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1. (WO1980000559) SYSTEME DE TRANSPORT
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CLAIMS .

1. A system for the transport of product carriers comprising in a plurality of elongated transport units adapted to be interconnected to form a transport network, said transport units comprising a frame and an elongated transporting screw, driving means for rotating said transporting screw, the threads of which being adapted to cooperate with engagement members provided at the bottom side of the product carrier in such a manner that the product carrier, when the screw is driven, is caused to move along the transport unit, said frame is provided with a plurality of rollers for supporting the product carriers during said transport, and that said transporting screws are adapted to be driven by the driving means in such a manner that they are always started and stopped in a predetermined angular position of the transporting screw, so as to allow the use of a computer control apparatus for permanent and exact control of the position of each product carrier in the transport system.
2. A system as claimed in claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the engagement members of the product carriers comprise two members mutually spjced longitudinally of the transporting screw with the same cross-sectional profile as the -thread groove of the transporting screws, each of said members meshing with the transporting screw during the transport.
3. A system as claimed in claim l or 2, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the frame of the transport units comprises two longitudinal carrier beams , each provided with a plurality of carrier rollers adapted to support the product carriers while unrolling against ridges or rims, provided at the bot-torn side of the product carriers, said transporting screw being located between and in parallel with said carrier beams. 4. A system as claimed in claim 3, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the ridges also serve as said engagement members .
5. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in one or more switching stations , adapted to interconnect two or more transport units and arranged so that a product carrier at a switching station has its engagement members located immediately adjacent the thre ridge of the first thread turn of the transporting screw of

5 each of the transport units connected to the switching stati so that the product carrier from the position at the switchi station can be gripped by one and whichever of said transpor ting screws when rotated, said product carrier being then ad vanced along the transport unit corresponding to the rotated

10 transporting screw.
6. A system as claimed in claim 5, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said switching station comprises a frame, the upper portion of which comprising a plurality of support mem bers supporting said product carrier at the switching statio

15 and adapted to allow rolling transport of the product carrie in all transport directions represented by the transport uni connected to the switching station.
7. A system as claimed in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the support members consist of balls rotatably

20 supported in spherical retainers.
8. A system as claimed in any of claims 5 through 7, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the switching station is square of rectangular with a connection facility for one transport unit at each side of the square or rectangle, res- 25 pectively.
9. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in one or more stations adapted to move a product carrier at a station horizontally between at least two transport directions and provided with roller

30 members for supporting the product carriers and a transporti screw with separate driving means.
10. A system as claimed in claim 9, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the station for moving the product carrier ho rizontally is rotatable about a vertical axis.
35 11. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in one or more stations adapted to move a product at a station in a vertical plane between at least two transport directions and provided with roller members for supporting the product carriers .
12. A system as claimed in claim 11, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the station for moving the product carrier in a vertical plane is rotatable about a horizontal axis .
13. A system as claimed in claim 12, c h a r a c t e -r i z e d in that said station for moving the product carrier in a vertical plane ia provided with a transporting screw with separate driving means and is rotatable about a horizon-tal axis, located in a common plane with the transport screw of the station.
14. A system as claimed in claim 12, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the station for moving the product carrier in a vertical plane is provided with a transporting screw with separate driving means and is rotatable about an axis, which is perpendicular to a vertical plane comprising the transport axis of the station, thus allowing the transfer of product carriers between transport units having different inclination to the horizontal plane.
15. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the components included in the system, including the transport units, switching stations and the stations for moving the product carriers in the vertical and horizontal planes, are composed according to a modular system, according to which the components have predetermined modular dimensions matched to each other, enabling the composition of transport systems of various dimension and various retwork configuration by means of a minimum number of module types .
16. A system as claimed in claim 15, c h a r a c t e -r i z e d in that the transport units have a predetermined modular length (M) in the direction of the transporting screw and that the distance L between the centre lines of the rows of carrier rollers provided on each of the carrier beams of the transport units is equal to - M.
17. A system as claimed in claim 16, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the product carriers are provided at their bottom side with four ridges, serving as supporting members for the product carriers and as engagement members for the transporting screws, said ridges forming together a rectan- gular, substantially unbroken frame, the size of which is de

5 termined by the size of the product carriers, the distance between the centre lines of two opposite ridges of the frame being equal to L.
18. A system as claimed in claim 17, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that each transport unit is provided with at

10 least four pairs of carrier rollers with an equal mutual cen re spacing, which at the same time is equal to the centre spacing between the roller pair at one end of a first transport unit and the adjacent roller pair of a second transport unit, connected to the first transport unit.
15 19. A system as claimed in claim 16, 17 or 18, c h a r a t e r i z e c in that both the modular length M and the dis tance L are an integral multiple of the extension in the lon tudinal direction of the transporting screw of a complete thread turn, half a thread turn, etc. of a transporting scre

20 having one thread start, two thread starts, etc.
20. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that it comprises elongated product carriers, which are provided at each end portion with engagement members at the bottom of the product carrier

25 in the form of ridges forming frames, each being adapted to mesh at two positions with an underlying transporting screw, means being provided for such driving of the transporting screws of two transport units, connected to each other angul ly, that the elongated product carrier is transported from o

30 end to the other of the transport units.
21. ' A system as claimed in claim 20, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that each of the ridge frames is circular and pr ferably fixed in relation to the product carrier.
22. A system as claimed in claim 20, c h a r a c t e -35 r i z e d in that each of the ridge frames is square and mounted on a carrier unit, which in relation to the product carrier is turnable about a vertical axis through the centre of the square .

23. A system as claimed in any of the claims 1 to 20, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that it comprises product carriers provided at the bottom thereof with ridges for engagement with the transporting screws, said ridges comprising two half-circular ridges one at each end of the product carrier __._. and two ridges having a length equal to the radium of the half-circular ridges and inter-connecting the ends of one half-circular ridge with the ends of the other.
24. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the inner side of the
ridges of the product carriers , at the location at which
they cross the transporting screws, are formed with a surface portion which is adapted to abut against the thread ridge of the transporting screws and has generally the same geo-metrical form as the surface of the thread ridge against which said surface portion abuts.
25. A system as claimed in claim 24, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that, seen in projection in a plane perpendicular to the screw, said surface portion is substantially of the same size as a segment of the transporting screw, limited by a chord, forming a tangent to the bottom of the thread groove .
26. A system as claimed in claim 24 or 25, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said surface portions of the ridges and the thread flank of the transporting screws are shaped so that the play in the engagement between the screw and the product carrier can be adjusted by changing the mutual height position of the screw and the product carrier.
27. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the transporting screws of the transport units and other components are rotatably supported by bearing members in such a manner that no fixed part of the bearing members extends higher than the level of the bottom of the thread groove at the upper portion of the transporting screw cooperating with the engagement members of the product carrier.
28. A system as claimed in claim 27, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the transporting screws are rotatably sup- ported in mountings, which within the screws support a beari sleeve for roller bearings, having a shaft stud secured at both ends with the end portions of the screw or screw portions located on either side of the bearing location.
29. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the transporting screws are formed by helical, preferably rolling deformation or dee drawing of a thin-walled steel tube .
30. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, c h a r a c t e r i z e d by a computer apparatus for the control of the operation of the transporting screws of the system according to a predetermined program for each product carrier and for the recording of the number of revolutions completed by each of the transporting screws taking part in each transport for allowing identification at any moment of the position of the product carrier in the transport system.

31. A component, e.g. a transport unit, turning unit, et preferably in modular design, adapted to be included in a transport system as claimed in any of the preceding claims. 32. A product carrier, preferably of plastic material, adapted to fit into a transport system as claimed in any of the preceding claims .

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