News Column

Patent Issued for Cartridge Spreader System

July 8, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Technology -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Cichy, Steven J (Marysville, OH); Havlovitz, Paul M (Plain City, OH); Ochs, Mark A (Urbana, OH); Schultz, Brad (Powell, OH); Kalman, Jeffrey (Cleveland Heights, OH); Saunders, Craig (Rocky River, OH); Stephens, Paul (Twinsburg, OH); Rabbitt, Bill (Solon, OH); Toscano, June O (Westerville, OH), filed on November 4, 2010, was published online on June 24, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8757519 is OMS Investments, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Conventionally, consumers have applied granular lawn care product and other granular items to their property by using a granular product spreader. With the conventional granular product distribution system, consumers would primarily purchase their granular product in a bag or other container. Before they are able to apply the granular product to their property, however, consumers would have to manually open the bag, lift the bag, and pour the granular product into the hopper of a conventional spreader system. There are several drawbacks associated with this conventional approach to distributing granular product.

"One drawback of the conventional apparatus and system for distributing granular product is that the process of opening a bag of granular product and pouring the granular product into the hopper is not always seamless. The granular product bag may have to be opened using a knife, scissors, or some other cutting device. Further, the consumer may not know how large of an opening to cut into the bag, and may cut an opening in the bag that is too large or too small, making it difficult to pour granular product into the hopper. Further, in the transfer process, the consumer needs to take care to not spill the product onto the ground when pouring it into the spreader. The transfer process may result in the consumer coming into closer proximity to the granular product than they prefer. There are other reasons why the consumer might not like the process of pouring granular product into the hopper. For example, some consumers may dislike the odor of the granular product, while others may find the bag heavy or cumbersome to pour. Some consumers may find the task of opening the bag of granular product and pouring the granular lawn care product into a hopper laborious. Some may find it difficult to pour the right amount of product into the hopper that will match the size of their yard or property.

"Another drawback of the conventional granular product distribution system is that a bag of granular product may not be easily re-sealable for later use. As a result, some consumers may find it difficult to store the granular product after the bag or container has been opened. Further, some consumers may be concerned about storing an open bag of granular product in their homes or other high traffic areas. Finally, after dispensing the granular product with a convention spreader system, some consumers find it difficult to transfer any left-over amount back into the original product bag.

"Yet another drawback of the conventional spreader systems is that the spreader itself may have an application rate adjustment mechanism that the consumer has to set correctly before applying the granular product to the lawn. Conventionally, some spreader settings are set in conjunction with the particular type of granular product being applied to the lawn; thus, consumers would have to look at the granular product bag, find the spreader setting listed on the bag, and then physically set the spreader setting in accordance with what is listed on the bag. Failure to use the correct spreader setting may result in the consumer dispensing product at a rate other than what is recommended on the label. In failing to use the correct setting, consumers may choose an application setting that may not be appropriate for the particular type of product. For example, consumers may use a setting from a previous application, which may not be optimum.

"These and other drawbacks may be associated with conventional granular product distribution methods and devices."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Unlike conventional broadcast spreaders which require a consumer to open a bag of granular product, pour the product into a hopper, find (on the bag) and set (on the spreader) the appropriate flow rate, the cartridge spreader system described in the present application does not require a cutting, tearing, or other manual opening of the product-containing bag. Rather, the cartridge may be locked into the spreader and then easily activated by the user. Further, the cartridge spreader described in the present application requires no settings. The consumer may simply lock the cartridge into the spreader and trigger the activator handle to start applying the granular lawn product. This results in reliable, consistent product distribution. Additionally, the cartridge spreader described in the present application requires no pouring. The consumer may simply lock the cartridge into the spreader, trigger the activator handle to activate the spreader, and begin spreading lawn care product across their yard or other surface. In so doing, the consumer may apply product over their property without physically handling the granular product itself.

"At the outset, it should be noted that the term 'granular product' as used throughout this description, refers to product that is particulate (or granular) in nature in that it is a dry (not liquid) product that is flowable. For example, granular product may include without limitation, ice melting granules, fertilizer, pesticides, granular soil amendment material, granular oil absorbent material, dusting products, granular floor cleaning product, grass seed, or any other product that is dry and flowable.

"The systems and methods described herein includes a spreader that may include at least one wheel which may be configured to rotate about at least one axle. The axle may be fitted to the spreader through axle fitments on the spreader frame and may be rotatably coupled to a gearbox assembly. The gearbox assembly may be rotatably coupled with a rotatable granular product launcher such that moving the at least one wheel forward will cause the launcher's rotating plate to rotate in a manner that broadcasts granular product in a swath of a desirable size (e.g. 8-10 ft). The broadcast spreader may also include EdgeGuard.RTM. technology which may prevent granular product from being thrown onto sidewalks, driveways, or other areas, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,616,074, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The EdgeGuard.RTM. technology is mentioned in various places throughout the specification. In the specification, this feature will be referred to as 'edge guard.'

"The spreader may further include a cartridge station. The cartridge station may be configured such that a cartridge containing granular product can engage directly with the spreader and then lock into place with a locking mechanism. The cartridge station may also include a granular chute of a fixed size that may facilitate the flow of product from the cartridge to the granular product launcher.

"The systems and methods described herein also include a cartridge. The bottom of the cartridge may include a fitment component configured to engage with the cartridge station of the spreader. The fitment component functions to control the flow of product from the cartridge and may include a metering gate of particular size that allows the correct amount of product to flow onto the rotatable granular product launcher. Thus, the product may be dispensed without having to adjust any settings on the spreader. When the cartridge is engaged with the cartridge station of the spreader, the cartridge, and particularly the fitment component, may fit in a predetermined orientation. This may be accomplished through a special mating shape design. In some embodiments, the cartridge may lock onto the spreader automatically (spring-loaded), while in some embodiments the spreader may have a locking handle or lever a user may activate to lock the cartridge into place. Other methods for locking the cartridge include, by way of non-limiting example: bayonet lock, snap fit, threaded fit, slide actuation, lug closure, or magnetic interlocking.

"Once a cartridge is engaged with the spreader, the user may activate the cartridge to allow product to automatically flow at a fixed flow rate when the spreader is pushed by a user. In some embodiments, for example, a protrusion in the cartridge may engage with the spreader to enable on/off flow control. The protrusion may be connected to a spring-loaded on/off lever on the spreader handlebar that the user may actuate to control the flow of granular product. The lever may be connected to the cartridge via a sheathed cable. When the lever is actuated, the cartridge may be opened and product may flow out of the cartridge and onto the rotatable product launching plate of the product launcher which then may broadcast the product out in front of the spreader. The lever may be spring-loaded, such that when the lever is released, the cartridge may be closed and the flow of product may be stopped.

"The cartridge may also include an agitator to help prevent product from bridging as it flows out of the cartridge. The agitator mechanism may 'key' into the launcher gearbox, such that rotation of the spreader wheels results in rotation of the agitator. In some embodiments, the agitator may not be necessary for a flowable product, but can be added for products with a tendency to bridge.

"The cartridge may also be configured such that when the consumer releases or disengages the cartridge from the spreader, the cartridge may automatically seal (e.g. a shutoff plate may block product from flowing out of the container) so that no residual product flows out of the cartridge during the removal process or during storage. In some embodiments, when the spreader is not in use (e.g. in an idle position) a front upright support stand and/or foot rest may keep the spreader in the upright position. This stand may keep the spreader stable with or without a cartridge attached and may provide a convenient position for the user to stabilize the spreader as the cartridge is inserted and engaged.

"According to one embodiment of the systems and methods described herein, a mobile device for spreading, over terrain or other surface, granular product applications contained in a cartridge is provided. The device comprises: a granular product launcher; a cartridge station comprising: at least one cartridge engager; a particle conveyor configured to facilitate the flow of granules from the cartridge to the granular product launcher; a cartridge activator, configured to activate and deactivate the flow of granular product out of a cartridge; and an activation controller configured to control the cartridge activator and thereby control the activation and deactivation of an engaged cartridge.

"In another embodiment of the systems and methods described herein, a cartridge containing granular lawn care product or other granular applications is provided. The cartridge comprises: a container; a fitment functionally joined to the container comprising: a fitment shell configured to be joined to an end of the container; a flow metering gate configured to dictate the flow rate of granular product; an activator configured to activate and deactivate the flow of granular product out of the cartridge.

"In yet another embodiment of the systems and methods described herein, a system for distributing granular product across terrain or other surface is provided. The system comprising: a spreader device comprising: a particle launcher; a cartridge station configured to engage with a cartridge, comprising: a particle conveyor configured to facilitate the flow of granules from the cartridge to the particle launcher; a cartridge activator, configured to activate and deactivate the flow of granular product out of a cartridge; an activation controller configured to control the cartridge activator and thereby control the activation and deactivation of an engaged cartridge; a cartridge comprising: a container; a fitment configured to engage with the cartridge station comprising: a metering mechanism, wherein the flow of granular product is controlled by the metering mechanism in the cartridge.

"In still another embodiments of the systems and methods described herein, a mobile device for spreading, over terrain or other surfaces, granular product contained in a cartridge is provided. The mobile device comprising: cartridge engaging means for engaging a cartridge with the spreader; locking means for locking the cartridge onto the spreader; activating means for activating the cartridge to allow granular product to flow; broadcasting means for broadcasting granular product across terrain; deactivating means for deactivating the cartridge to prevent granular product from flowing; controlling means for controlling activation and deactivation of the cartridge; upright resting means for allowing the spreader to stand upright in a resting position; frame collapsing means for collapsing spreader into a compact form."

For additional information on this patent, see: Cichy, Steven J; Havlovitz, Paul M; Ochs, Mark A; Schultz, Brad; Kalman, Jeffrey; Saunders, Craig; Stephens, Paul; Rabbitt, Bill; Toscano, June O. Cartridge Spreader System. U.S. Patent Number 8757519, filed November 4, 2010, and published online on June 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8757519.PN.&OS=PN/8757519RS=PN/8757519

Keywords for this news article include: Technology, OMS Investments Inc..

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Source: Journal of Technology


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