Title:
Bag filling apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Bag filling apparatus includes forward and rearward FIBC loop rigging members and a pair of generally parallel arms located one on each side of the filling head so as to extend fore and aft relative to a platform for occupation by an operator during rigging of the bag to the support structure and the filling head, the forward rigging members being slidable along said arms towards and away from the rearward rigging members to facilitate rigging of the bag by the operator.



Inventors:
Morris, Adrian David (Cheshire, GB)
Application Number:
09/932036
Publication Date:
04/11/2002
Filing Date:
08/17/2001
Assignee:
MORRIS ADRIAN DAVID
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B43/46; (IPC1-7): B65B43/26
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Primary Examiner:
TRUONG, THANH K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRACEWELL & PATTERSON (Houston, TX, US)
Claims:
1. Bag filling apparatus of the kind comprising a filling head, structure for suspending a bag in registry with the filling head and a table located beneath the filling head for contact with the underside of a bag suspended from said structure, the support structure including forward and rearward FIBC loop rigging members and a pair of generally parallel arms located one on each side of the filling head so as to extend fore and aft relative to a platform for occupation by an operator during rigging of the bag to the support structure and the filling head, the forward rigging members being slidable along said arms towards and away from the rearward rigging members.

2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which the rear rigging members are fixed axially relative to the arms.

3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which the forward and/or the rearward rigging members are coupled for angular movement relative to the arms.

4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which each rigging member is located beneath the respective support arm in underlying relation with a surface of the support arm or an extension thereof so as to limit the extent to which the loops may lift when the bag is displaced upwardly.

5. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which the rigging members are inclined upwardly in the forward direction.

6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 in which the upper surfaces of rigging members are convexly curvilinear.

Description:
[0001] This invention concerns bag filling apparatus and, more particularly, apparatus for handling flexible intermediate bulk carriers (FIBCs, popularly known as big bags) immediately after they have been filled.

[0002] This invention particularly relates to bag filling apparatus of the type comprising a filling head, structure for suspending a bag in registry with the filling head and a table (optionally a vibratory table) located beneath the filling head for contact with the underside of a bag suspended from said structure (herein referred to as “a bag filling machine of the type referred to”).

[0003] It has been found that FIBCs are advantageously filled using apparatus of the kind referred to when provided with a vibrating coned table. The empty bag is suspended from the support structure over the vertically movable coned table and below the filling head. As the bag fills, the coned table is moved upwardly to contact the bottom of the bag and vibrates causing the contents to settle evenly within the bag thereby avoiding the sagging of the bag associated with other filling methods and de-aerating it at the same time. Usually the apparatus has weighing equipment built in, and once the bag is almost full, the coned table stops vibrating and is withdrawn downwardly leaving the bag suspended for accurate weighing.

[0004] An FIBC comprises a flexible bag which, at its upper inlet end, is provided with four flexible loops of fabric by means of which the bag is suspended from the support structure. In a known bag filling apparatus of the type referred to, the support structure includes a pair of telescopic arms each provided with rigging points over which the loops can be located during rigging of the bag to the apparatus. The rigging points are accessed from a platform located to the rear of the support structure. The rear rigging points are immediately adjacent the platform and, by manually retracting the arms, the operator may bring the forward rigging points towards the platform thereby facilitating connection of the FIBC loops to the forward rigging points. The arms can thereafter be extended again to locate the forward rigging points correctly in relation to the filling head. In this manner, the extent to which the operator has to lean forward over the apparatus in the course of connecting the FIBC loops to the forward rigging points is reduced.

[0005] In the known telescopic arrangement, retraction of the arm involves one arm section moving rearwardly over the platform creating a potential obstruction to the operator.

[0006] An object of the present invention is to provide a more effective retraction arrangement which may also readily accommodate bags of different sizes and reduce any tendency for the FIBC loops to become detached from the rigging points during operation of the apparatus.

[0007] According to the present invention there is provided bag filling apparatus of the kind referred to in which the support structure includes forward and rearward FIBC loop rigging members and a pair of generally parallel arms located one on each side of the filling head so as to extend fore and aft relative to a platform for occupation by an operator during rigging of the bag to the support structure and the filling head, the forward rigging members being slidable along said arms towards and away from the rearward rigging members.

[0008] The rear rigging members may be fixed axially relative to the arms.

[0009] The forward rigging members are conveniently coupled for angular movement relative to the arms. Likewise the rear rigging members may also be coupled to the arms for angular movement.

[0010] FIBCs are available in different sizes (capacities) and as a result the spacing between the loops thereof varies according to bag size. The size of the loops is such that the different bags can be rigged to the support structure of a conventional apparatus of the type referred to but the strain at the points of connection of the loops to the bags will vary for different sizes. By providing for angular movement of the rigging members relative to the arms, the rigging members may rotate to some degree to an orientation such that the strain at the points of connection is reduced during bag filling.

[0011] In the course of bag filling, the bag may undergo some degree of displacement upwardly (towards the filling head). For instance, this may occur when the table is lifted into engagement with the bag. This gives rise to a risk that one or more of the loops may lift and thereby disengage from the rigging members with the consequence that the bag filling operation has to discontinued in order to rectify the problem.

[0012] According to a further feature of the invention, each rigging member is located beneath the respective support arm in underlying relation with a surface of the support arm or an extension thereof so as to limit the extent to which the loops may lift when the bag is displaced upwardly.

[0013] The invention will now be described further by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0014] FIG. 1 is a side elevation showing the front and rear rigging members at one side of the apparatus;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a similar view to that of FIG. 1 with the forward rigging member shown in its retracted position;

[0016] FIGS. 3 and 4 are side elevations showing a bag attached to the arms when in their retracted and extended positions; and

[0017] FIG. 5 is a front elevantion showing the bag attached to the arms.

[0018] Apparatus of the kind referred to is commercially available from Flomat Bagfilla International Limited of Glossop, UK (e.g. the K/S range); accordingly the description herein will be confined to the support structure of such apparatus. Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the support structure for the suspension of an FIBC in apparatus of the type referred to comprises a pair of arms 10 (one only of which is shown) which extend generally horizontally and forwardly in spaced, generally parallel relation from a platform located at a zone 12 to the rear of the structure—see platform P in FIGS. 3 to 5. The arms 10 each comprise a cylindrical shaft and are located one on each side of the filling head of the apparatus. The filling head (not shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 but see H in FIGS. 3 to 5) is of generally cylindrical configuration with its axis centred on the line C in FIGS. 1 and 2. Each shaft 10 is mounted by members 16A, 16B which may be bolted to the apparatus via brackets 20 or may be otherwise secured to the apparatus, e.g. as by welding.

[0019] The shafts 10 each mount a rear rigging member 22 and a forward rigging member 24. Each rigging member 22, 24 comprises a cylindrical, horizontally disposed loop suspension projection 26 connected to a bracket 28 which is coupled rotatably to the shaft through a journal sleeve 30 and a bush 32. The forward rigging member is slidable along the shaft between a fully extended position as shown in FIG. 1 and a retracted position as shown in FIG. 2. To facilitate such movement, each forward member 24 is provided with a handle 34, the length of which is such that, in the retracted position, the handle does not project unduly, if at all, in the region occupied by the operator standing on a platform located rearwardly of the support structure, namely the region to the right of the members 16B. In the fully extended position of the forward rigging members 24, the rear ends of the handles 34 are located approximately midway along the shafts 10 at a location for easy access by an operator. The handles may be of dog-legged configuration so as to clear the rear rigging members 22.

[0020] The loop suspension projections 26 underlie the shafts 10 thereby defining a space 36 within which the loops are confined when engaged over the projections 26. In this way, the loops are prevented from lifting and thereby becoming disengaged. At the forward end of the support structure, extensions 38 are provided so that loop lifting from the forward suspension projections is prevented when the forward rigging members are fully extended as shown in FIG. 2. The cylindrical shape of the projections 26 affords an upwardly convex curvilinear surface with which the bag loops engage in use.

[0021] Referring to FIGS. 3 to 5, in practice, in the course of rigging a big bag B to the support structure and the filling head, the operator standing on the platform P will initially retract the forward pair of rigging projections to the position shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 by means of the handles 34. The bag loops L are then fitted to the forward and rear rigging projections 22, 24 and the forward projections 24 are returned to the extended position of FIGS. 1 and 4 so that loops occupy the four corners of a square centred on the centre line C. The bag may then be filled in the usual manner while vibrating the underside of the bag by means of a vibrating table (not shown).

[0022] Because the loop-rigging projections 26 are rotatable about the shafts 10, it will be understood that, when the loops are under tension during filling of the bag, the projections 26 are free to move angularly (see arrows A in FIG. 5) and thereby take up an orientation which minimises the strain imposed on connections between the loops and the big bag suspended from the projections.

[0023] It will be appreciated that it is not intended to limit the invention to the above example only, many variations, such as might readily occur to one skilled in the art, being possible, without departing from the scope thereof. For instance, whereas in the illustrated embodiment, the loop rigging projections are angularly movable relative to the shafts 10, in a modification the loop rigging projections may be rotationally captive with the shafts 10 and the shafts themselves may be mounted for angular movement/rotation about their longitudinal axes. Moreover, instead of manually retracting and extending the rigging projections by means of a handle, such retraction and extension may instead be effected automatically by for example a motorised arrangement operable by a push button or buttons. Additionally, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the suspension projections 26 may be inclined upwardly in the forward direction away from the brackets 28 so that the loops tend to move downwardly towards the brackets 28 when engaged with the projections 26 thereby reducing the risk of any one or more of the loops becoming accidentally detached.