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United States Patent Application 20180148255
Kind Code A1
Snape; George William May 31, 2018

APPARATUS FOR BULK HANDLING

Abstract

A container for bulk handling including a body defined by an upper portion of rigid construction, a lower portion of rigid construction and a central portion of flexible construction extending between the upper portion and the lower portion. The lower portion includes an outlet for the discharge of product from the container, and the upper portion, the lower portion and the central portion define a chamber for bulk handling of product.


Inventors: Snape; George William; (Shipston-on-Stour, GB)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Process Link Limited

Warwickshire

GB
Family ID: 1000003080473
Appl. No.: 15/821923
Filed: November 24, 2017


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: B65D 88/528 20130101; B65D 88/20 20130101; B65D 88/28 20130101; B65D 90/021 20130101; B65D 90/20 20130101; B65D 90/54 20130101
International Class: B65D 88/52 20060101 B65D088/52; B65D 88/20 20060101 B65D088/20; B65D 88/28 20060101 B65D088/28; B65D 90/02 20060101 B65D090/02; B65D 90/20 20060101 B65D090/20

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Nov 25, 2016GB1619993.7

Claims



1. A container for bulk handling, the container comprising: a body defined by an upper portion of rigid construction, a lower portion of rigid construction and a central portion of flexible construction extending between the upper portion and the lower portion; wherein the lower portion includes an outlet for the discharge of product from the container; and wherein the upper portion, the lower portion and the central portion define a chamber for bulk handling of product.

2. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lower portion defines a discharge cone having said outlet at a lower end thereof, for the discharge of product from the container.

3. A container according to claim 1, wherein the central portion is removably coupled to the upper portion and/or the lower portion.

4. A container according to claim 1, wherein the central portion is sealingly coupled with the upper portion and/or lower portion, preferably wherein the central portion is sealingly coupled with the upper portion and/or lower portion by means of an interference fit connection therewith.

5. A container according to claim 1, wherein the upper portion includes a surface over which part of the central portion extends, and wherein said part is sealingly and removably held in place against said surface.

6. A container according to claim 5, wherein said surface comprises an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion.

7. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lower portion includes a surface over which part of the central portion extends, and wherein said part is sealingly and removably held in place against said surface.

8. A container according to claim 7, wherein said surface comprises an outer edge at a distal end of said lower portion.

9. A container according to claim 1, wherein the central portion is of polyurethane material.

10. A container according to claim 1, wherein the upper portion and/or the lower portion is manufactured from a metallic material, e.g. from steel.

11. A container for bulk handling, the container comprising: a body defined by an upper portion, a lower portion and a central portion extending between the upper portion and the lower portion; wherein the lower portion includes an outlet for the discharge of product from the container; wherein the upper portion, the lower portion and the central portion define a chamber for bulk handling of product; and wherein the central portion is removably coupled to the upper portion and the lower portion.

12. A container according to claim 11, wherein the central portion is sealingly coupled with the upper portion of the body, e.g. by means of an interference fit connection or clamp.

13. A container according to claim 11, wherein the upper portion includes a surface over which a part of the central portion extends, wherein said part is sealingly and removably held in place against said surface, preferably wherein said surface comprises an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion.

14. A container according to claim 11, wherein the lower portion includes a surface over which a part of the central portion extends, wherein said part is sealingly and removably held in place against said surface, preferably wherein said surface comprises an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion.

15. A container according to claim 11, wherein the lower portion defines a discharge cone having said outlet at a lower end thereof, for the discharge of product from the container.

16. A container according to claim 11, wherein the central portion is of flexible construction, e.g. the central portion is of polyurethane material.

17. A container according to claim 11, wherein the lower portion and/or the upper portion is of rigid construction.

18. A discharge assembly for bulk handling, the discharge assembly comprising: a frame; and a container according to claim 1; wherein the container is removably mounted on said frame.

19. A discharge assembly according to claim 18, wherein the frame comprises a plurality of adjustable legs, for varying the distance between the upper and lower sections of the frame.

20. A discharge assembly according to claim 18, wherein the discharge assembly is configured for rotation of the frame, in order to rotate the container through multiple revolutions of 360 degrees, during which an uppermost end of the frame or bulk container becomes lowermost after a first 180 degrees of rotation and is returned to an uppermost position after a further 180 degrees of rotation.
Description



BACKGROUND

[0001] The present invention relates to apparatus for bulk handling of materials such as particulate material. More particularly, but not exclusively, the invention relates to a container suitable for the storage and/or dispensing of particulate material.

[0002] A "bin" is a known term of art for a container of the kind commonly used for storing bulk quantities of particulate material, such as loose, powdered or granular plastics, minerals, chemicals or agricultural products. Such materials may also be blended or mixed within a bin, e.g. if the bin is secured within an appropriate device for rotating the bin about a horizontal axis.

[0003] Such bins often form part of a discharge assembly configured to allow material to be discharged in a controlled manner. However, such bins are generally rigid and of fixed dimensions, so are not readily reconfigurable to adapt to suit the physical or chemical properties of the particular material to be dispensed, e.g. to adapt to the specific size of loads or viscosity of the material etc. As a result, industrial processes incorporating such bins contain inefficiencies resulting ultimately in higher operating costs. In addition, known bins cannot easily be dismantled, nor do they allow for easy and/or thorough cleaning between loads. As a result, there is a risk of cross-contamination between loads of different material types held within the bin at different times.

[0004] The present invention seeks to overcome or at least mitigate/alleviate one or more problems associated with known bins.

SUMMARY

[0005] According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a container for bulk handling, the container comprising: a body defined by an upper portion, a lower portion and a central portion extending between the upper portion and the lower portion; wherein the lower portion includes an outlet for the discharge of product from the container; and wherein the upper portion is of rigid construction, the lower portion is of rigid construction, and the central portion is of flexible construction.

[0006] The lower portion may define a discharge cone having said outlet at a lower end thereof, for the discharge of product from the container.

[0007] The central portion may be removably coupled to the upper portion and/or the lower portion.

[0008] The central portion may be sealingly coupled with the upper portion and/or lower portion.

[0009] The central portion may be sealingly coupled with the upper portion and/or lower portion by means of an interference fit connection therewith.

[0010] The central portion may be sealingly coupled with the upper portion and/or lower portion by means of a clamp.

[0011] The upper portion may include a surface over which part of the central portion extends, and wherein said part may be sealingly and removably held in place against said surface. The surface may comprise an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion. The surface may comprises a circumferential surface, e.g. a circumferential band or a circumferential bead.

[0012] The lower portion may include a surface over which part of the central portion extends, and wherein said part may be sealingly and removably held in place against said surface. The surface may comprise an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion. The surface may comprises a circumferential surface, e.g. a circumferential band or a circumferential bead.

[0013] The upper portion may include an inlet for charging the container with product.

[0014] The body, with the upper, lower and central portions assembled together, may define a chamber for bulk handling of product.

[0015] The body may define a central axis and the outlet is concentric therewith.

[0016] The upper portion may define a cone.

[0017] The central portion may be of substantially optically transparent material.

[0018] The central portion may be of polyurethane material.

[0019] The upper portion may be manufactured from a metallic material, e.g. from steel.

[0020] The lower portion may be manufactured from a metallic material, e.g. from steel.

[0021] According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a container for bulk handling, the container comprising: a body defined by an upper portion, a lower portion and a central portion extending between the upper portion and the lower portion; wherein the lower portion includes an outlet for the discharge of product from the container; and wherein the central portion is removably coupled between the upper portion and the lower portion.

[0022] The central portion may be sealingly coupled with the upper portion of the body, e.g. by means of an interference fit connection or clamp.

[0023] The upper portion may include a surface over which a part of the central portion extends, wherein said part may be sealingly and removably held in place against said surface. The surface may comprise an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion. The surface may comprise a circumferential surface, e.g. a circumferential band or circumferential bead.

[0024] The lower portion may include a surface over which a part of the central portion extends, wherein said part may be sealingly and removably held in place against said surface. The surface may comprise an outer edge at a distal end of said upper portion. The surface may comprise a circumferential surface, e.g. a circumferential band or circumferential bead.

[0025] The lower portion may define a discharge cone having said outlet at a lower end thereof, for the discharge of product from the container.

[0026] The upper portion may include an inlet for charging the container with product.

[0027] The body, with the upper, lower and central portions assembled together, may define a chamber for bulk handling of product.

[0028] The body may define a central axis and said outlet may be concentric therewith.

[0029] The upper portion may define a cone.

[0030] The central portion may be of flexible construction.

[0031] The central portion may be of polyurethane material.

[0032] The central portion may be of substantially optically transparent material.

[0033] The lower portion may be of rigid construction.

[0034] The lower portion may be manufactured from a metallic material, e.g. steel.

[0035] The upper portion may be of rigid construction.

[0036] The upper portion may be manufactured from a metallic material, e.g. steel.

[0037] According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a discharge assembly for bulk handling, the discharge assembly comprising a container according to the first or second aspects.

[0038] The discharge assembly may comprise a frame, and wherein the container may be removably mounted on said frame.

[0039] The frame may comprise an upper section and a lower section, wherein the upper and lower sections may communicate to clamp or securely hold the container in discharge orientation.

[0040] The frame may comprise a plurality of adjustable legs, for varying the distance between the upper and lower sections of the frame.

[0041] The lower section may include a first plurality of legs, and the upper portion may include a second plurality of legs, wherein the second plurality of legs may be movably received within said first plurality of legs.

[0042] The discharge assembly may be configured for rotation of the frame, in order to rotate the container through multiple revolutions of 360 degrees, during which an uppermost end of the frame or bulk container becomes lowermost after a first 180 degrees of rotation and is returned to an uppermost position after a further 180 degrees of rotation.

[0043] The discharge assembly may include a valve for controlling discharge of product from the container, and wherein the outlet of said container may be arranged in flow communication with said valve.

[0044] According to a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a discharge system for bulk handling, the discharge system comprising: a first discharge station and a second discharge station; wherein the first discharge station comprises a first discharge cone of a first rigid configuration, and the second discharge station comprises a first discharge cone of a second rigid configuration, different to said first rigid configuration; wherein, for the purpose of discharge at each or said first and second discharge stations, the system further comprises the following components: one or more lengths of flexible tubing, the or each length having a lower end configured for releasable connection to an upper end of the first discharge cone and the upper end of the second discharge cone, respectively; and one or more container closures, each configured to be releasably connected to an upper end of the or each length of flexible tubing, respectively; such that a respective first or second discharge cone can be releasably assembled together with one of said lengths of flexible tubing and one of said container closures, to define a container having a chamber for bulk handling of product at the respective discharge station.

[0045] The container may be defined by the releasable assembly of said respective first or second discharge cone with one of said lengths of flexible tubing and one of said container closures is a container in accordance with the first aspect or the second aspect. Each respective first or second discharge cone may define the lower portion of the container, said length of flexible tubing defines the central portion of the container, and the container closure defines the upper portion of the container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0046] Exemplary embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0047] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a container for bulk handling;

[0048] FIG. 2a is a plan view from above of the container of FIG. 1;

[0049] FIG. 2b is a plan view from below of the container of FIG. 1;

[0050] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional close-up view of the container of FIG. 1, showing interconnection between upper, central and lower portions of the discharge apparatus;

[0051] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a further container for bulk handling;

[0052] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of another container for bulk handling;

[0053] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a still further container for bulk handling;

[0054] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of discharge apparatus having a frame and container for bulk handling; and

[0055] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of discharge apparatus having a frame and container for bulk handling.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENT(S)

[0056] Referring firstly to FIG. 1, a container for the storage of particulate material is indicated generally at 100. The container 100 has an upper portion 102, lower portion 104, and a central portion 106 extending between the upper portion 102 and the lower portion 104. The container 100 defines a central longitudinal axis X-X.

[0057] As will be described in more detail below, the central portion 106 is removably coupled between the upper and lower portions 102, 104. This allows each of the upper, lower and central portions 102, 104, 106 to be removed, such that they may be replaced with a differently configured upper, lower and/or central portions 102, 104, 106, respectively. In this way, the container 100 can be adapted to suit the nature (e.g. chemical and/or mechanical properties) and the processing requirements of the particulate material load to be contained therein.

[0058] Advantageously, the container 100 may be fully disassembled, e.g. by separating the upper and lower portions 102, 104 from the central portion 106. In this way, each of the three component parts 102, 104, 106 can be individually cleaned and/or sterilised when required. The risk that subsequent loads held within the container 100 will be contaminated by remnants of a previous load is therefore greatly reduced. This is a particularly important consideration in the processing of loads where product integrity is critical, or to avoid harmful contamination of subsequent loads, e.g. as a result of allergen residue. In addition, maintenance of the container 100 is made more straightforward, as each of the upper, lower and central portions 102, 104, 106 may be replaced individually, e.g. in the event that they become worn, damaged or defective. This advantageously provides for improved operational efficiency and reduced maintenance costs.

[0059] Upper portion 102 takes the form of a cone. To that end, upper portion 102 has a first end 108, a second end 110, and a side wall 112 extending between the first and second ends 108, 100, wherein the second end 110 has a greater diameter than the first end 108. In the illustrated embodiment, the side wall 110 defines a substantially frusto-conical shape.

[0060] Similarly, lower portion 104 takes the form of a cone. To that end, lower portion 104 has a first end 114, a second end 116, and a side wall 118 extending between the first and second ends 114, 116, wherein the second end 116 has a greater diameter than the first end 104. In the illustrated embodiment, the side wall 118 defines a substantially frusto-conical shape.

[0061] In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the upper and lower portions 102, 104 define cones of substantially identical dimensions. For example, the height of the lower portion 104 (between said first and second ends 114, 116) is identical to the height of the upper portion 102 (between said first and second ends 108, 110). Moreover, the second ends 110, 116 have the same diameter, such that the central portion 106 may define a side wall 120 of uniform diameter extending between the second ends 110, 116 of the upper and lower portions 102, 104. Accordingly, the discharge angle of the side walls 112 and 118 is the same for each of the upper and lower portions 102, 104. In this embodiment, the container 100 has a particularly shallow discharge angle, e.g. suitable for the discharge of low viscosity product, e.g. the discharge angle is in the region of 15 degrees from a plane extending perpendicular to the central longitudinal axis X-X.

[0062] The first end 108 of the upper portion 102 may define an inlet 122 for the charging of material to the assembled container 100, e.g. as shown in FIG. 2A. Accordingly, the first end 108 of the upper portion may include or be fitted with a closure (not shown), for allowing selective access to said inlet. As can be seen from FIG. 2A, upper portion 102 and inlet 122 may be of circular shape in plan view.

[0063] In the illustrated embodiment, the first end 114 of the lower portion 104 is specifically configured to serve as an outlet 124 of the container, for the discharge of the product from the container 100 under gravity (see FIG. 2B). As such, charging of the container may alternatively be carried out via the outlet, in which case it may be preferable for the first end 108 of the upper portion 102 to define a permanently sealed end of the container (i.e. without an inlet 122). Again, FIG. 2B shows that the lower portion 104 and outlet 124 may be of circular shape in plan view.

[0064] The inlet 122 and outlet 124, as well as the second ends 110, 116 are concentric with a central longitudinal axis X-X of the container.

[0065] In the illustrated embodiment, the first end 108 of the upper portion 102 defines a collar 126 (which, in turn, defines the inlet 122), by means of which the container 100 can be arranged in communication with other apparatus, for example for the purpose of charging the container. Central longitudinal axis X-X extends through the centre of the collar 126.

[0066] Similarly, in the illustrated embodiment, the first end 114 of the lower portion 104 defines a collar 128 (which, in turn, defines the outlet 124), by means of which the container 100 can be arranged in communication with other apparatus, for example for the purpose of discharging from the container. Central longitudinal axis X-X extends through the centre of the collar 128.

[0067] In exemplary embodiments, the upper and lower portions 102, 104 are each of rigid construction, e.g. produced from metal material, such as stainless steel. Providing rigid upper and lower portions 102, 104 advantageously confers a high level of structural stability to the container 100. In addition, metallic materials such as stainless steel can offer desirable and tailored mechanical properties such as high toughness and high strength. Stainless steels are also advantageously resistant to corrosion, whilst being relatively low cost to both procure and process. In alternative embodiments however, an alternative metallic or non-metallic material may be used to manufacture the rigid upper and lower portions 102, 104.

[0068] In exemplary embodiments, the central portion 106 defines a tube of flexible construction, e.g. produced from a sheet of flexible plastics or rubber material. The central portion 106 is sealing coupled between the upper and lower portions 102, 104 (e.g. via the respective second ends 110, 116, as will be described in more detail below).

[0069] The central portion 106 defines a cylinder between the upper and lower portions 102, 104. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the length of the central portion (e.g. from top to bottom, as viewed in FIG. 1), is greater than the height of each cone 102, 104, e.g. at least twice the height of the cones 102, 104.

[0070] FIG. 3 shows an exemplary method of interconnection between the flexible central portion 106 and the upper and lower portions 102, 104, by means of which the central portion 106 is sealing coupled between the upper and lower portions 102, 104. In this embodiment, an outer edge 130 of the second ends 110, 116 defines a circumferential bead 132. In other words, the outer edge 130 of the second ends 110, 116 includes a rounded profile, which extends continuously around said outer edge 130. The central portion 106 has upper and lower ends 134, 136, which are each stretched over a respective bead 132, and then a complimentary clamp 138 is used to releasably seal and secure the central portion 106 in communication between the upper and power portions 102, 104, e.g. via an interference fit. Although a rounded bead 132 with complimentary C-shaped clamp 138 is shown in FIG. 3, other methods for releasably sealing and securing the central portion 106 in communication between the upper and power portions 102, 104 will be apparent to the person skilled in the art. The bead may be replaced with another circumferential formation, such as a planar band or the like, against which the material of the central portion may be sealingly and releasably held, for example.

[0071] The use of a central portion 106 of flexible material between the rigid upper and lower portions 102, 104 is advantageous for multiple reasons, but primarily because it can be cut from a sheet of material at variable lengths, meaning that capacity of the container can be easily changed, e.g. by replacing a first central section with another central section of different length (i.e. the distance between the upper and lower ends 132, 134 of the central section 106) or by changing the distance from the upper and/or lower end of the central portion at which the material is sealingly and securely clamped in communication with the second ends 110, 116 of the respective upper and lower portions 102, 104. This configuration allows the container to be readily adapted for charging with loads of different size

[0072] In exemplary embodiments, the central portion 106 is manufactured from polyurethane. Polyurethane is relatively low cost to both procure and process, whilst advantageously offering desirable mechanical properties such as flexibility, resilience and a high strength to weight ratio. In alternative embodiments, an alternative material may be used to manufacture the central portion.

[0073] In exemplary embodiments, the sidewall 120 of the central portion 106 is substantially optically transparent (i.e. manufactured from substantially transparent polyurethane). This allows an operator to see what is in the container without being required to open it. This is particularly advantageous should a hazardous material be contained therein and exposure to said material could be of detriment to the operator's health, or should the material contained therein be of high purity, and its contamination be of concern. This configuration is also particularly advantageous should the load be subject to a mixing or blending step. In such circumstances, an operator may be able to view the current extent to which the load has been blended without being required to open the container.

[0074] It will be understood that the configuration of the container may be adapted for different materials and applications, e.g. by varying the configuration of the upper, lower and/or central portions of the container.

[0075] Examples of other such configurations are shown in FIGS. 4 to 6. Features corresponding to those of the container of FIGS. 1 to 3 have been given corresponding reference numbers, except with the prefix `2`, `3`, `4` etc. Only features that differ from those of the container of FIGS. 1 to 3 are discussed in detail.

[0076] In the embodiment of FIG. 4, the upper portion 202 defines a generally flat closure for the container (i.e. not a cone), such that the sidewall 212 extends in a direction perpendicular to the central longitudinal axis X-X). This means that the overall height of the assembly can be reduced, compared with the embodiment of FIG. 1 (which has a similar length of central portion in relation to the height of the lower cone, for example). This advantageously means that the container 200 can be moved, handled and stored easily in circumstances where operating head room is limited, for example. However, having a conical upper portion has been found to be advantageous, if the container is intended to be rotated about a horizontal axis (e.g. wherein the container is rotated through multiple revolutions of 360 degrees, during which an uppermost end of the container becomes lowermost after a first 180 degrees of rotation and is returned to an uppermost position after a further 180 degrees of rotation), particularly if the container is only partially filled, so that at least part of the volume defined by the internal capacity of the upper cone defines a void into which product may fall during rotation of the container. An angle at least in the region of 15 degrees (as in FIG. 1) has been found to be suitable for such rotational purposes, as this has been found to encourage suitable levels of blending of product within the container during multiple revolutions. Accordingly, in some instances, it may be preferable to reduce the length of the central portion, where such rotation is required, but headroom is an issue. Alternatively, the length of the central portion may be increased, where there are no headroom considerations.

[0077] In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the upper and lower portions 302, 304 of the container 300 define cones of different construction. In this embodiment, the discharge angle of the lower cone is greater than the discharge angle of the upper cone (which is substantially the same as the 15 degree upper cone of FIG. 1). In particular, the discharge angle is in the region of 45 degrees to a plane extending perpendicular to the central longitudinal axis X-X, making the container more suitable for higher viscosity product than the examples of FIGS. 1 and 4. In this embodiment, the length of the central portion 306 is much shorter than the length of the central portions 106, 206 (e.g. shorter than the height of a 15 degree cone for the same diameter of second end 110, 116).

[0078] In the embodiment of FIG. 6, the lower portion 404 of the container 400 defines a yet steeper discharge angle than the embodiment FIG. 4 (e.g. in the region of 60 degrees), with a similar length of central portion 406 to the central portion 306. As such, the overall height of the container 400 is greater than the previously described embodiments. Such a configuration is particularly suited to the discharge of very high viscosity materials under gravity.

[0079] In use, it is preferable to mount containers of the kind illustrated herein within a support frame, e.g. for the easy of transport, storage and/or as a discharge assembly for connection of the container into a process line. An example is illustrated in FIG. 7, wherein a further container 500 is mounted in a support frame 560.

[0080] In the illustrated embodiment, the support frame 560 has upper and lower sections 562, 564, which are separable from one another, in order to allow easy installation of containers therein. The upper section 562 is configured for communication with the upper portion 502 of the container 500, and the lower section 564 defines a seat (not shown) for seating the lower end of the container 500. It will be understood that the seat must include an aperture or passage through which the outlet of the container may be arranged, e.g. for product flow communication with a valve or process line etc.

[0081] In use, the upper and lower sections cooperate to secure the container in place in a generally upright orientation, e.g. as shown in FIG. 7.

[0082] In this embodiment, the upper section 562 is configured to be adjustably coupled to the lower section 564, via a telescopic action between legs 566, 568 of the upper and lower sections 562, 564. This enables the frame 560 to be adaptable to different heights of container, e.g. dependent on the size and dimensions of the upper and lower portions 502, 504 of the container, or the length of the central section 506. Each of the upper and lower sections 562, 564 has four legs, defining a rectilinear enclosure, with the legs of the upper section 562 received within or slidable relative to the legs of the lower section 564 (or vice versa). The moving legs (typically the `upper` legs) may be secured at different locations relative to the stationary legs, e.g. via pins or the like interacting to prevent relative axial movement between the two sets of legs. Other options will be readily apparent to the person skilled in the art.

[0083] In the embodiment of FIG. 7, the container 500 extends outwardly (radially with respect to the central longitudinal axis X-X), beyond the legs of the frame 560. However, in other embodiments, the dimensions of the container (or the frame) may be such that the container extends within the confines of the frame. An example is shown in FIG. 8, wherein the container 600 has a flat upper portion 602 and shallow angle (e.g. 15 degrees) lower portion 604 (although other configurations of upper, lower and/or central portion 602, 604, 606 may be used).

[0084] A particular advantage of the types of containers described herein is that they are ideally suited to form part of a modular discharge system. Such a modular system may include a plurality of different discharge cones (e.g. for use at different discharge stations), which can each be used interchangeably as the lower portion of the container, together with a suitable length of flexible tubing (to define the central portion of the container) and one or more different configurations of container closure (to define the upper portion of the container).

* * * * *

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