Title:
Anti-Tilt Pallet and Method for Shipping and Installing a Computer Rack Therewith
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An anti-tilt pallet includes a first sub-frame and a second sub-frame. The first sub-frame has a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member. The second sub-frame has a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member. The first through fourth extension members each have an alignment hole therethrough. A plurality of first alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member with the third extension member, and a plurality of second alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member with the fourth extension member. A slot is configured to removably receive a weight in at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame.



Inventors:
Huettner, Cary M. (Rochester, MN, US)
Kuczynski, Joseph (Rochester, MN, US)
Meyer III, Robert E. (Rochester, MN, US)
Tofil, Timothy J. (Rochester, MN, US)
Corput, Gregory Vande S. (Rochester, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/866497
Publication Date:
04/09/2009
Filing Date:
10/03/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/28
International Classes:
B65D19/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FOLLMAN, BRODIE J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP - IBM ROCHESTER DIVISION (20 Church Street, 22nd Floor, Hartford, CT, 06103, US)
Claims:
1. An anti-tilt pallet for a computer rack, the anti-tilt pallet comprising: a first sub-frame having a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member, the first extension member and the second extension member each having an alignment hole therethrough; a second sub-frame having a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member, the third extension member and the fourth extension member each having an alignment hole therethrough; a plurality of first alignment members disposed in the alignment holes of the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member with the third extension member; a plurality of second alignment members disposed in the alignment holes of the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member with the fourth extension member; and a slot configured to removably receive a weight in at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame.

2. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 1, wherein the plurality of alignment members comprises at least one of a rod and a bolt.

3. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 1, further comprising a translation member disposed on at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame to allow translation thereof.

4. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 3, wherein the translation member comprises at least one of a caster, a roller and a wheel.

5. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame further comprises an aperture to receive an additional weight.

6. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 1, further comprising a lifting mechanism.

7. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 6, wherein the lifting mechanism comprises a jack.

8. An anti-tilt pallet for a computer rack, the anti-tilt pallet comprising: a first sub-frame having a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member, the first extension member and the second extension member each having an alignment hole therethrough; a second sub-frame having a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member, the third extension member and the fourth extension member each having an alignment hole therethrough; a first lifting mechanism and a second lifting mechanism each having an alignment hole therethrough; a plurality of first alignment members disposed in the alignment holes of the first lifting mechanism, the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member and the third extension member with the first lifting mechanism aligned therebetween; and a plurality of second alignment members disposed in the alignment holes of the second lifting mechanism, the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member and the fourth extension member with the second lifting mechanism aligned therebetween.

9. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 8, wherein at least one of the first lifting mechanism and the second lifting mechanism comprises a jack.

10. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 8, wherein at least one of the first lifting mechanism and the second lifting mechanism comprises a scissor jack.

11. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 8, wherein the plurality of alignment members comprises at least one of a rod and a bolt.

12. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 8, further comprising a translation member disposed on at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame to allow translation thereof.

13. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 12, wherein the translation member comprises at least one of a caster, a roller and a wheel.

14. The anti-tilt pallet of claim 8, wherein at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame further comprises an aperture to receive an additional weight.

15. A method for installing a computer rack, the method comprising: installing an electrical device onto the computer rack; installing the computer rack onto an anti-tilt pallet, the anti-tilt pallet comprising: a first sub-frame having a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member, the first extension member and the second extension member each having an alignment hole therethrough; a second sub-frame having a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member, the third extension member and the fourth extension member each having an alignment hole therethrough; a first lifting mechanism and a second lifting mechanism each having an alignment hole therethrough; a plurality of first alignment members disposed in the alignment holes of the first lifting mechanism, the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member and the third extension member with the first lifting mechanism aligned therebetween; and a plurality of second alignment members disposed in the alignment holes of the second lifting mechanism, the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member and the fourth extension member with the second lifting mechanism aligned therebetween, wherein at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame is configured with a slot to removably receive a weight therein; transporting the computer rack to a predetermined location using the anti-tilt pallet; positioning the computer rack into a predetermined position using the lifting mechanism; installing the computer rack into the predetermined position; and removing the anti-tilt pallet from the computer rack.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the electrical device comprises a computer server.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a pallet for shipping and installing computer racks. More particularly, the present invention is directed to an anti-tilt pallet having insertable weights and/or a lifting mechanism for shipping and installing computer racks.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Computer equipment is often configured on a rack which is transported on a pallet. When configured with a large computer server, for example, a rack typically weighs over 2000 pounds and may exceed 2 meters in height. As a result, a center of gravity of the rack may be sufficiently high to present a significant tilt hazard when the rack is moved on the pallet prior to installing the rack into a computing environment (such as a datacenter). To reduce the tilt hazard, several methods are currently employed to lower the center of gravity. For example, an upper portion of the computer server may be removed during shipping of the rack only to be re-installed prior to final installation of the rack into the computer system. In other cases, the rack may be shipped partially empty, with final hardware installation occurring after installation of the partially empty rack into the computing environment. However, these methods prevent delivery of fully populated racks and require additional effort to reinstall components removed from the racks for shipping. Further, shipping costs increase due to shipping of multiple components for a single rack.

To alleviate disadvantages of shipping partially disassembled racks while still reducing the tilt hazard, additional weight is sometimes installed into a lower portion of the rack itself. Currently, additional weight in a range of about 200 pounds to about 1200 pounds is required, depending upon a weight, height and center of gravity of a given rack. However, adding additional weight has disadvantages, as well. For example, in addition to an increase in overall production cost to add the additional weight, shipping costs increase due to the additional weight, and the additional weight increases an overall weight of the computer system, which is especially detrimental in installations where floor or platform loading is an important or limiting factor. Finally, removal of the additional weight after installation is difficult in small spaces typically associated with installation of a computer server rack, and is therefore time-consuming and costly.

Accordingly, a need exists for an anti-tilt pallet which allows for delivery of a fully configured rack without compromising tilt protection or requiring additional weight to be added to the fully configured rack.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The foregoing discussed drawbacks and deficiencies of the prior art are overcome or alleviated by an exemplary embodiment of an anti-tilt pallet. The anti-tilt pallet according to an exemplary embodiment includes a first sub-frame having a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member. The first extension member and the second extension member each have an alignment hole therethrough. The anti-tilt pallet further includes a second sub-frame having a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member, and the third extension member and the fourth extension member each have an alignment hole therethrough. A plurality of first alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member with the third extension member, and a plurality of second alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member with the fourth extension member. A slot is configured to removably receive a weight in at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame.

In an alternative exemplary embodiment of the present invention, an anti-tilt pallet includes a first sub-frame having a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member. The first extension member and the second extension member each have an alignment hole therethrough. The anti-tilt pallet further includes a second sub-frame having a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member, and the third extension member and the fourth extension member each have an alignment hole therethrough. The anti-tilt pallet further includes a first lifting mechanism and a second lifting mechanism each having an alignment hole therethrough. A plurality of first alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the first lifting mechanism, the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member and the third extension member with the first lifting mechanism aligned therebetween, and a plurality of second alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the second lifting mechanism, the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member and the fourth extension member with the second lifting mechanism aligned therebetween.

In yet another alternative exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a method for installing a computer rack includes installing an electrical device onto the computer rack, installing the computer rack onto an anti-tilt pallet, transporting the computer rack to a predetermined location using the anti-tilt pallet, positioning the computer rack into a predetermined position using the lifting mechanism, installing the computer rack into the predetermined position, and removing the anti-tilt pallet from the computer rack.

The anti-tilt pallet includes a first sub-frame having a first vertical support member, a first extension member and a second extension member. The first extension member and the second extension member each have an alignment hole therethrough. The anti-tilt pallet further includes a second sub-frame having a second vertical support member, a third extension member and a fourth extension member, and the third extension member and the fourth extension member each have an alignment hole therethrough. A plurality of first alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the first extension member and the third extension member to align the first extension member with the third extension member, and a plurality of second alignment members are disposed in the alignment holes of the second extension member and the fourth extension member to align the second extension member with the fourth extension member. A slot is configured to removably receive a weight in at least one of the first sub-frame and the second sub-frame.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the figures, which are exemplary embodiments, and wherein the like elements are numbered alike:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of an anti-tilt pallet in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded overall top perspective view of an anti-tilt pallet in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of an anti-tilt pallet in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of an anti-tilt pallet and a computer equipment rack in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of an operating mechanism of a jack in an anti-tilt pallet in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which exemplary embodiments of the invention are shown. The present invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout.

It will be understood that when an element is referred to as being “on” another element, it can be directly on the other element or intervening elements may be present therebetween. In contrast, when an element is referred to as being “directly on” another element, there are no intervening elements present. As used herein, the term “and/or” includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items.

It will be understood that although the terms “first,” “second,” “third” etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, components, regions, layers and/or sections, these elements, components, regions, layers and/or sections should not be limited by these terms. These terms are only used to distinguish one element, component, region, layer or section from another element, component, region, layer or section. Thus, a first element, component, region, layer or section discussed below could be termed a second element, component, region, layer or section without departing from the teachings of the present invention.

The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. As used herein, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms “comprises” and/or “comprising,” or “includes” and/or “including,” when used in this specification, specify the presence of stated features, regions, integers, steps, operations, elements and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, regions, integers, steps, operations, elements, components and/or groups thereof.

Furthermore, relative terms, such as “lower” or “bottom” and “upper” or “top” may be used herein to describe one element's relationship to other elements as illustrated in the Figures. It will be understood that relative terms are intended to encompass different orientations of the device in addition to the orientation depicted in the Figures. For example, if the device in one of the figures is turned over, elements described as being on the “lower” side of other elements would then be oriented on the “upper” side of the other elements. The exemplary term “lower” can, therefore, encompass both an orientation of “lower” and “upper,” depending upon the particular orientation of the figure. Similarly, if the device in one of the figures were turned over, elements described as “below” or “beneath” other elements would then be oriented “above” the other elements. The exemplary terms “below” or “beneath” can, therefore, encompass both an orientation of above and below. Unless otherwise defined, all terms (including technical and scientific terms) used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the present invention belongs. It will be further understood that terms, such as those defined in commonly used dictionaries, should be interpreted as having a meaning which is consistent with their meaning in the context of the relevant art and the present disclosure, and will not be interpreted in an idealized or overly formal sense unless expressly so defined herein.

Referring generally to the Figures, an anti-tilt pallet 10 for storing, shipping and/or installing equipment such as a computer server, for example, but not being limited thereto, in a rack 12 includes a first sub-frame 100, a second sub-frame 200 and a pair of lifting mechanisms 300 therebetween.

More specifically, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, first extension beams 120 having alignment holes 500 therethrough extend from a first vertical support beam 110 of the first sub-frame 100 toward a first end of each lifting mechanism 300 having a corresponding alignment hole 500. Likewise, second extension beams 220 having alignment holes 500 therethrough extend from a second vertical support beam 210 of the second sub-frame 200 toward a second end of a respective lifting mechanism 300 having the corresponding alignment hole 500. An alignment member 510 is disposed in each alignment hole 500 such that corresponding first extension beams 120 are joined to respective second extension beams 220 with a respective common lifting mechanism 300 therebetween. In an exemplary embodiment, the alignment member 510 includes a steel rod and/or a bolt, but is not limited thereto in alternative exemplary embodiments of the present invention.

In an exemplary embodiment, the lifting mechanisms 300 are secured to each of the first extension beam 120 and the second extension beam 220, with a bracket (not shown), for example. In alternative exemplary embodiments, the lifting mechanisms 300 may each be secured to a lower portion of the rack 12 (FIG. 4), but are not limited thereto in alternative exemplary embodiments. Further, the first sub-frame 100 and the second sub-frame 200 may be secured to the lifting mechanisms 300 and/or the rack 12, but alternative exemplary embodiments are not limited thereto.

A top surface of each of the lifting mechanisms 300 includes a keying groove 310 which aligns with a protrusion (not shown) of the rack 12 to maintain a desired alignment of the rack 12 during storage, shipping and/or installation.

Still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a plurality of weight insertion slots 600 is formed in each of the first sub-frame 100 and the second sub-frame 200 on a top deck 14, for example, but is not limited thereto, of the anti-tilt pallet 10. In an exemplary embodiment, removable weights (not shown) are inserted into respective weight insertion slots 600 of the plurality of weight insertion slots according to a predetermined desired stability, e.g., anti-tilt characteristic, of the anti-tilt pallet 10 commensurate with a weight, height and corresponding center of gravity of the rack 12 disposed on the top deck 14 of the anti-tilt pallet 10. In alternative exemplary embodiments, additional weights 800 (FIG. 2) may be attached to the first sub-frame 100 and/or the second sub-frame 200 in holes 700 of the first sub-frame 100 and/or the second sub-frame 200. The additional weight 800 may be attached to the first sub-frame 100 and/or the second sub-frame 200 using connectors (not shown) such as bolts, for example, in the holes 700, but are not limited thereto.

A translation member 400, such as a plurality of casters 400, for example, but is not limited thereto, is disposed on a bottom deck 16 (FIG. 3) opposite to the top deck 14 (FIG. 1) of the anti-tilt pallet 10 to facilitate movement of the anti-tilt pallet 10 having the rack 12 thereon. In an exemplary embodiment, casters 400 of the plurality of casters 400 are high-weight casters, but are not limited thereto in alternative exemplary embodiments. Further, it will be understood that those of ordinary skill in the art that alternative exemplary embodiments of the present invention may include wheels or rollers, for example, instead of the casters 400, but is not limited thereto. In addition, the casters 400 may be attached to the anti-tilt pallet 10 in alternative locations such as a side of the anti-tilt pallet 10, for example.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a rack 12 is placed on the upper deck 16 (FIG. 1) of the anti-tilt pallet 10 for storage, shipping and/or installation. In an exemplary embodiment, a width WP of the anti-tilt pallet 10 is less than or equal to a width WR of the rack 12. As a result, the anti-tilt pallet 10 can be maneuvered into an installation space (not shown) having a width limited to the width WR of the rack 12, such as in an installation of the rack 12 into a populated aisle of a data center, for example. Conversely, a length LP of the anti-tilt pallet 10 may be longer than a length LR of the rack 12, thereby facilitating attachment of additional weights 800 (FIG. 2) without increasing the width WP of the anti-tilt pallet 10 corresponding to the width WR of the rack 12.

Still referring to FIG. 4, it can be seen that original system casters 910 of the rack 12 are not required to support the rack 12 when the rack 12 is disposed on the anti-tilt frame 10. More specifically, the rack 12 may be lifted onto the anti-tilt pallet 10 by a forklift, for example, or, in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention having the lifting mechanisms 300 (FIGS. 1 and 2), by the lifting mechanisms 300 themselves. Likewise, the lifting mechanisms 300 may be used to lower and/or raise the rack 12 to facilitate installation of the rack 12. As a result, a need for additional equipment, such as the forklift, is effectively eliminated in exemplary embodiments of the present invention.

Operation of the lifting mechanisms 300 will now be described in further detail with reference to FIG. 5. As can be seen in FIG. 5, a lifting mechanism handle 320 is connected to respective alignment members 510 disposed in corresponding alignment holes 500 of the associated lifting mechanisms 300 via connector rods 330. As a result, each of the lifting mechanisms 300 is simultaneously operated by the lifting mechanism handle 320, thereby maintaining a level alignment of the rack 12 during loading and installation of the rack 12.

In an exemplary embodiment, the lifting mechanisms 300 may be jacks such as scissor jacks, for example, but are not limited thereto in alternative exemplary embodiments. Further, the ratcheting lifting mechanism handle 320 may be operated manually, e.g., by a hand crank (not shown), or with an appropriate device such as an electric drill, for example, but is not limited thereto.

Although exemplary embodiments of the present invention have been described in accordance with an anti-tilt pallet as it relates to a computer rack, it will be understood that the present invention is not limited thereto and that the present invention may be incorporated for providing an anti-tilt pallet associated with any similar large and/or heavy apparatus requiring anti-tilt protection. For example, the anti-tilt pallet may be used for shipping and/or installing automatic teller machines (“ATMs”) or soft drink vending machines, for example, but is not limited thereto in alternative exemplary embodiments.

In addition, while the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to exemplary embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the spirit and/or scope of the present invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the present invention without departing from the essential scope thereof.

For example, while exemplary embodiments of the present invention depicted in the accompanying Figures are shown with lifting mechanisms, it will be understood that alternative exemplary embodiments need not include the lifting mechanisms.

Further, in yet another alternative exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a method for shipping and installing a computer rack includes installing an electrical device onto the computer rack, installing the computer rack onto the anti-tilt pallet described above in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 1 through 5, transporting the computer rack to a predetermined location using the anti-tilt pallet, positioning the computer rack into a predetermined position using the lifting mechanism, installing the computer rack into the predetermined position and removing the anti-tilt pallet from the computer rack.

Therefore, it is intended that the present invention not be limited to the particular exemplary embodiments disclosed herein, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.