Title:
TRANSPORTABLE PACKAGE AND SYSTEM AND METHOD TO FORM THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method to form a transportable package is disclosed. The method includes placing a frame on a suitable base and placing a collapsible bag inside the frame, wherein an open top portion of the collapsible bag is draped over an open top of the frame to support the collapsible bag in an open position. The collapsible bag is then filled with flowable particulate matter and a vacuum is drawn in the interior of the collapsible bag. While the vacuum is being applied, the frame is removed and the collapsible bag is spirally wrapped with a reinforcing material. The open top portion of the collapsible bag is then preferably sealed to form the transportable package.



Inventors:
Blanchard, Norman (Lafayette, IN, US)
Application Number:
12/437283
Publication Date:
11/12/2009
Filing Date:
05/07/2009
Assignee:
Closure Systems International Inc. (Indianapolis, IN)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/284.7, 53/434, 53/459, 53/512
International Classes:
B65D33/02; B65B31/00; B65B31/04; B65B43/26; B65B61/00
View Patent Images:
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20080112653Collapsible Shopping Bag With Closed End Formed By Overlapping Interlocking PortionsMay, 2008Bogatez
20060120634Forming of containersJune, 2006Bianchini
20080247680TRASH BAG SUPPORTING APPARATUSOctober, 2008Wallace
20080156685Evacuable bag having filter for reducing particulate contamination of vacuum valveJuly, 2008Pham
20090257688ONE-WAY VALVE WITH FLAPPER FOR VACUUM BAGOctober, 2009Calvo et al.
20090232424METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MAKING A FLAT BOTTOM PILLOW POUCHSeptember, 2009Bierschenk et al.



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, DINH Q
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REYNOLDS PACKAGING GROUP (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus to form a transportable package, the transportable package comprising a collapsible bag filled with flowable particulate matter and a reinforcing material wrapped around the collapsible bag, the apparatus comprising: a removable tubular frame to support the collapsible bag in an open position, the tubular frame supporting a closed base portion of the collapsible bag inside the frame and a sealable open top portion of the collapsible bag in an open top of the frame; a filler to fill the collapsible bag supported in an open position by the frame with flowable particulate matter; and a vacuum source to draw a vacuum in the interior of the collapsible bag, wherein the tubular frame is removed from the collapsible bag and the reinforcing material is wrapped around the collapsible bag after the collapsible bag is filled while the collapsible bag is subject to the vacuum.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the removable tubular frame comprises two complementary frame parts that are removably coupled together to form the tubular frame and that are uncoupled from each other to remove the frame from the collapsible bag.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the removable tubular frame further comprises a plurality of fastening devices attached to the complementary frame parts to couple the complementary frame parts together.

4. A method of forming a transportable package, comprising: placing a frame on a suitable base; placing a collapsible bag in the frame, the frame supporting an open top portion of the collapsible bag in an open position; filling an interior of the collapsible bag with flowable particulate matter; drawing a vacuum in the interior of the collapsible bag; removing the frame from the collapsible bag; and wrapping a reinforcing material around the collapsible bag while the collapsible bag is under vacuum.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the drawing of the vacuum comprises gathering the open top portion of the collapsible bag around a nozzle from a vacuum source.

6. The method of claim 4, wherein the placing of the collapsible bag in the frame comprises placing a closed bottom portion of the collapsible bag inside the frame and adjacent to the suitable base and draping the open top portion of the collapsible bag over a top portion of the frame to support the collapsible bag in the open position.

7. The method of claim 4, wherein the placing of the frame comprises placing two complementary frame parts together on the suitable base.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the removing of the frame comprises uncoupling and moving the complementary frame parts away from the collapsible bag.

9. The method of claim 6, wherein the wrapping of the reinforcing material comprises spirally wrapping the reinforcing material around the collapsible bag.

10. The method of claim 4, further comprising: sealing the open top portion of collapsible bag.

11. A method to form a transportable package, comprising: positioning a separable frame on a suitable base; placing a closed bottom portion of a collapsible bag within the separable frame and draping an open top portion of the collapsible bag over an open top portion of the separable frame to support the collapsible bag in an open position; filling the collapsible bag with flowable particulate matter while the collapsible bag is supported by the separable frame; drawing a vacuum in an interior of the collapsible bag; separating the separable frame from the collapsible bag while the collapsible bag is under vacuum; and wrapping a reinforcing material around the collapsible bag to reinforce a dimensional stability of the filled collapsible bag, the wrapping of the reinforcing material performed while the filled collapsible bag is under vacuum.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the drawing of the vacuum comprises gathering the open top portion together around a vacuum source after the collapsible bag is filled.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein the separable frame comprises at least two complementary frame parts coupled together to form the frame, and wherein the separating of the frame comprises uncoupling the complementary frame parts and removing the frame parts from the suitable base;

14. The method of claim 11, wherein the drawing of the vacuum comprises gathering the open top portion of the collapsible bag around a nozzle from a vacuum source prior to drawing a vacuum in the interior of the collapsible bag.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising sealing the gathered top portion of the collapsible bag.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the sealing of the collapsible bag is performed after the vacuum source is removed.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the sealing of the collapsible bag is performed while the collapsible bag is under vacuum.

18. The method of claim 11, wherein the separable frame has a tubular shape.

19. The method of claim 11, wherein the collapsible bag comprises a flexible air-tight material and the reinforcing material comprises a stretch wrap plastic film.

20. A transportable package, comprising: a collapsible bag comprising a flexible air-tight material; flowable particulate matter contained within the collapsible bag; and a reinforcing material comprising a stretch wrap plastic film wrapped around the collapsible bag to reinforce a dimensional stability of the collapsible bag, wherein the reinforcing material is wrapped around the collapsible bag after the collapsible bag is filled with the flowable particulate matter and while the collapsible bag is subject to a vacuum.

21. The transportable package of claim 20, wherein the flexible air-tight material is one of a low density polyethylene, a high density polyethylene, a food grade polymer, and a nylon, and wherein the stretch wrap film has a cling factor and the reinforcing material is spirally wrapped around the collapsible bag.

22. A transportable package, consisting essentially of: an air-tight collapsible bag; flowable particulate matter contained within the collapsible bag; and a stretch wrap plastic film wrapped around the collapsible bag to reinforce a dimensional stability of the collapsible bag, wherein the stretch wrap plastic film is wrapped around the collapsible bag after the collapsible bag is filled with the flowable particulate matter and while the collapsible bag is subject to a vacuum.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application relates to and claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/052,091 filed on May 9, 2008, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

1. Field of the Invention

The present general inventive concept relates to packaging of bulk material, and more particularly, to a package to transport loose bulk materials and a system and method to form the same.

2. Description of the Related Art

Typical containers utilized for transport of bulk materials include either boxes or containers that generally have a rigid shape and are filled with the bulk material and then closed. Alternatively, collapsible bags have also been used to store and transport bulk material. However, conventional collapsible bags require either an internal frame structure or an external form to which the collapsible bag is attached during filling. In the later case, the filled bag may be overwrapped while filling to reinforce and provide some structure to the filled bag.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present general inventive concept provides a transportable package for loose bulk material and a system and method to form the same.

The present general inventive concept also provides a system and method to fill the collapsible bag with bulk material, reinforce the collapsible bag, and seal the collapsible bag to form a transportable package.

Additional aspects and advantages of the present general inventive concept are set forth in part in the description which follows and, in part, will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the general inventive concept.

A transportable package in accordance with this disclosure includes a collapsible bag, flowable particulate matter contained within the bag, and a reinforcing material wrapped around the collapsible bag to reinforce and provide dimensional stability to the filled collapsible bag. The reinforcing material is wrapped around the collapsible bag while the filled collapsible bag is subjected to a vacuum after the collapsible bag is filled with the flowable particulate matter.

An apparatus in accordance with this disclosure to form a transportable package includes a removable tubular frame to support the collapsible bag in an open position, a filler to fill the collapsible bag with flowable particulate matter, and a vacuum source connectable to the collapsible bag to draw a vacuum in the interior of the collapsible bag. The tubular frame is removed from the collapsible bag, and the reinforcing material is wrapped around the collapsible bag after the collapsible bag is filled, preferably while the collapsible bag is subject to the vacuum.

The present general inventive concept may also be achieved by providing a method of forming a transportable package, including placing a frame on a suitable base, placing a collapsible bag in the frame, the frame supporting a top portion of the collapsible bag in an open position, filling an interior of the collapsible bag with flowable particulate matter, drawing a vacuum in the interior of the collapsible bag, removing the frame from the collapsible bag, and wrapping a reinforcing material around the collapsible bag while the collapsible bag is under vacuum.

The drawing of the vacuum preferably includes gathering the open top portion of the collapsible bag around a nozzle from a vacuum source after the bag is filled.

The present general inventive concept may also be achieved by providing a method to form a transportable package, including positioning a separable frame on a suitable base, placing a closed bottom portion of a collapsible bag within the separable frame and draping an open top portion of the collapsible bag over an open top portion of the separable frame to support the collapsible bag in an open position, filling the collapsible bag with flowable particulate matter while the collapsible bag is supported by the separable frame, drawing a vacuum in an interior of the collapsible bag, separating the separable frame from the collapsible bag while the collapsible bag is under vacuum, and, while the bag is under vacuum, wrapping a reinforcing material around the collapsible bag to reinforce and provide dimensional stability to the filled collapsible bag.

The drawing of vacuum may preferably include gathering the open top portion together around a vacuum source after the collapsible bag is filled.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and/or other aspects and advantages of the present general inventive concept will become apparent and more readily appreciated from the following description of the embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a transportable package according to an embodiment of the present general inventive concept.

FIG. 2 illustrates a system to form a transportable package according to an embodiment of the present general inventive concept.

FIGS. 3-6 illustrate various frame shapes according to embodiments of the present general inventive concept.

FIGS. 8-12 illustrate a method of forming a transportable package according to an embodiment of the present general inventive concept.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to exemplary embodiments of the present general inventive concept, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout. The embodiments are described below in order to explain the present general inventive concept by referring to the figures.

In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough disclosure. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the general inventive concept described may be practiced without these specific details. In some instances, well-known features may have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the general inventive concept disclosed.

FIG. 1 illustrates a transportable package according to one exemplary embodiment of the present general inventive concept. As illustrated in FIG. 1, a transportable package [100] may include a collapsible bag [102] and a reinforcing material [104] wrapped around the collapsible bag [102].

The transportable package [100] contains flowable particulate matter [106]. Throughout the present specification and claims the phrases “loose bulk material” and “flowable particulate matter” are used to illustrate the wide range of products that can be packaged utilizing the present general inventive concept. The transportable package may contain large or small bulk materials. For example, small bulk material may include, but is not limited to: agricultural products, such as seeds, rice, grains, vegetables, and fruits; chemical products, such as fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, raw chemicals, chemical solids, and fertilizers; plastics, such as plastic resin pellets, plastic parts, plastic bottle caps, rejected plastic parts, machined plastic parts, etc.; cereals and cereal products, such as corn or wheat; machined parts; wood products, such as wood chips; and other small bulk material, such as landscaping material, peat moss, dirt, sand, gravel, rocks, and cement. Larger bulk materials may include, but are not limited to: prepared foods; partially processed foods, such as frozen fish, frozen chicken, and other frozen meats and meat products; manufactured items, such as textiles, clothing, footwear; toys, such as plastic toys, plastic parts, metallic parts, soft toys, stuffed animals, and other toys and toy products. All of these types of materials are intended to be encompassed in the present specification and claims by these phrases. While some examples of bulk materials and flowable particulate matter are illustrated above, the present general inventive concept is not limited thereto. Instead, the present general inventive concept is applicable to any material that can be packaged according to the method describe herein.

The collapsible bag [102] may be formed of a flexible material. For example, the collapsible bag [102] may be formed of a plastic sheet material, such as low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene, a food grade polymer, or nylon. However, the present general inventive concept is not limited thereto, and the collapsible bag [102] may be formed of any material which can at least temporarily hold a vacuum.

The collapsible bag [102] may include a sealable open top portion [108] and a closed base portion [110]. The closed base portion [110] may be gusseted to improve stability of the collapsible bag [102] when filled. In addition, a cardboard insert may be inserted in the collapsible bag [102] to rest on the closed portion [110] to further improve the stability of the collapsible bag when filled. The closed base portion [110] may have dimensions of about 40 to 48 by 30 to 40 inches, and a height of the collapsible bag [102] may be from about 100 to 200 inches.

The reinforcing material [104] is preferably spirally wrapped around the collapsible bag [102] to reinforce and provide dimensional stability to the transportable package [100]. For example, the reinforcing material [104] helps maintain a shape of the transportable package [100] during handling and/or shipping. The wrapped reinforcing material [104] minimizes distortion of the transportable package [100] and prevents the formation of bulges in the transportable package [100] which could be snagged and torn, causing the contents of the transportable package [100] to spill. The reinforcing material [104] may be any stretch wrap film known in the art. For example, the reinforcing material [104] may be a polyethylene wrap film. Preferably, the reinforcing material [104] is a stretch wrap having a high cling factor and a gauge of about 50 to 150, preferable in a range of 80 to 120. However, the present general inventive concept is not limited thereto, and other stretch films or pallet wraps may alternatively be used. For example, heavy duty stretch wrap having a gauge of 150-300 or other adequate reinforcing materials may alternatively be used.

FIG. 2 illustrates a system to form a transportable package according to an embodiment of the present general inventive concept. As illustrated in FIG. 2, a system to form a transportable package [100] may include a collapsible bag [102], a frame [112], and a vacuum source [126]. The frame [112] supports the collapsible bag [102] during the filling process and defines the outer shape of the transportable package [100] formed. The frame [112] is preferably placed on a stable surface or suitable base, such as a pallet [101]. An additional support base, such as a cardboard insert, may be disposed between the pallet [101] and the collapsible bag [102] to protect and/or help support the collapsible bag [102]. The frame [112] may consist of a rigid material, such as rigid plastic sheet, Plexiglas, metal, wood, or similar rigid materials. The frame [112] may be openable to facilitate a loading and unloading of the collapsible bag [102] before and after the filling operation. For example, the frame [112] may include two frame parts [114 and 116] which are coupled together to form the frame [112].

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the two frame parts [114 and 116] can be positioned on the pallet [101] and coupled together using a fastening device [118] to form the frame [112]. The fastening device [118] may include two complementary mating parts [120 and 122]. The mating part [120] can be attached to an edge of frame part [114], while the mating part [122] can be attached to an edge of the other frame part [116]. When frame parts [114 and 116] are brought together, the two complementary mating parts [120 and 122] can be latched together to form the frame [112]. As illustrated in FIG. 2, a plurality of fastening devices [118] may be used to couple the frame parts [114 and 116] together. While the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2 uses a hasp as an example of a fastening device [118], the present general inventive concept is not thereto limited. Instead a variety of method and devices can be used to create an openable frame [112]. For example, the frame parts [114 and 116] may be hingedly coupled together or the frame parts [114 and 116] may include a slotted design, such as a dovetail design, to allow the frame parts [114 and 116] to be coupled together. Alternatively, the frame parts [114 and 116] may also be positioned on the pallet [101] and coupled together using a wrap, a rope, elastic cords, or the like, or simply hydraulically held in position with appropriate hydraulic or pneumatic actuators.

FIGS. 3-6 illustrate embodiments of various frames according to the present general inventive concept. As illustrated in FIG. 3, a frame [200] may include two curved, e.g. semi-circular, segments [202 and 204] instead of the frame [112] illustrated in FIG. 2. The frame segments [202 and 204] can be made out of the same material and have all the same functions as the hexagonal frame [112] illustrated in FIG. 2 and may be similarly coupled together.

FIG. 4 illustrates a frame [210] similar to the one illustrated in FIG. 3. However, in this embodiment, the two curved halves [212 and 214] overlap when they are positioned on the suitable base to define the overlapping portion [216].

FIG. 5 further illustrates the frame [112] of FIG. 2. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the frame [112] includes two frame parts [114 and 116] that are shaped to form a hexagonal frame [112] when coupled together. When the two frame parts [114 and 116] are positioned on the suitable base [101], they may be coupled together with the edges touching one another, as illustrated in FIG. 2, or with the edges overlapping one another, as illustrated in FIG. 6.

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view of a hexagonal frame [220] according to an embodiment of the present general inventive concept. As illustrated in FIG. 6, when two frame parts [222 and 224] are positioned together, the frame [220] defines overlapping portions [226].

While FIGS. 3-6 illustrate various embodiments of the frame [112], the present general inventive concept is not limited thereto. Instead, the frame [112] can be any shape that supports the packaging bag [100] during a filling operation. For example, the frame [112] can be also be square, tubular, octagonal, etc. The frame [112] helps define a dimension and shape for the resulting transportable package, and the shape of the frame [112] may be selected according to particular application or size requirements.

FIGS. 7-12 illustrate a method to form a transportable package according to an embodiment of the present general inventive concept.

As illustrated in FIG. 7, a frame [112] is positioned on a pallet [101]. Two frame parts [114 and 116] are brought together on the pallet [101] and coupled to form the frame [112]. The frame [112] defines a tubular frame with an open top and a bottom portion closed by the pallet [101].

After the frame [112] is positioned on the pallet [101], a closed base portion [110] of the collapsible bag [102] is positioned adjacent to the pallet [101] inside the frame [112]. An open top portion [108] of the collapsible bag [102] is positioned on the open top of the frame [112] to support the collapsible bag [102] in an open position. For example, the open top portion [108] may be draped over the open top of the frame [112], as illustrated in FIG. 8, or the frame [112] may include a receiving portion to receive the collapsible bag [102] and support it in an open position.

As illustrated in FIG. 9, after the collapsible bag [102] is positioned in the frame [112], the collapsible bag [102] is filled with flowable particulate matter [106] through the open top portion [108]. The collapsible bag [102] may be filled through a filler apparatus [124] or may be manually filled. The specific type of filler apparatus may vary according to the flowable particulate matter, and can be any suitable filler known in the art.

As described above, the collapsible bag [102] is formed of a material which can at least temporally maintain a vacuum. FIG. 10 illustrates drawing a vacuum in the collapsible bag [102]. As illustrated in FIG. 10, the open top portion [108] of the collapsible bag [102] is gathered around a vacuum hose or nozzle [128] from a vacuum source [126] and a vacuum is drawn in the interior of the collapsible bag [102]. Alternatively, other methods for drawing a vacuum in the collapsible bag [102] may be used. Drawing a vacuum tightens the collapsible bag [102] around the flowable particulate matter [106] inside and allows the collapsible bag [102] to substantially maintain the shape of the form [112] even after the form [112] is removed while vacuum is still drawn.

As illustrated in FIG. 11, preferably, while the collapsible bag [102] is under vacuum, the frame [112] is separated from the collapsible bag [102]. For example, the frame [112] can be removed by uncoupling the frame parts [114 and 116] and moving them away from the pallet [101]. The collapsible bag [102] is maintained under vacuum while the frame [112] is separated, and thus, is able to substantially maintain the shape of the form [112].

A reinforcing material [104], such a plastic cling wrap, is then wrapped around an exterior of the collapsible bag [102]. The reinforcing material [104] is preferably wrapped while a vacuum is still drawn within the collapsible bag [102]. The reinforcing material [104] can be spirally wrapped around the collapsible bag [102], the reinforcing material [104] rising about 0.5 to 15 inches per revolution around the collapsible bag [102]. This wrapping allows the reinforcing material [104] to reinforce the close contact between the collapsible bag [102] and the flowable particulate matter. By maintain the close contact, the reinforcing material prevents the flowable particulate mater from substantially shifting during handling and/or transportation and provides the transportation package [100] a level of dimensional stability to prevent the sagging or bulging of the transportation package [100] during transport and allowing the transportation package [100] to maintain a relatively stable shape.

As illustrated in FIG. 12, after the collapsible bag [102] is wrapped with the reinforcing material [104], the collapsible bag [102] can be sealed to form the transportable package [100]. For example, the vacuum hose [128] is removed, and the gathered open top [108] is sealed, for example, by sewing. The collapsible bag [102] can be sealed while still under vacuum by sealing a portion of the gathered open top [108] below the vacuum hose [128], for example, by heat-sealing the collapsible bag [102]. Alternatively, the sealing of the collapsible bag [102] may be introduced prior to applying the reinforcing material [104] if the vacuum within the collapsible bag [102] can be maintained by the seal. Thus, the sequence of steps may differ from the sequence specifically shown in FIGS. 7-12 and described above.

The embodiments of the present general inventive concept described a simplified and cost effective system and method to form a transportation package. By reinforcing the collapsible bag under vacuum, the system describe avoids the external forms required in conventional bulk transportation systems and the complicated filling apparatuses. Instead, a dimensionally stable transportation package can be formed by wrapping a reinforceable material around the filled collapsible bag while the collapsible bag is under vacuum.

Although a few embodiments of the present general inventive concept have been shown and described, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes may be made in these embodiments without departing from the principles and spirit of the general inventive concept, the scope of which is defined in the appended claims and their equivalents.