under the bag chains 90 in a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding the bag chains 90. In FIG. 11, the shutter 40 has been moved along the first direction D1 from the state shown in FIG. 10. The position of the shutter 40 is controlled by the control unit 60. In FIG. 11, the cardboard box B is disposed on the vertical direction lower side of the bag chains 90.

[0064] FIG. 12 is a side view showing a state just after the bag chain posture converter 30 has carried the bag chains 90 into the cardboard box B in a state in which it is holding the bag chains 90. In FIG. 12, the five contact portions 32b have been moved downward in the vertical direction from the state shown in FIG. 11. The control unit 60 causes the five contact portions 32b to move downward in the vertical direction to thereby carry the bag chains 90 into the cardboard box B. The dimension, in the first direction D1, of the bag chains 90 being held is about the same as the dimension, in the first direction D1, of the cardboard box B. For that reason, the bag chain posture converter 30 can carry the bag chains 90 it is holding into the cardboard box B by moving the vertical direction position of the five contact portions 32b downward.

[0065] Next, the bag chain posture converter 30 causes the five contact portions 32b to move upward in the vertical direction from the state shown in FIG. 12 to thereby separate the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90 that have been carried into the cardboard box B. At this time, the bag chain posture converter 30 shakes the contact portions 32b. For example, the bag chain posture converter 30 may shake the contact portions 32b by increasing and decreasing, at predetermined time intervals, the intervals between the five contact portions 32b in the first direction D1. Shaking the contact portions 32b reduces frictional force acting between the contact portions 32b and the bags 91. For that reason, when the bag chain posture converter 30 separates the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90, the bag chains 90 are inhibited from coming out of the cardboard box B together with the contact portions 32b.

[0066] After the bag chain posture converter 30 has separated the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90, it raises the vertical direction position of the contact portions 32a to return it to the position shown in FIG. 10. Thereafter, the shutter 40 is returned by the control unit 60 from the position shown in FIG. 12 to the position shown in FIG. 10. The second conveyor 20 conveys downstream the cardboard box B into which the plural bag chains 90 have been carried and conveys an empty cardboard box B to the case packing position. By repeating the actions described above, the case packer 100 packs pluralities of the bag chains 90 into the cardboard boxes B.

(4) Characteristics of Bag Chain Posture Converter 30 and Case Packer 100


(4-1)



[0067] The case packer 100 packs into the cardboard box B the bag chain 90 whose posture has been converted from the first posture to the second posture by the bag chain posture converter 30. When packing into the cardboard box B a bag chain 90 that is longer than the cardboard box B, it is necessary to make the length of the bag chain 90 shorter than the length of the cardboard box B before putting the bag chain 90 into the cardboard box B. The bag chain posture converter 30 can convert the posture of the bag chain 90 from the first posture to the second posture in a short amount of time by applying, with the application members 32 (the contact portions 32b), force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a of the bag chain 90 in the first posture. Thereafter, the bag chain posture converter 30 can shorten the length of the bag chain 90 in the first direction D1 in a short amount of time by shortening the intervals between the contact portions 32b in the first direction D1.

[0068] In this way, the bag chain posture converter 30 does not require a complex mechanism that sucks hold of or grips specific bags 91 of the bag chain 90 and moves the bags 91 it has sucked hold of or gripped to a specific position in order to shorten the length of the bag chain 90. For that reason, the bag chain posture converter 30 can efficiently shorten the length of the bag chain 90 in the first direction D1 with a simple mechanism using the application members 32.

[0069] Consequently, the case packer 100 can, by using the bag chain posture converter 30, efficiently pack into the cardboard box B the bag chain 90 that is longer than the cardboard box B.

(4-2)



[0070] Even when the type of the bag chain 90 to be packed into the cardboard box B is changed, the bag chain posture converter 30 can accommodate the bag chain 90 after the type change by simply adjusting the number and dimensions of the contact portions 32b as needed.

[0071] For example, when the number of the bags 91 included in the bag chain 90 after the type change is different from the number of the bags 91 included in the bag chain 90 before the type change, the number of the contact portions 32b is adjusted in accordance with the number of the bags 91. Because of this, the bag chain posture converter 30 can accommodate, in a short amount of time, the bag chain 90 after the type change. In this instance, the number of joints 31a, 31b in the extension/contraction mechanism 31 is also adjusted as needed.

[0072] In the same way, when, in the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92, the dimension of the bag chain 90 after the type change is different from the dimension of the bag chain 90 before the type change, the contact portions 32b in current use are replaced with contact portions 32b corresponding to the dimension of the bag chain 90 after the type change. Because of this, the bag chain posture converter 30 can accommodate, in a short amount of time, the bag chain 90 after the type change.

[0073] Consequently, even when the type of the bag chain 90 to be packed into the cardboard box B is changed, the case packer 100 can accommodate, in a short amount of time, the bag chain 90 after the type change by changing the number of the contact portions 32b and/or replacing the contact portions 32b.

(4-3)



[0074] The bag chain posture converter 30 can hold a plurality of the bag chains 90, and pack them at one time into the cardboard box B, with the plural contact portions 32b. The number of bag chains 90 packed at one time into the cardboard box B depends on the dimension of the cardboard box B (the dimension in the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92). Even when the type of the cardboard box B is changed, the bag chain posture converter 30 can accommodate the cardboard box B after the type change by adjusting the dimension of the contact portions 32b as needed.

[0075] For example, when the dimension of the cardboard box B after the type change is different from the dimension of the cardboard box B before the type change, sometimes the number of bag chains 90 packed into the cardboard box B after the type change is different from the number of the bag chains 90 packed into the cardboard box B before the type change. In this instance, the number of bag chains 90 that the bag chain posture converter 30 can hold can be adjusted by replacing the contact portions 32b in current use with contact portions 32b corresponding to the dimension of the cardboard box B after the type change. Because of this, the bag chain posture converter 30 can accommodate, in a short amount of time, the cardboard box B after the type change.

[0076] Consequently, even when the dimension of the cardboard box B and the number of bag chains 90 packed into the cardboard box B are changed, the case packer 100 can accommodate, in a short amount of time, the cardboard box B after the type change by replacing the contact portions 32b as needed.

(4-4)



[0077] The bag chain posture converter 30 shakes the contact portions 32b when separating the contact portions 32b from the bag chain 90 that has been carried into the cardboard box B. This reduces frictional force acting between the contact portions 32b and the bags 91, so when the bag chain posture converter 30 separates the contact portions 32b from the bag chain 90, the bag chain 90 is inhibited from coming out of the cardboard box B together with the contact portions 32b.

[0078] Consequently, the case packer 100 can reduce the occurrence of the problem that the bag chain 90 is not normally packed into the cardboard box B.

(5) Example Modifications



[0079] An embodiment of the invention has been described above, but the invention is not limited to the above embodiment and can be changed in various ways in a range that does not depart from the spirit of the invention.

(5-1) Example Modification A



[0080] In the embodiment, as shown in FIG. 7, in one bag chain 90, five first seal portions 92a and four second seal portions 92b are alternately positioned in the first direction. That is, the positions of the first seal portions 92a are set in such a way that there is one second seal portion 92b between every two first seal portions 92a that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1.

[0081] However, the positions of the first seal portions 92a may also be set in such a way that there is an odd number of second seal portions 92b greater than one between every two first seal portions 92a that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1. For example, the positions of the first seal portions 92a may also be set in such a way that there are three second seal portions 92b between every two first seal portions 92a that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1.

[0082] FIG. 13 is the same side view as FIG. 7 and is a side view of the shutter 40 on which is placed a bag chain 90 in the second posture. In FIG. 13, there are three second seal portions 92b between every two first seal portions 92a that are adjacent to each other in the first direction D1. In this instance also, the contact portions 32b of the bag chain posture converter 30 apply force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a, whereby the bags 91 of the bag chain 90 become inclined with respect to a horizontal plane, so the length of the bag chain 90 in the first direction D1 becomes shorter. Consequently, the bag chain posture converter 30 can convert the posture of the bag chain 90 from the first posture to the second posture by applying force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a as shown in FIG. 13. Furthermore, the bag chain posture converter 30 can hold the bag chain 90 by shortening the intervals between the contact portions 32b in the first direction D1 when the bag chain 90 is in the second posture.

(5-2) Example Modification B



[0083] In the embodiment, one bag chain 90 has ten bags 91. However, in order for the bag chain posture converter 30 to convert the posture of the bag chain 90 from the first posture to the second posture and hold the bag chain 90, it suffices for the number of bags 91 that one bag chain 90 has to be at least three.

[0084] FIG. 14 is the same side view as FIG. 8 and is a view showing a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding a bag chain 90 having three bags 91. The bag chain 90 has one first seal portion 92a and one second seal portion 92b. The bag chain posture converter 30 sandwiches and holds the bag chain 90 with two contact portions 32b. One of the two contact portions 32b applies force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portion 92a of the bag chain 90, and the other contacts the bag 91 at the end of the bag chain 90. If there were no contact portion 32b contacting the bag 91 at the end of the bag chain 90, the bag chain posture converter 30 would not be able to hold the bag chain 90.

(5-3) Example Modification C



[0085] In the embodiment, one bag chain 90 has ten bags 91, and the bag chain posture converter 30 has five contact portions 32b. In this way, when the number of bags 91 that one bag chain 90 has is an even number, it suffices for the number of contact portions 32b that the bag chain posture converter 30 has to be half the number of bags 91 that one bag chain 90 has. As described in example modification A, the number of contact portions 32b may also be fewer than half the number of bags 91. When the number of contact portions 32b that the bag chain posture converter 30 has is half the number of bags 91 that one bag chain 90 has, as shown in FIGS. 6 to 8, the first seal portions 92a and the second seal portions 92b are alternately disposed in the first direction D1 and the seal portions 92 at both ends of the bag chain 90 are first seal portions 92a.

[0086] Furthermore, when the number of bags 91 in the bag chain 90 that one bag chain 90 has is an odd number, it suffices for the number of contact portions 32b that the bag chain posture converter 30 has to be half the number of one more than the number of bags 91 that one bag chain 90 has. For example, as described in example modification B, when the number of bags 91 is three, at least two contact portions 32b are required to hold the bag chain 90. In the same way, for example, when the number of bags 91 is five, at least three contact portions 32b are required to hold the bag chain 90.

[0087] FIG. 15 is the same side view as FIG. 8 and is a view showing a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding a bag chain 90 having five bags 91. The bag chain 90 has two first seal portions 92a and two second seal portions 92b. The first seal portions 92a and the second seal portions 92b are alternately disposed in the first direction D1. The bag chain posture converter 30 sandwiches and holds the bag chain 90 with three contact portions 32b. Two of the three contact portions 32b apply force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a of the bag chain 90, and the remaining one contacts the bag 91 at the end of the bag chain 90. If there were no contact portion 32b contacting the bag 91 at the end of the bag chain 90, force for folding the second seal portion 92b at the end of the bag chain 90 would not be applied. For that reason, there would be the concern that the bag 91 at the end of the bag chain 90 would catch on the cardboard box B and that the bag chain posture converter 30 would not be able to normally carry the bag chain 90 into the cardboard box B.

(5-4) Example Modification D



[0088] In the embodiment, the application members 32 of the bag chain posture converter 30 have the base portions 32a and the contact portions 32b, and the contact portions 32b are tabular members that hang downward in the vertical direction from the base portions 32a. The contact portions 32b contact the first seal portions 92a of the bag chain 90 in the first posture and apply force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a.

[0089] However, the contact portions 32b do not have to be tabular members as long as they contact the first seal portions 92a and apply force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a. Specifically, the contact portions 32b may also be arbitrary members that contact the first seal portions 92a of the bag chain 90 and are coupled to the base portions 32a. For example, the contact portions 32b may also be rod-like members that contact the first seal portions 92a and extend along the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92.

(5-5) Example Modification E



[0090] In the embodiment, the bag chain posture converter 30 shakes the contact portions 32b when separating the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90 that have been carried into the cardboard box B. For example, the bag chain posture converter 30 shakes the contact portions 32b along the first direction D1 by increasing and decreasing, at predetermined time intervals, the intervals between the five contact portions 32b in the first direction D1. However, the direction in which the contact portions 32b are shaken is not limited to the first direction D1. For example, the bag chain posture converter 30 may also shake the contact portions 32b along the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 using a servo mechanism or the like.

(5-6) Example Modification F



[0091] In the embodiment, the bag chain posture converter 30 shakes the contact portions 32b when separating the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90 that have been carried into the cardboard box B. Because of this, when the bag chain posture converter 30 separates the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90, the bag chains 90 are inhibited from coming out of the cardboard box B together with the contact portions 32b.

[0092] However, the bag chain posture converter 30 may also have another mechanism for inhibiting the bag chains 90 from coming out of the cardboard box B together with the contact portions 32b when the bag chain posture converter 30 separates the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90. For example, the bag chain posture converter 30 may also have restraining members 36 that hold down from above the bag chains 90 in the cardboard box B when the bag chain posture converter 30 raises the contact portions 32b and separates the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90.

[0093] FIG. 16 and FIG. 17 are the same general external views of the case packer 100 as FIG. 1. FIG. 16 and FIG. 17 show an example of the bag chain posture converter 30 equipped with a pair of restraining members 36. FIG. 16 shows a state before the contact portions 32b apply force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a of a bag chain 90. FIG. 17 shows a state after the contact portions 32b have applied force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a of the bag chains 90. FIG. 17, like FIG. 9, shows a state in which the intervals between the contact portions 32b have become shorter and the posture of the bag chains 90 has been converted from the first posture to the second posture. In FIG. 17, the bag chains 90 are omitted. However, in FIG. 17, the bag chains 90 in the second posture are positioned in the same position as in FIG. 9.

[0094] The restraining members 36 are rod-like members that hold down, toward the cardboard box B, at least parts of the bag chains 90 while the contact portions 32b separate from the bag chains 90. The restraining members 36 extend along the direction in which the bag chains 90 are conveyed (the conveyance direction). In the conveyance direction, the dimension of the restraining members 36 is about the same as the dimension of the cardboard box B and is shorter than the dimension of the cardboard box B.

[0095] The restraining members 36 pass through pass-through holes 32c formed in the contact portions 32b of the bag chain posture converter 30. The pass-through holes 32c are holes that extend in the vertical direction. The contact portions 32b each have two pass-through holes 32c. The restraining members 36 are movable in the vertical direction in a state in which they pass through at least one pass-through hole 32c. The restraining members 36 are supported by the downstream-most contact portion 32b so that the position of the restraining members 36 in the conveyance direction does not change.

[0096] In the state shown in FIG. 16, the restraining members 36 each pass through three pass-through holes 32c on the downstream side in the conveyance direction. When, from the state shown in FIG. 16, the contact portions 32b apply force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a of the bag chains 90, the restraining members 36 are pushed up by the bag chains 90. Thereafter, when the intervals between the contact portions 32b become shorter and transition to the state shown in FIG. 17, the posture of the bag chains 90 is converted from the first posture to the second posture, and the restraining members 36 are further pushed up by the bag chains 90. In the process of the intervals between the contact portions 32b becoming shorter, the restraining members 36 each pass through the two pass-through holes 32c on the upstream side in the conveyance direction. As a result, as shown in FIG. 17, the restraining members 36 each pass through the pass-through holes 32c in all the contact portions 32b.

[0097] While the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding the bag chains 90, the restraining members 36 are pushed up by the bag chains 90. While the bag chain posture converter 30 is separating the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90, the restraining members 36 are holding down, with their own weight, the bag chains 90 in the cardboard box B. Because of this, the bag chains 90 are inhibited from coming out of the cardboard box B together with the contact portions 32b.

[0098] In this example modification, the numbers and shapes of the restraining members 36 and the pass-through holes 32c are not limited to those shown in FIG. 16. For example, instead of being equipped with the restraining members 36, the bag chain posture converter 30 may also use a servo mechanism or the like to apply, to the bag chains 90 in the cardboard box B, force that holds down the bag chains 90 from above.

[0099] In this example modification, the restraining members 36 may be pushed downward by drive mechanisms to hold down the bag chains 90 in the cardboard box B. The drive mechanisms are, for example, cylinder mechanisms such as air cylinders. FIG. 18 is a side view of the bag chain posture converter 30 equipped with air cylinders 37 that are drive mechanisms for the restraining members 36. FIG. 18, like FIG. 12, shows a state just after the bag chain posture converter 30 has carried the bag chains 90 into the cardboard box B in a state in which the bag chain posture converter 30 is holding the bag chains 90. The air cylinders 37 have the function of applying force downward in the vertical direction to the restraining members 36 to thereby push down the restraining members 36. As shown in FIG. 18, when the bag chain posture converter 30 pulls up the contact portions 32b to separate the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90, the air cylinders 37 apply to the restraining members 36 force that pushes down the restraining members 36. In FIG. 18, the direction of the force that the air cylinders 37 apply to the restraining members 36 is indicated by the arrows. Because of this, the bag chains 90 are held down by the restraining members 36, so when pulling up the contact portions 32b, the contact portions 32 can be forcibly separated from the bag chains 90. For that reason, the bag chains 90 are inhibited from coming out of the cardboard box B together with the contact portions 32b.

[0100] In this example modification, the restraining members 36 may also have a structure that is extensible and contractible along the direction in which the bag chains 90 are conveyed. For example, in FIG. 16, the length of the restraining members 36 may also be a length of an extent that passes through the pass-through holes 32c formed in all the contact portions 32b. In this instance, when the restraining members 36 transition from the state shown in FIG. 16 to the state shown in FIG. 17, the length of the restraining members 36 becomes shorter to the extent shown in FIG. 17 as the intervals between the contact portions 32b become shorter. Conversely, the restraining members 36 become longer as the intervals between the contact portions 32b become longer.

[0101] In this example modification, instead of using the restraining members 36, the bag chain posture converter 30 may also use a drive mechanism that holds down the bag chains 90 in the cardboard box B. For example, when the bag chain posture converter 30 separates the contact portions 32b from the bag chains 90, the bag chain posture converter 30 may also use the air cylinders 37 shown in FIG. 18 to hold down the bag chains 90 in the cardboard box B.

(5-7) Example Modification G



[0102] In the embodiment, the bag chain posture converter 30 applies, with the contact portions 32b, force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a. The second direction D2 is a direction heading downward in the vertical direction. However, the second direction D2 does not have to be a direction heading downward in the vertical direction as long as it is a direction in a plane including the longitudinal direction of the seal portions 92 and is a direction that intersects the first direction D1.

[0103] For example, it suffices for the force in the second direction D2 that is applied to the first seal portions 92a to be a force that pushes the first seal portions 92a downward from above. Furthermore, as long as the posture of the bag chains 90 can be switched from the first posture to the second posture by applying the force in the second direction D2 to the first seal portions 92a, the force in the second direction D2 that is applied to the first seal portions 92a may also be a force that pushes the first seal portions 92a upward from below.

Reference Signs List



[0104] 
30
Bag Chain Posture Converter
32
Application Members
32b
Contact Portions
33
First Motor (Shortening Unit)
34
Second Motor (Changing Unit)
36
Restraining Members
40
Shutter (Placement Table)
60
Control Unit
90
Bag Chain
91
Bags (First Bag, Second Bag, Third Bag)
92
Seal Portions (First Seal Portions, Second Seal Portions)
92a
First Seal Portions
92b
Second Seal Portions
100
Case Packer
B
Cardboard Box (Case)
D1
First Direction
D2
Second Direction

Citation List


Patent Literature



[0105] Patent Document 1: JP-ANo. 2012-245988


Claims

1. A bag chain posture converter that converts a posture of a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain in a first direction via seal portions, the bag chain including a first bag, a second bag connected to the first bag via a first seal portion, and a third bag connected to the second bag via a second seal portion, the bag chain posture converter converting the posture of the bag chain so that the length of the bag chain in the first direction becomes shorter,
the bag chain posture converter comprising an application member that applies force in a second direction from above or from below to the seal portions, and
the application member applying force in the second direction to only either one of the first seal portion and the second seal portion.
 
2. The bag chain posture converter according to claim 1, comprising a plurality of the application members that apply force in the second direction to at least two of the seal portions in the bag chain that includes four or more of the bags.
 
3. The bag chain posture converter according to claim 2,
the plurality of application members applying force in the second direction to the seal portions so that in the first direction there are, between two of the seal portions to which force in the second direction is applied, an odd number of the seal portions to which force in the second direction is not applied.
 
4. The bag chain posture converter according to claim 3,
in relation to the bag chain that includes an even number of the bags, the plurality of application members applying force in the second direction to a number of the seal portions that is equal to half the number of the bags included in the bag chain.
 
5. The bag chain posture converter according to any one of claims 2 to 4, further comprising a shortening unit that shortens intervals between the application members in the first direction in a state in which the plurality of application members are applying force in the second direction to the seal portions.
 
6. The bag chain posture converter according to any one of claims 1 to 5,
the second direction being a direction in a plane including a longitudinal direction of the seal portions, and the second direction being a direction that intersects the first direction.
 
7. The bag chain posture converter according to claim 6,
the second direction being a direction downward in the vertical direction.
 
8. The bag chain posture converter according to any one of claims 1 to 7,
the application member having a contact portion and a changing unit,
the contact portion contacting the seal portions, and
the changing unit changing the position of the contact portion along the second direction.
 
9. A case packer that puts into a case a bag chain in which a plurality of bags form a continuous chain in a first direction via seal portions, the case packer comprising:

a conveyance unit that conveys the bag chain;

the bag chain posture converter according to any one of claims 1 to 8, which converts a posture of the bag chain that has been conveyed by the conveyance unit so that the length of the bag chain in the first direction becomes shorter; and

a control unit that controls the bag chain posture converter,

the control unit putting into the case, while holding with the application member of the bag chain posture converter, the bag chain whose posture has been converted so that the length of the bag chain in the first direction is shorter.


 
10. The case packer according to claim 9, further comprising a placement table on which the bag chain that has been conveyed by the conveyance unit is placed,
the control unit further controlling the position of the placement table, holding with the application member the bag chain that has been placed on the placement table, moving the placement table from a position on the vertical direction lower side of the bag chain being held, and putting the bag chain into the case that is positioned on the vertical direction lower side of the bag chain being held.
 
11. The case packer according to claim 10,
a plurality of the bag chains being placed, along a longitudinal direction of the seal portions, on the placement table, and
the control unit putting into the case, while holding with the application member, the plurality of bag chains that have been placed on the placement table.
 
12. The case packer according to any one of claims 9 to 11, further comprising a restraining member,
the control unit separating from the bag chain the application member holding the bag chain after the control unit has put the bag chain into the case, and
the restraining member holding down at least part of the bag chain toward the case while the application member separates from the bag chain.
 
13. The case packer according to any one of claims 9 to 12,
the control unit shaking the application member at least one of when the control unit brings the application member into contact with the seal portions and when the control unit separates from the bag chain the application member holding the bag chain that has been put into the case.
 




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Cited references

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