Title of Invention

"METHOD OF POSITIONING THIN FLAT OBJECTS IN A PROCESSING MACHINE"

Abstract Method of positioning thin flat objects {!0} within a processing machine {1} comprising an inserter {20}for positioning these objects in a plurality of gripper members{31} belonging to a conveyor {30} drawing them discontinuously through successive stations {3,4,5 }.This method consists in calculating, for each of the gripper members{31}, variations in the positioning distance of these members relative to a reference position assigning these variations to the respective gripper members {31} and incorporating them into a primary procedure of the controller {40} to improve the positioning of the thin flat objects {10} in the gripper members {31}. Fig.:
Full Text METHOD OF POSITIONING THIN FLAT OBJECTS IN A PROCESSING
MACHINE
The present invention elates to a method of positioning thin flat objects in a processing machine.
Such machines are used particularly in the printing and packaging industry, for example for making cartons from thin flat objects such as preprinted sheets. These sheets are taken from a stack situated upstream of the machine and passed into an insertion station 1 y an inserter so that they can be positioned in clamping ars connected at regular intervals to a subsequent endless chain drive. The latter takes the sheets through the various later processing stations of the machine. Such stations typically cut the sheets, eject the cut waste, and collect these sheets in a stack.
In discontinuous transport, the chain drive moves and stops periodically in such a way that, during each movement, all the clamping bars gripping a sheet are moved from one station to the next station downstream. If good-quality printing or production is desired, the positioning of the sheets within the various successive stations is an operation of the utmost importance. If a printed sheet is to be cut, it will be realized that the sheet has to be positioned with great accuracy in the cutting station: care must be taken to ensure that the cutting tools, for example the cutting blank
of a flat bed die press, is in perfect register with the image previously printed on the sheet.
Patent CH 690 470 describes a device for ensuring the quality of production of a press for producing packaging. For this purpose the device comprises a video camera designed to read not only the print-related reference marks but also a mark designed as a reference for the cutting position. These reference marks are placed on the front waste of the sheet which is held by the clamping bar. The cutting mark is made by a perforator connected to the cutting tools. This perforator makes a hole in the front waste of the sheet at the same time as the sheet is being cut. Further downstream another device marks sheets identified by the camera as defective, namely sheets with an out-of-tolerance divergence between the printed image and the cutting.
In patent EP 448 943, reference is made to clamping bars connected at their ends to the chains of the conveyor by so-called "floating" attachment systems. These attachment systems allow each clamping bar to be stopped and immobilized momentarily in a position rigorously determined in each station by. means of a mechanical clamping system and by means of the elastic floating between the clamping bar and the chain drive. By means of such a system the thin flat object can be positioned- with great accuracy, both at the moment of its insertion into the clamping bar and at each of the processing stations in which this system can be used to keep
the bar in perfect register with the tools of this station.
However, such a system has the disadvantage, either of not being applicable to all machines, or of not being the most appropriate system which could be fitted to certain types of machines, notably machines handling corrugated board.
Patent EP 1 044 908 relates to a device and method for positioning thin flat objects in an insertion station. From a shelf situated in a rear starting position, this method consists in engaging means for fixing a thin flat object on the shelf and then causing actuators to move it forwards on the basis of the position of the thin flat object on the shelf. As a result, the front edge of the thin flat object is brought towards, stopped and then released in a predetermined position in the clamps of the clamping bar of the conveying device before the shelf has been finally returned to the starting position. To allow the shelf to be moved an appropriate distance forwards, if necessary sideways or obliquely, optoelectronic means read the coordinates of the position of the thin flat object and work out the neces.sary movement to position it correctly in the clamping bar.
Although optimized to position the thin flat object in the clamping bar on the basis of its initial starting position, very visible errors have nonetheless been found between the printed image and the cutting performed on these
objects in machines fitted with such devices. These errors, both lateral and longitudinal, persisted in spite of the fact that the positions of the thin flat objects had been calculated correctly from the print-related reference marks, which themselves had been read properly by the optoelectronic means.
The object of the present invention is to remedy, at least in part, the above disadvantages in order to improve the positioning of thin flat objects in gripper members. In particular, the object is to ensure that there can be no errors of registration between the different operations performed on these objects in the subseguent stations of the machine.
To this end, the present invention relates to a method of positioning thin flat objects, in a processing machine, in accordance with Claim 1.
A clearer understanding of the invention will be gained from a study of an implementation presented without implying a limitation and illustrated in the appended figures, in which:
Figure 1 is a diagrammatic representation of a processing machine through which thin flat objects are conveyed by clamping bars;
Figure 2 is a diagrammatic plan view of the front edge of a thin flat object moving towards a clamping bar, which will then grab it.
To avoid any confusion in the following description, the terms "upstream" and "downstream" will be defined in terms of the direction of travel of the thin flat objects as illustrated by the arrow D in the figures. These objects move from the upstream to the downstream end, generally following the main axis X of the machine in a movement broken by periodic stops. Also, note that the adjectives "longitudinal" and "lateral" will be defined in relation to this main axis X.
Figure 1 shows a diagrammatic general view of a processing machine 1 in which tne method of the present invention can be applied. This machine comprises a series of processing stations typically including an insertion station 2 followed by a cutting station 3, a waste ejection station 4 and a receiving station 5. The number and type of processing stations can vary according to the complexity of the production operations to be performed on the thin flat objects 10.
In the insertion station 2, the objects are arranged in a stack 11. It is generally pressed against a gage 6 which also acts as a front stop for these objects. Because of the gap left at the bottom of the gage 6, the objects can be removed one by one from the bottom of a stack 11 by means of an inserter 20. This device will insert each object into a gripper member 31 belonging to a conveyor 30, as shown more clearly in Figure 2. This conveyor generally consists of a
chain drive 32, between the chains of which are a plurality of clamping bars each acting as a gripper member 30 for the thin flat object 10.
The chain drive 32 moves and stops periodically so that during one movement each gripper member 31 has moved from one station to the next station downstream. The positions at which the gripper members stop are dictated by the chain drive moving a constant distance. This distance corresponds to the theoretical pitch of these members on the chain drive. The processing stations 2, 3, 4 and 5 are set at fixed distances at the same pitch so that at each stop the gripper members 31 are in register with the tools of these stations.
With reference to Figure 2, this diagram shows, in a diagrammatic top view, a downstream portion of a thin flat object 10 being moved towards a clamping bar by the inserter 20. Such an inserter may, for example, be a vacuum plate 21. This vacuum plate attracts the bottommost thin flat object of the stack 11, slides it underneath the gage 6, and places it in a defined position gripped by the grippers of the gripper member 31. The path of the inserter 20 depends on the initial position of the thin flat object 10 at the bottom of the stack. This position is detected by first sensors 7 situated directly downstream of the gage 6 (Figure 1) . A pair of these sensors will preferably be arranged above the plane on which the thin flat objects pass, and another pair below. With this
arrangement it becomes possible to read printed marks 12 (Figure 2) for registering a printed image formed on either the recto or the verso side of the thin flat object. Such reference marks are generally made at its front end, that is on the front waste used by the gripper member to grip the thin flat object.
As soon as the initial position of the thin flat object has been detected by the said first sensors 7, this position is immediately transmitted to a controller 40 for the path of the inserter 20 to be calculated. Given the theoretical position of stoppage of the gripper member 31 in the insertion station, the controller is therefore able to work out the values of the parameters of the movement (lateral, longitudinal or skew) of the inserter, so that the latter can advance the thin flat object it is conveying in the gripper member correctly on the basis of its initial starting position. The calculations are performed in a primary procedure that also enables the controller 40 to control the inserter 20.
Drawn by the gripper member into the cutting station 3, the thin flat object will then be cut by a die corresponding to the developed shape which it is wished to produce, for example to produce a plurality of boxes of a given shape. In this station, or in one or more further stations, other operations can also be performed, such as the compressing of fold lines, the embossing of certain surfaces
and/or the application of motifs from metalized strips, for example. To produce a high-quality product, it is necessary both that all these operations be performed in perfect register with each other, and also that their registration also be in register with the printed image, in the case in which the processed thin flat objects have previously been printed.
In spite of the application of the said primary positioning procedure, errors of registration between these operations and the existing printed image on the thin flat objects have nevertheless been found. It has also been observed that this frustrating problem usually occurs when the chain drives are beginning to age or have been subjected to shocks as a result of jams, for example. The explanation of these errors of registration will be seen from the following.
The distance between two consecutive gripper members 31 - in the present case two adjacent clamping bars - should be constant and equal for all the gripper members of the conveyor. This is true for example when the chain drive is new or when the machine, to which it is fitted is new. However, for various reasons this distance may either vary with the passage of time, or vary suddenly in response to various events. This variation may also be irregular, creating different distances between the gripper members. After examining all the causes, it was found that wear,
shocks or excessive variations in the temperature of the conveyor were to blame for such variations. Despite their harmful effects on the registration of the operations performed on the thin flat objects, such variations have however never yet been taken into account.
When the conveyor and/or gripper members have reached a certain normal level of wear, their component parts have a tendency to depart further and further from the original tolerances to which they were machined or constructed. A chain drive will usually tend to stretch, thus changing the initial pitch of the clamping bars. However, such faults do not develop in the longitudinal direction only but can also be produced transversely or askew relative to the main machine axis X. Shocks, stresses or heavy jerking can stretch the links of the chain drive or introduce what are at first sight undetectable displacements of one or more clamping bars.
Because faults in the positioning of the gripper members 31 in the conveyor 30 can be independent of each other, it is important to assign to each of these members the variations corresponding to its positioning error relative to its initial reference position.
Using the subject of the present invention it becomes possible to allow for these variations in the controller 40 which operates the inserter 20, and therefore correct systematic errors and improve the positioning of the thin
flat objects in each of the gripper members.
The first main step of the resulting positioning method is to calculate, for each of the gripper members 31, variations in the positioning distance of these members in the various processing stations 2, 3, 4, 5. These variations are defined relative to a known reference position in coordinates in a Cartesian reference system for example. For this purpose, the position of at least one reference point 33 fixed to the gripper member, as illustrated in Figure 2, will be measured. This reading could be taken easily using at least one second sensor 8, as shown in Figure 1.
By comparing this reading with the reference position, the variation in the positioning distance will be determined. This variation can be quantified by at least one value, preferably a pair of values defined in terms of the said Cartesian coordinate system, in which case the reference position would advantageously be defined in the same system by original values taken by default.
In the preferred embodiment the calculations of the said variations are performed in the course of an initial phase before the thin flat objects 10 are processed. This initial phase can typically take place when the machine is being initialized during set up, for example. During this initial phase the conveyor 30 will be made to carry out one complete revolution in the machine, so that all the gripper components 31 can pass under the second sensor or sensors 8.
Thus, the determination of the variation of the positioning distance of each of the gripper members is performed once only. However, it may be advisable to take several redundant readings so that the measured positions of the gripper members is an average of more than one reading of each reference point 33. Such a result could be obtained by making the conveyor 30 perform more than one revolution during the initial phase.
In the envisaged implementation, the readings are taken while the gripper members are in motion rather than when they are at rest. The reason for this is simply that there is too little space inside the machine to install the second sensors 8 above the gripper member when it is at rest in the station in question.
When the readings are taken "on the fly" in this way, it is also envisaged that several additional parameters be taken into account, such as the speed and acceleration, positive or negative, of the moving member 31 at the moment of the reading. These values will enable factors such as the inertia of the gripper members and the resulting elastic deformations to be taken into account. By slightly modifying the value of the reading compared with what it should be if it had been taken at rest, these additional parameters are preferably incorporated into the calculations of the variations of the positioning distances of the gripper members 31 in the cutting station 3.
The second main step in the method of the present invention is to assign the said calculated variations to each of the corresponding gripper members. One way of assigning them may be to store the values of these distance variations in correlation with a system of reference of the gripper members. Such a system of reference would have the purpose of identifying and distinguishing each of the gripper members from the others. This system may be relative or absolute. In the case of a relative system, it is sufficient to know the number of gripper members 31 in the conveyor 30 and to number these members incrementally beginning with the first gripper member to be detected by the second sensor 8. In the case of an absolute system, each gripper member will be identified by a permanent identification number unique to that member. This second solution therefore requires that each of the members be identified, which is advantageously unnecessary in the first system of reference. By using either one or the other of these systems it is possible to allocate and store in the controller 40 at least one distance variation for each of the gripper members.
The third, main step of the said method is to incorporate the variations in the positioning distances of the gripper members in the primary procedure of the controller 40 in order to improve the positioning of the thin flat objects 10 in the gripper members. Such incorporation allows an initial use to be made of the calculated
variations, and even the use of corresponding corrective values, which have to be taken into account to compensate for the observed positioning faults of each of the gripper members. In this way the controller will be able to modify the positioning coordinates (initially determined by the first sensors 7) which the inserter 20 must achieve at the end of each of its strokes.
For its last step, the method of the present invention can also include checking the positioning of each of the thin flat objects by measuring the relative positions of at least two production marks. A third sensor 9, preferably at least a pair of sensors 9 arranged on either side of the plane along which the thin flat objects 10 pass, downstream of the cutting station 3, can perform this check.
For this purpose it is envisaged that at least one cut mark 13 be made in the front waste of the thin flat object, preferably not far from the printed mark 12. In the method of the present invention, the cut marks 13 are preferably incisions in the thin flat object. One or more incisions, as illustrated in Figure 2, can be made by blades provided for this purpose only. These incisions appear on the thin flat object as a simple cut line and are produced simultaneously with the cutting operation in the corresponding station. This process of producing very fine cut marks 13 has the advantage of generating no waste, unlike the cut marks produced hitherto by perforation.

The cut marks 13 and the printed marks 12 act as production marks which can be read - both by the same sensor 9 - through a reading window at a given instant. When the marks are brought together, they can be used to assess the quality of manufacture of each thin flat object. The use of at least two of these sensors 9 also makes it possible to detect any fault of parallelism, for example between the printing and cutting operations.
If one of the third sensors 9 detects such a fault or too great a divergence between two different production marks, the defective thin flat object could for example be sent to a reject station provided downstream especially for this purpose. Such a station (not shown in Figure 1) would enable defective thin flat objects to be ejected by a known operation identical to that of the receiving station 5. However, this does not rule out the alternative of removing defective objects by hand once they arrive in the receiving station.
Advantageously, the method of the present invention also makes it possible to collect data for statistical purposes. Information about the measurements of the positioning variations of the gripper members, and out-of-tolerance errors and/or the measurements of the relative positions of two production marks 12, 13 may for example be written to a data file for subsequent use of these data.
Advantageously again, this method makes it possible

to extend the life of the conveyer 30, because although the strength of a worn chain drive generally remains amply sufficient, the elongation of certain of its parts formerly meant that it had to be replaced periodically in its entirety to maintain and ensure quality production. Now, with the possible variations in the pitch of the clamping bars being taken into account, the working life of such a chain drive can be extended without compromising the quality of the output thin flat objects.
Another advantage of the present invention is that this method can be used in place of the mechanisms of the prior art employed to lock the gripper members connected to the conveyor by floating attachment systems. As a result, it becomes possible to dispense with those relatively complicated and expensive mechanisms, which furthermore had to be fitted to all of the gripper members.
Finally, it should be pointed out that the readings taken of the variations of positioning of the gripper members 31 can be due equally to longitudinal, lateral or skew positioning errors. An error corresponding to a skewed positioning of the gripper members could be the result of a different elongation of one chain with respect to the other, or abnormal wear of the drive members of one of the two chains. In this situation the thin flat objects adopt a trailing position for which the subject of the present invention is able to compensate completely during the positioning of these objects in the gripper members














We Claim:
1. Method of positioning thin flat objects (10) within a processing machine (1) comprising an inserter (20) for positioning said thin flat objects (10) in a plurality of gripper members (31) belonging to a conveyor (30) which draws said thin flat objects discontinuously through successive stations (3, 4, 5), said inserter (20) being controlled by a controller (40) following a primary procedure, wherein it consists in determining, for each of the gripper members (31), variations in the positioning distance of these gripper members (31) relative to a reference position, assigning said variations to the respective gripper members (31), and incorporating said variations into the primary procedure of the controller (40) in order to improve the positioning of the thin flat objects (10) in the gripper members (31).
2. Method as claimed in claim 1, wherein said variations are determined by measuring the position of at least one reference point (33) fixed to each gripper member (31) and comparing this measured position with the said reference position.
3. Method claimed in claim 1, wherein said variations are determined in the course of an initial phase before the said thin flat objects (10) are processed.
4. Method claimed in claim 2, wherein the measured position is the result of an average of several readings of the position of the said reference point (33) of a given gripper member (31).
5. Method claimed in claim 2, wherein the said readings are taken while the gripper members (31) are in motion.
6. Method claimed in claim 5, wherein the speed and acceleration values for the said motion of the gripper members (31) produce additional parameters which are incorporated into said distance variations.
7. Method claimed in claim 1, wherein the said assigning of the distance variations to the gripper members (31) is done by storing these variations correlated to a reference system of the gripper members (31).
8. Method claimed in claim 7, wherein the said reference system of the gripper members (31) is a relative system that is a function of the number of gripper members (31) of the said conveyor (30).
9. Method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the said positioning of the thin flat objects (10) is checked as a final step by measuring the relative positions of at least two production marks (12, 13), at least one of which is made by an incision in the thin flat object (10) in a previous station (3).

Documents:

2060-DEL-2006-Abstract-(05-07-2010).pdf

2060-del-2006-abstract.pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Assignment-(07-09-2009).pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Claims-(05-07-2010).pdf

2060-del-2006-claims.pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Correspondence-Others (02-02-2010).pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Correspondence-Others-(05-07-2010).pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Correspondence-Others-(07-09-2009).pdf

2060-del-2006-correspondence-others-1.pdf

2060-del-2006-correspondence-others.pdf

2060-del-2006-description (complete).pdf

2060-del-2006-drawings.pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Form-1-(02-02-2010).pdf

2060-del-2006-form-1.pdf

2060-del-2006-form-13-(06-11-2007).pdf

2060-del-2006-form-18.pdf

2060-del-2006-form-2.pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Form-26-(02-02-2010).pdf

2060-DEL-2006-Form-26-(07-09-2009).pdf

2060-del-2006-form-3.pdf

2060-del-2006-form-5.pdf

2060-del-2006-form-9.pdf

abstract.jpg


Patent Number 241622
Indian Patent Application Number 2060/DEL/2006
PG Journal Number 30/2010
Publication Date 23-Jul-2010
Grant Date 16-Jul-2010
Date of Filing 18-Sep-2006
Name of Patentee BOBST S.A.
Applicant Address CASE POSTALE  CH-1001 LAUSANNE   SWITZERLAND.
Inventors:
# Inventor's Name Inventor's Address
1 MAURO CHIARI CHEMIN DES VERGERS 7 , CH-1026 DENGES SWITZERLAND.
PCT International Classification Number G08G 1/0962
PCT International Application Number N/A
PCT International Filing date
PCT Conventions:
# PCT Application Number Date of Convention Priority Country
1 05021708.2 2005-10-05 Switzerland