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Automatic apparatus for storing and dispensing packaged medication and other small elements

Image Number 7 for United States Patent #7100792.

The system includes a bin hopper which temporarily stores a plurality of small elements, such as medications. The elements are moved out of the bin and singulated into a one-by-one sequence by a series of singulating conveyors. The resulting sequence of elements is moved onto a main system conveyor where the element is identified and then moved to a loading mechanism which arranges the item so it is ready to be gripped and stored. The system includes a mass storage apparatus comprising a series of four upstanding cylindrical drums, each having a plurality of individually accessible and addressable cell storage locations for the elements. A gripping apparatus removes the elements from the loading mechanism and transfers them to a selected location in a cylindrical drum. When an article is to be dispensed, the drum is rotated so that an ejection arm comes adjacent the desired location in the drum. The ejector arm is actuated, pushing the small element out of its slot, into the center of the drum, where it falls onto a conveyor which moves the dispensed item from the system.

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