7,858,130 (Dec. 28, 2010), M. Malenke, et al., assigned to Nestec S.A., Vevey, Switzerland
March 1, 2011
This automated system handles and transports pizza crusts or other stackable food products between formation and downstream production operations. The system can use a combination of a fluffer assembly, an unstacker assembly and an accumulator assembly. The fluffer assembly makes lateral and vertical movement relative to a stack of food products. The unstacker features a loader for receiving a fluffed stack of food products, and lift platforms are arranged on opposite lateral sides of the picking mechanism for reciprocal up-and-down movement. The accumulator assembly temporarily collects food products received via a conveyor from the unstacker assembly or directly from a transport mechanism that was previously loaded with singulated product. It then dispenses the products individually at an approximately regular pitch onto another conveyor that transports food products to a handling unit.