Title:
Environmentally sustainable packaging and method of making thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Sustainable packaging and a method of making sustainable packaging including forming the packaging from a predetermined needed material and using the packaging to ship a second part or product, whereby the packaging material is then used to form a first part or product. The packaging includes a plurality of spacer pads arranged in layers and configured to hold the second part or component between the spacer pads. The packaging may also include sheet layers or protective members located between the spacer pads and the parts, the sheet layers may include a volatile corrosion inhibitor. The packaging may also include a sleeve disposed around the spacer pads. A bottom tray located on one end of the sleeve and a lid located on the other end complete the packaging.



Inventors:
Shepps, David (Ann Arbor, MI, US)
Arbuckle, Marsialle (Livonia, MI, US)
Demuro, Richard (Ann Arbor, MI, US)
Huff, Roger (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Bosker, James (Plymouth, MI, US)
Madeline, Erin (New Hudson, MI, US)
Kimmel, Bud (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/290664
Publication Date:
05/31/2007
Filing Date:
11/30/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/456, 206/499
International Classes:
B65B43/08; B65D85/62
View Patent Images:
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20060242927Lid dispensing system with stock cartridgesNovember, 2006Gorzynski
20070261366Strip-pack manufacturing apparatusNovember, 2007Iwamoto et al.
20080000204Vacuum sealer apparatus and a film cartridge for a vacuum sealer and a means of operating the vacuum sealer and the film cartridgeJanuary, 2008Turvey et al.
20050172581Folding method and device for closing the end of a tubular wrappingAugust, 2005Spatafora et al.
20070044429Pneumatic system for the seizure and transfer of packs of productsMarch, 2007Davi
20090104442Antimicrobial Gas Generating SystemApril, 2009Kwong et al.
20010039786Method for providing wet wipesNovember, 2001Romme et al.



Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUNG & ASSOCIATES (Garden City, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of making sustainable packaging comprising the steps of: determining a need for a raw material for making a first product; determining shipping and packaging requirements for a second product and designing packaging for said second product from the raw material used for making said first product.

2. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including the step of analyzing current packaging for said second product including identifying problems with current packaging.

3. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including the step of developing a problem statement to evaluate current issues with current packaging, said step including addressing issues related to contamination, environmental waste, non-value added steps and part quality.

4. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including the step of evaluating packaging design criteria for the second product.

5. In method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including the step of testing the packaging.

6. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 5 wherein the step of testing the packaging includes the step of performing a finite element analysis on the proposed package design.

7. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including the step of preparing a prototype and testing the prototype.

8. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including the step of identifying accepted standards and criteria for assessing performance, reliability and manufacturing capability of the packaging; and verifying that the packaging meets accepted standards and criteria.

9. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including using a polymer material as a raw material.

10. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 wherein the step of the designing packaging for the second product includes providing a bottom member; a sleeve member, a lid and a plurality of bottom and top spacer pads sized to fit within the sleeve and configured for placement on opposite sides of the second product to form a layer.

11. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 1 including using a protective sheet between the second product and the spacer pad.

12. A method of making sustainable packaging as set forth in claim 11 including using a protective sheet having a volatile corrosion inhibitor impregnated in the protective sheet.

13. A method of forming a part or product from packaging material comprising: determining a need for materials to manufacture a first product; reviewing design criteria for packaging used to transport a second product; designing packaging for use with the second product, the packaging constructed, at least in part, from the material used to manufacture the first product; transporting the second product in the packaging ; and removing the second product from the packaging and using the material of the packaging to form the first product.

14. A method of obtaining material as set forth in claim 13 wherein the step of determining need for materials to manufacture a first product includes assessing current material needs.

15. The method of obtaining material as set forth in claim 13 wherein the step of reviewing packaging for transporting a second product includes evaluating at least in part the following concerns: contamination issues, environmental waste, non-value added steps and quality issues associated with transporting the second product.

16. The method of obtaining material as set forth in claim 13 wherein the step of designing the packaging for use with the second product includes evaluating the proposed packaging at least in part based on several requirements, including international packaging, intermodal packaging, corrosion protection, contamination protection and ergonomic issues.

17. The method of obtaining material as set forth in claim 13 wherein the step of reviewing the packaging includes analyzing environmental costs including end-user costs relating to transportation and disposal; and analyzing fabrication costs as a component of the overall packaging cost.

18. The method of obtaining material as set forth in claim 13 including the step of using a polymer material to form the packaging ; and regrinding and reusing the polymer material to form the first product once a second product is removed from the packaging.

19. Packaging for transporting a second product wherein at least a portion of the material forming the packaging is used to form a first product, said packaging comprising: at least one layer formed of a plurality of members, said layer including first and second spacer pads, at least one of said spacer pads configured to fit the second product, said second product located between said spacer pads, sheet members located between said first and second spacer pads and the second product; and a sleeve, said sleeve surrounding said layer.

20. Packaging for transporting a second product as set forth in claim 19 wherein said protective sheets include a volatile corrosion inhibitor.

21. Packaging for transporting a second product as set forth in claim 19 including a bottom tray; and a lid, wherein said lid is located on one end of said sleeve and said bottom tray is located on said opposite end of said sleeve.

22. Packaging for transporting a second product as set forth in claim 21 wherein said bottom tray includes a plurality of legs.

23. Packaging for transporting a second product as set forth in claim 19 including a bottom tray and a lid, said spacer pads, bottom tray, sleeve, and lid made from a polypropylene material used to manufacture the first product.

24. Packaging for transporting a second product as set forth in claim 19 including a plurality of layers located within said sleeve, said protective sheets located in said layers including a volatile corrosion inhibitor; a lid located on one end of said sleeve; and a bottom tray having a plurality of legs located on an opposite end of said sleeve.

25. Packaging for transporting a second product as set forth in claim 24 including said first and second spacer pads configured to fit the first article.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to packaging and more specifically to environmentally sustainable packaging used to ship or transport articles.

2. Description of Related Art

In today's global manufacturing environment, many parts, components or workpieces, especially those used in automotive manufacturing, are obtained from worldwide sources. That is, the part or component manufacturer may not be located geographically near the assembly facility. Thus, the parts or components are packaged and shipped to the assembly facility where there are assembled to form a finished product. An assembly facility can literally receive thousands of parts from various manufacturers located all across the globe, with the parts or components arriving at the assembly facility in various types of packaging and/or shipping containers. Ultimately, the assembly facility is tasked with handling or disposing of the packaging and/or shipping containers once the part or component has been removed. Thus, in many cases, the packaging and/or shipping containers are carted off and discarded as waste, creating further environmental issues when they end up in a landfill.

Various types of materials are used for packaging or shipping containers, one of the primary materials being cardboard. Cardboard packaging or shipping containers have drawbacks; specifically, depending upon the particular part or component being shipped they can be a source of part contamination. In some cases, cardboard packaging increases overall shipping costs since in some instances the part must be removed from the cardboard packaging and repacked in a different container prior to reaching its final destination. Cardboard also has poor environmental sustainability. While cardboard is recyclable, it is not typically used by the end manufacture or assembly plant and thus must be stored and ultimately removed from the assembly facility. In many instances, it is simply discarded after use. Thus, the overall cost to make and recycle or dispose of cardboard packaging impacts the environment and increases energy costs.

Wood packaging, such as pallets and boxes, is also used to transport parts or components. Wood packaging is typically expensive to make and maintain. The wood may be a source of part contamination, may deteriorate due to adverse weather and may be subject to insect infestation. Finally, wood packaging or shipping containers also have issues with recyclability and disposal. As with cardboard, the overall cost to make and recycle or dispose of wood packaging impacts the environment and increases energy costs.

Plastic or polymer packaging, such as plastic pallets and boxes are also used for shipping parts or components. Plastic packaging may also result in part contamination. In addition, the initial cost of plastic packaging typically requires that the packaging be returned to the initial manufacturer for reuse. Returning the packaging incurs additional costs associated with storing sorting and returning plastic packaging or shipping materials to the component manufacturer. In many cases, the packaging is part or component specific and thus must be returned to specific component manufacturers. Accordingly, the cost of returning the plastic packaging or shipping materials may outweigh any benefits obtained over other packaging materials.

Accordingly, it is desirable to have an environmentally sustainable packaging wherein the material used for the packaging can also be recycled or used by the end user or assembly facility thereby eliminating the need to discard or return the packaging or shipping materials to the component manufacturer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is sustainable packaging and method of designing such packaging. In general, the sustainable packaging is designed by taking into account or determining a need for a particular raw material used to manufacture a first product. The method includes determining packaging requirements for a second product. Accordingly, the packaging for the second product is designed such that it includes or is formed of the raw material needed for the first product. Thus, upon removal of the second product from the packaging, at least a portion of the packaging can be used to manufacture the first product. Designing and using sustainable packaging according to the present invention saves on overall costs, reduces energy consumption and conserves resources.

The present invention also includes sustainable packaging for transporting a part or component wherein at least a portion of the packaging is intended for use to manufacture a predetermined article or product. Accordingly, the packaging supplies the recipient of the packaging with a raw material with which to manufacture the predetermined article or product. The packaging includes a top and bottom layer formed of a material used to form the predetermined article or product. The top and bottom layer are configured to hold the transported part or component. First and second sheet layers positioned or sandwiched between the top layer and the part and between the bottom layer and the part help protect the transported part or component during shipment. A predetermined amount of layers are stacked upon one another and sandwiched between a bottom tray and the lid. A sleeve extending between the bottom tray and the related surrounds the layers and forms an outer wall to complete the packaging.

One advantage of the present invention is that the packaging is designed with a predetermined end use; specifically, providing raw material used to manufacture a part or component. Thus, the packaging has a twofold function; it transports a part or component after which it is formed into a predetermined article or product. Accordingly, the packaging eliminates material from the waste stream and adds value to the packaging.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating the preferred embodiment of the invention, are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating the overall method of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a plurality of steps for reviewing current packaging according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating a plurality of steps for designing packaging according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of sustainable packaging according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the sustainable packaging illustrated in FIG. 4 shown in an assembled condition.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the drawings and more particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, a block diagram of a method 10 for developing sustainable packaging based on a predetermined material selection according to one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, the method 10 is used to develop packaging, seen generally at 50 in FIG. 4, for powertrain components 14 wherein at least a portion of the packaging 50 is reused to manufacture a second part or product.

In operation, the method 10 begins with block 16, wherein the need for materials to manufacture a first part or product, such as a splash shield for a motor vehicle is assessed. Specifically, the method contemplates beginning with a particular part or component manufactured from a predetermined material. Once the material needs are determined for the first part or product, as illustrated in block 18, the method includes reviewing packaging currently used for transporting a second part or product, illustrated in the present embodiment as a powertrain component. The review may include determining packaging requirements for the second part or product such as ergonomic requirements, corrosion requirements, contamination prevention requirements and part support.

Block 20 illustrates that the method includes determining whether the predetermined material will satisfy the packaging needs or specifications determined in the previous step, block 18. Once it is determined that the predetermined material will meet the packaging needs of the second part or product, as illustrated in block 22, the next step is to design packaging for the second part or product. The packaging is designed such that at least a part of the packaging will be constructed from the predetermined material used to manufacture the first part or product.

Upon completing the design, the proposed packaging then, as illustrated in block 24, undergoes a variety of tests. For example, a finite element analysis is performed on the design concept to establish the viability of the proposed packaging. Continued testing includes manufacturing a prototype and subjecting it to a shake test and a load test. Upon successful completion of the testing phase, as illustrated in block 26, packaging is manufactured and used to transport the second part or product from a manufacturing facility to a final destination, often an assembly facility. As illustrated in block 28, removal of the second part or product from the packaging enables use of that portion of the packaging formed from the predetermined material in a process to manufacture the first product.

Accordingly, the overall method of the present invention is comprised of three interrelated parts: first, determining an end use or need for a particular or predetermined material used to manufacture a first product, typically a polymer material; second, defining packaging criteria for transporting a second product; and third designing packaging for the second product using the predetermined material.

Turning now to FIG. 2, block 18 is shown in detail and includes blocks 30-36. Block 30 includes the step of evaluating contamination issues associated with the current packaging. For example, with cardboard packaging, cardboard fibers may contaminate the part. Additionally, open rack containers also allow for part contamination. Block 32 includes the step of evaluating environmental waste; specifically, cardboard containers and wood pallets are typically treated as waste material that must be disposed once the second part or product reaches its end destination.

Block 34 includes the step of evaluating non-value added steps. It may be necessary to remove the part or product from the original packaging and repack it prior to the part or product reaching its final destination. For example, when cardboard is used as packaging, cardboard fibers can create contamination issues. Accordingly, prior to transporting the part or product to its final destination to prevent contamination at the final destination, the part or product is removed from the cardboard container and repacked in a different container. Finally, block 36 includes the step of evaluating the quality issues including part-to-part contact, corrosion issues and other packaging concerns that may result in damage to the part or product.

Turning now to FIG. 3, block 22 is shown in detail and includes blocks 38-46. Block 38 includes evaluating international packaging requirements, including standards for sea-containers. Block 40 includes evaluating the requirements for intermodal shipping including transferring the packaging through various types of shipping including ocean, rail and truck. Block 42 includes evaluating the corrosion protection needs of the part or product. Block 44 includes evaluating any potential contamination issues associated with the part or product. Block 46 includes evaluating any ergonomic requirements, including loading and unloading the second part or product from the packaging.

It should be understood that the above-identified steps are not inclusive of all steps taken to create packaging according to the present invention. Nor must every step be taken in order to create sustainable packaging according to the present invention. One aspect of the present invention is a method for use in designing packaging from a predetermined end use material, whereby at least a portion of the packaging is formed of the predetermined end use material. Accordingly, at least a portion of the packaging is recycled and formed into a first product made from the end use material after removal of the second part or product from the packaging.

FIGS. 4-5 illustrate packaging 50 formed in accordance with the method of the present invention. As illustrated herein, the packaging is used for transporting or shipping a powertrain component 14. The packaging 50 includes a bottom spacer pad 52 and a top spacer pad 54. The bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 may include a shaped receptacle or cutout 56 that receives the part, in the present embodiment the powertrain component 14. The bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 may be molded with the shaped receptacle or cutout 56. In addition, each spacer pad 52, 54 may be made up of any plurality of individual layers, wherein one or more of the layers is die cut with the shaped receptacle or cutout 56 prior to assembling the individual layers to form the spacer pads 52, 54.

The packaging further includes protection sheets or layers 58 dispersed between the powertrain components 14 and the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54. Depending upon the material used for the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 the sheets 58 perform several functions. Initially, the sheets 58 prevent direct contact between the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 and the powertrain components 14 to eliminate any wear between the two. Specifically, if the powertrain components 14 rub on the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 a small amount of material from the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 may be removed and cause part contamination.

In addition, the sheets 58 may include a volatile corrosion inhibitor impregnated therein. Accordingly, the volatile corrosion inhibitor in the sheets 58 will vaporize and attach to the powertrain components 14 and form a protection layer that prevents humidity, salt, dirt and other contaminants from depositing on and causing corrosion of the powertrain components 14.

The packaging 50 further includes a bottom tray 60 having legs 62 arranged in a pallet configuration. A sleeve 64 surrounds the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54 and forms an outer wall of the packaging 50. A lid 66 fits over and on top of the sleeve 64 to complete the packaging. In accordance with the present invention, the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54, bottom tray 60, sleeve 64 and lid 66 are all made from a predetermined polymer, such as polypropylene, suitable for use as a raw material to manufacture a preselected part or product.

The packaging is used as follows, the sleeve 64 is placed into the bottom tray 60 after which a bottom spacer pad 52 is placed in the tray 60. One of the protective sheets 58 is placed on the bottom spacer pad 52. A part, illustrated herein a powertrain component 14, is placed on top of protective sheet 58 such that it sits in one of the shaped receptacle or cutout areas 56 of the bottom spacer pad 52. A second protective sheet 58 is then placed on top of the powertrain component 14 layer after which a top spacer pad 54 is placed on the top protective sheet 58 and over the powertrain component 14 layer. The process is continued in a layer-by-layer manner until reaching the top of the sleeve 64 at which time the lid 66 is placed on the sleeve 64. The entire packaging 50 may be secured with bands or straps extending around the bottom tray 60, sleeve 64 and lid 66.

One advantage of the present packaging 50 is that the spacer pads 52, 54 forming each layer operate to separate the parts or products, shown herein as powertrain components 14. Since the powertrain components 14 are stacked on top of each other, they bear their own weight and support one another rather than the packaging being designed to support the weight of the powertrain components 14. Further, while shown with top and bottom spacer pads 54, 52, depending upon the part or product being transported, the packaging 50 may use a single pad between each layer of parts. For example, if the part or product has a relatively simple configuration, a single layer between the parts may suffice. In addition, the shaped receptacle or cutout 56 may be located on both sides of a single spacer pad.

In accordance with the present invention, prior to designing the packaging for the powertrain components 14, it was determined that polypropylene was a needed material to manufacture a first product, for example a vehicle splash shield. Accordingly, knowing that there is a predetermined need for polypropylene material to manufacture a first product, current packaging designs for transporting other products; i.e., a second part or product, are reviewed to determine if polypropylene can be used for packaging the second part or product.

In the present example, currently cardboard containers are used to transport the powertrain components 14. Cardboard containers contribute to part contamination. Cardboard fibers can cause serious contamination problems with powertrain components. To prevent contamination the components are sometimes inserted in a plastic bag prior to placement in the cardboard container. In addition, cardboard containers require a repack step as powertrain assembly plants typically restrict the use of cardboard shipping materials to prevent part contamination. Accordingly, this increases costs of using cardboard containers to ship powertrain components. By using polypropylene as the base material for the packaging 50, the materials may be reused thereby eliminating costly waste and repack costs. Accordingly, once the powertrain components 14 are removed from the packaging 50, the polypropylene components, specifically the bottom and top spacer pads 52, 54, bottom tray 60, sleeve 64 and lid 66 are subjected to a regrind process to transform them into raw material used to form the first part or product, disclosed herein as a vehicle splash shield.

Accordingly, using packaging made from a predetermined material having a known end use to transport parts or products has dual savings; first, it eliminates problems associated with non-value added repackaging and second, it supplies raw material for manufacturing a second part or product. Thus, the present invention provides sustainable packaging designed to transport a second part or product. Once the second product is delivered to its end destination, the packaging is then recycled as a raw material to form a first part or product.

The description of the invention is merely exemplary in nature and, thus, variations that do not depart from the gist of the invention are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention.