Title:
Large-capacity shipment and display bin
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The container 10 comprises a bottom cover 12, a plurality of stackable trays 14 for holding produce, a sleeve 18, and a top cover 20. Each tray 14 is filled with produce and placed within the bottom cover 12. After the trays 14 are stacked, a film may be wrapped around the trays 14 to stabilize the produce. The sleeve 18 is then lowered over the trays 14 and the container 10 is capped with the top cover 20. When assembled, the container 10 may be secured by securement members, such as straps 64, and placed on a base member 22 for supporting the container and facilitating the shipping of the container. At the point of sale, the top cover 20 and sleeve 18 may be removed, exposing the produce, thereby forming a display bin capable of displaying the shipped produce to customers for purchase.



Inventors:
Remaks, William J. (Louisville, KY, US)
Application Number:
10/427504
Publication Date:
06/03/2004
Filing Date:
04/30/2003
Assignee:
Weyerhaeuser Company
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/499
International Classes:
B65D19/20; B65D71/00; B65D71/06; B65D71/70; (IPC1-7): B65D19/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FOSTER, JIMMY G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEYERHAEUSER COMPANY (FEDERAL WAY, WA, US)
Claims:

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:



1. A container for shipping and displaying produce, comprising: a bottom cover having a bottom wall and upwardly extending sidewalls substantially transverse to said bottom wall defining a pre-selected shape and forming an interior cavity; a plurality of produce trays stacked in overlying relationship to said bottom wall of said bottom cover, a portion of said plurality of produce trays disposed within said interior cavity of said bottom cover; a sleeve having sidewalls defining said pre-selected shape and defining an interior cavity, said sleeve disposed around said plurality of produce trays so that said plurality of produce trays are positioned within said interior cavity of said sleeve, a lower portion of said sidewalls positioned within said sidewalls of said bottom cover; and a top cover having a top wall and downwardly depending sidewalls substantially transverse to said top wall defining said pre-selected shape and forming an interior cavity, said top cover overlaying a top portion of said plurality of trays, an upper portion of the sidewalls of said sleeve positioned within the sidewalls of said top cover.

2. The container of claim 1, further comprising a stretchable film wrapped around the perimeter of said plurality of produce trays.

3. The container of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of straps, said plurality of straps being wrapped around said top cover and said bottom cover for securing said assembly together during shipping.

4. The container of claim 1, further comprising a base member having a top surface; said bottom wall of said bottom cover disposed adjacent to said top surface of said base member.

5. The container of claim 1, wherein said pre-selected shape is rectangular.

6. The container of claim 1, wherein said sidewalls of said sleeve has a plurality of apertures in the sidewalls thereof.

7. The container of claim 1, wherein said bottom cover and said top cover are constructed from a single wall material.

8. The container of claim 1, wherein said sleeve is constructed from a triple wall material.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein said top wall of said top cover is substantially parallel with said bottom wall of said bottom cover.

10. The container of claim 1, wherein a plurality of said container assemblies are stacked to form a shipping container.

11. The container of claim 1, further comprising a spacer disposed between said top cover and said plurality of trays.

12. The container of claim 3, further comprising edge members, said edge members disposed around said top cover to reinforce said assembly where said straps are applied.

13. The container of claim 1, wherein said sidewalls of said bottom cover being downwardly foldable to cover said base member.

14. The container of claim 1, wherein said base member is a pallet.

15. The container of claim 1, wherein said base member is a slip sheet.

16. A method of assembling a container for shipping and displaying produce, comprising: providing a base member having a top surface; placing a bottom cover upon said top surface, said bottom cover having a bottom wall and upwardly extending sidewalls which define an interior cavity; stacking a plurality of produce trays in overlying relationship to said bottom wall, a portion of said plurality of produce trays disposed within said interior cavity of said bottom cover; placing a sleeve having sidewalls that form an interior cavity over said plurality of produce trays and into engagement with a portion of said bottom cover; and placing a top cover upon and in engagement with a top portion of said sleeve.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising wrapping a stretchable film around said plurality of produce trays.

18. The method of claim 16 further comprising securing said top cover to said bottom cover with a plurality of straps.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. application Ser. No. 09/898,862 filed Jul. 03, 2001, the benefit of which is hereby claimed under 35 U.S.C. §120.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to a multi-component packaging system, and more particularly to a large-capacity shipment and display bin for shipping and displaying produce.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] For many years, produce, especially tree fruit such as apples, peaches, nectarines, pears and the like, have been packed and shipped in individual corrugated cartons or wooden lug boxes. These containers receive a single stack of molded pulp or plastic trays typically five to ten layers high, each tray cradling and protecting a layer of fruit. This proven method of placing and shipping tree fruit has been widely accepted by retail merchandisers.

[0004] With the advent of larger, higher volume retail grocery stores, a much greater turnover of tree fruit inventory occurs, and store merchandisers are hard pressed to keep enough tree fruit displayed to satisfy the demand. Present individual cartons and lug boxes suffer from many deficiencies that are amplified by these type of merchandisers. For example, individual cartons and lug boxes require the produce merchandisers to unpack and hand stack on counters for display and sale the individual trays, taking one at a time out of the carton or lug box. Additionally, in the larger supermarkets and club stores, these tray packed fruit displays take on a massive aspect, requiring an extensive number of man hours to develop and maintain. Furthermore, the large number of individual cartons and lug boxes required to stack such a display are expensive in aggregate, typically are not reusable, and must be disposed of as solid waste.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The present invention overcomes the deficiencies of the prior art as discussed above by presenting a large-capacity container utilized for shipping and displaying produce. The present invention combines the protective qualities of molded pulp or plastic trays in conjunction with a pallet-sized container or bulk bin. After the container has arrived at the store, the container can be transformed into a display bin capable of displaying the shipped produce to customers for purchase.

[0006] In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, a container for shipping and displaying produce is presented including a bottom cover having a bottom wall and upwardly extending sidewalls substantially transverse to the bottom wall. The bottom cover defines a pre-selected shape and an interior cavity. The container also includes a plurality of trays for receiving produce, which is stackable in overlying relationship to the bottom wall of the bottom cover. A portion of the trays is disposed within the interior cavity of the bottom cover. A sleeve is further included having sidewalls defining the pre-selected shape and defining an interior cavity. The sleeve is disposed around the plurality of trays so that the trays are positioned within the interior cavity of the sleeve, and the lower portion of the sidewalls are positioned within the sidewalls of the bottom cover. The container further includes a top cover having a top wall and downwardly depending sidewalls substantially transverse to the top wall. The top wall defines the pre-selected shape and an interior cavity. The top cover overlays a top portion of the plurality of trays, and the upper portion of the sidewalls of the sleeve is positioned within the sidewalls of the top cover.

[0007] In one embodiment, a film is wrapped around the perimeter of the trays. In another embodiment, the container is placed on a base member to be shipped.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily appreciated as the same become better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0009] FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a large-capacity shipment and display container constructed in accordance with aspects of the present invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective assembly view of the container shown in FIG. 1;

[0011] FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of multiple containers in a stacked configuration for shipping;

[0012] FIG. 4 illustrates the container transformed into a display bin at a point of purchase; and

[0013] FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of the bottom cover of the container shown in FIG. 1 having its bottom walls folded downwardly to conceal the base member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0014] The present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings where like numerals correspond to like elements. One suitable embodiment of a large-capacity shipment and display container, generally designated 10, for shipping and displaying produce constructed in accordance with aspects of the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 1-5. A plurality of containers 10 may be aggregated in a stacked configuration to facilitate shipping in large carriers, such as refrigerated trucks, as best shown in FIG. 3. Referring now to FIG. 1, the container 10 comprises a bottom cover 12, a plurality of stackable trays 14 for holding produce 38, a sleeve 18, and a top cover 20. When assembled, the container 10 may be secured by securement members, such as straps 64, and placed on a base member 22 that supports the container and facilitates the shipment of the container. At the point of sale, the top cover 20 and sleeve 18 may be removed, exposing the produce 38, thereby forming a display bin capable of displaying the shipped produce to customers for purchase.

[0015] Referring now to FIG. 2, the container 10 includes a bottom cover 12 having a bottom wall 30 and upwardly extending sidewalls 32 substantially transverse to the bottom wall 30, which define a preselected shape and an interior cavity. In the embodiment shown, the pre-selected shape is a parallelepiped, such as a rectangle. However, it should be readily evident that other shapes may be used. The bottom cover is the bottom member of the container and may be placed upon a base member 22, such as a standard wooden or plastic “grocery” pallet or slip sheet. The base member 22 is of standard size, approximately forty inches (40″) by forty-eight inches (48″) in size, and facilitates in the handling and shipping of the container. The bottom cover 12 is preferably constructed from a blank of single wall corrugated paperboard, which is cut, scored, folded, and fastened in the traditional fashion known in the art to form a bottom cover 12 having the dimensions of a standard large capacity container or bulk-bin. In one embodiment, the dimensions of the bottom wall are approximately forty inches (40″) by forty-eight inches (48″). With this configuration, the bottom cover 12 can be cut and folded downwardly to cover the pallet 22 for improved appearance and safety, as illustrated in FIG. 5.

[0016] Returning to FIG. 2, the container 10 also includes trays 14, commonly referred to in the art as “apple trays”, stackable in an overlying relationship to the bottom wall 30 of the bottom cover 12. Each tray 14 includes a plurality of produce receiving portions (not shown) that supports the produce, protecting the produce, such as tree fruit, in a cradle-like hold. The structure and design of the trays 14 are well known in the art and will not be described in detail here. The trays are preferably made of molded pulp and are configured to hold a plurality of produce, such as one disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,695,479 to Crabtree, which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference. Alternatively, the trays may be constructed of a molded plastic. In either case, the trays 14 are of a standard size so that the trays may be placed side-by-side on the bottom wall 30 of the bottom cover 12, filled with produce 38, and then stacked ten to twenty layers high. Alternatively, the tray may be of a suitable size such that a single tray can fill the entire bottom wall of the bottom cover. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the number of stackable trays will vary depending on the produce type, size, and pack configuration, and that less than ten and more than twenty trays are possible. After each tray is filled with produce 38 and stacked one tray on top of another, stretch film 16, preferably ventilated, is snugly wrapped around the stacked trays 14 several times, to firmly bind together the trays 14 of produce in order to stabilize the produce during transit.

[0017] Referring still to FIG. 2, the container 10 further includes a sleeve 18, commonly referred to in the art as a tube, which is placed over the stackable trays 14 when assembled. The sleeve 18 has sidewalls 44 that are integrally connected, and an open bottom and top that define the pre-selected shape of the bottom cover 12. The sleeve 18 is suitably dimensioned so that its bottom portion fits inside the bottom cover in a overlapping relation, engaging the bottom wall. The sleeve 18 is further dimensioned such that when the container is assembled, the sleeve 18 envelops the stackable trays 14. The sleeve 18 is preferably constructed from a material having high compression strength, such as corrugated or solid paperboard, or plastic, to provide the necessary rigidity and stacking strength necessary to withstand the rigors of stacking and shipping.

[0018] In one embodiment, the sleeve 18 is constructed from a triple wall corrugated paperboard blank having a plurality of panels that form the sidewalls 44. Score lines are provided between the panels and a flap is connected to the outside edge of one of the outer panels so that the panels may be joined to form the sleeve 18. With this configuration, the sleeve 18 can be stored and shipped in a “knocked down” condition, i.e., the sleeve is folded onto itself along diametrically opposed corners so that the sleeve lays flat, and may be easily reusable after shipment. The sleeve 18 further includes a plurality of apertures 46 positioned in the sidewalls 44. In the embodiment shown, the plurality of apertures 46 are vertically disposed slots; however, other apertures of suitable dimensions and orientation may be used.

[0019] The container 10 further includes a top cover 20, essentially a duplicate of the bottom cover 12, which is placed over the top portion of the sleeve 18 in overlapping relation to close the container. The top cover 20 includes a top wall 50 and downwardly depending sidewalls 52 substantially transverse to the top wall 50 defining the pre-selected shape of the bottom cover 12, and the sleeve 18, and defining an interior cavity. Similar to the bottom cover 12, the top cover 20 is preferably constructed from a single wall corrugated paperboard blank that is cut, scored, folded, and fastened to form the top cover 20. To protect the produce in transit, a headspace filler 60 such as foam, bubblepack, or some other suitable material may be placed within the interior cavity of the sleeve 18, on top of the stackable trays 14 and below the top cover 20.

[0020] As best shown in FIG. 1, after the container in fully assembled, securement members, such as steel or plastic straps 64, may be wrapped in a known fashion around the major and/or minor axes of the container, securing the top cover 20 and the bottom cover 12 for shipping. To reinforce the bottom and top covers 12 and 20, various edge protectors, not shown but well known in the art, constructed from a suitable material may be placed over the edges of the top and bottom covers, under the straps 64. Once the container 10 is shipped to the merchandisers, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, and club stores, the straps 64 may be removed, and the top cover 20 and sleeve 18 may be slipped off. After the sleeve 18 is removed, the produce 38 is exposed, transforming the container from a shipping container to a display bin 70, as illustrated best in FIG. 4. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the container should be in the desired location on the merchandisers' floor before disassembling part of the container. The container 10, now usable as a display bin, allows purchasers to select the produce from the top trays, and allows the merchandiser to remove the trays and the film one or more layers at a time, once the produce of the top layer is empty.

[0021] Assembling the exemplary embodiment of the container in accordance with the aspects of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1-5. A bottom cover 12 of a desired, pre-selected dimension, is obtained and placed on a base member 22, such as a pallet or slip sheet. A tray 14 having recesses for holding produce is placed within the bottom cover 12 and loaded with produce 38, such as tree fruit. Once the tray 14 is full, another tray 14 is stacked on top of the last filled tray, until the desired capacity is reached. Then, a film 16 may be wrapped around the stacked trays 14 of produce to stabilize the produce for transit. Next, a sleeve 18 is lowered over the stacked trays 14 of produce to envelop the trays 14. Once the sleeve 18 is in place, resting inside the bottom cover 12, a top cover 20 of identical dimensions as the bottom cover 12 is placed on top of the sleeve 18. Securement straps 64 are then wrapped around the container 10 to secure the container together, which then may be stacked on top of one another and placed within a refrigerated transportation carrier. After arriving at the retail location, the containers 10 are removed from the transportation carrier and placed in the storage room, with one container 10 placed in the store for display. Once in place on the sales floor, the top cover 20 and sleeve 18 are removed, transforming the container 10 into a display bin 70 capable of displaying the shipped produce to customers for purchase.

[0022] While the container 10 constructed in accordance with aspects of the present invention has be described above and illustrated herein as a parallelepiped and having the dimensions of a large-capacity container or bin, it will be readily evident that other shapes and sizes may be used to form the container 10.

[0023] While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.