Title:
AUTOMATICALLY LOADABLE POLY MESH AND CLOSELY WOVEN PRODUCE BAGS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Poly mesh bags or closely woven poly bags have at least one pair of aligned apertures extending through opposite sides of the top portion of the bags, with one of the apertures slit to the top edge of one of the sides. If the bags are poly mesh bags, a band label may be secured to the top portion of the bags, with the aligned apertures also extending through the band label to give the apertures added strength. Alternatively, the poly mesh bags may have an enlarged selvedge edge adjacent the top portion through which the aligned apertures extend, and a drawstring may be interwoven in the selvedge edge below the apertures. Also a band label may be secured to both sides of the bags below the drawstring. If made of a closely woven poly material, a plurality of laterally spaced, longitudinally extending ventilation strips may be provided around the entire circumference of the bags.



Inventors:
Sprosty, Robert L. (Rocky River, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/623206
Publication Date:
07/17/2008
Filing Date:
01/15/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/386.1, 53/572, 53/573, 383/117
International Classes:
B65D30/00; B65B41/00; B65B43/14; B65B43/44; B65D30/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HELVEY, PETER N.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RENNER OTTO BOISSELLE & SKLAR, LLP (CLEVELAND, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A poly produce bag having front and back sides, each side having at least one aperture extending through a top portion of each side in alignment with each other, the aperture in one of the sides being slit to a top edge of the one side.

2. The bag of claim 1 wherein the aperture in each side is at the approximate center of the width of the top portion of each side.

3. The bag of claim 1 which is made of a poly mesh material, further comprising a band label secured to the top portion of both sides of the bag, the aligned apertures extending through the band label on both sides of the bag to give added strength to the apertures, and the slit in the front side extending through the band label to the top edge of the bag.

4. The bag of claim 1 which is made of a poly mesh material, further comprising a selvedge edge adjacent the top portion of the bag through which the aligned apertures are cut to give added strength and integrity to the apertures.

5. The bag of claim 1 wherein the selvedge edge extends above and below the apertures in the front and back sides of the bag.

6. The bag of claim 5 further comprising a drawstring interwoven in the selvedge edge below the apertures on both sides of the bag.

7. The bag of claim 6 further comprising a band label secured to both sides of the bag below the drawstring.

8. The bag of claim 1 which is made of a closely woven poly material to cut down on the amount of UV exposure to produce inside the bag.

9. The bag of claim 8 which includes a plurality of longitudinally extending ventilation strips that are laterally spaced from each other and from the aligned apertures in both sides of the bag.

10. The bag of claim 9 wherein the ventilation strips are formed by providing weft strands but leaving out warp strands in the ventilation strips during weaving of bag material.

11. A poly produce bag having front and back sides, each side having at least one aperture extending through a top portion of each side in alignment with each other for mounting of a plurality of the bags on a protruding member of an automatic bag loading apparatus, front side first, the aperture in the front side being slit to a top edge of the front side for easy extraction of the front side from the protruding member during movement of the front side away from the back side while the back side remains supported by the protruding member to open the bag prior to automatic loading with produce.

12. The bag of claim 11 which is made of a poly mesh material, further comprising a band label secured to the top portion of both sides of the bag, the aligned apertures extending through the band label on both sides of the bag to give added strength to the apertures, and the slit in the front side extending through the band label to the top edge of the bag.

13. The bag of claim 12 wherein the band label provides a substantial surface area on the front side of the bag for vacuum pulling of the front side of the bag away from the back side during opening of the bag.

14. The bag of claim 11 which is made of a poly mesh material, further comprising a selvedge edge in the top portion of the front and back sides of the bag through which the aligned apertures are cut to give added strength and integrity to the apertures.

15. The bag of claim 14 wherein the selvedge edge extends above and below the apertures in the front and back sides of the bag.

16. The bag of claim 15 further comprising a drawstring interwoven in the selvedge edge below the apertures on both sides of the bag.

17. The bag of claim 16 further comprising a band label secured to both sides of the bag below the drawstring.

18. The bag of claim 11 which is made of a closely woven poly material to cut down on the amount of UV exposure to produce inside the bag.

19. The bag of claim 18 which includes a plurality of longitudinally extending ventilation strips that are laterally spaced from each other and from the aligned apertures in both sides of the bag.

20. The bag of claim 19 wherein the ventilation strips are formed by providing weft strands but leaving out warp strands in the ventilation strips during weaving of bag material.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to poly mesh and closely woven produce bags that may be automatically loaded with produce using known automatic bag loading apparatus.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is known to provide both paper and poly sheet bags with an aperture in the approximate center of the top portion of the back side of the bags in line with a thumb notch in the front side for automatic loading of the bags with produce using automatic bag loading apparatus of the types disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,880,310 (the '310 patent), the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

As described in the '310 patent, the aperture in the back side of the bags is sized to fit over a protruding member of the automatic bag loading apparatus for holding a large number of the bags in a substantially vertical orientation. This allows the bags to be opened, one at a time, using, for example, a vacuum-operated device that engages the front side of the bags and moves the front side away from the back side while the back side is still retained on the protruding member for automatic loading of the bags with produce. Suitable devices such as clamps or other devices may also be used to stabilize and retain the bags open while produce is being loaded into the bags with the bottom of the bags resting on a conveyor belt or the like that subsequently transfers the loaded bags out of the loading position for sealing and subsequent shipment. As the loaded bags are moved out of the loading position, the back side of the bags may be freed from the protruding member by cutting or tearing the bags at the aperture in the back side of the bags as further disclosed in the '310 patent.

Using poly mesh bags to package certain types of produce has an advantage over paper and poly sheet produce bags of allowing more cold air to be circulated over the produce in the bags for longer produce life. However, heretofore it was not possible to automatically load poly mesh bags with produce using automatic bag loading apparatus of the types disclosed in the '310 patent because the top portion of conventional poly mesh bags lacks sufficient surface area for the vacuum operated devices to grab hold of to open the bags. Also, the top portion of conventional poly mesh bags does not have sufficient strength and integrity to be able to die cut apertures in the top portion of the bags to retain the bags in a substantially vertical orientation on the protruding member of the automatic bag loading apparatus and still allow the front side of the bags to easily slide off the protruding member while the back side is retained on the protruding member during opening of the bags.

Using closely woven poly bags has an advantage over poly mesh bags of cutting down on the amount of exposure of the produce inside the bags to UV light. This is particularly beneficial if the produce is potatoes, since UV light causes potatoes to degrade more rapidly. However, standard closely woven poly bags do not allow cold air to be circulated over the produce in the bags.

Also, while it would not be a problem to cut apertures in the top portion of closely woven poly bags to retain the bags in a substantially vertical orientation on the protruding member of automatic bag loading apparatus, or to grip the front side of the bags with vacuum operated devices to open the bags, there is still the problem of how to make the front side of the bags freely slide off the protruding member while retaining the back side of the bags on the protruding member during opening of the bags.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to both poly mesh and closely woven poly produce bags that allow more cold air to be circulated over the produce in the bags, and have apertures in the top portion of the bags of sufficient strength and integrity to permit the bags to be retained in a substantially vertical orientation on protruding members of automatic bag loading apparatus during automatic loading of the bags with produce. Also the bags have sufficient surface area near the top to permit the front side of the bags to be engaged by vacuum-operated devices and allow the front side of the bags to freely slide off the protruding member during movement of the front side of the bags away from the back side while the back side is still retained on the protruding member to open the bags prior to loading the bags with produce. All of the bags of the present invention may be used to pack bulk produce or bale produce.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the poly mesh and closely woven poly bags have at least one pair of apertures extending through a top portion of the front and back sides of the bags in alignment with each other for mounting of a plurality of the bags on at least one protruding member of automatic bag loading apparatus.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the aperture in the front side of the bags is slit to the top edge of the front side for easy extraction of the front side from the protruding member during movement of the front side away from the back side while the back side is retained on the protruding member to open the bags.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the aperture in each side of the bags may be located at the approximate center of the width of the top portion of each side.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the bags may be made of poly mesh material, and a band label may be secured to the top portion of both sides of the bags with the aligned apertures in the top portion extending through the band label to give added strength and integrity to the apertures, and the aperture in the front side of the bags slit through the band label to the top edge of the bags.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the band label provides sufficient surface area near the top edge of both sides of the bags for closing off the bags by sewing or gluing after loading the bags with produce.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the band label provides a substantial surface area on the front side of the bags for vacuum pulling of the front side of the bags away from the back side to open the bags.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the poly mesh bags may have a selvedge edge adjacent the top edge of both sides of the bags through which the aligned apertures may be cut to give added strength and integrity to the apertures.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a drawstring may be interwoven in the selvedge edge below the aligned apertures in both sides of the poly mesh bags.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the band label may be secured to both sides of the poly mesh bags immediately below the drawstring.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the bags may be made of a closely woven poly material to cut down on the amount of exposure of the produce inside the bags to UV light.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the closely woven poly bags may be provided with a plurality of laterally spaced, longitudinally extending ventilation strips to allow cold air to be circulated over the produce in the bags.

These and other advantages, features and aspects of the present invention will become apparent as the following description proceeds.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, the invention, then, comprises the features hereinafter more fully described and particularly pointed out in the claims, the following description and the annexed drawings setting forth in detail certain illustrative embodiments of the invention, these being indicative, however, of but several of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention may be more readily understood by reference to the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic fragmentary perspective view of one form of poly mesh bag of the present invention intended for automatic loading with produce;

FIG. 2 is a schematic fragmentary side view, partly in section, of a plurality of the poly mesh bags of FIG. 1 loaded onto the protruding member of automatic bag loading apparatus.

FIG. 3 is a schematic perspective side view, partly in section, similar to FIG. 2 but showing the first poly mesh bag on the protruding member opened up in position below a chute for automatic loading of the bag with produce;

FIG. 4 is a schematic fragmentary perspective view of another form of poly mesh bag of the present invention intended for automatic loading with produce;

FIG. 5 is a schematic fragmentary perspective view of still another form of closely woven poly bag of the present invention intended for automatic loading with produce; and

FIG. 5a is an enlarged schematic fragmentary side elevation of a portion of one of the ventilation strips in the bag of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now in detail to the drawings, and initially to FIG. 1, there is schematically shown one form of poly mesh bag 1 of the present invention for packaging produce such as onions or potatoes or citrus.

To make poly mesh bags of this type suitable for automatic loading using automatic bag loading apparatus of the type disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,880,310, a printed band label 2 may be secured to the top portion 3 on both sides 4, 5 of each bag as by gluing or stitching the band label to the outer surface of both sides with the top edge 6 of the band label in close proximity to the top edge 7 of both sides. This gives the top portion 3 of the bag 1 greater strength and integrity for forming as by die cutting at least one pair of aligned apertures 9, 10 through the band label and both sides of the bag for suspending a plurality of the bags 1 from one or more protruding members 11 of automatic bag loading apparatus 12 as schematically shown in FIG. 2.

If there is only one pair of apertures 9, 10 in each bag, the apertures should be located at the approximate center of the width of the top portion of each side of the bag as shown in FIG. 1. This allows a plurality of such bags to hang in a substantially vertical orientation when suspended from a single protruding member 11 of the automatic bag loading apparatus 12. Member 11 may be suitably attached to a frame 15 and extend at a slight upward angle as illustrated in FIG. 2 to permit gravity feeding of the bags along the protruding member as described in the '310 patent.

Locating the band label 2 at the top portion 3 of bag 1 also has the advantage that the band label provides a substantial surface area on the front side 4 of the bag for gripping by a vacuum operated device 16 for moving the front side away from the back side 5 during opening of each bag as schematically shown in FIG. 3. The aperture 9 extending through the front side 4 of the bag including the band label 2 has a slit 17 extending all the way to the top edges 6, 7 of the band label and front side of the bag as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. This allows for easy extraction of the front side 4 of the bag from the protruding member 11 during movement of the front side away from the back side while the back side remains supported by the protruding member to open the bag as schematically shown in FIG. 3. Suitable devices such as clamps, not shown, may be used to stabilize and retain the bag open while produce is being loaded into the bag through a conventional chute 18 with the bottom 19 of the bag resting on a conveyor belt 20 or the like as schematically shown in FIG. 3.

Once a bag is fully loaded, the conveyor belt 20 may be used to transfer the loaded bag out of the loading position shown in FIG. 3 to a closing station (not shown) for sealing and subsequent shipment. The band label 2 at the top portion 3 of the bag provides sufficient surface area near the top edge 7 for closing off the bag by sewing or gluing both sides of the bag together.

As the loaded bag is moved out of the loading position, the back side 5 of the bag may be freed from the protruding member 11 by cutting or tearing the bag at the aperture 10 in the back side as disclosed, for example, in the '310 patent.

The dimensions of the bag 1 may vary depending on the quantity and type of produce to be packaged in the bag. Also the diameter of the apertures 9, 10 may vary depending on the size and shape of the protruding member from which the bags are to be suspended during automatic loading of the bags. However, in an exemplary embodiment, the apertures 9, 10 may have a diameter of approximately ¾ inch, and the top edges 22, 23 of the apertures may be spaced approximately ½ inch from the top edge of the front and back sides of the bag.

Locating the top edge 23 of the aperture 10 in the back side 5 of the bag approximately ½ inch from the top edge 7 of the back side gives the aperture wall enough strength to hold the back side of the bag on the protruding member 11 during filling of the bag with produce with the bottom of the bag supported on the conveyor 20. At the same time the top edge 23 of aperture 10 is close enough to the top edge 7 of the back side of the bag to allow the aperture to be easily cut or torn after the bag is loaded so the loaded bag can freely be transported to the closing station.

FIG. 4 shows another form of poly mesh bag 30 of the present invention which may also be loaded with produce using the same type of automatic bag loading apparatus previously described. Poly mesh bag 30 shown in FIG. 4 differs from bag 1 shown in FIGS. 1-3 in that it includes a drawstring 31 that may be used to close the bag after the bag is filled with produce. However, drawstring 31, rather than being located adjacent the top edge 32 of the bag as in the usual case, is moved down to provide room for die cutting a pair of aligned apertures 33, 34 in the approximate center of the opposite sides 35, 36 of the bag adjacent the top edge 32, similar to the aligned apertures 9, 10 in bag 1 shown in FIG. 1. This permits a plurality of bags 30 to be suspended in a substantially vertical orientation on the protruding member 11 of automatic bag loading apparatus 12 similar to bags 1 schematically shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.

To give the apertures 33, 34 in bag 30 added strength and integrity, bag 30 has a relatively wide selvedge top edge 37 formed by providing an increased number of weft threads in the top portion 38 of the bag. The selvedge edge 37 is of sufficient height not only to permit the apertures 33, 34 to be die cut through the selvedge edge, but also to permit the drawstring 31 to be interwoven in the selvedge edge 37 below the apertures 33, 34.

Although the dimensions of bag 30 shown in FIG. 4 may vary, in one exemplary embodiment, selvedge edge 37 may extend approximately 3 inches down from the top edge 32, the apertures 33, 34 may have a diameter of approximately ¾ inch, and the upper edges 40, 41 of the apertures may be spaced approximately ½ inch from the top edges 32 of the front and back sides of the bag. Drawstring 31 may be approximately ½ to ¾ inch below the lower edges 42, 43 of apertures 33, 34.

Secured to both sides 35, 36 of bag 30 below drawstring 31 is a band label 45. The upper edge 46 of band label 45 may be approximately 1 to 2 inches below the drawstring or approximately 4 to 5 inches below the top edge 32 of bag 30. This locates band label 45 sufficiently close to the top edge 32 that the front of the band label can still be gripped by the vacuum operated devices 16 schematically shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 to automatically open bag 30 prior to filling in the manner previously described. Also the aperture 33 in the front side 35 of bag 30 has a slit 47 extending to the top edge 7 of the front side for easy extraction of the front side from the protruding member 11 during movement of the front side away from the back side while the back side remains supported by the protruding member to open the bag as before. As the loaded bags 30 are moved out of the loading position, the back side 36 of the bags may be freed from the protruding member 11 by cutting or tearing the bags at the aperture 34 in the back side in the manner previously described.

Bags 30 may be closed after automatic filling by stitching at the top or by pulling the drawstring 31 shut. If the bags 30 are stitched closed at the top, they can readily be opened without disturbing the drawstring 31. This allows the bags to be used again after emptying the bags, since the drawstring 31 is still intact. If the drawstring 31 is used to close the bags after automatic filling, and the bags are intended to be reused, one has to be careful not to cut the drawstring when emptying the bags the first time.

FIG. 5 shows another poly bag 50 of the present invention which is primarily intended for packaging produce such as potatoes in bulk, for example, 50 pounds of potatoes. This bag is made of a closely woven poly material such as uncoated polypropylene to cut down on the amount of exposure of the produce inside the bag to UV light. This is particularly beneficial if the produce is potatoes, since UV light causes potatoes to degrade more rapidly.

The close weave pattern of bag 50 also gives the bag added strength, making it easier to die cut aligned apertures 51, 52 in the approximate center of opposite sides 53, 54 of the bag adjacent the top edge 55 without pulling apart. In addition, the fabric of bag 50 is easily printable and can easily be glued shut or sewn shut after loading the bag with produce. Moreover, the close weave pattern of bag 50 makes it easy to grip the front side 53 of the bag with a vacuum operated device 16 to open the bag when suspended from the protruding member 11 of automatic bag loading apparatus 12 of the type previously described. Further, the aperture 51 in the front side of bag 50 has a slit 56 extending to the top edge 55 of the front side 53 for easy extraction of the front side from the protruding member 11 during movement of the front side away from the back side 54 while the back side remains supported by the protruding member 11 during opening and filling of the bag in the manner previously described.

To provide for ventilation of the potatoes or other produce inside bag 50, a series of laterally spaced, longitudinally extending ventilation strips 57 may be provided in both sides of the bag. These ventilation strips 57 may be formed by providing the weft strands 58 but leaving out the warp strands 59 in the ventilation strips as schematically shown in FIG. 5a during weaving of the bag material. Each of the ventilation strips 51 may, for example, be approximately 1 inch wide and spaced approximately 5 inches apart around the entire circumference of the bag, with sufficient spacing between the ventilation strips and apertures 51, 52 in both sides of the bag so as not to affect the strength and integrity of the apertures.

Although the invention has been shown and described with respect to certain embodiments, it is obvious that equivalent alterations and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of the specification. In particular, with regard to the various functions performed by the above-described components, the terms (including any reference to a “means”) used to describe such components are intended to correspond, unless otherwise indicated, to any component which performs the specified function of the described component (e.g., that is functionally equivalent), even though not structurally equivalent to the disclosed component which performs the function of the herein illustrated exemplary embodiments of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been disclosed with respect to only one embodiment, such feature may be combined with one or more other features as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application.