Title:
Fixture for Hand-Packing of Cartons
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus is disclosed for use in packing containers into a carton, the apparatus including a base defining a support surface having a width substantially equal to the width of the carton bottom wall, a longitudinal stop disposed at an end edge of the support surface, a lateral stop disposed at a side edge of the support surface, and a corner edge stop. A corner edge stop support connects the corner edge stop to the base and positions the corner edge stop such that the distance between the corner edge stop and the support surface is substantially equal to the carton side wall widths.



Inventors:
Hunter, Johnny J. (Canton, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/759702
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
06/07/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/117.03
International Classes:
B65B67/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TRUONG, THANH K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTROCK COMPANY (ATTN: IP LAW GROUP - PATENTS 501 South 5th Street, 3rd Floor, Richmond, VA, 23219-0501, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for use in packing containers into a carton, the carton including at least first and second carton walls connected along a fold line, said carton walls each having a wall width and a wall length, the apparatus comprising: a base defining a support surface having first and second side edges defining therebetween a base width substantially equal to said first wall width, and first and second end edges defining therebetween a base length; a longitudinal stop disposed at a first end edge of said support surface; a lateral stop disposed at said first side edge of said support surface; a corner edge stop; and a corner edge stop support connecting said corner edge stop to said base and positioning said corner edge stop such that the distance between said corner edge stop and said support surface is substantially equal to said second wall width.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said longitudinal stop is a plate projecting upwardly from said base.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said lateral stop is a finger projecting upwardly from said base.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said corner edge stop support is a plate projecting upwardly from said, base at said second edge of said support surface, and said corner edge stop is defined as a lip formed on said plate.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said base length is substantially equal to said first wall length.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said support surface is named so as to be free of projections between said first and second side edges and said first and second end edges, so that the carton may be slidingly moved in a longitudinal direction along said support surface.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a handle defined in said base.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a tape dispenser attached to said base.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said tape dispenser is attached to the underside of said base.

10. A method of packing containers into a carton using an apparatus, the carton including at least first and second carton walls connected along a fold line, said carton walls each having a wall width and a wall length, and the apparatus including: a base defining a support surface having first and second side edges defining therebetween a base width substantially equal to said first wall width, and first and second end edges defining therebetween a base length; a lateral stop disposed at said first side edge of said support surface; a corner edge stop; and a corner edge stop support connecting said corner edge stop to said base at said second edge of said support surface and positioning said corner edge stop such that the distance between said corner edge stop and said support surface is substantially equal to said second wall width; the method comprising the steps of: placing said carton in an at least partially collapsed condition with said first carton wall on said support surface with said fold line positioned at said second edge; engaging said first carton wall against said lateral stop; erecting said carton into a tubular form by positioning said second carton wall against said corner edge stop support; engaging said second carton wall against said corner edge stop; and placing containers into said carton.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said carton further includes first and second end closure flaps located respectively at first and second ends of said carton, the method comprising the further steps of: closing said first end closure flaps; and closing said second end closure flaps.

12. The method of chum 11, wherein said apparatus further includes a longitudinal stop disposed at a first end edge of said support surface; and closing said first end closure flaps is performed by folding said first end closure flaps into a closed position, sealing said first end closure flaps in the closed position, and longitudinally sliding said carton along said support surface to position said first end closure flaps against said longitudinal stop.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein, closing said second end closure flaps is performed by folding said second end closure flaps into a closed position, applying an adhesive to said second end closure flaps in the closed position, positioning said apparatus and carton in an upright position with said second end closure flaps uppermost, and placing a weight on said second end closure flaps until said adhesive is secure.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Beverage containers are typically shipped and sold in various carrier means. Historically beverage containers have been placed in open wooden crates holding a dozen or more containers, in open cardboard boxes typically carrying six containers, and in plastic ring structures typically carrying six containers by attachment to the top of the containers with the lower part of the containers exposed.

More recently it has become common to fully enclose beverage containers in paperboard cartons holding six, eight, twelve, or more containers. In some cases such cartons are packed by machinery, white in other eases, packing may be done by hand. The paperboard cartons are typically provided in the form of collapsed cartons that are erected into rectangular tubular shapes, packed with containers, then sealed shut.

While cartons am typically packed using high-speed packaging machinery, it may be desirable to pack the cartons by band, for example, for producing a small number of packages for promotional or other special purposes, or for preparing packed cartons for use in testing or research. It can be cumbersome to hand-pack a tubular paperboard carton, as the carton may tend to fall back to its collapsed state, or take a somewhat skewed shape, or move about as the manual packing process takes place.

The present invention provides an apparatus for use in packing containers into a canon, the carton including at least first and second carton walls connected along a fold line, the carton walls each having a wall width and a wall, length. The apparatus includes a base defining a support surface having first and second sine edges defining therebetween a base width substantially equal to the first wall width, and first and second end edges defining therebetween a base length. A longitudinal stop is disposed at a first end edge of the support surface, and a lateral stop is disposed at the first side edge of the support surface. A corner edge stop is provided, and a corner edge stop support connects the corner edge stop to the base and positions the corner edge stop such that the distance between the corner edge stop and the support surface is substantially equal to the second wall width.

The longitudinal stop may be a plate projecting upwardly front die base, and the lateral stop may be a finger projecting upwardly from the base. The corner edge stop support may be a plate projecting upwardly from the base at the second edge of the support surface, and the corner edge stop may be defined as a lip formed on the plate.

The base length may be substantially equal to the first wall length.

The support surface may be formed so as to be free of projections between the first and second side edges and the first and second end edges, so that the carton may he slidingly moved in a longitudinal direction along the support surface.

The apparatus may further include comprising a handle defined in the base, and may further include a tape dispenser attached to the base. The tape dispenser may be attached to the underside of the base.

The present invention also provides a method of packing containers into a carton using an apparatus, the carton including at least first and second carton walls connected along a fold line, the carton, walls each having a wall width and a wall length. The apparatus includes a base defining a support surface having first and second side edges defining therebetween a base width substantially equal to the first wall width, and first and second end edges defining therebetween a base length. A lateral stop is disposed at the first side edge of the support surface, and a corner edge stop is connected to a corner edge stop support connecting the corner edge stop to the base at the second edge of the support surface and positioning the corner edge stop such that the distance between the corner edge stop and the support surface is substantially equal to the second wall width.

The method includes the steps of placing the carton in an at least partially collapsed condition with the first carton wall on the support surface with the fold line positioned at the second edge, engaging the first canon wall against the lateral stop, erecting the carton into a tubular form by positioning the second carton wall, against the corner edge stop support, engaging the second carton wall against the corner edge stop, and placing containers into the carton.

The carton may further include first and second end closure flaps located respectively at first and second ends of the carton, with the method including the further steps of closing the first end closure flaps, and closing the second end closure flaps.

The apparatus may further include a longitudinal stop disposed at a first end edge of the support surface, and closing of the first end closure flaps maybe performed by folding the first end closure flaps into a closed position, sealing the first end closure flaps in the closed position, and longitudinally sliding the carton along the support surface to position said first end closure flaps against said longitudinal stop.

The method may include the step of closing the second end closure flaps by folding the second end closure flaps into a closed position, applying an adhesive to the second end closure flaps in the closed position, positioning the apparatus and carton in an upright position with the second end closure flaps uppermost, and placing a weight on the second end closure flaps until the adhesive is secure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 Illustrates a fixture for holding cartons, and a collapsed carton blank;

FIG. 2 illustrates an erected carton blank being moved to the fixture;

FIG. 3 illustrates an erected carton blank being placed on the fixture;

FIG. 4 Illustrates an erected carton blank being held by the fixture;

FIG. 5 illustrates a step in closing a first end of the carton;

FIG. 6 illustrates the first end of the carton now closed;

FIG. 7 illustrates a step of packing a container into the carton;

FIG. 8 illustrates a step of closing a second end of the carton;

FIG. 9 illustrates a farther step of closing a second end of the carton; and

FIG. 10 illustrates a bottom view of the fixture with a closed carton in place.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a nature 100 for holding cartons, and a collapsed tubular carton 500. The fixture has a base 110 that defines a substantially planar support surface, with an optional fixture handle 115, at least one lateral stop 120 located along a side of the base, a longitudinal stop 130 located at an end of the base, and a corner edge stop 145, for example supported by corner edge stop support plate 140. In this case, the corner edge stop 145 is provided as a lip or bend in the corner edge stop support plate 140. However, the corner edge stop or lip instead of being a bend in this plate could be provided as a separate piece attached to the support plate. In this sense “lip” or “corner edge stop” describes any means that may retain a corner edge of the carton when the carton is in or on the fixture. In the example, the base 110 may be a molded plastic, and the lateral stop 120 may he a molded projection or linger attached to base 110. The longitudinal stop 130 and the corner edge stop support plate 140 may be sheet metal parts that are attached to the base 110. The fixture handle 115 may be a molded opening in the base 110. However, the particular forms (materials and method of construction) of these elements are not meant to be hunting.

The example collapsed carton 500 may for example be rectangular with side panel 510 and side panel 530 (not shown in FIG. 1), ton panel 520, and bottom panel 540 toot shown in FIG. 1). Likewise, each of the panels may have end closure flaps; for example ton panel 520 having top end flaps 522 and 524, side panel 510 having side end flaps 512 and 514, and side panel 530 (not shown) having side end flaps 532 and 534. The panels and flaps are bounded or separated by fold lines, for example first bottom fold line 508 and second bottom fold line 538 (not shown), and first top fold line 518 and second top fold line 528.

Fixture 100 is ordinarily sown to fit a specific carton size. Thus, the width of the base is made substantially equal to the width of the carton bottom panel 540. Similarly, the distance between the surface of base 110 and corner edge stop 145 is made substantially equal to the width of carton side panel 230. For reasons that will be understood once the use of fixture 100 is described, the length of the support surface of base 100 may, but does not need to, be equal to the length carton bottom wall 540. Thus, the fixture may be used with cartons having different lengths, such as with beverage cartons designed to accommodate differing numbers of beverage cans or bottles.

FIG. 2 illustrates an erected carton 500 being moved to the fixture 100. By applying manual pressure to the sides of the carton 500, it may be transformed from a flat, collapsed structure to an open rectangular tube as shown.

FIG. 3 illustrates the erected carton blank being placed on the fixture. The first bottom fold line 508 is placed so that it rests against lateral stops 120, which constrain this bottom fold line or corner of the carton. Meanwhile the opposite corner of the tubular structure, that is, second top fold line 528, comes into proximity with the corner edge stop (see FIG. 4). As the carton is erected, the opposite bottom fold line 538 is positioned, against the base of the corner edge stop support plate 140.

FIG. 4 illustrates an erected carton being held by the fixture. The corner edge stop 145 holds the corner created along the second top fold line 528. The carton now rests en fixture 100, with lateral stops 120 and corner edge stop 145 holding the carton in place and in an open shape. Meanwhile, longitudinal stop 130 constrains the carton by contact with an end flap such as bottom end flap 544.

FIG. 5 illustrates a step in closing a first end of the carton. While the fixture 100 still holds the canon in an open tubular shape, the carton may be slid longitudinally if desired to give the operator access to the end flaps, for example, to told inward the side end flap 514 and side end flap 534, followed by bottom end flap 544 and top end flap 524. An adhesive (not shown) may be applied to seal the end flaps together. The adhesive may for example be tape, glue, hot melt adhesive, etc.

FIG. 6 shows how the carton may then be slid back against longitudinal stop 130 to bold the top end flap 524, and other end flaps, closed, for example while a hot melt glue or other adhesive dries or sets.

FIG. 7 illustrates a step of packing a container 600 into carton 500. Since the carton is held securely by fixture 100, the operator may use both hands to move containers 600, and to manipulate end flaps 522, etc. if necessary. Packing may be done in a horizontal operation as shown in FIG. 7, or in a vertical operation (sec FIG. 8), or in an orientation in between, such as a tilted orientation.

FIG. 8 illustrates a vertical orientation of carton 500 and fixture 100, in addition to showing a step of closing the second end of the carton 500. For example side end flaps 512 and 533 may be folded inward, followed by bottom end flap 542, then top end flaps 522. An adhesive (not shown) may be applied in seal the end flaps together.

FIG. 9 illustrates a farther step of closing an end of die carton, using a device such as a weight 700 to hold the end closed for example before, during, or after an adhesive is applied. A weight handle 710 may be provided for grasping the weight 700, or for holding to apply more force. A lanyard 720 may secure the weight 700 to fixture 100 so that the weight is not misplaced.

FIG. 10 illustrates a bottom view of fixture 100 with a closed carton 500 in place, a tape dispenser 160 may be attached to the fixture 100 as shown. This view also shows the fixture handle 115, the lateral stops 120, and exemplary fastening points 132 (for the longitudinal stop 130) and fastening points 142 (for the corner edge stop support plate 140). For example, those fastening points may be screws, rivets, etc.

The fixture 100 may be constructed in various forms, including having the base formed with lattice-like reinforcements 118 which may be conveniently formed in a molded base.

Methods of making and using the fixture in accordance with the invention should be readily apparent from the mere description of the fixture and its appearances as provided herein. No further discussion or illustration of such methods, therefore, is deemed necessary.

While preferred embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated, it should be apparent that many modifications to the embodiments and implementations of the invention can be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Although the preferred embodiments illustrated herein have been described in connection with a rectangular paperboard carton being packed with cylindrical beverage cans, these embodiments may easily be implemented in accordance with the invention in other carton or container materials or shapes. The fixture may vary from the exact appearance shown in the examples here.

It is to be understood therefore that the invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed (or apparent from the disclosure) herein, but only limited by the claims appended hereto.