Manual wrapping of silverware pieces in napkins in large food service establishments is a repetitive, tedious, time-consuming and labor-intensive process, which can be improved by automation. This paper describes the design, development, construction, and evaluation of an automated cloth napkin singulation system, a major subsystem of an automated silverware wrapping system, which is capable of singulating individual cloth napkins from a stack of napkins to feed the wrapping system. The system employs automatically renewable adhesive tape to pick napkins from the stack and linear actuated mechanisms to remove a napkin from the tape and pass it along a moving conveyor. The cycle is repeated until all napkins in the feed stack have been singulated. The system was tested for 100 napkin cycles, and the average singulation efficiency of the system was found to be 96%, which is a 14% increase over previous napkin singulator devices. The average singulation time for each napkin cycle was 1.3 minutes, but this time can easily be decreased by employing higher speed mechanism drive motors.

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