Patent application title: Apparatus for filling receptacles with granular material
John J. Kellly (Menlo Park, CA, US)
Zachary D. Clarence (Menlo Park, CA, US)
Joshua D. Hubert (Menlo Park, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65B104FI
Class name: Fluent material handling, with receiver or receiver coacting means processes bag filling
Publication date: 2011-03-24
Patent application number: 20110067780
A apparatus uses a flexible belt material stretched between two roller
bearings to move a granular material such as sand from near ground level
to a height sufficient for filling storage receptacles such as sand bags
by gravity induced flow. The motive power for the apparatus may be a
drive wheel which rests on the top surface of the conveyer belt over the
lower roller bearing. The drive wheel is supported by the lower roller
bearing and a second support bearing. The rotational motion of the drive
wheel is translated to linear motion of the conveyer belt by friction
between the drive wheel and flexible belt material. The drive wheel is
held in position by gravity and may be quickly removed from the apparatus
so that it can be relocated. The distance between the rollers may be
changed to accommodate different diameter drive wheels or a change in the
vertical angle of the conveyer belt.
1. An apparatus for transporting a granular material to a storage
receptacle, comprising:a flexible belt material stretched between an
upper and a lower roller bearing and which supports the granular
material;a second support bearing disposed a distance away from the lower
roller bearing; andat least one storage receptacle for storing the
granular material which is discharged from the flexible belt material at
the location of the upper roller bearing, the storage receptacle being
disposed below the upper roller bearing.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a means for adjusting the distance between the lower roller bearing and the second support bearing.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a means for adjusting an elevation of the upper roller bearing relative to the lower roller bearing, whereby the height may be configured to be above a rim of a storage receptacle.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the granular material is at least one of sand, gravel, salt, animal feed and fertilizer.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a drive wheel in frictional contact with the flexible belt material and the second support bearing.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the drive wheel is a rear wheel of at least one of a bicycle, a scooter, a motorcycle, a car or a truck, and the granular material is at least one of sand, gravel, salt, animal feed and fertilizer.
7. The apparatus of claim 5, where in the support bearing is disposed at a distance from the lower roller bearing which is less than a diameter of the drive wheel.
8. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising an auger that moves the granular material onto the flexible belt.
9. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a drive wheel coupled to the second support bearing, which moves the apparatus during transport.
10. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a plurality of travel wheels coupled to the exterior and configured to roll the apparatus during transport.
11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a flow dividing means which divides a flow of the granular material from the flexible belt into a plurality of flows, each of which fills a respective storage receptacle.
12. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the means for adjusting comprises at least one of slots, detente positions and dowels, which maintains the distance between the second support bearing and the lower roller bearing.
13. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the means for adjusting comprises at least one of slots, wedges, triangles, detente positions and dowels, which maintain the elevation of the upper roller bearing relative to the lower roller bearing.
14. A method of operating an apparatus for filling at least one storage receptacle with a granular material, comprising:disposing a drive wheel against a flexible belt stretched around an upper and a lower roller bearing, wherein the upper roller bearing is disposed at a higher elevation than the lower roller bearing;providing a quantity of the granular material onto the flexible belt at the location of the lower roller bearing;rotating the drive wheel to transport the granular material from the lower roller bearing to the upper roller bearing and into the at least one storage receptacle.
15. The method of claim 14, further comprising:adjusting the position of a second support bearing supporting the drive wheel to maintain a pre-defined distance between the second support bearing and the lower roller bearing, wherein the predefined distance is less than the diameter of the drive wheel.
16. The method of claim 14, further comprising:adjusting the position of the upper roller bearing to select an elevation adequate to drop the granulate material from the flexible belt on the upper roller bearing into the at least one storage receptacle by the force of gravity.
17. The method of claim 14, further comprising:removing the drive wheel from the apparatus;coupling a plurality of travel wheels to the apparatus;coupling the apparatus to the drive wheel; andtransporting the apparatus to a new location by moving the drive wheel.
18. The method of claim 14, further comprising:dividing the quantity of granular material into a plurality of streams, each stream filling a respective storage receptacle.
19. The method of claim 14, wherein the drive wheel is a rear wheel of at least one of a bicycle, a scooter, a motorcycle, a car or a truck, and wherein the granular material is at least one of sand, gravel, salt, animal feed and fertilizer.
20. The method of claim 14, further comprising:loading the granular material onto the flexible belt with a auger coupled to an axle of the apparatus which penetrates a reservoir of the granular material.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
STATEMENT REGARDING MICROFICHE APPENDIX
1.) Field of the Invention
This invention relates to an apparatus for depositing a granular substance into a storage receptacle. More particularly, this invention relates to a belt-driven apparatus which quickly and efficiently loads sand into sandbags.
2.) Description of Related Art
Sandbags have a wide variety of uses which include providing reinforcement in flood situations, and protection or fortification in various military applications. In flooding situations, emphasis is often placed upon filling sandbags rapidly and deploying them where needed. Typically, in the past, the filling of sandbags has been accomplished by one individual holding a sandbag open, while another individual shovels amounts of sand into the sandbag. Anyone who has undertaken to fill sandbags in this manner will appreciate that a number of problems exist with this method. First, the person doing the shoveling must be very careful to ensure that all or most of the sand in each shovelful makes it into the sandbag. This normally requires the shoveler to slow down briefly, immediately prior to providing the sand into the sandbag. Oftentimes, the shoveler will place the tip of the shovel blade into the sandbag to ensure that all or most of the sand makes it into the bag. This too slows down the sandbag filling process. A second problem which can occur is that an individual holding the sandbag can have their fingers hit or nicked with the blade of the shovel, if the shoveler is not careful. Needless to say, this can give rise to serious injury.
A sandbag is typically used in emergency situations, such as during flooding conditions. Because of the lack of everyday use of sandbags, it is not normal to store already filled sandbags. Instead, if an emergency situation arises, then a load of sand is typically dumped proximate the area where the sandbags are needed. Empty bags are then filled on site.
During an emergency situation filling the bags quickly and easily is of utmost importance.
Various apparatus have been proposed for automatically filling sandbags. However, these are typically in the form of large machinery or devices for mounting on a truck. Due to the complexity of the machinery, they can be quite expensive. For an item that would normally be used very infrequently, it is difficult for individuals, municipalities or other governmental bodies to justify the expense. Also, such devices would necessarily need continued maintenance even when not in use. This further burdens purchasers for a device that would hopefully never be used.
The present invention is directed to overcoming one or more of the problems discussed above in a novel and simple manner.
The apparatus described here includes an improved device for filling sandbags, or any other granular material. The method may be a less expensive, portable, more flexible and rapid way of moving the material from a stationary pile to height at which the sand will flow by gravity into bags, containers, or other storage receptacles.
In the apparatus, a flexible belt material or conveyor belt may be stretched between two roller bearings, one of the roller bearings at a lower height and the other roller bearing at an upper height, the upper height clearing the entrance of the a storage receptacle. The lower bearing is rotated by contact with a rotating drive wheel. The drive wheel is supported at another point on its periphery by a second, supporting bearing. The position of this supporting bearing may be adjustable to accommodate wheels of different diameter.
When the drive wheel rotates, its frictional contact with the lower bearing and conveyor belt causes the lower bearing to rotate with the same linear speed. This in turn causes the flexible belt material or conveyor belt to advance between the two roller bearings. When the granular material is placed on the flexible belt material at the lower bearing, the granular material is transported by the flexible belt material to the height of the upper bearing, above the storage receptacle. When the granular material reaches the furthest extent of the flexible belt material on the upper roller bearing, the granular material falls into the storage receptacle positioned below the upper roller bearing. In one embodiment, the granular material may be sand, and the storage receptacle may be a sand bag.
In one embodiment, the power wheel may be a bicycle whose system of pedals, chain drive and gears provides a mechanical advantage in lifting sand to fill bags over the traditional method of using a shovel. This embodiment allows the use of the leg muscles, the most powerful in the body, to be used to transport the sand rather than the arm muscles as would be the case in the traditional method. The result is that more bags can be filled before the operator becomes too fatigued to continue.
Another embodiment involves the wheel of a locomotion device such as a motor vehicle to power the lower bearing and conveyer belt. The motor vehicle may be a scooter, a motorcycle, a car or a truck. This embodiment may provide more lifting power than the bicycle, but may be more expensive, heavier and less portable.
The invention allows adjustment of the spacing of the two roller bearings which support the drive wheel to accommodate wide range of locomotion device. These two bearings are the aforementioned lower roller bearing and second support bearing. The apparatus may also include an adjustable height for the upper bearing, to accommodate different sizes of storage receptacles, or sand bags. As the upper roller bearing of the conveyer is raised to change the discharge height, the spacing of the lower support bearings can be changed so that the drive wheel remains securely centered between the roller bearings.
The granular material may be sand, gravel, road salt, animal feed, fertilizer, or any other granular material that is frequently loaded into bags for transport. The granular material may be loaded onto the flexible belt material at the height of the lower roller bearing by shovel, or by means of an auger mounted to the axle of the lower roller bearing. The auger may penetrate into a stationary stockpile of the granular material, thus loading the conveyor belt automatically as the apparatus operates.
By allowing use of a wide range of power sources, the conveyer can be more easily deployed to fill sand bags in various emergency situations where it is necessary to fill sandbags to prevent flood damage. This also allows easier transport of the conveyer system than if the power source was an integral part of the apparatus. By the use of a bicycle and a lightweight conveyer, the process of filling sandbags can accomplished at the point of deployment of the sandbag dikes even if local conditions prohibit access by motor vehicles.
These and other features and advantages are described in, or are apparent from, the following detailed description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Various exemplary details are described with reference to the accompanying drawings, which however, should not be taken to limit the invention to the specific embodiments shown but are for explanation and understanding only.
FIG. 1 shows a simplified schematic of the portable apparatus for filling at least one storage receptacle with a granular material;
FIG. 2 shows additional detail of the adjusting means for adjusting the position of an axle lock with respect to the lower roller bearing of the portable apparatus;
FIG. 3 shows an axle lock with interior and exterior axle positions;
FIG. 4 shows additional detail for an interior axle lock which may be used in the axle lock of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 shows additional detail for an exterior axle lock which may be used in the axle lock of FIG. 2;
FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of the portable apparatus for filling receptacles with a granular material;
FIG. 7 shows configuration of the portable apparatus for filling receptacles with a granular material, wherein the configuration may be used to move the portable apparatus to a new location; and
FIG. 8 shows an end view of the portable apparatus for filling at least one storage receptacle with a granular material.
FIG. 1 shows a simplified illustration of an apparatus 100 for filling a storage receptacle with a granular material. The apparatus 100 may include a flexible belt material 110 stretched between two roller bearings, an upper roller bearing 120 and a lower roller bearing 130. The upper roller bearing 120 may be at a higher elevation than the lower roller bearing 130, that elevation being substantially higher than the top edge of a storage receptacle 180. The granular material will be transported on the flexible belt material 110 from the lower bearing 130 to the upper bearing 120, from which is it discharged by gravity into the storage receptacle 180, as discussed further below.
The axle of the lower roller bearing 130 may be coupled to a first axle lock 140 which locks the position of the lower roller bearing 130 relative to a second support bearing 190. The position of the second support bearing 190 can be adjusted relative to the position of the lower roller bearing 130 in order to accommodate drive wheels 150 of different diameter.
Drive wheel 150 may be the rear wheel of virtually any means of locomotion, such as a bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, motorbike, car or truck. The drive wheel may therefore be powered by an internal combustion engine or by an operator pedaling, for example, a bicycle. The axle of the drive wheel 150 may be locked in place by an additional axle lock, or alternatively, the front wheel of the means of locomotion may be placed in a stand, holder or axle lock that keeps the front wheel fixed. By fixing the front axle, and placing the rear wheel between the lower roller bearing 130 and the second support bearing 190, the position of the means of locomotion is fixed. For simplicity, the front wheel and these additional optional axle locks are not shown in FIG. 1.
As mentioned previously, the motive power for the apparatus 100 is a drive wheel 150, which contacts the surface of the flexible belt material 110 where it wraps around the lower roller bearing 130. The drive wheel 150 is caused to rotate by operating the locomotion device, either pedaling a bicycle or operating the motor vehicle, for example. The rotational motion of the drive wheel 150 is translated to linear motion of the flexible belt material 110 or conveyer belt by friction between the drive wheel 150 and belt 110. This friction causes the flexible belt material 110 to move with about the same linear velocity as the drive wheel 150, such that a length of the flexible belt material 110 travels from the lower roller bearing 130 to the upper roller bearing 120 and back. The transit of the flexible belt material 110 forms an angle with the ground, so that a granular material 105 deposited on the flexible belt material 110 at the lower roller bearing 130 is transported to the height of the upper roller bearing 120, which as previously mentioned, is above the upper lip of a storage receptacle 180. When the granular material reaches the maximum height of the upper roller bearing 120, it falls from the flexible belt material or conveyor belt into the open receptacle below by the force of gravity.
The apparatus 100 may have several adjustment features which allow it to accommodate a choice of different components. The height or elevation of the upper roller bearing 120 may be selected to accommodate storage receptacles of different sizes. This height may be adjusted by moving the position of the upper roller bearing 120 in the axle lock 170. The axle lock 170 may be provided with a series of cross-wise slots or detente positions which accommodate the axle of the upper roller bearing 120 at various heights or elevations, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The detente positions may be circular contours 174 or 176 formed into a slot 172 running the length of the axle lock 170, which retains the axle because of the restoring force of the flexible belt material. That is, as the flexible material is stretched between the roller bearings, the force exerted by the elasticity of the belt exerts a frictional force on the contours 174 of the detente position, so that the axle tends to stay in the detente position rather than fall to the bottom of the slot. By judicious selection of the axle lock position 170, varying heights of receptacles 180 may be accommodated. Axle lock 140 may be of similar design as axle lock 170, and may also use slots or detente positions to maintain the position of the lower roller bearing 130 and second support bearing 190.
In another embodiment of axle lock 140 or 170, axle locks 140 and 170 are provided with a set of dowel pins which function as a set of fixed axles, and the bearing of the axle which remains with the roller portion is simply installed over the dowel and rotates around the dowel. While this embodiment may be simple to implement, the adjustment increments it allows may be relatively course, because the adjacent dowels must be spaced by at least the radius of the wheel and bearing, in order for the rotating wheel to clear the adjacent dowel.
Yet another embodiment of the axle lock 140 and 170 is shown in FIG. 3. For simplicity of description, the embodiment shown in FIG. 3 is directed only to axle lock 170, but it should be understood that the details discussed herein may just as well be applied to axle lock 140. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the circular contours 174 and 176 may completely penetrate the axle lock 170. Two such features are shown in FIG. 3. Position 174 accommodates an axle which extends to the interior of the apparatus, that is, generally toward the location of the flexible belt 110, whereas position 176 may accommodate an axle extending to the exterior of the apparatus, that is, generally away from the location of the flexible belt 110. Exterior position 176 may be used to couple an external, travel wheel 310 to the apparatus 100. The function of this external wheel is to allow transport of the apparatus, as will be explained further below with reference to FIG. 7. There are many possible positions 174 and 176 along each axle lock 170, for example, ten or twelve positions per side. These positions may be occupied by the two roller bearings 120 and 122, which may occupy two internal positions 174 on each side. Positions 176 may also be occupied by external wheels mounted at each corner of the belt apparatus (occupying 4 more positions), and all other positions may be used for roller or wheel adjustment/positioning. This design of axle lock 170 thus allows for insertion of axles from two directions, either from the interior as for roller bearing 120 or 122, or from the exterior for external wheel 310. Having a plurality of positions available for positioning the axles makes for a large number configurations and adjustments.
FIG. 4 shows additional detail of an embodiment of the interior lock 174. Interior lock 174 may include a plurality of shaped obstructions, such as a plurality of wedges 173 which rest with their short sides against an inner surface of interior lock 174. The wedges 173 may be right triangles, which may be attached to the inner surface by a plurality of hinges 177, which allow the wedges 173 to pivot as the axle shaft is pressed against them. The pivot is resisted by a plurality of restraining springs 179, as well as the shape of the wedge. When an interior axle shaft is placed in the interior lock 174, the force of the shaft leans against the long side of the wedge, which holds the axle firmly in this position.
FIG. 5 shows additional detail of exterior lock 176. Exterior lock 176 may also have a plurality of wedges, for example, right triangles whose short side rests against an inner surface of exterior lock 176. These wedges may also be held in place by a plurality of hinges which allow them to pivot about the hinge point. The pivot is also resisted by a plurality of restraining springs 179. However, in the case of exterior lock 176, the force of the exterior axle against the triangle causes the triangle to rotate against the restraining hinge, which allows the triangle to pivot about the hinge. This allows passage of the axle further into exterior axle lock 176, until the restraining spring causes the triangle to rotate into a detente position against a relieved portion of the exterior axle. When the axle is inserted this far into the exterior axle lock 176, the position of the axle is held by the triangles.
Inspection of FIG. 5 compared to FIG. 4 shows that the design of interior axle lock 174 may be identical to that of exterior axle lock 176. Both may have a plurality of wedges, hinges and springs assembled in a similar or identical fashion. Thus, whether a particular axle lock is used as an interior or exterior lock may be purely a matter of choice of whether to insert an axle from the interior of the apparatus or the exterior. Thus, any axle may be inserted into any axle lock, leading to a wide variety of possible configurations.
Returning to the design of the overall apparatus 100, apparatus 100 may also include a second support bearing 190 whose position may be adjusted by means of another axle lock 140. Similarly to axle lock 170, axle lock 140 may have a series of slots or detente positions into which the axle of second support bearing 190 may be positioned. Thus, the position of the second support bearing 190 with respect to the lower roller bearing 130 may be adjusted. This adjustment may be convenient for accommodating various sizes and diameters of drive wheels, and to hold the drive wheel 150 in a pre-defined position. In any case, the supports 130 and 190 are preferably separated by a distance less than the diameter of the drive wheel 150.
Although only a single axle lock 140 or 170 is shown in FIG. 1 holding only one end of the axle of the upper roller bearing 120 or the second support bearing 190 in a cantilevered fashion, it should be understood that two axle locks may also be used in each case rather than one. To use two axle locks, one lock may be located on each end of the axle, with the axle extending between the two axle locks. Each axle lock may be provided with the cross-wise slots or detente positions for positioning the respective axle in a pre-defined position with respect to the lower roller bearing 130, examples of which were shown in FIG. 2.
The lower roller bearing 130 may have a screw-like auger 122 coupled to its axle shaft or otherwise disposed on its axle, which functions to automatically load the granular material 105 onto the flexible belt material 110 at the location of the lower roller bearing 130. When the apparatus 100 is positioned such that the auger penetrates into the reservoir of the granular material 105, the granular material 105 is transported via the helical flighting of the auger along the axis of rotation and onto the flexible belt. Alternatively, the granular material 105 may be loaded by hand or shovel onto the lower roller bearing 130.
To operate the portable apparatus 100, portable apparatus 100 may be assembled at the location of a reservoir of the granular material 105. Positioning lower roller bearing 130 such that the auger 122 penetrates the reservoir of granular material, the flexible belt material may be stretched between the lower roller bearing 130 and the upper roller bearing 120, and the upper roller bearing 120 positioned in the axle lock 170 at the desired height, taking care that this height sufficiently clears the top edge of the storage receptacle 180. The lower roller bearing 130 may also be positioned in axle lock 140. The second support bearing 190 is positioned a distance away from lower roller bearing 130 which is less than the diameter of the intended drive wheel 150. Drive wheel 150 may then be placed against the flexible belt material 110 and power applied to the drive wheel 150. Rotation of the auger 122 on the lower roller bearing 130 then automatically loads the granular material 105 onto the flexible belt material 110, which in turns carries it up the incline to the upper roller bearing 120 where it is released into the receptacle 180 by the force of gravity.
FIG. 6 shows a second exemplary embodiment 200 of the portable apparatus for filling a receptacle with a granular material. As with apparatus 100, apparatus 200 may also include a flexible belt material 210 or conveyor belt 210, an upper roller bearing 220, lower roller bearing 230, second support bearing 290, along with a first axle lock 240 and second axle lock 270. Each of these elements may serve a similar purpose or perform a similar function to similarly numbered elements of the first exemplary embodiment 100. For example, lower roller bearing 230 of apparatus 200 corresponds to lower roller bearing 130 of apparatus 100. Second support bearing 290 in apparatus 200 corresponds to second support bearing 190 in apparatus 100, and so on.
In the second exemplary embodiment 200, the motive power is the rear wheel 250 of a bicycle. Because the rear wheel 250 is held in position by the second support bearing 290 and the lower support bearing 230, and of course by gravity, the bicycle tends to maintain its position without additional supporting structures. However, to make the system more stable and easier to operate, additional axle supports may be provided for the front axle 252 and the rear axle 254, which maintain their positions with respect to the rest of the apparatus 200.
It should be understood that axle lock 240 and 270 may be provided with a set of cross-wise slots, detente positions or dowels which maintain the locations of the second support bearing 290 and the upper roller bearing 220 with respect to the lower roller bearing 230. The function and design of these slots, detente positions or dowels may be similar to those of the slots, detente positions and dowels of axle lock 140 and 170. A suitable design of such slots, dowels or detente positions was shown in FIG. 2.
The second exemplary embodiment 200 may be particularly convenient for the filling of sandbags on location in a disaster area such as a flood zone, because the apparatus is easily disassembled and transported to the location of the next reservoir of sand and bags. For example, large loads of sand may be delivered by dump truck, which may only be able to approach to a minimum distance the disaster site. Thereafter, the sand must be handled in quantities which normal individuals or light automobiles can carry. This means that sandbags may be filled in locations which are still some distance from where the filled bags are ultimately needed, and there may be a plurality of such locations. An apparatus which is easily disassembled and reassembled therefore has distinct advantages over more permanent devices. Furthermore, the apparatus clearly makes it easier to fill large numbers of such sandbags without the operators becoming exhausted by the effort.
Furthermore, use of a bicycle as the motive force may be advantageous, as the whole apparatus may be transported to the location where it is needed, without using a heavy cargo truck for transport. Roadways to and from disaster areas are often closed to such large heavy vehicles, because of deep water or damaged roadways and bridges. The bicycle also requires no fuel source such as gasoline, which may also be in short supply during a natural disaster. Instead, the bicycle makes use of human leg muscles for power, which are among the strongest muscles in the human body, and typically those which are best conditioned for use over an extended period of time. Thus, the embodiment shown in FIG. 6 may be particularly suited for deployment in disaster areas, such as floods and hurricanes.
FIG. 7 shows an alternative configuration of the portable apparatus for filling a granular material. This configuration may be used to transport the apparatus to a new location. By using the exterior axle locks, a set of travel wheels can be mounted on the apparatus so that the entire machine can be flattened and rolled. These travel wheels 310 and 312 are shown in FIG. 7. The rollers 220 and 230 act as pivot points allowing the axle locks 240 and 270 to be aligned with the belt 210. The travel wheels 310 and 312 may be attached to the external axle locks 176 from the outside of the apparatus as illustrated in FIG. 5. A coupling such as a rope or chain 314 may be run through the two foremost axle positions in axle lock 240. The rope 314 can then be fixed to the seat of a bicycle and the whole machine, and power source can be quickly and efficiently transported to the exact location of the natural disaster or deposit of granular material. As the external wheels 310 and 312 can be easily removed, the machine may pivot back into operating position from its transport configuration in a matter of minutes. The drive wheel 250 is set between the second support bearing 290 and the lower roller bearing 230, the operator pedals the bicycle and the belt 210 begins to move the granular material into the storage receptacles. While these travel wheels 310 and 312 are shown in FIG. 7 as located on the exterior of the apparatus, that is, on the other side of the axle lock 176 from the flexible belt 210, it should be understood that this is exemplary only. The travel wheels may also be located in the "interior" region of the apparatus, that is, on the same side of the axle lock as the flexible belt 210. An additional travel wheel (not shown) may be disposed on axle lock 270, between travel wheels 310 and 312 to keep the pivot point (the upper roller bearing 220) from touching the ground.
FIG. 8 shows an end view of the portable apparatus for filling a receptacle with a granular material. For simplicity, this view omits many of the features of the preceding side view, and only shows the flexible belt material or conveyor belt 350 and the storage receptacles 380. Also shown in FIG. 8 is a flow dividing means 390, which may divide the flow of the granular material 305 into a plurality of flows which feed their respective storage receptacles 380. The flow dividing means 390 may be a triangle or have a triangular shape as shown in FIG. 8, or may have some other more complex shape. In any case, the function of the flow divider is to separate the flow of the granular material 305 into separate streams, each being delivered into its respective storage receptacle 380. Although two such storage receptacles 380 are shown in FIG. 8, it should be understood that this is exemplary only, and that any of a number of storage receptacles 380 and flow dividers 390 may be used with the portable apparatus 300 for filling storage receptacles with granular material. Use of the flow dividers may increase the speed with which the storage receptacles are filled and reduce the amount of the granular material which falls outside of the storage receptacle and is thus wasted, or needing to be returned to the reservoir.
While various details have been described in conjunction with the exemplary implementations outlined above, various alternatives, modifications, variations, improvements, and/or substantial equivalents, whether known or that are or may be presently unforeseen, may become apparent upon reviewing the foregoing disclosure. For example, while embodiments have been described which refer to the filling of sand bags with sand, it should be understood that the apparatus may be used to fill any of a number of receptacles with any of a number of granular materials. In addition, although powering means have been disclosed to include bicycles and motor vehicles, it should be understood that these embodiments are exemplary only, and that any of a number of wheel-based transport devices may be used. Furthermore, while the embodiments described above relate to a portable apparatus, it should be understood that the device may also be permanently located in a particular position. Accordingly, the exemplary implementations set forth above, are intended to be illustrative, not limiting.
Patent applications in class Bag filling
Patent applications in all subclasses Bag filling