Title:
METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR CONFIGURING AN EROSION CONTROL SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In one case, an erosion control blanket is rolled into a configuration in which an end of the erosion control blanket is folded onto the erosion control blanket. This configuration can improve the unrolling the rolled erosion control blanket. Methods and apparatus for configuring erosion control blankets and configured erosion control blankets are provided.



Inventors:
Myrowich, Mark (Manitoba, CA)
Application Number:
12/175402
Publication Date:
01/22/2009
Filing Date:
07/17/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H18/28
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Primary Examiner:
MAYO-PINNOCK, TARA LEIGH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Blank Rome LLP (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. An erosion control blanket comprising: a first end and a second end; and a folded portion comprising the first end folded onto the erosion control blanket to form a folded edge, wherein the erosion control blanket is configured as a roll having the folded portion disposed at a core of the roll.

2. The erosion control blanket of claim 1, wherein the roll is arranged such that the first end is closer to the core of the roll than a portion of the erosion control blanket onto which the first end is folded.

3. The erosion control blanket of claim 1, wherein the roll is arranged such that the first end is farther from the core of the roll than a portion of the erosion control blanket onto which the first end is folded.

4. The erosion control blanket of claim 1, wherein a distance from the first end to the folded edge is between about three feet to about twenty feet.

5. The erosion control blanket of claim 4, wherein a distance from the first end to the folded edge is about ten feet.

6. The erosion control blanket of claim 1, wherein the erosion control blanket comprises fibrous material.

7. The erosion control blanket of claim 1, wherein the erosion control blanket is between about four to about 16 feet wide.

8. An apparatus for rolling an erosion control blanket, comprising: at least one roller for forming the blanket into a roll; and a diversion unit for diverting a first end of the erosion control blanket away from the at least one roller such that a folded edge of the erosion control blanket is rolled by the at least one roller to form a core of the rolled erosion control blanket.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising a blanket slide for guiding the erosion control blanket onto the diversion unit.

10. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the at least one roller comprises a group of three rollers.

11. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the diversion unit comprises a plurality of hooks for hooking and moving an end of the control blanket away from the at least one roller.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the plurality of hooks are moved by actuators and wherein the actuators and at least one roller are programmably logic controlled.

13. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the diversion unit comprises a movable blanket slide for intercepting and diverting and end of the control blanket away from the at least one roller.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the moveable blanket slide is moved by actuators and wherein the actuators and at least one roller are programmably logic controlled.

15. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the diversion unit comprises a human operator for catching and moving an end of the erosion control blanket away from the at least one roller.

16. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the apparatus is located at the end of a continuous process for forming the erosion control blanket.

17. A method of rolling an erosion control blanket, comprising: folding a first end of the erosion control blanket onto the erosion control blanket to form a folded edge; and rolling the erosion control blanket so that the folded edge forms a core of the rolled erosion control blanket.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the erosion control blanket is rolled such that the first end is closer to the core than a portion of the erosion control blanket onto which the first end is folded.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the erosion control blanket is rolled such that the first end is farther from the core than a portion of the erosion control blanket onto which the first end is folded.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the erosion control blanket is folded such that a distance from the first end to the folded edge is about ten feet.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/950,537, filed Jul. 18, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Soil erosion is a process by which wind and water carry away topsoil. Soil erosion is especially problematic where there is poor soil coherence and where the ground is sloped, such as in new slope embankments and channels, which may be created, for example, during construction of buildings and drainage systems. The loose soil can be carried away by water or wind and seeds of plants that might otherwise germinate to provide a root system to hold the soil in place are disturbed. Therefore, loose soil, embankments, and channel surfaces often require reinforcement, particularly during the pre-vegetated stage and early stages of plant growth, to prevent loss of soil, seeds, and seedlings until a mature root system develops to inhibit soil loss.

One method of preventing soil erosion is to lay down an erosion control blanket over an area of soil that is to be protected. An erosion control blanket is a blanket made of fibrous material that may be placed over an area of soil to protect the soil from the effects of wind and water erosion. Erosion control blankets can be made, for example, of natural fibers, such as wheat straw, coconut fiber, and jute, or synthetic fibers, such as chopped or crimped polypropylene, or a blend of natural and/or synthetic fibers. The fibers can be compressed into a blanket or may be sewn to a net or held between two or more nets to form a blanket.

After the erosion control blanket is manufactured, it can be formed into a roll using a roll up unit located at the end of the manufacturing process. The rolled erosion control blanket is also known as a rolled erosion control product (RECP). An erosion control blanket is generally between 4 feet and 16 feet wide and between 50 feet to 500 feet in total rolled out length. Of course, other widths and lengths are possible as required for a particular application.

The finished rolled erosion control blankets can be packaged up into a bundle for shipping, for example, 16 rolls per bundle. The number of rolls per bundle can vary according to the type of rolled erosion control blanket produced. The bundle package is generally designed so that it fits into a normal 53 foot long trailer to transport the maximum amount of product in each trailer, and thus minimize transportation costs.

To further reduce transportation costs, erosion control blankets can be rolled tighter and tighter to reduce the diameter of each roll and allow more rolls to be loaded into a trailer. For example, an 8 foot wide by 112.5 foot long (100 square yards) erosion control blanket may be rolled to 12 inches in diameter to fit 416 rolls into a trailer or may even be rolled to 10 inches in diameter to fit 500 rolls onto a trailer.

When the rolled erosion control blanket is ready for use, it can be placed on the ground and unrolled by a user, generally by kicking the roll along the ground. However, one problem with rolling the erosion control blankets more tightly is that the end of the rolled erosion control blanket (i.e., the core of the rolled erosion control blanket) becomes bunched up and does not unroll easily. The user must therefore either spend extra time to unroll the end of the rolled erosion control blanket by hand, leave it rolled up, or cut the end of the rolled erosion control blanket off with a knife. In either case, the extra steps waste time and money. Therefore, the requirement of winding tighter rolled erosion control blankets to reduce transportation costs creates a problem for a user when the user cannot easily unroll all of the rolled erosion control blanket.

SUMMARY

In one example, an erosion control blanket may include a first end, a second end, and a folded portion including the first end folded onto the erosion control blanket to form a folded edge. The erosion control blanket is configured as a roll having the folded portion disposed at a core of the roll. This configuration allows for the erosion control blanket to be rolled tightly, while still being easy for a user to unroll right to the end. To unroll, a user can roll the roll configuration of the erosion control blanket along the ground and then unfold the folded core portion of the erosion control blanket to finish the unrolling process.

In another example, a method of rolling the erosion control blanket is provided that includes folding a first end of the erosion control blanket onto the erosion control blanket to form a folded edge and rolling the erosion control blanket so that the folded edge forms a core of the rolled erosion control blanket.

In another example, an apparatus for rolling an erosion control blanket is provided. The apparatus includes at least one roller for forming the blanket into a roll and a diversion unit for diverting a first end of the erosion control blanket away from the at least one roller such that a folded edge of the erosion control blanket is rolled by the at least one roller to form a core of the rolled erosion control blanket.

Additional examples will be set forth in the description that follows and will be obvious from the description, or may be learned through the practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the description herein will be attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram of an erosion control blanket folded according to one example;

FIG. 2 is a diagram of an erosion control blanket rolled according to an example;

FIG. 3 is a diagram of an erosion control blanket folded according to another example;

FIG. 4 is a diagram of an erosion control blanket rolled according to another example;

FIG. 5 is a diagram of a roll up unit according to an example that may be used to produce a rolled erosion control blanket;

FIG. 6 is a diagram of a roll up unit according to another example that may be used to produce a rolled erosion control blanket; and

FIG. 7 is a diagram of a roll up unit according to yet another example that may be used to produce a rolled erosion control blanket.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is a diagram of an erosion control blanket 10 folded according to an example prior to being rolled up. An end portion of the erosion control blanket 10 is folded back on itself, creating a folded portion 12 and an unfolded portion 14 of the erosion control blanket 10. In one example, the folded portion 12 is between 3 to 20 feet long. In another example, the folded portion 12 is 10 feet long. The erosion control blanket 10 is then rolled up starting with the folded edge 16, (i.e. the crease of the fold). As shown in FIG. 1, the folded portion 12 may be folded back on top of the erosion control blanket 10. Alternatively, the folded portion 12, may be folded underneath the erosion control blanket 10, as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 2 shows a diagram of the erosion control blanket 10 of FIG. 1 after it has been rolled up in accordance with an example. Similarly, FIG. 4 shows a diagram of the erosion control blanket 10 of FIG. 3 after it has been rolled up in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 is rolled first to form the core of the rolled erosion control blanket 10. The unfolded portion 14 of the erosion control blanket 10 is then rolled around the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10. For purposes of illustrations, FIGS. 2 and 4 show a space 18 between the rolled layers of the rolled erosion control blanket 10. In another example, the layers of the rolled erosion control blanket 10 can be rolled such that they are compressed together without a space 18 between them.

After the erosion control blanket 10 is unrolled by a user, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 can be opened by grabbing the edge of the erosion control blanket 20 and unfolding the folded portion 12. Unfolding the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 removes the need to painstakingly unroll the end portion by hand, or cut it off with a knife. In this embodiment, tighter rolls can be formed while eliminating the extra time needed to unroll or cut off an end portion of the end of the erosion control blanket 10. In one example, up to about 9% of the erosion control blanket 10 can be saved by unrolling, as opposed to cutting off the end of the erosion control blanket 10.

FIG. 5 is a diagram of a roll up unit 300 that can be used to roll an erosion control blanket 10 in accordance with an example. The roll up unit 300 can be located at the end of an erosion control blanket manufacturing process to roll up the erosion control blanket 10 as the erosion control blanket 10 is produced. The roll up unit 300 includes a blanket slide 310, a series of hooks 312, a driven top roller 314, a driven first bottom roller 316, and a driven second bottom roller 318.

An exemplary method of operating the roll up unit 300 is described below. The erosion control blanket 10 exits the manufacturing process (not shown) and enters the roll up unit 300 in the direction of arrow A along the blanket slide 310. Under the power of gravity and the force from the manufacturing process, the blanket slide 310 guides the erosion control blanket 10 down a slope and then onto the hooks 312, which are located at a first position 312a. The hooks 312 include a number of hooks attached to a frame (not shown), for example, by welding. The hooks 312 are arranged along the width of the erosion control blanket 10. The hooks 312 at the first position 312a catch or snag the erosion control blanket 10 as it falls off the end of the blanket slide 310.

The hooks 312 and frame are connected to actuators (not shown), which are capable of moving the hooks 312 and the end of the control blanket 10 from the first position 312a to a second position 312b along the direction of arrow B. The actuators and rollers 314, 316, 318 are programmably logic controlled (PLC) so that they may be moved in a preprogrammed sequence and at preprogrammed speeds. The PLC controls the sequence and timing of events to ensure acceptable product and a reliable process. After the hooks 312 have snagged or caught the erosion control blanket 10, the actuators raise the end 20 of the erosion control blanket 10 to the second position 312b as instructed by the PLC program. Alternatively, the hooks 312 may be raised by hand. The second position 312b of the hooks 312 can control the length of the folded portion 12 (shown by arrow 320). In one example, the second position 312b is located at a distance from the first position 312 such that the length of the folded portion 12 is approximately 10 feet.

While the actuators lift the end 20 of the erosion control blanket 10, the manufacturing process continues to make and feed the erosion control blanket 10 down the blanket slide 310, causing the folded edge 16 of the erosion control blanket 10 to descend down into the rollers 314, 316, 318. The folded edge 16 is then pinched between the three rollers 314, 316, 318 which start rolling the erosion control blanket 10 into a roll. The driven top roller 314 can be weighted and may have rubber material on its surface to prevent slipping. The driven top roller 314 is on the top of the rolled erosion control blanket 10 as it is being rolled up and is designed to move up with the rolled erosion control blanket 10 as the roll diameter gets larger.

After the erosion control blanket 10 begins to be rolled up, the PLC causes the actuators to allow the hooks 312 to be pulled down from the second position 312b to the first position 312a. This allows the folded portion 12 to be rolled into the core of the rolled erosion control blanket 10. The speed of the rollers 314, 316, 318 may be adjusted to control how tightly the erosion control blanket 10 is wound.

Once the folded portion 12 is rolled up and the hooks 312 have descended back to the first position 312a, the rollers 314, 316, 318 will continue to roll up the erosion control blanket 10 and will pull, or rip, the snagged end 20 off of the hooks 312 and into the erosion control blanket 10. At this point the fold has been achieved and the rollers 314, 316, 318 continue to roll up the rest of the erosion control blanket 10 until the desired final length is achieved. In one embodiment, the final length may be about 112.5 feet. Once the roll is proper size, the PLC instructs the manufacturing process to cut off the end of erosion control blanket 10. The rolled erosion control blanket 10 is thus completed. The top driven roller 314 is raised and the finished rolled erosion control blanket 10 is removed from the bottom two rollers 316, 318. The roll up unit is now ready to being the process over to form the next rolled erosion control blanket 10.

The fold back capability of the roll up unit 300 may be designed so that it may be turned on or off by a user selectable on/off type feature, such as a switch, so that the roll up unit 300 may produce a rolled erosion control blanket 10 without a folded portion 12 at the core.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of a roll up unit 400 that may be used to roll an erosion control blanket 10 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. As with roll up unit 300, roll up unit 400 may be located at the end of an erosion control blanket manufacturing process. The roll up unit 400 includes a primary blanket slide 410, a secondary blanket slide 412, a driven top roller 414, a driven first bottom roller 416 and a driven second bottom roller 418.

An exemplary method of operating the roll up unit 400 is described below. The erosion control blanket 10 exits the manufacturing process (not shown) and enters the roll up unit 400 in the direction of arrow A along the primary blanket slide 410. Under the power of gravity and the force from the manufacturing process, the blanket slide 410 guides the erosion control blanket 10 down a slope and then straight down onto the secondary blanket slide 412, which is located at a first position 412a. The secondary blanket slide 412 at the first position 412a catches the erosion control blanket 10 as it falls off the end of the primary blanket slide 410. The secondary blanket slide 412 is connected to actuators (not shown), which are capable of moving the secondary blanket slide 412 from a first position 412a to a second position 412b along the direction of arrow C. Similarly, to roll up unit 300, the actuators and rollers 414, 416, 418 are programmably logic controlled (PLC) so that they may be moved in a preprogrammed sequence and a preprogrammed speeds.

The secondary blanket slide 412 includes a driven roller/conveyer (not shown), which moves the end 20 of the erosion control blanket 10 along the surface of the secondary blanket slide 412 in the direction shown by arrow D. The portion of the erosion control blanket 10 collected on the secondary blanket slide 412 will become the folded portion 12. Once a desired length of the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 is collected on the secondary blanket slide 412, the driven roller/conveyer is turned off and the actuators move the secondary blanket slide 412 with the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 to the second position 412b. In one embodiment, the length of the folded portion 12 collected on the secondary blanket slide 412 is from about 3 to 20 feet in length, preferably about 10 feet in length. In another embodiment, the distance from the first position 412a to the second position 412b is about 6 inches. At this point, the front edge of secondary blanket slide 412 is located behind the end of the primary blanket slide 410. The manufacturing process continues to feed the erosion control blanket 10 down the primary blanket slide and so the edge of the fold 16 descends down into the rollers 414, 416, 418.

In this case, the edge of the fold 16 of the erosion control blanket 10 is pinched between the rollers 414, 416, 418, which start rolling the erosion control blanket 10 into a roll. This begins to pull the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 off of the secondary blanket slide 412 and continues until all of the folded portion is pulled into the rollers 414, 416, 418.

After the folded portion 12 is rolled up, the rollers 314, 316, 318 will continue to roll up the erosion control blanket 10 until the desired final length is achieved. In one embodiment, the final length may be about 112.5 feet. Once the roll is proper size, the PLC instructs the manufacturing process to cut off the end of erosion control blanket 10. The rolled erosion control blanket 10 is thus completed and the finished rolled erosion control blanket 10 is removed from the roll up unit 400. The PLC then resets the roll up unit 400 by causing the actuators to move the secondary blanket slide 412 forward to the first position 412a. The roll up unit 400 is then ready to being the process over to form the next rolled erosion control blanket 10.

FIG. 7 is a diagram of a roll up unit 500 that can be used to roll a erosion control blanket 10 in accordance with another example. Similarly to roll up units 300 and 400, roll up unit 500 may be located at the end of an erosion control blanket manufacturing process. The roll up unit 500 includes a blanket slide 510, a driven top roller 514, a driven first bottom roller 516 and a driven second bottom roller 518.

An exemplary method of operating the roll up unit 500 is described below. The erosion control blanket 10 exits the manufacturing process (not shown) and enters the roll up unit 500 in the direction of arrow A along the blanket slide 510. Under the power of gravity and the force from the manufacturing process, the blanket slide 510 guides the erosion control blanket 10 down a slope. The front edge 20 of the erosion control blanket 10 is grabbed by an operator 512 and is pulled back to a pre-determined position in front of the roll up unit 500, while the manufacturing process continues to feed the erosion control blanket 10 to the roll up unit 500. In one embodiment, the front edge 20 may be pulled to a distance of 10 feet from the roll up unit 500.

Once the front edge 20 of the erosion control blanket 10 has been pulled to a predetermined position in front of the roll up unit 500, the operator 512 allows the folded edge 16 of the erosion control blanket 10 to feed into the rollers 514, 516, 518. The folded edge 16 is pinched between the rollers 514, 516, 518, which start rolling the erosion control blanket 10 into a rolled erosion control blanket 10. This begins to pull the folded portion 12 of the erosion control blanket 10 into the rollers and winds it up as the core. The operators 512 moves towards the roll up unit 500 the front edge 20 to allow all of the folded portion 12 to be pulled into the rollers 514, 516, 518 and rolled up.

After the folded portion 12 is rolled up, the rollers 514, 516, 518 will continue to roll up the erosion control blanket 10 until the desired final length is achieved. In one embodiment, the final length can be about 112.5 feet. Once the roll is the proper size, the PLC instructs the manufacturing process to cut off the end of the erosion control blanket 10. The rolled erosion control blanket 10 is thus completed and the finished rolled erosion control blanket 10 is removed from the roll up unit 500. The operator 512 then grabs the end of the next erosion control blanket 10 to begin the process over to form the next rolled erosion control blanket 10.

It is to be understood that application of the teachings of the present invention to a specific problem or environment will be within the capability of one having ordinary skill in the art in light of the teachings contained herein. Furthermore, although certain advantages have been described above, those skilled in the art will recognize that there may be many others. For example, the steps in the methods described herein may be performed in different orders, or may include some variations, such as alternative materials having similar functions. Accordingly, the claimed invention is not limited by the embodiments described herein but is only limited by the scope of the appended claims.





 
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