Title:
Dispensing container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container has a hollow interior divided into a first chamber and a second chamber. Products can be arranged within the first chamber. The second chamber provides a storage area for storing objects, e.g., the product when the user has finished with the product or packaging of the product. The first and second chambers can be dynamically dimensioned. For example, a barrier dividing the first and second chambers can shift and/or flex to modify the dimensions of the chambers.



Inventors:
Geissler, Randolph K. (Hudson, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/823114
Publication Date:
12/25/2008
Filing Date:
06/25/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/562
International Classes:
B65D83/00; B65B43/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRANO, ERNESTO ARTURIO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A container for dispensing products and for receiving objects, the container comprising: first and second spaced-apart major surfaces; first and second spaced-apart minor surfaces, the first and second minor surfaces interconnecting the first and second major surfaces to define an interior; a divider, the divider separating the interior into a first chamber and a second chamber; a front end extending between the major surfaces and the minor surfaces, the front end defining a first aperture, the first aperture providing access to the first chamber from an exterior of the container; and a rear end extending opposite the front end between the major surfaces and the minor surfaces, the rear end closing the interior; wherein one of the spaced apart minor sides defines a second aperture, the second aperture providing access to the second chamber from the exterior of the container.

2. A container for dispensing products, the container comprising: a housing, the housing including: first and second spaced-apart side walls; a base interconnecting the first and second side walls; a cover pivotally coupled to one of the side walls, the cover configured to move from a first position, interconnecting the first and second side walls opposite the base, to a second position, providing access to an interior of the housing; a front end extending between the first and second side walls and extending between the base and the cover when the cover is arranged in the first position; a rear end arranged opposite the front end; and a first dividing flap, the first dividing flap coupled to the front end of the housing, the first dividing flap being configured to move from a first position, in which the first dividing flap extends generally parallel with the base, to a second position, in which the first dividing flap extends oblique to the base, the first dividing flap separating the interior of the housing into a first chamber and a second chamber.

3. The container of claim 2, further comprising a second dividing flap, the second dividing flap coupled to the rear end of the housing, the second dividing flap cooperating with the first dividing flap to define the first and second chambers.

4. The container of claim 3, wherein the second dividing flap is configured to move from a first position, in which the second dividing flap extends generally parallel with the base, to a second position, in which the second dividing flap extends oblique to the base.

5. The container of claim 2, wherein the front end defines a first aperture providing access to the first chamber.

6. The container of claim 2, wherein the cover defines a second aperture providing access to the second chamber.

7. The container of claim 6, wherein the cover includes flaps extending over the second aperture to form a cross-slit aperture, the flaps being configured to deflect only inwardly to enable objects to be placed within the second chamber and to inhibit objects from leaving the second chamber through the second aperture.

8. A container for dispensing products from an interior, the container having a length, the container comprising: first and second spaced-apart major surfaces extending along the length of the container; first and second spaced-apart minor surfaces, the first and second minor surfaces interconnecting the first and second major surfaces to define an interior; a front end having a first section and a second section, the first section of the front end extending between the major surfaces and the minor surfaces, the second section of the front end being bent inwardly to position the second section within the interior of the container, wherein the second section of the front end extends substantially the length of the container; and a rear end having a first section and a second section, the first section of the rear end extending opposite the first section of the front end between the major surfaces and the minor surfaces, the first section of the rear end closing the interior of the container, the second section of the rear end being bent inwardly to position the second section within the interior of the container, wherein the second section of the rear end extends substantially the length of the container.

9. A packaging system for animal ear tags, the packaging system comprising: a first encasement having first and second opposite major edges and first and second opposite minor edges, the major edges and the minor edges each being sealed to form an interior pocket in which a first animal ear tag is enclosed; a second encasement having first and second opposite major edges and first and second opposite minor edges, the major edges and the minor edges each being sealed to form an interior pocket in which a second animal ear tag is enclosed; and a third encasement having first and second opposite major edges and first and second opposite minor edges, the major edges and the minor edges each being sealed to form an interior pocket in which a third animal ear tag is enclosed; wherein the first minor edge of the second encasement is releasably coupled to the second minor edge of the first encasement, and the second minor edge of the second encasement being releasably coupled to the first minor edge of the first encasement to form a strip of encasements.

10. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the strip further comprises a plurality of encasements releasably coupled to each other

11. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the strip is arranged in a rolled-up configuration.

12. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the encasement is formed from plastic.

13. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the strip includes ten encasements.

14. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the strip includes one hundred encasements.

15. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the strip is arranged in a roll.

16. The packaging system of claim 9, wherein the strip is arranged within a container.

17. A dispensing container comprising: first and second spaced-apart major surfaces; first and second spaced-apart minor surfaces, the first and second minor surfaces interconnecting the first and second major surfaces to define an interior; first and second spaced-apart ends, the first and second ends extending between the first and second major surfaces and between the first and second minor surfaces to further define the interior; a divider, the divider separating the interior into a first chamber and a second chamber, the divider being configured to move from a first position to a second position, wherein the divider moving from the first position to the second position decreases the size of the first chamber and increases the size of the second chamber; a strip of encasements arranged within the first chamber, the encasements of the strip being releasably coupled to each other, each of the encasements containing a product.

18. The dispensing container of claim 17, wherein the product contained within each encasement includes an RFID animal ear tag.

19. The dispensing container of claim 17, further including an empty encasement arranged in the second chamber.

20. The dispensing container of claim 17, further including a used product arranged in the second chamber.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a container for dispensing a product and more particularly to a dispensing container for radio frequency identification tags used for tracking animals.

BACKGROUND

Unique challenges are associated with tracking livestock. In view of deadly livestock diseases, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as Mad Cow disease, that been known to infect herds and meat products, there is a strong global public interest in tracking livestock. As such, tracking livestock is increasingly becoming more common as well as highly regulated.

One common means to track livestock requires livestock ranchers to apply for government-issued livestock identification numbers, which are forwarded to designated RFID tag manufacturers to be written into identification tags that are subsequently packaged and sold to the end user through authorized distributors. The identification tags are coupled to an appendage, such as the ear, of each animal.

Typically, when an identification tag wears out (e.g., become damaged, become unreliable due to insufficient battery charge, etc.), the identification tag is manually replaced in the field. A rancher or other handler approaches the animal, removes the worn out tag from the animal, and couples the new tag to the animal. The worn out tag can be discarded by the rancher, either after being carried back to a disposal unit or simply by being dropped in the field. In addition, the new tag may be wrapped in a packaging, which also can be discarded after the new identification tag is applied to the animal.

Accordingly, it is desirable to develop disposal systems and methods to enable easy and efficient disposal of unwanted items, such as empty packaging or old products.

SUMMARY

Certain aspects of the disclosure relate to packaging for dispensing a product. In general, the packaging is configured to hold and provide access to products stored within the packaging.

According to aspects of the disclosure, the packaging includes a roll of encasements, each encasement configured to hold a product.

In an example embodiment, the roll of encasements includes a roll of plastic bags joined together at perforated ends.

According to other aspects of the disclosure, the packaging includes a dispensing container.

According to some such aspects, the dispensing container contains the roll of encasements.

According to other such aspects, the dispensing container defines a first chamber and a second chamber. In an embodiment, the first chamber holds a first type of item and the second chamber holds a different type of item. For example, in an embodiment, the first chamber is configured to hold a product and the second chamber is configured to hold used products, empty packaging, other waste, or similar objects.

According to other such aspects, the first chamber and the second chamber of the dispensing container can have variable size. For example, one of the first and second chambers can increase in size as the other decreases in size. In an embodiment, the first chamber is separated from the second chamber by a divider.

In an example embodiment, the divider can pivot to modify the dimensions of at least one of the first and second chambers.

In another example embodiment, the divider can flex to modify the dimensions of the chambers.

In other example embodiments, the divider is otherwise moveable to change the dimensions of the first and/or second chambers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an exemplary dispensing container having features that are examples of inventive aspects in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a schematic view of the dispensing container of FIG. 1 after products have been removed from a first chamber of the container and objects have been inserted into the second chamber of the container;

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of an exemplary dispensing container in which packaged products are removed from a first chamber and empty packaging in inserted into a second chamber;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of another exemplary dispensing container having features that are examples of inventive aspects in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is a front view of the dispensing container of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the dispensing container of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along the plane C1 of FIG. 4 when a roll of products are arranged within a first chamber of the dispensing container and no objects have been inserted into a second chamber of the dispensing container;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the dispensing container of FIG. 4 after some products have been dispensed and after some objects have been inserted into the second chamber of the dispensing container;

FIG. 9 is a schematic view of an exemplary packaging for a product; and

FIG. 10 is a schematic view of an exemplary strip of packaged products.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The disclosure is directed to packaging configured to contain and enable dispensing of products (e.g., an identification tag). For example, the packaging can contain radio frequency identification (RFID) devices. In other embodiments, however, any desired product can be enclosed within the packaging. The packaging is configured to enables a user to access the packaging to obtain one or more of the products at will.

According to other aspects of the disclosure, the packaging includes a roll of encasements, each encasement configured to hold a product. The roll of encasements can include a strip defining a series of pockets, each pocket containing a product. Each pocket can be separated from the other pockets via break-away segments in the strip. In an example embodiment, the roll of encasements includes a roll of plastic bags joined together at perforated ends.

According to other aspects of the disclosure, the packaging includes a dispensing container. The container has a hollow interior divided into a first chamber and a second chamber. The products are arranged within the first chamber. The container defines a first opening providing access to the first chamber to facilitate access to the products. The second chamber provides a storage area for storing objects, e.g., the product when the user has finished with the product or packaging of the product. The container defines a second opening providing access to the second chamber. The items stored in the second chamber (e.g., empty packaging) are separated from the objects stored in the first chamber (e.g., useful products) via the dividing barrier.

According to other aspects of the disclosure, the user can access a product in the first chamber through the first opening in the container and can deposit an item into the second chamber through the second opening. In an embodiment, the user retrieves a packaged product from the first chamber, unwraps the product from the packaging, and disposes of the empty packaging by pushing the packaging into the second chamber through the second opening. For example, the bags can be pushed through an X-shaped slot in the container.

The first and second chambers can be dynamically sized and shaped. In an embodiment, the first chamber decreases in size as the second chamber increases in size. For example, the first chamber can shrink as products are removed from the first chamber. The second chamber can grow as objects are stored in the second chamber. In some such embodiments, a barrier dividing the first and second chambers shifts or flexes in position and/or angle to modify the size of the chambers.

In an embodiment, the container includes two spaced-apart major sides interconnected by two spaced-apart minor sides. The major sides and the minor sides extend from a front end to a rear end to define a hollow interior. A barrier coupled to the container divides the hollow interior into the first and second chambers.

In some embodiments, the first chamber is separated from the second chamber with a horizontally extending barrier panel. For example, the first chamber can be arranged beneath the second chamber. In such embodiments, the second chamber can expand into a region initially filled by the first chamber due to gravity as products are removed from the first chamber. In other embodiments, the first chamber is separated from the second chamber with a vertically extending barrier panel. In still other embodiments, however, the first and second chambers can be divided by an angled barrier panel or another type of barrier.

The dividing barrier can be formed by folding over an extension of a side or end of the container. In an embodiment, the dividing barrier extends from one of the major sides of the container. In another embodiment, the dividing barrier extends from one of the minor sides of the container. In yet another embodiment, the dividing barrier extends from the front end or from the rear end of the container. In other embodiments, multiple dividing barriers can separate the first and second chambers. In a preferred embodiment, first and second elongated flaps extend from the front and rear ends of the container, respectively, and fold towards each other adjacent the top of the container.

In some embodiments, the container includes a cover pivotally coupled to the container to move from a first position, in which the cover closes the interior of the container, to an open position, in which one or both of the chambers can be accessed through a resulting open surface of the container. In an embodiment, the pivotal cover is formed from one of the major or minor sides of the container. For example, in a preferred embodiment, one of the minor sides positioned at a top of the container is configured to pivot along an edge extending between the minor side and one of the major sides.

In an embodiment, opening the cover provides access to one of the chambers. The other chamber is accessible by pivoting the dividing barrier out the open surface of the container. In such embodiments, the cover extends substantially parallel with the dividing barrier. In another embodiment, opening the cover provides access to both chambers. In such embodiments, the cover extends oblique or perpendicular to the dividing barrier.

In some embodiments, the products stored in the first chamber are wrapped in plastic storage bags or other encasements. In an embodiment, the products are individually packaged in the storage bags. The storage bags can be coupled together within the first chamber. The storage bags can be separated from one another (i.e., manually or automatically) as the bags are dispensed from the container.

In a preferred embodiment, the packaging roll of encasements described above can be utilized with the dispensing container. For example, the roll of encasements can be arranged within the first chamber to facilitate access to the encasements.

In an embodiment, the products can include RFID devices. For example, the products can include RFID tags configured to attach to and identify animals. In other embodiments, the products can include any desired merchandise or item for consumption.

As used herein, the term “animal” refers to macroscopic animals including vertebrates. Animals include domesticated animals, such as livestock and companion animals, and wild animals, such as game animals or fish. Livestock include animals such as swine (pig), piglet, sheep, lamb, goat, bovine (e.g., cow), fish and (e.g., salmon), birds (e.g., chickens, ducks, and geese). This list of animals is intended to be illustrative only, and should not limit the scope of any of the following disclosure related to the present invention.

The present disclosure and its benefits can be better appreciated with a description of a preferred embodiment which will now be described with reference to the figures. FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a container 100 having features that are examples of inventive aspects configured in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure. The container 100 defines a first chamber 102 and a second chamber 104. A divider 106 separates the first chamber 102 from the second chamber 104.

Products 180 can be stored in the first chamber 102. In an embodiment, the products 180 are stored loose within the first chamber 102. In another embodiment, the products 180 are packaged within storage bags or other encasements (see FIG. 3). In yet another embodiment, the products 180 are coupled together in a strip or roll (see FIGS. 7 and 10). In other embodiments, the products 180 can be arranged in any desired configuration.

The container 100 defines a first aperture 103 through which the products 180 stored in the first chamber 102 can be accessed. In the example shown, the first aperture 103 is defined in a front end of the container 100. In other embodiments, the first aperture can be defined in any desired side or end of the container 100. In an embodiment, the first aperture 103 is an open space. In other embodiments, the first aperture 103 is closable to retain the products 180 in the first chamber 102.

In an embodiment, the first aperture 103 is created by the user when the user first utilizes the container 100. For example, the first aperture 103 can result from the user removing a perforated section (not shown) of the container 100. In other embodiments, the user creates the first aperture 103 by pushing a flap (not shown) into the interior of the container 100 or pulling the flap away from the container 100. In still other embodiments, the container 100 defines the first aperture 103 when the user first obtains the container 100.

Objects 185 can be positioned within the second chamber 104. In an embodiment, the objects 185 are old or worn products 180. In another embodiment, the objects 185 are empty packaging in which the products 180 were contained. In other embodiments, the objects 185 are waste associated with use of the products 180. In still other embodiments, the objects 185 include any items a user desires to collect and store separate from the products 180.

The container 100 defines a second opening 105 through which the second chamber 104 can be accessed. In an embodiment, the second opening 105 is defined in the top surface of the container 100. In other embodiments, the second opening 105 can be defined in any surface of the container 100. In an embodiment, the second aperture 105 is an open space defined by edges of the container surface.

In other embodiments, the second aperture 105 can be at least partially covered. For example, the second aperture 105 can be defined by a cross-slit in a surface of the container 100 (see FIG. 6). The cross-slit is configured to retain objects 185 within the second chamber 104. In an embodiment, the cross-slit can be formed by the user pushing perforated sections (not shown) of the surface towards the second chamber 104.

The first and second chambers 102, 104 are separated by a divider 106. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the divider 106 is arranged in a first position P1 so that the first chamber 102 is larger than the second chamber 104. In other embodiments, the divider 106 can be positioned to define two equally-sized chambers 102, 104 or so that the second chamber 104 is larger than the first chamber 102.

In an embodiment, the divider 106 can change positions. For example, the divider 106 can be deformed/deflected from the first position P1 to a second position P2 when products 180 are removed from the first chamber 102. In another such embodiment, the divider 106 can shift when objects 185 are placed into the second chamber 104. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the divider 106 shifts from the first position P1 to the second position P2 as the products 185 are removed from the first chamber 102. For example, FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of the container 100 showing the divider 106 arranged at the second position P2.

In the example shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a user accesses a product 180′ stored within the first chamber 102 through the first aperture 103 and removes the product 180′ from the first chamber 102. The user also places objects 185′ into the second chamber 104 via the second aperture 105.

In an embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the objects 285 can be packaging containing the product 280. In such embodiments, the user removes a packaged product 280′ from the first chamber 102, unwraps a packaging 285′ from the product 280′, and places the packaging 285′ into the second chamber 104.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-8, the principles of the present disclosure can be best explained through the description of an example embodiment. FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a container 300 having features that are examples of inventive aspects in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure. The container 300 includes two spaced-apart major sides 310, 310′ interconnected by two spaced-apart minor sides 330, 330′. The major sides 310, 310′ and minor sides 330, 330′ define an interior space closed off by front and rear ends 350, 350′.

The container 300 has a height H extending along the major sides 310, 310′ between the two minor sides 330, a length L extending along the major sides 310 between the front and rear ends 350, and a width W extending along the ends 350 between the major sides 310. In the example shown, the length L is greater than either the width W or the height H. In other embodiments, however, the container 300 can have any desired dimensions.

As best seen in FIGS. 5 and 6, the front end 350 of the container 300 defines a first aperture 303 and the top major side 330 defines a second aperture 305. In the example shown, the first aperture 303 is open and the second aperture 305 is covered by flaps 335 to form a cross-slit. The flaps 335 close the second aperture 305 to inhibit objects 185 from leaving the second chamber 104. In other embodiments, another type of retention mechanism covers the second aperture 305. In still other embodiments, the second aperture 305 is open.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate example cross-sections of the container 300 taken along the plane CS1 (FIG. 4) with the divider 306 arranged in different positions. In FIG. 7, the divider 306 is arranged in a first position in which the first chamber 302 is substantially the size of the interior of the container 300. Products 380 are coupled together in a roll in the first chamber 302. In FIG. 8, the divider 306 is arranged in a second position in which the divider 306 has begun deflecting into the first chamber 302 as objects 385 are placed into the second chamber 304.

The divider 306 of FIGS. 7 and 8 includes a first panel 362 and a second panel 364. In other embodiments (not shown), the divider 306 can include only a single panel or multiple panels. In still other embodiments, the divider 306 can include a barrier, such as a plastic sheet, having an organic shape.

In a preferred embodiment, the container 300 includes a first side flap 362 extending from a first wall of the container 300 and a second side flap 364 extending from an opposite wall of the container 300 to segregate the first chamber 302 from the second chamber 304. In the example shown, the first and second flaps 362, 364 extend from the front and rear ends 350, 350′, respectively, of the container 300. These panel flaps 362, 364 can be formed by folding over sections of the ends 350, 350′ towards the interior of the container 300.

In the example shown, the minor side 330 extends over the top of the divider 306. In an embodiment, the minor side 330 is removable from the container 300 to enable better access to the interior of the container 300 (e.g., the second chamber 304 or the first chamber 302). For example, the minor side 330 can pivot along one of the major or minor sides 310, 310′, 330, 330′ from a closed position to an open position. In other embodiments, however, the divider 306 can form the top minor side 330.

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate one example package configuration 475 in which a product 480 can be enclosed. FIG. 9 illustrates a bag 470 sealed at opposing major edges 472, 474 and at opposing minor edges 476, 478 to form a central pocket 490 within which the object (e.g., an RFID device, such as an animal ear tag) 480 is enclosed (FIG. 9). In other embodiments, all sides of the bag 470 can be equal in length. In an embodiment, the bag 470 is formed from plastic. In other embodiments, any suitable packaging material can be used.

In general, the bags 470 can be releasably coupled together to form a strip 495 (FIG. 10). Typically, at least one of the minor edges 476, 478 of each bag 470 is selectively engaged to a minor edge of another bag to form the strip 495. In the example shown, the first minor edge 476 of a first bag 470 is selectively coupled to the second minor edge 478′ of a second bag 470′. The second minor edge 478 of the first bag 470 is coupled to the first minor edge 476″ of a third bag 470″. In other embodiments, however, the bags 470 can be selectively coupled together along the major edges 472, 474 of the bags 470.

In general, strips 495 include two or more bags 470. In an embodiment, the strip 495 includes ten bags 470. In another embodiment, the strip 495 includes twenty bags 470. In another embodiment, the strip 495 includes fifty bags 470. In another embodiment, the strip 495 includes one hundred (100) bags 470. In other embodiments, however, the strip 495 can include any desired number of bags.

Each bag 470 can be separated (e.g., torn) from the other bags 470 in the strip 495. For example, a perforation strip 477 can extend along the coupled sides between the bags 470 (FIG. 10). In other embodiments, other detachment mechanisms also can be used without limitation.

Typically, the bags 470 in the strip 495 are wound into a roll (see FIGS. 7 and 8) to dispense the products 480 (FIG. 9) packaged within the bags 470. Preferably, the roll of bags 470 is housed within an interior of a container (e.g., container 300 of FIGS. 4-8). The strip 495 is configured to pass through the dispensing opening 303 sequentially (e.g., when pulled). Each dispensed bag 470 can be torn from the strip 495 and opened as needed by a user. In other embodiments, the user can access the container 300 to obtain one or more unattached bags 470.

It should also be noted that, although in the foregoing description of the packaging system, terms such as “top”, “bottom”, “front”, “rear”, “right”, and “left” have been used for ease of description and illustration, no restriction is intended by such use of the terms. The packaging system can be positioned in any orientation.

The above specification, examples and data provide a complete description of the manufacture and use of the composition of the invention. Since many embodiments of the invention can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, the invention resides in the claims hereinafter appended.