Title:
Method and means for bagging organic and other material
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and means for bagging organic and other material such as silage, compost, grain, sawdust, dirt, sand, etc., wherein plastic sheet material is dispensed from a roll mounted on the bagging machine so that the sheet material is at least partially wrapped around the material being bagged as the bagging machine moves ahead during packing and filling.



Inventors:
Cullen, Steven R. (Astoria, OR, US)
Application Number:
10/334484
Publication Date:
07/08/2004
Filing Date:
12/30/2002
Assignee:
CULLEN STEVEN R.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/567
International Classes:
A01F25/14; (IPC1-7): B65B9/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUYNH, LOUIS K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETER E. HEUSER, ESQ. (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. The method of bagging material, comprising the steps of: providing a mobile bagging machine having rearward and forward ends, a material receiving means at the forward end thereof, a material packing means in communication with said material receiving means, and a rearwardly extending tunnel means having an upper end, opposite sides and a lower end; positioning a roll of flexible plastic sheet material, having opposite ends and opposite side edges, on said bagging machine; causing said sheet material to unroll from said roll, as material is forced through said tunnel, and to pass around said tunnel to at least partially enclose the material being discharged from said tunnel.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the material comprises organic material.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein said sheet material forms a bag-like enclosure in which the material is placed.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein said side edges of said sheet material are positioned below the material in the bag-like enclosure in a horizontally spaced-apart manner.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein said side edges of said sheet material are positioned below the material in the bag-like enclosure in an overlapping manner.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein said overlapping side edges of said sheet material are sealed together.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein said roll is positioned above said tunnel.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein said roll is positioned adjacent the forward end of said tunnel.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein said roll is positioned in a horizontally disposed manner.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said roll is disposed transversely with respect to the direction of movement of the bagging machine.

11. The method of bagging material, comprising the steps of: providing a mobile bagging machine having rearward and forward ends, a material receiving means at the forward end thereof, a material packing means in communication with said material receiving means, and atunnel means having an upper end, opposite sides and a lowe positioning a roll of tubular sheet material on said bagging machine; causing said tubular sheet material to unroll from said roll, as material is fsaid tunnel; slitting said tubular sheet material so as to create a sheet having opposite side e passing said sheet at least partially around said tunnel to at least partially enclosematerial being discharged from said tunnel.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the material comprises organic material.

13. The method of claim 11 wherein said sheet forms a bag-like enclosure in which the material is placed.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein said side edges of said sheet are positioned below the material in the bag-like enclosure in a horizontally spaced-apart manner.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein said side edges of said sheet are positioned below the material in the bag-like enclosure in an overlapping manner.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein said overlapping side edges of said sheet are sealed together.

17. The method of claim 11 wherein said roll is positioned above said tunnel.

18. The method of claim 17 wherein said roll is positioned adjacent the forward end of said tunnel.

19. The method of claim 11 wherein said roll is positioned in a horizontally disposed manner.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein said roll is disposed transversely with respect to the direction of movement of the bagging machine.

21. The method of bagging material, comprising the steps of: providing a mobile bagging machine having rearward and forward ends, a material receiving means at the forward end thereof, a material packing means in communication with said material receiving means, and a rearwardly extending enclosure; positioning a roll of flexible plastic sheet material, having opposite ends and opposite side edges, on said bagging machine; causing said sheet material to unroll from said roll, as material is forced through said enclosure, and to pass around said enclosure to at least partially enclose the material being discharged from said enclosure.

22. The method of claim 21 wherein the material comprises organic material.

23. The method of claim 22 wherein said sheet material forms a bag-like enclosure in which the material is placed.

24. The method of claim 23 wherein said side edges of said sheet material are positioned below the material in the bag-like enclosure in a horizontally spaced-apart manner.

25. The method of claim 24 wherein said side edges of said sheet material are positioned below the material in the bag-like enclosure in an overlapping manner.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein said overlapping side edges of said sheet material are sealed together.

27. The method of claim 22 wherein said roll is positioned above said tunnel.

28. The method of claim 27 wherein said roll is positioned adjacent the forward end of said tunnel.

29. The method of claim 22 wherein said roll is positioned in a horizontally disposed manner.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein said roll is disposed transversely with respect to the direction of movement of the bagging machine.

31. The method of claim 22 wherein the organic material is compost material.

32. The method of claim 22 wherein the organic material is silage material.

33. A bagging machine for bagging material, comprising: a mobile frame means having rearward and forward ends; a material receiving means on said mobile frame means; a material packing means on said mobile frame means in communication with said material receiving means; a rearwardly extending material forming means in communication with said material packing means; a roll of flexible plastic sheet material, having opposite ends and opposite side edges, mounted on said mobile frame means; said sheet material being pulled from said roll as the bagging machine moves forwardly during the bagging operation; said sheet material passing at least partially around said material forming means to at least partially enclose the material being discharged from said material forming means.

34. The bagging machine of claim 33 further including a sheet material guide means.

35. The bagging machine of claim 34 wherein said sheet material guide means positions said opposite side edges of said sheet material beneath said material forming means.

36. The bagging machine of claim 34 wherein said sheet material guide means positions said opposite side edges of said sheet material beneath said material forming means in a horizontally spaced-apart relationship.

37. The bagging machine of claim 34 wherein said sheet material guide means positions said opposite side edges of said sheet material beneath said material forming means in an overlapping relationship.

38. The bagging machine of claim 34 wherein said sheet material guide means comprises guide rollers.

39. The bagging machine of claim 34 wherein said sheet material guide means comprises guide wheels.

40. The bagging machine of claim 39 wherein said guide wheels are driven.

41. The bagging machine of claim 38 wherein said guide rollers are driven.

42. The bagging machine of claim 38 wherein said guide rollers are positioned beneath said material forming means.

43. The bagging machine of claim 33 wherein said roll of flexible plastic sheet material is mounted on said mobile frame means above said material forming means.

44. The bagging machine of claim 43 wherein said roll of flexible plastic sheet material is mounted at the forward end of said material forming means.

45. The bagging machine of claim 33 wherein said roll of flexible plastic sheet material is rotatably mounted on said mobile frame means.

46. A bagging machine for bagging material, comprising: a mobile frame means having rearward and forward ends; a material receiving means on said mobile frame means; a material packing means on said mobile frame means in communication with said material receiving means; a rearwardly extending material forming means in communication with said material packing means; a source of flexible plastic sheet material, having opposite ends and opposite side edges, mounted on said mobile frame means; said sheet material being pulled from said source of flexible plastic sheet material as the bagging machine moves forwardly during the bagging operation; said sheet material passing at least partially around said material forming means to at least partially enclose the material being discharged from said material forming means.

47. The method of bagging material, comprising the steps of: providing a mobile bagging machine having rearward and forward ends, a material receiving means at the forward end thereof, a material packing means in communication with said material receiving means, and a rearwardly extending enclosure; positioning a source of flexible plastic sheet material, having opposite ends and opposite side edges, on said bagging machine; causing said sheet material to dispense from said source of flexible plastic sheet material as material is forced through said enclosure, and to pass around said enclosure to at least partially enclose the material being discharged from said enclosure.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to a method and means for bagging organic and other material such as silage, compost, grain, sawdust, dirt, sand, etc., and more particularly to a method and means for dispensing plastic sheet material from a roll mounted on a bagging machine so that the sheet material is at least partially wrapped around the material being bagged as the bagging machine moves ahead during packing and filling.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] Agricultural feed and compost bagging machines have been employed for several years to pack or bag silage, compost or the like into elongated plastic bags. Two of the earliest bagging machines are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,687,061 and 4,046,068. In prior art bagging machines, silage, compost or the like is supplied to the forward or intake end of the bagging machine and is fed to a packing means such as a rotor, plunger, screw conveyor or the like which conveys the material into a tunnel on which the bag is positioned so that the bag is filled. As the silage is packed into the bag, the bagging machine moves away from the filled end of the bag in a controlled fashion so as to achieve uniform compaction of the silage material within the bag. The empty elongated plastic bags are in a folded condition and are initially positioned over the tunnel or forming means of the machine.

[0005] In the present state of the art, the manufacturers of the plastic silage/compost bag must blow or extrude the plastic into a tubular/bag shape, roll it onto a core, fold it into a collar, and then put the same into a box or container, which is palleted for convenient shipping. Once the box is delivered to the field, it may take several men and a crane to lift the bag out of the box and feed it by hand over and onto the tunnel. The bag is then laboriously pushed onto the tunnel until the bag is gathered at the forward end of the tunnel so that the bag is ready for filling and packing.

[0006] A major disadvantage and cost of the current method of manufacturing plastic bags for use on bagging machines is the sophisticated and expensive machinery required by the manufacturers to fold the bags after the blowing or extruding process. Only a few manufacturers have such costly machines, who pass the processing and material costs onto the end user. Secondly, the extra steps necessary to convert the roll of plastic into a bag, fold the bag into a box, load the individual boxes into a larger container for shipping, and then to transport and deliver those boxes to the consumers adds time, packaging, space requirements, handling equipment, manpower and disposal costs to the entire process.

[0007] A further problem created by the present method of putting plastic bags onto a bagging machine is the physical strain and danger to the men who load the bag onto the tunnel. The newer, bigger bags (14′×500′) weigh up to 1200 lbs and the industry trend is for even larger tunnels and even longer bags.

[0008] There is a need to replace the old process of manufacturing the bags and the installation of the same on the bagging machines to reduce manufacturing and handling costs, improve safety and worker ergonomics, and eliminate the stranglehold a few manufacturers have on bag distributors and consumers. The purpose of the instant invention is to do away with the costly pre-folding of plastic bags and the packaging of one bag per box, which must be hand-mounted onto the machine, and replace that method with custom length bags made at the site and which are taken off a master roll which is self-loaded on the machine.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] A method and means for bagging organic and other material such as compost, silage, grain, sawdust, dirt, sand, etc., is described. The method of bagging the material comprises the steps of: (1) providing a mobile bagging machine having rearward and forward ends, a material receiving means at the forward end thereof, a material packing means in communication with the material receiving means, and a rearwardly extending material forming or shaping means in the form of a tunnel having an upper end, opposite sides and a lower end; (2) positioning a roll of flexible plastic sheet material on the bagging machine; and (3) causing the sheet material to unroll from the roll, as material is forced through the tunnel, and to pass around the tunnel to partially or completely enclose the material being discharged from the tunnel. The sheet material forms a bag-like enclosure in which the material is placed. As used herein, the term “bag” refers to a flexible container or enclosure which extends partially around or completely around material to partially or completely enclose the same. The apparatus for performing the method comprises a mobile frame having rearward and forward ends; a material receiving means on the mobile frame means; a material packing means on the mobile frame means in communication with the material receiving means; a rearwardly extending material forming or shaping means in the form of a tunnel in communication with the material packing means; a roll of flexible plastic sheet material mounted on the mobile frame means. The sheet material is pulled from the roll as the bagging machine moves forwardly during the bagging operation. The sheet material passes partially or completely around the material forming means to at least partially enclose the material being discharged from the material forming means. Various means for causing the sheet material to pass around the tunnel and at least partially beneath the tunnel are disclosed.

[0010] A principal object of the invention is to provide an improved method for bagging organic or other material which eliminates the need for purchasing folded bags and installing the same on the bagging machine.

[0011] Still another object of the invention is to provide a method and means for bagging organic and other material wherein a roll of plastic sheet material is mounted on a bagging machine with the sheet material being pulled from the roll to form a bag-like enclosure into which the material is placed.

[0012] Yet another object of the invention is to eliminate the need for positioning folded bags on bagging machines.

[0013] Still another object of the invention is to provide a method and means which eliminates the need for workmen to manipulate heavy folded bags.

[0014] Still another object of the invention is to provide a method and means for bagging organic and other material which is far less expensive than the bagging of the material in folded bags mounted on the tunnel of the bagging machine.

[0015] These and other objects of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a bagging machine having a roll of sheet material mounted thereon with the sheet material being pulled from the roll to at least partially enclose the material being bagged;

[0017] FIG. 2 is a side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 except that the roll of sheet material has been extended around the tunnel;

[0019] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one form of the sheet material;

[0020] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another form of the sheet material;

[0021] FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of the means for supporting the roll of sheet material on the bagging machine;

[0022] FIG. 7 is a rear view of the bagging machine;

[0023] FIG. 8 is a rear view of the bagging machine illustrating the side edges of the sheet material being spaced-apart;

[0024] FIG. 9 is a view similar to FIG. 8 except that the side edges of the sheet material have been overlapped;

[0025] FIG. 10 is a partial side view illustrating the manner in which the sheet material is passed through guide rollers so that the sheet material moves towards the centerline of the tunnel;

[0026] FIG. 11 is a rear perspective view of a modified form of the guide roller means;

[0027] FIG. 12 is a rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 11;

[0028] FIG. 13A is a partial rear perspective view of one embodiment for smoothing out the sheet material as it passes around the tunnel;

[0029] FIG. 13B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 3A;

[0030] FIG. 14A is a rear perspective view illustrating a second means for smoothing out the sheet material as it passes around the tunnel;

[0031] FIG. 14B is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 14A;

[0032] FIG. 15 is a side view illustrating another embodiment for moving or guiding the sheet material beneath the lower end of the tunnel;

[0033] FIG. 16 is a rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 15;

[0034] FIG. 17 is a sectional view illustrating the material having been partially enclosed in the sheet material; and

[0035] FIG. 18 is a view similar to FIG. 17 except that the material has been completely enclosed within the sheet material.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0036] The numeral 10 refers to a bagging machine such as manufactured by Versa Corporation, Astoria, Oreg. The bagging machine is intended to bag organic material such as compost, silage, grain, sawdust, etc., within a conventional bag. The machine 10 may also be used to bag dirt or sand to create temporary dikes during flooding. Machine 10 is seen to include a wheeled frame 12 having a forwardly extending tongue or hitch 14 adapted to be connected to a prime mover such as a tractor, truck, etc. Gear box 16 is provided on frame 12 and is driven by a PTO shaft 18 connected to the PTO on the tractor. Although frame 12 shown in the drawings is wheeled, it is possible that the wheels could be omitted. Further, the machine 10 could be truck-mounted such as seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,784,865. Additionally, the machine 10 could be self-propelled such as illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 5,799,472. For purposes of description, machine 10 will be described as having a forward end 20 and a rearward end 22. Machine 10 is provided with a material receiving means 24 at its forward end which may be in the form of: (1) a feed table such as seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,297,377; (2) a hopper such as seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,398,736; (3) a feed mechanism such as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,396,763; (4) a feed mechanism such as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,367,860; or (5) a hopper such as seen in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,140,802; 5,419,102; and 5,724,793. The purpose of the material receiving means is to receive the material to be bagged and deliver the same to a material packing means 26 positioned at the forward end of a material shaping or forming means. The material packing means may be: (1) a rotor such as shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,396,753; 5,297,377; 5,799,472; 5,295,554; (2) a screw conveyor such as seen in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,140,802 or 5,419,102; (3) a plunger such as seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,724,793; or (4) the packing fingers described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,687,061.

[0037] The material forming or shaping means is preferably a tunnel 28. The size (diameter) of the tunnel 28 will depend on the desired bag diameter. A face plate 30 is normally secured to the forward end of the tunnel with the face plate 30 being secured to the frame of the machine. In some machines, the face plate is permanently mounted on the machine with the tunnel being secured to the face plate. Various tunnels are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,899,247; 5,396,753; 5,297,377; 5,799,472; 5,398,736; 5,355,659; 5,295,554; 5,140,802; 5,419,102; 5,421,142; 5,724,793; 5,894,713. Normally, the tunnel 28 will include a top wall 32, side walls 34 and 36, and at least a partial bottom wall 38. Face plate 30 includes an opening 40 through which the material passes to the interior of the tunnel when a rotor is utilized as the packing means. If plungers, screw conveyors, etc., are utilized as the packing means, the face plate may or may not be included and opening 40 will be omitted. The design of the material receiving means, packing means, frame and forming means do not form a part of the instant invention. The purpose of the instant invention is to pull plastic sheet material from a roll or container mounted on the machine and to wrap that sheet material at least partially around the forming means to form a bag or bag-like enclosure for the material being bagged as the machine moves forward during the bagging operation.

[0038] As seen in the drawings, a support 42 is secured to the machine 10 and extends upwardly therefrom adjacent the forward end of the tunnel 28 for rotatably supporting a roll 44 of plastic sheet material 46 thereon. Although the roll 44 is preferably positioned as shown in the drawings, the roll could be positioned at other locations on the machine 10. It is preferred that the roll 44 be enclosed in a housing or canister for cosmetic purposes. The sheet material 46 will normally be folded in a tube-like shape such as seen in FIGS. 4 and 5. The sheet material 46 in FIG. 4 is what would be termed a single fold including a front layer 48 and a back layer 50. Preferably, the front layer is slit at 52 at the factory to form front layer portions 48a and 48b. If front layer 48 is not pre-slit at the factory, a slitting device 53 will be provided on the support 42 or machine 10 to slit the front layer 48 into front layer or sheet portions 48a and 48b (FIG. 6).

[0039] Usually, the sheet material 46 on roll 44 will be multi-layered, such as seen in FIG. 5, with a front layer 54, back layer 56, and side gusset layers 58 and 60 therebetween. Preferably, front layer 54 is slit at 62 at the factory to form front layers 54a and 54b. If the layer 54 is not pre-slit, the slitting device 53 will be utilized to slit the front layer 54 into front layer portions 54a and 54b as the sheet material is pulled from the roll 44. The invention will be described as if the sheet material 46 on roll 44 is multilayered. Although it is preferred that the sheet material is dispensed from a roll, the sheet material could be dispensed from a box or container much like garbage bags are dispensed.

[0040] A pan 64 or other suitable support is positioned below the forward end of the tunnel 28 and has rollers 66, 68, 70 and 72 rotatably mounted thereon. Although four rollers are illustrated, more or less rollers could be utilized. Rollers 74, 76, 78 and 80 are rotatably mounted on the underside of floor 38 of tunnel 28 or other suitable support above rollers 66, 68, 70 and 72, respectively, with the peripheries thereof being in engagement with each other. Although four rollers are illustrated, more or less rollers could be utilized. The number of rollers on the underside of floor 38 will correspond to the number of rollers on pan 64. Preferably the rollers 74, 76, 78 and 80 are angled inwardly somewhat with respect to the centerline of the tunnel so as to guide the sheet material 46 inwardly towards the centerline of the tunnel as will be described in greater detail hereinafter.

[0041] A second embodiment for guiding the sheet material 46 beneath the tunnel 28 towards the centerline of the tunnel 28 is illustrated in FIGS. 11-12. In the embodiment of FIGS. 11-12, a protective tongue or shield 82 extends rearwardly from bottom wall 38 of tunnel 28. Elongated rollers 84 and 86 are rotatably mounted beneath tongue 82 with the peripheries thereof being in engagement with each other. As viewed in FIG. 12, rollers 84 and 86 are driven in a counterclockwise direction by any suitable means. A pair of elongated rollers 88 and 90 are also rotatably mounted beneath tongue 82 with the peripheries thereof being in engagement with each other. As viewed in FIG. 12, rollers 88 and 90 are rotated or driven in a clockwise direction by any suitable means.

[0042] A third embodiment for guiding the sheet material 46 beneath the tunnel towards the centerline of the tunnel 28 is illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16. In the embodiment of FIGS. 15 and 16, rotatable wheels replace the rollers such as seen in FIGS. 7-9. A pair of small wheels 92 and 94 replace the rollers 74 and 66 and a pair of small wheels 96 and 98 replace the rollers 76 and 68. Similarly, a pair of small wheels 92′ and 94′ replace the rollers 80 and 82 and a pair of small wheels 96′ and 98′ replace the rollers 78 and 70. Although four pairs of small wheels are shown, any number of pairs of wheels could be utilized. Wheels 92, 96 and 92′, 96′ are rotatably secured to floor 38 while wheels 94, 98 and 94′, 98′ are rotatably secured to pan 64 or other suitable support. Wheels 92, 94 are in engagement with one another, as viewed in FIG. 16, with driven wheel 92 being in engagement with wheel 94. Wheel 92 is rotatably driven by any convenient means so that rotation of wheel 92 also causes wheel 94 to be rotatably driven. The peripheries of wheels 96 and 98 are in engagement with one another in the same manner as wheels 92 and 94 with wheel 96 being driven thereby also causing wheel 98 to rotate. Wheels 92′, 94′, 96′ and 98′ are similarly mounted and driven.

[0043] FIGS. 13A and 13B illustrate a means for “sizing” the sheet material as it passes over the tunnel. FIGS. 14A and 14B illustrate a means for “smoothing out” the sheet material as it passes over the tunnel. In FIGS. 13A and 13B, a substantially U-shaped member 100 having a shroud 101 secured thereto extends around the tunnel with the sheet material passing thereover. The member 100 and the rearward end of shroud 101 are selectively vertically adjusted by an adjustment means 101A (FIG. 13B) to adjust the size of the shroud and the bag passing thereover. In FIGS. 14A and 14B, a plurality of balls or rollers 102 are rotatably mounted on a flexible cable 104 or the like with the balls or rollers 102 being in engagement with the exterior surface of tunnel 28. The rotation of the balls smoothes out the sheet material as the sheet material passes between the balls and the tunnel.

[0044] To summarize somewhat, it can be seen that a novel means has been provided for dispensing plastic sheet material from a roll mounted on a bagging machine so that the sheet material is at least partially wrapped around the material being bagged as the bagging machine moves ahead during packing and filling. The plastic sheet material is pulled from the roll and is positioned around the tunnel and at least partially beneath the tunnel so that the sheet material forms a bag-like enclosure which either completely encloses the material, as illustrated in FIG. 18, by overlapping the edges of the sheet material or which partially encloses the material as illustrated in FIG. 17. The rollers or wheels provided beneath the tunnel ensures that the sheet material will be pulled beneath the material being bagged so that the sheet material will form the bag-like enclosures of FIGS. 17 an 18. The instant invention eliminates the need for purchasing folded bags which extremely expensive, heavy and difficult to mount on the tunnel as noted in the description of the related art hereinabove.

[0045] Thus it can be seen that the invention accomplishes at least all of its stated objectives.