US 3760943 A
A method and apparatus for sorting and distributing mail in which a flexible mail bag, having a plurality of spaced-apart compartments is collapsed after mail is disposed in the plurality of compartments and secured in its collapsed condition by an adjustable strap disposed about the outer surface of the bag. The collapsed, secured bag is transported from a central postal station to a gang mail box in a multi-tenant building, wherein the strap is released, the bag is opened and expanded, and mounted by means of hooks or loops in the gang mail box, which includes a plurality of doors accessible to the individual compartments of the bag. At the postal station, a U-shaped rack, disposed adjacent a sorting table, supports a plurality of the bags adjacent each other on three sides of the table. Mail is sorted from the table into the compartments of the bags, and the bags are delivered when the sorting operation is completed.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Reader 1 Sept. 25, 1973 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR SORTING Primary Examiner-Richard A. Schachcr N DISTRIBUTING M Anorney-Allison C. Collard  Inventor: Arthur J. Reader, 293 Pepperidge  ABSTRACT Rd., Hewlett Harbor, NY. A method and apparatus for sorting and distributing  Flled! 13, 1972 mail in which a flexible mail bag, having a plurality of Appl. No.: 306,260
Related US. Application Data  Continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 235,267, March 16,
52 us. Cl. ..'209/122, 150/14  Int. Cl. B07c 7/02  Field of Search 150/13, 14; 220/20, 220/20.5, 23.83; 209/122, 126
 References Cited I I UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,418,403 6/1922 Smith 150/14 1,755,950 4/1930 Dobson 150/14 spaced-apart compartments is collapsed after mail is disposed in the plurality of compartments and secured in its collapsed condition by an adjustable strap disposed about the outer surface of the bag. The collapsed, secured bag is transported from a central postal station to a gang mail box in a multi-tenant building, 1
wherein the strap is released, the bag is opened and expanded, and mounted by means of hooks or loops in the gang mail box, which includes a plurality of doors accessible to the individual compartments of the bag. At the postal station, a U-shaped rack, disposed adjacent a sorting table, supports a plurality of the bags adjacent each other on three sides of the table. Mail is sorted from the table into the compartments of the bags, and the bags are delivered when the sorting operation is completed.
12 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures PATENTED SEP25I975 SHEEI 2 BF 3 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR SORTING AND DISTRIBUTING MAIL This application is a continuation-in-part of my copending application, Ser. No. 235,267, filed Mar. 16, 1972.
This invention relates to an improved method and apparatus for mail sorting and distribution.
More specifically, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for mail distribution to multi-tenant buildings, whereby mail is sorted and containerized prior to its distribution and delivered in individual multi-compartment containers which fit into ganged mail boxes.
In the conventional delivery of mail, a letter carrier is provided with a supply of mail at a particular building site and must sort the mail before distributing it to each of the individual tenants. This is often a slow and laborious job which greatly reduces the efficiency of mail handling within a particular building. Moreover, this type of delivery increases the possibility of the loss of pieces of mail since the mail sorting operation does not take place under any close supervision. In addition, magazines and other bulk commercial mail are often dumped by letter carriers instead of being delivered to their s l it is- V. V. .7
Another method for the conventional sorting and distribution of mail requires that postal personnel sort mail into stationary separate compartments at a central post office. The sorted mail is then bundled and given to letter carriers for delivery. In co-pending application Ser. No. 191,702, filed Oct. 22, 1971, removable containers or modules are disclosed for receiving sorted mail, so that the modules can be transported by a cart to a multi-tenant. building. Collection and delivery carts suitable for these modules are disclosed in copending application Ser. No. 209,206, filed on Dec. 17, 1971.
Accordingly, the present invention provides collapsible mail bags having individual compartments assigned to each business or tenant in a particular building. Mail, including envelopes, containers, packages and the like, is sorted at a central post office sorting station and placed into individual compartments of the bag before it is collapsed and delivered to a building. While mail is placed in the'bag during sorting atthe postal station, it is supported in its expanded form so that all of the compartments are fully open and extended. Rigid fixed compartments are thus not necessary. The mail bag also eliminates bundling of the sorted mail, and removing the bundled parcels from fixed'containers for separate delivery by letter carriers. When the bag is delivered, it is inserted into special gang mail boxes designed to receive the bags, or conventional gang mail boxes. Each of the multicompartment bags includes an address plate indicating its destination. In buildings where there are more than one station of gang mail boxes, the destination tag can also include a further code or number indicating the particular gang mail box in which it is to be inserted.
The multi-compartment mail bagof the present invention is collapsible so that it takes up very'little storage space both during delivery and return from a multitenant building. The method and apparatus of the present invention also eliminates the assignment of letter carriers to particular routes since the multicompartment bags are delivered by truck to a particular address, and quickly disposed in the addressees mail boxes. Thus, letter carriers can be taken off the streets and assigned to a central sorting building, where mail is sorted into the individual compartments of the multi-compartment mail bags before they are transported to the addressee s building.
The present invention, thus, reduces the possibility of accidental loss of mail, mass dumpings of commercial mail and magazines by letter carriers, and theft of mail from letter carriers shoulder pouches and carts during delivery.
The mail bags of the present invention are preferably constructed of heavy nylon or canvas and are internally partitioned by horizontal, rigid plastic trays and a flexible nylon fiber cloth center wall to form a plurality of vertically expanding compartments. Eye hooks are attached to a reinforced plastic top attached to the bags and mount the bags on hooks provided in the gang mail boxes so that the mail bags hang in their expanded form in the gang mail boxes.
The mail bags may also be provided with canvas or nylon loops attached to the top of the bag, for disposal over cylindrical rods or pipes mounted in the gang mail boxes for mounting the mail bags therein. An elongated adjustable string or strap is disposed around the mail bag and fastened together at its ends by a slidable clip for collapsing and securing the mail bag in its collapsed condition during transportation. A handle is disposed on top of the bag for carrying the bag in either its collapsed or expanded condition. A plurality of colored route identification code labels are also affixed to the exterior of the bag in order to'identify the route to which the mail bag is assigned.
The present invention further includes mail sorting apparatus for mounting the mail bags in their expanded form adjacent one another in the post office sorting station so as to facilitate easy sorting of the mail into the plurality of compartments of the mail bags. The apparatus includes a rack, which is preferably U-shaped, on which the mail bags are disposed adjacent to each other. A mail sorting table is disposed in front of the rack adjacent the bags and has a top tray for holding the mail'to be sorted into the mail bags. After all of the mail has been disposed in the compartments of the bag, the covers thereof are secured, and the bags are removed from the rack and collapsed for delivery.
It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for distributing mail in which multi-compartment mail bags containing'sorted mail are transported from a central sorting location to an addressees building for insertion into the addressees gang mail boxes.
It is another object according to the present invention to provide a mail distribution system which overcomes the inefi'iciency and distribution problems of conventional mail distribution systems.
It is still a further object according to the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for mail distribution which is simple in design, efficient in operation, and inexpensive in cost.
Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings which disclose illustrative embodiments ofv the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only, and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. I
In the drawings, wherein similarreference numeral denote similar elements throughout the several views:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a multi-compartment mail bag constructed in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of the bag taken along section 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the mail bag of FIG. 1, shown in its collapsed condition;
FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a mail sorting apparatus constructed in accordance with the present invention, for use with the mail bag of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a gang mail box for use with the multi-compartment mail bag of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a partial perspective planar view of the upper front portion of the gang mail box; and
FIG. 7 is a partial cross-sectional side view of the gang mail box, taken along section 7-7 of FIG. 6.
Referring to the drawings, specifically FIGS. l3, there is shown a multi-compartment mail bag, generally denoted as 10, having a front flap 11 which is fastened on three sides to the front edge of the mail bag by a slide fastener 12. The slide fastener includes one or more handles 13 disposed on the fastener which converge and completely secure cover 11 to the mail bag. A lock may be disposed through apertures in the handles in order to secure the mail bag and prevent pilferage of the contents thereof. A plurality of rigid, plastic trays 14 are disposed in the mail bag perpendicular to the longitudinal axis thereof. A flexible separator 15 is disposed parallel to the longitudinal axis of the mail bag perpendicular to trays l4, and divides the interior of the bag into a plurality of indivudual mail compartments 16. A planar, reinforced plastic member 17 is disposed in the top of the mail bag, in which eye hooks 18 are secured perpendicular to the top surface of the mail bag, for securing the bag on appropriate hooks in gang mail boxes, such as those disclosed in the applicants co-pending application, Ser. No. 235,267, filed on Mar. 16, 1972. Instead of hooks 18, the bags may also be provided with loops 19 for receiving cylindrical pipes or rods therethrough and thereby mounting the mail bags in a mail box or on a sorting support apparatus. These loops are illustrated in one embodiment of the bag shown in FIG. 4.
The bag is collapsible downwardly along its longitudinal axis, and includes an adjustable strap, illustrated as string 19, disposed through loops 20 integrally formed with the bag, whose ends are secured by a slidable clip 21. By pulling both ends of the string through the clip in equal amounts, the string collapses the bag and secures it in its collapsed condition, as shown in FIG. 3. A handle 22 is secured to the top of the mail bag to facilitate handling thereof during transportation. A plurality of colored route identification labels 23 are also affixed to the outside of the mail bag in order to identify the route to which the mail bag is assigned. Address label 24, disposed on the top of the mail bag, identifies the destination of the mail bag. I
The mail bag is preferably constructed of nylon o canvas, and has a nylon fiber cloth separator 15 which may be stitched or bonded to the inside of the bag Plastic trays 14 each include upwardly extending end flanges which are bonded to the separator and the mail bag and secure the trays therein. The mail bags may also include an addressee name plate secured to the front of each tray on the end flanges adjacent cover 1 1. Although the multicompartment mail bags, as stated previously, are preferably constructed of heavy. canvas or nylon material, any other woven or non-woven material, such as, for example, leather, dacron, imitation leather, plastic, or any other flexible material which is durable and can be collapsed and expanded without undue wear, may be utilized. The mail bag may also include hooks, or loops on both the top and bottom surfaces thereof, for mounting the mail bags in gang mail boxes of the type illustrated in the above-mentioned co-pending application of the applicant. Each of the doors of these mail boxes include a rectangular projecting flange, whose dimensions are slightly less than the opening of each of the compartments of the mail bag, which extends into the compartments in order to isolate them from each other and prevent pilferage. Each gang mail box also includes a directory of the tenants who are to receive mail from the particular mail box.
FIG. 4 illustrates an apparatus for sorting mail into the compartments of a plurality of the mail bags of the present invention. The apparatus comprises a rack 25, constructed of a plurality of metallic, rigid cylindrical rods or tubes, on which mail bags 10 are mounted. The rack is preferably Ushaped, and includes a plurality of rollers mounted on the lower ends of the rods thereof to facilitate easy movement of the rack. Mail bags 10 are secured to therods of the rack by either hooks 18 or loops 19. The covers 11 of the mail bags are folded backwardly over the top of the rack to expose the compartments of the mail bags during sorting. Table 26 has a tray 27 provided on the top surface thereof on which mail which is to be sorted in disposed. The letter carrier sorting the mail places each of the letters in the proper compartment in the mail bags, and then secures the covers of the bags, and collapses the bags, to ready them for transportation to the postal mail boxes in the building where the sorted mail is to be delivered. The sorting apparatus illustrated obviates the need for any permanent installations of rigid fixed compartments into which mail is sorted. The apparatus also obviates the need of removing the sorted mail form such compartments, bundling the mail, and then readying the bundled mail for distribution to the postal boxes of the addressees. Furthermore, the multi-compartment bag illustrated reduces the amount of space taken up by the mail bags, since it is sufficiently flexible so as to adjust its own volume in accordance with the amount of mail placed within the bag.
In FIGS. 57, there is shown the gang mail box 28 into which the mail bag of the present invention is inserted. The mail box comprises an outer door 34 pivotablyvmounted on one side thereof having a plurality of individual gang doors 31 mounted therein. Door 34 has a plurality of rectangular flanges 32 mounted on the inside thereof which extend into compartments 16 of mail bag 10 to isolate each of the compartments from each other and prevent pilferage. The dimensions of flanges 32 are slightly less than the opening at the entrance'to compartment 16. Each of trays 14 has an addressees name plate 29 affixed to the front surface thereof for identifying the compartment allocated to each individual person or tenant. Front cover 11 of the mail bag is coiled up at the top of the gang mail box in front of eye hooks 18. Additional eye hooks 30 are disposed in gang mail box 28, at the top thereof or at the top and bottom, as desired. A tenant directory 33 is disposed on the front of gang mail box 28 to identify those persons who receive mail in the gang mail box.
While only a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, other changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is: i
1. A mail container for insertion into a gang mail box, comprising:
a flexible bag having at least one open side, a removable cover disposed over the open side of said bag, and a plurality of spaced-apart compartments disposed within said bag and opening to the open side of said bag;
means, disposed about the periphery of said open side of said bag, for securing said cover over said open side;
means, affixed to at least one outer surface of said bag, for mounting said bag within the gang mail box; and
a flexible, adjustable strap, disposed about said ba parallel to the longitudinal axis thereof, the length of said strap being slidably adjustable about said bag, for collapsing said bag along its longitudinal axis and securing it in its collapsed condition.
2. The mail container as recited in claim 1, wherein said adjustable strap further comprises a slidable clip, disposed over and slidably coupling the ends of said strap, for securing said strap about the periphery of said bag.
3. The mail container as recited in claim 2, wherein said bag further comprises a plurality of loops, disposed on the outer surface thereof, and wherein said strap comprises an elongated string, disposed through said loops around the periphery of said bag.
4. The mail container as recited in claim 3, further comprising a plurality of rigid planar trays, affixed to said bag and spaced-apart therein, perpendicular to its longitudinal axis, and a flexible planar separator, disposed in said bag perpendicular to said trays, for dividin g said bag into said plurality of spaced-apart compartments for receiving mail.
5. The mail container as recited in claim 4, further comprising a rigid planar member, affixed to the top of said bag, and wherein said means for mounting said bag in the gang mail box comprises a plurality of eye hooks,
affixed to said rigid planar member and said bag.
6. The mail container as recited in claim 4, wherein said means for mounting said bag in the gang mail box comprises a plurality of flexible loops, afiixed to said bag on the top surface thereof.
7. The mail container as recited in claim 4, further comprising a color coded route identification label, disposed on the outside surface of said bag, for identifying the route to which said bag is assigned for delivery.
8. The mail container as recited in claim 4, further comprising an elongated, movable rack, for receiving said mounting means and supporting said bags adjacent one another in a postal station, and a movable table, disposed adjacent said rack, for receiving mail which is to be sorted into said compartments of said bags disposed on said rack.
9. The mail container as recited in claim 8, wherein said rack is substantially U-shaped so said bags supported by said rack are disposed adjacent three sides of said table.
10. The mail container as recited in claim 9, wherein said rack comprises a plurality of cylindrical rods, and a plurality of roller wheels, attached to the ends of selected ones of said rods for moving said rack in the postal station.
11. A method for sorting and distributing mail, com prising the steps of:
mounting at least one multi-compartment, collapsible bag on a rack at a central post office sorting station;
sorting mail from an adjacent table into selected compartments of the bags; at the termination of the sorting of the mail, closing the bag and removing the bag from the rack;
collapsing the bag and securing said bag in its collapsed condition by means of an adjustable strap disposed about the outer surface thereof;
delivering the bag to a multi-tenant building; and
releasing the adjustable strap, opening and expanding the bag, and mounting the bag in a gang mail box having individual doors adjacent to the compartments of said bag.
12. The method as recited in claim 11, wherein said step of closing and collapsing said bag further comprises the step of affixing to the outer surface of said bag a color coded route identification label for identifying the route to which the bag is assigned.