PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1459993 28.10.2004
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001459993
Titel Zusammenfaltbare Kaste
Anmelder Aspen Investment (Corp.) Ltd., Ennis, IE
Erfinder Kelly, Thomas Patrick, Kildimo, County Limerick,, IE;
Thomas, Adrian, Limerick, IE;
McInnes, Duncan, Castleconnell, County Limerick,, IE
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, BG, CH, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HU, IE, IT, LI, LU, MC, NL, PT, SE, SI, SK
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 19.03.2003
EP-Aktenzeichen 033940313
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 22.09.2004
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 28.10.2004
IPC-Hauptklasse B65D 19/12

Beschreibung[en]

The present invention relates to crates and more particularly to crates for intermediate bulk containers, (IBC's).

When crates carrying produce are shipped by airplane, ship or land vehicles, they require a considerable amount of space and this problem is exacerbated when the containers are intermediate bulk containers (IBC's). The cost involved in using this space can be justified when the crates are being delivered full of produce. The return of empty crates to the supplier, however, is where a lot of the cost involved in the overall process is incurred by the supplier. This is particularly pertinent when the crates contain produce which can be transported in bags that may be disposed of when the produce have been expelled. This method of transporting products, particularly liquid products is referred to as "box and bag" technology. In the United States, a large proportion of liquid produce such as tomato paste and orange juice is shipped from the West Coast to the East Coast using this "box and bag" technology. Wooden crates can be disassembled but parts can easily become separated from the unit when a large number of crates are involved, thus rendering the remaining parts of the crate useless. It is also time consuming to assemble and disassemble non-connected parts of a crate adding further expense to the overall haulage operation. Furthermore, wooden crates do not meet the health and safety standards in Europe and therefore an alternative crate is required for the European market. There is clearly a need for a method of reducing the cost involved in returning empty crates to their supplier.

The present invention seeks to alleviate the disadvantages associated with existing crates.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a collapsible crate which can be adapted between an in-use mode in which the crate is being used to contain produce and a storage mode in which the crate is empty, the crate comprising a base having a plurality of sides and a corresponding number of side walls, wherein when the crate is in the in-use mode, the side walls extend upwardly from the base, generally perpendicular thereto, and when the crate is in the storage mode, the side walls lay resting on each other, parallel to the base, with the lowermost side wall resting on the base.

With the use of the collapsible crate of the invention, the overall cost of a haulage operation can be reduced significantly due to the fact that the space required for the crates on the return journey is vastly reduced. This results in a more efficient overall transportation process for the supplier. The crate of the invention has the advantage that it folds down to 1/5 to 1/3 of its size in the in-use mode when folded down into the storage mode.

Ideally, the crate includes means for moving the side walls from their in-use position in which the side walls extend upwardly from the base into their storage position in which the side walls lay resting on each other, with the lower most side wall resting directly on the base.

The side walls of the collapsible crate are put under substantial outward pressure due to the products stored within the crate and in order to maintain the products in a secure environment, the side walls of the crate must be safely secured together when the crate is full. Ideally when the crate is in the in-use mode, two of the side walls are held in position by the other two side walls so as to provide the crate with additional structural integrity and reduce the risk of produce contained therein, spilling out of the crate.

Preferably, the means for securely holding the side walls together comprises a locking means provided on the side walls to maintain the side walls in the upright position when the crate is in the in-use mode.

In the preferred embodiment, the locking means comprises interengaging formations provided on corresponding locations of the side walls.

Ideally, the interengaging formation comprise a plurality of substantially j-shaped hooks provided along two opposing edges of two directly opposed side walls of the crate, and a corresponding plurality of eyes provided along two opposed sides of the other two side walls.

Preferably, the side walls, base and lid are designed to withstand high stress and strain values due to the weight of the crates when full of produce. The IBC's may be stacked up to six crates high. When a crate is full, each crate can weigh up to 2 tonnes with an internal pressure of 6 psi. If the crate contains concentrate, the crate and its contents can be kept in cold storage for up to 6 months, stacked 6 crates high. The crate of the invention has the advantage that it is able to withstand substantial forces, as crates must be able to support other crates, particularly the lowermost crate in a stacked arrangement. Furthermore, the crate of the invention is strong enough to resist bulging of frozen contents.

Preferably, the crate includes a detachable lid which extends across an open top of the crate to seal it fully when the crate is in the in-use mode.

In a preferred embodiment, the lid includes a tamper evident seal to clearly show if the crate has been opened so that users are made aware of any unauthorised access to the contents of the crate.

In another arrangement the lid has an associated locking device. This locking device may incorporate an electronic release mechanism requiring an access code which is transmitted independently of the crate. Thus, access to the contents is prohibited until an appropriate code is entered.

According to another aspect of the invention the crate incorporates an inflatable compartment. This provides a number of distinct advantages over known crates, for example, the compartment may be inflated to facilitate discharge of crate contents. In this case, a compartment may be provided in each side wall and also in the base. The compartments may also be partially inflated to protect delicate contents where appropriate.

In another aspect of the invention, the crate incorporates elevation means for raising the crate to a predefined position to facilitate discharge of crate contents.

Preferably the crate incorporates a draining point. This draining point may be provided as a tap, access pipe or indeed as a connector formed for complementary engagement with a pump or other discharge mechanism. For example, the connector may be formed for engagement with a discharge outlet on a tractor, thus, if the crate is used to transport material intended for spreading by tractor the crate may be simply mounted on the tractor. The use of a draining port reduces the amount of litter such as seed and fertiliser bags scattered around farms. The sealed bags in the crate also remove any possibility of the fertiliser clumping together into unworkable lumps as a result of exposure to the elements.

In a further embodiment of the invention, heating and cooling elements may be located on the base of the crate. This allows material such as animal fat or dairy products to be maintained at a desired temperature during transportation and storage.

The crate of the invention will now be described more particularly with reference to the accompanying drawings in which is shown one embodiment of the crate of the invention.

In the drawings:

  • Figure 1 is a perspective view of the crate in accordance with the present invention shown in the in-use mode with the side walls upstanding from the base and with the lid positioned on the side walls;
  • Figure 2 is a perspective view of the crate of Figure 1 but with the lid removed;
  • Figure 3 is a perspective view of the first side wall and second side wall being moved upwardly and outwardly so as to disengage the first and second side walls from the third and fourth side walls;
  • Figure 4 is a perspective view of the crate showing the third side wall and the fourth side wall lying horizontally, parallel with the base and located within the side struts of the base (the third side wall being located underneath the fourth side wall in this drawing);
  • Figure 5 is a perspective view of the crate showing the first side wall lowered into a horizontal position in which it is lying on top of the fourth side wall;
  • Figure 6 is a perspective view of the crate with the second side wall lowered into a horizontal position in which it is lying on top of the first side wall, so that in this position all of the side walls are arranged horizontally on top of each other in a storage position and the uppermost side wall (i.e. the second side wall) laying aligned with the upper edge of the side struts of the base so that the side walls in this arrangement do not extend proud of the side struts of the base;
  • Figure 7 is a perspective view of the crate of Figure 6 but with a lid secured over the collapsed side walls, all of which are lying parallel to the base;
  • Figure 8 is a side view of the first side wall and the fourth side wall in the relative position shown in Figure 3.
  • Figure 9 is a side view of the first side wall and fourth side wall in the relative position shown in Figure 4;
  • Figure 10 is a perspective view of the third side wall and the fourth side wall in an upstanding in-use position, with the first side wall not shown for clarity;
  • Figure 11 is a perspective view of the first side wall (shown upstanding) and the third side wall, shown collapsed in the horizontal storage position in which it is resting on the base;
  • Figure 12 is a plan view of the base of the crate (side walls not shown for clarity);
  • Figure 13 is a side view of the crate, on the side of the first side wall or the second side when said side walls are extending upwardly from the base in an in-use position;
  • Figure 14 is a side view in section of the crate shown in Figure 13;
  • Figure 15 is a side view of two crates in accordance with the invention, with the side walls in the in-use position, the crates shown stacked one on top of the other;
  • Figure 16 is an exploded view of the region A of Figure 15 showing the interlocking arrangement of the crates when in-use and when stacked on top of another crate;
  • Figure 17 is a side view of the crate on the side of the third side wall or the fourth side wall when said side walls are extending upwardly from the base in the in-use position;
  • Figure 18 is a side view in partial section of the crate shown in Figure 17;
  • Figure 19 is an exploded sectional plan view of the base;
  • Figure 20 is a side view of the profile of the side wall construction; and
  • Figure 21 is a side view of another profile.

Referring to the drawings, the crate of the invention will now be described. The crate is indicated generally by reference number 1. The crate 1 comprises a generally square shaped base 2 which is supported on a pallet 3. The pallet 3 is formed fully integrated with the crate 1. The crate 1 also includes four side walls, namely a first side wall 4, a second side wall 5, a third side wall 6 and a fourth side wall 7. Each of these side walls 4, 5, 6, 7 is moveable between an in-use position which is employed when the crate is being used to transport and store produce and a storage position which is employed when the crate is empty and is itself being transported to a given location or in storage. When in the in-use position, the side walls 4,5,6,7 are extending upwardly from the base 2 and generally perpendicular thereto, as shown in Figures 1 and 2 and when the crate is in storage mode, the side walls 4,5,6,7, are collapsed and lay horizontally resting on each other, parallel to the base, with the lowermost side wall namely, the third side wall 6, resting directly on the base 2, as shown in Figures 6 and 7.

The crate 1 also includes a lid 30 which is fully detachable from the crate 1. The lid fits over the side walls 4,5,6,7, when the side walls are upstanding and assembled in the in-use position and the lid 30 also fits over the collapsed side walls 4,5,6,7 when arranged horizontally on the base 2. Lids 30 can alternatively be stacked together. The lid 30 includes a safety stacking feature, provided by four studs 31, 32 33, 34 standing proud of the lid 30. The manner in which the studs provide a safety-stacking feature will be described below particularly in relation to Figures 15 and 16.

At two sides of the base 2, along which the first side wall 4 and the second side wall 5 are provided, the pallet 3 includes side beams 34, one side beam 34 at each of the two sides. Each side beam 34 includes a pair of support feet 33.

The base 2 includes a pair of side struts 10 extending upwardly along two sides of the base, namely along the sides of the base along which the third side wall 6 and the fourth side wall 7 are provided.

The first side wall 4 and the second side wall 5 are mounted about the base using floating hinges 11, 12 respectively. The floating hinges 11, 12 essentially consist of a slot/cam arrangement comprising a pair of substantially L-shaped slots 13, 14, respectively, provided at opposed ends of each of the side struts 10, together with respective pins 15, 16 carried on triangular shaped arms 17 connected to the first side wall and the second side wall 5, respectively, the respective pins 15, 16 being moveable in the generally L-shaped slots 13, 14 respectively to allow the first side wall 4 and the second side wall 5 to be moveable between the in-use position and the storage position.

The third side wall 6 and the fourth side wall 7 are pivotally mounted on the base 2 by means of hinges comprising five blocks of two roll pins shown clearly in Figure 18. The hinges of five blocks of two roll pins which connect the fourth side wall 7 to the base 2 and allow pivotal movement of the fourth side wall 7 relative to the base 2, are shown in Figure 18 and are indicated by numerals 701, 702; 703, 704; 705, 706; 707, 708; 809, 710. The same arrangement of hinges is provided along the lower edge of the third side wall 6 to allow pivotable movement thereof relative to the base 2.

The fourth side wall 7 is provided with five hooks along two edges thereof, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75; 71', 72', 73', 74', 75'. These hooks are interengageable with five "eyes" 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 provided at corresponding locations along generally C-shaped channel members 48, provided at one end of the first side wall 4. Likewise, the five hooks 71', 72', 73', 74', 75' provided at the opposed edge of the fourth side wall 7 are interengageable with five "eyes" 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 provided at corresponding locations along the generally C-shaped channel member 58 provided at one end of the second side wall 5. Therefore, the fourth side wall 7 is interengageable at one side with the first side wall 4 and at the other side, the fourth side wall 7 is interengageable with the second wall 5. Likewise the third side wall 6 is interengageable along one edge thereof with the first side wall 4 by means of five hooks (not shown) provided on the third side wall 6 interengageable with "eyes" 41', 42', 43', 44', 45' provided in generally C-shaped channel member 48'. At the opposed edge thereof, the third side wall 6 is interengageable with the second side wall 5 by means of five hooks 61', 62', 63', 64', 65' interengageable with five respective eyes (not shown), provided in the generally C-shaped channel member 58'.

Referring now particularly to Figures 1 to 6, the manner in which the crate is changed from the in-use mode during which it is used for containing products/produce to the storage mode when it is empty, will be described.

Referring initially to Figures 1 and 2, the lid 30 is removed and the first side wall 4 is firstly moved upwardly and outwardly by means of the floating hinges 11 provided on each of the side struts 10. The upward movement releases the hooks (not shown) of the third side wall 6 and the hooks (71, 72, 73, 74, 75) of the fourth side wall 7 from the respective eyes (41', 42', 43', 44', 45') and (41, 42, 43, 44, 45) at each end of the first side wall 4.

The second side wall 5 is then moved upwardly and outwardly about hinges 12 provided on each of the side struts 10, thereby disengaging hooks 71', 72', 73', 74' and 75' on the fourth side wall 7 and hooks (61; other hooks not shown) on the third side wall 6 from the "eyes" provided on the second wall 5.

Once the hooks have been disengaged, the outward movement of the first side wall 4 and the second side wall 5, provides clearance for, initially, the third side wall 6 to be pivoted about hinges (not shown) from the upright position as shown in Figures 2 to the horizontal position in which it is resting on the base as shown in Figure 4. The fourth side wall 7 is then pivoted about hinges (701 to 710) and moved from the upright position into a horizontal position where it is resting on the already horizontally lying third side wall 6. The first side wall 4 is then moved from the upright position into the horizontal position in which it is resting on the fourth side wall 7 and finally the second side wall 5 is moved into the horizontal position in which it is resting on the first side wall 4. In this arrangement, each of the horizontally lying side walls is protected by the side struts 10. The lid 30 is then fitted over the side struts 10 thereby securing the horizontally lying side walls 4,5,6,7, sandwiched between the base 2 and the lid 30.

The steps necessary to assemble the crate from the storage mode shown in Figure 7 to the in-use mode shown in Figure 1 will now be described. Firstly, the lid 30 is removed and the second side wall 5 is raised about floating hinges 12 into a generally upright position but extending outwardly from the base as shown in Figures 5. The first side wall 4 is then raised about floating hinges 11 into a generally upright position but extending outwardly from the base 2. The fourth side wall 7 and the third side wall 6 are then raised into an upright position by an operator. The second side wall 5 is pushed inwardly and downwardly so that the hooks 61', 62', 63', 64', 65' on the third side wall 6 and the hooks 71', 72', 73', 74', 75' engage in the respective eyes provided along the generally C-shaped channel members 58, 58' of the second side wall 5 thereby securing the second side wall 5 to the third and fourth side walls 6, 7 repsectively. Then the first side wall 4 is pushed inwardly and downwardly so that the hooks 71, 72, 73, 74, 75 on the fourth side wall 7 engage in the eyes 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 provided along the generally C-shaped channel member 48 of first side wall 4 and the hooks (not shown) on the third side wall 6 engage in eyes 41', 42', 43', 44', 45' provided at the opposed end of the first side wall 4 thereby securing the first side wall 4 to the fourth side wall 7 and to the third side wall 6. The crate 1 is now ready to be loaded with products/produce as shown in Figure 2. Once the crate has been filled, the lid 30 may be located in position over the open top of the crate 1 thereby providing a secure environment for the products/produce to be transported/stored in the crate 1. The comer generally C-shaped channel members 48,48', 58,58' can be accommodated in recesses (not shown) provided in the lid 30. As a safety feature, the hooks are visible to an operator and the lid cannot be fitted on unless the side walls 4, 5, 6, 7 are correctly in place.

Referring now to Figures 14, 15 and 16, the stacking arrangement for filled assembled crates will be described. A crate 1 as shown in Figures 14 is stacked on top of another crate 1 as shown in Figure 15. To provide additional security in this stacked arrangement, the studs 31 provided on the lid 30 rest inside the feet 33 of the pallet 3 as shown in Figures 15 and shown in more detail in Figure 16. This secure stacking arrangement negates the need for belts or straps around stacked containers.

The detailed arrangement of the hooks 71, 72, 73, 74, 75 and 71', 72', 73', 74', 75' provided on the fourth side wall 7 engaged with the eyes 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 on the first side wall 4 and with the eyes 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 on the second side wall 5 respectively is shown in Figure 18.

The crate 1 itself must be as light as possible. This is especially important when in the storage mode, so as to reduce shipping costs. The lid 30 is made from plastic material, making it highly robust. The studs 31 provide a safety stacking feature as well as adding strength to the lid. The C-shaped channel members 48, 48', 58, 58' provided at the comers of the crate 1 are made from aluminium.

In a modification to the crate not shown in the drawings, a dispenser is fitted to one of the walls of the crate so that liquid housed in the crate can be dispensed directly from the crate.

It will of course be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific details as herein described, which are given by way of example only and that various alternations and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.


Anspruch[en]
  1. A collapsible crate which can be adapted between an in-use mode in which the crate is being used to contain produce, a storage mode in which the crate is empty, the crate comprising a base having a plurality of sides and a corresponding number of side walls, wherein when the crate is in the in-use mode, the side walls extend upwardly from the base, generally perpendicular thereto, and when the crate is in the storage mode, the side walls lay resting on each other, parallel to the base, with the lower most side wall resting on the base.
  2. A crate as claimed in Claim 1, wherein the side walls from their in-use position in which the side walls extend upwardly from the base and their storage position in which the side walls lay resting on each other, with the lower most side wall resting directly on the base.
  3. A crate as claimed in Claim 1 or Claim 2, wherein two of the side walls are held in position by the other two side walls so as to provide the crate with additional structural integrity and reduce the risk of produce contained therein, spilling out of the crate.
  4. A crate as claimed in Claim 2 or Claim 3, wherein the means for securely holding the side walls together comprises a locking means provided on the side walls to maintain the side walls in the upright position when the crate is in the in-use mode.
  5. A crate as claimed in Claim 4, wherein the locking means comprises interengaging formations provided on corresponding locations of the side walls.
  6. A crate as claimed in Claim 5, wherein the interengaging formations comprise a plurality of substantially J-shaped hooks provided along two opposing edges of two directly opposed side walls of the crate and a corresponding plurality of "eyes" provided along two opposed sides of the other two side walls.
  7. A crate as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the crate includes a detachable lid which extends across an open top of the crate to seal it fully when the crate is in the in-use mode.
  8. A crate as claimed in any one of the preceding claims including a liquid dispenser provided in a side wall of the crate.






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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