Title:
Returnable recyclable container having reinforced forklift entries
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collapsible, reusable, and recyclable container is disclosed having reinforced entry-ways for the tines of a forklift.



Inventors:
Vergiels, Michael R. O. (Adrian, MI, US)
Calandra, Frank N. (Monroe, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/862705
Publication Date:
01/27/2005
Filing Date:
06/07/2004
Assignee:
Inter-Pack Corporation (Monroe, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D6/16; B65D6/22; B65D19/00; B65D19/20; B65D25/22; (IPC1-7): B65D6/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LHYMN, EUGENE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP (Toledo, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A container structure comprising: a main body portion which may be collapsed after use to reduce the overall volume to facilitate the return thereof; and a base portion for receiving a lifting mechanism wherein the opening is provided with a reinforcement to militate against damage.

2. A container comprising: an upstanding side wall normally defining a first zone for containing articles to be shipped, said side wall including at least two spaced apart generally parallel panels having upper and lower marginal edges, each panel being foldable about respective axes to enable said side wall to be selectively collapsed from a position defining the first zone to a position defining a second zone of decreased volume; and a base portion normally receiving the lower marginal edges of the panels of said side wall to enable said side wall to normally define the first zone for containing articles to be shipped, said base portion including a bottom panel having a cooperating rim wall for supporting said side wall in an upstanding position and of sufficient height to receive said side wall in a collapsed position.

3. The container defined in claim 2 wherein the upper marginal edges of said side wall are formed by a portion of said side wall being folded upon itself.

4. The container defined in claim 2 wherein the lower marginal edges of said side wall and said base portion are provided with aligned entryways for receiving the tines of a lifting mechanism.

5. The container defined in claim 3 including a top positioned over the upper marginal edges of said side wall and covering the first zone defined by said side wall.

6. The container defined in claim 4 including reinforcing inserts disposed within the entryways of said side wall and said base portion.

7. The container defined in claim 2 wherein the upper and lower marginal edges of the parallel panels of said side wall are parallel.

8. The container defined in claim 7 wherein the respective axes are generally perpendicular to the marginal edges.

9. The container defined in claim 2 wherein each of the parallel panels is provided with crease lines to facilitate the following of the respective panels of said side wall.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/476,339, filed Jun. 6, 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to containers and more particularly to containers which may be returned to the sender to be reused or recycled and which contain reinforced entries for forklifts.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Shipping containers of the heavy duty type employed for shipping goods used in the manufacture of vehicles have typically been manufactured from metal, wood and plastic. The resultant shipping containers have been successfully utilized to handle the forces typically exerted by the weight of heavy products shipped with these containers.

However, it has been discovered that the use of the above materials for fabricating the containers has a number of disadvantages. Amongst the disadvantages, metal, wood, and plastics are relatively expensive in raw material cost, as well as production. Furthermore, the materials are heavy causing the inherent shipping costs to be high since the weight of the containers is necessarily an integral factor in determining shipping costs.

In the automotive industry, the containers are oftentimes required to be returnable and must be returned to the manufacturer of the shipped parts for reuse. Since all containers have a useable duty cycle, the containers must be recycled upon completion of their usefulness.

It has been found that the above noted materials, such as metal, wood, and plastics, present certain difficulties in recycling from an environmental standpoint. Containers fabricated from kraft paper, and kraft board presented reduced difficulties in recycling, and were relatively light in weight, but were nonetheless found to typically have a shorter duty cycle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to overcome the problems of the prior art and to produce a container which is readily recyclable, light in weight, and may be collapsed after its use for shipping in order to be returned to the manufacturer in a form occupying a reduced amount of space.

Another object of the present invention to produce a container which may be used for shipping various products and may be reused.

Another object of the invention is to produce a container for shipping goods which may be readily collapsed and returned to the sender for reuse.

Still another object of the invention is to produce a container having a base portion with reinforced forklift entries which militate against container damage by the forks of forklift moving equipment, for example.

Another object of the invention is to produce a container provided with reinforced forklift entries wherein the entries are formed of the same material as the containers.

A further object of the invention is to produce a container with reinforced forklift entries wherein the entire container is formed of recyclable biodegradable material.

The above objects may typically be achieved by a container structure having collapsible side walls to reduce the overall volume to facilitate the return thereof, and a base containing reinforced forklift entries wherein the entire structure is formed of biodegradable material.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above objects and advantages of the invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from reading the following detailed description of the invention when considered in the light of the accompanying photographs, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a container incorporating the features of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the container illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the container illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 wherein the side panels have commenced being collapsed preparatory to being packed for shipment to the original shipper to be reused;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the container illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3 showing the side panels substantially completely collapsed and housed with the bottom section;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the container illustrated in FIG. 4 wherein the side panels have been completely collapsed within the base section and covered by the top cover; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view of the container illustrated in FIG. 5 more clearly illustrating the reinforcement tubes inserted within the forklift entries.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the drawings, there is illustrated a container structure incorporating the features of the invention. The container structure includes a main body portion 12 having integral side walls 14, 16, 18, 20. The main body 12 may typically be formed from a single blank of corrugated kraft board stock. Suitable crease lines are formed to facilitate the bending of the blank to facilitate the definition of the individual side walls 14, 16, 18, 20. Two of the opposing sides 16, 20 are provided with centrally disposed crease lines 22, 24 respectively which extend the full length of the respective side wall and extend parallel with the crease lines that define the space apart crease lines between adjacent ones of the side walls. The crease lines 22, 24 facilitate the inwardly bending of the respective side walls 16, 20 to enable the same to be folded inwardly during the collapsing of the body portion 12, as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 preparatory to the return shipping of the empty container to the shipping origin.

The uppermost margins of the side walls 14, 16, 18, 20 are provided with reinforcing flaps 26, 28, 30, 32, respectively. It will be noted that the flaps 26, 28, 30, 32 are suitably notched adjacent any cease lines to facilitate the folding of the flaps as illustrated. Also, the side walls 14, 18 include suitably disposed slots 34, 36 respectively, to facilitate the manipulation of the container by allowing the entry of the hands of an operator therewithin.

The bottommost margins of the side walls 14, 16, 18, 20 are provided spaced apart notches 38, 40, 42, 44, respectively, which are suitably disposed to receive the tines of a forklift truck, for example, as will be explained in more detail hereinafter.

A top 46 with downwardly depending side walls 48 is provided to fit over the uppermost marginal edges of the main body portion 12 including the reinforcing flaps 26, 28, 30, 32 when the side walls are properly erected.

The depending side walls 48 may be reinforced by forming the same from extensions of the blank from which the top 46 is formed and folding the extensions upon themselves to create additional strength and rigidity.

The container also comprises a bottom or base portion 50 which includes a bottom panel 52 and a rim comprised of four cooperating upstanding side walls 54, 56, 58, 60 as clearly illustrated in FIG. 2. The side walls 54, 56, 58, 60 of the bottom portion 50 each contain a pair of spaced apart openings 62, 64, 66, 68, respectively, which in the illustrated embodiment, are rectangular in shape with the bottom leg of each rectangle being parallel with the bottom panel 52 and substantially in alignment therewith.

In the assembled form of the container, it will be noted that the openings 38, 40, 42, 44 of the side walls of the main body portion are of the same size as the openings in and aligned with the openings 62, 64, 66, 68, respectively, of the bottom portion 50.

Suitably dimensioned inserts 70 are formed to be received snuggly within the respective openings in the main body portion and the base portion. The inserts may be held in place by a suitable adhesive which may be biodegradable along with the material from which the other portions of the container are formed such as kraft board, for example.

The inserts are effective to increase the resistance to damage which might be caused by the entry within the openings of the lifting members or tines of a forklift truck, for example. It will be appreciated that the use of the reinforcing inserts increases the stability of the bottom portion or pallet deck. The reinforcing inserts also are effective to form a solid barrier between any product within the container and the tines of the forklift.

It must also be recognized that the use of the reinforcing inserts increases the total p.s.i. loading from the top to the bottom of the associated container and tend to maintain the overall integrity of the side walls of the container. All of these advantages increase the repetitive uses of the container structure.

FIGS. 3, 4, 5, and 6 illustrate the sequence which may be employed to collapse the container after it has been utilized to ship articles from one manufacturer of vehicle components to the manufacturer of the completed vehicle. The empty containers are collapsed by folding the panels of the side wall 16, 18 and axes defined by the respective crease lines 22, 24 as specifically illustrated in FIG. 3 to the ultimate position being approached in FIG. 4 wherein the zone defined by the fully erected position of FIGS. 1 and 2 is reduced sufficiently to enable the main body 12 to be substantially in volume to be accommodated within the zone defined by the side walls 54, 56, 58, 60 of the base portion 50.

Finally, in the fully collapsed condition of the main body 12 within the confines of the bottom or base portion 50, the depending walls 48 of the top 46 are positioned to encompass the outer surface of the side walls 54, 56, 58, 60 of the base portion 50 and is held snuggly in place.

It will further be noted from an examination of FIGS. 3, 4, 5, and 6 that in the collapsed position, the container requires minimal storage and/or return transit space.

Since the entire container may be formed of a kraft paper, the resultant structure is light in weight and biodegradable.

While the illustrated embodiment of the invention discloses the use of reinforcing inserts which are rectangular in cross-sections, other cross-sectional configurations may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention.

In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes, the present invention has been described in what is considered to represent its preferred embodiment. However, it should be understood that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its spirit or scope.