Title:
Method of and apparatus for reinforcing combo boxes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A reinforcing girdle for combo boxes comprises a continuous length of woven polypropylene fabric having an interior circumference which is closely matched to the exterior circumference of a combo box. The continuous length of fabric is secured around at least the lower portions of the side walls of the combo box to prevent the combo box from bursting during the transportation of meat and meat products therein. The continuous length of woven fabric may be provided with lengths of webbing material which are aligned with the corners of the combo box.



Inventors:
Eisenbarth, Bradley Matthew (Sherman, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/119167
Publication Date:
11/17/2005
Filing Date:
04/29/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/600, 383/109
International Classes:
B65D19/00; B65D19/02; B65D30/08; B65D33/06; (IPC1-7): B65D33/06; B65D19/00; B65D30/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUYNH, LOUIS K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael A. O'Neil (Dallas, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A method of reinforcing combo boxes of the type comprising four side walls which define a predetermined exterior circumference comprising the steps of: providing a continuous girdle formed from woven fabric and having an interior circumference closely matched to the exterior circumference of the combo box; and extending the girdle around at least the lower portions of the exterior surfaces comprising the side walls of the combo box.

2. The method according to claim 1 wherein the step of providing a girdle is carried out by providing a girdle comprising a woven polymeric material.

3. The method according to claim 2 wherein the step of providing the girdle is carried out by providing a girdle formed from woven polypropylene fabric.

4. The method according to claim 1 wherein the step of providing a girdle is carried out by providing a girdle formed from woven polypropylene fabric which is continuous around its entire circumference.

5. The method according to claim 1 wherein the step of providing a girdle is carried out by providing a girdle formed from at least one panel comprising woven polypropylene fabric and having edges which are sewn together to form the girdle.

6. The method according to claim 1 wherein the step of providing a girdle includes the additional step of providing reinforcing members formed from webbing material which are secured to the girdle at locations aligned with the corners of the combo box.

7. The method according to claim 1 wherein the step of providing a girdle is further characterized by: providing four side wall panels each formed from woven polypropylene fabric; sewing the four side wall panels together edge to edge thereby forming a continuous side wall having an interior circumference which is closely matched to the exterior circumference of the combo box; providing four lengths of polymeric webbing material; securing the lengths of polymeric webbing material to the exterior of the panel with the lengths of webbing material extending substantially vertically and with the lengths of webbing material positioned in alignment with the corners of the combo box.

8. A girdle for use in reinforcing combo boxes of the type comprising four side walls connected edge to edge and defining a predetermined exterior circumference comprising: a continuous length of woven fabric having an interior circumference which is closely matched to the exterior circumference of the side walls of the combo box; the continuous length of woven fabric being engaged with at least the lower portions of the side walls comprising the combo box to prevent bursting of the combo box during the transportation of meat and meat products therein.

9. The girdle according to claim 8 wherein the girdle comprises a woven polymeric material.

10. The girdle according to claim 9 wherein the girdle is formed from woven polypropylene fabric.

11. The girdle according to claim 8 wherein the girdle is formed from woven polypropylene fabric which is continuous around its entire circumference.

12. The girdle according to claim 8 wherein the girdle is formed from at least one panel comprising woven polypropylene fabric and having edges which are sewn together to form the girdle.

13. The girdle according to claim 8 further including reinforcing members formed from webbing material which are secured to the girdle at locations aligned with the corners of the combo box.

14. The girdle according to claim 8 further characterized by: four side wall panels each formed from woven polypropylene fabric; the four side wall panels being sewn together edge to edge thereby forming a continuous side wall having an interior circumference which is closely matched to the exterior circumference of the combo box; four lengths of polymeric webbing material; the lengths of polymeric webbing material being seamed to the exterior of the panel with the lengths of webbing material extending substantially vertically and with the lengths of webbing material positioned in alignment with the corners of the combo box.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

Applicant claims priority based on provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/571,005 filed May 14, 2004.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to the transportation of meat and meat products, and more particularly to the reinforcement of combo boxes during the utilization thereof in the transportation of meat and meat products.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a device 10 of the type known in the meat processing industry as a combo box. Combo boxes are utilized to receive, transport, and discharge meat and meat products. For example, combo boxes may be filled with meat or meat products at a slaughter house or other point or origination and then utilized to transport the meat or meat products to a meat processing plant, for example, a facility that manufactures sausages, hot dogs, cold cuts, etc. Combo boxes are manufactured from a variety of materials including lumber, plywood, particle board, and various types of cellulose-based products some which may be corrugated.

Combo boxes are typically square or rectangular in horizontal cross section. Thus, combo boxes are characterized by four side walls 12 and four corners 14. Regardless of their original configuration, as is shown in FIG. 1 combo boxes assume a more or less rounded configuration when filled.

Combo boxes are typically provided with a liner 16. If used, the liner 16 is typically constructed from a selected polymeric film, such as polyethylene. After the combo box is filled, the liner 16 is secured in a closed configuration at illustrated at 18. Individual combo boxes 10 may be mounted on conventional pallets 20 to facilitate the transportation of meat and meat products therein.

As is well known in the industry, combo boxes have a tendency to burst during the utilization thereof in the transportation of meat and meat products. This is due in part to the materials that are utilized in the construction of combo boxes. Another factor is the square or rectangular horizontal cross sectional configuration of combo boxes which results in stress concentrations at the corners thereof.

Efforts to eliminate bursting problems associated with the transportation of meat and meat products in combo boxes have included the wrapping of combo boxes with one or more layers of polymeric film. As is illustrated in FIG. 1, combo boxes have also been provided with one or more metal or reinforced polymeric straps 22 which are installed utilizing conventional strapping techniques. For a variety of reasons including in particular excessive cost, prior combo box reinforcing techniques have not been wholly satisfactory.

The present invention comprises a method of and apparatus for reinforcing combo boxes which overcomes the foregoing and other problems which have long since characterized the prior art. In accordance with the broader aspects of the invention, at least the lower portions of the side walls and corners of a combo box are surrounded by a girdle which completely prevents bursting of the combo box during utilization thereof in the transportation of meat and meat products. The girdle is preferably manufactured from woven polypropylene fabric, however, other polymeric and natural fibers may be utilized in the manufacture of the girdle depending upon the requirements of particular applications of the invention. The girdle may be manufactured on a circular loom in which case the girdle is continuous around its entire circumference. Alternatively, the girdle may comprise a plurality of side wall panels which are sewn together edge to edge. Regardless of the techniques in the manufacture thereof, the portions of the girdle that correspond to the corners of the combo box may be reinforced with lengths of webbing. If used, the webbing is preferably manufactured from a polymeric material which as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, etc.

As indicated above, the use of the girdle of the present invention to reinforce combo boxes is advantageous in that is completely eliminates the possibility of the bursting of combo boxes during utilization thereof to transport meat and meat products. The use of the girdle of the present invention to reinforce combo boxes is further advantageous in that it provides a more economical combo box reinforcement technique as compared with the prior art. The use of the girdle of the present invention to reinforce combo boxes is further advantageous in that at least in some instances the girdle of the present invention is reusable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be had by reference to the following Detailed Description when taken in connection with the accompanying Drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a filled combo box which is reinforced utilizing prior art techniques;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an empty combo box which is reinforced in accordance with the method and apparatus of the present invention; and

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a filled combo box which is reinforced in accordance with the method and apparatus of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, there is shown a conventional combo box 30. The component parts of the combo box 30 as well as the liner and the pallet utilized in conjunction therewith are identical to the component parts of the combo box 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 and described hereinabove in conjunction therewith. Such identical component parts are designated in FIGS. 2 and 3 with the same reference numerals utilized above in the description of the combo box 10.

In accordance with the present invention the combo box 30 is reinforced with a girdle 32 which extends continuously around the entire periphery of at least the lower portion of the exterior of the combo box 30. The girdle 32 is manufactured from fabric which is preferably woven from strands of a selected polymeric such as polypropylene. The fabric comprising the girdle 32 can also be woven from other natural and synthetic materials depending upon the requirements of particular applications of the invention. Regardless of the material utilized in the manufacture thereof, the girdle 32 is dimensioned to have a close fitting relationship with the side walls 12 and the corners 14 of the combo box 30.

The girdle 32 may be manufactured on a circular loom in which case the girdle 32 is continuous around its entire periphery. Alternatively, the girdle 32 may comprise one, two, three, or four side walls 34 which are sewn together edge to edge to define one, two, three, or four corners 36. Regardless of the technique that is utilized in the manufacture of the girdle 32 the locations thereof corresponding to the corners 14 of the combo box 30 may be reinforced with lengths of polymeric webbing material 38. If used, the lengths of webbing material 38 are secured to the fabric comprising the girdle 32 by sewing.

The use of the girdle of the present invention in the reinforcement of combo boxes has been found to be advantageous over prior art combo box reinforcement techniques. First, the use of the girdle of the present invention to reinforce combo boxes has been found to provide 100% reliability in the prevention of the bursting of combo boxes during the transportation of meat and meat products therein. Second, the reinforcement of combo boxes utilizing the girdle of the present invention is more economical as compared with prior art combo box reinforcement techniques. Third, at least in some instances combo box reinforcement girdles of the present invention may be reused thereby further enhancing the economic benefits resulting from the practice of the present invention.

Although preferred embodiments of the invention have been illustrated in the accompanying Drawings and described in the foregoing Detailed Description, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, but is capable of numerous rearrangements, modifications, and substitutions of parts and elements without departing from the spirit of the invention.