US 20050205513 A1
A packaging system for improved management of cap inventory when different beverages, such as different types of milk (skim, 1%, 2% and whole) or water (spring, distilled, fortified, mineral etc.) are bottled in the same bottling lines at various facilities. The system includes maintaining a supply of standard caps, which may be free of colorants or pigments, and a supplies of reels of different colored (or differently printed) shrinkable band material. The different types of beverage are bottled in containers that have a single standard cap and standard uniform bottles, and the different contents of said bottles are differentiated from one another by the application of colored (or distinctively printed) bands. The cap and/or the bottle neck are adapted to be engaged by the band in a way that protects the bottle from being tampered with, and when threaded caps are used, helps prevent the inadvertent loosening of the caps during in shipment. In an alternative embodiment, a band is strapped over the top of the cap and is heat welded or otherwise adhered at both ends to the bottle neck, effectively restricting removal of the bottle cap without detaching at least one end of the band.
1. A closure arrangement for a container comprising:
a bottle cap, a bottle neck, and a tamper evident band;
the bottle neck comprising an opening at an upper end of the neck, an exterior surface having an at least one cap engaging protrusion, and a circumferential transfer ring disposed below the cap engaging protrusion;
the bottle cap comprising a circular cover and a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover; and,
said band containing printing and/or coloring to signify the contents and/or the supply of said container.
2. The closure arrangement of
3. The closure arrangement of
4. The closure arrangement of
the band is a shrinkable circumferential band; and,
said neck has first band engaging formations and said cap has second band engaging formations, said first and second formations cooperating with said band to limit rotational motion of said cap after said band is shrunk into engagement with said cap and neck.
5. The closure arrangement of
6. The closure arrangement of
7. The closure arrangement of
8. The closure arrangement of
9. The closure arrangement of
10. The closure arrangement of
11. The closure arrangement of
12. The closure arrangement of
13. The closure arrangement of
14. The closure arrangement of
15. The closure arrangement of
16. The closure arrangement of
17. A system for managing closure inventory in a bottling facility in which a plurality of different kinds of beverages are bottled in blow molded containers, said system comprising:
a plurality of different band materials, each one of said materials corresponding to a particular kind of beverage;
standard undifferentiated closures and blow molded containers being used on all of said plurality of kinds of beverage bottled at said facility; and,
a supply of inventory of said standard closures being maintained at said facility, whereby bottles with any of said plurality of different kinds of beverage are bottled in said containers with standard undifferentiated closures, and differentiation of beverages bottled at said facility is done by applying particular band material to a container corresponding to a particular beverage in said container, wherein particularized bands are the primary indicia carried by said containers identifying the particular nature of the contents of said containers.
18. A system in accordance with
19. A system in accordance with
20. A system in accordance with
21. A system in accordance with
the band is a shrinkable circumferential band; and,
each of said standard closures comprises a bottle cap having a circular cover, a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover, the skirt including an interior surface having radial band engaging undulations for engaging the circumferential band applied to said cap whereby the ability of said cap to inadvertently rotate relative to a container to which said cap is applied is restricted.
22. A system in accordance with
a bottle cap, a bottle neck, and a shrinkable circumferential band;
the bottle neck comprising an opening at an upper end of the neck, an exterior surface having a at least one cap engaging protrusion, a circumferential transfer ring disposed below the cap engaging protrusion;
the neck having first radial band engaging undulations;
the bottle cap comprising a circular cover, a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover, the skirt including an interior surface having second radial band engaging undulations,
the first and second undulations being dimensioned to engage said circumferential band and prevent loosening of said cap with respect to said neck after said band is brought into close-fitting contact with said cap and bottle neck; and
said circumferential band containing printing and/or coloring to signify the contents and/or the supply of said container.
23. A system in accordance with
24. A system in accordance with
a bottle cap having a circular cover and a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover;
a bottle neck having a circumferential transfer ring; and,
the band is strapped across the circular cover and attached at two ends of the band to the transfer ring whereby the ability of said cap to be removed from the bottle is restricted.
25. A system in accordance with
26. A method of bottle cap and band distribution wherein a plurality of bottling facilities served by a distribution center can package different kinds of beverages using standard bottles and standard caps, said method comprising the steps of:
keeping a supply of standard bottle cap at a distribution center and at each of a plurality of bottling facilities served by said distribution center;
keeping a supply of a plurality of different band materials, each one of said materials corresponding to a particular kind of beverage, at said bottling facilities at said distribution center and at each of said plurality of bottling facilities;
bottling the desired liquid/beverage at said bottling facilities;
changing a band reel to the desired band material, corresponding to the desired liquid/beverage to be bottled;
providing a band over the bottle cap and neck to sealingly engage the contents of the container/bottle, said band being adapted to receive color or printing;
transporting said bottled beverage to a distribution center;
transporting a re-supply of standard closures to said bottling facilities on the return trips from the distribution center to the bottling facilities.
27. A closure arrangement for a container comprising:
a bottle cap, a bottle neck, and a band;
the bottle neck comprising an opening at an upper end of the neck, an exterior surface of the bottle having a at least one cap engaging protrusion;
the bottle cap comprising a closed end and an open end and a skirt depending from the periphery of the closed end; and
said band containing printing and/or coloring to signify the contents and/or the supply of said container.
28. The closure arrangement of
29. The closure arrangement of
30. The closure arrangement of
31. The closure arrangement of
the band is a shrinkable circumferential band;
said container has a neck, and said neck comprises first band engaging formations and said cap has second band engaging formations, said first and second formations cooperating with said band to limit rotational motion of said cap after said band is shrunk into engagement with said cap and neck.
32. A closure comprising:
a closed end and a skirt extending away from said closed end defining an open end;
a shrinkable circumferential band carried by said closure;
said band being partially shrunk into engagement with a portion of said closure; and,
said band and said skirt defining a gap by which said skirt is at least partially spaced inwardly from said band, whereby said skirt may expand upon installation of said closure onto a bottle without rupturing said band.
33. A closure in accordance with
34. A closure in accordance with
35. A closure in accordance with
36. A closure arrangement for a container comprising:
a bottle cap, a bottle neck, and a band;
the bottle neck having an opening at an upper end of the neck and an exterior surface having a at least one cap engaging protrusion;
the bottle cap having a circular cover and a skirt depending from the periphery of the cover;
the band being strapped across and closely conforming to the circular cover of the bottle cap; and,
the band being attached at two ends to the bottle neck.
37. The closure arrangement of
the bottle has a circumferential transfer ring disposed below the cap engaging protrusion; and,
the band is attached to a top surface of the transfer ring.
38. The closure arrangement of
39. The closure arrangement of
40. The closure arrangement of
41. The closure arrangement of
42. The closure arrangement of
43. The closure arrangement of
This is a continuation-in-part application of parent application Ser. No. 10/644,491 filed Aug. 20, 2003.
This invention relates to closure devices, and in particular, relates to heat attached tamper evidencing bands and injection molded caps for blow molded bottles which hold liquids, such as milk, water or juice, and a system for providing color-coded heat attached tamper evidencing bands and injection molded caps for blow molded bottles.
Injection molded caps for blow molded bottles (made of HDPE—high density polyethylene) have been used for many years. In addition, shrink wrapping bottle cap and necks has been used for many years. Generally, two types of bottle caps are available, push-on caps and thread-on caps. Push-on caps are installed by aligning the cap with the opening of a bottle and simply applying an axial force to the top of the cap. Thread-on caps generally require that the cap and bottle be aligned and that a rotational force be applied to the cap. In some cases, threaded caps, if carefully designed in conjunction with the bottle to which it is applied, can be made so that the rotational force required to install the cap is minimized or even eliminated. These kinds of injection molded caps are often made with polypropylene (both high and low density). Typically, caps on bottles sold to consumers include an integrally formed (i.e., injection molded) tamper-evident feature such as a an integrally molded ratchet ring on threaded caps, or one-time-use pull-tab on push-on caps.
A tamper evidencing ratchet ring has internal ratchet teeth that cooperate with matching teeth formed on the exterior of a bottle neck. When the bottle cap is screwed on the bottle neck, the ratchet teeth of the bottle cap ride over the mating ratchet teeth on the bottle neck, thereby enabling the bottle cap to be fully tightened on the bottle neck. However, when a user attempts to unscrew the bottle cap using low-to-medium twisting force, the ratchet teeth of the bottle cap positively engage the mating ratchet teeth of the bottle neck, thereby preventing unthreading and unsealing of the cap, unless the ratchet ring has been separated from the cap with which it was molded. Removal of the ratchet ring may occur when high levels of twisting force are applied to the bottle cap in the direction of unscrewing. The connection between the cap and the ratchet ring may be broken in this way, or by separately prying the ring from the cap. A broken connection between the ring and the cap, or the total absence of the ratchet ring from the bottle cap, serves as visual evidence that the bottle has been opened, and the contents may be contaminated. Furthermore, other tamper-evident and opening devices of bottle caps include a pull-tab that will create a tear in the plastic cap portion that extends over the bottle neck along the circumference of the cap, thus allowing the cap to be removed from the bottle, and in some cases allowing the torn portion to be removed from the cap. In the bottled water industry the pull tab on push-on caps for 5-gallon containers, for example, is not easily removable from the cap, and only partial tearing of the pull tab allows removal of the cap from the bottle.
While the combination of a bottle cap with a tamper evidencing ring and a bottle neck with ratchet teeth provides for an acceptable tamper-evident connection and seal, this combination does have its limitations. On occasion, these ratchet rings remain engaged by the ratchet teeth on bottle neck when the bottle is opened. When the contents of the bottle are poured into another container, the ratchet ring may become loose and can fall into the separate container receiving the contents of the bottle. Furthermore, on smaller or single serving containers, the ratchet ring can become a nuisance as a consumer takes a sip directly from the bottle. If the ring has remained on the container after it has been opened, the ring may fall into the consumer's face or mouth as he or she is taking a sip.
Another way of providing evidence of tampering is to apply a shrink wrapped band at the interface between a cap and a bottle. This technique is commonly used on glass bottles containing liquids, such as juice, or other food product. See AXON® Corporation—Styrotech® of Raleigh, N.C., for an example of such shrink wrapping systems at http://www.axoncorp.com/heatshrink/, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,165,215, entitled “Machine for Applying Tamper Evident Bands to Container”. Commonly, the shrink band is transparent. This allows the color and decorative features of the closure to be easily seen by consumers.
In the field of bottling and selling milk, bottlers have traditionally used different colored caps to differentiate one kind of milk from another. For example, red caps may be used to designate whole milk, light blue for skim milk, yellow for 1%, etc. Colored caps are also used to designate different kinds of juices or different flavors of beverages. Coordinating cap color with the contents of the containers, particularly when multiple kinds of beverage are bottled at a single facility or with a single bottling line, is no small task. In milk bottling facilities, a single filling line may be required to fill containers with four different kinds of milk. When changeovers from one kind of milk to another occur, all of the caps of one color in the capping portion of the filling line (e.g., feeder bowls and cap feeding chutes) must be removed and replaced with another color. In some cases the hoppers from which caps are fed are difficult to access and empty. These changeovers can require considerable time and effort to accomplish, and may be required to be done every day, or even multiple times a day.
Other problems associated with capping facilities using the typical capping system that relies upon cap color to differentiate the kind of milk in a container, include the fact that ample supplies of each color of cap must be kept on hand. This requires significant storage space and lead times in ordering different colored caps for the inventory. Using caps of several different colors complicates transportation and warehousing, and can result in delays in bottling operations.
Some larger retail grocery stores and large milk producers bottle milk at several sites, and service those sites from distribution centers, primarily from the standpoint of supplying inventory of caps and other supplies need in the bottling process. Capping facilities have for several years used different colored caps to differentiate products (e.g., skim, 1%, 2% and whole milk). This method of differentiation typically requires the bottler and/or the distribution center to store large amounts of colored caps—a 3 to 5 week supply on hand to facilitate change-over from one kind of milk to another on short notice. In such operations, colored caps may be ordered by a distribution center, then stored at the distribution center for later delivery to any one of several bottling facilities serviced by the distribution center. When a retailer decides what the “special” will be for a particular milk sale, i.e., skim, whole milk, 1% or 2%, it must then inform the bottling facility, which then must order the corresponding color caps from the distribution center and have them shipped to the bottling facility. Typically, a bottling/capping facility will order more caps of different colors and store them on site so they do not have to deal, on short notice, with a cap manufacturer in order to get the caps it needs for a particular sale. The storage of caps will often take up large portion of floor space at the bottling facilities, as well as at the distribution center.
In order to eliminate many of the problems associated with capping systems now in place, the inventions disclosed and claimed herein, in a milk bottling application, allow a bottler to use caps of a single color, e.g., white or pigment-free, for all kind of milk, and then relies upon shrinkable or heat sealable bands of different colors placed over the cap and neck of a bottle to differentiate one kind of milk from another. In one embodiment, the cap and neck of a bottle are configured in such a way as to allow a mechanical interference between the band and both the cap and the bottle neck to help prevent the cap from backing off of a tightened position during shipment. In another embodiment, a band is strapped across the top of the cap and is connected to the top of the bottle cap and at both ends to the bottle neck. The band closely conforms to the shape of the cap, effectively preventing the cap from being removed from the bottle without detaching at least one end of the band from the bottle. As a cap is unscrewed, the threads on the outside of the bottle neck and on the inside of the cap engage in such a manner to force the cap away from the bottle. The band, being attached to the bottle and the cap, and closely conforming to the shape of the cap, restrains such movement of the cap.
By placing bands of different colors on the bottle neck and by using caps of one standard color, a line change will entail a simple change in the color of ribbon or shrink wrap rather than unloading and loading different colored caps from the feeder bowls and capping apparatus within the bottling line. By using different colored bands, instead of different colored caps, warehouse and storage space is significantly reduced. The bands occupy considerably less space than do caps, and transportation costs (e.g., emergency shipments of colored caps) are diminished as no special transportation requirements for caps of a particular color will be required. A band across the top of the cap may be more preferable than a circumferential band because the “across the top” kind of band may be less likely to cause milk to become trapped between the bottle and the band. Furthermore, using a small band instead of a larger circumferential band would save in material, shipping, storage, and labor costs. The material of the “across the top” kind of band is preferably a polyester (e.g., PET) having a sealing layer made of polyethylene (or a polyethylene based material modified to improve its properties as a heat sealing layer) that is heat-sealable facing the surface of the cap, which is also typically made of polyethylene (either high or low densisty). The material for the “across the top” type of band may be purchased from a packaging material supplier such as the Clear Lam Packaging Corporation of Elk Grove, Ill.
Using color-coded bands over the cap and neck of a bottle significantly reduces costs associated with storing and disposing of large amounts of different colored caps, eliminates the problem associated with the ratchet ring dropping in milk glasses, reduces inventory space, reduces lead-time on ordering, and the tamper evident factor is clearly visual in a band. The caps are also interchangeable between several bottling facilities that may be serviced by a central distribution center.
The inventions described and claimed herein also have application in the field of bottled water, such as water that is transported and dispensed from inverted large (e.g., 5-gallon and 3-gallon) containers. Consumers of bottled water have great concern about colorants used to give color to caps on containers of bottled water. Colorants may (or may be perceived to) affect the taste of water, since the plastic of caps for 5-gallon water bottles come into prolonged contact with the water that is stored therein. Yet, since the bottles themselves are reused over and over again the bottles cannot effectively be used for product identification. Instead, bottlers have traditionally used the cap and a label on the cap to provide some (albeit limited) product identification. By using colored, multi-colored or printed bands, instead of colored caps to identify the source of the bottled water, the bottlers can use caps that have no pigments or colorants. Similarly, when a bottler needs to differentiate one container from another (for example a container with a valved cap vs. a container with a standard unvalved cap), the bottler can simply use a band of one color for bottles with valved caps and a band of another color for bottles with standard unvalved caps. In the case of valved caps, which typically have a tamper-evident label covering the valve and at tamper-evident pull tab, the colored band will provide an additional layer of security in the form of a third level of tamper evidence.
For the foregoing reasons, there is a need for an improved tamper resistant bottle cap and bottle neck that limits the ability of a person to tamper with the contents of a bottle and provides a system for sealing the bottle cap and neck with a band. Specifically, there is a need for a tamper resistant bottle cap and bottle neck which will clearly show any tampering and will eliminate the ratchet ring of the previous art.
It is therefore a primary object of the inventions described and claimed herein to provide an improved tamper resistant bottle cap and bottle neck for use in bottles which hold liquids, such as milk and juice, and to provide a system for providing a band on the bottle neck and cap.
It is a further object of the inventions described and claimed herein to provide an improved tamper resistant seal between a bottle cap and a bottle neck in bottling operations that use the same kinds of containers to ship different products, such as different kinds of milk in 1-gallon containers.
It is another object of the inventions described and claimed herein to provide a system for color-coding a cap and bottle neck at a bottling/capping facility.
It is yet another object of the inventions described and claimed herein to provide a bottle neck with an improved durability sealing mechanism during transport of bottles of milk and juice.
The inventions described and claimed herein are directed to a tamper resistant bottle cap and bottle neck that satisfy the need for a bottle closure with an improved tamper resistant seal and color-coding system. A bottle closure having the features of the inventions described and claimed herein broadly comprises a bottle cap and a bottle neck.
The bottle cap of the inventions described and claimed herein includes a circular cover, a wide skirt depending from the periphery of the cover, and a tamper evidencing heat attached band. The skirt of the bottle cap includes an interior surface having threads for retaining the cap to a bottle neck and an outer surface having a series of high and low knurls along its periphery.
The bottle neck of the inventions described and claimed herein includes an opening at its upper end, a cylindrical exterior surface having threads for retaining a bottle cap, a circumferential bumper roll below the threads, and a circumferential portion below the bumper roll. The circumferential bumper roll has indentations on its underside.
The threads of the bottle cap and the bottle neck of the inventions described and claimed herein are appropriately dimensioned so as to sealingly engage when the bottle cap is screwed onto the bottle neck. After the bottle cap has been screwed onto the bottle neck, a band is applied to the bottle cap and bottle neck so as to prevent unscrewing or removal of the bottle cap relative to the bottle neck without breaking the sealable connections. The tamper evidencing band of the bottle cap can be color-coded, clear or adapted to receive printing.
In one embodiment of the present invention, the band is formed by a shrinkable circumferential band. When the bottle cap is fully threaded onto bottle neck, the shrinkable band of the cap completely surrounds the skirt and partial portion of the top of the cap, so that it is very difficult to tamper with. The location of the indentations on the underside of the bumper roll and the knurls on the outside surface of the skirt of the cap provide additional sealing means to the shrinkable band of the combination of the bottle cap and bottle neck of the inventions described and claimed herein.
These and other features, aspects, objects, and advantages of the inventions described and claimed herein will be become better understood upon consideration of the following detailed description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:
It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale and that the embodiments are sometimes illustrated by graphic symbols, phantom lines, diagrammatic representations and fragmentary views. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of the inventions described and claimed herein or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that the inventions described herein are not necessarily limited to the particular embodiments illustrated herein.
Like reference numerals will be used to refer to like or similar parts from Figure to Figure in the following description of the drawings.
Referring now to
Furthermore, in the preferred embodiment to be used with a shrinkable circumferential band 38 of the present invention, the bumper roll 32 includes indentations 36 on its bottom surface 35 along the entire length of its periphery. As seen in
The bottle neck 24 also includes a lower end 27 that extends from the bottom surface 35 of bumper roll 32. As can be seen in
Specifically, in referring to
An alternative embodiment of the inventions described herein is a band 38 a that is attached by heat welds 73 and 74 or adhesives at both ends 71 and 72 to the top 34 of the bumper roll 32, as shown in
The bottle cap 11 of the inventions described and claimed herein is preferably clear or a solid white color. The band 38 a and circumferential band 38 are color-coded to correspond to the particular color needed to represent the contents of the liquid within in the bottle 21. For example, the bands 38 and 38 a can be a light blue color to indicate skim milk, or a light brown color to indicate chocolate milk, or a red color, to indicate a particular juice flavor. If multiple bottling lines are operated in a single facility, all of the beverage lines can use the same closure, and differentiation of the various beverages can be done primarily (or even exclusively) with color coded band material. The color-coding bands 38 or 38 a are provided in the machinery of the bottling/capping facilities and can be changed simply by changing the reel containing the colored material based on the needs at the time bottling/capping occurs. There is no need to remove caps from the feeder bowls typically used in capping operations when changing over from one beverage to another, since a single kind of cap is all that is needed. Furthermore, the bands 38 and 38 a are provided in the bottling facilities in the manufacturing process. The bands 38 or 38 a are placed in a reel that can contain a plurality of different colored bands 38 or 38 a. The reel is similar to a movie reel and can simply be changed by pulling out one color and feeding another colored band 38 or 38 a into the reel. An example of such band sealing can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 5,165,215.
One reel of circumferential band 38 material can service as many as 100,000 containers. Each circumferential band 38 needs to be about 25 millimeters in axial length. The bands 38 and 38 a can be stored in larger quantities than different colored caps because the band material comes ready-to use in boxes that are about 13×13×13 inches with each. The very compact band material can be relied upon to take the place of using different colored caps, which are much more bulky and space-consuming. This allows a bottler to use a single color of (or colorless) cap. In contrast, about 2000 caps having ratchet rings fit into a typical shipping container. Thus about 50 boxes of color coded caps would be required for 100,000 containers, whereas only one 13×13×13 inch box can be used for color coding the same quantity of containers.
FIGS. 9 to 12 illustrate alternative embodiments of the inventions described and claimed herein.
The advantages of the system of the inventions described and claimed herein in a large milk bottling operation with multiple bottling facilities can be seen in
In some instances, a bottler may rely entirely on the color-coded bands to differentiate the contents of various containers containing different beverages, i.e., it may be possible that no other particularized labeling is necessary. However, even when an additional label descriptive of the particular contents of the container is applied (e.g., to the side of the container), the color coded band, because of its visibility and prominent location allows the color-coded band to be the primary means for indicating to the consumer the kind of beverage in the container.
An additional benefit to bottlers that comes from the elimination of the ratchet ring on present caps is the fact the number of caps that can be shipped in the same size box is increased by approximately 167%, and there is no danger of a damaged ratchet ring (and consequent loss of tamper evidency), since there is no ratchet ring present in the cap which are part of the system described herein, and indications of tampering come from the band, instead of the ratchet ring.
The inventions described above with respect to caps used on beverages such as milk are also applicable to other bottle cap and neck configurations. For example, a color-coded band can be applied to 5-gallon containers (and containers other capacities having similar neck profiles) in the bottled water industry. The cap 50 in
As shown in
If the combination of a partially shrunk band 56 b and a cap 52, of the kind shown in
As an alternative to the situation where the cap, as shown in
In the bottled water industry, cleanliness and purity (and the appearance thereof) are important features. In dispensers used to support and allow extraction of water from inverted 5-gallon (and other sized) containers, valved versions of caps are left on the container to allow inversion without worrying about spillage during the process of changing bottles. Thus, valved caps are inserted directly into the unit from which water is eventually dispensed and may come into contact with water that is eventually consumed. It is important, therefore, to keep the exterior of valved cap as clean as possible. The exterior of the cap 50 of
The closures 40 of
Thus, it is seen that an improved tamper resistant bottle cap and neck are provided which satisfy the need for a bottle with an improved tamper resistant seal. The inventions described and claimed herein includes a bottle cap with an improved means for connecting and sealing the cap to a bottle, which limits the ability of a person to defeat the sealing action of the heat attached tamper evident band on the bottle cap and neck and which limits the leakage or spillage from a loose seal during transport.
Although the inventions described and claimed herein have been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the inventions described and claimed herein can be practiced by other than the preferred embodiments, which have been presented for purposes of illustration and not of limitation. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred embodiments contained herein.