P&G submits US patent application for 'methods and apparatuses for transferring absorbent articles and rejecting defective absorbent articles'

WASHINGTON , November 21, 2013 () – From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Schneider, Uwe (Cincinnati, OH); Cox, Robert George (Cincinnati, OH); Long, Michael Devin (Springfield Township, OH); Owens, Justin B. (Fort Thomas, KY); Lenser, Todd Douglas (Liberty Township, OH); Ordway, David Carlton (Oxford, OH); Ogawa, Kazuya (Akashi, JP); Rosiak, Jeffry (Loveland, OH); Kent, Jeffrey Michael (Lebanon, OH); Cedrone, Louis J. (Mason, OH), filed on April 30, 2013, was made available online on November 14, 2013.

The patent's assignee is The Procter & Gamble Company.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Along an assembly line, diapers and various types of other absorbent articles may be assembled by adding components to and otherwise modifying an advancing, continuous web of material. For example, in some processes, advancing webs of material are combined with other advancing webs of material. In other examples, individual components created from advancing webs of material are combined with advancing webs of material, which in turn, are then combined with other advancing webs of material. Webs of material and component parts used to manufacture diapers may include: backsheets, topsheets, absorbent cores, front and/or back ears, fastener components, and various types of elastic webs and components such as leg elastics, barrier leg cuff elastics, and waist elastics. Once the desired component parts are assembled, the advancing web(s) and component parts are subjected to a final knife cut to separate the web(s) into discrete diapers or other absorbent articles. The discrete diapers or absorbent articles may also then be folded and packaged.

"For quality control purposes, absorbent article converting lines may utilize various types of sensors to detect defects in the webs and discrete components added to the webs along the converting line as absorbent articles are constructed. Example sensor technology may include vision systems, photoelectric sensors, proximity sensors, laser or sonic distance detectors, and the like. Sensor data may be communicated to a controller. In turn, the controller may be programmed to receive sensor data and reject or cull defective diapers after the final knife cut at the end of the converting line.

"Various systems are used for rejecting defective diapers, such as by diverting the defective diapers from the stream of diapers that are of satisfactory condition or good quality. For example, one system that has been used to reject cut web products includes forcing the defective diapers out of the stream of satisfactory products by using pneumatic air blasts, which divert the defective diapers to a path that differs from that for the stream of satisfactory diapers. In such a method, the defective diapers are detected, and a pneumatic air blast from one or more nozzles forces the defective diapers out of the stream of quality products and into a reject bin provided in proximity of the conveyor system or production line. Such existing systems of rejecting cut web products using pneumatic air blasts may have some disadvantages. For example, a separate system having pneumatic nozzles and associated hoses and/or piping require space, such as for example, extra space along the conveyor system. In addition, such systems may not be entirely accurate and can divert more than solely the defective diapers from the stream of satisfactory products.

"Other methods of rejecting defective diapers may include mechanically activated switches, or flippers, that divert the defective cut web products to an alternative pathway, similar to the manner railway switches can divert trains to a different track. The mechanical switches are may be activated via a pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder or via an electric motor. Some configuration may include mechanical switches that pop up from the conveyor system and divert the defective diapers below the switch and toward an alternate pathway. With such mechanically operated systems, more space may be required to accommodate the mechanically activated switches. Thus, space consumption is a disadvantage to the mechanical switch method. Furthermore, the additional mechanical switch equipment may result in added complexity and cost.

"Consequently, it would be beneficial to provide a relatively less complex and less spacious system for high speed selective redirecting and/or rejecting of absorbent articles. In addition, a method and apparatus that is relatively more accurate in removing only the defective absorbent articles from the stream of quality products may also be desirable. Further, a system that utilizes some existing converting equipment and control mechanisms to reject products rather than a completely separate system to perform redirecting and/or rejecting operations may be desirable."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The present disclosure relates to methods and apparatuses for rejecting defective absorbent articles from a converting line. At a downstream portion of a converting process, a continuous length of absorbent articles may be subjected to a final knife and cut to create discrete absorbent articles advancing on a first carrier. From the first carrier, the discrete absorbent articles may be transferred to a transfer apparatus, which in turn, transfers the discrete absorbent articles to a second carrier. The transfer apparatus may include carrier members that orbit around an axis of rotation and may be adapted to receive the absorbent articles from the first carrier and transfer the absorbent articles to the second carrier. Defective absorbent articles may be detected by an inspection system, which may be operably connected with the transfer apparatus and/or the first carrier to remove the defective absorbent articles from the converting process.

"A method for rejecting defective absorbent articles from a web converting manufacturing process may include the steps of: converting a substrate and component parts into a continuous length of absorbent articles; inspecting the substrate or component parts with a sensor; communicating inspection parameters from the sensor to a controller; cutting the continuous length of absorbent articles into discrete absorbent articles; identifying defective discrete absorbent articles based on the inspection parameters; advancing the discrete absorbent articles in a machine direction on a first carrier; transferring discrete absorbent articles from the first carrier onto carrier members at a first position proximate the first carrier; applying a vacuum pressure to the carrier members to hold the discrete absorbent articles on the carrier members; moving carrier members from the first position proximate the first carrier to a second position proximate a second carrier; and transferring discrete absorbent articles from the carrier members to the second carrier; and rejecting defective discrete absorbent articles before the defective absorbent articles are transferred to the second carrier.

"A method for rejecting defective absorbent articles from a web converting manufacturing process may include the steps of: converting a substrate and component parts into a continuous length of absorbent articles; inspecting the substrate or component parts with a sensor; communicating inspection parameters from the sensor to a controller; cutting the continuous length of absorbent articles into discrete absorbent articles; identifying defective discrete absorbent articles based on the inspection parameters; advancing the discrete absorbent articles in a machine direction on a first carrier; orbiting the carrier members about a first axis of rotation; transferring discrete absorbent articles in a first orientation from the first carrier onto the carrier members; applying a vacuum pressure to the carrier members to hold the discrete absorbent articles on the carrier members; rotating the carrier members about a second axis of rotation to place the discrete absorbent articles in a second orientation; and transferring discrete absorbent articles from the carrier members to the second carrier in the second orientation; and rejecting defective discrete absorbent articles before the defective absorbent articles are placed in the second orientation.

"A system for rejecting defective absorbent articles may include: a stator member including an arc shaped manifold, a first port, and a second port; an arc shaped insert positioned inside the manifold and movably connected with the manifold, wherein a portion of the manifold housing the insert defines a first zone, and a remaining portion of the manifold defines a second zone; an actuator connected with the insert and adapted to move the insert to a first position and a second position, wherein the first zone of the manifold is in fluid communication with the first port when insert is in the first position, and the first zone of the manifold is in fluid communication with the second port when the insert is in the second position; a support member extending radially outward from a first axis of rotation and adapted to rotate about the first axis of rotation; and a carrier member connected with the support member, the carrier member including an apertured carrier surface, the aperture carrier surface being in intermittent fluid communication with the manifold as the support member rotates about the first axis of rotation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a diaper pant.

"FIG. 2A is a partially cut away plan view of the diaper pant shown in FIG. 1.

"FIG. 2B is a partially cut away plan view of a second embodiment of a diaper pant.

"FIG. 3A is a cross-sectional view of the diaper pants of FIGS. 2A and 2B taken along line 3A-3A.

"FIG. 3B is a cross-sectional view of the diaper pants of FIGS. 2A and 2B taken along line 3B-3B.

"FIG. 4 is a schematic side view of a converting apparatus adapted to manufacture diapers.

"FIG. 5A is a view of multiple discrete chassis connected with front and back side panel material and being folded to place the front and back side panel material in a facing relationship from FIG. 4 taken along line 5A-5A.

"FIG. 5B is a view of folded multiple discrete chassis with the front and back side panel material in a facing relationship from FIG. 4 taken along line 5B-5B.

"FIG. 5C is a view of two discrete absorbent articles oriented such that the longitudinal axis is generally perpendicular to the machine direction MD from FIG. 4 taken along line 5C-5C.

"FIG. 5D is a view of two discrete absorbent articles oriented such that the longitudinal axis is generally parallel with the machine direction MD from FIG. 4 taken along line 5D-5D.

"FIG. 6 is a detailed schematic view of an embodiment a first carrier and carrier apparatus along with associated pneumatic systems.

"FIG. 7A is a cross sectional view of a pneumatic system operably connected with the first carrier in a first mode of operation from FIG. 6 taken along line 7-7.

"FIG. 7B is a cross sectional view of the pneumatic system operably connected with the second carrier in a first mode of operation from FIG. 6 taken along line 7-7.

"FIG. 8A is a cross sectional view of the rotary valve assembly from FIG. 7A taken along line 8-8.

"FIG. 8B is a cross sectional view of the rotary valve assembly from FIG. 7B taken along line 8-8.

"FIG. 9 a schematic view of a manifold valve assembly operably connected with the transfer apparatus from FIG. 6.

"FIG. 10A is a cross sectional view of a pneumatic system and manifold valve assembly operably connected with the transfer apparatus in a first mode of operation from FIG. 9 taken along line 10-10.

"FIG. 10B is a cross sectional view of a pneumatic system and manifold valve assembly operably connected with the transfer apparatus in a second mode of operation from FIG. 9 taken along line 10-10.

"FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view of a pneumatic system and manifold valve assembly operably connected with the transfer apparatus from FIG. 9 taken along line 11-11."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Schneider, Uwe; Cox, Robert George; Long, Michael Devin; Owens, Justin B.; Lenser, Todd Douglas; Ordway, David Carlton; Ogawa, Kazuya; Rosiak, Jeffry; Kent, Jeffrey Michael; Cedrone, Louis J. Methods and Apparatuses for Transferring Absorbent Articles and Rejecting Defective Absorbent Articles. Filed April 30, 2013 and posted November 14, 2013. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2150&p=43&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20131107.PD.&OS=PD/20131107&RS=PD/20131107

Keywords for this news article include: The Procter & Gamble Company.

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