Title:
Waste container with security frame
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A secured trash container system includes a container with side walls and an open top end, the side walls including engagement locations, and a protective frame. The frame includes: a base; a plurality of uprights mounted with the base and extending upwardly therefrom, two of the uprights being separated from each other to define an open front side; and a roof supported by the uprights. The base, uprights and roof define a storage cavity wherein the container resides. The roof covers the open top end of the container. The container is configured to pass through the open front side of the frame. In this configuration, the presence of the roof over the open top end of the container can prevent unwanted access to the container, but can permit the container to be emptied in a conventional manner by passing the container through the open front side of the frame.



Inventors:
Pruett, James (Wendell, NC, US)
Application Number:
10/606049
Publication Date:
12/30/2004
Filing Date:
06/25/2003
Assignee:
PRUETT JAMES
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D6/08; B65F1/02; B65F1/12; B65F1/14; (IPC1-7): B65D6/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LHYMN, EUGENE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MYERS BIGEL, P.A. (RALEIGH, NC, US)
Claims:

That which is claimed is:



1. A secured trash container system, comprising: a container with side walls and an open top end, the side walls including engagement locations; and a protective frame, the frame including: a base; a plurality of uprights mounted with the base and extending upwardly therefrom, two of the uprights being separated from each other to define an open front side; and a roof supported by the uprights; the base, uprights and roof defining a storage cavity; wherein the container resides in the storage cavity and the roof covers the open top end of the container, and wherein the container is configured to pass through the open front side of the frame.

2. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the frame comprises four uprights and is open to the rear.

3. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the roof includes a sloped front panel.

4. The system defined in claim 3, wherein the front panel includes a door.

5. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the roof is adapted to receive an external trash chute.

6. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the container includes a front wall having a door.

7. The system defined in claim 6, wherein the front wall door includes a lock.

8. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the container has a volume of between about four and ten cubic yards.

9. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the engagement locations on the container side walls are configured to receive a prong inserted longitudinally.

10. The system defined in claim 9, wherein the engagement locations comprise channels mounted on the container side walls.

11. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the frame includes side rails mounted to the base, and the container rests on the side rails when the container is positioned in the storage cavity.

12. The system defined in claim 11, wherein the side rails include stops at their rearward ends to prevent rearward movement of the container.

13. The system defined in claim 11, wherein the side rails are inwardly offset from the frame uprights.

14. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the container includes a floor and feet mounted underneath the floor.

15. The system defined in claim 1, wherein the container includes a front wall, and wherein the roof and an upper edge of the container form a gap that is between about 1 and 3 inches in height.

16. A method of emptying trash from a trash containment system, the method comprising the steps of: (a) providing a trash containment system, the system including: a container with side walls and an open top end, the side walls including engagement locations; and a protective frame, the frame including: a base; a plurality of uprights mounted with the base and extending upwardly therefrom, two of the uprights being separated from each other to define an open front side; and a roof supported by the uprights; the base, uprights and roof defining a storage cavity; wherein the container resides in the storage cavity and the roof covers the open top end of the container; (b) engaging the container with a trash collection vehicle; (c) translating the engaged container forwardly through the open front side of the frame with the vehicle; and (d) lifting and inverting the container over the vehicle to empty trash contained in the container into the vehicle.

17. The method defined in claim 16, further comprising the step of: (e) translating the container rearwardly through the open front side of the frame after completing step (d).

18. The method defined in claim 16, wherein the container includes engagement locations on the container side walls that are configured to receive a prong inserted longitudinally.

19. The method defined in claim 18, wherein the engagement locations comprise channels mounted on the container side walls.

20. The method defined in claim 16, wherein one of the container front wall, side walls and rear wall includes doors that can be opened to receive trash within the container.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to waste containers, and more specifically to large waste containers that are emptied by a commercial waste company vehicle.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Many businesses utilize a large waste container, located outside the building itself, to collect waste generated during the business day. Sometimes referred to as “dumpsters”, such containers may be as large as ten cubic yards in volume. Many containers have a general box-type structure and include multiple openings for access to the interior of the container. For example, a typical container is open on the top and has sliding doors on one side, either of which provide access for the disposal of waste.

[0003] In many instances, such containers are emptied by large collection vehicles that lift the container and invert it above the bed of the vehicle, which allows waste within the container to drop into the vehicle bed through the open top end of the container. Typically the container will include holes, rails, channels or other engagement structures that engage the prongs of a forklift-type elevating device attached to the truck to enable the device to lift and manipulate the container.

[0004] These types of containers, particularly when used by businesses, can have some security issues. First, other businesses and persons may deposit their unwanted trash or hazardous materials in the container. This can raise the cost of trash collection for the business owner or the collector, as many trash collection concerns charge their customers based on the weight of the container. Second, many businesses suffer from employee theft, wherein the employee will hide a stolen item in the dumpster during his shift and return after his shift to collect the item. Third, some materials (such as food) are scavenged from the containers.

[0005] Some attempts have been made to prevent unwanted use of the containers. One approach employs a lid on the container and a mechanical locking system that keeps the lid in place when the container is upright. Any doors on the front wall of the container are locked except when trash is being deposited. When the container is inverted for emptying, the lid moves to an open position. However, the container and lid tend to be cumbersome (often the lid cannot be opened without a collection vehicle, or the lid may stick in the closed position during emptying) and there have been durability concerns.

[0006] Another difficulty is that many trash collectors and landfills assess fees for collection based on the weight of the trash within the container. When the container is exposed to rain, the waste within the trash can become much heavier, so the customer is charged extra. Lids that are typically used with containers of this type are generally not watertight, so the customer may pay extra for collection of the same refuse.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention can provide solutions to the aforementioned problems with unwanted container usage. As a first aspect, embodiments of the present invention are directed to a secured trash container system. The system comprises a container with side walls and an open top end, the side walls including engagement locations, and a protective frame. The frame includes: a base; a plurality of uprights mounted with the base and extending upwardly therefrom, two of the uprights being separated from each other to define an open front side; and a roof supported by the uprights. The base, uprights and roof define a storage cavity wherein the container resides. The roof covers the open top end of the container. The container is configured to pass through the open front side of the frame. In this configuration, the presence of the roof over the open top end of the container can prevent unwanted access to the container, but can permit the container to be emptied in a conventional manner by passing the container through the open front side of the frame.

[0008] As a second aspect, embodiments of the present invention are directed to a method of emptying trash from a trash containment system. The method comprises as a first step: (a) providing a trash containment system, the system including a container with side walls and an open top end, the side walls including engagement locations, and a protective frame, the frame including: a base; a plurality of uprights mounted with the base and extending upwardly therefrom, two of the uprights being separated from each other to define an open front side; and a roof supported by the uprights, the base, uprights and roof defining a storage cavity; wherein the container resides in the storage cavity and the roof covers the open top end of the container. The method further comprises the steps of: (b) engaging the container with a trash collection vehicle; (c) translating the engaged container forwardly through the open front side of the frame with the vehicle; and (d) lifting and inverting the container over the vehicle to empty trash contained in the container into the vehicle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the frame of a container security system of the present invention.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a front view of the frame of FIG. 1 with an embodiment of a container that can be employed with a container security system of the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a front view of the frame and container of FIG. 2 indicating how the doors of the container can be opened for the depositing of trash in the container.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a side view of the system of FIG. 2 with the prongs of a collection vehicle entering the channels of the container just prior to emptying.

[0013] FIG. 5 is a side view of the system of FIG. 4 with the prongs of the vehicle engaged in the container channels and the container sliding forward away from the frame.

[0014] FIG. 6 is a side view of a collection vehicle emptying the container of FIG. 4.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the frame of a container security system of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of the frame of a container security system of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

[0017] The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in 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. In the drawings, like numbers refer to like elements throughout. Thicknesses and dimensions of some components may be exaggerated for clarity. It will be understood that when an element is referred to as being “attached”, “connected” or “coupled” to another element, it can be directly connected or coupled to the other element or intervening elements may be present. In contrast, when an element is referred to as being “directly connected” or “directly coupled” to another element, there are no intervening elements present.

[0018] Turning now to the figures, a secure container system, designated broadly at 10, is illustrated in FIGS. 1-6. The system 10 includes a frame 12 and a container 30, each of which is described separately below.

[0019] Referring now to FIG. 1, the frame 12 is a skeletal structure. It includes a pair of crossbeams 14 that rest on the underlying surface, a pair of lower guide rails 16 that are attached to opposite ends of the crossbeams 14 (the crossbeams 14 and the guide rails 16 together forming a base 15), two vertically-disposed front uprights 18 that rise from intermediate portions of the lower side rails 16, two vertically-disposed rear uprights 20 that rise from rear end portions of the lower side rails 16, and a roof 24. Flanges 23 extend laterally from the front and rear uprights 18, 20 to provide locations to bolt or otherwise attach the frame 12 to the underlying surface.

[0020] As used herein, the terms “forward”, “front” and derivatives thereof refer to the direction defined by a vector extending from each rear upright 20 of the frame 12 toward its corresponding front upright 18 parallel to the underlying surface. Conversely, the terms “rearward” and derivatives thereof refer to the direction directly opposite the forward direction; i.e. the rearward direction is defined by a vector that extends from each front upright 18 toward its corresponding rear upright 20 parallel to the underlying surface. The forward and rearward directions together comprise the “longitudinal” direction relative to the system 10. The term “outward”, “lateral” and derivatives thereof refer to the direction defined by a vector originating in the center of the frame 12 and extending in the plane of the underlying surface and perpendicular to the forward and rearward directions. The terms “inboard”, “inward” and derivatives thereof refer to the direction directly opposite to the lateral direction as defined hereinabove. The outward and inward directions together comprise the “transverse” directions relative to the system 10.

[0021] A roof 24 is mounted on the front and rear uprights 18, 20 via downdwardly-extending lower edges 21. The roof 24 spans the distance between these mounting locations both longitudinally and transversely to provide a cover for the frame 12. In the illustrated embodiment, the central portion 26 of the roof 24 slopes downwardly from front to rear to encourage drainage of rain water. Preferably, the roof 24 formed to prevent the entry of water to the structures below it.

[0022] The components comprising the frame 12 define an internal storage cavity 25. The storage cavity 25 is typically between about five and twelve cubic yards in volume in order to house the container 30, but may be of other sizes.

[0023] Those skilled in this art will recognize that the aforementioned members of the frame 12 can take a variety of configurations. They are typically formed of steel, but may also be formed of other metallic materials. The lower guide rails 16 are illustratively and preferably formed of angled members that can provide guides for the container 30 as it is moved into and out of the frame 12. The lower guide rails 16 are mounted inwardly slightly from the front and rear uprights 18, 20 via gussets 17a to conform to the shape of the typical container 30. Similarly, the lower edges 21 of the roof 24 preferably include guides 22 to assist the container 30 as it moves within the frame 12. The lower guide rails 16 also include stops 17 at their rearward ends.

[0024] Referring now to FIG. 2, the container 30 includes a floor 32 supported by feet 33, a front wall 34 with sliding doors 36, opposing side walls 38, and a rear wall 40 (shown in FIG. 4). These form a box-like structure with an open upper end 42 (see FIG. 6). In the illustrated embodiment, the side walls 38 are recessed at their bottom ends. The sliding doors 36 allow access to the cavity of the container 30. Of course, the sliding doors 36 may be located at other locations on the container 30 (for example, on either of the side walls 38) to permit access to the cavity of the container 30. Typically, the front and side walls 34, 38 are sufficiently tall that their upper edges are positioned between about 1 and 3 inches (preferably between about 2 and 2.5 inches) from the roof 24 of the frame 12, thereby preventing the insertion of most waste into the container through a gap between the walls 34, 38 and the roof 24. Typically, the container cavity has a volume of between about four and ten cubic yards.

[0025] A longitudinally-extending channel 44 is attached to each side wall 38. Each channel 44 is sized and positioned to receive a prong or other engagement component from a trash collection vehicle (described below). In the illustrated embodiment, the channels 44 extend over much of the longitudinal distance between the front wall 34 and the rear wall 40 and are continuous, although they need not be. Alternatives to the channel 44 may include holes, flanges, ribs, rails, or the like that can mate with and engage a grasping structure from the vehicle. The channels 44 are located above the side rails 16 of the frame 12 when the container 30 is positioned within the cavity 25 of the frame 12; the inward offset of the side rails 16 enables the channels 44 to fit within the frame 12.

[0026] Use of the system 10 and the security that it can provide can be understood by reference to FIGS. 2-6. During typical usage, the container 30 is positioned within the storage cavity 25 of the frame 12. The sliding doors 36 of the container 30 are closed and locked (see FIG. 2). With the doors 36 locked, access to the container 30 is blocked, as the roof 24 covers the open end 42 of the container 30; only by unlocking the doors 36 (see FIG. 3) can trash be deposited in the container 30 through an open window 37. As such, undesired use of the container 30 by, for example, employees hiding stolen goods or third parties improperly dumping their own trash, can be prevented.

[0027] When the container 30 is to be emptied, a vehicle 50 with prongs 52 approaches the front of the container 30, which, as is the case during normal usage, has its doors 36 locked. The prongs 52 are inserted into the channels 44 on the container 30 (FIG. 4). The vehicle 50 then slides the container 30 forwardly (FIG. 5) until the rear wall 40 of the container 30 it clears the roof 24; this motion is assisted by the presence of the side rails 16 of the frame 12, as they maintain the container 30 at a height above the ground sufficient to avoid irregularities in the ground. After the rear wall 40 of the container 30 has cleared the front edge of the roof 24, the vehicle 50 then lifts the container 30 over a collection bed on the vehicle 50 and inverts it to dump the trash contained in the container 30 out of the open upper end 42 (FIG. 6). After emptying the container 30, the vehicle 50 then returns the container 30 to its position within the storage cavity 25 of the frame 12 guided by the lower guide rails 16 and the guides 22. This movement ceases when the rear wall 40 of the container 30 contacts the stops 17. Thus, emptying of the container 30 can be accomplished quickly and easily, in much the same manner as conventionally performed, despite the presence of the frame 12.

[0028] Another embodiment of a frame, designated broadly at 60, is illustrated in FIG. 7. The frame 60 includes crossbeams 62, side rails 64, front uprights 66, and rear uprights 68 that correspond to the same structures illustrated and described in connection with FIGS. 1-6. However, the frame 60 includes a much taller roof 70 that has side walls 72, a rear wall (not shown), and a sloping front wall 74. The front wall 74 includes sliding doors 76 through which trash can be deposited into a container. The frame 60 may be particularly useful when the container is positioned below a dock or platform from which the trash would ordinarily be dumped into the open end of the container 30′. The doors 76 remain locked until trash is deposited, at which point they are unlocked for the deposition of trash, then re-locked afterward. The frame 60 can, thus, provide a secured trash container system for containers positioned below docks or platforms.

[0029] An additional embodiment of a frame, designated broadly at 80, is illustrated in FIG. 8. The frame 80 is similar to the frame 60 illustrated and described in connection with FIG. 7, but includes a chute 82 for the deposition of trash into the container 30′ rather than sliding doors. This arrangement can also be used when the trash is typically deposited from a raised dock or platform.

[0030] Any of the embodiments illustrated and/or described herein may also provide a convenient mounting location for accessories for the container system 10. For example, some containers include deodorizing units that help to curb any undesired odors emanating from the container. Also, some systems may include a fire suppression unit that can help to prevent unwanted fires. Other auxiliary units may also be mounted to the frame, and in particular to the roof, as may be desired.

[0031] The foregoing is illustrative of the present invention, and is not to be construed as limiting thereof. Although exemplary embodiments of this invention have been described, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in the exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. As such, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention. The scope of the invention is to be defined by the following claims.