Title:
Reusable inflatable shipping packing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A reusable inflatable shipping packing system for securing cargo for shipment. The system may include a flexible, inflatable chamber formed by at least one outer wall and positioned in a shipping container around a piece of cargo. The shipping container may have at least one side surface, a bottom surface, and a lid capable of being opened for receiving the piece of cargo. The flexible, inflatable chamber may include a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into the flexible, inflatable chamber. In one embodiment, air may be used to fill the flexible, inflatable chamber to fill the voids between a piece of cargo to be shipped and the surrounding shipping container into which the piece of cargo is placed to prevent damage of the piece of cargo during shipping.



Inventors:
Chiozza, Mary C. (Orlando, FL, US)
Finch, Darlyn L. (Orlando, FL, US)
Nemeth, Cristi S. (Orlando, FL, US)
Peronto, Christina L. (Oviedo, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/589000
Publication Date:
05/01/2008
Filing Date:
10/27/2006
Assignee:
Siemens Power Generation, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DESAI, KAUSHIKKUMAR A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Siemens Corporation;Intellectual Property Department (170 Wood Avenue South, Iselin, NJ, 08830, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A reusable inflatable shipping packing system, comprising: a flexible, inflatable chamber formed by at least one outer wall; a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into the flexible, inflatable chamber; wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber is attached to at least one support structure for confining a piece of cargo.

2. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 1, wherein the at least one support structure is a divider configured to be positioned in a shipping container.

3. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 1, wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber formed by at least one outer wall comprises at least one side wall larger than two opposing end walls such that side walls of the flexible, inflatable chamber are greater in size than the end walls.

4. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 3, wherein the at least one side wall forms at least one generally planar surface that may be wrapped around the piece of cargo.

5. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 4, wherein the at least one side wall forms two generally planar surfaces that are generally parallel to each other such that the reusable inflatable shipping packing system is capable of being wrapped around the piece of cargo.

6. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 4, further comprising a shipping container having at least one side surface, a bottom surface, and a lid capable of being opened for receiving the piece of cargo, wherein the at least one support structure is positioned within the shipping container.

7. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 6, wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber is attached to an inner side surface of the shipping container.

8. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 6, wherein the at least one support structure forms a plurality of cargo receiving chambers, and the flexible, inflatable chamber comprises at least one flexible, inflatable chamber positioned in each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers.

9. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 8, wherein the at least one flexible, inflatable chamber positioned in each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers is attached to the at least one support structure.

10. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 8, wherein each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers includes a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into each flexible, inflatable chamber.

11. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 1, wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber is formed from a plastic.

12. A reusable inflatable shipping packing system, comprising: a shipping container having at least one side surface, a bottom surface, and a lid capable of being opened for receiving the piece of cargo, wherein the at least one support structure is positioned within the shipping container; a flexible, inflatable chamber formed by at least one outer wall and positioned in the shipping container; and a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into the flexible, inflatable chamber.

13. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 12, further comprising at least one support structure positioned in the shipping container and forming a plurality of cargo receiving chambers, and wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber comprises at least one flexible, inflatable chamber positioned in each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers.

14. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 13, wherein the at least one flexible, inflatable chamber positioned in each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers is attached to the at least one support structure forming the at least one flexible, inflatable chamber.

15. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 13, wherein each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers includes a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into each flexible, inflatable chamber.

16. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 12, wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber formed by at least one outer wall comprises at least one side wall larger than two opposing end walls such that side walls of the flexible, inflatable chamber are greater in size than the end walls.

17. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 16, wherein the at least one side wall forms at least one generally planar surface capable of being wrapped around the piece of cargo.

18. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 17, wherein the at least one side wall forms two generally planar surfaces that are generally parallel to each other such that the reusable inflatable shipping packing system is capable of being wrapped around the piece of cargo and one of the two generally planar surfaces is attached to an inner side surface of the shipping container.

19. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 12, wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber is attached to an inner side surface of the shipping container.

20. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system of claim 12, wherein the flexible, inflatable chamber is formed from a plastic.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed generally to shipping systems, and more particularly to reusable shipping systems for shipment of cargo.

BACKGROUND

Shipping containers are often sized slightly larger than a cargo item that is to be shipped within the container so that the cargo item may be protected and its movement limited. Often times shipping containers include dividers and other devices configured to limit the movement of the cargo during transit. Dividers have often been sized differently to accommodate differently sized shipping containers and cargo items. However, dividers and other devices are often not easily adapted to secure different sized cargo items. As a result, many cargo pieces are shipped without adequate support and are damaged during transit. Thus, a need exists for a system of securing cargo items to shipping containers to reduce the likelihood that cargo items will be damaged during transit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a reusable inflatable shipping packing system configured to support pieces of cargo during shipment to reduce the likelihood of damage. In one embodiment, the reusable inflatable shipping packing system may be configured to support turbine engine components. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system may include a flexible, inflatable chamber formed by at least one outer wall. The flexible, inflatable chamber may include a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids, such as, but not limited to air, to be filled into the flexible, inflatable chamber. The flexible, inflatable chamber may be used to fill the voids between the piece of cargo to be shipped and the surrounding shipping container into which the piece of cargo is placed.

The flexible, inflatable chamber may be formed by one or more outer walls formed from one or more side walls larger than two opposing end walls such that side walls of the flexible, inflatable chamber are greater in size than the end walls. The side wall may form one or more generally planar surfaces that may be wrapped around the piece of cargo. The side wall may form two generally planar surfaces that are generally parallel to each other such that the reusable inflatable shipping packing system is capable of being wrapped around the piece of cargo. The flexible, inflatable chamber may include one or more fittings attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into or removed from the flexible, inflatable chamber.

The reusable inflatable shipping packing system may also include a shipping container. The shipping container may be any device capable of securing a cargo item during shipping. In at least one embodiment, the shipping container may have one or more side surfaces, a bottom surface, and a lid capable of being opened for receiving the piece of cargo, wherein the at least one support structure is positioned within the shipping container. The flexible, inflatable chamber may or may not be attached to at least one support structure for confining a piece of cargo. The flexible, inflatable chamber may or may not be attached to an inner side surface of the shipping container. The support structure may form a plurality of cargo receiving chambers, and one or more flexible, inflatable chambers may be positioned in one or more or in each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers. The flexible, inflatable chamber positioned in each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers may be attached to the support structure. Each of the plurality of cargo receiving chambers may include a fitting attached to the outer wall of the flexible, inflatable chamber permitting fluids to be filled into each flexible, inflatable chamber. In at least one embodiment, the support structure may be a divider configured to be positioned in a shipping container.

An advantage of this invention is that the flexible, inflatable chamber may be used to robustly secure a piece of cargo to be shipped in an expeditious manner.

Another advantage of this invention is that the flexible, inflatable chamber may be used with a variety of differently sized pieces of cargo, such as turbine engine components, with little, if any changes necessary and is cost efficient and adaptable.

Yet another advantage of this invention is that the flexible, inflatable chamber reduces the likelihood that a piece of cargo will be damaged during shipping.

These and other embodiments are described in more detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the presently disclosed invention and, together with the description, disclose the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a flexible, inflatable chamber of the reusable inflatable shipping packing system having features according to the instant invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a flexible, inflatable chamber positioned inside a shipping container of the reusable inflatable shipping packing system having features according to the instant invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a flexible, inflatable chamber positioned inside a shipping container of the reusable inflatable shipping packing system with the inflatable chamber inflated around a piece of cargo positioned in the flexible, inflatable chamber.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a flexible, inflatable chamber of the reusable inflatable shipping packing system attached to a support structure of the instant invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, this invention is directed to a reusable inflatable shipping packing system 10 configured to support pieces of cargo 12 during shipment to reduce the likelihood of damage. The reusable inflatable shipping packing system 10 may include a flexible, inflatable chamber 14 formed by at least one outer wall 16. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may include a fitting 18 attached to the outer wall 16 of the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 permitting fluids, such as, but not limited to air, to be filled into the flexible, inflatable chamber 14. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be used to fill the voids between the piece of cargo 12 to be shipped and the surrounding shipping container 20 into which the piece of cargo 12 is placed. The cargo 12 may be turbine engine components or other items needing to be shipped.

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be formed from a flexible material enabling the chamber 14 capable of being wrapped around the piece of cargo 12. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be wrapped around one or more pieces of cargo 12 together. As shown in FIG. 1, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be formed from one or more outer walls 16. In one embodiment, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be formed from a single outer wall 16 forming a single side. In another embodiment, the outer wall 16 may include one or more side walls 22 that are larger than two opposing end walls 24 such that side walls 22 of the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 are greater than the end walls 24, thereby permitting the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 to be wrapped around a piece of cargo 12. In one embodiment, the reusable inflatable shipping packing system 10 may include two sides that may be generally parallel to each other. The side walls 22 may form one or more generally planar surfaces that may be wrapped around the piece of cargo 12.

In at least one embodiment, the side walls 22 may form two generally planar surfaces 26, 28 that are generally parallel such that the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be wrapped around the piece of cargo 12. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be formed from one or more end walls 24. In one embodiment, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may include a single endwall that separates two side walls 22. In other embodiments, multiple end walls 24 may be used depending on the configuration of the side walls 22. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be formed from materials such as, but not limited to, plastics, such as polyethylene, and other appropriate plastics and materials. The thickness of the material may vary based on the application. For instance, thicker material may be used for heavier pieces of cargo 12 or in harsh conditions that necessitate such durability.

The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may or may not be attached to the shipping container 20 or other support structure 30, such as a divider 32. For instance, in one embodiment, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may not be attached to the shipping container 20. Rather, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be inserted in the void 34 between the piece of cargo 12 and inner surfaces 36 of the shipping container 20. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be held in place by inflating the flexible, inflatable chamber 14.

In another embodiment, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be attached to the shipping container 20 or a support structure 30, or both. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be attached to the shipping container 20 or support structure 30 with an adhesive or other appropriate material depending on the application. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be attached such that the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 forms a cargo receiving chamber 38 into which a piece of cargo 12 may be inserted. In at least one embodiment, the shipping container 20 may include a plurality of cargo receiving chambers 38. One or more of the cargo receiving chambers 38 may include a flexible, inflatable chamber 14. In one embodiment, the each of the cargo receiving chambers 38 may include a flexible, inflatable chamber 14.

The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may also include a fitting 18 for enabling fluids to be inserted into and withdrawn from the flexible, inflatable chamber 14. The fitting 18 may be any appropriate device, such as, but not limited to, a quick connect valve, a check valve, such as a tire valve, and other appropriate devices. The fitting 18 may be positioned on the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 such that the fitting 18 may be easily accessed once a piece of cargo 12 is positioned in the cargo receiving cavity 38. For instance, the fitting 18 may be positioned on an upper portion 40 of the flexible, inflatable chamber 14.

The reusable inflatable shipping packing system 10 may also include a shipping container 20. The shipping container 20 may be any appropriate device. In at least one embodiment, the shipping container 20 may have one or more side surfaces 42, a bottom surface 44, and a lid 46 capable of being opened for receiving the piece of cargo 12. In at least one embodiment, the shipping container may be a conventional reusable plastic container (RPC). The shipping container 20 may include one or more support structures 30. The support structures 30 may be configured in various configurations based on the piece of cargo 12 to be shipped. The support structures 30, such as dividers 32, may or may not be attached to the shipping container 20. The shipping container 20 and the support structures 30 may be formed from cardboard, plastic, metals, wood and other appropriate materials.

During use, a piece of cargo may be placed into a cargo receiving cavity 38. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be inflated by attaching a fluid source, such as a hose attached to an air compressor, to the fitting 18. The fitting 18 may be opened to allow air, another gas or fluid, to fill the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 to support the piece of cargo 12 in the cargo receiving cavity. The piece of cargo 12 may be removed by deflating the flexible, inflatable chamber 14. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be deflated using the fitting 18 or by puncturing the flexible, inflatable chamber 14.

In another embodiment, the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be wrapped around the piece of cargo 12 before the piece of cargo 12 is placed into the cargo receiving cavity 38. The piece of cargo 12 may be placed into the cargo receiving cavity 38, and the flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be inflated using the fitting 18 as previously described. The flexible, inflatable chamber 14 may be inflated to protect the piece of cargo 12.

The foregoing is provided for purposes of illustrating, explaining, and describing embodiments of this invention. Modifications and adaptations to these embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art and may be made without departing from the scope or spirit of this invention.