Title:
STACKABLE PALLET SYSTEM INCLUDING V-SHAPED CORNER SUPPORTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular packaging and display system for shipping and displaying products. The modular packaging and display system includes multiple display trays supported by a series of V-shaped spacers. The modular packaging and display system includes a plurality of V-shaped support members positioned near the corners of each display tray to stabilize the packaging system. The spacers and the support members are preferably formed from paperboard. The modular packaging and display system is strong enough to support the weight of the products and the trays and withstand the weight of one or more units stacked thereupon.



Inventors:
Kostos, Kevin (Racine, WI, US)
Glassen, Bill (Racine, WI, US)
Corrigan, Kevin (Racine, WI, US)
Mcfarland, Scott (Racine, WI, US)
Graf, Patrick (Highland Park, IL, US)
Bernstein, Kerianne (Oshkosh, WI, US)
Application Number:
12/165948
Publication Date:
02/05/2009
Filing Date:
07/01/2008
Assignee:
GREAT NORTHERN CORPORATION (Appleton, WI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PAGAN, JENINE MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Andrus Intellectual Property Law, LLP (100 EAST WISCONSIN AVENUE, SUITE 1100, MILWAUKEE, WI, 53202, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A modular packaging and display system, comprising: a bottom support tray having a rectangular floor and a plurality of sidewalls projecting above the floor; at least a first display tray and a second display tray, each display tray having a rectangular floor and four corners defined by a plurality of sidewalls projecting above the floor, each of the first and second display trays including at least four access openings each positioned near one of the four corners; a plurality of V-shaped support members each having a first end in contact with the floor of the bottom support tray and extending upward through the access openings formed in the first and second display trays; and a plurality of V-shaped spacers each positioned between one of the plurality of V-shaped support members and the corner of one of the bottom support tray and the first display tray, wherein the V-shaped spacers support the first display tray above the bottom support tray and support the second display tray above the first display tray when the packaging and display system is in an assembled condition.

2. The modular packaging and display system of claim 1 wherein each of the V-shaped support members includes a first leg and a second leg joined at an apex, and wherein each of the V-shaped spacers includes a first leg and a second leg joined at an apex.

3. The modular packaging and display system of claim 2 wherein each of the V-shaped spacers are positioned between one of the V-shaped support members and the sidewalls of one of the first intermediate display tray and the bottom support tray.

4. The modular packaging and display system of claim 3 wherein each of the first and second display trays include a plurality of support tabs projecting below the floor from the sidewalls, wherein the support tabs contact an outer surface of the V-shaped spacer positioned therebelow to restrict movement of the V-shaped spacers when the modular packaging and display system is in the assembled condition.

5. The modular packaging and display system of claim 2 wherein the V-shaped support members and the V-shaped spacers are each formed from paperboard.

6. The modular packaging and display system of claim 2 wherein the V-shaped support members are positioned such that the apex of the V-shaped support member is in contact with the apex of the V-shaped spacer.

7. The modular packaging and display system of claim 2 wherein the V-shaped support members are positioned such that the first leg of the V-shaped support member is perpendicular to the first leg of the V-shaped spacer and the second leg of the V-shaped support member is perpendicular to the second leg of the V-shaped spacer.

8. The modular packaging and display system of claim 4 wherein each corner of the first and second display trays include a pair of support tabs each extending from one of the sidewalls that define the corner, wherein each of the support tabs restricts the movement of the V-shaped spacer positioned therebelow away from the corresponding V-shaped support member when the display system is in the assembled condition.

9. The modular packaging and display system of claim 1 further comprising at least a first center support resting on the floor of the support tray and in contact with the first display tray and a second center support resting on the floor of the first display tray and in contact with the second display tray.

10. A modular packaging and display system, comprising: a bottom support tray having a rectangular floor and a plurality of sidewalls projecting above the floor; at least a first display tray and a second display tray each having four corners defined by a plurality of sidewalls projecting above the floor, each of the first and second display trays having a plurality of support tabs projecting from the sidewalls below a bottom surface of the floor at each of the corners; a plurality of V-shaped support members each having a first end in contact with the floor of the bottom support tray and extending upward through the floor of each of the first and second display trays; a plurality of V-shaped spacers that support the first display tray above the bottom support tray and support the second display tray above the first display tray, wherein each of the V-shaped spacers contacts the bottom surface of the first display tray or the second display tray when the display system is in an assembled condition, wherein each of the support tabs contacts an outer surface of one of the spacers to restrict the movement of the spacer.

11. The modular packaging and display system of claim 10 wherein the floor of each of the first and second display tray includes a plurality of access openings that each receive one of the V-shaped support members.

12. The modular packaging and display system of claim 10 wherein each of the spacers is positioned between one of the V-shaped support members and two sidewalls of one of the first and second display trays such that the sidewalls and the support members restrict the movement of the V-shaped spacers.

13. The modular packaging and display system of claim 12 wherein each of the V-shaped support members includes a first leg and a second leg joined at an apex, and wherein each of the V-shaped spacers includes a first leg and a second leg joined at an apex.

14. The modular packaging and display system of claim 13 wherein each of the V-shaped spacers are positioned between one of the V-shaped support members and the sidewalls of one of the first intermediate display tray and the bottom support tray.

15. The modular packaging and display system of claim 10 wherein the V-shaped support members and the V-shaped spacers are each formed from paperboard.

16. The modular packaging and display system of claim 13 wherein the V-shaped support members are positioned such that the apex of the V-shaped support member is in contact with the apex of the V-shaped spacer.

17. The modular packaging and display system of claim 13 wherein the V-shaped support members are positioned such that the first leg of the V-shaped support member is perpendicular to the first leg of the V-shaped spacer and the second leg of the V-shaped support member is perpendicular to the second leg of the V-shaped spacer.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application is based on and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/947,531 filed on Jul. 2, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure generally relates to a modular packaging and display system. More specifically, the present disclosure relates to a system for packaging multiple products, including irregularly-shaped products, on a pallet to be shipped to a retailer, who then may display the products in the packaging in which they are shipped.

Mass merchandising retailers, such as “club stores” often display their products on the pallet on which the products were shipped from the vendors. The products in their primary packages are arranged in multiple layers using a secondary packaging and display system. The primary purpose of the secondary packaging system is to contain and organize subgroups of the primary packaging, as well as to improve the stacking strength of the palletized unit. In some types of packaging systems, multiple trays are supported by the products themselves, while there are other packaging systems in which the trays are supported by spacing elements.

One example of such system is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,066,342. In this packaging system, a tubular support post is positioned in each corner of the packaging system. Each tubular support post extends from the bottom to the top of the packaging and display system. A series of hollow, tubular spacer sleeves are positioned over each of the support posts to provide the required spacing between the different display levels. Each of the spacer sleeves is a hollow, tubular member that slides over the support post such that the support post prevents the spacer sleeve from moving relative to the display tray.

Although the packaging system of the '342 patent provides a display system that allows products to be displayed in the same manner in which they are shipped, the manufacturing process required to create the tubular support posts and tubular spacer sleeves increases the cost of the packaging system. Therefore, a need exists for a pallet display system that utilizes less expensive structural components while providing the advantages of a modular system that can be used to display products that is also used for shipping purposes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure is a modular packaging system for shipping and displaying palletized products. The system comprises multiple vertically stacked trays for holding the products, V-shaped spacers that provide the required spacing between different levels of the display system, and V-shaped support members positioned adjacent to the spacers and extending through access openings formed in the display trays to stabilize the entire display system. The bottom support tray is designed to rest on a standard pallet and the entire assembly may be wrapped in a transparent plastic film to protect the products from dust and damage.

The pallet display system is strong enough not only to support the weight of the products on the trays and withstand the vibration and impact forces that can occur during shipping, but is strong enough to withstand the weight of one or more units stacked on the top of the loaded display system. The system is particularly suited for shipping and displaying irregularly shaped items where the items cannot withstand vertical stacking forces, such as soft packaged goods, since the system itself can bear the entire stacking load.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings illustrate the best mode presently contemplated of carrying out the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the pallet packaging and display system loaded with a series of products;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the pallet display system with the series of products removed;

FIG. 3 is a perspective, exploded view of the pallet display system showing the individual components required to create the display system;

FIG. 4 is a section view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a section view similar to FIG. 4 illustrating an alternate configuration of the pallet display system;

FIG. 6 is a magnified view of the interaction between the support tab formed on the display tray and a pair of the spacer elements; and

FIG. 7 is a top view of one of the display trays illustrating the cutout openings formed in each of the corners.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a modular pallet display system 10 for shipping and displaying a series of retail products 12 in a mass merchandising environment. The packaging system 10 includes a plurality of display trays 14a-c for holding the products 12. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the display trays 14 are spaced from each other by an adequate height to allow the individual retail products 12 to be positioned in a desired orientation, such as the upright orientation shown in FIG. 1. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the entire pallet display system 10 is supported on a shipping pallet 16 that allows the pallet display system 10 filled with products 12 to be shipped in a known manner. As an example, the entire pallet display system 10 can be wrapped in an outer wrap to maintain the integrity of the pallet display system 10 and to protect the products 12 from dust and damage during shipment.

Alternatively, the pallet display system 10 can be shipped in a broken down condition and assembled at a retailer for use in displaying the series of products 12. In such an embodiment, the products 12 would be shipped in a conventional manner and loaded onto the pallet display system 10 once the product 12 and display system 10 arrive at the retailer. However, it is contemplated that the preferred embodiment of the pallet display system 10 would allow the product manufacturer to load the pallet display system 10 prior to shipment, such that the retailer could simply remove the outer packaging and position the entire pallet display system at a desired position in the retail outlet for product display and purchase.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the pallet display system 10 includes a bottom support tray 14a that serves as the base of the pallet display system 10. The support tray 14a receives a series of support members 18. As shown in FIG. 4, in the embodiment of the invention shown in the Figures, each of the support members 18 is a V-shaped, laminated paperboard edge protector, such as the VBOARD® product available from the Great Northern Corporation. Referring back to FIG. 3, each of the V-shaped support members 18 is positioned near one of the four corners of the support tray 14a and extends from the support tray 14a through the first display tray 14b and the second display tray 14c. As illustrated in FIG. 7, both the first display tray 14b and the second display tray 14c include access openings 60 that allow the support members 18 to pass through a floor 20 of the respective display tray. As illustrated in FIG. 7, each of the access openings 60 has a generally V-shape that corresponds to the cross-sectional shape of the support member 18.

As shown in FIG. 3, each of the support members 18 has a length that extends from a first end that contacts the tray floor 20 of the bottom support tray 14a and extends through the access openings formed in each of the intermediate display trays 14b, 14c. The support members 18 each terminate at a second end 22 that extends above the second display tray 14c (FIG. 2).

Referring now to FIG. 3, in addition to the series of support members 18, the pallet display system 10 includes a series of spacers 24 that provide the required spacing and support for each of the first and second display trays 14b, 14c. Each of the spacers 24 is positioned in one of the corners of the respective display tray and provides the required support and spacing for the first display tray 14b above the bottom support tray 14a. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the first end 26 of each spacer 24 contacts the top surface 27 of the tray floor 20 below the spacer 24 while the second end 28 contacts the bottom surface of the tray floor 20 above the spacer 24. In this manner, the series of spacers 24 provide the required support for the second display tray 14c above the first display tray 14b and for the first display tray 14b above the bottom support tray 14a. Although the embodiment shown in FIG. 3 includes only three product levels, it should be understood that the pallet display system 10 could have fewer or greater numbers of levels depending upon the size of the product and the shipping requirements.

In addition to the series of spacers 24, the pallet display system 10 includes a series of center supports 30 that provide additional support and spacing between the different levels of the display system. In the embodiment shown, each of the center supports 30 are U-shaped members formed from corrugated cardboard or laminated paperboard. Each of the center supports 30 includes a pair of support legs 32 joined to a center web 34. The center support 30 rests upon the top surface 27 of the tray floor 20 and contacts the bottom surface of the tray floor 20 of the display tray 14 positioned immediately thereabove. Although the pallet display system 10 is shown including the center supports 30, it is contemplated that the display system 10 could be constructed without using the center support 30. In such an embodiment, the series of spacers 24 would provide the required strength and spacing between the different tray levels.

Referring now to FIG. 2, each of the first and second display trays 14b and 14c, as well as the bottom support tray 14a, includes the generally planar tray floor 20 and outer sidewalls 36 that extends upward from the tray floor 30. As illustrated in FIG. 2, each of the display trays 14 has a generally rectangular shape and the outer sidewalls 36 extend around the entire outer periphery of the tray floor 20. The outer sidewalls 36 provide a retaining wall for retaining product within the display tray, as illustrated in FIG. 1.

Referring back to FIG. 2, the outer sidewall of each display tray 14 includes an upper edge 38 and a lower edge 40, where the lower edge 40 is generally coplanar with the bottom surface of the tray floor 20. As best shown in FIG. 6, each corner of the display tray 14 includes a pair of support tabs 42 that project downward beneath the lower edge 40 and the bottom surface of the tray floor 20. The support tabs 42 contact an outer face surface 44 of the spacer 24 to reduce the tendency of the spacer 24 to tip outward away from the center of the pallet display system 10. As illustrated in FIG. 6, the second end 28 of the spacer 24 is positioned above the lowermost edge 46 of the support tab 42 such that the spacer 24 is prevented from tipping outward.

As can be further seen in FIG. 6, the first end 26 of an upper spacer 24 rests upon the tray floor 20 and is prevented from moving outward by the height of the outer sidewall 36. Thus, the combination of the outer sidewall 36 and the support tab 42 prevent the upper and lower spacers 24 shown in FIG. 6 from moving outward. As can be understood in FIG. 3, the support members 18 are positioned inward of the spacers 24 to prevent the spacers 24 from moving inward relative to the pallet display system. Thus, the combination of the support members 18, the outer sidewalls 36 and the support tabs 42 restrict the lateral movement of the spacers 24 when the packaging and display system 10 is in the assembled condition.

Referring now to FIG. 4, thereshown is a section view taken through one corner of the pallet display system when the pallet display system is assembled without product. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the spacer 24 is generally V-shaped and includes a first leg 48 and a second leg 50 joined to each other at an apex 52. In the preferred embodiment, the spacer 24 is formed from laminated paperboard, such as the V-BOARD® edge protector available from Great Northern. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, each of the legs 48, 50 has a length of approximately two inches, although other lengths are contemplated as being within the scope of the present disclosure.

In the embodiment of FIG. 4, the support member 18 also includes a first leg 54 and a second leg 56 joined to each other at an apex 58. Like the spacer 24, the support member 28 is formed from a laminated paperboard product, such as V-BOARD® available from the Great Northern Corporation. In the embodiment shown, each of the first and second legs 54, 56 of the support member 18 has a length of approximately one inch, although other lengths are contemplated as being within the scope of the present disclosure.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the apex 58 of the support member 18 is positioned adjacent to the apex 52 of the spacer 24. In this configuration, the first leg 54 of the support member 18 is positioned in contact with the first leg 48 of the spacer 24. At the same time, the second leg 56 of the support member 18 is in contact with the second leg 50 of the spacer 24. In such configuration, the spacer 24 is entrapped between the sidewall 36 and the support member 18.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the support member 18 is shown positioned in an alternate configuration in which the apex 58 of the support member 18 is spaced from the apex 52 of the spacer 24. In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the first wall 54 of the support member 18 is positioned perpendicular to the first wall 48 of the spacer 24. Likewise, the second wall 56 is positioned perpendicular to the second wall 50. As illustrated, this configuration of the spacer 24 and the support member 18 creates an open space 59 between the support member 18 and the spacer 24. It is contemplated that either embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 could be utilized while operating within the scope of the present disclosure.

Construction of the pallet display system 10 of the present invention will now be described with reference to the drawing Figures. Initially, the bottom support tray 14a is positioned on the top surface of the shipping pallet 16, as shown in FIG. 3. Preferably, the support tray 14a does not include any precut access openings and includes a continuous tray floor 20. In the embodiment shown, the support tray 14a also does not include the support tabs 42 that are included on the first and second display trays 14b and 14c.

Once the bottom support tray 14a is placed on the shipping pallet 16, a spacer 24 is placed in each corner such that the outer surface of the spacer 24 contacts the inner surface of the outer sidewall 36.

Once the spacers 24 have been positioned as shown in FIG. 3, the series of support members 18 are nested into the apex of the spacer 24, as illustrated in FIG. 3. Since the tray floor 20 of the bottom support tray 14a does not include any access openings, the bottom end of each support member 18 rests on the top surface 27 of the tray floor 20.

Once the spacers 24 and support members 18 are positioned as shown, the center support 30 is positioned on the tray floor. After the spacers 24 and center support 30 are positioned, the first display tray 14b is aligned with the support members 18 such that the support members 18 pass through the access openings 60 formed near each corner of the display tray 14b, as shown in FIG. 7. Once each of the support members 18 is aligned with the corresponding access opening 60, the first display tray 14b is slid downward until the bottom surface of the tray floor 20 contacts the spacers 24 and the center support 30. The first display tray 14b is shown in such a supported position.

Once the first level display tray 14b is positioned, the next level of spacers 24 and center supports 30 is positioned on the tray floor 20. Once positioned, the second display tray 14c is slid downward along the support members 18 until the bottom surface of the tray floor contacts the center support 30 and the spacers 24.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-3, a final set of spacers 24 and center supports 30 is positioned on the top display tray 14c to provide adequate support for the pallet display system 10 when the display system is packaged and shipped. However, the top layer of spacers 24 and the center support 30 is not required in all embodiments. Additionally, the length of the support members 18 can be modified to extend a lesser distance above the second display tray 14c.

Once the pallet display system 10 has been constructed, individual products can be loaded onto the display system as shown in FIG. 1. It is contemplated that the individual products 12 could be loaded onto the display system either as each level is constructed or once the entire display system 10 has been constructed. It is contemplated that the product manufacturer would assemble the display system 10 and load products onto the display system 10 prior to shipment. In such an embodiment, the entire display system would be wrapped with an outer wrap of plastic material or cardboard to prevent the individual products from falling out of the display system 10.

As also previously described, it is contemplated that the pallet display system 10 could also be assembled at a retailer for displaying the products for sale. In such an embodiment, the entire pallet display system 10 would be shipped in a disassembled condition and assembled by the retailer prior to product display.

Once the pallet display system 10 has been unloaded at a retail outlet, product from the top level 62 (FIG. 1) can be sold to consumers. Once the entire top level 62 has been sold, the spacers 24 and center support 30 are discarded and the second display tray 14c is removed. This process continues until all of the product 12 has been sold from the pallet display system 10. In this manner, the size of the pallet display system can decrease as product is sold from the display system.

As can be understood in the previous description and the drawing Figures, the series of spacers 24 evenly space the display trays 14 and provide a platform on which additional trays may be placed. The height of the spacers 24 is determined by the height of the product 12 and their primary packaging or, more particularly, the desired height between the display trays 14.

As described in the foregoing description, both the spacers 24 and the support members 18 are formed from V-shaped laminated paperboard edge protectors, such as V-BOARD available from Great Northern Corporation. Both the spacers 24 and support members 18 are V-shaped and include a pair of legs joined at an apex. The V-shaped edge protectors that form the spacer 24 and support member 18 provide adequate longitudinal strength to allow products having a substantial weight to be stacked onto each other. Further, since the support member 18 extends from the bottom display tray 14a to the top of the packaging system, the support member 18 provides additional stacking strength for the display system when it is assembled, as shown in FIG. 1.