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Publication numberUS20020139702 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/824,544
Publication dateOct 3, 2002
Filing dateApr 2, 2001
Priority dateApr 2, 2001
Also published asWO2002079042A2, WO2002079042A3
Publication number09824544, 824544, US 2002/0139702 A1, US 2002/139702 A1, US 20020139702 A1, US 20020139702A1, US 2002139702 A1, US 2002139702A1, US-A1-20020139702, US-A1-2002139702, US2002/0139702A1, US2002/139702A1, US20020139702 A1, US20020139702A1, US2002139702 A1, US2002139702A1
InventorsSteven Greene
Original AssigneeGreene Steven L.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular pallet and bulk bag combination incorporating same
US 20020139702 A1
Abstract
The present invention provides a modular pallet having a guide channel-defining portion configured for defining at least one guide channel. A bottom wall at least partially defines the guide channel and includes at least one opening therethrough. The opening is adapted to receive therein a corresponding lift strap of a bulk bag such that the lift strap defines a loop in at least one guide channel. The modular pallet further comprises an insert member configured to be inserted into at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of the lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet for forming a bulk bag combination. The insert member is configured for engagement by a lifting device for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.
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Claims(28)
What is claimed is:
1. A modular pallet comprising:
a top wall;
a bottom wall;
a guide channel defining portion configured for defining at least one guide channel at least partially between the top wall and the bottom wall;
at least one opening in the bottom wall, wherein the opening being adapted to receive a corresponding lift strap of a bulk bag so that the lift strap defines a loop in the at least one guide channel; and
an insert member configured to be inserted into at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of a lift strap received in at least one opening to thereby fasten the bulk bag to the modular pallet for forming a bulk bag combination, wherein the insert member being configured for engagement by a lifting device for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.
2. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the insert member is removable from the guide channel for disengaging a corresponding lift strap from the guide channel to thereby dismantle the bulk bag combination.
3. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the guide channel defining portion has a flat top surface comprising a bottom surface of the top wall, and a flat bottom surface comprising a top surface of the bottom wall.
4. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the guide channel defining portion comprises cardboard.
5. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the bottom wall is adapted to be securely fastened to the top wall, and the pallet further comprises:
at least one spacing element adapted to be securely fastened between the top wall and the bottom wall for creating a horizontal space between the top wall and the bottom wall, wherein the guide channel being defined in the horizontal space.
6. The modular pallet according to claim 5, further comprising a bonding agent for securely fastening the top wall and the bottom wall to one another.
7. The modular pallet according to claim 5, wherein:
the top wall and the bottom wall are made of corrugated cardboard; and
corrugations of the top wall run in a direction perpendicular to corrugations of the bottom wall.
8. The modular pallet according to claim 5, wherein the at least one spacing element comprises a plurality of spacing elements.
9. The modular pallet according to claim 5, wherein the at least one spacing element comprises a hollow tubular element.
10. The modular pallet according to claim 8, wherein the spacing elements are disposed such that, when the top wall and the bottom wall are securely fastened to one another, the spacing elements laterally delimit the at least one channel.
11. The modular channel according to claim 10, wherein the spacing elements are disposed in at least one pair of parallel rows.
12. The modular pallet according to claim 5, wherein the at least one spacing element is made of cardboard.
13. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the at least one guide channel comprises a plurality of guide channels.
14. The modular pallet according to claim 13, wherein the plurality of guide channels comprises two guide channels, each being laterally delimited by rows of spacing elements.
15. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the at least one opening comprises a plurality of openings.
16. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein at least one opening is positioned directly below a corresponding guide channel of at least one guide channel.
17. The modular pallet according to claim 5, wherein the top wall defines at least one opening therein adapted to be placed in registration with a corresponding opening of the at least one opening in the bottom wall when the top wall and the bottom wall are securely fastened to one another.
18. The modular pallet according to claim 5, wherein
at least one opening comprises four rectangular openings disposed at four respective corners of the bottom wall.
19. The modular pallet according to claim 18, wherein the top wall defines four rectangular openings disposed at four respective corners thereof such that, when the top wall and the bottom wall are securely fastened to one another, each of the four rectangular openings in the top wall is placed in registration with a corresponding one of the four rectangular openings in the bottom wall.
20. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein the insert member comprises at least one tubular member adapted to receive therein a tine of a lifting device for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.
21. The modular pallet according to claim 20, wherein at least one tubular member comprises a pair of tubular members adapted to receive therein a pair of tines of a forklift adapted to lift and maneuver the bulk bag combination.
22. The modular pallet according to claim 21, wherein each of the tubular members defines a chamfered end.
23. The modular pallet according to claim 21, wherein each of the tubular members have an open end and a lip portion at said open end.
24. The modular pallet according to claim 1, wherein said top wall and said bottom wall comprises at least one waterproof surface.
25. A bulk bag combination comprising the modular pallet according to claim 1, and further comprising a bulk bag having at least one lift strap, the lift strap being inserted into a corresponding opening of at least one opening and forming a loop in a corresponding guide channel of at least one guide channel, wherein the insert member is inserted into at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of at least one lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet and forming the bulk bag combination.
26. A bulk bag combination according to claim 25, wherein:
at least one guide channel comprises two guide channels;
the insert member comprises a pair of tubular members;
the at least one opening comprises four openings;
the at least one lift strap comprises four lift straps;
each of the four lift straps is inserted into a corresponding one of the four openings such that the four lift straps define a pair of loops in each of the two guide channels; and
each of the tubular members is inserted into a corresponding one of the two guide channels thereby engaging a corresponding pair of loops to thereby fasten the bulk bag to the modular pallet and form the bulk bag combination.
27. A method of forming a bulk bag combination, the method comprising the steps of providing a modular pallet comprising:
a top wall;
a bottom wall;
a guide channel-defining portion configured for defining at least one guide channel at least partially between the top wall and the bottom wall;
at least one opening in the bottom wall, wherein the at least one opening being adapted to receive a corresponding lift strap of a bulk bag so that the lift strap defines a loop in the at least one guide channel; and
an insert member configured to be inserted into the at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of a lift strap received in the at least one opening to thereby fasten the bulk bag to the modular pallet for forming a bulk bag combination, with the insert member being configured for engagement by a lifting device for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination;
inserting at least one lift strap of a bulk bag into a corresponding opening of the at least one opening for forming a loop in a corresponding guide channel of the at least one guide channel;
and inserting the insert member into the at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of the at least one lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet and forming a bulk bag combination.
28. A modular pallet comprising:
a top wall;
a bottom wall;
guide channel-defining means at least partially positioned between said top wall and said bottom wall, and defining at least one guide channel; and
insert means adapted to be inserted into the guide channel-defining means for engaging a lift strap of a bulk bag inserted into a guide channel of the at least one guide channel to thereby fasten the bulk bag to the modular pallet for forming a bulk bag combination with the insert means being adapted to be engaged by a lifting means for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to pallets, and especially to pallets for supporting. intermediate bulk containers (IBC's) or bulk bags.

[0002] Bulk bags are used for the storing and transporting of materials, such as particulate materials like polymer pellets, chemical compounds, and ores. See, for example, European published Patent Application No. 0 109 191 A2. Such bags are typically able to hold a content weighing 2000 pounds (a ton) or more, and allow easy packing, unpacking, and transportation of their content. These bulk bags can have lift straps to enable the bulk bag to be supported from a frame or pallet for transportation and access to its content. A bulk bag is typically transported by a forklift wherein the forks are slid under the lift straps to engage the straps and lift and maneuver the bulk bag.

[0003] A disadvantage of using bulk bags, however, stems from difficulties in sliding the forks of the forklift under its lift straps. This is because bulk bags, by virtue of typically having soft, flexible walls, allow their content to flow within them, usually causing the lift straps to assume unpredictable positions with respect to a forklift. As a result, forklifts have been known to pierce bulk bags or to even overturn them during attempts to engage the lift straps.

[0004] One solution for avoiding the above disadvantage has been to have a human operator physically present at the location of the straps of the bulk bag to be lifted, and to manually ensure an engagement of the lift straps by the forklift. Typically, the human operator must place a ladder against a bulk bag or stack of bulk bags to reach the lift straps thereof and to hold them for engagement by a forklift. This solution can lead to serious injuries. Additionally, but on a less serious scale, the use of an operator ensuring proper engagement of the lift straps by a forklift slows down the transportation process, and makes the process more costly by requiring the use of additional personnel.

[0005] Other structures for allowing the lifting and maneuvering of bulk bags have been proposed. Examples of such structures are set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 4,792,171, and in European Published Patent Application No. 0 109 191 A2, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein in their entireties by reference.

[0006] None of the previous attempted solutions for lifting and maneuvering bulk bags, however, provide a pallet structure that is both reliable and economical to manufacture, and that offers a safe, simple, efficient and cost-effective way of fastening a bulk bag thereto and of allowing the bulk bag thus fastened to be lifted and maneuvered by a lifting device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention provides a modular pallet having a guide channel defining portion configured for defining: at least one guide channel therein; and further defining at least one opening in a bottom surface thereof. The opening is adapted to receive therein a corresponding lift strap of a bulk bag such that the lift strap defines a loop in the guide channel. The modular pallet further has an insert member configured to be inserted into the guide channel for engaging the loop of the lift strap, thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet for forming a bulk bag combination. The insert member is configured for engagement by a lifting device for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.

[0008] The present invention further provides a bulk bag combination having the modular pallet as described above, and further having a bulk bag having at least one lift strap. The lift strap is inserted into the opening and forms a loop in the guide channel. The insert member is further inserted into the guide channel for engaging the loop of the at least one lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet and forming the bulk bag combination. Preferably, each lift strap is inserted into a respective opening and forms a loop in a respective corresponding guide-channel.

[0009] In addition, the present invention provides a method of forming a bulk bag combination as described above, wherein the method involves the steps of: inserting at least one lift strap into at least one opening to form a loop in at least one guide channel; and inserting the inserted portion of the lift strap into at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of at least one lift strap and thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet to form a bulk bag combination.

[0010] Moreover, the present invention provides a modular pallet comprising: channel defining means; and insert means adapted to be inserted into the channel defining means for engaging a lift strap of a bulk bag inserted into a channel of the channel defining means. The means can thereby fasten the bulk bag to the modular pallet to form a bulk bag combination, wherein the insert means is adapted to be engaged by a lifting means for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.

[0011] It is to be noted that, in the context of the present description, the phrase “lift straps” is used to refer to “lifting elements” in general, that is, to any structural feature of the bulk bag that is apt to form a loop for engagement by the tines of a forklift or other lifting equipment. Additionally, in the context of the present description, “bulk bag” is intended to refer to a container used for storing and/or carrying items, and is not meant to be limited to a bag for storing and transporting powdered or granular products.

[0012] It is further to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are only intended to provide a further explanation of the present invention, as claimed. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate several exemplary embodiments of the present invention and together with description, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] The present invention may be more fully understood with reference to the accompanying figures. The figures are intended to illustrate exemplary embodiments of the present invention without limiting the scope of the invention.

[0014]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a modular pallet according to the present invention shown in a disassembled state;

[0015]FIG. 2a is a top plan view of the top deck of the embodiment of the modular pallet shown in FIG. 1;

[0016]FIG. 2b is a top plan view of the bottom deck of the embodiment of the modular pallet shown in FIG. 1;

[0017]FIG. 2c is a front elevation view of the bottom deck shown in FIG. 2b;

[0018]FIG. 2d is a top plan view of an embodiment of a tine insert for the modular pallet shown in FIG. 1;

[0019]FIG. 2e is a front elevation view of the tine insert shown in FIG. 2d;

[0020]FIG. 2f is a side elevation view of the tine insert shown in FIG. 2d;

[0021]FIG. 3 is a perspective view of two bulk bag combinations that are double-stacked, with each incorporating the modular pallet of FIG. 1 shown as being disposed adjacent a forklift; and

[0022]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a bulk bag combination incorporating only the bottom deck of the modular pallet of FIG. 1 with the tine inserts shown in an exploded configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0023] The present invention provides a modular pallet. The modular pallet includes a guide channel defining a portion configured for defining or housing at least one guide channel therein. The guide channel defining portion further defines or is provided with at least one opening at a bottom surface thereof. At least one opening is adapted to receive therein a corresponding lift strap of a bulk bag such that the lift strap can be inserted through the opening and define a loop in at least one guide channel. The modular pallet further includes an insert member configured to be inserted into at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of the lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet and forming a bulk bag combination. The insert member is configured for engagement by a lifting device for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.

[0024] The present invention further provides a bulk bag combination having the modular pallet as described above, and further having a bulk bag having at least one lift strap. The lift strap is inserted into a corresponding opening of at least one opening and forms a loop in a corresponding guide-channel of at least one guide channel. The inserted portion of the lift strap is further inserted into the guide channel for engaging the loop of the lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet and forming the bulk bag combination.

[0025] In addition, the present invention provides a method of forming a bulk bag combination as described above. The method includes the step of inserting at least one lift strap into a corresponding opening to form a loop in a corresponding guide channel of at least one guide channel. The method further involves the step of inserting the inserted member into at least one guide channel for engaging the loop of at least one lift strap thereby fastening the bulk bag to the modular pallet and forming the bulk bag combination.

[0026] Moreover, the present invention provides a modular pallet having: channel defining means; and insert means adapted to be inserted into the channel defining means for engaging a lift strap of a bulk bag inserted into a channel of the channel defining means. The insert means fastens the bulk bag to the modular pallet to form a bulk bag combination. The insert means is adapted to be engaged by a lifting means for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination.

[0027] The present invention advantageously provides a modular pallet of simple construction that allows the fastening of a bulk bag thereto for forming a bulk bag combination in a fast and efficient manner, and that further allows an engagement by a lifting device of the bulk bag combination while obviating the need for an operator at the bulk bag and the risk of piercing or overturning the bulk bag.

[0028] Referring now to FIG. 1, a schematic view of a modular pallet according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is exemplified and shown in a disassembled or exploded state. As depicted in FIG. 1, the modular pallet 1 comprises a top deck 3, a bottom deck 5 and a pair of tine inserts 7. As seen in FIGS. 1 and 2a, the top deck 3 defines four rectangular openings 9 therein respectively disposed at each of the four corners thereof. As seen in FIGS. 1, 2b, and 2 c, the bottom deck 5, similar to the top deck, defines four rectangular openings 11 respectively disposed at each of the four corners thereof. In an assembled mode of the modular pallet of FIG. 1, the openings of the top and bottom decks are in registration with one another. The bottom deck is further shown as having, on a top surface thereof, a plurality of hollow tubular spacing elements 13. As further seen in FIGS. 1, 2d, 2 e, and 2 f, the tine inserts 7 are further tubular and define a chamfered end 15 and an open end 17.

[0029] As suggested in FIG. 1, a preferred embodiment of the modular pallet according to the present invention is assembled by securing the top deck 3 to the bottom deck 5 such that the spacing elements are sandwiched therebetween, and thereafter inserting the tine inserts in the horizontal space thus created between the top deck and the bottom deck and in guide channels 19 laterally delimited by respective rows of the spacing elements. In the shown preferred embodiment as seen more particularly in FIG. 1, each guide channel is further delimited at its top side by top deck 3, and at its bottom side by bottom deck 5.

[0030] Advantageously, the modular pallet according to the present invention includes a guide channel defining portion configured to define at least one guide channel therein, such as, for example, the top deck 3 and bottom deck 5 adapted to be assembled with one another, that is, to be securely fastened to one another for defining guide channels 19 therebetween. The guide channel defining portion of the modular pallet according to the present invention comprises, in a preferred embodiment, a top deck and bottom deck, whether in an assembled and an unassembled mode, as seen, for example, in FIG. 1. According to this preferred embodiment, when the top deck and the bottom deck are assembled, at least one guide channel is defined therebetween.

[0031] The modular pallet of the present invention further includes an insert member, such as, for example, tine inserts 7, configured to be inserted into at least one guide channel of the guide channel-defining portion. The guide channel-defining portion further defines at least one opening at a bottom surface thereof, such as, for example, openings 11 in bottom deck 5. The opening is provided for the insertion of a corresponding lift strap of a bulk bag therethrough such that the lift strap defines a loop aligned with a corresponding guide channel. The insert member of the modular pallet is then inserted into the guide channel through the loop of the lift strap for engaging the lift strap of the bulk bag and fastening the same to the modular pallet, thereby forming a bulk bag combination, such as, for example, the bulk bag combination 23 of FIG. 3. The tine of a lifting and maneuvering device may then, in turn, be inserted into the insert member for lifting and/or maneuvering the bulk bag combination. Most preferably, the insert member is removable from the guide channel. Thus, a bulk bag combination, such as combination 23 shown in FIG. 3, may be dismantled by removing the tine inserts 7 from the respective guide channels, in this way freeing the lift straps 21, and removing the lift straps from the guide channels for separating the guide channel defining portion from the bulk bag. The insert member may comprise a single tine insert, or any other structure insertable into at least one guide channel for engaging a lift strap of a bulk bag.

[0032] The shape of a modular pallet according to the invention can be square, as depicted in the figures, or rectangular, polygonal, circular, oval, or any other shape depending on application needs. Preferably, the modular pallet has a flat top surface and a flat bottom surface. A flat top and flat bottom surface advantageously allow a double and/or multiple stacking of bulk bag combinations such as combinations 23 shown in FIG. 3 by providing a stabilizing effect for a load exerted by a top bulk bag combination onto a bottom bulk bag combination. A flat top surface and flat bottom surface additionally provide a space saving alternative for the modular pallet of the present invention.

[0033] Preferably, the guide channel defining portion comprises a top deck, a bottom deck, and at least one spacing element, the top and bottom decks being adapted to be securely fastened to one another with at least one spacing element sandwiched therebetween. Preferably, the top and bottom decks are securely fastened to one another by a bonding agent such as an adhesive, or by other attachment mechanisms used to form pallets, i.e., screws, nails, clips, fasteners, and the like. Most preferably, the top and bottom decks are secured to one another using a conventional, recyclable adhesive, such as a water-soluble glue. Advantageously, the option of adhesively bonding the top deck to the bottom deck obviates the need for using separate securing devices such as rivets and clips, simplifying construction of the modular pallet according to the present invention.

[0034] Preferably, at least one spacing element comprises a plurality of spacing elements which also serve to laterally delimit the guide channel therebetween. In the preferred embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 1 through 4, the spacing element comprises the plurality of spacing elements 13 which serve to define a horizontal space HS between top deck 3 and bottom deck 5 (see FIG. 3) and which, by virtue of having been placed in rows, additionally define lateral guides for channels 19. Preferably, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2b, and 4, the spacing elements are disposed to define two pairs of parallel rows, each pair defining lateral guides for, or laterally delimiting, a corresponding one of the two guide channels 19 shown. Preferably, the spacing elements are cylindrical. More preferably, the spacing elements are of hollow tubular construction and are made of corrugated board or of fibrous board.

[0035] The use of cylindrical and/or tubular spacing elements is advantageous to the extent that it provides spacing elements having a sturdy configuration less likely to be crushed or bent. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention includes within its scope the use of spacing elements of other shapes and materials as long as they are sturdy enough to create and maintain a space, preferably a horizontal space, between the top deck and the bottom deck of the guide channel defining portion. One alternative for the spacing elements according to the present invention involves, for example, the use of tubular spacing elements having a polygonal cross section such as a square or triangle, or the use of spacing elements in the form of strips disposed perpendicular to the top deck and the bottom deck.

[0036] In the preferred embodiment, the spacing elements are integral with the bottom deck, such as being either securely fastened to the bottom deck or formed in one piece with the bottom deck. The present invention also includes within its scope the fastening of the spacing elements in between the top and bottom decks in any order, including first securely fastening the spacing elements with the top deck.

[0037] Preferably, the top deck and the bottom deck are made of cardboard, and more preferably of corrugated cardboard. Most preferably, the top deck and bottom deck have corrugations or corrugated flutes that run perpendicularly with respect to one another in an assembled state of the top deck with the bottom deck. One advantage of configuring the top and bottom decks such that they present perpendicular corrugations with respect to one another is that the modular pallet formed of the top and bottom decks will tend to have a more even strength in all directions. For purposes of the present invention, the modular pallet and the components thereof can be made of any material used in conventional pallets, including, but not limited to, plastics, cardboard, wood, fiberboard, thermosets, and the like.

[0038] As best seen in FIGS. 2d, 2 e, and 2 f, tine inserts 7 are of an elongated tubular construction for accommodating the tines of a forklift to be inserted therein. More preferably, the tine inserts present a chamfer 15 at a closed end thereof, in this way mimicking the shape of a tine to be inserted therein and facilitating insertion of the tine insert into a guide channel. Each tine insert further has an open end 17, which preferably presents a lip portion L, as best seen in FIG. 2e. One advantage of a chamfered closed end 15 is to allow the full engagement of the tine of a forklift into the tine insert, thereby providing maximum engagement by the forklift. Additionally, an advantage of providing a lip portion L at an open end of the tine insert serves as an initial guide for a tine advancing horizontally for insertion into the tine insert. The lip portion L also provides a stop against the edges of the top and bottom decks during insertion of the tine insert into its corresponding channel 19, thereby halting the insertion of the tine insert into the channel. The tine inserts are preferably made of metal such as aluminum, wood, cardboard, and more preferably corrugated cardboard. The present invention includes within its scope the use of tine inserts of any configuration that accommodates the insertion therein of the tines of a forklift. The tine inserts for purposes of the present invention can be opened at both ends of the insert. Thus, the inserts can be, for instance, rectangular with open ends, wherein the tine can be inserted from either side of the insert.

[0039] According to the present invention, at least one opening is provided in the bottom surface of the guide channel defining portion of the modular pallet for allowing the insertion of a lift strap of a bulk bag therethrough. Preferably, the opening is positioned directly below a guide channel, as exemplified in particular in FIG. 2b, where each opening 11 is placed directly below a corresponding channel 19. Such a positioning of the opening allows the insertion of the loop of a corresponding lift strap through a corresponding opening directly into a guide channel without necessitating the positioning of the loop in the guide channel. More preferably, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2b, there are two openings provided per channel, each pair being positioned directly below a corresponding guide channel. Most preferably, at least one matching opening is provided in the top surface of the top deck such that it registers with a corresponding opening of the bottom deck. The matching and registered openings advantageously allow the lift strap of a bulk bag to be adjusted and/or inserted into the guide channel of the modular pallet from the top of the modular pallet, thereby facilitating such insertion. The opening defined by the modular pallet according to the present invention is preferably rectangular, but may have any shape depending on application needs, including circular, triangular, square, and other polygonal or rounded shapes.

[0040] The present invention further includes within its scope a modular pallet made in whole or in part of sheet metal, fiberboard, or any other material that is preferably light weight and which can further adequately support the loads placed thereon by a bulk bag fastened thereto and hoisted by a lifting device. Preferably, the modular pallet is made of a recyclable material. More preferably, the modular pallet is made wholly or substantially of corrugated cardboard.

[0041] According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the modular pallet is made to be waterproof on at least the outer surfaces thereof, for example, by having its top and bottom decks impregnated with wax, or by coating the top and bottom decks with wax. Such a modification alternative advantageously ensures a longer life for the modular pallet in the event of an exposure to moisture or water.

[0042] Although the different components of the modular pallet according to the invention may have any suitable dimensions, preferred dimensions for the components are as follows. Preferably, as seen in particular in FIG. 2a, the top and bottom decks are square shaped, having preferred side dimensions x of about 3′ 8″, for example, from about 3 feet to about 4 feet. Each opening is rectangular and has a length a of from about 3 inches to about 10 inches, for example, about five inches and a length b of from about 6 inches to about 12 inches, for example, about 9.25 inches. Each opening is further spaced from the front and/or back of each deck by a distance z of from about 3 inches to about 6 inches, for example, about 4.25 inches, and from the sides of each deck by a distance y of from about 2 inches to about 6 inches, for example, about 3.25 inches. Moreover, the inner edges of each opening defining the heights of the openings are spaced from one another by a distance c of from about 1 foot to about 2 feet, for example, about 1 foot seven inches. As further seen in FIG. 2b, the spacing elements 13 have center points spaced from one another in the direction of each channel 19 by a distance dthat is preferably from about 1 foot to about 1.5 feet, such as about 1 foot 1{fraction (1/16)} inches. Each spacing element further has a diameter e of from about 3 inches to about 6 inches, for example, about 4.75 inches. The spacing elements defining channels 19 therebetween are preferably spaced from one another by a distance f of from about 4 inches to about 8 inches, for example, about 6.25 inches, meaning that the width of each channel would have a corresponding dimension. Furthermore, the spacing elements furthest from one another in a direction perpendicular to the direction of channels 19 are spaced from one another by a distance g measuring from about 3 feet to about 4 feet, for example, about 3 feet 5.25 inches. As seen in FIGS. 2d and 2 f, each tine insert further has a length i of from about 3 feet to about 4.5 feet, for example, about 3 feet 8 inches, and a width h of from about 2 inches to about 10 inches, for example, about 6 inches. As seen in FIG. 2f, the tine insert has a thickness k measuring from about 1 inch to about 3 inches, for example, about 1⅞ inches. The lip L of the tine insert, as shown in FIG. 2e, has a height i of from about 2 inches to about 5 inches, such as about 3 inches, and a width m of from about 5 inches to about 10 inches, for example, about 7{fraction (5/16)} inches. Additionally, the inner tube of each tine insert has a height o of from about 1 inch to about 3 inches, for example, about 1% inches, and a width n of from about 4 inches, to about 8 inches, for example, about 5⅞ inches. Moreover, the top and bottom decks each have a thickness of from about ⅛ inch to about 1 inch, for example, about ¼ inch. Each spacing element 13 has a wall thickness of from about ⅛ inch to about 1 inch, for example, about ¼ inch, and a height l, as seen in FIG. 2c, of from about 2 inches to about 4 inches, for example, about 2¾ inches. Other dimensions for the various components of the present invention can be used to meet the size and shape of the bulk bags or other material used in combination with the present invention.

[0043] It is to be noted that the dimensions above describe preferred dimensions for the components of the modular pallet of the present invention, and are in no way intended to limit the components to the stated dimensions. The components of the modular pallet according to the present invention may have any suitable dimensions and proportions with respect to one another depending on application needs.

[0044] As seen in FIG. 3, after insertion of the tine inserts 7 into guide channels 19 for engagement with lift straps 21, a bulk bag combination 23 results that includes bulk bag 20 fastened to modular pallet 1 in its assembled mode. FIG. 3 illustrates an advantage of the preferred embodiment of the modular pallet 1 according to the present invention by showing the double stacking ability of two bulk bag combinations 23. The double stack 25 rests on a base 31 that may be made of a conventional material such as wood, metal, a polymer and the like. As further seen in FIG. 3, each bulk bag combination 23 may be lifted and maneuvered by a fork lift 27 (shown in part) having individual fork tines 29. The fork lift can be moved to advance the tines horizontally into respective tine inserts 7 of each bulk bag combination. The tines of the forklift are then lifted vertically and in unison to lift and suspend the bulk bag combination therefrom, thereby dismantling the double stack.

[0045] Depending on application needs, the modular pallet of the present invention further permits the stacking of bulk bag combinations such as combinations 23 in stacks of more than two. Where a stacking of multiple bulk bag combinations according to the present invention is desired, the loads may be advantageously blocked and/or braced in a conventional manner to protect their integrity. Additionally, the bulk bag combinations according to the present invention may be stacked in trailers or the like such that their weight is evenly distributed inside the trailer, thus advantageously making compliance possible with typical legal axle weight restrictions.

[0046] Advantageously, the modular pallet according to the present invention makes possible the formation of a bulk bag combination, such as bulk bag combination 23 shown in FIG. 3, that obviates the use of wooden pallets between the bulk bags. It is known that wooden pallets used in the above-described manner tend to damage other bulk bags stacked along their side.

[0047] As seen in particular in FIG. 4 (which is a cut away view), a combination of a bulk bag and a modular pallet according to the present invention may be formed using the embodiment of the modular pallet of FIGS. 1 through 2f. As shown in FIG. 4, a conventional bulk bag 20 having four lift straps 21 respectively disposed at each of the four corners thereof is fastened to the modular pallet of FIG. 1 by having its lift straps 21 inserted into the path of guide channels 19 through openings 11 of bottom deck 5 as shown in FIG. 4, so as to define respective loops in guide channels 19. Thereafter, each tine insert 7 is respectively inserted into its corresponding guide channel 19 so as to engage a corresponding pair of the lift straps 21. FIG. 4 depicts the modular pallet of FIG. 1 with its top deck 3 having been removed to clearly show the lift straps 21 as having been inserted into openings 11. However, the depiction in FIG. 4 is for the purpose of illustration only, and is not intended to limit the invention to instances where the lift straps are inserted through the openings of the bottom deck when the top deck is removed. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, as suggested in FIG. 1, the modular pallet is assembled by a first step of securing the top deck 3 to the bottom deck 5, which step results in the formation of guide channels 19 for the tine inserts being defined between respective rows of the spacing elements 13 and corresponding surfaces of the top deck and the bottom deck. The lift straps are then pulled into the respective guide channels 19 through openings 11 and 9, after which the tine inserts are inserted into guide channels 19 so as to engage the lift straps.

[0048] The present invention further pertains to a modular pallet that includes channel defining means, and insert means adapted to be inserted into the channel defining means for engaging a lift strap of a bulk bag inserted into a channel of the channel defining means. The insert means fastens the bulk bag to the modular pallet thereby forming a bulk bag combination. The insert means is adapted to be engaged by a lifting means for lifting and maneuvering the bulk bag combination. An example of the above means is provided with respect to the preferred embodiment of the present invention as described above in relation to FIGS. 1 through 4.

[0049] It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the embodiments of the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover other modifications and variations of this invention within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6926144 *Aug 27, 2002Aug 9, 2005Daniel R. Schnaars, Jr.Bulk bag pallet tube apparatus
US7513365 *Feb 2, 2005Apr 7, 2009International Paper CompanyStackable container
CN101966880A *Sep 21, 2010Feb 9, 2011青岛港(集团)有限公司Automatic separation pallet of utilized cargo network
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/386, 383/24
International ClassificationB65D71/00, B65D88/16
Cooperative ClassificationB65D2571/00098, B65D71/0096, B65D88/1687, B65D2571/00055, B65D88/16, B65D2588/165
European ClassificationB65D88/16, B65D71/00P1A, B65D88/16F16B1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 5, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: CABOT CORPORATION, MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GREENE, STEVEN L.;REEL/FRAME:011973/0378
Effective date: 20010618