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CORRUGATED CARDBOARD SUPPORTS

Document Type and Number: European Patent Application EP1725463
Kind Code: A1

Abstract: Abstract not available for EP1725463
Abstract of corresponding document: WO2005090178
A corrugated cardboard blank (2) for the construction of a support (100), the blank comprising two main body forming panels (4, 6), a middle panel (8) between said body forming panels and two end panels (10, 12), each main body forming panel, middle panel and at least one of the end panels having opposing end flaps (24, 26, 28, 30, 32).

Inventors: Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road, Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)

Application Number: EP20050717991
Publication Date: 11/29/2006
Filing Date: 03/10/2005
View Patent Images: Images are available in PDF form when logged in. To view PDFs, Login or Create Accoun (Free!)
Export Citation: Click for automatic bibliography generation
Assignee: Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road, Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
International Classes: B65D19/40; B65D19/00; B65D5/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Lees, Kate Jane (Marks & Clerk Tower Building Water Street, Liverpool L3 1BA, GB)

CORRUGATED CARDBOARD SUPPORTS

Document Type and Number: European Patent EP1725463
Kind Code: B1

Abstract: Abstract not available for EP1725463
Abstract of corresponding document: WO2005090178
A corrugated cardboard blank (2) for the construction of a support (100), the blank comprising two main body forming panels (4, 6), a middle panel (8) between said body forming panels and two end panels (10, 12), each main body forming panel, middle panel and at least one of the end panels having opposing end flaps (24, 26, 28, 30, 32).

Inventors: Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road, Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)

Application Number: EP20050717991
Publication Date: 02/13/2008
Filing Date: 03/10/2005
View Patent Images: Images are available in PDF form when logged in. To view PDFs, Login or Create Account (Free!)
Export Citation: Click for automatic bibliography generation
Assignee: Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road, Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
International Classes: B65D19/40; B65D19/00; B65D5/02
Foreign References: WO/2003/082688A IMPROVEMENTS IN AND RELATING TO CORRUGATED CARDBOARD PALLETS 4269347 End tab file folder storage file
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Lees, Kate Jane (Marks & Clerk Tower Building Water Street, Liverpool L3 1BA, GB)
 

Claims: 1. A corrugated cardboard blank (2) for the construction of a support, the blank comprising two main body forming panels (4, 6), a middle panel (8) between said body forming panels and two end panels (10, 12), each main body forming panel, and middle panel having opposing end flaps (24, 26, 28), characterised in that both end panels are provided with opposing end flaps (30, 32).

2. A blank as claimed in claim 1 wherein the end panels (24, 26, 28, 30, 32) of the blank are substantially identical in size.

3. A blank as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2 wherein fluting is formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank (2), i.e. from one end panel to the other.

4. A blank as claimed in claim 1, 2 or 3 wherein each end flap (30, 32) of each end panel is 25% to 50% of the height of its corresponding panel.

5. A blank as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the end flaps (30, 32) of one of the end panels are separated from the panel by means of reverse fold lines.

6. A corrugated cardboard support (1.00) comprising two substantially parallel opposing main body panels (4, 6) and two pairs of opposing side walls wherein at least one side wall is at least double the thickness of the main body panels characterised in that said at least double thickness is provided by at least one side wall having end flaps that are folded outwardly and secured to said wall.

7. A support as claimed in claim 6 wherein an overlapping outer layer (12) of the double layer of the side wall is provided with the end flaps (32) for folding outwardly and securing to the layer.

8. A corrugated cardboard support (100) formed from a blank (2) according to any one of claims 1 to 5.

9. A corrugated cardboard pallet, the pallet comprising a top sheet (280), a base sheet (290) and at least one connecting member (300 - 380) between said top and said base sheets, the connecting member being formed from a blank (2) according to anyone of claims 1 to 5 or a support (100) according to claims 7 or 8.

Description: The present invention relates to improvements in corrugated cardboard supports, particularly but not exclusively, corrugated cardboard pallets.

Pallets are in everyday use and are usually made from wood, polythene, plastic or metal. The pallets may be of a general size, such as those used in the retail and retail goods manufacturing industries, or they may be made for specific applications. Their chief purpose is to safely store goods or product in quantity and allow the goods or product to be mechanically handled within manufacturing units. The pallets also act as shipping units, often via vehicle transport, to the retail outlet. Again, at the retail outlet the pallets are mechanically handled and stored prior to transport to individual stores. The pallet may then be used to display the goods or product directly on the shop floor, as a form of merchandising unit.

Pallets are normally of a high initial cost and there arc systems of pallet hire in place. Pallets may also be purchased second hand, but are again costly, and may be prone to contaminants. They are bulky and are normally of a standard height and size so that both the manufacturer and retailer storage systems are compatible. Wooden pallets are heavy to manhandle and add to the crush weight of stored and transported goods or product because often several pallets of goods or product are stored on top of one another. A standard wooden pallet typically weighs between 25Kg and 50Kg. This means that manhandling is difficult and the weight can damage the goods or product that the pallet rests upon. This type of pallet is also costly to transport because of its inherent weight.

A typical operation of a re-usable pallet may be as follows. Manufactured product such as boxed dry goods are collated and stacked on to a standard wooden pallet. A man may then place a pallet on top of this stacked pallet and proceed to collate and place more boxed product on top of this. Depending upon how many layers of product are used on each pallet, each single stack may contain several pallets. The stack is then normally enshrouded in stretch wrap to form a unit that is then mechanically handled by a manual pump truck or a mechanical fork lift truck and placed into storage. After a period of time, the product is ordered by a retailer and the unit is mechanically loaded onto a transport vehicle. At the retailer's depot, the unit is unloaded and stored for a further period. It is then loaded onto another vehicle and delivered into a retail shop, where it may be stored or placed direct for merchandising onto the shop floor.

The problem with the aforementioned operation is that the manufacturer does not get the pallet back. This is very costly to the manufacturer and, ultimately, the consumer. After the product or goods are used from the pallet, the retailer must then dispose of the wooden pallet, which is bulky and heavy. The disposal of the pallet requires expensive transport and is costly to the environment since most pallets end up in landfill. It is estimated that there are around 5 wooden pallets in existence for each person in the British Isles.

If a hire system is used, a pallet must be hired by a manufacturer. A system of tracking the pallets is required which is both labour intensive and costly. The pallet is then left with the retailer. The retailer may have a stock of empty pallets which he can give back to the manufacturer, requiring the loading of a vehicle to transport bulky, heavy and empty pallets back to the manufacturer at his own cost. A manufacturer also has to pay to de-hire a pallet and, if one is lost, will have to pay full cost for it. The returned pallets can be hired out again in a repeat cycle. Re-using pallets also leads to problems of cleanliness and repair. Wooden pallets are normally put together with nails which may become exposed and damage the goods or product placed upon them. Furthermore, wooden pallets may produce large or small splinters that can either damage the product or even enter and contaminate the product, especially food goods.

The standard height of most pallets, usually being about 160mm, dictates how much product can be transported on a vehicle, such as a curtain slider. Wooden pallets are heavy and may double in weight when wet, making manual handling dangerous.

The Applicant's co-pending Application No.s WO 03/082685 and WO 03/082688 provide a solution to the above problems by the provision of a collapsible corrugated cardboard support and pallet. Whilst these are entirely satisfactory for their intended purpose, in some instances, the customer may not require the pallet to be collapsible. In such situations, it is desirable to provide a cheaper, less complex corrugated cardboard pallet. However, it is difficult to provide a cardboard pallet that has sufficient internal strength to withstand the weights that are applied to it and robust enough to withstand being mechanically handled and transported several times.

US 4,269,347 describes a storage file for storing file folders that uses a blank having end panels provided with a flap It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard support that aims to overcome, or at least alleviate the abovementioned drawbacks.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard pallet that aims to overcome, or at least alleviate, the abovementioned drawbacks.

Accordingly, a first aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard blank for the construction of a support, the blank comprising two main body forming panels, a middle panel between said body forming panels and two end panels, each main body forming panel and middle panel having opposing end flaps, characterised in that both end panels are provided with opposing end flaps.

The panels and flaps are separated from their adjoining panel or flap by means of fold lines.

It is to be appreciated that a support is assembled from the blank by folding the appropriate parts of the blank and securing them together using suitable means, most preferably an adhesive. Adjacent panels are folded substantially at right angles to each other such that one of the end panels abuts the edge of the main body panel to which it is not connected. Glue is then applied to the outer surface of this end panel and the opposing end panel is folded over this panel and secured thereto by suitable means. The end flaps of the panels making up the box are folded inwardly and secured to each other to form a closed box.

The end panels of the blank are preferably substantially identical in size. In this manner, in the assembled box, the opposing end panel overlaps substantially all of the underlying end panel.

It is preferable for fluting to be formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank, i.e. from one end panel to the other since this increases the strength of the box formed from the blank.

Preferably, each end flap is 25% to 50% of the height of its corresponding panel, more preferably 40 to 50%.

The end flaps of the opposing end panel are preferably separated from the panel by reverse fold lines whereby, in the assembled box, the flaps may be folded outwardly and secured to the panel.

A second aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard support comprising two substantially parallel opposing main body panels and two pairs of opposing side walls wherein at least one side wall is at least double the thickness of the main body panels characterised in that said at least double thickness is provided by at least one side wall having end flaps that are folded outwardly and secured to said wall.

The provision of at least one side wall that is at least double the thickness of the main body panels provides a support with inherent strength. In this respect, the main body forming panels receive the load and are supported by the side walls.

Preferably, the at least one side wall is double the thickness by the provision of a double layer of material. More preferably still, the overlapping outer layer is provided with end flaps for folding over and securing to the layer to increase the strength and thickness of the wall still further. It is preferable for one pair of opposing side walls that do not have double thickness to be formed from end flaps extending from the other side walls and the main body forming panels.

It is to be appreciated that the blank according to the first aspect of the present invention is preferably used in forming a support according to the second aspect of the present invention. Additionally, the main panels and walls of the support may be any desired size.

A third aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard pallet, the pallet comprising a top sheet, a base sheet and at least one connecting member between said top and said base sheets, the connecting member being formed from a blank according to the first aspect of the present invention or a box according to the second aspect of the present invention.

In a preferred arrangement, nine supports are provided between said top and base sheet, optionally being of different sizes. Preferably, the supports are arranged at each corner of the sheets, with a support positioned centrally between the corner supports along each side thereof and a further support being provided in the centre between the sheets. Preferably, the support provided in the centre is the largest size of support and the supports provided at the corners are the smallest in size.

The base sheet is preferably provided with regions that are relieved of material to provide access points from below the pallet. Preferably, two rectangular areas are relieved of material. Any suitable number of access points may be provided in the pallet, being formed through the base sheet and/or by the spacing between adjacent supports provided between the sheets of the pallet.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the components of the pallet are secured together by means of adhesive only. A varnish may be applied to the top sheet, base sheet and/or supports to impart water resistance.

For a better understanding of the present invention and to show more clearly how it may be carried into effect reference will now be made, by way of example only, to the accompanying drawings in which:
* Figure 1 is a plan view of a blank for a box according to one embodiment of the present invention;
* Figure 2 is a perspective view of a partially erected box according to the present invention assembled from the blank shown in Figure 1;
* Figure 3 is a side plan view of the fully erected box shown in Figure 2;
* Figure 4 is a plan view of a top part for a pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention;
* Figure 5 is a plan view of the base part for a pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention
* Figure 6 is a perspective view of an assembled pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention utilising the parts shown in Figures 1 to 3, 4 and 5; and
* Figure 7 is a view of the underside of the top part of the pallet showing the location of the boxes.

Referring to Figure 1 of the accompanying drawings, a plan view of a blank 2 for the construction of a support box according to one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The blank is cut from a sheet of corrugated cardboard and creases are inserted into the blank to provide fold lines, represented by the small broken lines in Figure 1. Heavy long broken lines denote reverse fold lines. The blank has two main body forming panels 4, 6 connected by a middle panel 8. The two main body forming panels 4, 6 are each provided with an end panel 10, 12 respectively opposite said middle panel 8. Opposing free ends of each main body panel, middle panel and end panels are provided with end flaps 24, 26, 28, 30 and 32. All the flaps are separated from their respective panel by fold lines except for the end flaps of one of the end panels, which are separated by means of reverse fold lines. Alternatively, these end flaps may be separated from their end panel by means of cut and crease lines which are known in the art. Fluting is provided in the longitudinal direction, as denoted by arrow C in Figure 1.

Any size of panels may be used depending upon the required size of box but, it is to be appreciated that all the panels are preferably of an identical length. The main body panels may be of a greater width than the middle and end panels, as shown in the drawings, with the main panels being identical and the middle and at least one of the end panels being of an identical size. Each end flap is preferably approximately half the height of the panel to which it is attached.

To form the box 100 adjacent panels are folded substantially at right angles to each other such that one of the end panels 10 abuts the edge of the main body panel 6 to which it is not connected. Glue is then applied to the outer surface of this end panel 10 and the opposing end panel 12 is folded over this panel and secured thereto by means of the glue, thereby resulting in this side of the box being of double thickness. The end flaps 24, 26, 28, 30 of the panels making up the box are folded inwardly (see Figure 2), with the end flaps of the end and middle panels being folded inwardly first and the end flaps of the main body panels being folded over these flaps and secured thereto by means of adhesive to form a closed box. Additionally, the end flaps 32 of the end panel 12 are folded outwardly, as denoted by the arrow A in Figure 2, and adhered to the outer surface of their end panel, as shown in Figure 3.

The construction of the box 100 is such that it may withstand far greater weight than a standard cardboard box due to the provision of the additional end panel overlapping its opposing end panel and the end flaps which fold outwardly and are secured to the end panel. Such an arrangement has not previously been described since it would appear to be wasteful of material. However, in the present invention, the provision of an effectively triple-walled box has surprisingly been found to provide a support that is fit for its intended purpose.

Furthermore, it has been found that the provision of fluting in the longitudinal direction C, shown in Figure 1, provides for a much stronger box thus enabling the box to support greater weights. This is opposite to the direction of fluting provided in conventional corrugated cardboard boxes.

The box according to the present invention may be used as a support, for example acting as a display shelf to support goods that are for sale. The box has advantages over the prior art supports, such as being lighter to transport and its ability to be recycled. It is also made of cheap materials. The simple design of the blank that makes up the box provides a massive cost saving vis-à-vis the type of box described in the Applicant's co-pending Application No.s WO 03/082685 and WO 03/082688 . Additionally, there is far less waste, with slits simply being cut into the machined blank.

A preferred application for a box according to the present invention is the construction of a pallet wherein a plurality of boxes are adhered to a top and bottom sheet to provide a pallet that is cheap, lightweight and recyclable. Any required size of pallet may be provided and the larger the pallet, generally the more boxes that will be used in its construction.

Figures 4 to 7 of the accompanying drawings illustrate one pallet according to the present invention. This embodiment is made from eleven single sheets of corrugated cardboard, which are stamped out as shown in Figure 1, Figure 4 and Figure 5. A solid rectangular sheet 280 is provided to form the top of the pallet and a further rectangular sheet 290 of substantially the same size is provided for forming the base of the pallet, this sheet having two rectangular sections 400, 420 that are relieved of material.

Nine boxes 300 - 380 according to the present invention are glued in their erected form to the underside of the top sheet 280, as shown in Figure 7. This figure details the location of the nine double blind boxes that create the compressive strength of the pallet. In the embodiment shown, there are four different sizes of box for each pallet. A smallest size of box 300, 320, 360, 380 is placed at each corner of the sheet. A largest box 34 is placed in the centre of the pallet. Another size of box 310, 370 is positioned centrally along two opposing faces of the pallet between the corner boxes and yet a further size of box 330, 350 is placed centrally along the other two opposing faces of the pallet. Glue is then applied to the panel 4 of the boxes and the bottom sheet 290 of the pallet is then stuck onto the flattened boxes.

The orientation of the fluting on the top sheet may be any direction but the orientation of the fluting with respect of the boxes is important to provide overall compressive strength of the pallet. The positioning of the boxes is such as to provide access for a mechanical forklift along all four edges of the pallet. The boxes are also positioned so that they will always be in the correct position to bear on standard warehouse racking systems. The mechanical handling forks can be introduced at A or B on either edge of the pallet, as illustrated in Figure 6. If a pallet truck is used for handling, then the wheels roll over the pallet base 290 and then sit against the floor as the pallet is elevated for moving.

The absence of any metal mechanical fastenings means that the pallet cannot damage or contaminate any product or goods placed therein. Its reduced height vis-à-vis the conventional type of pallet means that extra product layers may be gained for transport. The cardboard may also be treated with varnish or other suitable means to make it water resistant and may be printed with descriptors or other decoration, such as in for use in a shop display merchandising unit.

A pallet according to the present invention has clear economical and environmental benefits. A pallet according to the present invention may only be about 100mm high, being almost half the height of a standard wooden pallet but tall enough to enable handling by all standard mechanical means.

The pallet according to the present invention is designed for single trip use. Whilst the pallet is robust enough to be mechanically handled and transported several times, it is envisaged that the pallet will be recycled after use. In this respect, the pallet is 100% recyclable. This saves on storage space and costly return transport. Furthermore, the pallet is far cheaper to make than other types of wooden pallet currently in existence, minimising the cost to the ultimate consumer.

On average, a pallet according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention weighs about 1-3 Kg. In contrast, a conventional wooden pallet weighs between 25-50Kg. Thus, the present pallet can be manually handled without any worry of health and safety weight constraints. Its lightness also assists in the prevention of product damage when the pallet is used in multi-stacked units. It is designed for two-way or four-way entry and can be handled by a manual pallet pump truck or various mechanical forklift trucks without modification. The pallet is also designed so that it can be placed safely in the majority of racking systems.

A further benefit provided by a pallet according to the present invention is that its basic constructional design can be used to provide any size of pallet required. By varying the grade of corrugated cardboard used, the box or pallet can be made to withstand varying dead loads up to several tons.

Additionally, the provision of a pallet that is intended for a single use reduces the risk of any contamination of the product from the pallet. Wooden pallets require fumigation against wood boring insects. The single use aspect of the pallet also reduces incidental costs associated with the provision of manpower to control the pallets, clean the pallets and store and unload the pallets.

Corrugated cardboard pallets

Document Type and Number: United States Patent Application 20050155527
Kind Code: A1
Abstract: A corrugated cardboard pallet comprising a top sheet (28), a base sheet (29) and at least one connecting member (30-38) )between said top and said base sheets, the connecting member being moveable to shift the pallet between a relatively flat and a relatively erect form. Each connecting member comprises two substantially parallel opposing main body panels (18, 20) and two pairs of opposing side walls (X, Y) wherein each of one pair of opposing side walls are formed from two interlocking parts (11, 14, 22, 25).

Representative Image: Corrugated cardboard pallets
Inventors: Mulcahy, Stephen (Rishton, GB)
Reilly, Ian (Widnes, GB)

Application Number: 10/509051
Publication Date: 07/21/2005
Filing Date: 03/10/2003
View Patent Images: Images are available in PDF form when logged in. To view PDFs, Login or Create Account (Free!)
Export Citation: Click for automatic bibliography generation
Primary Class: 108/51.300
International Classes: (IPC1-7): B65D019/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm: CHARLES N. QUINN; FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP (2000 MARKET STREET, 10TH FLOOR, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 19103, US)
Claims: 1. A corrugated cardboard pallet comprising a top sheet, a base sheet and at least one connecting member between said top and base sheets, the connecting member being moveable to shift the pallet between a relatively flat and a relatively erect form characterized in that each connecting member comprises two substantially parallel opposing main body panels and two pairs of opposing side walls wherein each of one pair of opposing side walls is formed from at least two interlockable parts to enable each member to be moveable from a flattened or collapsed state to an erect state.

2. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 1 wherein each support is constructed from a blank comprising two main body forming panels, a middle panel between said body forming panels and at least one end flap, each main body forming panel and middle panel having opposing side flaps, each side flap of the main body panels being provided with an indent

3. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 2 wherein the side flaps of the main body panels are secured to the side flaps of the middle panel, the end flap is folded over the secured to the main panel and the side flaps of the main body panels are not secured to each other.

4. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 2 wherein opposing side flaps of each main body panel are a mirror image of one another.

5. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 4 wherein adjacent side flaps of adjacent main body panels are identical.

6. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 5 wherein an end flap is provided at  the end of each main body forming panel.

7. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 6 wherein one of the end flaps is provided with side flaps.

8. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 7 wherein a tab is provided on each of the side flaps of the main body forming panels for attachment to side flaps of the end flap and the middle flap in the constructed support.

9. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 8 wherein each tab is provided at the remote end of the indented region of each side flap.

10. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 9 wherein fluting is formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank.

11. A corrugated cardboard panel as claimed in claim 10 wherein an end flap of each main body forming panel is substantially the same length as the middle panel.

12. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 11 wherein at least 4 connecting members are provided between the top sheet (28) and the base sheet (29).

13. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 12 wherein between 9 and 12 members are provided between the top sheet and the base sheet.

14. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 13 wherein the connecting members are arranged at each comer of the sheets, with at least one member positioned centrally between the comer members along each side thereof and a further member being provided in the centre between the sheets.

15. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 14 wherein the central connecting member is the largest size of member and the members provided at the corners are the smallest in size.

16. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 15 wherein the base sheet is provided with regions that are relieved of material to provide access points from below the pallet.

17. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 16 wherein the base sheet, top sheet and at least one connecting member are all secured together by means of adhesive only.

18. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 17 wherein a varnish is applied to the top sheet, base sheet and/or at least one connecting member.

19. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 18 wherein at least one additional sheet is secured to the top and/or base sheet.

20. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 19 wherein the additional sheet is a cross ply board.

21. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 20 wherein fluting of the additional sheet lies at 90 degrees to the direction of fluting on the sheet to which it is applied.

22. A method of manufacturing a corrugated cardboard pallet comprising the steps of passing a top sheet along a conveyor, feeding at least one connecting member on to the top sheet and securing a base sheet to the connecting member, characterized in that the connecting member is moveable between a flattened and an erect state and is applied to the top sheet in its flattened state.

23. A method as claimed in claim 22 wherein adhesive is applied to the connecting member prior to feeding it on to the top sheet.

24. A method as claimed in claim 25 wherein a plurality of connecting members are fed onto different locations on the top sheet.

25. A method as claimed in claim 24 wherein the connecting members are fed from hoppers.

Description:

The present invention relates to improvements in corrugated cardboard pallets.

Pallets are in everyday use and are usually made from wood, polythene, plastic or metal. The pallets may be of a general size, such as those used in the retail and retail goods manufacturing industries, or they may be made for specific applications. Their chief purpose is to safely store goods or product in quantity and allow the goods or product to be mechanically handled within manufacturing units. The pallets also act as shipping units, often via vehicle transport, to the retail outlet. Again, at the retail outlet the pallets are mechanically handled and stored prior to transport to individual stores. The pallet may then be used to display the goods or product directly on the shop floor, as a form of merchandising unit.

Pallets are normally of a high initial cost and there are systems of pallet hire in place. Pallets may also be purchased second hand, but are again costly, and may be prone to contaminants. They are bulky and are normally of a standard height and size so that both the manufacturer and retailer storage systems are compatible. Wooden pallets are heavy to
manhandle and add to the crush weight of stored and transported goods or product because
often several pallets of goods or product are stored on top of one another. A standard
wooden pallet typically weighs between 25 Kg and 50 Kg. This means that manhandling is
difficult and the weight can damage the goods or product that the pallet rests upon. This
type of pallet is also costly to transport because of its inherent weight.

A typical operation of a re-usable pallet may be as follows. Manufactured product such as
boxed dry goods are collated and stacked on to a standard wooden pallet. A man may then
place a pallet on top of this stacked pallet and proceed to collate and place more boxed
product on top of this. Depending upon how many layers of product are used on each pallet,
each single stack may contain several pallets. The stack is then normally enshrouded in
stretch wrap to form a unit that is then mechanically handled by a manual pump truck or a
mechanical fork lift truck and placed into storage. After a period of time, the product is
ordered by a retailer and the unit is mechanically loaded onto a transport vehicle. At the
retailer's depot, the unit is unloaded and stored for a further period. It is then loaded
onto another vehicle and delivered into a retail shop, where it may be stored or placed
direct for merchandising onto the shop floor.

The problem with the aforementioned operation is that the manufacturer does not get the
pallet back. This is very costly to the manufacturer and, ultimately, the consumer. After
the product or goods are used from the pallet, the retailer must then dispose of the wooden
pallet, which is bulky and heavy. The disposal of the pallet requires expensive transport
and is costly to the environment since most pallets end up in landfill. It is estimated that
there are around 5 wooden pallets in existence for each person in the British Isles.

If a hire system is used, a pallet must be hired by a manufacturer. A system of tracking the
pallets is required which is both labour intensive and costly. The pallet is then left with
the retailer. The retailer may have a stock of empty pallets which he can give back to the
manufacturer, requiring the loading of a vehicle to transport bulky, heavy and empty pallets
back to the manufacturer at his own cost. A manufacturer also has to pay to de-hire a pallet
and, if one is lost, will have to pay full cost for it. The returned pallets can be hired
out again in a repeat cycle. Re-using pallets also leads to problems of cleanliness and
repair. Wooden pallets are normally put together with nails which may become exposed and
damage the goods or product placed upon them. Furthermore, wooden pallets may produce large
or small splinters that can either damage the product or even enter and contaminate the
product, especially food goods.

The standard height of most pallets, usually being about 160 mm, dictates how much product
can be transported on a vehicle, such as a curtain slider. Wooden pallets are heavy and may
double in weight when wet, making manual handling dangerous.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard pallet,
that aims to overcome, or at least alleviate the abovementioned drawbacks.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method of manufacture for the
production of a corrugated cardboard pallet.

Accordingly, a first aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard pallet,
the pallet comprising a top sheet, a base sheet and at least one connecting member between
said top and said base sheets, the connecting member being moveable to shift the pallet
between a relatively flat and a relatively erect form.

The provision of a pallet that may be adjusted from a flat to an erect form is preferably
provided by means of a number of connecting members being secured between the top sheet and
the base sheet. Each member is constructed such as to be moveable from a flattened or
collapsed state to an erect state. More preferably, each connecting member is in the form of
a corrugated cardboard support comprising two substantially parallel opposing main body
panels and two pairs of opposing side walls wherein each of one pair of opposing side walls
are formed from two interlocking parts.

The provision of a pair of opposing side walls that are each comprised of two interlocking
parts enables the assembled support to be moveable from a collapsed state to an erect state.
In the collapsed or flattened state, two parts of each wall are disengaged to allow each
part to lie flat against its connecting wall or panel. In the erect state, the two parts of
each wall become interlocked and lie substantially perpendicularly to their connecting wall
or panel.

Preferably, a corrugated cardboard blank is provided for the construction of each support,
the blank comprising two main body forming panels, a middle panel between said body forming
panels and at least one end flap, each main body forming panel and middle panel having
opposing side flaps, each side flap of the main body panels being provided with an indent.

It is to be appreciated that a support is assembled from the blank by folding the
appropriate parts of the blank and securing them together using suitable means, most
preferably an adhesive. The side flaps of the main panels are secured to the side flaps of
the middle panel and the end flap is folded over and secured to the main panel. However, the
side flaps of the main body panels are not secured to each other.

The provision of an indent in each side flap of each main body forming panel enables a side
flap of one main body panel to engage with the adjacent side flap of the other main body
panel when the blank is assembled to form an erect box, thereby forming a double blind box.
Prior to engagement of the flaps, the box is in a flattened state. This enables the blank to
be assembled into a box that may take on a collapsed or an erect state.

Opposing side flaps of each main body panel are preferably a mirror image of one another.
Adjacent side flaps of adjacent main body panels are preferably identical.

Preferably, an end flap is provided at the end of each main body forming panel. More
preferably, one of the end flaps is also provided with side flaps. A tab is preferably
provided on each of the side flaps of the main body panels for attachment to the side flaps
of the end flap and middle panel in the constructed box.

Each tab is preferably provided at the remote end of the indented region of each side flap.
Preferably, a line of weakness is provided between each tab and its adjoining side flap.

Each side flap of the main body forming panels, middle panel and/or end flap is preferably
provided with one corner that forms substantially a right angle and an opposing corner which
is truncated. Each tabe provided on the side flaps of the main body forming panels
preferably extends from the truncated end of the side flap.

It is preferable for fluting to be formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank, i.e.
from one end flap to the other since this increases the strength of the box formed from the
blank and thereby imparts strength to the pallet.

The main panels and walls of the support may be any desired size.

Preferably, at least four supports as hereinbefore described are provided between the top
and base sheet to form the pallet, optionally being of different sizes. More preferably,
between nine and twelve supports are provided but the exact number will depend upon the size
of the pallet and on the size of the supports and hence, any number may be provided as
desired.

The supports are arranged so as to provide a stable pallet in its erect form and so that
there are gaps between adjacent supports to provide side access points to the pallet.
Supports may be provided at each corner of the sheets, with a support positioned centrally
between the corner supports along each side thereof and a further support being provided in
the centre between the sheets. Preferably, the support provided in the centre is the largest
size of support and the supports provided at the corners are the smallest in size.

The base sheet is preferably provided with regions that are relieved of material to provide
access points from below the pallet. Preferably, two to four rectangular areas are relieved
of material. However, any suitable number of access points may be provided in the pallet,
being formed through the base sheet and/or by the spacing between adjacent supports provided
between the sheets of the pallet.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the components of the pallet are secured
together by means of adhesive only. A varnish may be applied to the top sheet, base sheet
and/or supports to impart water resistance.

Additionally, at least one further sheet, for example a cross ply board, may be laminated to
the top and/or base sheet to increase the strength of the pallet. Preferably, the fluting of
the additional sheet lies at 90 degrees to the direction of fluting on the sheet to which it
is applied.

A fourth aspect of the present invention provides a method of manufacturing a corrugated
cardboard pallet comprising the steps of passing a top sheet along a conveyor, feeding at
least one connecting member on to the top sheet and securing a base sheet to the connecting
member.

Preferably, an adhesive is applied to the connecting member prior to feeding it on to the
top sheet. Preferably, the connecting member is moveable between a flattened and erect state
and is applied to the top sheet in its flattened state.

Generally, a plurality of connecting members will be fed onto different locations on the top
sheet. Preferably, the different connecting members are fed from hoppers.

For a better understanding of the present invention and to show more clearly how it may be
carried into effect reference will now be made, by way of example only, to the accompanying
drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a blank for a double-blind box according to one embodiment of the
present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an erect double-blind box according to the present invention
assembled from the blank shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a double-blind box shown in FIG. 2, shown in its collapsed
form;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a top part for a pallet according to one embodiment of the present
invention;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of the base part for a pallet according to one embodiment of the
present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an assembled pallet according to one embodiment of the
present invention utilising the parts shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 , 4 and 5 ;

FIG. 7 is a view of the underside of the top part of the pallet showing the location of the
double-blind boxes;

FIG. 8 is a schematic plan view of an apparatus for the assembly of a pallet according to
one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a schematic perspective view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 8 illustrating the
feed of one type of double-blind box from a hopper.

Referring to FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings, a plan view of a blank 2 for the
construction of a double-blind box for forming a support for use in a pallet according to
one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The blank is cut from a sheet of
corrugated cardboard and creases are inserted into the blank to provide fold lines,
represented by broken lines in FIG. 1. Heavy dotted lines denote reverse fold lines. The
blank has two main body forming panels 18 , 20 connected by a middle section 19 . The two
main body forming panels 18 , 20 are provided with end sections 17 , 21 respectively
opposite said middle section 19 . Each main body panel has side flaps 11 , 22 , 14 , 25
extending from each side thereof, each side flap having an indent I. One end of each flap is
straight and the other opposing end nearest the indent is oblique. Each oblique end is
provided with a tab 12 , 23 , 15 , 26 . The middle section 19 is also provided with side
flaps 13 , 24 , one end being straight and the other being oblique. Similar side flaps 16 ,
27 are provided extending from one end section 21 but the opposing end section 17 is free
from flaps.

The blank may be assembled to form a support 10 for a pallet, the support comprising two
substantially parallel opposing main body panels ( 18 , 20 ) and two pairs of opposing side
walls (X, Y) wherein each of one pair of the opposing side walls (Y) are formed from two
interconnecting parts ( 11 , 14 and 22 , 25 ) to enable the support to be moveable from a
collapsed state to an erect state, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.

To form the box 10 , side flaps 11 , 22 are folded flat on to the main body forming panel 18
and the tabs 12 , 23 are folded back to lie against the side flaps. Glue is then applied to
the tabs 12 , 23 . The side flaps 12 , 24 are then folded against the middle section 19 .
The main body forming panel 18 is then folded against the middle section 19 so that the tabs
12 , 23 adhere to their adjacent side flap 23 , 24 . Side flaps 14 , 25 are then folded on
to the other main body forming panel 20 and the tabs 15 , 26 are folded back to lie against
the side flaps 14 , 25 . Glue is then applied to these tabs and the side flaps 16 , 27 are
folded flat against the end section 21 . The end section 21 is now folded against the main
body forming panel 20 so that the side flaps 16 , 27 adhere to their adjacent tab 15 , 26
respectively. Finally, glue is applied to the opposing end section 17 which is placed over
to stick to the outer surface of the other end section 21 to form an assembled box 10 , as
shown in FIG. 2. The construction of the box from a blank may be achieved using multi-point
machine gluers at high speed.

As mentioned above, the construction of the box 10 is such that it may be provided in a
collapsed form (FIG. 3) or an erect form (FIG. 2). Assembly of the box into its collapsed
form requires the side flaps 11 , 14 , 22 , 25 of the main body forming panels to be pressed
inwardly such that they lie against their respective panel. Pushing inwardly the outer
surface of the collapsed box, in particular the middle section 19 and end section 17 ,
forces the side flaps away from their panel and the flaps lock together by means of the
indent I. This forms a double blind box that is extremely difficult to re-collapse.

It has been found that the provision of fluting in the longitudinal direction C, shown in
FIG. 1, provides for a much stronger box thus enabling the box to support greater weights.
This is opposite to the direction of fluting provided in conventional corrugated cardboard
boxes.

The direction of fluting and the provision of two blind ends in the box results in the
erected box being inherently strong. Prior hereto one end of a box would be openable to
enable items to be placed within the box. The box according to the present invention may be
used as a support, for example acting as a display shelf to support goods that are for sale.
The box has advantages over the prior art supports, such as its ability to be transported
and stored flat until required and its ability to be recycled. It is also made of cheap
materials.

A preferred application for a box according to the present invention is the construction of
a pallet wherein a plurality of boxes are adhered to a top and bottom sheet to provide a
pallet that is moveable from a collapsed to an erect state. Any required size of pallet may
be provided and the larger the pallet, generally the more boxes that will be used in its
construction.

FIGS. 4 to 7 of the accompanying drawings illustrate one pallet according to the present
invention. This embodiment is made from eleven single sheets of corrugated cardboard, which
are stamped out as shown in FIG. 1, FIG. 4 and FIG. 5. A solid rectangular sheet 28 is
provided to form the top of the pallet and a further rectangular sheet 29 of substantially
the same size is provided for forming the base of the pallet, this sheet having two
rectangular sections 40 , 42 that are relieved of material.

Nine boxes 30 - 38 according to the present invention are glued in their collapsed form to
the underside of the top sheet 28 , as shown in FIG. 7. This figure details the location of
the nine double blind boxes that create the compressive strength of the pallet. In the
embodiment shown, there are four different sizes of box for each pallet. A smallest size of
box 30 , 32 , 36 , 38 is placed at each corner of the sheet. A largest box 34 is placed in
the centre of the pallet. Another size of box 31 , 37 is positioned centrally along two
opposing faces of the pallet between the corner boxes and yet a further size of box 33 , 35
is placed centrally along the other two opposing faces of the pallet. Glue is then applied
to the panel 20 of the boxes and the bottom sheet 29 of the pallet is then stuck onto the
flattened boxes.

It is to be appreciated that any number of boxes may be used to form the pallet. The boxes
may be of an identical size of may be different size.

The pallet may be erected by striking an edge of the pallet on the floor, or by way of
machine, causing each of the boxes to move into their erect form thereby popping the pallet
into its extended state. FIG. 6 of the accompanying drawings illustrates the pallet in its
extended state.

The orientation of the fluting on the top sheet may be any direction but the orientation of
the fluting with respect of the boxes is important to provide overall compressive strength
of the pallet. The positioning of the boxes is such as to provide access for a mechanical
forklift along all four edges of the pallet. The boxes are also positioned so that they will
always be in the correct position to bear on standard warehouse racking systems. The
mechanical handling forks can be introduced at A or B on either edge of the pallet, as
illustrated in FIG. 6. If a pallet truck is used for handling, then the wheels roll over the
pallet base 29 and then sit against the floor as the pallet is elevated for moving.

An additional sheet (not shown), for example of cross ply board, may be secured to the top
and/or base sheet to increase the strength of the pallet. The fluting of the additional
sheet is preferably transverse to the direction of fluting on the sheet to which it is
applied.

FIGS. 8 and 9 of the accompanying drawings illustrate one embodiment of an apparatus for the
automatic construction of pallets according to the present invention. In the embodiment
shown, a pallet is manufactured from eleven pieces of corrugated cardboard that have been
stamped out. A top sheet 28 is fed onto a conveyor 100 . The top sheet of the pallet may be
made from a plurality of walled corrugated cardboard, depending upon the strength
characteristics required. It is envisaged that a pallet will normally be used with loads of
less than 700 Kg but by varying the grammage of the board used, and the type of fluting, it
can be made to withstand considerably more weight.

Nine collapsible boxes 10 are fed from hoppers 101 - 104 on to the top sheet. The hoppers
are located such that the boxes are positioned in their correct position on the sheet 28 .
Each flattened box is passed over glue applicator wheel 112 housed within a glue bath 110
and is applied to the underside of the top sheet by means of an applicator wheel 114 . A
bottom sheet 29 is then fed onto the top of the boxes 10 from a sheet feeder 106 to form a
collapsed pallet. The bottom sheet is also of corrugated cardboard having access slots cut
into it so the assembled article can be mechanically handled by a pump truck.

The boxes 10 give the pallet its load bearing capability. The boxes are unique double blind
boxes with self-erecting ends, as described in FIGS. 2 and 3. When the sides of the box are
pressed inwardly, they form a rigid box that cannot be flattened again. The boxes also have
a degree of flexibility so that vibrating movement through them will have a dampened action.
No metal staples are used, just glue. When the pallet is un-erected in flat form, the
preferred embodiment is only about 25 mm thick. In contrast, when the edges are struck on a
surface, or pushed together, the pallet pops into a rigid 100 mm high pallet. The pallet may
be machine erected, as in conventional automated palletising systems, or may be easily hand
erected in one motion by striking one edge on the floor.

The absence of any metal mechanical fastenings means that the pallet cannot damage or
contaminate any product or goods placed therein. Its reduced height vis-à-vis the
conventional type of pallet means that extra product layers may be gained for transport. The
cardboard may also be treated with varnish or other suitable means to make it water
resistant and may be printed with descriptors or other decoration, such as in for use in a
shop display merchandising unit.

The provision of pallets made from corrugated cardboard that are moveable between a
collapsed and erect form overcomes many of the difficulties associated with the prior art
type of pallets. The pallet may be stored in its flat form, thus potentially giving a 600%
saving on storage space over the conventional pallet systems. Transportation prior to use
can also be done with the pallet in its flattened form, meaning that fewer vehicles are
needed. For example, it is envisaged that 4000 of the pallets according to the present
invention will be able to be transported by a single vehicle whereas 11 vehicles would be
required to transport the same number of conventional wooden pallets. Thus, a pallet
according to the present invention has clear economical and environmental benefits.
Furthermore, once erected, a pallet according to the present invention may only be about 100
mm high, being almost half the height of a standard wooden pallet but tall enough to enable
handling by all standard mechanical means. The pallet according to the present invention is
designed for single trip use. Whilst the pallet is robust enough to be mechanically handled
and transported several times, it is envisaged that the pallet will be compacted after use
and recycled. In this respect, the pallet is 100% recyclable. This saves on storage space
and costly return transport. Furthermore, the pallet is far cheaper to make than other types
of wooden pallet currently in existence, minimising the cost to the ultimate consumer.

On average, a pallet according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention weighs
about 1-3 Kg. In contrast, a conventional wooden pallet weighs between 25-50 Kg. Thus, the
present pallet can be manually handled without any worry of health and safety weight
constraints. Its lightness also assists in the prevention of product damage when the pallet
is used in multi-stacked units. It is designed for two-way or four-way entry and can be
handled by a manual pallet pump truck or various mechnical forklift trucks without
modification. The pallet is also designed so that it can be placed safely in the majority of
racking systems.

A further benefit provided by a pallet according to the present invention is that its basic
constructional design can be used to provide any size of pallet required. By varying the
grade of corrugated cardboard used, the box or pallet can be made to withstand varying dead
loads up to several tons.

Additionally, the provision of a pallet that is intended for a single use reduces the risk
of any contamination of the product from the pallet. Wooden pallets require fumigation
against wood boring insects. The single use aspect of the pallet also reduces incidental
costs associated with the provision of manpower to control the pallets, clean the pallets
and store and unload the pallets.












Title:
IMPROVEMENTS IN AND RELATING TO CORRUGATED CARDBOARD SUPPORTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/082685
Kind Code:
A1

Abstract:
A corrugated support in the form of a double-blind box (10) comprising two substantially
parallel opposing main body panels (18, 20) and two pairs of opposing side walls (X, Y)
wherein each of one pair of opposing side walls (X) are formed from at least two
interlocking parts (11, 22, 14, 25) to enable the support to be moveable from a collapsed
state to an erect state. The support is formed from a blank.

Inventors:
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
PCT/GB2003/000996
Publication Date:
10/09/2003
Filing Date:
03/10/2003
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Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
International Classes:
B65D19/00; B65D19/40; B65D5/36
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Marks & Clerk (Tower Building, Water Street, Liverpool L3 1BA, GB)
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A corrugated cardboard blank (2) for construction of a support, the blank comprising two
main body forming panels (18,20), a middle panel (19) between said body forming panels and
at least one end flap (21), each main body forming panel and middle panel having opposing
side flaps (11,22, 14,25, 13,24), each side flap (11, 22,14, 25) of the main body forming
panels being provided with an indent (I).

2. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 1 wherein opposing side flaps (11,22 and
14,25) of each main body forming panel (18,20) are a mirror image of one another.

3. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2 wherein adjacent side flaps
(11,14 and 22,25) of adjacent main body panels are identical.

4. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 1, 2 or 3 wherein an end flap (17, 21)
is provided at the end of each main body forming panel (18,20).

5. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 4 wherein one of the end flaps (21) is
provided with side flaps (16,27).

6. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 4 or 5 wherein a tab (12, 23,15, 26) is
provided on each of the side flaps (11,22, 14,25) of the main body forming panels (18,20).

7. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 6 wherein each tab (12, 23,15, 26) is
provided at the remote end of the indented region (I) of each side flap.

8. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 6 or claim 7 wherein a line of weakness
is provided between each tab and its adjoining side flap.

9. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in any one of claims 6 to 8 wherein each side
flap of the main body forming panels, middle panel and/or end flap is provided with one
comer that forms substantially a right angle and an opposing comer which is truncated.

10. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in claim 9 wherein each tab provided on the side
flaps of the main body forming panels extends from the truncated end of the side flap.

11. A corrugated cardboard blank as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein
fluting is provided in the longitudinal direction of the blank, being from one end flap (17)
to the other (21).

12. A corrugated cardboard support (10) comprising two substantially parallel opposing main
body panels (18,20) and two pairs of opposing side walls (X, Y) wherein each of one pair of
opposing side walls (Y) are formed from at least two interlocking parts (11,14, 22,25), said
interlocking parts enabling the support to be moveable from a collapsed state to an erect
state.

13. A corrugated cardboard support as claimed in claim 12 constructed from a blank according
to any one of claims 1 to 11 by folding the appropriate parts of the blank and securing them
together by suitable means.

14. A corrugated cardboard support as claimed in claim 13 wherein adhesive is used to secure
the parts of the blank together.

15. A corrugated cardboard support as claimed in claim 13 or claim 14 wherein the side flaps
(11,14, 22,25) of the main panels (18,20) are secured to the side flaps (13,24) of the
middle panel (19), the end flap (17) is folded over and secured to a main panel and the side
flaps (11,22, 14,25) of the main body panels are not secured to each other.

16. A corrugated cardboard support as claimed in claim 15 wherein the side flaps of the main
panels are secured to the side flaps of the middle panel and end flap by means of the tabs.

Description:
Title: Improvements in and relating to corrugated cardboard supports.

DESCRIPTION The present invention relates to improvements in corrugated cardboard supports,
particularly corrugated cardboard boxes.

Supports for displaying consumer goods in, for example, supermarkets are known in the art.
However, such supports are normally comprised of a solid material to impart the necessary
strength to the support. This results in the support occupying valuable space when not in
use.

Packing materials for the support and protection of an article that is packaged within a box
are also known. Generally, a polystyrene mould will be used that fits snugly around the
article within the box. However, there is growing concern about the use of polystyrene and
hence, it is desirable to provide an alternative packing support.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a blank for the construction of a
support, in particular a corrugated cardboard box.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard
support, particularly but not exclusively a corrugated cardboard box, that aims to overcome,
or at least alleviate the abovementioned drawbacks.

Accordingly, a first aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard blank
for the construction of a support, the blank comprising two main body forming panels, a
middle panel between said body forming panels and at least one end flap, each main body
forming panel and middle panel having opposing side flaps, each side flap of the main body
panels being provided with an indent.

It is to be appreciated that a support is assembled from the blank by folding the
appropriate parts of the blank and securing them together using suitable means, most
preferably an adhesive. The side flaps of the main panels are secured to the side flaps of
the middle panel and the end flap is folded over and secured to the main panel. However, the
side flaps of the main body panels are not secured to each other.

The provision of an indent in each side flap of each main body forming panel enables a side
flap of one main body panel to engage with the adjacent side flap of the other main body
panel when the blank is assembled to form an erect box, thereby forming a double blind box.
Prior to engagement of the flaps, the box is in a flattened state. This enables the blank to
be assembled into a box that may take on a collapsed or an erect state.

Opposing side flaps of each main body panel are preferably a mirror image of one another.
Adjacent side flaps of adjacent main body panels are preferably identical.

Preferably, an end flap is provided at the end of each main body forming panel. More
preferably, one of the end flaps is also provided with side flaps. A tab is preferably
provided on each of the side flaps of the main body panels for attachment to the side flaps
of the end flap and middle panel in the constructed box.

Each tab is preferably provided at the remote end of the indented region of each side flap.
Preferably, a line of weakness is provided between each tab and its adjoining side flap.

Each side flap of the main body forming panels, middle panel and/or end flap is preferably
provided with one corner that forms substantially a right angle and an

opposing corner which is truncated. Each tab provided on the side flaps of the main body
forming panels preferably extends from the truncated end of the side flap.

It is preferable for fluting to be formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank, i. e.
from one end flap to the other since this increases the strength of the box formed from the
blank.

A second aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard support comprising
two substantially parallel opposing main body panels and two pairs of opposing side walls
wherein each of one pair of opposing side walls are formed from at least two interlocking
parts.

The provision of a pair of opposing side walls that are each comprised of two interlocking
parts enables the assembled support to be moveable from a collapsed state to an erect state.
In the collapsed or flattened state, two parts of each wall are disengaged to allow each
part to lie flat against its connecting wall or panel. In the erect state, the two parts of
each wall become interlocked and lie substantially perpendicularly to their connecting wall
or panel.

It is to be appreciated that the blank according to the first aspect of the present
invention is preferably used in forming a support according to the second aspect of the
present invention. Additionally, the main panels and walls of the support may be any desired
size.

A varnish may be applied to the supports to impart water resistance.

For a better understanding of the present invention and to show more clearly how it may be
carried into effect reference will now be made, by way of example only, to the accompanying
drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a plan view of a blank for a double-blind box according to one embodiment of the
present invention; Figure 2 is a perspective view of an erect double-blind box according to
the present invention assembled from the blank shown in Figure 1 ; and Figure 3 is a
perspective view of a double-blind box shown in Figure 2, shown in its collapsed form.

Referring to Figure 1 of the accompanying drawings, a plan view of a blank 2 for the
construction of a double-blind box according to one embodiment of the present invention is
illustrated. The blank is cut from a sheet of corrugated cardboard and creases are inserted
into the blank to provide fold lines, represented by broken lines in Figure 1. Heavy dotted
lines denote reverse fold lines. The blank has two main body forming panels 18,20 connected
by a middle section 19. The two main body forming panels 18,20 are provided with end
sections 17,21 respectively opposite said middle section 19. Each main body panel has side
flaps 11, 22,14, 25 extending from each side thereof, each side flap having an indent I. One
end of each flap is straight and the other opposing end nearest the indent is oblique. Each
oblique end is provided with a tab 12,23, 15,26. The middle section 19 is also provided with
side flaps 13,24, one end being straight and the other being oblique. Similar side flaps
16,27 are provided extending from one end section 21 but the opposing end section 17 is free
from flaps.

The blank may be assembled to form a box 10 comprising two substantially parallel opposing
main body panels (18,20) and two pairs of opposing side walls (X, Y) wherein each of one
pair of the opposing side walls (Y) are formed from two interconnecting parts (11, 14 and
22,25) to enable the support to be moveable from a collapsed state to an erect state, as
shown in Figures 2 and 3.

To form the box 10, side flaps 11,22 are folded flat on to the main body forming panel 18
and the tabs 12,23 are folded back to lie against the side flaps.

Glue is then applied to the tabs 12,23. The side flaps 12,24 are then folded against the
middle section 19. The main body forming panel 18 is then folded against the middle section
19 so that the tabs 12,23 adhere to their adjacent side flap 23,24.

Side flaps 14,25 are then folded on to the other main body forming panel 20 and the tabs
15,26 are folded back to lie against the side flaps 14,25. Glue is then applied to these
tabs and the side flaps 16,27 are folded flat against the end section 21. The end section 21
is now folded against the main body forming panel 20 so that the side flaps 16,27 adhere to
their adjacent tab 15,26 respectively. Finally, glue is applied to the opposing end section
17 which is placed over to stick to the outer surface of the other end section 21 to form an
assembled box 10, as shown in Figure 2. The construction of the box from a blank may be
achieved using multi-point machine gluers at high speed.

As mentioned above, the construction of the box 10 is such that it may be provided in a
collapsed form (Figure 3) or an erect form (Figure 2). Assembly of the box into its
collapsed form requires the side flaps 11,14, 22,25 of the main body forming panels to be
pressed inwardly such that they lie against their respective panel.

Pushing inwardly the outer surface of the collapsed box, in particular the middle section 19
and end section 17, forces the side flaps away from their panel and the flaps lock together
by means of the indent I. This forms a double blind box that is extremely difficult to
re-collapse.

It has been found that the provision of fluting in the longitudinal direction C, shown in
Figure 1, provides for a much stronger box thus enabling the box to support

greater weights. This is opposite to the direction of fluting provided in conventional
corrugated cardboard boxes.

The direction of fluting and the provision of two blind ends in the box results in the
erected box being inherently strong. Prior hereto one end of a box would be openable to
enable items to be placed within the box. The box according to the present invention may be
used as a support, for example acting as a display shelf to support goods that are for sale.
The box has advantages over the prior art supports, such as its ability to be transported
and stored flat until required and its ability to be recycled. It is also made of cheap
materials.

A preferred application for a box according to the present invention is the construction of
a pallet wherein a plurality of boxes are adhered to a top and bottom sheet to provide a
pallet that is moveable from a collapsed to an erect state, as described in the Applicant's
co-pending application. Any required size of pallet may be provided and the larger the
pallet, generally the more boxes that will be used in its construction.













Title:
A SPIRAL WINDER AND A METHOD OF SPIRALLY WINDING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2002/055228
Kind Code:
A2

Abstract:
A spiral winder is disclosed adapted to implement a new method for spirally winding a
product of indefinite length, such as pipe, into a coil for packaging and/or transport to an
end user. The spiral winder consists primarily of a rotor assembly (1) supporting a caster
(7) such that product (P) fed along the rotary axis to the caster (7) as the rotor (1)
rotates is guided to the outlet (9) from the caster (7) to be deposited onto a pallet in the
form of a planar spiral. By vertically indexing the pallet and reversing a radial motion of
the caster outlet (9) layers of planar spirals can be produced as a self supporting coil
without the necessity of any internal mandrel or external retaining drum. By careful control
of the stresses in the product (P) as it passes to and from the caster (7) fragile product
such as thin walled heat exchanger pipe can be coiled rapidly.

Inventors:
Smith, Martin James (16 Sutherland Avenue Broadstone Dorset BH18 9EB, GB)
Strong, Franklin George (5 Fernlea Close Blackburn BB2 4QZ, GB)
Parkinson, Duncan (22 Sussex Road Rishton BB1 4BJ, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
PCT/GB2001/005761
Publication Date:
07/18/2002
Filing Date:
12/21/2001
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Export Citation:
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Assignee:
HOLTON MACHINERY LIMITED (Albany House Elliott Road West Howe Bournemouth Dorset BH11 8JH,
GB)
Smith, Martin James (16 Sutherland Avenue Broadstone Dorset BH18 9EB, GB)
Strong, Franklin George (5 Fernlea Close Blackburn BB2 4QZ, GB)
Parkinson, Duncan (22 Sussex Road Rishton BB1 4BJ, GB)
International Classes:
B21C47/14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kemp, Paul Geoffrey (Brookes Batchellor 102-108 Clerkenwell Road London EC1M 5SA, GB)
Claims:
Claims

1. A spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising a rotor assembly supported
to rotate about a vertical axis and having a caster adapted to receive the pipe into an
inlet and to support and guide the pipe to an outlet and a traverse assembly to support said
outlet to travel in a spiral orbit in a spiral plane about the axis whereby the pipe can be
inducted into a caster inlet and induced to travel through the caster to the outlet where it
can be discharged in the spiral plane onto a platform in a planar spiral pattern.

2. A spiral winder according to claim 1 wherein the caster comprises a helical duct and the
inlet is disposed on the axis of rotation such that the pipe is guided into the inlet along
the axis of rotation.

3. A spiral winder according to claim 2 wherein the duct is a continuous tube of resilient
material.

4. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the traverse
assembly is rotatably supported by a hollow main shaft and the caster extends helically down
from the axis at the top of the main shaft.

5. A spiral winder according to claim 4 wherein the traverse assembly comprises a track
extending radially from the main shaft to guide a carriage for carrying the caster outlet
radially in and out.

6. A spiral winder according to claim 6 wherein the traverse assembly provides a carriage
propulsion mechanism whereby the radial speed and direction of travel of the carriage can be
controlled.

7. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims having a support assembly to
support the rotor and the platform whereby the distance between the spiral plane and the
platform can be increased so that when a first layer of pipe has been iaid on the platform
and the caster outlet reaches the inner or outer locus of the spiral a next layer of the
pipe can be laid onto a former layer of the pipe.

8. A spiral winder according to claim 7 wherein the spiral plane is kept substantially
stationary and the platform is moved away from the spiral plane.

9. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the rotor assembly
includes a clamp roller assembly comprising a clamp roller rotatable about a roller axis and
mounted so that the roller axis extends radially from and is rotatable around the main axis
above the spiral plane whereby the periphery of the roller can bear on the pipe as it is
laid on the platform.

10. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller has a conic rolling surface
configured so that the roller surface speed at any given radius from the main shaft axis
matches the roller traverse speed at which the axis of the roller at that radius traverses
the platform at that radius from the main shaft axis.

11. A spiral winder according to claim 9 or claim 10 wherein the roller surface is
resiliently deformable.

12. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 11 wherein the roller is coupled to
a rotary drive whereby the roller is forced to rotate about the roller axis.

13. A spiral winder according to claim 12 wherein the rotary drive is adapted to enable the
roller peripheral speed to be controlled to a speed faster, slower or the same as the
traverse speed during winding.

14. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 13 wherein the roller assembly is
mounted onto the main shaft to be vertically displaceable with respect to the main shaft.

15. A spiral winder according to claim 14 wherein the roller assembly is mounted via a
resilient suspension.

16. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 14 wherein the roller assembly
includes a peripheral retaining pulley supported to engage an outermost loop of a pipe
winding as the distance of the platform from the spiral plane is increased.

17. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 16 wherein five angularly spaced
roller assemblies are mounted for rotation about the main shaft.

18. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the pipe is fed to
the caster by a capstan.

19. A spiral winder according to claim 18 wherein the capstan is driven by a motor at a
speed responsive to the speed of the caster outlet.

20. A spiral winder according to claim 19 having an accumulator assembly upstream of the
capstan which allows slack to be taken up or to be generated by the capstan so that the
capstan speed can be controlled in response to control signals from the control unit to
increase or decrease tension or compression in the pipe within the caster.

21. A spiral winder acco, ding to any one of the preceding claims wherein the support
assembly includes a lift assembly to engage and lift the platform towards and away from the
spiral plane.

22. A spiral winder according to claim 21 wherein a transfer table assembly is provided to
transfer an unloaded platform to the lift assembly and simultaneously to transfer a platform
away from the lift assembly.

23. A method of spirally winding a pipe comprising the steps of: introducing a pipe into an
inlet of a caster rotating on the main axis of a rotor of a spiral winder orbiting the
outlet of the caster around the main axis in a spiral pattern lying in a spiral plane in
order to discharge the pipe onto a platform in the spiral pattern.

24. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 comprising the step of
pressing on the pipe laid in the spiral pattern to retain the spiral pattern of the pipe as
laid.

25. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 24 comprising the step of
pressing on the laid pipe by means of a roller assembly which comprises at least one roller
on a roller axis rotated about the main axis at a speed similar to that of the caster
outlet.

26. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 25 comprising the step of
controlling the force with which the roller assembly presses on the laid pipe.

27. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 25 or 26 comprising the step of
driving the rotation of the roller about the roller axis at a speed controlled to adjust the
amount of tension or compression in the laid pipe.

28. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 27 comprising
the step of increasing the distance between the platform and the spiral plane when the orbit
of the caster outlet reaches an inner annular locus or an outer annular locus and reversing
the direction of radial travel of the caster outlet to lay an overlying spiral layer of pipe
onto the underlying layer of pipe.

29. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 28 comprising the step of keeping
the spiral plane stationary and moving the platform to increase the distance between the
spiral plane and the platform.

30. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to one of claims 28 or 29 wherein the step
of increasing the distance comprises the steps of first increasing the distance by a large
amount to exceed a desired gap between the spiral plane and the platform and then reducing
the distance to set the desired gap between the spiral plane and the platform.

31. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 24 to 26 comprising
the steps of laying a last loop of pipe at the outer locus of one spiral layer, laying a
climbing loop of pipe as the platform is moved away from the spiral plane, and laying an
outermost loop of an overlying layer of pipe, and engaging and holding the climbing loop of
pipe as the outermost loop is laid in the overlying layer.

32. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 31 comprising the step of
applying tension to the climbing loop of pipe so that the climbing loop binds against the
outermost loops of the underlying and overlying layers.

33. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 32 comprising
the step of feeding the pipe to the inlet of the caster by means of a capstan assembly speed
controlled to control the tensile and compressive forces on the pipe entering the caster
inlet.

34. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 33 comprising
the steps of cutting the pipe, winding the cut end of the pipe into the coil, laying a
separator onto the coil to act as a new platform and winding another coil onto the
separator.

35. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 33 comprising
the steps of : cutting the pipe, completing winding the coil, displacing the coil bearing
platform from beneath the rotor assembly and moving a new platform into place beneath the
rotor assembly ready for a new coil to be wound.

36. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 35 comprising the step of
providing the platform by means of a pallet.

37. Apparatus for manufacturing a spirally wnund coil of pipe comprising: apparatus for
forming a pipe of indefinite length, apparatus for transporting the pipe in the direction of
its length, apparatus for annealing the pipe as it is transported, a spiral winder for
spirally winding the annealed pipe into a coil.

38. A process for manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising the steps of:
forming a pipe of indefinite length while the pipe is transported in the direction of its
length, annealing the pipe as it is transported, coiling the annealed pipe in a spiral
winding apparatus directly onto a pallet.

Description:
A Spiral Winder And A Method Of Spirally Winding, The present invention is concerned with a
new spiral winder apparatus particularly adapted to implement a new method of spirally
winding a pipe like product into a coil for transport elsewhere. The spiral winder and
method are particularly useful in the production of coils of pipe.

This description of the invention and prior art will commonly refer to the product as pipe
because the spiral winder was invented particularly for the purpose of winding seamed thin
gauge aluminium or copper pipe. However, for most purposes pipe should be understood to mean
any elongate product of indefinite length which it is convenient to package as a coil ; for
example, pipe of any material including seamless pipe, cable, rope or wire.

Conventionally pipe has been formed by rolling a strip of metal such as aluminium or copper
until the long edges meet. The edges are then welded or soldered together and the pipe may
then be subject to various finishing processes such as polishing. After quality control
sampling and testing the pipe is sent to a coiler where it is wound to form a coil.
Conventional coilers wind the pipe helically onto a mandrel, thus the lead end of the pipe
is fed into a notch in the mandrel to trap it, the cylindrical mandrel is rotated at a speed
corresponding to the feed rate of the pipe and a traveller simultaneously displaces the feed
pipe along the axis of the mandrel at a rate such that each loop of the pipe lies closely
adjacent the former loop forming an annular layer. The traveller reverses at the axial end
of the pipe to lay another annular layer on top of the preceding layer. The conventional
coiling process is subject to a number of problems including starting the coil on the
mandrel by feeding the pipe into the notch which results in waste pipe.

When the coil is completed the mandrel is reduced and removed from the bore of the coil. The
coil so formed is then transported onto a pallet or other platform for packaging, or in the
case of pipe, annealing, required due to the work hardening which

takes place as the pipe formed, rolled and coiled. Because the mandrel is required there is
a significant delay and labour in discharging a completed coil from the coiler to a pallet.
Consequently pipe is either wasted or expensive accumulators are required to accommodate the
delay as the pipe production process continues upstream.; elically coiling the pipe has the
effect of amplifying any faults in the loops of coil laid in underlying layers as the layers
are laid on top. In extreme cases this effect may result in damage to the pipe, particularly
during subsequent process steps such as annealing or at end use as the pipe is unwound from
the coil.

Annealing takes place by passing the coil of pipe through an elongate oven for a prolonged
period. Heating occasionally results in spot welding or soldering of one loop of pipe where
it touches another loop. This can cause serious problems when the coil is unwound and result
in waste. The annealing oven has a very large heat capacity and it is therefore not economic
to allow it to cool between production runs. Conversely, there is a significant unwanted
overhead and ecological disadvantage to providing power to keep the annealing oven hot at
all times.

It is conventional to unwind helically wound coils from the core, along the axis, by pulling
the pipe axially. This tends to result in damage as a consequence of binding which may occur
between the layer of pipe being unwound and the overlying layer.

The spiral winder of the present invention and the process of spiral winding aim to
alleviate the technical problems exhibited by the prior art coiling apparatus and method and
to provide apparatus for manufacturing spirally wound pipe and a method of manufacturing a
spirally wound coil of pipe.

Accordingly there is provided a spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising
a spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising a rotor assembly supported to
rotate about a vertical axis and having a caster adapted to receive the pipe into an inlet
and to support and guide the pipe to an outlet

and a traverse assembly to support said outlet to travel in a spiral orbit in a spiral plane
about the axis whereby the pipe can be inducted into a caster inlet and induced to travel
through the caster to the outlet where it can be discharged in the spiral plane onto a
pi-form in a planar spiral pattern.

It should be appreciated that in the context of the invention the term"spiral" refers to a
spiral lying in a plane and not a helix, i. e., a coil lying in a hollow cylindrical
surface. The term"spiral orbit"refers to the spiral path followed by the caster outlet
around the main axis, i. e., the path from any given starting point until the outlet returns
to the starting point.

In practice the caster will usually be a helical duct having the inlet vertical and on the
axis of rotation of the rotor. The caster serves to guide the pipe from the inlet to the
outlet and also to protect the pipe from damage. Bearing in mind that one particular
application of the spiral winder is to coil thin walled pipe, such pipe is vulnerable to
damage from buckling and kinking. The duct is preferably provided by a continuous tube of a
resilient material able to support its own weight and that of the pipe passing through it.
However, the caster may be provided by an articulated tube or an open channel. In some
instances the caster may comprise little more than supports to support the pipe at
distributed locations between the caster inlet and outlet to prevent the pipe collapsing
under its own weight. Where the caster comprises a chute, the chute may fan out to the
outlet.

The radial motion of the caster outlet is preferably provided by a traverse assembly of the
rotor rotatably supported on a main shaft to support the outlet of the caster. The traverse
assembly includes a track extending radially from the main shaft to guide a carriage for
carrying the caster outlet radially in and out. A carriage propulsion mechanism is provided
whereby the radial speed and direction of travel of the carriage can be controlled in
response to signals from a control system. The control system will basically control the
carriage speed and direction in accordance with the speed of

rotation of the caster and the radial position of the carriage so that the carriage moves at
one pitch per rotation. However the carriage radial speed may be reduced to zero for one
rotation at the inner or outer locus of the spiral so that a climbing loop of pipe can be
laid to start a new overlying spiral layer.

A support assembly is provided to support the rotor and the platform whereby the distance
between the spiral plane and the platform can be increased so that when a first layer of
pipe has been laid on the platform and the caster outlet reaches the inner or outer locus of
the spiral a next layer. of the pipe can be laid onto a former layer of the pipe. Although
it is possible to move either or both the rotor and the platform, it is preferable to keep
the rotor assembly and hence the spiral plane stationary and to move the platform down away
from the spiral plane. To achieve this a lift assembly is installed to extend beneath the
spiral plane. Preferably the lift assembly is a fork lift assembly so that the platform can
be provided by a conventional pallet. In practice it is preferable to initiate the next
overlying layer by first dropping the platform a height exceeding the depth of the layer
which encourages the pipe to climb and as the new layer begins to be established after
forming the climbing loop the platform can be slightly raised. The reason for this will
become more apparent from the comments below.

Pipe and like materials are somewhat resilient and so tend to try to recover towards a
straighter line than is required for tight spiral packing. It is important that each loop of
pipe is packed closely against an adjacent layer so that the finished coil occupies a
minimal volume, and the pipe cannot move and be damaged within the coil. To prevent the pipe
from moving once it is laid the rotor assembly may be provided with a clamp roller assembly
comprising a clamp roller rotatable about a roller axis and mounted so that the roller axis
extends radially from and is rotatable around the main axis above the spiral plane so that
the periphery of the roller can bear on the pipe as it is laid on the platform. A problem to
be addressed by the clamp rollers is to ensure that no compressive or tensile forces are
applied to the laid loops of pipe so the roller must

rotate over the pipe on which it bears at exactly the same speed as the roller axis rotates
about the main axis. It might be possible to achieve this by having a narrow roller traverse
with the outlet of the caster, however, this will only secure a single loop of pipe in one
position. Several such traversing rollers might be provided angularly spaced but this would
still only secure one loop of pipe in a spiral layer. An elongate roller supported to rotate
around an axis extending radially suffers the problem of mismatched roller surface speed.
This might be resolved by providing a plurality of freely rotating rollers each of a
diameter corresponding to one loop of pipe. However the preferred solution is to provide the
roller with a conic rolling surface configured so that the roller surface speed at any given
radius from the main shaft axis matches the roller traverse speed at which the axis of the
roller at that radius traverses the platform at that radius from the main shaft axis.

One benefit of making the roller conic is that the roller can be driven in rotation about
its axis. Normally the drive is controlled by the control system in response to the position
rotary and radial speed of the caster outlet so that the surface speed of the roller exactly
matches the speed at which the roller axis traverses the pipe and no force is applied in the
axial direction of the pipe. However, in some circumstances it may be desirable for the
rollers to apply small carefully controlled forces to the pipe by implementing a small
difference between the roller surface speed and the roller axis traverse speed.

Particularly where fragile products such as thin gauge pipe are being coiled it is
preferable that the surface of the roller is provided by a resiliently deformable material
to disperse the vertical load of the roller pressing on the pipe. With the object of further
alleviating the risk of the weight of the roller assembly damaging the pipe, and to allow
the roller assembly to accommodate pipe of various diameter, the roller assembly may be
mounted onto the main shaft to be vertically displaceable with respect to the main shaft,
preferably by means of a resilient suspension. This arrangement explains why the

aforementioned motion of the platform is desirable as the initial large movement separates
the laid coils from the rollers sufficiently to allow a gap for the establishment of a new
layer before the platform is brought towards the spiral plane so that the new forming loops
of pipe are engaged by the roller.

A problem arises with the formation of the climbing loop at the outermost locus of the coil
caused by the tendency of the climbing loop to expand. As a consequence of this tendency the
climbing loop does not have adjacent inner loops of pipe to naturally bind against and so
tends to fall down the outside of the layers of the coil. A preferred solution to this
problem is to provide each roller assembly with a peripheral retaining pulley supported to
engage the outermost climbing loop of the pipe as the distance of the platform from the
spiral plane is increased. The pulley is a grooved wheel supported with its axis inclined to
the horizontal. The climbing loop of pipe engages in the groove of the wheel and is
supported at least until the first outer loop of the overlying pipe layer is established.

To ensure that all the loops of a spiral layer are securely retained it is preferable that
five angularly spaced roller assemblies are provided.

It is important that the tension or compression in each spiral of pipe laid is carefully
controlled, usually this will require that little or no tension or compression is present in
the pipe as it is laid into the coil. Any tension or compression present in the coil as it
is laid is likely to result in the loop of pipe moving to relieve the tensile or compressive
forces. A preferred solution to this problem is to feed the pipe to the caster inlet via a
capstan assembly. The capstan assembly comprises an assembly of pulleys and or belts of
which at least some are motorised. The speed of the capstan is controlled via the control
system in response to the speed of the rotor assembly. Most of the time the speed of the
capstan is adjusted to correspond to the speed of the pipe laying from the caster head so
that there is minimal tension or compression in the pipe which would otherwise result in an
unwanted tendency for the laid pipe coils to contract

or expand. However, it also allows tension or compression to increased to desired levels
when wanted. The capstan also serves to turn the pipe into the caster inlet.

The speed at which pipe is delivered from upstream to the capstan is ordinarily determined
by the speed of the pipe production line. Therefore provision must be made to allow for
speed changes at the capstan when the pipe tension or compression is to be varied. This is
preferably achieved using an accumulator deployed immediately upstream of the between the
capstan.

To allow for rapid exchange of platforms when a coil is completed, a transfer table assembly
is provided to transfer an unloaded platform to the lift assembly and simultaneously to
transfer a platform loaded with a coil away from the lift assembly.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of spirally
winding a pipe comprising the steps of: inducting a pipe into a caster inlet orbiting an
outlet of the caster around the main axis in a spiral pattern lying in a spiral plane in
order to discharge the pipe onto a platform in the spiral pattern.

The method of spiral winding provides a further benefit in that when a coil nears completion
the pipe is simply cut to form a cut end, the cut end is wound into the coil so that the
coil is complete. The coil is then ready for transport to a packaging station where
protective packaging may be applied if desired or directly to storage or the customer on the
pallet. In practice it is also possible to stack several coils one on top of another using
the spiral winder by the simple expedient of laying a separator onto a completed coil so
that the coil and separator act as a new platform and winding another coil onto the
separator. This way self supporting stacks of several coils can be wound onto one pallet.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided apparatus for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising : apparatus for forming a pipe of
indefinite length,

apparatus for transporting the pipe in the direction of its length, apparatus for annealing
the pipe as it is transported, a spiral winder for spirally winding the annealed pipe into a
coil.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a process for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising the steps of: forming a pipe of
indefinite length while the pipe is transported in the direction of its length, annealing
the pipe as it is transported, coiling the annealed pipe in a spiral winding apparatus
directly onto a pallet.

By virtue of the third and fourth aspects of the present invention the pipe can be annealed
before it is coiled so alleviating the problems with the coils of pipe welding or soldering
together exhibited by the prior art system.

Embodiments of the spiral winder, a method of spirally winding the pipe apparatus for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe and a process for manufacturing a spirally wound
coil of pipe will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the
accompanying illustrative drawings, wherein: Figure 1 is a perspective view of a rotor
assembly, Figure 2 is a plane view of the rotor assembly, Figure 3 is a sectional elevation
through the rotor assembly Figure 4 is an exploded view of the rotor assembly Figure 5 is an
enlarged perspective view of the traverse assembly, Figure 6 is a perspective view of the
spiral winder from below and in front, Figure 7 is side elevation of the spiral winder
Figure 8 is a perspective view of a lift assembly from in front Figure 9 is a perspective
view of the lift assembly from the rear Figure 10 is an enlarged perspective view of a
roller assembly, Figure 11 is an exploded perspective view of the roller assembly,

Figure 12 is a sectional view of the roller assembly, Figure 13 is a perspective view of a
capstan Figure 14 is a side elevation of the capstan Figure 15 is side elevation of an
accumulator, Figure 16 is a perspective view of a transfer table assembly Figure 17 is a
diagram illustrating apparatus for manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe.

Referring to the drawings, figure 1 shows a rotor 1 which can be seen in place within the
spiral winder shown in figures 6 and 7. The rotor 1 consists of a main shaft 2 supported
vertically within the support structure provided by a main frame 3, a traverse assembly 4,
which includes a carriage 5, five roller assemblies 6 and a caster 7. The caster 7 comprises
an elongate flexible duct provided in this case by a resiliently flexible tube. The caster 7
might also be provided by means of an articulated tube or possibly other devices able to
support and guide a flexible pipe from its inlet 8 to a caster outlet 9.

The inlet 8 to the caster consists of a port located coaxially in the top of the main shaft
2. As can readily be seen in figure 3, the main shaft is hollow so that the caster 7 can
pass from the inlet 8 down through the hollow core of the shaft and out through an aperture
2a located beneath a bearing assembly of the shaft 2. The caster then spirals helically down
to an outlet 9 which is engaged by the carriage 5.

The traverse assembly 4 comprises an elongate rigid support member 10 by means of which it
is attached near the base of the main shaft to extend radially. A guide track 11 is
supported by the support member 10 and the carriage 5 is mounted onto the track 11. The
track includes a motor drive sub-assembly comprising a reversible electric motor 12 coupled
to drive a worm drive whereby the carriage can be propelled radially along the track from an
inner radius to an outer radius.

In operation pipe P is fed into the inlet 8 of the caster and the rotor assembly is rotated
via a motor drive (not shown) in the direction of the arrow in figure 2

(anticlockwise). The inlet draws the pipe into the caster towards the outlet 9. A control
system (not shown) controls the motion of the carriage 5 so that it travels at one pitch of
a spiral per revolution towards the inner or outer radius (shown ghosted in figure 2). A
platform (not shown) 1 preferabiv a pallet, is supported via a lift assembly below the
spiral plane in which the caster outlet 9 rotates. Thus pipe P expelled from the caster
falls to the pallet in a spiral pattern.

The rotor 1 is supported in a support assembly provided by the main frame 3 which in this
example rests on the ground. The support assembly might also comprise the walls of a pit.
The main frame 3 also supports a lift assembly shown enlarged in figures 8 and 9. The main
frame supports the rotor 1 so that the spiral plane is in excess of 1.2m above the floor and
in this case closer to two meters above the floor. A lift assembly 13 shown in detail in
figures 8 and 9 is installed in a rear part of the main frame 3. The lift assembly 13
provides a fork lift 14 which can be raised and lowered via a lift motor and drive system 15
controlled by a control unit (not shown) of the spiral winder to accurately lift a pallet
from the floor to a position underlying the rotor 1 so that pipe can be spirally laid onto
the pallet.

The lift assembly comprises a supporting frame 16 adapted to be fastened into the main frame
3 of the spiral winder so that the forks of the fork lift 14 underlie the spiral plane. The
drive system 15 consists of a worm drive shaft 17 rotatably driven by an electric lift motor
18. The worm drive shaft engages a follower nut 19 mounted on the rear side of the fork lift
14 and a position sensor (not shown) capable of determining the height of the fork lift and
communicating the height to the control unit. A pair of guide rails 20 are provided on the
front of the frame to guide the fork lift 14.

The lift assembly is controlled during winding the pipe so that when the loop of pipe being
wound reaches a radially innermost or radially outermost position, the height of the pallet
is indexed down by slightly more than the diameter of the pipe P. Thus a climbing loop of
pipe is formed where the pipe climbs over the layer already laid. The

direction of travel is reversed at this time so that the pipe laid begins to spiral back
over the layer already laid.

It may here be noted that in some embodiments of the invention it may be more convenient to
adapt the apparatus so that the platform is kept stationary and the rotor displaced up and
hence the spiral plane is moved away from the platform to achieve a similar layering effect.

The five clamp roller assemblies 6 are provided to prevent the pipe trying to recover from
the spiral pattern in which it is laid to a less arcuate form. As shown in detail in figure
10 each roller assembly 6 comprises a triangular roller support frame 21 having a radially
inner mounting flange 22 for mounting the roller assembly onto the main shaft 2 and a roller
suspension flange 23.

The mounting flange 23 includes a box section defining an elongate suspension chamber 24. A
suspension rod 25 is slidably received into the chamber 24 and supports a helical spring 26
at its base end. The helical spring joins the suspension rod 25 to a bearing rod 27 which
projects through a closely fitting passage 28 in the roller suspension flange 23. A pair of
mounting brackets 29 are bolted one above the other to the mounting flange 23. Each mounting
bracket 29 is provided with opposing"U" sections along each vertical edge adapted to
slidably engage around a mounting rail 30 which is bolted to extend vertically up the side
of the main shaft 3 above an annular mounting flange 10a formed on the elongate support
member 10 of the traverse assembly, and by means of which the traverse assembly is attached
to the main shaft 3.

Thus the roller assembly can slide up and down the mounting rail 30 and is borne via the
spring 26 on the mounting flange 10a. This ensures that there is a reasonable degree of give
to the roller assembly to prevent the weight of the roller damaging the pipe P.

When mounted the roller mounting flange extends radially out from the main shaft 3.

The roller 31 is of conic shape and splined onto a roller axle 32 with the narrow end
mounted radially innermost. The roller axle 32 is mounted in bearings supported by

brackets 33 which are bolted to depend from the roller suspension flange 23. It will be
noted that the roller axle 32 is inclined upwards from the main shaft so that the lowermost
surface of the roller 31 extends horizontally where it bears against the laid pipe P.

The roller surface is covered by a soft resilient foam 33 able to readily conform to the
shape of the pipe and so disperse the weight of the roller assembly and avoid damage to the
pipe while preventing any radial movement of the pipe.

The roller axle 32 is coupled to be driven in rotation by a flexible telescopic transmission
comprising; a first universal joint 34, a telescopic drive shaft 35, a second universal
joint 36 and a spur gear shaft 37. The transmission couples the roller axle to a sun drive
gear 38 provided axially underneath the main shaft 3. The sun drive gear 38 is coupled via a
shaft through the base of the hollow main shaft 3 to a sun and planetary gear system 39. The
planetary gear of this system is driven via a sub drive shaft 40, which extends vertically
in a channel formed in the outside of the main shaft 3 to couple by means of a planetary
gear 40a with an orbital gear 41 in an annular transmission 42 mounted on the top of the
main shaft 3. The orbital gear 41 is bolted to a housing of the annular transmission which
is mounted onto the main frame of the spiral winder. Thus as the main shaft 3 rotates,
driven by a shaft drive motor 43, the orbital gear 41 rotates against the planetary gear 40a
to drive the rollers in rotation according to the speed of rotation of the main shaft 3. A
small alteration in this speed can be made by actuating servos which cause the orbital gear
41 to rotate relative to the transmission housing in either the clockwise or anticlockwise
direction so that the speed of the roller 31 can be advanced or retarded.

The conic angle of the roller 31 is selected so that although the angular speed of the axle
32 matches that of the main shaft 3 the linear speed of the bottom roller surface where it
bears on the pipe matches the linear speed of the axle over the surface at that radius
(subject to the aforementioned adjustment).

It will be realised from the provision of the clamp roller assemblies 6 that to allow a new
layer of pipe to begin coiling it is necessary to drop the platform sufficiently far as to
leave a gap between the top surface of the laid layer of pipe and the bottom of the rollers
sufficient to al, ow for the u nobstructed introduction of a new layer of pipe and then
raising the platform a smaller distance so that the bottom of the rollers bears on the top
of the pipe being laid.

At the innermost locus of the spiral the natural tendency of the pipe to expand radially
means there is no problem with forming a climbing loop to bridge between the laid and the
next layer. However, this is not the case with the outermost locus where the bridging layer
is inclined to fall down the outside locus of the coil. To prevent this happening each
roller assembly is provided with a grooved pulley wheel 44 rotatably mounted on a shaft 45
to trail behind the outer end of the roller 31. The shaft 45 extends radially with respect
to the main shaft 3 and is mounted on the roller support frame 21 by means of a pivot 46 to
pivot about a tangent to the axis so that the outer climbing loop of pipe engages in the
groove of the pulley wheel 44 and is retained until the next layer of pipe is established
and retained by the rollers. As the climbing loop is established and the rollers reengage
the pipe the speed of the rollers may usefully be altered by advancing or retarding the
orbital gear 41 in order to slightly tension the climbing loop and encouraging the climbing
loop to bind against the coil.

As has previously been implied, the success of the machine depends greatly on controlling
the tensile or compressive forces acting on the pipe as it is laid. This is also true at the
introduction of the pipe to the caster inlet. To achieve control of these forces the pipe is
introduced to the caster inlet by means of a capstan assembly 47 which can best be seen in
most detail in figures 13,14 and 15.

The capstan assembly 47 is mounted on a floor panel 48 forming part of the main frame
overlying the rotor assembly 1. It comprises a support structure 49 which supports a
horizontally extending drive shaft 50 and a transmission coupling the drive

shaft 50 to a drive motor 51. The drive shaft 50 mounts a main grooved pulley 52 for
rotation. The support structure includes opposing support plates 49a, 49b which support
three guide rollers 53. The guide rollers 53a, 53b and 53c support an endless belt 53d the
span of the belt extending between the rowers 53a and 53c wraps around segment of the main
pulley 52 so that a length of the pipe P can be trapped between the belt 53d and the pulley
52 and so can be drawn up from an accumulator assembly and into the inlet 8 of the caster 7.
The capstan pulley 52 is rotated at a speed controlled by the control system in response to
the speed of the rotor in order to accurately manage the tension and compression on the
pipe.

The accumulator assembly comprises an arcuate trough 65 shown in section in figure 15. The
trough has a base panel 66 which arcs from a horizontal to an upwardly inclined condition
and upstanding side walls 67. There are no end walls. As the end of a pipe P exits a
diverter 61 it droops to the floor of the trough 65 and is guided by the floor and side
walls up along the path illustrated by dotted line P'into the capstan 47 and hence around
the capstan and into the caster inlet 8. Thus the trough 65 serves to automatically feed the
pipe end to the capstan. Once the pipe is fully engaged by the capstan it is desirable that
some slack is made available upstream of the capstan so that the capstan can implement
changes to the pipe compression or tension and so the pipe is wound on by the spiral winder
so that some tension exists in the span of pipe between the diverter and capstan forming a
catenary as illustrated by P. The control unit adjusts the spiral winder speed in response
to any change in the arc or the catenary sensed by catenary position sensors 68. The slack
provided by the catenary allows the capstan assembly to alter the pipe compression or
tension downstream in the rotor independently of the pipe production line upstream.

When a coil approaches the desired size it is necessary to cut the pipe and the cut end is
wound into the coil. The coil is formed directly onto a pallet and so it is convenient to
simply place a spacer on top of the coil and commence winding a second

or third coil on top forming a stack of coils on the one pallet. However, when the desired
number of coils are wound onto the pallet the pallet is lowered by the fork lift 14 until it
rests on a transfer table 54 shown in detail in Figure 16 and in combination with the spiral
winder in Figure 6. The transfer table consists of a rectangular frame 55 supported on the
ground. The long sides of the frame extend laterally to each side of the main frame 3 of the
spiral winder and provide guide rails for wheels of a trolley 56 which extends two thirds of
the length of the transfer table 54. The trolley 56 comprises a frame which is able to
provide support for a pallet and has apertures 57 provided to receive the forks of the fork
lift 14. It may be noted that the forks of the fork lift 14 are adapted by means of raised
sections 69 so that these sections lie flush with the guide rails when the forks are lowered
to allow the trolley wheels to pass smoothly over the forks. In use a pallet is placed onto
the end of the trolley 56 at an end of the frame 55.

The fork lift 14 lowers a pallet bearing coils onto the other end of the trolley 57. The
trolley is then moved to the other end of the frame by means of the trolley motor drive 58
bringing the empty pallet to the centre of the transfer table under the spiral plane. The
fork lift 14 then lifts the empty pallet into position to commence winding a new coil. While
the new coil is being wound the loaded pallet is removed from the trolley by a conventional
fork lift truck and transported to storage.

Figure 17 illustrates the spiral winder in combination with apparatus for forming a pipe.
This consists basically of feedstock comprising a coil of strip which is delivered to a
decoiler 59. The strip is fed to a rolling mill 60 where it is rolled into tube. The tube
then passes to a welder 60a which welds the seam together forming pipe. The pipe is then
annealed at an in line annealing station 60b. The annealing station may be provided by any
mechanism able to continuously heat an elongate material travelling in the direction of its
length to a suitable annealing temperature for a desired period. This may then comprise gas
burners, electric heaters, or inductive heating. In line annealing is the first notable
difference from conventional pipe forming lines where annealing does

not take place until the pipe has been coiled. This has numerous benefits both in production
costs and speed and in the problems associated with end use of the product.

For example, the annealing station can be relatively small and energy efficient needing only
to heat the nipe. The pipe is annealed and cooled in a substantially straight condition and
so even after coiling in the winder and decoiling by the end user the pipe is inclined to
relax to a straight condition whereas annealing in the coiled condition produces pipe
inclined to an arcuate condition. The pipe passes downstream from the anneler 60b to a
cooling station 60c. The cooling station may consist of air blast cooling water or other
coolant spray mechanisms controllable to cool the pipe at an appropriate rate to produce the
desired pipe properties.

Downstream of the cooling station is a non-destructive testing station (NDT station) 60d.
Here the pipe is continuously examined for imperfections using instrumentation such as
magnetic field sensors, acoustic sensors, optical sensors, or electric field sensors. Such
sensor devices are well known in the art.

From the NDT station 60d the pipe passes to a diverter 61. The diverter 61 is capable of
diverting the path of the pipe to any one of four paths namely, to a test tray 62 where a
sample of pipe can be delivered for destructive testing once it has passed the
non-destructive tests at the station 60d. While the pipe sample is being subject to testing
at the test tray 62 the pipe, which is still being produced is diverted to a shredder 63
where it is shredded for disposal. When the pipe passes the destructive testing the diverter
switches the pipe path to one of a first spiral winder 64'or a second spiral winder 64"where
the tested and finished pipe is wound as previously described. Two spiral winders 64 are
employed to minimise wastage when a coil is completed. Thus as a coil nears the desired size
the pipe is cut by the diverter and simultaneously diverted to the other of the spiral
winders where a new coil begins to wind. The pallet on which the completed coil sits may
then be removed or a separator laid on top to receive a new coil on the stack.











Title:
CORRUGATED CARDBOARD SUPPORTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/090178
Kind Code:
A1

Abstract:
A corrugated cardboard blank (2) for the construction of a support (100), the blank
comprising two main body forming panels (4, 6), a middle panel (8) between said body forming
panels and two end panels (10, 12), each main body forming panel, middle panel and at least
one of the end panels having opposing end flaps (24, 26, 28, 30, 32).

Inventors:
Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
PCT/GB2005/000930
Publication Date:
09/29/2005
Filing Date:
03/10/2005
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Assignee:
Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
International Classes:
B65D19/00; B65D19/40; B65D5/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lees, Kate Jane (Marks & Clerk, Tower Building Water Street, Liverpool L3 1BA, GB)
Description:
CORRUGATED CARDBOARD SUPPORTS

DESCRIPTION The present invention relates to improvements in corrugated cardboard supports,
particularly but not exclusively, corrugated cardboard pallets.

Pallets are in everyday use and are usually made from wood, polythene, plastic or metal. The
pallets may be of a general size, such as those used in the retail and retail goods
manufacturing industries, or they may be made for specific applications. Their chief purpose
is to safely store goods or product in quantity and allow the goods or product to be
mechanically handled within manufacturing units. The pallets also act as shipping units,
often via vehicle transport, to the retail outlet. Again, at the retail outlet the pallets
are mechanically handled and stored prior to transport to individual stores. The pallet may
then be used to display the goods or product directly on the shop floor, as a form of
merchandising unit.

Pallets are normally of a high initial cost and there are systems of pallet hire in place.
Pallets may also be purchased second hand, but are again costly, and may be prone to
contaminants. They are bulky and are normally of a standard height and size so that both the
manufacturer and retailer storage systems are compatible. Wooden pallets are heavy to
manhandle and add to the crush weight of stored and transported goods or product because
often several pallets of goods or product are stored on top of one another. A standard
wooden pallet typically weighs between 25Kg and 50Kg. This means that manhandling is
difficult and the weight can damage the goods or product that the pallet rests upon. This
type of pallet is also costly to transport because of its inherent weight.

A typical operation of a re-usable pallet may be as follows. Manufactured product such as
boxed dry goods are collated and stacked on to a standard wooden pallet. A man may then
place a pallet on top of this stacked pallet and proceed to collate and place more boxed
product on top of this. Depending upon how many layers of product are used on each pallet,
each single stack may contain several pallets. The stack is then normally enshrouded in
stretch wrap to form a unit that is then mechanically handled by a manual pump truck or a
mechanical fork lift truck and placed into storage. After a period of time, the product is
ordered by a retailer and the unit is mechanically loaded onto a transport vehicle. At the
retailer's depot, the unit is unloaded and stored for a further period. It is then loaded
onto another vehicle and delivered into a retail shop, where it may be stored or placed
direct for merchandising onto the shop floor.

The problem with the aforementioned operation is that the manufacturer does not get the
pallet back. This is very costly to the manufacturer and, ultimately, the consumer. After
the product or goods are used from the pallet, the retailer must then dispose of the wooden
pallet, which is bulky and heavy. The disposal of the pallet requires expensive transport
and is costly to the environment since most pallets end up in landfill. It is estimated that
there are around 5 wooden pallets in existence for each person in the British Isles. If a
hire system is used, a pallet must be hired by a manufacturer. A system of tracking the
pallets is required which is both labour intensive and costly. The pallet is then left with
the retailer. The retailer may have a stock of empty pallets which he can give back to the
manufacturer, requiring the loading of a vehicle to transport bulky, heavy and empty pallets
back to the manufacturer at his own cost. A manufacturer also has to pay to de-hire a pallet
and, if one is lost, will have to pay full cost for it. The returned pallets can be hired
out again in a repeat cycle. Re-using pallets also leads to problems of cleanliness and
repair. Wooden pallets are normally put together with nails which may become exposed and
damage the goods or product placed upon them. Furthermore, wooden pallets may produce large
or small splinters that can either damage the product or even enter and contaminate the
product, especially food goods.

The standard height of most pallets, usually being about 160mm, dictates how much product
can be transported on a vehicle, such as a curtain slider. Wooden pallets are heavy and may
double in weight when wet, making manual handling dangerous.

The Applicant's co-pending Application No.s WO 03/082685 and WO 03/082688 provide a solution
to the above problems by the provision of a collapsible corrugated cardboard support and
pallet. Whilst these are entirely satisfactory for their intended purpose, in some
instances, the customer may not require the pallet to be collapsible. In such situations, it
is desirable to provide a cheaper, less complex corrugated cardboard pallet. However, it is
difficult to provide a cardboard pallet that has sufficient interna] strength to withstand
the weights that are applied to it and robust enough to withstand being mechanically handled
and transported several times.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard support
that aims to overcome, or at least alleviate the abovementioned drawbacks.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard
pallet that aims to overcome, or at least alleviate, the abovementioned drawbacks.

Accordingly, a first aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard blank
for the construction of a support, the blank comprising two main body forming panels, a
middle panel between said body forming panels and two end panels, each main body forming
panel, middle panel and at least one of the end panels having opposing end flaps.

The panels and flaps are separated from their adjoining panel or flap by means of fold
lines.

It is to be appreciated that a support is assembled from the blank by folding the
appropriate parts of the blank and securing them together using suitable means, most
preferably an adhesive. Adjacent panels are folded substantially at right angles to each
other such that one of the end panels abuts the edge of the main body panel to which it is
not connected. Glue is then applied to the outer surface of this end panel and the opposing
end panel is folded over this panel and secured thereto by suitable means. The end flaps of
the panels making up the box are folded inwardly and secured to each other to form a closed
box.

The end panels of the blank are preferably substantially identical in size. In this manner,
in the assembled box, the opposing end panel overlaps substantially all of the underlying
end panel.

It is preferable for fluting to be formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank, i.e.
from one end panel to the other since this increases the strength of the box formed from the
blank.

Preferably, both end panels are provided with opposing end flaps. Preferably, each end flap
is 25% to 50% of the height of its corresponding panel, more preferably 40 to 50%.

The end flaps of the opposing end panel are preferably separated from the panel by reverse
fold lines whereby, in the assembled box, the flaps may be folded outwardly and secured to
the panel.

A second aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard support comprising
two substantially parallel opposing main body panels and two pairs of opposing side walls
wherein at least one side wall is at least double the thickness of the main body panels.

The provision of at least one side wall that is at least double the thickness of the main
body panels provides a support with inherent strength. In this respect, the main body
forming panels receive the load and are supported by the side walls.

Preferably, the at least one side wall is double the thickness by the provision of a double
layer of material. More preferably still, the overlapping outer layer is provided with end
flaps for folding over and securing to the layer to increase the strength and thickness of
the wall still further. It is preferable for one pair of opposing side walls that do not
have double thickness to be formed from end flaps extending from the other side walls and
the main body forming panels.

It is to be appreciated that the blank according to the first aspect of the present
invention is preferably used in forming a support according to the second aspect of the
present invention. Additionally, the main panels and walls of the support may be any desired
size.

A third aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard pallet, the pallet
comprising a top sheet, a base sheet and at least one connecting member between said top and
said base sheets, the connecting member being formed from a blank according to the first
aspect of the present invention or a box according to the second aspect of the present
invention. In a preferred arrangement, nine supports are provided between said top and base
sheet, optionally being of different sizes. Preferably, the supports are arranged at each
corner of the sheets, with a support positioned centrally between the corner supports along
each side thereof and a further support being provided in the centre between the sheets.
Preferably, the support provided in the centre is the largest size of support and the
supports provided at the corners are the smallest in size.

The base sheet is preferably provided with regions that are relieved of material to provide
access points from below the pallet. Preferably, two rectangular areas are relieved of
material. Any suitable number of access points may be provided in the pallet, being formed
through the base sheet and/or by the spacing between adjacent supports provided between the
sheets of the pallet.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the components of the pallet are secured
together by means of adhesive only. A varnish may be applied to the top sheet, base sheet
and/or supports to impart water resistance.

For a better understanding of the present invention and to show more clearly how it may be
carried into effect reference will now be made, by way of example only, to the accompanying
drawings in which: Figure 1 is a plan view of a blank for a box according to one embodiment
of the present invention; Figure 2 is a perspective view of a partially erected box
according to the present invention assembled from the blank shown in Figure 1 ; Figure 3 is
a side plan view of the fully erected box shown in Figure 2; Figure 4 is a plan view of a
top part for a pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention; Figure 5 is a
plan view of the base part for a pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention
Figure 6 is a perspective view of an assembled pallet according to one embodiment of the
present invention utilising the parts shown in Figures 1 to 3, 4 and 5; and Figure 7 is a
view of the underside of the top part of the pallet showing the location of the boxes.

Referring to Figure 1 of the accompanying drawings, a plan view of a blank 2 for the
construction of a support box according to one embodiment of the present invention is
illustrated. The blank is cut from a sheet of corrugated cardboard and creases are inserted
into the blank to provide fold lines, represented by the small broken lines in Figure 1.
Heavy long broken lines denote reverse fold lines. The blank has two main body forming
panels 4, 6 connected by a middle panel 8. The two main body forming panels 4, 6 are each
provided with an end panel 10, 12 respectively opposite said middle panel 8. Opposing free
ends of each main body panel, middle panel and end panels are provided with end flaps 24,
26, 28, 30 and 32. All the flaps are separated from their respective panel by fold lines
except for the end flaps of one of the end panels, which are separated by means of reverse
fold lines. Alternatively, these end flaps may be separated from their end panel by means of
cut and crease lines which are known in the art. Fluting is provided in the longitudinal
direction, as denoted by arrow C in Figure 1.

Any size of panels may be used depending upon the required size of box but, it is to be
appreciated that all the panels are preferably of an identical length. The main body panels
may be of a greater width than the middle and end panels, as shown in the drawings, with the
main panels being identical and the middle and at least one of the end panels being of an
identical size. Each end flap is preferably approximately half the height of the panel to
which it is attached.

To form the box 100 adjacent panels are folded substantially at right angles to each other
such that one of the end panels 10 abuts the edge of the main body panel 6 to which it is
not connected. Glue is then applied to the outer surface of this end panel 10 and the
opposing end panel 12 is folded over this panel and secured thereto by means of the glue,
thereby resulting in this side of the box being of double thickness. The end flaps 24, 26,
28, 30 of the panels making up the box are folded inwardly (see Figure 2), with the end
flaps of the end and middle panels being folded inwardly first and the end flaps of the main
body panels being folded over these flaps and secured thereto by means of adhesive to form a
closed box. Additionally, the end flaps 32 of the end panel 12 are folded outwardly, as
denoted by the arrow A in Figure 2, and adhered to the outer surface of their end panel, as
shown in Figure 3. The construction of the box 100 is such that it may withstand far greater
weight than a standard cardboard box due to the provision of the additional end panel
overlapping its opposing end panel and the end flaps which fold outwardly and are secured to
the end panel. Such an arrangement has not previously been described since it would appear
to be wasteful of material. However, in the present invention, the provision of an
effectively triple- walled box has surprisingly been found to provide a support that is fit
for its intended purpose.

Furthermore, it has been found that the provision of fluting in the longitudinal direction
C, shown in Figure 1, provides for a much stronger box thus enabling the box to support
greater weights. This is opposite to the direction of fluting provided in conventional
corrugated cardboard boxes.

The box according to the present invention may be used as a support, for example acting as a
display shelf to support goods that are for sale. The box has advantages over the prior art
supports, such as being lighter to transport and its ability to be recycled. It is also made
of cheap materials. The simple design of the blank that makes up the box provides a massive
cost saving vis-a-vis the type of box described in the Applicant's co-pending Application
No.s WO 03/082685 and WO 03/082688. Additionally, there is far less waste, with slits simply
being cut into the machined blank.

A preferred application for a box according to the present invention is the construction of
a pallet wherein a plurality of boxes are adhered to a top and bottom sheet to provide a
pallet that is cheap, lightweight and recyclable . Any required size of pallet may be
provided and the larger the pallet, generally the more boxes that will be used in its
construction.

Figures 4 to 7 of the accompanying drawings illustrate one pallet according to the present
invention. This embodiment is made from eleven single sheets of corrugated cardboard, which
are stamped out as shown in Figure 1, Figure 4 and Figure 5. A solid rectangular sheet 280
is provided to form the top of the pallet and a further rectangular sheet 290 of
substantially the same size is provided for forming the base of the pallet, this sheet
having two rectangular sections 400, 420 that are relieved of material.

Nine boxes 300 - 380 according to the present invention are glued in their erected form to
the underside of the top sheet 280, as shown in Figure 7. This figure details the location
of the nine double blind boxes that create the compressive strength of the pallet. In the
embodiment shown, there are four different sizes of box for each pallet. A smallest size of
box 300, 320, 360, 380 is placed at each corner of the sheet. A largest box 34 is placed in
the centre of the pallet. Another size of box 310, 370 is positioned centrally along two
opposing faces of the pallet between the comer boxes and yet a further size of box 330, 350
is placed centrally along the other two opposing faces of the pallet. Glue is then applied
to the panel 4 of the boxes and the bottom sheet 290 of the pallet is then stuck onto the
flattened boxes. The orientation of the fluting on the top sheet may be any direction but
the orientation of the fluting with respect of the boxes is important to provide overall
compressive strength of the pallet. The positioning of the boxes is such as to provide
access for a mechanical forklift along all four edges of the pallet. The boxes are also
positioned so that they will always be in the correct position to bear on standard warehouse
racking systems. The mechanical handling forks can be introduced at A or B on either edge of
the pallet, as illustrated in Figure 6. If a pallet truck is used for handling, then the
wheels roll over the pallet base 290 and then sit against the floor as the pallet is
elevated for moving.

The absence of any metal mechanical fastenings means that the pallet cannot damage or
contaminate any product or goods placed therein. Its reduced height vis-a¬ vis the
conventional type of pallet means that extra product layers may be gained for transport. The
cardboard may also be treated with varnish or other suitable means to make it water
resistant and may be printed with descriptors or other decoration, such as in for use in a
shop display merchandising unit.

A pallet according to the present invention has clear economical and environmental benefits.
A pallet according to the present invention may only be about 100mm high, being almost half
the height of a standard wooden pallet but tall enough to enable handling by all standard
mechanical means.

The pallet according to the present invention is designed for single trip use. Whilst the
pallet is robust enough to be mechanically handled and transported several times, it is
envisaged that the pallet will be recycled after use. In this respect, the pallet is 100%
recyclable. This saves on storage space and costly return transport. Furthermore, the pallet
is far cheaper to make than other types of wooden pallet currently in existence, minimising
the cost to the ultimate consumer.

On average, a pallet according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention weighs
about 1-3 Kg. In contrast, a conventional wooden pallet weighs between 25-50Kg. Thus, the
present pallet can be manually handled without any worry of health and safety weight
constraints. Its lightness also assists in the prevention of product damage when the pallet
is used in multi-stacked units. It is designed for two-way or four-way entry and can be
handled by a manual pallet pump truck or various mechnical forklift trucks without
modification. The pallet is also designed so that it can be placed safely in the majority of
racking systems.

A further benefit provided by a pallet according to the present invention is that its basic
constructional design can be used to provide any size of pallet required. By varying the
grade of corrugated cardboard used, the box or pallet can be made to withstand varying dead
loads up to several tons.

Additionally, the provision of a pallet that is intended for a single use reduces the risk
of any contamination of the product from the pallet. Wooden pallets require fumigation
against wood boring insects. The single use aspect of the pallet also reduces incidental
costs associated with the provision of manpower to control the pallets, clean the pallets
and store and unload the pallets.















Title:
IMPROVEMENTS IN AND RELATING TO CORRUGATED CARDBOARD PALLETS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/082688
Kind Code:
A1

Abstract:
A corrugated cardboard pallet comprising a top sheet (28), a base sheet (29) and at least
one connecting member (30−38) between said top and said base sheets, the connecting member
being moveable to shift the pallet between a relatively flat and a relatively erect form.
Each connecting member comprises two substantially parallel opposing main body panels (18,
20) and two pairs of opposing side walls (X, Y) wherein each of one pair of opposing side
walls are formed from two interlocking parts (11, 14, 22, 25).

Inventors:
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
PCT/GB2003/001019
Publication Date:
10/09/2003
Filing Date:
03/10/2003
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Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Mulcahy, Stephen (New Inns Barn, Wilpshire Road Rishton, Blackburn BB1 4AH, GB)
Reilly, Ian (2 Durham Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 9UD, GB)
International Classes:
B65D19/00; B65D19/40; B65D5/36
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARKS & CLERK (Tower Building, Water Street, Liverpool L3 1BA, GB)
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A corrugated cardboard pallet comprising a top sheet (28), a base sheet (29) and at least
one connecting member (3038) between said top and base sheets, the connecting member being
moveable to shift the pallet between a relatively flat and a relatively erect form.

2. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 1 wherein a number of connecting
members (3038) are secured between the top and base sheets (28,29), each member being
constructed such as to be moveable from a flattened or collapsed state to an erect state.

3. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 2 wherein each connecting member (3038)
is in the form of a support (10) comprising two substantially parallel opposing main body
panels (18,20) and two pairs of opposing side walls (X, Y) wherein each of one pair of
opposing side walls is formed from at least two interlocking parts (11, 14,22, 25).

4. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 3 wherein each support (10) is
constructed from a blank (2) comprising two main body forming panels (18,20), a middle panel
(19) between said body forming panels and at least one end flap (21), each main body forming
panel and middle panel having opposing side flaps (11, 22, 14,25, 13,24), each side flap of
the main body panels being provided with an indent (I).

5. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 4 wherein the side flaps (11, 22,14,
25) of the main body panels are secured to the side flaps (13,24) of the middle panel, the
end flap (21) is folded over and secured to the main panel and the side flaps of the main
body panels are not secured to each other.

6. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 4 or claim 5 wherein opposing side
flaps (11 and 22,14 and 25) of each main body panel are a mirror image of one another.

7. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 4,5 or 6 wherein adjacent side flaps
(11 and 14,22 and 25) of adjacent main body panels are identical.

8. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one of claims 4 to 7 wherein an end flap
(17, 21) is provided at the end of each main body forming panel.

9. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 8 wherein one of the end flaps (21) is
provided with side flaps (16,27).

10. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 9 wherein a tab (12,15, 23, 26) is
provided on each of the side flaps (11, 14,22, 25) of the main body forming panels for
attachment to side flaps of the end flap and the middle flap in the constructed support.

11. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 10 wherein each tab is provided at the
remote end of the indented region of each side flap.

12. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one of claims 4 to 11 wherein fluting is
formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank.

13. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one of claims 2 to 12 wherein at least 4
supports are provided between the top sheet (28) and the base sheet (29).

14. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 13 wherein between 9 and 12 supports
are provided between the top sheet (28) and the base sheet (29).

15. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 14 wherein the supports are arranged
at each comer of the sheets, with at least one support positioned centrally between the
corner supports along each side thereof and a further support being provided in the centre
between the sheets.

16. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 15 wherein the central support is the
largest size of support and the supports provided at the corners are the smallest in size.

17. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one the preceding claims wherein the
base sheet is provided with regions (40,42) that are relieved of material to provide access
points from below the pallet.

18. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the
base sheet (29), top sheet (28) and connecting members (3038) are all secured together by
means of adhesive only.

19. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein a
varnish is applied to the top sheet, base sheet and/or at least one connecting member.

20. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein at
least one additional sheet is secured to the top and/or base sheet.

21. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 20 wherein the additional sheet is a
cross ply board.

22. A corrugated cardboard pallet as claimed in claim 20 or 21 wherein fluting of the
additional sheet lies at 90 degrees to the direction of fluting on the sheet to which it is
applied.

23. A method of manufacturing a corrugated cardboard pallet comprising the steps of passing
a top sheet (28) along a conveyor (100), feeding at least one connecting member (10) on to
the top sheet and securing a base sheet (29) to the connecting member.

24. A method as claimed in claim 23 wherein adhesive is applied to the connecting member
prior to feeding it on to the top sheet.

25. A method as claimed in claim 23 or claim 24 wherein the connecting member is moveable
between a flattened and an erect state and is applied to the top sheet in its flattened
state.

26. A method as claimed in claim 23,24 or claim 25 wherein a plurality of connecting members
are fed onto different locations on the top sheet.

27. A method as claimed in claim 26 wherein the connecting members are fed from hoppers
(101104).

Description:
IMPROVEMENTS IN AND RELATING TO CORRUGATED CARDBOAD PALLETS DESCRIPTION The present
invention relates to improvements in corrugated cardboard pallets.

Pallets are in everyday use and are usually made from wood, polythene, plastic or metal. The
pallets may be of a general size, such as those used in the retail and retail goods
manufacturing industries, or they may be made for specific applications.

Their chief purpose is to safely store goods or product in quantity and allow the goods or
product to be mechanically handled within manufacturing units. The pallets also act as
shipping units, often via vehicle transport, to the retail outlet. Again, at the retail
outlet the pallets are mechanically handled and stored prior to transport to individual
stores. The pallet may then be used to display the goods or product directly on the shop
floor, as a form of merchandising unit.

Pallets are normally of a high initial cost and there are systems of pallet hire in place.
Pallets may also be purchased second hand, but are again costly, and may be prone to
contaminants. They are bulky and are normally of a standard height and size so that both the
manufacturer and retailer storage systems are compatible. Wooden pallets are heavy to
manhandle and add to the crush weight of stored and transported goods or product because
often several pallets of goods or product are stored on top of one another. A standard
wooden pallet typically weighs between 25Kg and 50Kg.

This means that manhandling is difficult and the weight can damage the goods or product that
the pallet rests upon. This type of pallet is also costly to transport because of its
inherent weight.

A typical operation of a re-usable pallet may be as follows. Manufactured product such as
boxed dry goods are collated and stacked on to a standard wooden pallet. A man may then
place a pallet on top of this stacked pallet and proceed to collate and place more boxed
product on top of this. Depending upon how many layers of product are used on each pallet,
each single stack may contain several pallets. The stack is then normally enshrouded in
stretch wrap to form a unit that is then mechanically handled by a manual pump truck or a
mechanical fork lift truck and placed into storage. After a period of time, the product is
ordered by a retailer and the unit is mechanically loaded onto a transport vehicle. At the
retailer's depot, the unit is unloaded and stored for a further period. It is then loaded
onto another vehicle and delivered into a retail shop, where it may be stored or placed
direct for merchandising onto the shop floor.

The problem with the aforementioned operation is that the manufacturer does not get the
pallet back. This is very costly to the manufacturer and, ultimately, the consumer. After
the product or goods are used from the pallet, the retailer must then dispose of the wooden
pallet, which is bulky and heavy. The disposal of the pallet requires expensive transport
and is costly to the environment since most pallets end up in landfill. It is estimated that
there are around 5 wooden pallets in existence for each person in the British Isles.

If a hire system is used, a pallet must be hired by a manufacturer. A system of tracking the
pallets is required which is both labour intensive and costly. The pallet is then left with
the retailer. The retailer may have a stock of empty pallets which he can give back to the
manufacturer, requiring the loading of a vehicle to transport bulky, heavy and empty pallets
back to the manufacturer at his own cost. A

manufacturer also has to pay to de-hire a pallet and, if one is lost, will have to pay full
cost for it. The returned pallets can be hired out again in a repeat cycle. Re-using pallets
also leads to problems of cleanliness and repair. Wooden pallets are normally put together
with nails which may become exposed and damage the goods or product placed upon them.
Furthermore, wooden pallets may produce large or small splinters that can either damage the
product or even enter and contaminate the product, especially food goods.

The standard height of most pallets, usually being about 160mm, dictates how much product
can be transported on a vehicle, such as a curtain slider. Wooden pallets are heavy and may
double in weight when wet, making manual handling dangerous.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved corrugated cardboard pallet,
that aims to overcome, or at least alleviate the abovementioned drawbacks.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method of manufacture for the
production of a corrugated cardboard pallet.

Accordingly, a first aspect of the present invention provides a corrugated cardboard pallet,
the pallet comprising a top sheet, a base sheet and at least one connecting member between
said top and said base sheets, the connecting member being moveable to shift the pallet
between a relatively flat and a relatively erect form.

The provision of a pallet that may be adjusted from a flat to an erect form is preferably
provided by means of a number of connecting members being secured between the top sheet and
the base sheet. Each member is constructed such as to be moveable from a flattened or
collapsed state to an erect state. More preferably, each

connecting member is in the form of a corrugated cardboard support comprising two
substantially parallel opposing main body panels and two pairs of opposing side walls
wherein each of one pair of opposing side walls are formed from two interlocking parts.

The provision of a pair of opposing side walls that are each comprised of two interlocking
parts enables the assembled support to be moveable from a collapsed state to an erect state.
In the collapsed or flattened state, two parts of each wall are disengaged to allow each
part to lie flat against its connecting wall or panel. In the erect state, the two parts of
each wall become interlocked and lie substantially perpendicularly to their connecting wall
or panel.

Preferably, a corrugated cardboard blank is provided for the construction of each support,
the blank comprising two main body forming panels, a middle panel between said body forming
panels and at least one end flap, each main body forming panel and middle panel having
opposing side flaps, each side flap of the main body panels being provided with an indent.

It is to be appreciated that a support is assembled from the blank by folding the
appropriate parts of the blank and securing them together using suitable means, most
preferably an adhesive. The side flaps of the main panels are secured to the side flaps of
the middle panel and the end flap is folded over and secured to the main panel. However, the
side flaps of the main body panels are not secured to each other.

The provision of an indent in each side flap of each main body forming panel enables a side
flap of one main body panel to engage with the adjacent side flap of the other main body
panel when the blank is assembled to form an erect box, thereby forming a double blind box.
Prior to engagement of the flaps, the box is in a flattened

state. This enables the blank to be assembled into a box that may take on a collapsed or an
erect state.

Opposing side flaps of each main body panel are preferably a mirror image of one another.
Adjacent side flaps of adjacent main body panels are preferably identical.

Preferably, an end flap is provided at the end of each main body forming panel. More
preferably, one of the end flaps is also provided with side flaps. A tab is preferably
provided on each of the side flaps of the main body panels for attachment to the side flaps
of the end flap and middle panel in the constructed box.

Each tab is preferably provided at the remote end of the indented region of each side flap.
Preferably, a line of weakness is provided between each tab and its adjoining side flap.

Each side flap of the main body forming panels, middle panel and/or end flap is preferably
provided with one corner that forms substantially a right angle and an opposing corner which
is truncated. Each tabe provided on the side flaps of the main body forming panels
preferably extends from the truncated end of the side flap.

It is preferable for fluting to be formed in the longitudinal direction of the blank, i. e.
from one end flap to the other since this increases the strength of the box formed from the
blank and thereby imparts strength to the pallet.

The main panels and walls of the support may be any desired size.

Preferably, at least four supports as hereinbefore described are provided between the top
and base sheet to form the pallet, optionally being of different sizes.

More preferably, between nine and twelve supports are provided but the exact number

will depend upon the size of the pallet and on the size of the supports and hence, any
number may be provided as desired.

The supports are arranged so as to provide a stable pallet in its erect form and so that
there are gaps between adjacent supports to provide side access points to the pallet.
Supports may be provided at each corner of the sheets, with a support positioned centrally
between the corner supports along each side thereof and a further support being provided in
the centre between the sheets. Preferably, the support provided in the centre is the largest
size of support and the supports provided at the corners are the smallest in size.

The base sheet is preferably provided with regions that are relieved of material to provide
access points from below the pallet. Preferably, two to four rectangular areas are relieved
of material. However, any suitable number of access points may be provided in the pallet,
being formed through the base sheet and/or by the spacing between adjacent supports provided
between the sheets of the pallet.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the components of the pallet are secured
together by means of adhesive only. A varnish may be applied to the top sheet, base sheet
and/or supports to impart water resistance.

Additionally, at least one further sheet, for example a cross ply board, may be laminated to
the top and/or base sheet to increase the strength of the pallet.

Preferably, the fluting of the additional sheet lies at 90 degrees to the direction of
fluting on the sheet to which it is applied.

A fourth aspect of the present invention provides a method of manufacturing a corrugated
cardboard pallet comprising the steps of passing a top sheet along a

conveyor, feeding at least one connecting member on to the top sheet and securing a base
sheet to the connecting member.

Preferably, an adhesive is applied to the connecting member prior to feeding it on to the
top sheet. Preferably, the connecting member is moveable between a flattened and erect state
and is applied to the top sheet in its flattened state.

Generally, a plurality of connecting members will be fed onto different locations on the top
sheet. Preferably, the different connecting members are fed from hoppers.

For a better understanding of the present invention and to show more clearly how it may be
carried into effect reference will now be made, by way of example only, to the accompanying
drawings in which: Figure 1 is a plan view of a blank for a double-blind box according to
one embodiment of the present invention; Figure 2 is a perspective view of an erect
double-blind box according to the present invention assembled from the blank shown in Figure
1; Figure 3 is a perspective view of a double-blind box shown in Figure 2, shown in its
collapsed form; Figure 4 is a plan view of a top part for a pallet according to one
embodiment of the present invention; Figure 5 is a plan view of the base part for a pallet
according to one embodiment of the present invention; Figure 6 is a perspective view of an
assembled pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention utilising the parts
shown in Figures 1 to 3,4 and 5;

Figure 7 is a view of the underside of the top part of the pallet showing the location of
the double-blind boxes; Figure 8 is a schematic plan view of an apparatus for the assembly
of a pallet according to one embodiment of the present invention; and Figure 9 is a
schematic perspective view of the apparatus shown in Figure 8 illustrating the feed of one
type of double-blind box from a hopper.

Referring to Figure 1 of the accompanying drawings, a plan view of a blank 2 for the
construction of a double-blind box for forming a support for use in a pallet according to
one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The blank is cut from a sheet of
corrugated cardboard and creases are inserted into the blank to provide fold lines,
represented by broken lines in Figure 1. Heavy dotted lines denote reverse fold lines. The
blank has two main body forming panels 18,20 connected by a middle section 19. The two main
body forming panels 18,20 are provided with end sections 17,21 respectively opposite said
middle section 19. Each main body panel has side flaps 11,22, 14,25 extending from each side
thereof, each side flap having an indent I. One end of each flap is straight and the other
opposing end nearest the indent is oblique. Each oblique end is provided with a tab 12,23,
15,26. The middle section 19 is also provided with side flaps 13,24, one end being straight
and the other being oblique. Similar side flaps 16,27 are provided extending from one end
section 21 but the opposing end section 17 is free from flaps.

The blank may be assembled to form a support 10 for a pallet, the support comprising two
substantially parallel opposing main body panels (18,20) and two pairs of opposing side
walls (X, Y) wherein each of one pair of the opposing side walls (Y) are formed from two
interconnecting parts (11,14 and 22,25) to enable the

support to be moveable from a collapsed state to an erect state, as shown in Figures 2 and
3.

To form the box 10, side flaps 11, 22 are folded flat on to the main body forming panel 18
and the tabs 12,23 are folded back to lie against the side flaps.

Glue is then applied to the tabs 12,23. The side flaps 12,24 are then folded against the
middle section 19. The main body forming panel 18 is then folded against the middle section
19 so that the tabs 12,23 adhere to their adjacent side flap 23,24.

Side flaps 14,25 are then folded on to the other main body forming panel 20 and the tabs
15,26 are folded back to lie against the side flaps 14,25. Glue is then applied to these
tabs and the side flaps 16,27 are folded flat against the end section 21. The end section 21
is now folded against the main body forming panel 20 so that the side flaps 16,27 adhere to
their adjacent tab 15,26 respectively. Finally, glue is applied to the opposing end section
17 which is placed over to stick to the outer surface of the other end section 21 to form an
assembled box 10, as shown in Figure 2. The construction of the box from a blank may be
achieved using multi-point machine gluers at high speed.

As mentioned above, the construction of the box 10 is such that it may be provided in a
collapsed form (Figure 3) or an erect form (Figure 2). Assembly of the box into its
collapsed form requires the side flaps 11, 14,22, 25 of the main body forming panels to be
pressed inwardly such that they lie against their respective panel.

Pushing inwardly the outer surface of the collapsed box, in particular the middle section 19
and end section 17, forces the side flaps away from their panel and the flaps lock together
by means of the indent I. This forms a double blind box that is extremely difficult to
re-collapse.

It has been found that the provision of fluting in the longitudinal direction C, shown in
Figure 1, provides for a much stronger box thus enabling the box to support greater weights.
This is opposite to the direction of fluting provided in conventional corrugated cardboard
boxes.

The direction of fluting and the provision of two blind ends in the box results in the
erected box being inherently strong. Prior hereto one end of a box would be openable to
enable items to be placed within the box. The box according to the present invention may be
used as a support, for example acting as a display shelf to support goods that are for sale.
The box has advantages over the prior art supports, such as its ability to be transported
and stored flat until required and its ability to be recycled. It is also made of cheap
materials.

A preferred application for a box according to the present invention is the construction of
a pallet wherein a plurality of boxes are adhered to a top and bottom sheet to provide a
pallet that is moveable from a collapsed to an erect state. Any required size of pallet may
be provided and the larger the pallet, generally the more boxes that will be used in its
construction.

Figures 4 to 7 of the accompanying drawings illustrate one pallet according to the present
invention. This embodiment is made from eleven single sheets of corrugated cardboard, which
are stamped out as shown in Figure 1, Figure 4 and Figure 5. A solid rectangular sheet 28 is
provided to form the top of the pallet and a further rectangular sheet 29 of substantially
the same size is provided for forming the base of the pallet, this sheet having two
rectangular sections 40,42 that are relieved of material.

Nine boxes 30-38 according to the present invention are glued in their collapsed form to the
underside of the top sheet 28, as shown in Figure 7. This figure details the location of the
nine double blind boxes that create the compressive strength of the pallet. In the
embodiment shown, there are four different sizes of box for each pallet. A smallest size of
box 30,32, 36,38 is placed at each comer of the sheet. A largest box 34 is placed in the
centre of the pallet. Another size of box 31,37 is positioned centrally along two opposing
faces of the pallet between the corner boxes and yet a further size of box 33,35 is placed
centrally along the other two opposing faces of the pallet. Glue is then applied to the
panel 20 of the boxes and the bottom sheet 29 of the pallet is then stuck onto the flattened
boxes.

It is to be appreciated that any number of boxes may be used to form the pallet. The boxes
may be of an identical size of may be different size.

The pallet may be erected by striking an edge of the pallet on the floor, or by way of
machine, causing each of the boxes to move into their erect form thereby popping the pallet
into its extended state. Figure 6 of the accompanying drawings illustrates the pallet in its
extended state.

The orientation of the fluting on the top sheet may be any direction but the orientation of
the fluting with respect of the boxes is important to provide overall compressive strength
of the pallet. The positioning of the boxes is such as to provide access for a mechanical
forklift along all four edges of the pallet. The boxes are also positioned so that they will
always be in the correct position to bear on standard warehouse racking systems. The
mechanical handling forks can be introduced at A or B on either edge of the pallet, as
illustrated in Figure 6. If a pallet truck is used for

handling, then the wheels roll over the pallet base 29 and then sit against the floor as the
pallet is elevated for moving.

An additional sheet (not shown), for example of cross ply board, may be secured to the top
and/or base sheet to increase the strength of the pallet. The fluting of the additional
sheet is preferably transverse to the direction of fluting on the sheet to which it is
applied.

Figures 8 and 9 of the accompanying drawings illustrate one embodiment of an apparatus for
the automatic construction of pallets according to the present invention. In the embodiment
shown, a pallet is manufactured from eleven pieces of corrugated cardboard that have been
stamped out. A top sheet 28 is fed onto a conveyor 100. The top sheet of the pallet may be
made from a plurality of walled corrugated cardboard, depending upon the strength
characteristics required. It is envisaged that a pallet will normally be used with loads of
less than 700Kg but by varying the grammage of the board used, and the type of fluting, it
can be made to withstand considerably more weight.

Nine collapsible boxes 10 are fed from hoppers 101-104 on to the top sheet.

The hoppers are located such that the boxes are positioned in their correct position on the
sheet 28. Each flattened box is passed over glue applicator wheel 112 housed within a glue
bath 110 and is applied to the underside of the top sheet by means of an applicator wheel
114. A bottom sheet 29 is then fed onto the top of the boxes 10 from a sheet feeder 106 to
form a collapsed pallet. The bottom sheet is also of corrugated cardboard having access
slots cut into it so the assembled article can be mechanically handled by a pump truck.

The boxes 10 give the pallet its load bearing capability. The boxes are unique double blind
boxes with self-erecting ends, as described in Figures 2 and 3. When the sides of the box
are pressed inwardly, they form a rigid box that cannot be flattened again. The boxes also
have a degree of flexibility so that vibrating movement through them will have a dampened
action. No metal staples are used, just glue. When the pallet is un-erected in flat form,
the preferred embodiment is only about 25mm thick.

In contrast, when the edges are struck on a surface, or pushed together, the pallet pops
into a rigid 100mm high pallet. The pallet may be machine erected, as in conventional
automated palletising systems, or may be easily hand erected in one motion by striking one
edge on the floor.

The absence of any metal mechanical fastenings means that the pallet cannot damage or
contaminate any product or goods placed therein. Its reduced height vis-a- vis the
conventional type of pallet means that extra product layers may be gained for transport. The
cardboard may also be treated with varnish or other suitable means to make it water
resistant and may be printed with descriptors or other decoration, such as in for use in a
shop display merchandising unit.

The provision of pallets made from corrugated cardboard that are moveable between a
collapsed and erect form overcomes many of the difficulties associated with the prior art
type of pallets. The pallet may be stored in its flat form, thus potentially giving a 600%
saving on storage space over the conventional pallet systems. Transportation prior to use
can also be done with the pallet in its flattened form, meaning that fewer vehicles are
needed. For example, it is envisaged that 4000 of the pallets according to the present
invention will be able to be transported by a single vehicle whereas 11 vehicles would be
required to transport the same number of

conventional wooden pallets. Thus, a pallet according to the present invention has clear
economical and environmental benefits. Furthermore, once erected, a pallet according to the
present invention may only be about 100mm high, being almost half the height of a standard
wooden pallet but tall enough to enable handling by all standard mechanical means. The
pallet according to the present invention is designed for single trip use. Whilst the pallet
is robust enough to be mechanically handled and transported several times, it is envisaged
that the pallet will be compacted after use and recycled. In this respect, the pallet is
100% recyclable. This saves on storage space and costly return transport. Furthermore, the
pallet is far cheaper to make than other types of wooden pallet currently in existence,
minimising the cost to the ultimate consumer.

On average, a pallet according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention weighs
about 1-3 Kg. In contrast, a conventional wooden pallet weighs between 25-50Kg. Thus, the
present pallet can be manually handled without any worry of health and safety weight
constraints. Its lightness also assists in the prevention of product damage when the pallet
is used in multi-stacked units. It is designed for two-way or four-way entry and can be
handled by a manual pallet pump truck or various mechnical forklift trucks without
modification. The pallet is also designed so that it can be placed safely in the majority of
racking systems.

A further benefit provided by a pallet according to the present invention is that its basic
constructional design can be used to provide any size of pallet required. By varying the
grade of corrugated cardboard used, the box or pallet can be made to withstand varying dead
loads up to several tons.

Additionally, the provision of a pallet that is intended for a single use reduces the risk
of any contamination of the product from the pallet. Wooden pallets require fumigation
against wood boring insects. The single use aspect of the pallet also reduces incidental
costs associated with the provision of manpower to control the pallets, clean the pallets
and store and unload the pallets.


















Title:
A TRACTION DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
European Patent EP0471735
Kind Code:
B1

Abstract:
Abstract not available for EP0471735
Abstract of corresponding document: WO9013279
A traction device for relieving back pain has a flexible strip (1) which is held around a
person's waist by means of a belt (2). Two adjustable straps (3) are attached at one end to
the belt (2) and are provided with stirrup loops (12) at their opposite ends. The stirrup
loops (12) fit around the person's feet and the person can self-apply a traction force to
his spinal column by extending his knees.

Inventors:
Myers, Harold (1, Egerton Grove Walkden, GB-Worsley, Manchester, M28 5LH, GB)
Whigham, Simon (14 Barnmeadow Crescent Rishton, GB-Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 4PF, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
EP19900907295
Publication Date:
08/02/1995
Filing Date:
05/08/1990
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Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Myers, Harold (1 Egerton Grove Walkden, Worsley, Manchester, M28 5LH, GB)
International Classes:
(IPC1-7): A61H1/02
Foreign References:
CH150956A
DE1491184A
2475003 Body manipulation apparatus
4641637 Traction device
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leach, John Nigel (FORRESTER & BOEHMERT Franz-Joseph-Strasse 38, München, 80801, DE)
Claims:
1. A traction device for achieving the relief of back pain comprising a body part (1)
adapted to be secured around a person's waist and an elongate adjustable length traction
means (3) connected at one end to the body part (1) and at its other end further connected
to supports (12) adapted to engage the person's feet to apply traction to the person's back
and posterior pelvic rotation when the person's legs are straightened from a flexed
position, characterised in that the traction means (3) comprises two elongate flexible
traction parts, each connected at one of their ends to one side of the body part which side
may be disposed behind the person when said person is lying in a prone position, and each of
their other ends having a support (12) adapted to engage a respective one of the person's
feet and flexibly connected by a respective traction part (3) to the body part (1), said
traction parts (3) each having adjustment means (9) for adjusting the length of the traction
parts, the adjustment means (9) being such that the length of each traction part (3) between
the body part (1) and the support (12) is fixed when the length of the traction part (3) has
been adjusted, so that when the person's knees are extended from a flexed position to
straighten the person's legs, traction may be applied in the form of a cephalic-caudal force
which acts to provide a distraction of the segments of the lumber vertebrae and produce a
posterior rotation of the pelvis.

2. A device according to Claim 1 wherein the body part (1) is adapted to be attached to a
belt (2) which can be secured around the person's waist and the body part (1) engages the
belt (2) such that a part of the belt is free of the body part whereby the body part is
arranged to extend only partially around the person's body and said two elongate flexible
traction parts are each connected at their one ends to said part of the belt which is free
of the body part (1).

3. A device according to claim 2 wherein said body part (1) is of greater width than the
belt (2).

4. A device according to claim 2 or claim 3 wherein the belt (2) is attached to the body
part (1) by means of retaining strips or loops (4).

5. A device according to any one of claims 2 to 4 wherein the body part (1) comprises a
padded flexible strip.

6. A device according to any one of the preceding claims wherein each support (12) comprises
a single stirrup loop.

7. A device according to any one of the preceding claims wherein each traction part (3)
comprises at least two inextensible portions (7, 8) connected end to end by a buckle (9),
whereby the length of each traction part (3) is adjustable.

8. A device according to any one of the preceding claims wherein said traction parts (3) are
connected to the body part (1) by way of coupling means (11) which permit sideways
adjustment relative to said body part (1).

9. A device according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the said traction parts (3)
are connected to the body part (1) with a common said coupling means (11).

10. A device according to claim 2 or any one of claims 3 to 9 when dependent on claim 2
wherein said traction parts (3) are connected at their one ends to said body part (1) by a
coupling means comprising a loop (11) which encircles said belt part.

Description:

This invention relates to a traction device for achieving the relief of back pain by
providing distraction of the segments of the lumber vertebrae.

Apparatus for this purpose is known, however, such apparatus is commonly relatively large
and complicated and may require expert assistance for proper use thereof.

Accordingly it is usual for a patient to attend a specialist clinic or the like for
treatment.

US-4,641,637 discloses a spinal traction applying apparatus comprising a frame having a seat
movable towards and away from a cross-bar with which the feet of a supine user may push to
tension a cord which is anchored to the cross-bar at one end and at its other end to a lower
body encompassing belt.

US-2,475,003 discloses a body manipulating apparatus in which a motor driven crank applies
an oscillatory anterior posterior movement to the sacrum relative to the ilium bone of a
user.

The apparatus in both of the above mentioned US specifications is relatively complicated and
requires the use of rigid frames. In addition, the forces applied to the body are not
appropriate for the desired relief of back pain.

An object of the present invention is to provide a simple traction device with which it is
possible for a person to self administer treatment with the minimum of assistance.

According to the present invention, therefore, there is provided a traction device for
achieving the relief of back pain comprising a body part adapted to be secured around a
person's waist and an elongate adjustable length traction means connected at one end to the
body part and at its other end further connected to supports adapted to engage the person's
feet to apply traction to the person's back and posterior pelvic rotation when the person's
legs are straightened from a flexed position, characterised in that the traction means
comprises two elongate flexible traction parts, each connected at one of their ends to one
side of the body part which side may be disposed behind the person when said person is lying
in a prone position, and each of their other ends having a support adapted to engage a
respective one of the person's feet and flexibly connected by a respective traction part to
the body part, said traction parts each having adjustment means for adjusting the length of
the traction parts, the adjustment means being such that the length of each traction part
between the body part and the support is fixed when the length of the traction part has been
adjusted, so that when the person's knees are extended from a flexed position to straighten
the person's legs, traction may be applied in the form of a cephalic-caudal force which acts
to provide a distraction of the segments of the lumber vertebrae and produce a posterior
rotation of the pelvis.

With this arrangement it is possible for back pain to be abolished or relieved by a person
in a particularly simple and convenient manner without the necessity for specialised
treatment or appreciable expert assistance. Large complicated apparatus is not required and
indeed the device may be of a size and shape suited to ready carrying by hand or even suited
to stowing in a handbag.

Preferably the body part is adapted to be attached to a belt which can be secured around the
person's waist and the body part engages the belt such that a part of the belt is free of
the body part whereby the body part is arranged to extend only partially around the person's
body and said two elongate flexible traction parts are each connected at their one ends to
said part of the belt which is free of the body part.

The body part may be of greater width than the belt. Said body part may be adapted to engage
the belt by way of a plurality of retainers and may be arranged to engage the belt in such a
manner that a part of the belt is exposed or free of the body part, i.e. such that the body
part is arranged to extend only partially around the person's body. Suitably the body part
may comprise a flexible strip formed e.g. from a padded or resilient material or the like.

Said traction parts may be connected to the body part by way of coupling means and said
coupling means may be arranged to engage the above mentioned exposed belt part. Said
coupling means may comprise a loop or other device which permits sideways movement relative
to the body part, e.g. sliding movement along the said exposed belt part for positional
adjustment purposes.

Each traction part may be connected to a separate said coupling means or the two traction
parts may be interconnected with the same coupling means.

Said support parts may be formed integrally with the traction parts. These loops may
incorporate padding or the like for comfort.

Said traction parts may be formed as single lengths or alternatively may be formed as two
lengths which are movably interconnected for length adjustment purposes. Thus, for example,
the traction parts may each be formed from two straps, e.g. of webbing material joined by a
buckle or other similar adjustment device. It may even be possible to form the two traction
parts wholly or partially integrally, e.g. by using a single strap (or a branded strap) or
the like.

The invention will now be described further by way of example only and with reference to the
accompanying drawing, the single figure of which shows a perspective view of one form of
traction device according to the invention.

The traction device shown in the drawing comprises a body harness part 1, a belt 2 which is
arranged to secure the body harness part around a person's waist and two traction parts 3
which are attached to and are suspended from the belt 2.

The body harness part 1 comprises an elongate foamed plastics padding structure which is
completely enclosed by a cover of any suitable material. For example, the structure may be
enclosed within a stitched-up fabric cover. Four retaining strips or loops 4 are attached to
one side of the harness cover in equispaced positions along the length thereof. The strips 4
are secured to the harness cover by stitching at opposite ends. The outer retaining strips
4, i.e. those closest to the ends of the body harness part 1, are attached to the harness
cover more securely than the other strips 4 by, for example, extra stitching or other
suitable means. This is required in order to provide adequate strength when the device is in
use as described below.

The belt 2 comprises an elongate strip of webbing material having a buckle 5 attached to one
end for selective engagement along the length of the belt. The other end 6 of the belt 2 is
shaped such that it is easily locatable in the buckle 5.

The belt 2 is of greater length than the body harness part 1 for a reason which will become
apparent later and is suitably dimensioned to fit through the retaining strips 4.

Each traction part 3 comprises two webbing strips 7, 8 connected end to end by a buckle 9
and a retaining strap 10. The free end portions of respective first webbing strips 7 of the
two traction parts are stitched together and are integrated with a coupling loop 11. The
coupling loop comprises a loop formed by stitching the webbing material at the end region of
one of the traction part strips 7 and is enclosed within a tube of a suitable soft,
protective fabrics material.

The free end portion of a respective secured said webbing strip 8 of each traction part 3 is
integrated with a foot stirrup 12 which comprises a loop formed by stitching the webbing
material of the strip. The loop is twisted in the manner of a Möbius strip and is enclosed
within a tube of soft, protective fabrics material with a strip of foam plastics padding
material incorporated within the tube for increased comfort.

The buckle 9 of each traction part is of the 'ladder lock' type which is securely fixed to
the first webbing strip 7 (by stitching of the end of such strip), the adjacent end portion
of the second strip 8 being looped through the buckle 9. The free end of the strip 8 is held
captive by the retainer strap 10.

In use the belt 2 is fed through the retainers 4 of the body harness part 1 and through the
coupling loop 11. The buckle 5 on the body belt 2 is located between two of the retainers 4
on the body harness part 1 and is attached to the free end 6 of the belt 2 in such a
position that the aperture defined by the belt 2 and body part 1 is large enough to pass
over the head, shoulders and trunk of a person to be treated.

The second webbing strips 8 of the traction parts 3 are engaged with the respective buckles
9.

The device so assembled is placed over the person's head and is pulled down over his head,
shoulders and trunk to the midriff region.

The body harness part 1 is tightened around his waist, by appropriate adjustment of the belt
2 with the buckle 5, in the region about the person's iliac crests. The person then lies in
a prone position on a suitable flat surface and with the assistance of a second person the
foot stirrups 12 are placed around his feet with his knees in the semi-flexed position. The
second person then adjusts the buckles 9 on the traction parts 3 to alter the lengths of the
traction parts. This is achieved by pulling the second webbing strips 8 either further
through the buckles 9 or by releasing the strips 8. This adjustment has the effect of
altering the amount of traction that will be applied to the lower back, when the person
extends his kneed fully (i.e. when he straightens out his legs).

The person undergoing treatment can assist the second person by advising him as to when the
pain is relieved. The traction applied is in the form of a cephalic-caudal force which acts
to provide a distraction of the segments of the lumbar vertebrae. The person is thus able to
control the traction applied by extension of his knees as a result of the bilateral and
simultaneous contractions of his quadriceps muscles. Furthermore, the person is able to
control the time for which the force is applied himself in accordance with the paid felt,
and is guided by the proprioceptive receptors in the segments thus distracted. The device
therefore gives the possibility of careful control of force application on the basis of
'feed back control'.

Removal of the device is simply a matter of the person flexing his knees, removing his feet
from the foot stirrups 12 and then removing the body belt 2 and body part 1.

With this embodiment it is possible for back pain to be abolished or relieved in a simple
and convenient manner without the necessity for specialised treatment, although of course it
is desirable for an expert opinion to be obtained first as to the nature of the
musculoskeletal problem.


















Title:
Spiral winder and a method of spirally winding
Document Type and Number:
United States Patent Application 20040118960
Kind Code:
A1

Abstract:
A spiral winder is disclosed adapted to implement a new method for spirally winding a
product of indefinite length, such as pipe, into a coil for packaging and/or transport to an
end user. The spiral winder consists primarily of a rotor assembly (1) supporting a caster
(7) such that product fed along the rotary axis to the caster (7) as the rotor (1) rotates
is guided to the outlet from the caster to be deposited onto a pallet in the form of a
planar spiral. By vertically indexing the pallet and reversing a radial motion of the caster
outlet layers of planar spirals can be produced as a self supporting coil without the
necessity of any internal mandrel or external retaining drum. By careful control of the
stresses in the product as it passes to and from the caster (7) fragile product such as thin
walled heat exchanger pipe can be coiled rapidly.

Representative Image:
Spiral winder and a method of spirally winding
Inventors:
Smith, Martin James (Dorset, GB)
Strong, Franklin George (Blackburn, GB)
Parkinson, Duncan (Rishton, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
10/250874
Publication Date:
06/24/2004
Filing Date:
01/14/2004
View Patent Images:
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(Free!)
Export Citation:
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Primary Class:
242/361
International Classes:
(IPC1-7): B21C047/10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fay Sharpe Fagan Minnich & McKee,Jay F Moldovanyi (7th Floor, Cleveland, OH, 44114-2518, US)
Claims:
1. A spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising a rotor assembly supported
to rotate about a vertical axis and having a caster adapted to receive the pipe into an
inlet and to support and guide the pipe to an outlet and a traverse assembly to support said
outlet to travel in a spiral orbit in a spiral plane about the axis whereby the pipe can be
inducted into a caster inlet and induced to travel through the caster to the outlet where it
can be discharged in the spiral plane onto a platform in a planar spiral pattern.

2. A spiral winder according to claim 1 wherein the caster comprises a helical duct and the
inlet is disposed on the axis of rotation such that the pipe is guided into the inlet along
the axis of rotation.

3. A spiral winder according to claim 2 wherein the duct is a continuous tube of resilient
material.

4. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the traverse
assembly is rotatably supported by a hollow main shaft and the caster extends helically down
from the axis at the top of the main shaft.

5. A spiral winder according to claim 4 wherein the traverse assembly comprises a track
extending radially from the main shaft to guide a carriage for carrying the caster outlet
radially in and out.

6. A spiral winder according to claim 6 wherein the traverse assembly provides a carriage
propulsion mechanism whereby the radial speed and direction of travel of the carriage can be
controlled.

7. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims having a support assembly to
support the rotor and the platform whereby the distance between the spiral plane and the
platform can be increased so that when a first layer of pipe has been laid on the platform
and the caster outlet reaches the inner or outer locus of the spiral a next layer of the
pipe can be laid onto a former layer of the pipe.

8. A spiral winder according to claim 7 wherein the spiral plane is kept substantially
stationary and the platform is moved away from the spiral plane.

9. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the rotor assembly
includes a clamp roller assembly comprising a clamp roller rotatable about a roller axis and
mounted so that the roller axis extends radially from and is rotatable around the main axis
above the spiral plane whereby the periphery of the roller can bear on the pipe as it is
laid on the platform.

10. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller has a conic rolling surface
configured so that the roller surface speed at any given radius from the main shaft axis
matches the roller traverse speed at which the axis of the roller at that radius traverses
the platform at that radius from the main shaft axis.

11. A spiral winder according to claim 9 or claim 10 wherein the roller surface is
resiliently deformable.

12. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 11 wherein the roller is coupled to
a rotary drive whereby the roller is forced to rotate about the roller axis.

13. A spiral winder according to claim 12 wherein the rotary drive is adapted to enable the
roller peripheral speed to be controlled to a speed faster, slower or the same as the
traverse speed during winding.

14. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 13 wherein the roller assembly is
mounted onto the main shaft to be vertically displaceable with respect to the main shaft.

15. A spiral winder according to claim 14 wherein the roller assembly is mounted via a
resilient suspension.

16. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 14 wherein the roller assembly
includes a peripheral retaining pulley supported to engage an outermost loop of a pipe
winding as the distance of the platform from the spiral plane is increased.

17. A spiral winder according to any one of claims 9 to 16 wherein five angularly spaced
roller assemblies are mounted for rotation about the main shaft.

18. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the pipe is fed to
the caster by a capstan.

19. A spiral winder according to claim 18 wherein the capstan is driven by a motor at a
speed responsive to the speed of the caster outlet.

20. A spiral winder according to claim 19 having an accumulator assembly upstream of the
capstan which allows slack to be taken up or to be generated by the capstan so that the
capstan speed can be controlled in response to control signals from the control unit to
increase or decrease tension or compression in the pipe within the caster.

21. A spiral winder according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the support
assembly includes a lift assembly to engage and lift the platform towards and away from the
spiral plane.

22. A spiral winder according to claim 21 wherein a transfer table assembly is provided to
transfer an unloaded platform to the lift assembly and simultaneously to transfer a platform
away from the lift assembly.

23. A method of spirally winding a pipe comprising the steps of: introducing a pipe into an
inlet of a caster rotating on the main axis of a rotor of a spiral winder orbiting the
outlet of the caster around the main axis in a spiral pattern lying in a spiral plane in
order to discharge the pipe onto a platform in the spiral pattern.

24. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 comprising the step of
pressing on the pipe laid in the spiral pattern to retain the spiral pattern of the pipe as
laid.

25. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 24 comprising the step of
pressing on the laid pipe by means of a roller assembly which comprises at least one roller
on a roller axis rotated about the main axis at a speed similar to that of the caster
outlet.

26. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 25 comprising the step of
controlling the force with which the roller assembly presses on the laid pipe.

27. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 25 or 26 comprising the step of
driving the rotation of the roller about the roller axis at a speed controlled to adjust the
amount of tension or compression in the laid pipe.

28. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 27 comprising
the step of increasing the distance between the platform and the spiral plane when the orbit
of the caster outlet reaches an inner annular locus or an outer annular locus and reversing
the direction of radial travel of the caster outlet to lay an overlying spiral layer of pipe
onto the underlying layer of pipe.

29. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 28 comprising the step of keeping
the spiral plane stationary and moving the platform to increase the distance between the
spiral plane and the platform.

30. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to one of claims 28 or 29 wherein the step
of increasing the distance comprises the steps of first increasing the distance by a large
amount to exceed a desired gap between the spiral plane and the platform and then reducing
the distance to set the desired gap between the spiral plane and the platform.

31. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 24 to 26 comprising
the steps of laying a last loop of pipe at the outer locus of one spiral layer, laying a
climbing loop of pipe as the platform is moved away from the spiral plane, and laying an
outermost loop of an overlying layer of pipe, and engaging and holding the climbing loop of
pipe as the outermost loop is laid in the overlying layer.

32. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 31 comprising the step of
applying tension to the climbing loop of pipe so that the climbing loop binds against the
outermost loops of the underlying and overlying layers.

33. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 32 comprising
the step of feeding the pipe to the inlet of the caster by means of a capstan assembly speed
controlled to control the tensile and compressive forces on the pipe entering the caster
inlet.

34. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 33 comprising
the steps of cutting the pipe, winding the cut end of the pipe into the coil, laying a
separator onto the coil to act as a new platform and winding another coil onto the
separator.

35. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to any one of claims 23 to 33 comprising
the steps of: cutting the pipe, completing winding the coil, displacing the coil bearing
platform from beneath the rotor assembly and moving a new platform into place beneath the
rotor assembly ready for a new coil to be wound.

36. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 35 comprising the step of
providing the platform by means of a pallet.

37. Apparatus for manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising: apparatus for
forming a pipe of indefinite length, apparatus for transporting the pipe in the direction of
its length, apparatus for annealing the pipe as it is transported, a spiral winder for
spirally winding the annealed pipe into a coil.

38. A process for manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising the steps of:
forming a pipe of indefinite length while the pipe is transported in the direction of its
length, annealing the pipe as it is transported, coiling the annealed pipe in a spiral
winding apparatus directly onto a pallet.

Description:
[0001] The present invention is concerned with a new spiral winder apparatus particularly
adapted to implement a new method of spirally winding a pipe like product into a coil for
transport elsewhere. The spiral winder and method are particularly useful in the production
of coils of pipe.

[0002] This description of the invention and prior art will commonly refer to the product as
pipe because the spiral winder was invented particularly for the purpose of winding seamed
thin gauge aluminium or copper pipe. However, for most purposes pipe should be understood to
mean any elongate product of indefinite length which it is convenient to package as a coil;
for example, pipe of any material including seamless pipe, cable, rope or wire.

[0003] Conventionally pipe has been formed by rolling a strip of metal such as aluminium or
copper until the long edges meet. The edges are then welded or soldered together and the
pipe may then be subject to various finishing processes such as polishing. After quality
control sampling and testing the pipe is sent to a coiler where it is wound to form a coil.
Conventional coilers wind the pipe helically onto a mandrel, thus the lead end of the pipe
is fed into a notch in the mandrel to trap it, the cylindrical mandrel is rotated at a speed
corresponding to the feed rate of the pipe and a traveller simultaneously displaces the feed
pipe along the axis of the mandrel at a rate such that each loop of the pipe lies closely
adjacent the former loop forming an annular layer. The traveller reverses at the axial end
of the pipe to lay another annular layer on top of the preceding layer. The conventional
coiling process is subject to a number of problems including starting the coil on the
mandrel by feeding the pipe into the notch which results in waste pipe.

[0004] When the coil is completed the mandrel is reduced and removed from the bore of the
coil. The coil so formed is then transported onto a pallet or other platform for packaging,
or in the case of pipe, annealing, required due to the work hardening which takes place as
the pipe formed, rolled and coiled. Because the mandrel is required there is a significant
delay and labour in discharging a completed coil from the coiler to a pallet. Consequently
pipe is either wasted or expensive accumulators are required to accommodate the delay as the
pipe production process continues upstream. Helically coiling the pipe has the effect of
amplifying any faults in the loops of coil laid in underlying layers as the layers are laid
on top. In extreme cases this effect may result in damage to the pipe, particularly during
subsequent process steps such as annealing or at end use as the pipe is unwound from the
coil.

[0005] Annealing takes place by passing the coil of pipe through an elongate oven for a
prolonged period. Heating occasionally results in spot welding or soldering of one loop of
pipe where it touches another loop. This can cause serious problems when the coil is unwound
and result in waste. The annealing oven has a very large heat capacity and it is therefore
not economic to allow it to cool between production runs. Conversely, there is a significant
unwanted overhead and ecological disadvantage to providing power to keep the annealing oven
hot at all times.

[0006] It is conventional to unwind helically wound coils from the core, along the axis, by
pulling the pipe axially. This tends to result in damage as a consequence of binding which
may occur between the layer of pipe being unwound and the overlying layer.

[0007] The spiral winder of the present invention and the process of spiral winding aim to
alleviate the technical problems exhibited by the prior art coiling apparatus and method and
to provide apparatus for manufacturing spirally wound pipe and a method of manufacturing a
spirally wound coil of pipe.

[0008] Accordingly there is provided a spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe
comprising

[0009] a spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising

[0010] a rotor assembly supported to rotate about a vertical axis and having a caster
adapted to receive the pipe into an inlet and to support and guide the pipe to an outlet and
a traverse assembly to support said outlet to travel in a spiral orbit in a spiral plane
about the axis whereby the pipe can be inducted into a caster inlet and induced to travel
through the caster to the outlet where it can be discharged in the spiral plane onto a
platform in a planar spiral pattern.

[0011] It should be appreciated that in the context of the invention the term “spiral”
refers to a spiral lying in a plane and not a helix, i.e., a coil lying in a hollow
cylindrical surface. The term “spiral orbit” refers to the spiral path followed by the
caster outlet around the main axis, i.e., the path from any given starting point until the
outlet returns to the starting point.

[0012] In practice the caster will usually be a helical duct having the inlet vertical and
on the axis of rotation of the rotor. The caster serves to guide the pipe from the inlet to
the outlet and also to protect the pipe from damage. Bearing in mind that one particular
application of the spiral winder is to coil thin walled pipe, such pipe is vulnerable to
damage from buckling and kinking. The duct is preferably provided by a continuous tube of a
resilient material able to support its own weight and that of the pipe passing through it.
However, the caster may be provided by an articulated tube or an open channel. In some
instances the caster may comprise little more than supports to support the pipe at
distributed locations between the caster inlet and outlet to prevent the pipe collapsing
under its own weight. Where the caster comprises a chute, the chute may fan out to the
outlet.

[0013] The radial motion of the caster outlet is preferably provided by a traverse assembly
of the rotor rotatably supported on a main shaft to support the outlet of the caster. The
traverse assembly includes a track extending radially from the main shaft to guide a
carriage for carrying the caster outlet radially in and out. A carriage propulsion mechanism
is provided whereby the radial speed and direction of travel of the carriage can be
controlled in response to signals from a control system. The control system will basically
control the carriage speed and direction in accordance with the speed of rotation of the
caster and the radial position of the carriage so that the carriage moves at one pitch per
rotation. However the carriage radial speed may be reduced to zero for one rotation at the
inner or outer locus of the spiral so that a climbing loop of pipe can be laid to start a
new overlying spiral layer.

[0014] A support assembly is provided to support the rotor and the platform whereby the
distance between the spiral plane and the platform can be increased so that when a first
layer of pipe has been laid on the platform and the caster outlet reaches the inner or outer
locus of the spiral a next layer of the pipe can be laid onto a former layer of the pipe.
Although it is possible to move either or both the rotor and the platform, it is preferable
to keep the rotor assembly and hence the spiral plane stationary and to move the platform
down away from the spiral plane. To achieve this a lift assembly is installed to extend
beneath the spiral plane. Preferably the lift assembly is a fork lift assembly so that the
platform can be provided by a conventional pallet. In practice it is preferable to initiate
the next overlying layer by first dropping the platform a height exceeding the depth of the
layer which encourages the pipe to climb and as the new layer begins to be established after
forming the climbing loop the platform can be slightly raised. The reason for this will
become more apparent from the comments below.

[0015] Pipe and like materials are somewhat resilient and so tend to try to recover towards
a straighter line than is required for tight spiral packing. It is important that each loop
of pipe is packed closely against an adjacent layer so that the finished coil occupies a
minimal volume, and the pipe cannot move and be damaged within the coil. To prevent the pipe
from moving once it is laid the rotor assembly may be provided with a clamp roller assembly
comprising a clamp roller rotatable about a roller axis and mounted so that the roller axis
extends radially from and is rotatable around the main axis above the spiral plane so that
the periphery of the roller can bear on the pipe as it is laid on the platform. A problem to
be addressed by the clamp rollers is to ensure that no compressive or tensile forces are
applied to the laid loops of pipe so the roller must rotate over the pipe on which it bears
at exactly the same speed as the roller axis rotates about the main axis. It might be
possible to achieve this by having a narrow roller traverse with the outlet of the caster,
however, this will only secure a single loop of pipe in one position. Several such
traversing rollers might be provided angularly spaced but this would still only secure one
loop of pipe in a spiral layer. An elongate roller supported to rotate around an axis
extending radially suffers the problem of mismatched roller surface speed. This might be
resolved by providing a plurality of freely rotating rollers each of a diameter
corresponding to one loop of pipe. However the preferred solution is to provide the roller
with a conic rolling surface configured so that the roller surface speed at any given radius
from the main shaft axis matches the roller traverse speed at which the axis of the roller
at that radius traverses the platform at that radius from the main shaft axis.

[0016] One benefit of making the roller conic is that the roller can be driven in rotation
about its axis. Normally the drive is controlled by the control system in response to the
position rotary and radial speed of the caster outlet so that the surface speed of the
roller exactly matches the speed at which the roller axis traverses the pipe and no force is
applied in the axial direction of the pipe. However, in some circumstances it may be
desirable for the rollers to apply small carefully controlled forces to the pipe by
implementing a small difference between the roller surface speed and the roller axis
traverse speed.

[0017] Particularly where fragile products such as thin gauge pipe are being coiled it is
preferable that the surface of the roller is provided by a resiliently deformable material
to disperse the vertical load of the roller pressing on the pipe. With the object of further
alleviating the risk of the weight of the roller assembly damaging the pipe, and to allow
the roller assembly to accommodate pipe of various diameter, the roller assembly may be
mounted onto the main shaft to be vertically displaceable with respect to the main shaft,
preferably by means of a resilient suspension. This arrangement explains why the
aforementioned motion of the platform is desirable as the initial large movement separates
the laid coils from the rollers sufficiently to allow a gap for the establishment of a new
layer before the platform is brought towards the spiral plane so that the new forming loops
of pipe are engaged by the roller.

[0018] A problem arises with the formation of the climbing loop at the outermost locus of
the coil caused by the tendency of the climbing loop to expand. As a consequence of this
tendency the climbing loop does not have adjacent inner loops of pipe to naturally bind
against and so tends to fall down the outside of the layers of the coil. A preferred
solution to this problem is to provide each roller assembly with a peripheral retaining
pulley supported to engage the outermost climbing loop of the pipe as the distance of the
platform from the spiral plane is increased. The pulley is a grooved wheel supported with
its axis inclined to the horizontal. The climbing loop of pipe engages in the groove of the
wheel and is supported at least until the first outer loop of the overlying pipe layer is
established.

[0019] To ensure that all the loops of a spiral layer are securely retained it is preferable
that five angularly spaced roller assemblies are provided.

[0020] It is important that the tension or compression in each spiral of pipe laid is
carefully controlled, usually this will require that little or no tension or compression is
present in the pipe as it is laid into the coil. Any tension or compression present in the
coil as it is laid is likely to result in the loop of pipe moving to relieve the tensile or
compressive forces. A preferred solution to this problem is to feed the pipe to the caster
inlet via a capstan assembly. The capstan assembly comprises an assembly of pulleys and or
belts of which at least some are motorised. The speed of the capstan is controlled via the
control system in response to the speed of the rotor assembly. Most of the time the speed of
the capstan is adjusted to correspond to the speed of the pipe laying from the caster head
so that there is minimal tension or compression in the pipe which would otherwise result in
an unwanted tendency for the laid pipe coils to contract or expand. However, it also allows
tension or compression to increased to desired levels when wanted. The capstan also serves
to turn the pipe into the caster inlet.

[0021] The speed at which pipe is delivered from upstream to the capstan is ordinarily
determined by the speed of the pipe producton line. Therefore provision must be made to
allow for speed changes at the capstan when the pipe tension or compression is to be varied.
This is preferably achieved using an accumulator deployed immediately upstream of the
between the capstan.

[0022] To allow for rapid exchange of platforms when a coil is completed, a transfer table
assembly is provided to transfer an unloaded platform to the lift assembly and
simultaneously to transfer a platform loaded with a coil away from the lift assembly.

[0023] According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of
spirally winding a pipe comprising the steps of:

[0024] inducting a pipe into a caster inlet

[0025] orbiting an outlet of the caster around the main axis in a spiral pattern lying in a
spiral plane in order to discharge the pipe onto a platform in the spiral pattern.

[0026] The method of spiral winding provides a further benefit in that when a coil nears
completion the pipe is simply cut to form a cut end, the cut end is wound into the coil so
that the coil is complete. The coil is then ready for transport to a packaging station where
protective packaging may be applied if desired or directly to storage or the customer on the
pallet. In practice it is also possible to stack several coils one on top of another using
the spiral winder by the simple expedient of laying a separator onto a completed coil so
that the coil and separator act as a new platform and winding another coil onto the
separator. This way self supporting stacks of several coils can be wound onto one pallet.

[0027] According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided apparatus for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising:

[0028] apparatus for forming a pipe of indefinite length,

[0029] apparatus for transporting the pipe in the direction of its length,

[0030] apparatus for annealing the pipe as it is transported,

[0031] a spiral winder for spirally winding the annealed pipe into a coil.

[0032] According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a process for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising the steps of:

[0033] forming a pipe of indefinite length while the pipe is transported in the direction of
its length,

[0034] annealing the pipe as it is transported,

[0035] coiling the annealed pipe in a spiral winding apparatus directly onto a pallet.

[0036] By virtue of the third and fourth aspects of the present invention the pipe can be
annealed before it is coiled so alleviating the problems with the coils of pipe welding or
soldering together exhibited by the prior art system.

[0037] Embodiments of the spiral winder, a method of spirally winding the pipe apparatus for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe and a process for manufacturing a spirally wound
coil of pipe will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the
accompanying illustrative drawings, wherein:

[0038] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a rotor assembly,

[0039] FIG. 2 is a plane view of the rotor assembly,

[0040] FIG. 3 is a sectional elevation through the rotor assembly

[0041] FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the rotor assembly

[0042] FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of the traverse assembly,

[0043] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the spiral winder from below and in front,

[0044] FIG. 7 is side elevation of the spiral winder

[0045] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a lift assembly from in front

[0046] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the lift assembly from the rear

[0047] FIG. 10 is an enlarged perspective view of a roller assembly,

[0048] FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of the roller assembly,

[0049] FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the roller assembly,

[0050] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a capstan

[0051] FIG. 14 is a side elevation of the capstan

[0052] FIG. 15 is side elevation of an accumulator,

[0053] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a transfer table assembly

[0054] FIG. 17 is a diagram illustrating apparatus for manufacturing a spirally wound coil
of pipe.

[0055] Referring to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a rotor 1 which can be seen in place within
the spiral winder shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 . The rotor 1 consists of a main shaft 2 supported
vertically within the support structure provided by a main frame 3 , a traverse assembly 4 ,
which includes a carriage 5 , five roller assemblies 6 and a caster 7 . The caster 7
comprises an elongate flexible duct provided in this case by a resiliently flexible tube.
The caster 7 might also be provided by means of an articulated tube or possibly other
devices able to support and guide a flexible pipe from its inlet 8 to a caster outlet 9 .
The inlet 8 to the caster consists of a port located coaxially in the top of the main shaft
2 . As can readily be seen in FIG. 3 , the main shaft is hollow so that the caster 7 can
pass from the inlet 8 down through the hollow core of the shaft and out through an aperture
2 a located beneath a bearing assembly of the shaft 2 . The caster then spirals helically
down to an outlet 9 which is engaged by the carriage 5 .

[0056] The traverse assembly 4 comprises an elongate rigid support member 10 by means of
which it is attached near the base of the main shaft to extend radially. A guide track 11 is
supported by the support member 10 and the carriage 5 is mounted onto the track 11 . The
track includes a motor drive sub-assembly comprising a reversible electric motor 12 coupled
to drive a worm drive whereby the carriage can be propelled radially along the track from an
inner radius to an outer radius.

[0057] In operation pipe P is fed into the inlet 8 of the caster and the rotor assembly is
rotated via a motor drive (not shown) in the direction of the arrow in FIG. 2
(anticlockwise). The inlet draws the pipe into the caster towards the outlet 9 . A control
system (not shown) controls the motion of the carriage 5 so that it travels at one pitch of
a spiral per revolution towards the inner or outer radius (shown ghosted in FIG. 2 ). A
platform (not shown), preferably a pallet, is supported via a lift assembly below the spiral
plane in which the caster outlet 9 rotates. Thus pipe P expelled from the caster falls to
the pallet in a spiral pattern.

[0058] The rotor 1 is supported in a support assembly provided by the main frame 3 which in
this example rests on the ground. The support assembly might also comprise the walls of a
pit. The main frame 3 also supports a lift assembly shown enlarged in FIGS. 8 and 9 . The
main frame supports the rotor 1 so that the spiral plane is in excess of 1.2 m above the
floor and in this case closer to two meters above the floor. A lift assembly 13 shown in
detail in FIGS. 8 and 9 is installed in a rear part of the main frame 3 . The lift assembly
13 provides a fork lift 14 which can be raised and lowered via a lift motor and drive system
15 controlled by a control unit (not shown) of the spiral winder to accurately lift a pallet
from the floor to a position underlying the rotor 1 so that pipe can be spirally laid onto
the pallet.

[0059] The lift assembly comprises a supporting frame 16 adapted to be fastened into the
main frame 3 of the spiral winder so that the forks of the fork lift 14 underlie the spiral
plane. The drive system 15 consists of a worm drive shaft 17 rotatably driven by an electric
lift motor 18 . The worm drive shaft engages a follower nut 19 mounted on the rear side of
the fork lift 14 and a position sensor (not shown) capable of determining the height of the
fork lift and communicating the height to the control unit. A pair of guide rails 20 are
provided on the front of the frame to guide the fork lift 14 .

[0060] The lift assembly is controlled during winding the pipe so that when the loop of pipe
being wound reaches a radially innermost or radially outermost position, the height of the
pallet is indexed down by slightly more than the diameter of the pipe P. Thus a climbing
loop of pipe is formed where the pipe climbs over the layer already laid. The direction of
travel is reversed at this time so that the pipe laid begins to spiral back over the layer
already laid.

[0061] It may here be noted that in some embodiments of the invention it may be more
convenient to adapt the apparatus so that the platform is kept stationary and toe rotor
displaced up and hence the spiral plane is moved away from the platform to achieve a similar
layering effect.

[0062] The five clamp roller assemblies 6 are provided to prevent the pipe trying to recover
from the spiral pattern in which it is laid to a less arcuate form. As shown in detail in
FIG. 10 each roller assembly 6 comprises a triangular roller support frame 21 having a
radially inner mounting flange 22 for mounting the roller assembly onto the main shaft 2 and
a roller suspension flange 23 .

[0063] The mounting flange 23 includes a box section defining an elongate suspension chamber
24 . A suspension rod 25 is slidably received into the chamber 24 and supports a helical
spring 26 at its base end. The helical spring joins the suspension rod 25 to a bearing rod
27 which projects through a closely fitting passage 28 in the roller suspension flange 23 .
A pair of mounting brackets 29 are bolted one above the other to the mounting flange 23 .
Each mounting bracket 29 is provided with opposing “U” sections along each vertical edge
adapted to slidably engage around a mounting rail 30 which is bolted to extend vertically up
the side of the main shaft 3 above an annular mounting flange 10 a formed on the elongate
support member 10 of the traverse assembly, and by means of which the traverse assembly is
attached to the main shaft 3 . Thus the roller assembly can slide up and down the mounting
rail 30 and is borne via the spring 26 on the mounting flange 10 a . This ensures that there
is a reasonable degree of give to the roller assembly to prevent the weight of the roller
damaging the pipe P. When mounted the roller mounting flange extends radially out from the
main shaft 3 .

[0064] The roller 31 is of conic shape and splined onto a roller axle 32 with the narrow end
mounted radially innermost. The roller axle 32 is mounted in bearings supported by brackets
33 which are bolted to depend from the roller suspension flange 23 . It will be noted that
the roller axle 32 is inclined upwards from the main shaft so that the lowermost surface of
the roller 31 extends horizontally where it bears against the laid pipe P.

[0065] The roller surface is covered by a soft resilient foam 33 able to readily conform to
the shape of the pipe and so disperse the weight of the roller assembly and avoid damage to
the pipe while preventing any radial movement of the pipe.

[0066] The roller axle 32 is coupled to be driven in rotation by a flexible telescopic
transmission comprising; a first universal joint 34 , a telescopic drive shaft 35 , a second
universal joint 36 and a spur gear shaft 37 . The transmission couples the roller axle to a
sun drive gear 38 provided axially underneath the main shaft 3 . The sun drive gear 38 is
coupled via a shaft through the base of the hollow main shaft 3 to a sun and planetary gear
system 39 . The planetary gear of this system is driven via a sub drive shaft 40 , which
extends vertically in a channel formed in the outside of the main shaft 3 to couple by means
of a planetary gear 40 a with an orbital gear 41 in an annular transmission 42 mounted on
the top of the main shaft 3 . The orbital gear 41 is bolted to a housing of the annular
transmission which is mounted onto the main frame of the spiral winder. Thus as the main
shaft 3 rotates, driven by a shaft drive motor 43 , the orbital gear 41 rotates against the
planetary gear 40 a to drive the rollers in rotation according to the speed of rotation of
the main shaft 3 . A small alteration in this speed can be made by actuating servos which
cause the orbital gear 41 to rotate relative to the transmission housing in either the
clockwise or anticlockwise direction so that the speed of the roller 31 can be advanced or
retarded.

[0067] The conic angle of the roller 31 is selected so that although the angular speed of
the axle 32 matches that of the main shaft 3 the linear speed of the bottom roller surface
where it bears on the pipe matches the linear speed of the axle over the surface at that
radius (subject to the aforementioned adjustment).

[0068] It will be realised from the provision of the clamp roller assemblies 6 that to allow
a new layer of pipe to begin coiling it is necessary to drop the platform sufficiently far
as to leave a gap between the top surface of the laid layer of pipe and the bottom of the
rollers sufficient to allow for the unobstructed introduction of a new layer of pipe and
then raising the platform a smaller distance so that the bottom of the rollers bears on the
top of the pipe being laid.

[0069] At the innermost locus of the spiral the natural tendency of the pipe to expand
radially means there is no problem with forming a climbing loop to bridge between the laid
and the next layer. However, this is not the case with the outermost locus where the
bridging layer is inclined to fall down the outside locus of the coil. To prevent this
happening each roller assembly is provided with a grooved pulley wheel 44 rotatably mounted
on a shaft 45 to trail behind the outer end of the roller 31 . The shaft 45 extends radially
with respect to the main shaft 3 and is mounted on the roller support frame 21 by means of a
pivot 46 to pivot about a tangent to the axis so that the outer climbing loop of pipe
engages in the groove of the pulley wheel 44 and is retained until the next layer of pipe is
established and retained by the rollers. As the climbing loop is established and the rollers
reengage the pipe the speed of the rollers may usefully be altered by advancing or retarding
the orbital gear 41 in order to slightly tension the climbing loop and encouraging the
climbing loop to bind against the coil.

[0070] As has previously been implied, the success of the machine depends greatly on
controlling the tensile or compressive forces acting on the pipe as it is laid. This is also
true at the introduction of the pipe to the caster inlet. To achieve control of these forces
the pipe is introduced to the caster inlet by means of a capstan assembly 47 which can best
be seen in most detail in FIGS. 13, 14 and 15 .

[0071] The capstan assembly 47 is mounted on a floor panel 48 forming part of the main frame
overlying the rotor assembly 1 . It comprises a support structure 49 which supports a
horizontally extending drive shaft 50 and a transmission coupling the drive shaft 50 to a
drive motor 51 . The drive shaft 50 mounts a main grooved pulley 52 for rotation. The
support structure includes opposing support plates 49 a , 49 b which support three guide
rollers 53 . The guide rollers 53 a , 53 b and 53 c support an endless belt 53 d the span of
the belt extending between the rollers 53 a and 53 c wraps around segment of the main pulley
52 so that a length of the pipe P can be trapped between the belt 53 d and the pulley 52 and
so can be drawn up from an accumulator assembly and into the inlet 8 of the caster 7 . The
capstan pulley 52 is rotated at a speed controlled by the control system in response to the
speed of the rotor in order to accurately manage the tension and compression on the pipe.

[0072] The accumulator assembly comprises an arcuate trough 65 shown in section in FIG. 15 .
The trough has a base panel 66 which arcs from a horizontal to an upwardly inclined
condition and upstanding side walls 67 . There are no end walls. As the end of a pipe P
exits a diverter 61 it droops to the floor of the trough 65 and is guided by the floor and
side walls up along the path illustrated by dotted line P′ into the capstan 47 and hence
around the capstan and into the caster inlet 8 . Thus the trough 65 serves to automatically
feed the pipe end to the capstan. Once the pipe is fully engaged by the capstan it is
desirable that some slack is made available upstream of the capstan so that the capstan can
implement changes to the pipe compression or tension and so the pipe is wound on by the
spiral winder so that some tension exists in the span of pipe between the diverter and
capstan forming a catenary as illustrated by P. The control unit adjusts the spiral winder
speed in response to any change in the arc or the catenary sensed by catenary position
sensors 68 . The slack provided by the catenary allows the capstan assembly to alter the
pipe compression or tension downstream in the rotor independently of the pipe production
line upstream.

[0073] When a coil approaches the desired size it is necessary to cut the pipe and the cut
end is wound into the coil. The coil is formed directly onto a pallet and so it is
convenient to simply place a spacer on top of the coil and commence winding a second or
third coil on top forming a stack of coils on the one pallet. However, when the desired
number of coils are wound onto the pallet the pallet is lowered by the fork lift 14 until it
rests on a transfer table 54 shown in detail in FIG. 16 and in combination with the spiral
winder in FIG. 6 . The transfer table consists of a rectangular frame 55 supported on the
ground. The long sides of the frame extend laterally to each side of the main frame 3 of the
spiral winder and provide guide rails for wheels of a trolley 56 which extends two thirds of
the length of the transfer table 54 . The trolley 56 comprises a frame which is able to
provide support for a pallet and has apertures 57 provided to receive the forks of the fork
lift 14 . It may be noted that the forks of the fork lift 14 are adapted by means of raised
sections 69 so that these sections lie flush with the guide rails when the forks are lowered
to allow the trolley wheels to pass smoothly over the forks. In use a pallet is placed onto
the end of the trolley 56 at an end of the frame 55 . The fork lift 14 lowers a pallet
bearing coils onto the other end of the trolley 57 . The trolley is then moved to the other
end of the frame by means of the trolley motor drive 58 bringing the empty pallet to the
centre of the transfer table under the spiral plane. The fork lift 14 then lifts the empty
pallet into position to commence winding a new coil. While the new coil is being wound the
loaded pallet is removed from the trolley by a conventional fork lift truck and transported
to storage.

[0074] FIG. 17 illustrates the spiral winder in combination with apparatus for forming a
pipe. This consists basically of feedstock comprising a coil of strip which is delivered to
a decoiler 59 . The strip is fed to a rolling mill 60 where it is rolled into tube. The tube
then passes to a welder 60 a which welds the seam together forming pipe. The pipe is then
annealed at an in line annealing station 60 b . The annealing station may be provided by any
mechanism able to continuously heat an elongate material travelling in the direction of its
length to a suitable annealing temperature for a desired period. This may then comprise gas
burners, electric heaters, or inductive heating. In line annealing is the first notable
difference from conventional pipe forming lines where annealing does not take place until
the pipe has been coiled. This has numerous benefits both in production costs and speed and
in the problems associated with end use of the product. For example, the annealing station
can be relatively small and energy efficient needing only to heat the pipe. The pipe is
annealed and cooled in a substantially straight condition and so even after coiling in the
winder and decoiling by the end user the pipe is inclined to relax to a straight condition
whereas annealing in the coiled condition produces pipe inclined to an arcuate condition.
The pipe passes downstream from the annealer 60 b to a cooling station 60 c . The cooling
station may consist of air blast cooling water or other coolant spray mechanisms
controllable to cool the pipe at an appropriate rate to produce the desired pipe properties.

[0075] Downstream of the cooling station is a non-destructive testing station (NDT station)
60 d . Here the pipe is continuously examined for imperfections using instrumentation such
as magnetic field sensors, acoustic sensors, optical sensors, or electric field sensors.
Such sensor devices are well known in the art.

[0076] From the NDT station 60 d the pipe passes to a diverter 61 . The diverter 61 is
capable of diverting the path of the pipe to any one of four paths namely, to a test tray 62
where a sample of pipe can be delivered for destructive testing once it has passed the
non-destructive tests at the station 60 d . While the pipe sample is being subject to
testing at the test tray 62 the pipe, which is still being produced is diverted to a
shredder 63 where it is shredded for disposal. When the pipe passes the destructive testing
the diverter switches the pipe path to one of a first spiral winder 64 ′ or a second spiral
winder 64 ″ where the tested and finished pipe is wound as previously described. Two spiral
winders 64 are employed to minimise wastage when a coil is completed. Thus as a coil nears
the desired size the pipe is cut by the diverter and simultaneously diverted to the other of
the spiral winders where a new coil begins to wind. The pallet on which the completed coil
sits may then be removed or a separator laid on top to receive a new coil on the stack.













Title:
Spiral winder and a method of spirally winding
Document Type and Number:
United States Patent 7258296

Abstract:
A spiral winder is disclosed adapted to implement a new method for spirally winding a
product of indefinite length, such as pipe, into a coil for packaging and/or transport to an
end user. The spiral winder consists primarily of a rotor assembly (1) supporting a caster
(7) such that product fed along the rotary axis to the caster (7) as the rotor (1) rotates
is guided to the outlet from the caster to be deposited onto a pallet in the form of a
planar spiral. By vertically indexing the pallet and reversing a radial motion of the caster
outlet layers of planar spirals can be produced as a self supporting coil without the
necessity of any internal mandrel or external retaining drum. By careful control of the
stresses in the product as it passes to and from the caster (7) fragile product such as thin
walled heat exchanger pipe can be coiled rapidly.

Inventors:
Smith, Martin James (Dorset, GB)
Strong, Franklin George (Blackburn, GB)
Parkinson, Duncan (Rishton, GB)
Plaque It!

Application Number:
10/250874
Publication Date:
08/21/2007
Filing Date:
12/21/2001
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Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Luvata Oy (Espoo, FI)
Primary Class:
242/361
Other Classes:
72/66, 72/135
International Classes:
B21C47/10
Field of Search:
242/361.4, 72/135, 242/361, 72/66
US Patent References:
1557424 Spool October, 1925 Conant 242/578
Foreign References:
FR2574058 June, 1986
JP5986560 May, 1984
JP59085319 May, 1984 COILING DEVICE OF WIRE ROD BODY
Primary Examiner:
Nguyen, John Q.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fay Sharpe LLP
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising a rotor assembly supported
to rotate about a vertical axis and having a continuous resilient tube caster adapted to
receive the pipe into an inlet and to support and guide the pipe to an outlet and a traverse
assembly to support said outlet to travel in a spiral orbit in a spiral plane about the axis
whereby the pipe can be inducted into a caster inlet and induced to travel through the
caster to the outlet where it can be discharged in the spiral plane onto a platform in a
planar spiral pattern.

2. A spiral winder according to claim 1 further comprising a support assembly which includes
a lift assembly to engage and lift the plafform towards and away from the spiral plane.

3. A spiral winder according to claim 2 wherein a transfer table assembly is provided to
transfer an unloaded platform to the lift assembly and simultaneously to transfer a plafform
away from the lift assembly.

4. A spiral winder according to claim 1 wherein the traverse assembly is rotatably supported
by a hollow main shaft and the caster extends helically down from the axis at the top of the
main shaft.

5. A spiral winder according to claim 4 wherein the traverse assembly comprises a track
extending radially from the main shaft to guide a carnage for carrying the caster outlet
radially in and out.

6. A spiral winder according to claim 4 wherein the traverse assembly provides a carriage
propulsion mechanism whereby the radial speed and direction of travel of the carriage can be
controlled.

7. A spiral winder according to claim 1 having a support assembly to support the rotor
assembly and the platform whereby the distance between the spiral plane and the platform can
be increased so that when a first layer of pipe has been laid on the platform and the caster
outlet reaches the inner or outer locus of the spiral a next layer of the pipe can be laid
onto a former layer of the pipe.

8. A spiral winder according to claim 7 wherein the spiral plane is kept substantially
stationary and the platform is moved away from the spiral plane.

9. A spiral winder according claim 1 wherein the rotor assembly includes a clamp roller
assembly comprising a clamp roller rotatable about a roller axis and mounted so that the
roller axis extends radially from and is rotatable around the vertical axis above the spiral
plane whereby the periphery of the roller can bear on the pipe as it is laid on the
platform.

10. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller has a conic rolling surface
configured so that a roller surface speed at any given radius from the vertical axis matches
a roller traverse speed at which the axis of the roller at that radius traverses the
platform at that radius from the vertical.

11. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller surface is resiliently
deformable.

12. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller is coupled to a rotary drive
whereby the roller is forced to rotate about the roller axis.

13. A spiral winder according to claim 12 wherein the rotary drive is adapted to enable a
roller peripheral speed to be controlled to a speed faster, slower or the same as the
traverse speed during winding.

14. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller assembly is mounted onto a main
shaft to be vertically displaceable with respect to the main shaft.

15. A spiral winder according to claim 14 wherein the roller assembly is mounted via a
resilient suspension.

16. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein the roller assembly includes a peripheral
retaining pulley supported to engage an outermost loop of a pipe winding as the distance of
the platform from the spiral plane is increased.

17. A spiral winder according to claim 9 wherein five angularly spaced roller assemblies are
mounted for rotation about a main shaft.

18. A spiral winder according to claim 1 wherein the pipe is fed to the caster by a capstan.

19. A spiral winder according to claim 18 wherein the capstan is driven by a motor at a
speed responsive to a speed of the caster outlet.

20. A spiral winder according to claim 19 having an accumulator assembly upstream of the
capstan which allows slack to be taken up or to be generated by the capstan so that a
capstan speed can be controlled in response to control signals from the control unit to
increase or decrease tension or compression in the pipe within the caster.

21. A spiral winder according to claim 1 wherein the caster comprises a helical duct and the
inlet is disposed on the axis of rotation such that the pipe is guided into the inlet along
the axis of rotation.

22. A method of spirally winding a pipe comprising the steps of introducing a pipe into an
inlet of a caster rotating on a main axis of a rotor of a spiral winder; and orbiting an
outlet of the caster around the main axis in a spiral pattern lying in a spiral plane in
order to discharge the pipe onto a platform in the spiral pattern.

23. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 comprising the step of
pressing on the pipe laid in the spiral pattern to retain the spiral pattern of the pipe as
laid.

24. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 23 comprising the step of
pressing on the laid pipe by means of a roller assembly which comprises at least one roller
on a roller axis rotated about the main axis at a speed similar to that of the caster
outlet.

25. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 24 comprising the step of driving
the rotation of the roller about the roller axis at a speed controlled to adjust the amount
of tension or compression in the laid pipe.

26. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 24 comprising the step of
controlling the force with which the roller assembly presses on the laid pipe.

27. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 23 comprising the steps of laying
a last loop of pipe at an outer locus of one spiral layer, laying a climbing loop of pipe as
the platform is moved away from the spiral plane, and laying an outermost loop of an
overlying layer of pipe, and engaging and holding the climbing loop of pipe as the outermost
loop is laid in the overlying layer.

28. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 27 comprising the step of
applying tension to the climbing loop of pipe so that the climbing loop binds against the
outermost loop of each of the underlying and overlying layers.

29. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 comprising the step of
increasing a distance between the platform and the spiral plane when the orbit of the caster
outlet reaches an inner annular locus or an outer annular locus and reversing a direction of
radial travel of the caster outlet to lay an overlying spiral layer of pipe onto an
underlying layer of pipe.

30. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 29 wherein the step of increasing
the distance comprises the steps of first increasing the distance by a large amount to
exceed a desired gap between the spiral plane and the platform and then reducing the
distance to set the desired gap between the spiral plane and the platform.

31. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 29 comprising the step of keeping
the spiral plane stationary and moving the platform to increase the distance between the
spiral plane and the platform.

32. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 comprising the step of feeding
the pipe to the inlet of the caster by means of a capstan assembly speed controlled to
control the tensile and compressive forces on the pipe entering the caster inlet.

33. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 wherein a coil is formed,
comprising the steps of: cutting the pipe, winding a cut end of the pipe into the coil,
laying a separator onto the coil to act as a new platform; and winding another coil onto the
separator.

34. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 22 wherein a coil is formed,
comprising the steps of: cutting the pipe, completing winding the coil, displacing the
platform bearing the coil from beneath the rotor and moving a new platform into place
beneath the rotor ready for a new coil to be wound.

35. A method of spirally winding a pipe according to claim 34 comprising the step of
providing the platform by means of a pallet.

Description:

The present invention is concerned with a new spiral winder apparatus particularly adapted
to implement a new method of spirally winding a pipe like product into a coil for transport
elsewhere. The spiral winder and method are particularly useful in the production of coils
of pipe.

This description of the invention and prior art will commonly refer to the product as pipe
because the spiral winder was invented particularly for the purpose of winding seamed thin
gauge aluminium or copper pipe. However, for most purposes pipe should be understood to mean
any elongate product of indefinite length which it is convenient to package as a coil; for
example, pipe of any material including seamless pipe, cable, rope or wire.

Conventionally pipe has been formed by rolling a strip of metal such as aluminium or copper
until the long edges meet. The edges are then welded or soldered together and the pipe may
then be subject to various finishing processes such as polishing. After quality control
sampling and testing the pipe is sent to a coiler where it is wound to form a coil.
Conventional coilers wind the pipe helically onto a mandrel, thus the lead end of the pipe
is fed into a notch in the mandrel to trap it, the cylindrical mandrel is rotated at a speed
corresponding to the feed rate of the pipe and a traveller simultaneously displaces the feed
pipe along the axis of the mandrel at a rate such that each loop of the pipe lies closely
adjacent the former loop forming an annular layer. The traveller reverses at the axial end
of the pipe to lay another annular layer on top of the preceding layer. The conventional
coiling process is subject to a number of problems including starting the coil on the
mandrel by feeding the pipe into the notch which results in waste pipe.

When the coil is completed the mandrel is reduced and removed from the bore of the coil. The
coil so formed is then transported onto a pallet or other platform for packaging, or in the
case of pipe, annealing, required due to the work hardening which takes place as the pipe
formed, rolled and coiled. Because the mandrel is required there is a significant delay and
labour in discharging a completed coil from the coiler to a pallet. Consequently pipe is
either wasted or expensive accumulators are required to accommodate the delay as the pipe
production process continues upstream. Helically coiling the pipe has the effect of
amplifying any faults in the loops of coil laid in underlying layers as the layers are laid
on top. In extreme cases this effect may result in damage to the pipe, particularly during
subsequent process steps such as annealing or at end use as the pipe is unwound from the
coil.

Annealing takes place by passing the coil of pipe through an elongate oven for a prolonged
period. Heating occasionally results in spot welding or soldering of one loop of pipe where
it touches another loop. This can cause serious problems when the coil is unwound and result
in waste. The annealing oven has a very large heat capacity and it is therefore not economic
to allow it to cool between production runs. Conversely, there is a significant unwanted
overhead and ecological disadvantage to providing power to keep the annealing oven hot at
all times.

It is conventional to unwind helically wound coils from the core, along the axis, by pulling
the pipe axially. This tends to result in damage as a consequence of binding which may occur
between the layer of pipe being unwound and the overlying layer.

The spiral winder of the present invention and the process of spiral winding aim to
alleviate the technical problems exhibited by the prior art coiling apparatus and method and
to provide apparatus for manufacturing spirally wound pipe and a method of manufacturing a
spirally wound coil of pipe.

Accordingly there is provided a spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising

a spiral winder for spirally winding a coil of pipe comprising

a rotor assembly supported to rotate about a vertical axis and having a caster adapted to
receive the pipe into an inlet and to support and guide the pipe to an outlet and a traverse
assembly to support said outlet to travel in a spiral orbit in a spiral plane about the axis
whereby the pipe can be inducted into a caster inlet and induced to travel through the
caster to the outlet where it can be discharged in the spiral plane onto a platform in a
planar spiral pattern.

It should be appreciated that in the context of the invention the term “spiral” refers to a
spiral lying in a plane and not a helix, i.e., a coil lying in a hollow cylindrical surface.
The term “spiral orbit” refers to the spiral path followed by the caster outlet around the
main axis, i.e., the path from any given starting point until the outlet returns to the
starting point.

In practice the caster will usually be a helical duct having the inlet vertical and on the
axis of rotation of the rotor. The caster serves to guide the pipe from the inlet to the
outlet and also to protect the pipe from damage. Bearing in mind that one particular
application of the spiral winder is to coil thin walled pipe, such pipe is vulnerable to
damage from buckling and kinking. The duct is preferably provided by a continuous tube of a
resilient material able to support its own weight and that of the pipe passing through it.
However, the caster may be provided by an articulated tube or an open channel. In some
instances the caster may comprise little more than supports to support the pipe at
distributed locations between the caster inlet and outlet to prevent the pipe collapsing
under its own weight. Where the caster comprises a chute, the chute may fan out to the
outlet.

The radial motion of the caster outlet is preferably provided by a traverse assembly of the
rotor rotatably supported on a main shaft to support the outlet of the caster. The traverse
assembly includes a track extending radially from the main shaft to guide a carriage for
carrying the caster outlet radially in and out. A carriage propulsion mechanism is provided
whereby the radial speed and direction of travel of the carriage can be controlled in
response to signals from a control system. The control system will basically control the
carriage speed and direction in accordance with the speed of rotation of the caster and the
radial position of the carriage so that the carriage moves at one pitch per rotation.
However the carriage radial speed may be reduced to zero for one rotation at the inner or
outer locus of the spiral so that a climbing loop of pipe can be laid to start a new
overlying spiral layer.

A support assembly is provided to support the rotor and the platform whereby the distance
between the spiral plane and the platform can be increased so that when a first layer of
pipe has been laid on the platform and the caster outlet reaches the inner or outer locus of
the spiral a next layer of the pipe can be laid onto a former layer of the pipe. Although it
is possible to move either or both the rotor and the platform, it is preferable to keep the
rotor assembly and hence the spiral plane stationary and to move the platform down away from
the spiral plane. To achieve this a lift assembly is installed to extend beneath the spiral
plane. Preferably the lift assembly is a fork lift assembly so that the platform can be
provided by a conventional pallet. In practice it is preferable to initiate the next
overlying layer by first dropping the platform a height exceeding the depth of the layer
which encourages the pipe to climb and as the new layer begins to be established after
forming the climbing loop the platform can be slightly raised. The reason for this will
become more apparent from the comments below.

Pipe and like materials are somewhat resilient and so tend to try to recover towards a
straighter line than is required for tight spiral packing. It is important that each loop of
pipe is packed closely against an adjacent layer so that the finished coil occupies a
minimal volume, and the pipe cannot move and be damaged within the coil. To prevent the pipe
from moving once it is laid the rotor assembly may be provided with a clamp roller assembly
comprising a clamp roller rotatable about a roller axis and mounted so that the roller axis
extends radially from and is rotatable around the main axis above the spiral plane so that
the periphery of the roller can bear on the pipe as it is laid on the platform. A problem to
be addressed by the clamp rollers is to ensure that no compressive or tensile forces are
applied to the laid loops of pipe so the roller must rotate over the pipe on which it bears
at exactly the same speed as the roller axis rotates about the main axis. It might be
possible to achieve this by having a narrow roller traverse with the outlet of the caster,
however, this will only secure a single loop of pipe in one position. Several such
traversing rollers might be provided angularly spaced but this would still only secure one
loop of pipe in a spiral layer. An elongate roller supported to rotate around an axis
extending radially suffers the problem of mismatched roller surface speed. This might be
resolved by providing a plurality of freely rotating rollers each of a diameter
corresponding to one loop of pipe. However the preferred solution is to provide the roller
with a conic rolling surface configured so that the roller surface speed at any given radius
from the main shaft axis matches the roller traverse speed at which the axis of the roller
at that radius traverses the platform at that radius from the main shaft axis.

One benefit of making the roller conic is that the roller can be driven in rotation about
its axis. Normally the drive is controlled by the control system in response to the position
rotary and radial speed of the caster outlet so that the surface speed of the roller exactly
matches the speed at which the roller axis traverses the pipe and no force is applied in the
axial direction of the pipe. However, in some circumstances it may be desirable for the
rollers to apply small carefully controlled forces to the pipe by implementing a small
difference between the roller surface speed and the roller axis traverse speed.

Particularly where fragile products such as thin gauge pipe are being coiled it is
preferable that the surface of the roller is provided by a resiliently deformable material
to disperse the vertical load of the roller pressing on the pipe. With the object of further
alleviating the risk of the weight of the roller assembly damaging the pipe, and to allow
the roller assembly to accommodate pipe of various diameter, the roller assembly may be
mounted onto the main shaft to be vertically displaceable with respect to the main shaft,
preferably by means of a resilient suspension. This arrangement explains why the
aforementioned motion of the platform is desirable as the initial large movement separates
the laid coils from the rollers sufficiently to allow a gap for the establishment of a new
layer before the platform is brought towards the spiral plane so that the new forming loops
of pipe are engaged by the roller.

A problem arises with the formation of the climbing loop at the outermost locus of the coil
caused by the tendency of the climbing loop to expand. As a consequence of this tendency the
climbing loop does not have adjacent inner loops of pipe to naturally bind against and so
tends to fall down the outside of the layers of the coil. A preferred solution to this
problem is to provide each roller assembly with a peripheral retaining pulley supported to
engage the outermost climbing loop of the pipe as the distance of the platform from the
spiral plane is increased. The pulley is a grooved wheel supported with its axis inclined to
the horizontal. The climbing loop of pipe engages in the groove of the wheel and is
supported at least until the first outer loop of the overlying pipe layer is established.

To ensure that all the loops of a spiral layer are securely retained it is preferable that
five angularly spaced roller assemblies are provided.

It is important that the tension or compression in each spiral of pipe laid is carefully
controlled, usually this will require that little or no tension or compression is present in
the pipe as it is laid into the coil. Any tension or compression present in the coil as it
is laid is likely to result in the loop of pipe moving to relieve the tensile or compressive
forces. A preferred solution to this problem is to feed the pipe to the caster inlet via a
capstan assembly. The capstan assembly comprises an assembly of pulleys and or belts of
which at least some are motorised. The speed of the capstan is controlled via the control
system in response to the speed of the rotor assembly. Most of the time the speed of the
capstan is adjusted to correspond to the speed of the pipe laying from the caster head so
that there is minimal tension or compression in the pipe which would otherwise result in an
unwanted tendency for the laid pipe coils to contract or expand. However, it also allows
tension or compression to increased to desired levels when wanted. The capstan also serves
to turn the pipe into the caster inlet.

The speed at which pipe is delivered from upstream to the capstan is ordinarily determined
by the speed of the pipe producton line. Therefore provision must be made to allow for speed
changes at the capstan when the pipe tension or compression is to be varied. This is
preferably achieved using an accumulator deployed immediately upstream of the between the
capstan.

To allow for rapid exchange of platforms when a coil is completed, a transfer table assembly
is provided to transfer an unloaded platform to the lift assembly and simultaneously to
transfer a platform loaded with a coil away from the lift assembly.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of spirally
winding a pipe comprising the steps of:

inducting a pipe into a caster inlet

orbiting an outlet of the caster around the main axis in a spiral pattern lying in a spiral
plane in order to discharge the pipe onto a platform in the spiral pattern.

The method of spiral winding provides a further benefit in that when a coil nears completion
the pipe is simply cut to form a cut end, the cut end is wound into the coil so that the
coil is complete. The coil is then ready for transport to a packaging station where
protective packaging may be applied if desired or directly to storage or the customer on the
pallet. In practice it is also possible to stack several coils one on top of another using
the spiral winder by the simple expedient of laying a separator onto a completed coil so
that the coil and separator act as a new platform and winding another coil onto the
separator. This way self supporting stacks of several coils can be wound onto one pallet.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided apparatus for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising:

apparatus for forming a pipe of indefinite length,

apparatus for transporting the pipe in the direction of its length,

apparatus for annealing the pipe as it is transported,

a spiral winder for spirally winding the annealed pipe into a coil.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a process for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe comprising the steps of:

forming a pipe of indefinite length while the pipe is transported in the direction of its
length,

annealing the pipe as it is transported,

coiling the annealed pipe in a spiral winding apparatus directly onto a pallet.

By virtue of the third and fourth aspects of the present invention the pipe can be annealed
before it is coiled so alleviating the problems with the coils of pipe welding or soldering
together exhibited by the prior art system.

Embodiments of the spiral winder, a method of spirally winding the pipe apparatus for
manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe and a process for manufacturing a spirally wound
coil of pipe will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the
accompanying illustrative drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a rotor assembly,

FIG. 2 is a plane view of the rotor assembly,

FIG. 3 is a sectional elevation through the rotor assembly

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the rotor assembly

FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of the traverse assembly,

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the spiral winder from below and in front,

FIG. 7 is side elevation of the spiral winder

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a lift assembly from in front

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the lift assembly from the rear

FIG. 10 is an enlarged perspective view of a roller assembly,

FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of the roller assembly,

FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the roller assembly,

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a capstan

FIG. 14 is a side elevation of the capstan

FIG. 15 is side elevation of an accumulator,

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a transfer table assembly

FIG. 17 is a diagram illustrating apparatus for manufacturing a spirally wound coil of pipe.

Referring to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a rotor 1 which can be seen in place within the
spiral winder shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. The rotor 1 consists of a main shaft 2 supported
vertically within the support structure provided by a main frame 3 , a traverse assembly 4 ,
which includes a carriage 5 , five roller assemblies 6 and a caster 7 . The caster 7
comprises an elongate flexible duct provided in this case by a resiliently flexible tube.
The caster 7 might also be provided by means of an articulated tube or possibly other
devices able to support and guide a flexible pipe from its inlet 8 to a caster outlet 9 .
The inlet 8 to the caster consists of a port located coaxially in the top of the main shaft
2 . As can readily be seen in FIG. 3, the main shaft is hollow so that the caster 7 can pass
from the inlet 8 down through the hollow core of the shaft and out through an aperture 2 a
located beneath a bearing assembly of the shaft 2 . The caster then spirals helically down
to an outlet 9 which is engaged by the carriage 5 .

The traverse assembly 4 comprises an elongate rigid support member 10 by means of which it
is attached near the base of the main shaft to extend radially. A guide track 11 is
supported by the support member 10 and the carriage 5 is mounted onto the track 11 . The
track includes a motor drive sub-assembly comprising a reversible electric motor 12 coupled
to drive a worm drive whereby the carriage can be propelled radially along the track from an
inner radius to an outer radius.

In operation pipe P is fed into the inlet 8 of the caster and the rotor assembly is rotated via a motor drive (not shown) in the direction of the arrow in FIG. 2 (anticlockwise). The inlet draws the pipe into the caster towards the outlet 9 . A control system (not shown) controls the motion of the carriage 5 so that it travels at one pitch of a spiral per revolution towards the inner or outer radius (shown ghosted in FIG. 2). A platform (not shown), preferably a pallet, is supported via a lift assembly below the spiral plane in which the caster outlet 9 rotates. Thus pipe P expelled from the caster falls to the pallet in a spiral pattern.

The rotor 1 is supported in a support assembly provided by the main frame 3 which in this example rests on the ground. The support assembly might also comprise the walls of a pit. The main frame 3 also supports a lift assembly shown enlarged in FIGS. 8 and 9. The main frame supports the rotor 1 so that the spiral plane is in excess of 1.2 m above the floor and in this case closer to two meters above the floor. A lift assembly 13 shown in detail in FIGS. 8 and 9 is installed in a rear part of the main frame 3 . The lift assembly 13 provides a fork lift 14 which can be raised and lowered via a lift motor and drive system 15 controlled by a control unit (not shown) of the spiral winder to accurately lift a pallet from the floor to a position underlying the rotor 1 so that pipe can be spirally laid onto the pallet.

The lift assembly comprises a supporting frame 16 adapted to be fastened into the main frame 3 of the spiral winder so that the forks of the fork lift 14 underlie the spiral plane. The drive system 15 consists of a worm drive shaft 17 rotatably driven by an electric lift motor 18 . The worm drive shaft engages a follower nut 19 mounted on the rear side of the fork lift 14 and a position sensor (not shown) capable of determining the height of the fork lift and communicating the height to the control unit. A pair of guide rails 20 are provided on the front of the frame to guide the fork lift 14 .

The lift assembly is controlled during winding the pipe so that when the loop of pipe being wound reaches a radially innermost or radially outermost position, the height of the pallet is indexed down by slightly more than the diameter of the pipe P. Thus a climbing loop of pipe is formed where the pipe climbs over the layer already laid. The direction of travel is reversed at this time so that the pipe laid begins to spiral back over the layer already laid.

It may here be noted that in some embodiments of the invention it may be more convenient to adapt the apparatus so that the platform is kept stationary and toe rotor displaced up and hence the spiral plane is moved away from the platform to achieve a similar layering effect.

The five clamp roller assemblies 6 are provided to prevent the pipe trying to recover from the spiral pattern in which it is laid to a less arcuate form. As shown in detail in FIG. 10 each roller assembly 6 comprises a triangular roller support frame 21 having a radially inner mounting flange 22 for mounting the roller assembly onto the main shaft 2 and a roller suspension flange 23 .

The mounting flange 23 includes a box section defining an elongate suspension chamber 24 . A suspension rod 25 is slidably received into the chamber 24 and supports a helical spring 26 at its base end. The helical spring joins the suspension rod 25 to a bearing rod 27 which projects through a closely fitting passage 28 in the roller suspension flange 23 . A pair of mounting brackets 29 are bolted one above the other to the mounting flange 23 . Each mounting bracket 29 is provided with opposing “U” sections along each vertical edge adapted to slidably engage around a mounting rail 30 which is bolted to extend vertically up the side of the main shaft 3 above an annular mounting flange 10 a formed on the elongate support member 10 of the traverse assembly, and by means of which the traverse assembly is attached to the main shaft 3 . Thus the roller assembly can slide up and down the mounting rail 30 and is borne via the spring 26 on the mounting flange 10 a . This ensures that there is a reasonable degree of give to the roller assembly to prevent the weight of the roller damaging the pipe P. When mounted the roller mounting flange extends radially out from the main shaft 3 .

The roller 31 is of conic shape and splined onto a roller axle 32 with the narrow end mounted radially innermost. The roller axle 32 is mounted in bearings supported by brackets 33 which are bolted to depend from the roller suspension flange 23 . It will be noted that the roller axle 32 is inclined upwards from the main shaft so that the lowermost surface of the roller 31 extends horizontally where it bears against the laid pipe P.

The roller surface is covered by a soft resilient foam 33 able to readily conform to the shape of the pipe and so disperse the weight of the roller assembly and avoid damage to the pipe while preventing any radial movement of the pipe.

The roller axle 32 is coupled to be driven in rotation by a flexible telescopic transmission comprising; a first universal joint 34 , a telescopic drive shaft 35 , a second universal joint 36 and a spur gear shaft 37 . The transmission couples the roller axle to a sun drive gear 38 provided axially underneath the main shaft 3 . The sun drive gear 38 is coupled via a shaft through the base of the hollow main shaft 3 to a sun and planetary gear system 39 . The planetary gear of this system is driven via a sub drive shaft 40 , which extends vertically in a channel formed in the outside of the main shaft 3 to couple by means of a planetary gear 40 a with an orbital gear 41 in an annular transmission 42 mounted on the top of the main shaft 3 . The orbital gear 41 is bolted to a housing of the annular transmission which is mounted onto the main frame of the spiral winder. Thus as the main shaft 3 rotates, driven by a shaft drive motor 43 , the orbital gear 41 rotates against the planetary gear 40 a to drive the rollers in rotation according to the speed of rotation of the main shaft 3 . A small alteration in this speed can be made by actuating servos which cause the orbital gear 41 to rotate relative to the transmission housing in either the clockwise or anticlockwise direction so that the speed of the roller 31 can be advanced or retarded.

The conic angle of the roller 31 is selected so that although the angular speed of the axle 32 matches that of the main shaft 3 the linear speed of the bottom roller surface where it bears on the pipe matches the linear speed of the axle over the surface at that radius (subject to the aforementioned adjustment).

It will be realised from the provision of the clamp roller assemblies 6 that to allow a new layer of pipe to begin coiling it is necessary to drop the platform sufficiently far as to leave a gap between the top surface of the laid layer of pipe and the bottom of the rollers sufficient to allow for the unobstructed introduction of a new layer of pipe and then raising the platform a smaller distance so that the bottom of the rollers bears on the top of the pipe being laid.

At the innermost locus of the spiral the natural tendency of the pipe to expand radially means there is no problem with forming a climbing loop to bridge between the laid and the next layer. However, this is not the case with the outermost locus where the bridging layer is inclined to fall down the outside locus of the coil. To prevent this happening each roller assembly is provided with a grooved pulley wheel 44 rotatably mounted on a shaft 45 to trail behind the outer end of the roller 31 . The shaft 45 extends radially with respect to the main shaft 3 and is mounted on the roller support frame 21 by means of a pivot 46 to pivot about a tangent to the axis so that the outer climbing loop of pipe engages in the groove of the pulley wheel 44 and is retained until the next layer of pipe is established and retained by the rollers. As the climbing loop is established and the rollers reengage the pipe the speed of the rollers may usefully be altered by advancing or retarding the orbital gear 41 in order to slightly tension the climbing loop and encouraging the climbing loop to bind against the coil.

As has previously been implied, the success of the machine depends greatly on controlling the tensile or compressive forces acting on the pipe as it is laid. This is also true at the introduction of the pipe to the caster inlet. To achieve control of these forces the pipe is introduced to the caster inlet by means of a capstan assembly 47 which can best be seen in most detail in FIGS. 13, 14 and 15 .

The capstan assembly 47 is mounted on a floor panel 48 forming part of the main frame overlying the rotor assembly 1 . It comprises a support structure 49 which supports a horizontally extending drive shaft 50 and a transmission coupling the drive shaft 50 to a drive motor 51 . The drive shaft 50 mounts a main grooved pulley 52 for rotation. The support structure includes opposing support plates 49 a , 49 b which support three guide rollers 53. The guide rollers 53 a , 53 b and 53 c support an endless belt 53 d the span of the belt extending between the rollers 53 a and 53 c wraps around segment of the main pulley 52 so that a length of the pipe P can be trapped between the belt 53 d and the pulley 52 and so can be drawn up from an accumulator assembly and into the inlet 8 of the caster 7 . The capstan pulley 52 is rotated at a speed controlled by the control system in response to the speed of the rotor in order to accurately manage the tension and compression on the pipe.

The accumulator assembly comprises an arcuate trough 65 shown in section in FIG. 15. The trough has a base panel 66 which arcs from a horizontal to an upwardly inclined condition and upstanding side walls 67 . There are no end walls. As the end of a pipe P exits a diverter 61 it droops to the floor of the trough 65 and is guided by the floor and side walls up along the path illustrated by dotted line P′ into the capstan 47 and hence around the capstan and into the caster inlet 8 . Thus the trough 65 serves to automatically feed the pipe end to the capstan. Once the pipe is fully engaged by the capstan it is desirable that some slack is made available upstream of the capstan so that the capstan can implement changes to the pipe compression or tension and so the pipe is wound on by the spiral winder so that some tension exists in the span of pipe between the diverter and capstan forming a catenary as illustrated by P. The control unit adjusts the spiral winder speed in response to any change in the arc or the catenary sensed by catenary position sensors 68 . The slack provided by the catenary allows the capstan assembly to alter the pipe compression or tension downstream in the rotor independently of the pipe production line upstream.

When a coil approaches the desired size it is necessary to cut the pipe and the cut end is wound into the coil. The coil is formed directly onto a pallet and so it is convenient to simply place a spacer on top of the coil and commence winding a second or third coil on top forming a stack of coils on the one pallet. However, when the desired number of coils are wound onto the pallet the pallet is lowered by the fork lift 14 until it rests on a transfer table 54 shown in detail in FIG. 16 and in combination with the spiral winder in FIG. 6. The transfer table consists of a rectangular frame 55 supported on the ground. The long sides of the frame extend laterally to each side of the main frame 3 of the spiral winder and provide guide rails for wheels of a trolley 56 which extends two thirds of the length of the transfer table 54 . The trolley 56 comprises a frame which is able to provide support for a pallet and has apertures 57 provided to receive the forks of the fork lift 14 . It may be noted that the forks of the fork lift 14 are adapted by means of raised sections 69 so that these sections lie flush with the guide rails when the forks are lowered to allow the trolley wheels to pass smoothly over the forks. In use a pallet is placed onto the end of the trolley 56 at an end of the frame 55 . The fork lift 14 lowers a pallet bearing coils onto the other end of the trolley 57 . The trolley is then moved to the other end of the frame by means of the trolley motor drive 58 bringing the empty pallet to the centre of the transfer table under the spiral plane. The fork lift 14 then lifts the empty pallet into position to commence winding a new coil. While the new coil is being wound the loaded pallet is removed from the trolley by a conventional fork lift truck and transported to storage.

FIG. 17 illustrates the spiral winder in combination with apparatus for forming a pipe. This consists basically of feedstock comprising a coil of strip which is delivered to a decoiler 59 . The strip is fed to a rolling mill 60 where it is rolled into tube. The tube then passes to a welder 60 a which welds the seam together forming pipe. The pipe is then annealed at an in line annealing station 60 b . The annealing station may be provided by any mechanism able to continuously heat an elongate material travelling in the direction of its length to a suitable annealing temperature for a desired period. This may then comprise gas burners, electric heaters, or inductive heating. In line annealing is the first notable difference from conventional pipe forming lines where annealing does not take place until the pipe has been coiled. This has numerous benefits both in production costs and speed and in the problems associated with end use of the product. For example, the annealing station can be relatively small and energy efficient needing only to heat the pipe. The pipe is annealed and cooled in a substantially straight condition and so even after coiling in the winder and decoiling by the end user the pipe is inclined to relax to a straight condition whereas annealing in the coiled condition produces pipe inclined to an arcuate condition. The pipe passes downstream from the annealer 60 b to a cooling station 60 c . The cooling station may consist of air blast cooling water or other coolant spray mechanisms controllable to cool the pipe at an appropriate rate to produce the desired pipe properties.

Downstream of the cooling station is a non-destructive testing station (NDT station) 60 d . Here the pipe is continuously examined for imperfections using instrumentation such as magnetic field sensors, acoustic sensors, optical sensors, or electric field sensors. Such sensor devices are well known in the art.

From the NDT station 60 d the pipe passes to a diverter 61 . The diverter 61 is capable of diverting the path of the pipe to any one of four paths namely, to a test tray 62 where a sample of pipe can be delivered for destructive testing once it has passed the non-destructive tests at the station 60 d . While the pipe sample is being subject to testing at the test tray 62 the pipe, which is still being produced is diverted to a shredder 63 where it is shredded for disposal. When the pipe passes the destructive testing the diverter switches the pipe path to one of a first spiral winder 64 ′ or a second spiral winder 64 ″ where the tested and finished pipe is wound as previously described. Two spiral winders 64 are employed to minimise wastage when a coil is completed. Thus as a coil nears the desired size the pipe is cut by the diverter and simultaneously diverted to the other of the spiral winders where a new coil begins to wind. The pallet on which the completed coil sits may then be removed or a separator laid on top to receive a new coil on the stack.

References

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