Specimen transportation system

Abstract

A specimen transportation system is configured from linear modules, turn modules, and connection modules, wherein adjacent modules are connected to one another, and the modules form multiple paths through which specimen racks outputted from one specimen output device are transported to multiple analysis devices. Each path is associated with a node signal indicating whether said path can be used for transportation, and a node signal sequence comprising multiple node signals of the paths is configured. In the specimen transportation system, the node signal sequence is transferred from the downstream side to the upstream side, and problems such as the detention of a specimen rank in the specimen transportation system are dealt with by using said node signal sequence.

Claims

The invention claimed is: 1. A specimen transport system, comprising: a plurality of modules are configured to form a plurality of paths for transporting a specimen from upstream to downstream; a microcomputer provided in each of the plurality of modules is configured to correlate a node signal indicating possibility/impossibility of transport in each of the path and forming a node signal array made of a plurality of the node signals for the plurality of paths; and an intermediate module among the plurality of modules is placed partway on each path, wherein the intermediate module is configured to transport a specimen which has been transported from the upstream side to the downstream side; the microcomputer of the intermediate module is configured to transmit the node signal array acquired from the downstream side to the upstream side; and configured to change, when the intermediate module becomes unable to transport, a node signal of a path including the intermediate module in the node signal array to be transmitted to transport impossible. 2. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the plurality of modules can be freely combined with each other, and adjacent modules are connected to each other to form the plurality of paths. 3. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the plurality of modules include a furthest upstream module placed at the furthest upstream side of each path, and the furthest upstream module has a function to request a specimen to be transported to each path to a device connected at the upstream side. 4. The specimen transport system according to claim 3 , wherein the furthest upstream module refers to the node signal array acquired from a downstream module connected at the downstream side, and requests, to the device at the upstream side, a specimen to be transported to a path for which the node signal indicates possibility of transport while avoiding a request of a specimen to be transported to a path for which the node signal indicates impossibility of transport. 5. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the plurality of modules include a furthest downstream module placed at a furthest downstream side of each path, and the furthest downstream module has a function to connect an analysis device of a specimen at the downstream side. 6. The specimen transport system according to claim 5 , wherein the furthest downstream module has a function to change, when an analysis device connected at the downstream side cannot accept a specimen, a node signal of a path to the analysis device via the lowermost-stream module unable to transport. 7. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the intermediate module includes a branch module in which a plurality of downstream modules can be connected at the downstream side, and the branch module has a function to select a downstream module according to a specimen to be transported, from among the plurality of downstream modules connected at the downstream side. 8. The specimen transport system according to claim 7 , wherein the branch module has a function to merge node signal arrays acquired from the plurality of downstream modules connected at the downstream side, and transmit the merged node signal array to the upstream side. 9. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the intermediate module includes a branch module in which a plurality of downstream modules can be connected at the downstream side, the branch module has a function to merge node signal arrays acquired from a plurality of downstream modules connected at the downstream side and transmit the merged node signal array to the upstream side, the plurality of modules include a furthest downstream module placed at a furthest downstream side of each path, and the furthest downstream module has a function to change, when an analysis device connected at the downstream side cannot accept a specimen, a node signal of a path to the analysis device via the lowermost-stream module to transport impossible. 10. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the plurality of modules include a furthest upstream module placed at a furthest upstream side of each path, the furthest upstream module has a function to refer to a node signal array acquired from a downstream module connected at the downstream side, and to request, to a device connected at the upstream side, a specimen to be transported to a path for which the node signal indicates possibility of transport, while avoiding requesting a specimen to be transported to a path for which the node signal indicates impossibility of transport, the intermediate module includes a branch module in which a plurality of downstream modules can be connected at a downstream side, and the branch module has a function to merge node signal arrays acquired from the plurality of downstream modules connected at the downstream side, and to transmit the merged node signal array to the upstream side. 11. The specimen transport system according to claim 10 , wherein the plurality of modules include a furthest downstream module placed at a furthest downstream side of each path, and the furthest downstream module has a function to change, when an analysis device connected at the downstream side cannot accept a specimen, a node signal of a path to the analysis device via the furthest downstream module to transport impossible. 12. The specimen transport system according to claim 1 , wherein the intermediate module comprises a unit that connects another module at each of the upstream side and the downstream side, a unit that transports a specimen which has been transported from the upstream side to the downstream side, and a unit that transmits a destination signal of a specimen acquired from the upstream side to the downstream side, and the plurality of modules can be freely combined with each other, adjacent modules are connected to each other to form the plurality of paths, and each module transports a specimen which has been transported from the upstream side to a downstream side corresponding to a destination signal of the specimen, to transport the specimen along a path corresponding to the destination signal. 13. The specimen transport system according to claim 12 , wherein the specimen is housed in a specimen rack, the intermediate module includes a branch module in which a plurality of downstream modules can be connected at the downstream side, and the intermediate module selects a downstream module corresponding to the destination signal correlated to the specimen rack which has been transported from the upstream side, and transports the specimen rack to the selected downstream module. 14. The specimen transport system according to claim 13 , wherein the branch module has a unit which rotates the specimen rack which has been transported from the upstream side, and selects a downstream module corresponding to the destination signal by rotating the specimen rack according to the destination signal correlated to the specimen rack. 15. The specimen transport system according to claim 14 , wherein for each of a plurality of paths formed by a free combination of the plurality of modules, a code which identifies the path is correlated, and the branch module comprises a unit that can freely set a rotational direction of the specimen rack for each code correlated to each of the plurality of paths according to the free combination of the plurality of modules including the branch module.
TECHNICAL FIELD The present invention relates to a specimen transport system. BACKGROUND ART A specimen transport system is a system that transports a specimen, for example, housed in a specimen rack, and transports the specimen rack housing the specimen obtained from a specimen pre-treatment device or the like to an analysis device for the specimen or the like. A plurality of analysis devices, for example, are connected to the specimen transport system, and the specimen transport system transports the specimen to an analysis device, among the plurality of analysis devices, identified according to the specimen, by suitably controlling, for example, a turn unit or the like which changes a transport path of the specimen (Patent Documents 1 and 2). In general, in a system such as a specimen transport system, a central control unit that controls and manages the overall system is provided. For example, a central control unit formed by a computer or the like controls a plurality of turn units or the like in the specimen transport system according to the specimen or the specimen rack, to transport the specimen or the specimen rack to an analysis device according to the specimen or the specimen rack. RELATED ART REFERENCES Patent Documents [Patent Document 1] JP 2007-315835 A [Patent Document 2] JP 2000-55924 A DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION Technical Problem In view of the above-described related art, the present inventors have conducted research and development toward a new system structure related to the specimen transport system. In particular, the present inventors have focused attention on a system structure that would significantly reduce the control by the central control unit, and desirably, that does not require the central control unit. The present invention has been made in the course of the research and the development as described above, and an advantage thereof is in that an improved system structure related to the specimen transport system is realized. Solution to Problem According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a specimen transport system comprising a plurality of modules, wherein a plurality of paths for transporting a specimen from upstream to downstream are formed by the plurality of modules, for each of the paths, a node signal indicating possibility/impossibility of transport in the path is correlated, and a node signal array made of a plurality of the node signals for the plurality of paths is formed, the plurality of modules include an intermediate module placed partway on each path, and the intermediate module has a function to transport a specimen which has been transported from the upstream side to the downstream side, a function to transmit the node signal array acquired from the downstream side to the upstream side, and a function to change, when the intermediate module becomes unable to transport, a node signal of a path including the intermediate module in the node signal array to be transmitted to transport impossible. The above-described specimen transport system includes a plurality of modules, and, in a constructed specimen transport system, for example, each module transports a specimen transported from the upstream side to the downstream side. Anode signal array is formed by node signals indicating possibility/impossibility of transport on the paths, and the node signal array is transmitted from the downstream side of the path to the upstream side. With the use of the node signal array, it is possible to check, for example, a path in which the transport is possible and a path in which the transport is not possible at a module or a device at the upstream side. Because of this, for example, the possibility/impossibility of the transport in each path can be checked while significantly reducing the control by a central control unit that manages the overall system, or, more desirably, while not requiring the central control unit. According to another aspect of the present invention, preferably, the plurality of modules can be freely combined with each other, and adjacent modules are connected to each other to form the plurality of paths. According to another aspect of the present invention, preferably, the plurality of modules include a furthest upstream module placed at the furthest upstream side of each path, and the furthest upstream module has a function to request a specimen to be transported to each path to a device connected at the upstream side. According to another aspect of the present invention, preferably, the furthest upstream module refers to the node signal array acquired from a downstream module connected at the downstream side, and requests, to the device at the upstream side, a specimen to be transported to a path for which the node signal indicates possibility of transport while avoiding a request of a specimen to be transported to a path for which the node signal indicates impossibility of transport. According to another aspect of the present invention, preferably, the plurality of modules include a furthest downstream module placed at a lowermost side of each path, and the furthest downstream modules has a function to connect an analysis device of a specimen at the downstream side. According to another aspect of the present invention, preferably, the furthest downstream module has a function to change, when the analysis device connected at the downstream side cannot accept a specimen, a node signal of a path to the analysis device via the furthest downstream module to transport impossible. Advantageous Effects of Invention According to various aspects of the present invention, an improved system structure related to the specimen transport system can be realized. For example, according to preferable configurations of the present invention, with the use of the node signal array formed by node signals indicating possibility/impossibility of transport in the paths, the possibility/impossibility of transport in each path can be checked while significantly reducing control by a central control unit that manages the overall system, or, desirably, while not requiring the central control unit. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a diagram showing an overall structure of a specimen transport system preferable in practicing the present invention. FIG. 2 is a diagram showing a first specific example configuration of setting and control of a turn module. FIG. 3 is a diagram showing a second specific example configuration of setting and control of a turn module. FIG. 4 is a diagram showing a structure of each module. FIG. 5 is a timing chart of signals exchanged between modules. FIG. 6 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration in which transport is possible in all modules. FIG. 7 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration in which transport at a connection module is not possible. FIG. 8 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration in which transport at a turn module is not possible. FIG. 9 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration in which transport at a straight-line module is not possible. BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION FIG. 1 is a diagram showing an overall structure of a specimen transport system 100 preferable in practicing the present invention. The specimen transport system 100 is a system that transports a specimen which is output from a specimen output device A such as a specimen pre-treatment device to a plurality of analysis devices E (E 1 ˜E 7 ). The specimen is housed in a container such as, for example, a test tube, one or more containers housing the specimens are housed in a specimen rack, and the specimen transport system 100 transports the specimen rack. The specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 is formed by a plurality of modules. In FIG. 1 , a “straight-line M” shows a straight-line module, a “turn M” shows a turn module, and a “connection M” shows a connection module. Thus, in the specific example configuration shown in FIG. 1 , the specimen transport system 100 includes straight-line modules B (B 1 ˜B 3 ), turn modules C (C 1 ˜C 3 ), and connection modules D (D 1 ˜D 7 ). The plurality of modules can be freely combined with each other, adjacent modules are structurally and communicatively connected to each other, and the plurality of modules form a plurality of paths to transport a specimen rack which is output from one specimen output device A to the plurality of analysis devices E (E 1 ˜E 7 ). The specimen transport system 100 shown in FIG. 1 is merely an example configuration of a combination of the plurality of modules, and alternatively, the specimen transport system 100 may be formed by a combination different from the example configuration of FIG. 1 . The straight-line module B is a module that moves the specimen rack which has been transported in from an upstream side in a straight line and transports the specimen rack out to a downstream side. For example, the straight-line module B 1 moves in a straight line the specimen rack which is output from the specimen output device A and transported to the straight-line module B 1 , and transports the specimen rack out to the turn module C 3 . The straight-line module B includes a conveyer of a straight line shape, and moves the specimen rack while placing the specimen rack on the straight-line-shaped conveyer. For example, a stopper of the specimen rack and a sensor for detecting presence/absence of the specimen rack are provided at an entrance (upstream side) of the conveyer, and a stopper and a sensor are provided, for example, also at an exit (downstream side) of the conveyer. The turn module C is a module that rotationally moves the specimen rack which is transported in from the upstream side, and transports the specimen rack out to a desired downstream side corresponding to the specimen rack. For example, the turn module C 3 rotationally moves a specimen rack which is transported in from the straight-line module B 1 to a rotational direction (directions 1 ˜ 3 ) corresponding to the specimen rack, and transports the specimen rack out to one of the connection module D 6 , the connection module D 7 , and the straight-line module B 2 . The turn module C includes a turntable, places the specimen rack which has been transported in from the upstream side on the turn table to rotationally move the specimen rack to a direction according to the specimen rack, and transports the specimen rack out to the downstream side corresponding to one of the directions 1 ˜ 3 . For example, a stopper of the specimen rack and a sensor that detects presence/absence of the specimen rack are provided at an entrance (upstream side) of the turntable, and a stopper and a sensor are provided, for example, also at an exit (downstream side) of the turntable. The connection module D is a module that transports the specimen rack which has been transported in from the upstream side out to the analysis device E at the downstream side. For example, the connection module D 6 transports the specimen rack which has been transported in from the direction 2 of the turn module C 3 to the analysis device E 6 . FIG. 1 shows, as a representative example of the plurality of modules, the straight-line modules B, the turn modules C, and the connection modules D. Alternatively, modules other than these modules may be provided as necessary. For example, a buffer module that temporarily retracts the transported specimen rack and that changes the order of transport of the specimen rack may be provided. Alternatively, straight-line modules having different lengths from each other or turn modules having a different number of directions from each other may be provided. Furthermore, as the branch module, in place of or in addition to the turn module, for example, a traverse transport module or an elevator transport module may be provided. The traverse transport module is a module that slides, within a horizontal plane, the specimen rack which has been transported in from the upstream side, and transports the specimen rack out to a desired downstream side corresponding to the specimen rack. The traverse transport module slides, for example, the specimen rack which has been transported in from the upstream side in the horizontal plane in a direction perpendicular to the transported direction of the specimen rack, and transports the specimen out to the desired downstream side. On the other hand, the elevator transport module is a module that moves the specimen rack which has been transported in from the upstream side in a vertical direction (up-and-down direction), and transports the specimen rack out to the desired downstream side corresponding to the specimen rack. Branch modules that can select a desired downstream side without rotating the specimen rack such as the traverse transport module and the elevator transport module may be used. Alternatively, a branch module may be used in which the rotation, the sliding in the horizontal plane, and the movement in the vertical direction of the specimen rack are suitably combined. The specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 transports the specimen rack based on a destination code signal correlated to each specimen rack, along a path indicated by the destination code signal. When transporting the specimen rack which has been transported in from the upstream side out to the downstream side, the modules of the specimen transport system 100 transmit the destination code signal correlated to the specimen rack to the downstream side along with the specimen rack. For example, the destination code signal is transmitted in parallel to the transporting of the specimen rack. In particular, the turn module C rotates the specimen rack in one of the directions 1 ˜ 3 according to the destination code signal which is transmitted along with the specimen rack, to select a downstream side corresponding to the destination code signal. The turn module C has a function which can freely set the rotational direction of the specimen rack for each code indicated by the destination code signal, according to a free combination of the plurality of modules including the turn module C. A setting of the rotational direction for the turn module C and control of the rotational direction in the turn module C will now be described. FIG. 2 is a diagram showing a first specific example configuration of the setting and control of the turn module. FIG. 2 shows a specific example configuration of the setting of the rotational direction for three turn modules C (C 1 ˜C 3 ) in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 and the control of the rotational direction in the turn modules C. The plurality of analysis devices E (E 1 ˜E 7 ) in FIG. 2 also correspond to the analysis devices E in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 . In FIG. 2 , the destination code signal is formed by 3 bits, and each code identified by the 3 bits is correlated to each of the analysis devices E. In other words, each code is correlated to the path to each analysis device E. For example, when the code is shown in the order of bit 2 , bit 1 , and bit 0 , a destination code signal (L, L, H) is correlated to the analysis device E 1 , and a destination code signal (L, H, L) is correlated to the analysis device E 2 . In the first specific example configuration of FIG. 2 , a plurality of direction switches (direction SWs) are provided for the turn modules C. The direction SWs SW 1 ˜SW 7 are correlated to the codes of the destination code signal. For example, SW 1 is correlated to the destination code signal (L, L, H), and SW 2 is correlated to the destination code signal (L, H, L). The direction SWs SW 1 ˜SW 7 are formed by setting bits of 2 bits for determining the rotational direction. The setting bits of each of the direction SWs are set, for example, according to a constructed system and by the system constructor who constructs the specimen transport system 100 ( FIG. 1 ) by freely combining the plurality of modules. With the setting bits of 2 bits in each direction SW, the rotational direction of the specimen rack corresponding to the direction SW is set. In the first specific example configuration of FIG. 2 , if the setting bits of the direction SW are shown in the order of bit 1 , and bit 0 , setting bits of (OFF, ON) indicate a rotational direction of 0 degree, setting bits of (ON, OFF) indicate a rotational direction of 90 degrees to the right, and setting bits of (ON, ON) indicate a rotational direction of 90 degrees to the left. The setting related to the direction SW of the turn module C shown in FIG. 2 corresponds to the transport paths in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 . Thus, the control of the turn module C in the first specific example configuration of FIG. 2 will be described with reference to FIG. 1 . For example, when a specimen rack to be analyzed by the analysis device E 1 is output from the specimen output device A, the straight-line module B 1 correlates a destination code signal of (L, L, H) to the specimen rack, transports the specimen rack to the turn module C 3 , and transmits the destination code signal (L, L, H) to the turn module C 3 . The turn module C 3 uses, of the plurality of direction SWs, setting bits of (OFF, ON) of SW 1 corresponding to the destination code signal (L, L, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 1 which is 0 degree, and the specimen rack is transported out to the straight-line module B 2 . The straight-line module B 2 transports the specimen rack which has been transported to the turn module C 2 , and transmits to the turn module C 2 the destination code signal (L, L, H) correlated to the specimen rack. The turn module C 2 uses, of the plurality of direction SWs, setting bits of (OFF, ON) of SW 1 corresponding to the destination code signal (L, L, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 1 which is 0 degree, and the specimen rack is transported out to the straight-line module B 3 . The straight-line module B 3 transports the specimen rack which has been transported to the turn module C 1 , and transmits to the turn module C 1 the destination code signal (L, L, H) correlated to the specimen rack. The turn module C 1 uses, of the plurality of direction SWs, setting bits of (OFF, ON) of SW 1 corresponding to the destination code signal (L, L, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 1 which is 0 degree, and the specimen rack is transported out to the connection module D 1 . The connection module D 1 transports to the analysis device E 1 the specimen rack which has been transported. In this manner, the specimen rack is transported from the straight-line module B 1 at the furthest upstream side to the connection module D 1 at the furthest downstream side along the path from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 1 , formed in the specimen transport system 100 . In addition, when, for example, a specimen rack to be analyzed by the analysis device E 6 is output from the specimen output device A, the straight-line module B 1 correlates a destination code signal of (H, H, L) to the specimen rack, transports the specimen rack out to the turn module C 3 , and transmits the destination code signal (H, H, L) to the turn module C 3 . The turn module C 3 uses, of the plurality of direction SWs, setting bits of (ON, OFF) of SW 6 corresponding to the destination code signal (H, H, L). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 2 which is 90 degrees to the right, and the specimen rack is transported out to the connection module D 6 . The connection module D 6 transports to the analysis device E 6 the specimen rack which has been transported. In this manner, the specimen rack is transported from the straight-line module B 1 at the furthest upstream side to the connection module D 6 at the furthest downstream side, along a path from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 6 , formed in the specimen transport system 100 . Because the turn modules C 2 and C 1 are not used for the path from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 6 , in the turn modules C 2 and C 1 , setting bits of SW 6 corresponding to the destination code signal (H, H, L) of the analysis device E 6 are set to (OFF, OFF), or to a non-set state. Specific example configurations of the control from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 1 and to the analysis device E 6 have been described. For other analysis devices E (E 2 ˜E 5 , E 7 ) also, the turn modules C are controlled according to the setting related to the direction SWs of the turn modules C shown in FIG. 2 , and the specimen rack is transported from the specimen output device A to a desired analysis device E. FIG. 3 is a diagram showing a second specific example configuration of the setting and control of the turn modules. FIG. 3 shows a specific example configuration of the setting of the rotational direction for the three turn modules C (C 1 ˜C 3 ) in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 , and the control of the rotational directions of the turn modules C. A plurality of analysis device E (E 1 ˜E 7 ) of FIG. 3 also correspond to the analysis devices E in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 . Similar to the first specific example configuration of FIG. 2 , in the second specific example configuration of FIG. 3 also, the destination code signal is formed with 3 bits, and codes identified by 3 bits are correlated to the analysis devices E. In other words, each code is correlated to the path to the corresponding analysis device E. In the second specific example configuration of FIG. 3 , dip switches (DPSW) of 3 rows from SW 1 to SW 3 are provided for the turn modules C. Each switch row (SW 1 ˜SW 3 ) is formed with a dip switch of 7 bits. Each bit (bit 1 ˜bit 7 ) of the dip switch is correlated to a respective code of the destination code signal. For example, the bit 1 of the dip switch is correlated to the destination code signal (L, L, H), and the bit 2 of the dip switch is correlated to the destination code signal (L, H, L). In the second specific example configuration of FIG. 3 , with a setting of the dip switches (DPSW) of 3 rows from SW 1 to SW 3 , the rotational directions of the specimen rack at the turn modules C are determined. The dip switch (DPSW) of 3 rows is set, for example, according to a constructed system and by a system constructor who constructs the specimen transport system 100 ( FIG. 1 ) by freely combining the plurality of modules. In the second specific example configuration of FIG. 3 , if the setting states of the dip switch are shown in the order of SW 1 , SW 2 , and SW 3 , a setting state of (ON, OFF, OFF) indicates a rotational direction of 0 degree, a setting state of (OFF, ON, OFF) indicates a rotational direction of 90 degrees to the right, and a setting state of (OFF, OFF, ON) indicates a rotational direction of 90 degrees to the left. The setting related to the dip switch for the turn modules C shown in FIG. 3 also corresponds to the transport paths in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 . Thus, a control of the turn modules C in the second specific example configuration of FIG. 3 will be described with reference to FIG. 1 . For example, when a specimen rack to be analyzed by the analysis device E 3 is output from the specimen output device A, the straight-line module B 1 correlates a destination code signal (L, H, H) to the specimen rack, transports the specimen rack out to the turn module C 3 , and transmits the destination code signal (L, H, H) to the turn module C 3 . The turn module C 3 uses, of the dip switch of 7 bits, a setting state of (ON, OFF, OFF) of the bit 3 corresponding to the destination code signal (L, H, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 1 which is 0 degree, and the specimen rack is transported out to the straight-line module B 2 . The straight-line module B 2 transports the specimen rack which has been transported to the turn module C 2 , and transmits to the turn module C 2 the destination code signal (L, H, H) correlated to the specimen rack. The turn module C 2 uses, of the dip switch of the 7 bits, a setting state of (ON, OFF, OFF) of the bit 3 corresponding to the destination code signal (L, H, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 1 which is 0 degree, and the specimen rack is transported out to the straight-line module B 3 . The straight-line module B 3 transports the specimen rack which has been transported to the turn module C 1 , and transmits to the turn module C 1 the destination code signal (L, H, H) correlated to the specimen rack. The turn module C 1 uses, of the dip switch of 7 bits, a setting state of (OFF, OFF, ON) of the bit 3 corresponding to the destination code signal (L, H, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 3 which is 90 degrees to the left, and the specimen rack is transported out to the connection module D 3 . The connection module D 3 transports the specimen rack which has been transported to the analysis device E 3 . In this manner, the specimen rack is transported from the straight-line module B 1 at the furthest upstream side to the connection module D 3 at the furthest downstream side, along a path from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 3 , formed in the specimen transport system 100 . In addition, for example, when a specimen rack to be analyzed by the analysis device E 7 is output from the specimen output device A, the straight-line module B 1 correlates a destination code signal of (H, H, H) to the specimen rack, transports the specimen rack out to the turn module C 3 , and transmits the destination code signal (H, H, H) to the turn module C 3 . The turn module C 3 uses, of the dip switch of the 7 bits, a setting state of (OFF, OFF, ON) of the bit 7 corresponding to the destination code signal (H, H, H). Thus, the rotational direction of the specimen rack is controlled to the direction 3 which is 90 degrees to the left, and the specimen rack is transported out to the connection module D 7 . The connection module D 7 transports to the analysis device E 7 the specimen rack which has been transported. In this manner, the specimen rack is transported from the straight-line module B 1 at the furthest upstream side to the connection module D 7 at the furthest downstream side along a path from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 7 , formed in the specimen transport system 100 . Because the turn modules C 2 and C 1 are not used in the path from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 7 , in the turn modules C 2 and C 1 , setting states of the bit 7 corresponding to the destination code signal (H, H, H) of the analysis device E 7 are set to (OFF, OFF, OFF), or to the non-set state. Specific example configurations of the controls from the specimen output device A to the analysis device E 3 and to the analysis device E 7 have been described. For the other analysis devices E (E 1 , E 2 , E 4 ˜E 6 ) also, the turn modules C are controlled according to the setting states related to the dip switch of the turn modules C shown in FIG. 3 , and the specimen rack is transported from the specimen output device A to a desired analysis device E. In the setting state of FIG. 3 , when the analysis device E 7 becomes non-usable due to, for example, failure or the like, the setting state of the bit 7 of the dip switch of the turn module C 3 may be changed from (OFF, OFF, ON) to (OFF, OFF, OFF). With such a process, in the turn module C 3 , the setting state of the bit 7 corresponding to the destination code signal (H, H, H) of the analysis device E 7 is set to (OFF, OFF, OFF) or to the non-set state, and a control is applied so that the specimen rack is not transported out to the analysis device E 7 . When the analysis device E 7 again becomes useable, the setting state of the bit 7 of the dip switch of the turn module C 3 may be returned to (OFF, OFF, ON). In this manner, the specimen rack which is output from the specimen output device A is transported to the analysis device E corresponding to the destination code signal. Next, a structure of each module used in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 will be described. FIG. 4 is a diagram showing a structure of each module. Each module has a connection unit for connecting another module or another device at an upstream side or a downstream side. Each module further has a rack transport unit 50 formed by, for example, a conveyer and a stopper, and transports the specimen rack which is transported from the upstream side to the downstream side. On an entrance (upstream side) of the conveyer which moves the specimen rack with the specimen rack placed thereon, a sensor 20 which detects presence/absence of the specimen rack is provided, and, for example, a sensor 20 is also provided on an exit (downstream side) of the conveyer. For example, based on a detection result of the sensors 20 , the presence/absence of the specimen rack in each module is checked. A controller 10 controls elements in each module. Because it is sufficient for the controller 10 to control only the elements in the module having the controller 10 , for example, the controller 10 can be realized using a microcomputer or the like of a relatively small scale, without using a CPU or the like of a relatively large scale equipped in a computer or the like. A setting state in the module or the like is displayed on a display 30 . The display 30 may be realized by a display device such as, for example, an LCD, or may alternatively be realized by a simple structure that shows the setting state of the direction SW ( FIG. 2 ) or the dip switch ( FIG. 3 ) with an LED or the like. An operation unit 40 accepts an operation of a user, in particular, a system constructor who constructs the specimen transport system. The operation unit 40 may be realized by a touch panel or the like along with the display 30 , or may alternatively be realized by a plurality of switches that switch ON/OFF of the direction SW ( FIG. 2 ) or the dip switch ( FIG. 3 ). A structure common to the modules has been described. In addition, according to the type of the module, for example, for a turn module, a rack rotating unit 60 formed with a turntable or the like for rotating the specimen rack is provided; for a buffer module, a rack retraction unit 70 for temporarily retracting the specimen rack to change the order of transport of the specimen rack is provided; and for the connection module, an analysis device connection unit 80 in which an analysis device is connected at the downstream side is provided. Moreover, each module exchanges various signals with an upstream module connected at the upstream side and a downstream module connected at the downstream side. For example, a rack request signal, a module state signal, and a node signal array are sent from the module to the upstream module, and from the downstream module to the module. In addition, the destination code signal and a rack send signal are transmitted from the upstream module to the module, and from the module to the downstream module. FIG. 5 is a timing chart of signals exchanged between the modules when the specimen rack is transferred. In the timing chart of FIG. 5 , various signals exchanged during transfer of the specimen rack between an upstream side module and a downstream side module which are connected to each other are shown. In other words, FIG. 5 shows the destination code signal, the rack send signal, the rack request signal, and the module state signal. These signals are all set to H (OFF) in, for example, an initialization process of the system immediately after the specimen transport system 100 ( FIG. 1 ) is powered on (ON). In the transfer of the specimen rack, first, the module state signal is referred to. The module state signal is a signal which indicates whether or not the module outputting the signal is in a state where the specimen rack can be accepted. The module state signal is set, for example, to H (OFF) when the specimen rack cannot be accepted, and to L (ON) when the specimen rack can be accepted. In the example configuration shown in FIG. 5 , the module state signal which is output from the downstream side module to the upstream side module is set to L (ON) at time T 1 . In other words, the example configuration shows that the downstream side module assumes a state where the module can accept the specimen rack at time T 1 . When the module state signal is set to L (ON), the upstream side module outputs a destination code signal correlated to the specimen rack. The destination code signal is formed by, for example, 3 bits, and each code identified with 3 bits is correlated to the respective analysis device E (refer to FIGS. 2 and 3 ). In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the destination code signal which is output from the upstream side module to the downstream side module is set to L (ON) at time T 2 . In other words, at least one bit of the destination code signal formed by 3 bits is set to L (ON) at time T 2 . When the destination code signal is set to L (ON), the downstream side module judges whether or not the module can accept a specimen rack corresponding to the destination code signal, and, when the module can accept the specimen rack, the rack request signal is set to L (ON). For example, the module judges whether or not the specimen rack can be accepted based on a node signal array to be described later in detail. In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the rack request signal which is output from the downstream side module to the upstream side module is set to L (ON) at time T 3 . When the upstream side module confirms that the rack request signal is set to L (ON), the upstream side module sets the rack send signal to L (ON). The rack send signal is a signal which indicates a timing of transporting out the specimen rack. In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the rack send signal which is output from the upstream side module to the downstream side module is set to L (ON) at time T 4 . The upstream side module starts transporting out the specimen rack by activating the rack transport unit at time T 4 , and the downstream side module also starts transporting in the specimen rack by activating the rack transport unit at time T 4 . In this manner, the transporting out and in of the specimen rack are started between the upstream side module and the downstream side module, and, when the transporting in of the specimen rack is completed at the downstream side module, the downstream side module completes the transport-in operation of the specimen rack, and sets the rack request signal to H (OFF). In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the rack request signal which is output from the downstream side module to the upstream side module is set to H (OFF) at time T 5 . When the upstream side module confirms that the rack request signal is set to H (OFF), the upstream side module completes the transport-out operation of the specimen rack, and sets the rack send signal to H (OFF) and all of the destination code signals to H (OFF). In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the rack send signal and the destination code signal which are output from the upstream side module to the downstream side module are set to H (OFF) at time T 6 . When the downstream side module confirms that the rack send signal is set to H (OFF), the downstream side module sets the module state signal to H (OFF). In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the module state signal which is output from the downstream side module to the upstream side module is set to H (OFF) at time T 7 . In other words, the timing chart shows a state in which the downstream side module cannot accept a next specimen rack at the time T 7 because the specimen rack is present in the downstream side module. When the specimen rack present in the downstream side module is transported out to the module at a further downstream side, the downstream side module which has completed transporting out the specimen rack assumes a state in which the next specimen rack can be accepted from the upstream side module, and thus, the module state signal is again set to L (ON). In the example configuration of FIG. 5 , the module state signal is set to L (ON) at time T 1 ( 2 ), the downstream side module becomes a state where the next specimen rack can be accepted, and the next specimen rack is transferred between the upstream side and downstream side modules. By sequentially transferring the specimen rack by the above-described exchange of the signals between the upstream side module and the downstream side module, a plurality of specimen racks are sequentially transported to the analysis devices E corresponding to the destination code signals of the specimen racks. Next, the node signal array used in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 will be described. The plurality of modules forming the specimen transport system 100 can be freely combined with each other, adjacent modules are structurally and communicatively connected to each other, and, with such a configuration, the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 , for example, is constructed. That is, a plurality of paths for transporting the specimen rack, which is output from one specimen output device A, to a plurality of analysis devices E (E 1 ˜E 7 ) are formed. For each path, a node signal indicating possibility/impossibility of transport at the path is correlated, and a node signal array is formed from a plurality of node signals for the plurality of paths. Each module of the specimen transport system 100 transmits, under the control of the controller 10 ( FIG. 4 ) of the module, the node signal array acquired from the downstream side to the upstream side, and changes, in the node signal array to be transmitted, the node signal of the path including the module to transport impossible when transport in that module becomes impossible. Using the node signal array, processes such as retention of the specimen rack in the specimen transport system 100 or the like are handled. FIGS. 6 ˜ 8 are diagrams for explaining the node signal array in the specimen transport system 100 of FIG. 1 and a specific example control using the node signal array. The specific example control will now be described based on FIGS. 6 and 8 , and with reference to FIG. 1 . FIG. 6 is a diagram showing a specific example control when all of the modules can transport. The node signal array is made of a plurality of nodes. Each node is correlated to each of the plurality of paths in the specimen transport system 100 . In the specific example control of FIG. 6 , a node 1 is correlated to a path to the analysis device E 1 ; that is, a path from the straight-line module B 1 at the furthest upstream side to the connection module D 1 at the furthest downstream side. A node 2 is correlated to a path to the analysis device E 2 ; that is, a path from the straight-line module B 1 at the furthest upstream side to the connection module D 2 at the furthest downstream side. Similarly, nodes 3 - 7 are correlated to the paths to the analysis devices E 3 ˜E 7 , respectively. In the specific example control of FIG. 6 , the node 8 is not being used. All of the nodes from node 1 to node 8 forming the node signal array are set to OFF, for example, in a system initialization process immediately after the specimen transport system 100 is powered on (ON). The node signal array is sequentially transmitted from the downstream side module to the upstream side module. For example, in the example configuration of FIGS. 6 and 1 , the connection module D 1 is a module at the furthest downstream side in the path of the node 1 corresponding to the analysis device E 1 , checks whether or not the analysis device E 1 connected at the downstream side can accept a specimen rack, and sets the node 1 corresponding to the analysis device E 1 to ON (transport possible) when the specimen rack can be accepted. In the example configuration of FIG. 6 , the node 1 is set to ON (transport possible) by the connection module D 1 . The connection module D 2 is a module at the furthest downstream side in the path of the node 2 corresponding to the analysis device E 2 , checks whether or not the analysis device E 2 can accept a specimen rack, and sets the node 2 corresponding to the analysis device E 2 to ON (transport possible) when the specimen rack can be accepted. In the example configuration of FIG. 6 , the node 2 is set to ON (transport possible) by the connection module D 2 . Similarly, the connection modules D 3 ˜D 7 check the states of the analysis devices E 3 ˜E 7 connected thereto, and set the corresponding node to ON (transport possible) when the specimen rack can be accepted. In the example configuration of FIG. 6 , all of the analysis devices E 1 ˜E 7 can accept the specimen rack, and each of the connection modules D 1 ˜D 7 sets the corresponding node of the node 1 ˜the node 7 to ON (transport possible). The node signal array is sequentially transmitted from the downstream side module to the upstream side module. For example, in the example configuration of FIGS. 6 and 1 , the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 are connected to the downstream side of the turn module C 1 . Because of this, the node signal array is transmitted from each of the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 to the turn module C 1 , and the turn module C 1 merges the node signal arrays acquired from the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 , and transmits the node signal array to the upstream side of the turn module C 1 . Specifically, in the example configuration of FIG. 6 , because each of the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 sets the corresponding node of the node 1 ˜the node 3 to ON, the turn module C 1 produces a node signal array setting all nodes of the node 1 the node 3 to ON, and transmits the produced node signal array to the straight-line module B 3 at the upstream side. The straight-line module B 3 transmits the node signal array transmitted from the turn module C 1 to the turn module C 2 at the upstream side. In the turn module C 2 , the connection modules D 4 and D 5 and the straight-line module B 3 are connected at the downstream side. Because of this, node signal arrays are transmitted from the connection modules D 4 and D 5 and the straight-line module B 3 to the turn module C 2 . The turn module C 2 merges the node signal arrays acquired from the connection modules D 4 and D 5 and the straight-line module B 3 , and transmits the node signal array to the upstream side of the turn module C 2 . Specifically, in the example configuration of FIG. 6 , the connection modules D 4 and D 5 set the corresponding nodes of the node 4 and node 5 to ON, and the node 1 ˜the node 3 are set to ON in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 3 . Because of this, the turn module C 2 produces a node signal array setting all nodes of the node 1 ˜the node 5 to ON, and transmits the produced node signal array to the straight-line module B 2 at the upstream side. The straight-line module B 2 transmits the node signal array transmitted from the turn module C 2 to the turn module C 3 at the upstream side. In the turn module C 3 , the connection modules D 6 and D 7 and the straight-line module B 2 are connected at the downstream side. Because of this, node signal arrays are transmitted from the connection modules D 6 and D 7 and the straight-line module B 2 to the turn module C 3 . The turn module C 3 merges the node signal arrays acquired from the connection modules D 6 and D 7 and the straight-line module B 2 , and transmits the node signal array to the upstream side of the turn module C 3 . Specifically, in the example configuration of FIG. 6 , the connection modules D 6 and D 7 set the corresponding node of the node 6 and the node 7 to ON, and the node 1 ˜the node 5 are set to ON in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 2 . Because of this, the turn module C 3 produces a node signal array setting all node of the node 1 ˜the node 7 to ON, and transmits the produced node signal array to the straight-line module B 1 at the upstream side. The straight-line module B 1 placed at the furthest upstream side requests, to the specimen output device A connected at the upstream side, a specimen rack to be transported to each path while referring to the node signal array transmitted from the downstream side. The straight-line module B 1 requests a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to ON (transport possible) in the node signal array while avoiding a request of a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to OFF (transport impossible) in the node signal array. Specifically, in the example configuration of FIG. 6 , all paths of the node 1 ˜the node 7 are set to ON (transport possible), and all of the analysis devices E 1 ˜E 7 can accept a specimen rack. Therefore, the straight-line module B 1 can request to the specimen output device A a specimen rack related to all paths of the node 1 ˜the node 7 . FIG. 7 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration where the connection module cannot transport. FIG. 7 shows a specific example configuration where a state of transport impossibility has occurred in the connection module D 3 from the state where all of the modules can transport ( FIG. 6 ). In the example configuration of FIG. 6 described above, the connection module D 3 checks the state of the analysis device E 3 connected at the downstream side, and has set the node 3 to ON (transport possible) because the analysis device E 3 can accept the specimen rack. However, when, for example, analysis is being executed in the analysis device E 3 for the specimen rack which is already transported and the next specimen rack cannot be accepted, or when there is some kind of trouble in the analysis device E 3 and the specimen rack cannot be accepted, as shown in FIG. 7 , the connection module D 3 sets the node 3 to OFF (transport impossible). When there is some kind of trouble in the connection module D 3 itself and the specimen rack cannot be accepted also, the connection module D 3 sets the node 3 to OFF (transport impossible). When the node 3 is set to OFF in the node signal array acquired from the connection module D 3 , in the turn module C 1 which merges the node signal arrays of the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 also, the node 3 is set to OFF, and the node signal array merged at the turn module C 1 is transmitted to the turn module C 2 via the straight-line module B 3 . When the node 3 is set to OFF in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 3 , in the turn module C 2 which merges the node signal arrays from the straight-line module B 3 and the connection modules D 4 and D 5 also, the node 3 is set to OFF, and a node signal array merged at the turn module C 2 is transmitted to the turn module C 3 via the straight-line module B 2 . When the node 3 is set to OFF in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 2 , in the turn module C 3 that merges the node signal arrays from the straight-line module B 2 and the connection modules D 6 and D 7 also, the node 3 is set to OFF, and a node signal array merged at the turn module C 3 is transmitted to the straight line module B 1 . The straight-line module B 1 placed at the furthest upstream side requests, to the specimen output device A which is connected at the upstream side, a specimen rack to be transported to each path while referring to the node signal array transmitted from the downstream side. The straight-line module B 1 requests a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to ON (transport possible) in the node signal array, while avoiding a request of a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to OFF (transport impossible) in the node signal array. In the example configuration of FIG. 7 , because the path of the node 3 is set to OFF, the straight-line module B 1 requests specimen racks related to paths of nodes which are set to ON, while avoiding a request of a specimen rack related to the path of the node 3 . The specimen rack for which the request is avoided is temporarily put to hold, for example, in the specimen output device A. When the specimen transport system 100 is transporting a specimen rack of the node 3 at the time when the path of the node 3 is set to OFF, the specimen rack is transported to a location to which the specimen rack can be transported; for example, to the connection module D 3 . In other words, by configuring the system such that the specimen rack is, as much as possible, not retained at the upstream side of the specimen transport system 100 , it becomes possible to secure paths to the analysis devices E 1 , E 2 , and E 4 ˜E 7 . FIG. 8 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration where the turn module cannot transport. FIG. 8 shows a specific example configuration where a state of transport impossibility has occurred in the turn module C 1 from the state where all of the modules can transport ( FIG. 6 ). In the example configuration of FIG. 6 described above, the turn module C 1 has produced a node signal array in which all nodes of the node 1 ˜the node 3 are set to ON because the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 at the downstream side have set the corresponding nodes of the node 1 ˜the node 3 to ON. However, when, for example, some kind of trouble has occurred in the turn module C 1 and the turn module C 1 assumes a state in which the specimen rack cannot be accepted, the turn module C 1 sets all nodes of the paths including the turn module C 1 to OFF. Specifically, as shown in FIG. 8 , the turn module C 1 sets all of the node 1 ˜the node 3 corresponding to the paths to the connection modules D 1 ˜D 3 (analysis devices E 1 ˜E 3 ) in which the turn module C 1 is involved to OFF (transport impossible). The node signal array merged at the turn module C 1 is transmitted to the turn module C 2 via the straight-line module B 3 . When the node 1 ˜the node 3 in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 3 are set to OFF, in the turn module C 2 which merges the node signal arrays from the straight-line module B 3 and the connection modules D 4 and D 5 also, the node 1 the node 3 are set to OFF, and a node signal array merged at the turn module C 2 is transmitted to the turn module C 3 via the straight-line module B 2 . When the node 1 ˜the node 3 are set to OFF in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 2 , in the turn module C 3 which merges the node signal arrays from the straight-line module B 2 and the connection modules D 6 and D 7 also, the node 1 ˜the node 3 are set to OFF, and a node signal array merged at the turn module C 3 is transmitted to the straight-line module B 1 . The straight-line module B 1 which is placed at the furthest upstream side requests, to the specimen output device A which is connected at the upstream side, a specimen rack to be transported to each path while referring to the node signal array transmitted from the downstream side. The straight-line module B 1 requests a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to ON in the node signal array while avoiding a request of a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to OFF in the node signal array. In the example configuration of FIG. 8 , because the paths of the node 1 ˜the node 3 are set to OFF, the straight-line module B 1 requests a specimen rack related to a path of a node which is set to ON while avoiding a request of specimen racks related to the paths of the node 1 ˜the node 3 . The specimen rack for which the request is avoided is, for example, temporarily put to hold in the specimen output device A. When the specimen transport system 100 is transporting a specimen rack of the node 1 ˜the node 3 at the time when the paths of the node 1 ˜the node 3 are set to OFF, the specimen rack is transported to a location where the transport is possible; for example, to the straight-line module B 3 . In other words, by employing a configuration so that, as much as possible, the specimen rack is not retained in the upstream side of the specimen transport system 100 , it becomes possible to secure paths to the analysis devices E 4 ˜E 7 . FIG. 9 is a diagram showing a specific example configuration where the straight-line module cannot transport. FIG. 9 shows a specific example configuration where a state of transport impossibility has occurred in the straight-line module B 2 from the state where all of the modules can transport ( FIG. 6 ). In the example configuration of FIG. 6 described above, the straight-line module B 2 has acquired the node signal array setting all of the node 1 ˜the node 5 to ON, from the turn module C 2 at the downstream side. However, when, for example, some kind of trouble occurs in the straight-line module B 2 and the specimen rack cannot be accepted, the straight-line module B 2 sets all nodes of the paths including the straight-line module B 2 itself to OFF. Specifically, as shown in FIG. 9 , the straight-line module B 2 sets all of the node 1 ˜the node 5 corresponding to the paths to the connection modules D 1 ˜D 5 (analysis devices E 1 ˜E 5 ) in which the straight-line module B 2 is involved to OFF (transport impossible). The node signal array changed at the straight-line module B 2 is transmitted to the turn module C 3 . When the node 1 ˜the node 5 are set to OFF in the node signal array acquired from the straight-line module B 2 , in the turn module C 3 which merges the node signal arrays from the straight-line module B 2 and the connection modules D 6 and D 7 also, the node 1 ˜the node 5 are set to OFF, and a node signal array merged at the turn module C 3 is transmitted to the straight-line module B 1 . The straight-line module B 1 which is placed at the furthest upstream side requests, to the specimen output device A connected at the upstream side, a specimen rack to be transported to each path while referring to the node signal array transmitted from the downstream side. The straight-line module B 1 requests a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to ON in the node signal array while avoiding a request of a specimen rack to be transported to a path corresponding to a node which is set to OFF in the node signal array. In the example configuration of FIG. 9 , because the paths of the node 1 ˜the node 5 are set to OFF, the straight-line module B 1 requests a specimen rack related to a path of the node which is set to ON while avoiding a request of a specimen rack related to the paths of the node 1 ˜the node 5 . The specimen rack for which the request is avoided is, for example, temporarily put to a hold in the specimen output device A. When the specimen transport system 100 is transporting a specimen rack for the node 1 ˜the node 5 at the time when the paths of the node 1 ˜the node 5 are set to OFF, the specimen rack is transported to a location where the transport is possible, and a configuration is employed in which, as much as possible, the specimen rack is not retained at the upstream side of the specimen transport system 100 . A preferable configuration of the present invention has been described. However, the above-described embodiment is merely a simple exemplification in all points of view, and does not limit the scope of the present invention. Various modified configurations are included in the present invention within the scope and spirit of the present invention. EXPLANATION OF REFERENCE NUMERALS B STRAIGHT-LINE MODULE; C TURN MODULE; D CONNECTION MODULE; 100 SPECIMEN TRANSPORT SYSTEM

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