Title:
Flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo for cargo container transportation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo includes: a flexible cargo packaging liner body comprising a front wall, a rear wall, a top wall, a bottom wall, and two side walls; an opening for cargo loading and an opening for cargo discharge located in the front wall; and air bags which are installed at front corners of the bottom wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body. The air bags, when inflated, have a triangular prism shape which pushes cargo out through the opening for cargo discharge and helps reduce residual amounts of cargo retained in the flexible cargo packaging liner body.



Inventors:
Eamcharoenying, Sunun (Bangsue Bangkok, TH)
Application Number:
11/299016
Publication Date:
05/10/2007
Filing Date:
12/09/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D88/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
BAINBRIDGE, ANDREW PHILIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEVEN L. NICHOLS (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo comprises: a flexible cargo packaging liner body comprising a front wall, a rear wall, a top wall, a bottom wall, and two side walls; an opening for cargo loading and an opening for cargo discharge located in the front wall; and air bags which are installed at front corners of the bottom wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body; wherein the air bags, when inflated, have a triangular prism shape which pushes cargo out through the opening for cargo discharge and helps reduce residual amounts of cargo retained in the flexible cargo packaging liner body.

2. The liner of claim 1, wherein said air bags have a scalene hexagon shape when un-inflated.

3. The liner of claim 1, further comprising an opening for air ventilation in said front wall.

4. The liner of claim 1, wherein there are at least two air bags positioned outside the liner body and at front corners of the bottom wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body.

5. The liner of claim 1, wherein each of the air bags comprises an inflation flexible tube with a valve device for controlling air flow into the air bags.

6. The liner of claim 5, wherein each said flexible tube further comprises a spiral valve for releasing pressurized air from the air bags.

7. The liner of claim 1, further comprising a flexible strip attached to each joint between the front wall and each of the side walls, said flexible strips comprising holes through which support rods for said liner are inserted.

8. The liner of claim 1, further comprising flexible strips attached to each joint between the front wall and each of the side walls for sealing a vacuum created between said liner body and a cargo container containing the liner body.

9. The liner of claim 1, further comprising a hook assembly which is attached to an outside the top wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner for attaching the liner to a top inner surface of a cargo container.

10. The line of claim 9, wherein the hook assembly comprises a weight support plate attached to the top wall of the liner, elastic cord for insertion connection to the weight support plate, and a hook attached to the elastic cord.

11. A method of storing packaging powdered or granular cargo in a flexible liner within a cargo container, said line comprising: a flexible cargo packaging liner body comprising a front wall, a rear wall, a top wall, a bottom wall, and two side walls; an opening for cargo loading and an opening for cargo discharge located in the front wall; and air bags which are installed at front corners of the bottom wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body; said method comprising inflating the air bags to a triangular prism shape which pushes cargo out through the opening for cargo discharge and helps reduce residual amounts of cargo retained in the flexible cargo packaging liner body.

12. The method of claim 11, further comprising: evacuating a space between the flexible liner and the cargo container; and sealing the evacuated space with flexible strips secured to a front of the flexible liner.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application relates to and claims the priority of Thai Patent Application No. 105907 filed on Nov. 7, 2005. That application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Typically in cargo packaging for use in cargo container transportation, transport operators pack their cargo as full as possible and especially so with powdered or granular cargo that needs a large liner for packaging this nature of goods. However, the problem they face is that it takes too long to remove a large a percentage of the cargo from a container using the conventional techniques. Therefore, special features, including air bags, are introduced to help push the cargo out of a flexible liner. U.S. Pat. No. 5,489,037 discloses details concerning a liner for packaging cargo with inflatable air bags of a triangular shape and positioned at its front and side walls. Upon full inflation, cargo inside the liner is pushed sideways because the air bag mounted on the front wall has no exerting support on the cargo container's wall because the front wall of the cargo container remains open while the cargo is being unloaded. Typically, there is a residual amount of the cargo retained in the liner and it takes quite a long time to discharge all of the cargo.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,481,598 B1 also discusses details concerning an air bag attached to two walls of the cargo container but there is no valve device for in-out air flow control. Controlling the pressurized air is done manually. Thus, it would be almost impossible for the operators do any other job while working on the loading and unloading operation. Furthermore, with its shape of a triangle, when it is inflated, it will expand into a configuration of a pointed water drop. This results in the accumulation of a large amount of cargo at the pointed areas connecting the air bags with the cargo packaging liner.

SUMMARY

The present specification describes a flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo for cargo container transportation having the shape of a closed rectangle. One example of the flexible liner described herein includes a front wall with two openings at the top portion, one opening for cargo loading, the other opening for air ventilation, and one opening at the lower portion for cargo discharge. The top wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner is fastened to a cargo container by hooks which are then connected to elastic cords at the areas near its corners and wall edges. There are flexible strips attached to the joints between the front and the top walls as well as between the front wall and each side wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner.

In this example, the flexible strips between the front wall and each side wall have two features, i.e. one is the flexible strips with vertical rows of holes through which steel rods or axles are inserted in order to connect to 2 sides of the cargo container walls for installation while the other is the thick flexible strips and different methods of fixing to the cargo container. Two scalene hexagonal air bags are provided at the outside of a bottom wall at the area near the front wall of the flexible liner. When the air bags are fully inflated through flexible tubes with valve devices for in-out air flow control, the inflated air bags possess the shape of cut-pointed triangular prisms. These air bags will help push cargo out of the bottom opening. Controlling the out flow of air for each bag is done through a spiral valve mounted on it.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate various embodiments of the present invention and are a part of the specification. The illustrated embodiments are merely examples of the present invention and do not limit the scope of the claims.

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo for cargo container transportation attached by flexible strips with punctured holes at the joints between its front wall and each side wall.

FIG. 2 is a schematic perspective view of a flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo for cargo container transportation attached by thick flexible strips at the joints between its front wall and each side wall.

FIG. 3 is a side view of an air bag in a folded feature in preparation for attachment to the flexible cargo packaging liner at a position as shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is another side view of an air bag in a folded feature in preparation for attachment to the flexible cargo packaging liner at a position as shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the fully inflatable bag in its expanded configuration possessing the shape of cut-pointed triangular prisms.

FIG. 6 is a schematic planar view of the inflatable bag showing a folded line prior to attachment at a position shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a hook connected with a flexible rubber ring to be incorporated into a base plate and mounted on a front wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a spiral type valve while it is spirally winding up out of its base which is affixed tightly to the air bag as shown in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4.

Throughout the drawings, identical reference numbers designate similar, but not necessarily identical, elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

This specification describes a flexible liner for packaging powdered or granular cargo, in particular, a flexible cargo packaging liner for use in a cargo container. The described flexible cargo packaging liner is especially designed to package a variety of cargo that are of powdered or granular in nature and to facilitate the loading and unloading operation by providing an instant installation within the cargo container using hooks mounted on the flexible liner, as well as using flexible strips which are attached to the joints between the front and the top walls and between the front wall and each side wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner.

In a described example, the flexible strips between the front wall and each side wall have two features. The first feature is the flexible strips with vertical rows of holes, arranged from top to bottom, through which the steel rods or axles are inserted in order to connect to two sides of the cargo container, which helps support the flexible cargo packaging liner, maintain its shape, and effectively prevent wrinkles so that the problem of residual amounts of the cargo retained in the wrinkles is reduced. Without this feature, a sufficient build up of residual cargo may eventually break open the flexible cargo packaging liner. The second feature is that the thick flexible strips are used for pressing flat against the side walls of the cargo container so that the cargo container will be protected from contamination by foreign materials and maintaining vacuum condition between each wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner is easier and more effective.

Additionally, there are also scalene hexagonal air bags. When inflated, these air bags possess the shape of cut-pointed triangular prisms, which helps push the cargo out through a bottom opening. The air bags are controlled by valve devices for in-out air flow control so that no manpower is needed for this air flow control operation.

In addition, the air bags have spiral type valves capable of controlling and maintaining pressurized air content from the start of the loading process. This handling process facilitates end cargo receivers who are not equipped with air pumps. They are able to discharge cargo without the need to pump air into the air bags because the fully inflated air bags will perform the duty of pushing the cargo out through the discharge opening. Once the cargo is discharged completely, the valves can be opened to let all the air out and the air bags can be reused.

In some examples, the flexible liner described herein has the shape of a closed rectangle for packaging powdered or granular cargo for cargo container transportation. In such examples, the flexible liner comprises a front wall with two openings at the top portion, one opening for cargo loading the other for air ventilation, and one opening at the lower portion for cargo discharge. The top wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner is fastened to the cargo container by hooks which are then connected to elastic cords near the corners and wall rims. Flexible strips are attached to the joints between the front and the top walls as well as between the front wall and each side wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner. The flexible strips between the front wall and each side wall may have the following features. The flexible strips may have vertical rows of holes through which steel rods or axles are inserted in order to connect to two sides of the cargo container walls for installation, and the flexible strips are thick and have a different method of fixing to the cargo container. Two scalene hexagonal air bags are provided at the outside of the bottom wall at the area near the front wall of the flexible liner. When the air bags are fully inflated through flexible tubes with valve devices for in-out air flow control, the inflated air bags possess the shape of cut-pointed triangular prisms. These air bags help push the cargo out through the bottom opening. Controlling the outward air flow is done through a spiral valve mounted on each air bag.

The flexible cargo liner described herein provides a ready-for-installation package for cargo of powdered or granular nature for cargo container transportation, with the capacity for handling more contents of bulk transfer per one trip by using a one-piece liner and the capacity for convenient and quick discharge of cargo with the help of the air bags which, when fully inflated, push the contents inside the liner down through the discharge opening.

The availability of the flexible strips with holes through which rods or axles can be inserted to connect to the cargo container walls will help support the flexible liner for cargo packaging to maintain its shape and prevent wrinkles. These rods or axles can be made of steel, but this is not necessarily so. Other suitable materials may be used. The problem of a residual amount of the cargo being retained in the wrinkles is reduced. Without this feature, weight builds up from the residue of cargo may eventually break open the flexible cargo packaging liner.

The thick flexible strips are used to protect the cargo container from contamination by foreign materials. They are capable of maintaining a vacuum condition between each wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner and its cargo container walls. Furthermore, the thick flexible strips help the flexible cargo packaging liner maintain its shape.

Additionally, the flexible cargo packaging liner and supporting systems described herein can be automated or operated without manual supervision and control throughout its work life. It also has the capacity for multiple rounds of use.

With reference to the diagrams shown in FIG. 1 through FIG. 8, one example of a flexible cargo packaging liner according to the principles described herein will be illustrated and described. Those of skill in the art will appreciate that many other examples and modifications may be made using the principles described herein as best suits a particular application.

The flexible cargo packaging liner 1 for cargo container transportation comprises a flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 and air bags 7 and 7A as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

This flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 has a configuration of a closed rectangle for use in packaging cargo of powdered or granular nature for cargo container transportation, which is used for protection of the cargo container surface from contaminating cargo and protection of the cargo from contamination, as well as for enabling the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 to accommodate a great amount of cargo without depending heavily on the cargo being packed in many individual small liners and subsequently being piled up in the cargo container. This means that mores space inside the cargo container is available for cargo thus enabling the cargo container to hold a greater amount of cargo.

Another element in this embodiment is an air bag that possesses a configuration of a scalene hexagon when folded. Once the air bag is fully inflated, it possesses the shape of a cut-pointed triangular prism, which is different from an existing bag having an essentially triangular or trapezoid shape that will be expanded, upon full inflation, into a configuration of a pointed water drop. This may result in an accumulation of a certain amount of cargo at the pointed area of this bag. However, the air bag according to the present specification has the cut-pointed triangular prism when it is expanded, which helps push the cargo contained inside the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 out easily also reducing the amount of the cargo trapped in the corners of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45.

The flexible cargo packaging liner body 45, as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, which is the element of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1, as earlier mentioned, has a configuration of a closed rectangle comprising:

    • A front wall 40, a rear wall 50, a top wall 60, a bottom wall 70, the first side wall 80, and the second side wall 90 as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

There are two openings at the top portion of the front wall 40, one opening for cargo loading 2, the other opening being for air ventilation 3. There is also one opening for cargo discharge 4 from the flexible cargo packaging liner 45 at the lower portion of the front wall 40.

A flexible tube 12 is connected along a horizontal line parallel to the bottom wall 70 and runs through the first side wall 80 to get to the second side wall 90 and rests itself near the rear wall 50. A steel axle (not shown) will be inserted through the flexible tube 12 in order to hold the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 firmly to the cargo container.

A hook assembly 75 is used for hanging the top wall 60 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 onto the cargo container in order to prevent the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 from collapsing and damaging the cargo contained therein. The hook assembly 75, as show in FIG. 7, comprises a hook 5, a weight support plate 17 with four round holes 20 arranged in two rows of two, and elastic cords 6 which are inserted through the holes 20 of the support plate 17. The support plate 17 lies on top of a transparent plastic plate 18 which in turn connects to the top wall 60 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 at a circle 19. The hook assembly 75 will enable the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 to be ready for installation. This is very convenient to users.

As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, there is a flexible strip 10A attached to the joint between the front wall 40 and the top wall 60 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45, which presses against the front wall of the cargo container in order to close a gap between the upper side of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 and the cargo container walls and protects the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 from contamination by foreign materials.

There are flexible strips attached to the joints between the front and each side wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 in order to fix the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 to the cargo container. These flexible strips have two features as follows.

One feature of the flexible strips used for fixing the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 to the cargo container as shown in FIG. 1 is a vertical flexible strip 10 which is attached to the joints between the front wall and each side wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45. The vertical flexible strip 10 has a row of holes 11 arranged vertically from top to bottom, through which rods or axles will be inserted (not shown) in order to connect to 2 sides of the cargo container, which will help support the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 to maintain its shape and prevent wrinkles reducing the amount of residual cargo retained in the wrinkles. Without this feature, a weight buildup of residual cargo may eventually results in the breakage of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45.

The other feature of the flexible strips used for fixing the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 to the cargo container as shown in FIG. 2 is a thick flexible strip 10B which is attached to the joints between the front wall and each side wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45. The thick flexible strip 10B is used for fixing the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 to the side of the cargo container by pressing the thick flexible strip 10B against the two side walls of the cargo container. After air from an enclosed gap around the cargo container is removed by a suction pump (not shown), all walls of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 will be pressed flat against the cargo container wall. The thick flexible strip 10B will protect the cargo container from any foreign materials contamination and will help better maintain the vacuum condition between each wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45.

Another element of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 is air bags, as mentioned earlier. The design comprises at least two air bags which are of different sizes. Air bag 7 and air bag 7A posses a configuration of a scalene hexagon when they are not yet inflated. Detailed views of the air bags 7 and 7A, without the packaging liner body 45, are shown in FIG. 6.

Air bag 7 and air bag 7A comprise a broad end base 14 and taper to a narrow end base 100. The broad end base 14 has another V-shaped overlapping wall 110 inside, while the narrow end base 100 has flexible inflation tube 8 which is capable of controlling air flow through an in-out valve device 13 which lies across the flexible inflation tube 8 for introducing pressurized air into air bag 7 and air bag 7A without manpower being required to control the air flow operation. The broad end base 14 is capable of maintaining the pressurized air content inside the air bag and is also capable of performing the function of letting the air flow out.

The spiral type valve 9 as shown in FIG. 8 includes (1) a valve cap 120 to perform the function of controlling the air flow inside air bag 7 and air bag 7A; and (2) a valve base 22 which has a cylindrical tube with a spiral 21 outside.

The spiral type valve 9 is attached to air bag 7 and air bag 7A by sealing with heat into a circle line 23. Controlling and maintaining pressurized air content is done through this spiral type valve 9. Releasing the pressurized air from air bag 7 and air bag 7A is done by winding the valve cap 120 up out of the valve base 22 through the spiral 21.

As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, air bag 7 is fixed to the outside of the bottom wall 70 and to the outside of the first side wall 80 near the front wall 40 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45. This may be done with double-sided tape 16, as shown in FIG. 3. Air bag 7, while folded, possesses a configuration of a scalene hexagon, but air bag 7 when fully inflated possesses the shape of a cut-pointed triangular prism which helps to push the cargo out of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45. This reduces the amount of cargo trapped in the corners of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 as well.

As shown in FIG. 3, when air bag 7 is installed with the flexible cargo packaging liner 1, air bag 7 will be folded according to a folding line 17 which is perpendicular to the broad end base 14 of air bag 7. Then air bag 7 is fixed to the outside of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 at the edge of the first side wall 80 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 by fixing to the first side wall 80 and the bottom wall 70 with double-sided tape 16 in a position which runs along an edge line 15 of air bag 7.

As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, air bag7A, which is smaller than air bag 7, is fixed to the outside of the bottom wall 70 and to the outside of the second wall 90 near the front wall 40 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 by double-sided tape 16, as shown in FIG. 3. Air bag 7A while folded possesses a configuration of a scalene hexagon, but air bag 7A when fully inflated possesses the shape of a cut-pointed triangular prism which helps push the cargo out of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45. This helps reduce the amount of cargo trapped in the corners of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 as well.

As shown in FIG. 4, when air bag 7A is installed with the flexible cargo packaging liner 1, air bag 7A is folded according to a folding line 17 which is perpendicular to the broad end base 14 of air bag 7A. Then air bag 7A is fixed to the outside of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 at the edge of the second side wall 90 of the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 by fixing to the second side wall 90 and the bottom wall 70 with double-sided tape 16 in a position which runs along an edge line 15 of air bag 7A.

To use the flexible cargo packaging liner 1, spread the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 out in the cargo container. Insert the steel axle through the flexible tube 12 in order to fix the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 to the bottom part of the cargo container. Hook 5 is then linked up with the cargo container at its side fixture, and the cargo is subsequently loaded into the flexible cargo packaging liner body 45 through the opening for cargo loading 2. Then close the opening for cargo loading 2 and the opening for air ventilation 3 in order to prevent a reverse flow of cargo. Then the flexible strip 10A is attached to the front portion of the container to close the gap between the top portion of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 and the wall of the cargo container to reduce contamination by foreign materials slipping through the flexible cargo packaging liner 1.

To use the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 with the vertical flexible strip 10 insert the steel axle (not shown) through the hole 11 and fix to the side wall of the cargo container. Then close the cargo container door.

To use the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 with the thick vertical strip 10B press the thick vertical strip 10B flat against the two sides of the cargo container walls after the air between the gap around the cargo container and each wall of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 is fully removed. Subsequently, the walls of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 will be pressed flat against the walls of the cargo container. Then the cargo container door will be closed.

When the cargo inside the flexible cargo packaging liner 1 is ready to be discharged, the opening for cargo discharge 4 is opened to facilitate the flow of the cargo. At the same time, air bag 7 and air bag 7A are fully inflated. This expansion will make a difference to levels of the bottom area of the flexible cargo packaging liner 1, which will result in the removal of residual cargo. When all of the cargo has flowed out, valve cap 120 is opened in order to free the air content inside air bag 7 and air bag 7A. They will shrink and be ready for reuse.

The preceding description has been presented only to illustrate and describe embodiments of the invention. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to any precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching.