Title:
Modular decking tile
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tile for forming a modular deck with like-configured tiles, the tile having a web having a planar polygonal upper surface and a lower surface, a web strengthening structure on said lower surface, and a plurality of peripheral edges, where at least one of the edges includes a male connecting portion having a lateral tongue extending from the peripheral edge, and at least one of the edges includes a female connecting portion defining a lateral recess in the peripheral edge. In one embodiment, at least three of the peripheral edges include either of the male connecting portions or the female connecting portions.



Inventors:
Smart, Gregory James (Balwyn North, AU)
Smart, Lyndy Jane (Balwyn North, AU)
Wootton, Darryl John (Moorabin, AU)
Application Number:
11/054204
Publication Date:
09/08/2005
Filing Date:
02/09/2005
Assignee:
SMART GREGORY J.
SMART LYNDY J.
WOOTTON DARRYL J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01C5/16; E01C5/20; E01C9/08; E04B5/02; E04F15/06; E04F15/10; (IPC1-7): E04B2/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CAJILIG, CHRISTINE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BLANK ROME LLP (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A tile for forming a modular deck with like-configured tiles, the tile having: a web having a planar polygonal upper surface and a lower surface; a web strengthening structure on said lower surface; and a plurality of peripheral edges wherein at least one of said edges includes a male connecting portion comprising a lateral tongue extending from said peripheral edges, and at least one of said edges includes a female connecting portion defining a lateral recess in said peripheral edge, whereby at least three of said peripheral edges include either of said male connecting portions or female connecting portions and such that the male connecting portion of one tile may be located into the lateral recess of the female connecting portion of an adjacent tile by lateral relative sliding movement of said tiles.

2. The tile of claim 1, wherein said web strengthening structure comprises a plurality of reinforcing webs perpendicular to the plane of the upper surface.

3. The tile of claim 1, wherein said tile has one or more severing lines.

4. The tile of claim 3, wherein at least one of said severing lines extends between adjacent corners of said polygonal shape.

5. The tile according of claim 3, wherein at least one of said severing lines extends between opposite corners of said polygonal shape.

6. The tile of claim 3, wherein a plurality of reinforcing webs are provided proximate to and substantially parallel to said severing line or lines.

7. The tile of claim 1, wherein said male connecting portion comprises a lateral tongue which extends laterally from and along a central part of said peripheral edge and is substantially perpendicular to the plane of the upper surface.

8. The tile of claim 7, wherein said male connecting portion includes a cutaway section which extends into the upper surface beyond the line of said edge to create a recess in the upper surface.

9. The tile of claim 1, wherein said female connecting portion comprises a lateral recess in said peripheral edge extending into the tile.

10. The tile of claim 9, wherein said female connecting portion includes an upper flange and a lower flange which extend beyond the edge of said tile and the recess is located between said upper and lower flanges.

11. The tile of claim 1, wherein said upper surface is hexagonal in shape.

12. The tile of claim 11, wherein three peripheral edges have male connecting portions thereon and three peripheral edges have female connecting portions thereon, and wherein said male and female connecting portions are alternately spaced about said tile.

13. The tile of claim 1, wherein each male and female connecting portion includes a bore therethrough in a position such that when the male connecting portion of one tile is properly inserted into the female connecting portion of an adjacent identical tile, the bores are coaxial so as to allow insertion of a securing rod therethrough.

14. The tile of claim 13, wherein each female connecting portion includes a recess proximate to said bore adapted to receive the head of said securing rod.

15. The tile of claim 1, wherein said tile includes a bore in the center of said upper surface.

16. The tile of claim 15, wherein said tile includes a recess proximate to said bore in the center of said upper surface adapted to receive the head of said securing rod.

17. A modular deck comprising a plurality of like-configured tiles, the tiles including: a web having a planar polygonal upper surface and a lower surface; a web strengthening structure on said lower surface; and a plurality of peripheral edges, wherein at least one of said edges includes a male connecting portion comprising a lateral tongue extending from said peripheral edges, and at least one of said edges includes a female connecting portion defining a lateral recess in said peripheral edge, the male connecting portions being inserted into female connecting portions of adjacent tiles such that tiles resist lateral, upward and downward movement relative to adjacent tile; whereby at least three of said peripheral edges include either of said male connecting portions or female connecting portions and such that the male connecting portion of one tile may be located into the lateral recess of the female connecting portion of an adjacent tile by lateral relative sliding movement of said tiles;

18. The modular deck of claim 17, wherein a plurality of securing rods are located through the bores of joined male and female connecting portions, the securing rods having heads located in recesses in the female connecting portions.

19. The modular deck of claim 18, wherein there is provided a first layer and a second layer of tiles, wherein, in each layer, male connecting portions are inserted into the female connecting portions of adjacent tiles, the edges of the first layer of tiles being offset from the edges of the second layer of tiles, and bores of tiles in the first layer are coaxial with bores of the second layer so that a securing rod may be passed through both layers to secure the deck in position.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of PCT/AU2003/001010, filed Aug. 8, 2003, which claims priority to AU 2002950813, filed Aug. 9, 2002, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a modular decking tile, and temporary decking made from modular decking tiles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Exploration for mineral resources such as natural gas and oil often takes place in regions remote from civilization. Such exploration sites are often located in remote jungles in tropical climates of high rainfall, in mountainous areas, or in areas of particular environmental sensitivity. When a mining organization selects a site for drilling, one of the initial tasks is to clear a working area of native vegetation, and to construct a working platform on top of the cleared earth on which equipment, buildings and drilling hardware can be assembled. The conventional foundation for this platform requires transportation of gravel or concrete and in many cases timber felled for the cleared site, from the surrounding forests. In many cases the working platform area is of considerable size, so large amounts of timber are required. Not only is this process labor intensive and high risk, it is also destructive to a broad perimeter of vegetation surrounding the actual working area and can be regarded as an environmentally unsound practice. Once drilling operations cease, the cut timber is not of economic value so it is left in situ and gravel and timber are required to be excavated and removed from the location. Despite any restoration works to the area, the native flora is likely to take decades to regenerate and recover.

In mining locations where there is no local supply of forest timber from which to make a suitable working platform, companies have been known to airlift in loads of gravel for foundations, clearly at considerable expense. Again, although material is generally not recovered for re-use after the site is abandoned, it may need to be excavated and removed.

Mining operations place high demands on the working platform. The platform must be stable when heavy machinery is driven over it. It must be capable of stabilizing the earth upon which it is laid because mining sites are frequently in high rainfall areas where erosion can otherwise occur. These platforms are often required to be used as helicopter landing sites, and must be capable of being safely secured in place so that when helicopters are landing or taking off, the turbulent rotor downwash does not dislodge parts of the platform which could otherwise fly out to injure personnel or damage the aircraft.

Accordingly, there is a need for a modular platform or decking with inherent mechanical attributes which can be installed at a desired site which may be accessible only by aircraft, can be assembled in a wide variety of configurations, can be safely secured to the ground to withstand high loads, traffic and wind forces such as helicopter rotor downwash, and which can be easily dismantled and removed for reuse. There is also a need for modular decking tiles that can easily be cut into alternative shapes yet retain its load bearing strength.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a modular decking tile and modular decking formed from such tiles that satisfy one or more of the above requirements. It will be convenient to refer to the invention in relation to use for oil and gas, mining and remote area exploration applications, although it will be appreciated that the invention may have wider application where a modular heavy-duty temporary ground cover is required.

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a tile for forming a modular deck with like-configured tiles, where the tile may have a planar polygonal upper surface and a lower surface, a web strengthening structure on said lower surface and a plurality of peripheral edges, where at least one of said edges includes a male connecting portion including a lateral tongue extending from said peripheral edge, and at least one of said edges includes a female connecting portion defining a lateral recess in said peripheral edge, whereby at least three of said peripheral edges include either of said male connecting portions or female connecting portions and such that the male connecting portion of one tile may be located into the lateral recess of the female connecting portion of an adjacent tile by lateral relative sliding movement of said tiles.

The tile may have a planar polygonal upper surface. The upper surface forms the surface of the deck that is subjected to downward and lateral forces from traffic including pedestrian and vehicular traffic when in use. The upper surface may include friction-enhancing means such as a textured or roughened surface treatment, and/or a plurality of raised lugs such as a chequerplate pattern so as to reduce the risk of slipping on the upper surface. The upper surface may be a regular polygonal shape such as a triangle, square, pentagon or octagon, but preferably is hexagonal in shape. It is considered that a hexagonal shape allows the greatest degree of versatility in deck configuration and also provides lo optimal rigidity and interfile connection to create the deck structure. This is because each tile within the deck structure is held in place by six adjacent tiles.

The web is preferably a continuous web that doesn't allow passage of water or air from the upper surface to the lower surface, although it may optionally be of a mesh configuration or have openings for drainage or ventilation if desired.

The lower surface of the web has a web strengthening and reinforcing structure for mechanical integrity to enable the web to withstand downward and lateral loads. The reinforcing web may be a plurality of webs perpendicular to the plane of the upper surface. Preferably the webs of the reinforcing structure are made from the same material as the web and are formed integrally therewith. The reinforcing webs may form box-like or triangular reinforcing structures, triangular reinforcing structures or circular reinforcing structures or combinations of these. In a preferred embodiment, the tile has one or more severing lines, preferably which run between opposite and or adjacent corners of the polygonal shape. These are so that the tile can be cut into shapes different from the shape of a full tile so irregular decking arrangements can be made. Preferably a plurality of reinforcing webs are provided proximate to and substantially parallel with such severing lines although other reinforcing webs may be provided which do lie on said severing lines which would be cut if the tile is cut along that severing line. In one embodiment, such webs are provided alternately on either side of such severing lines.

The tile may have a plurality of peripheral edges that abut corresponding edges of complementary tiles when in use. Preferably the edges are substantially linear except for the connection portions, which are described below. The edges preferably each have a continuous edge face, which is perpendicular or slightly angular to the plane of the upper surface.

In one embodiment, at least one of the edges includes a male connecting portion that comprises a lateral tongue. The tongue may extend from and along a central part of the peripheral edge laterally and substantially perpendicular to the plane of the peripheral edge. Most preferably the male connecting portion includes a cutaway section that extends into the upper surface beyond the line of the edge so that a recess exists in the upper surface. This is so that the tongue does not just extend from the edge of the tile, but extends from a region within the edges of the tile.

In one embodiment, at least one of the edges includes a female connecting portion which defines a lateral recess in the peripheral edge. Preferably the female connecting portion consists of an upper flange and a lower flange that extend beyond the edge and the recess between the upper and lower flanges which extends into the tile beyond the edge of the tile.

Preferably the tile is hexagonal and three of the six edges have a male connecting portion and each of the three other edges has a female connecting portion. Preferably the male and female connecting portions are equally and alternately spaced around the edges of the tile (i.e., each edge with a female connecting portion has on either side an edge with a male connecting portion, and vice versa, so that going around the tile the edges have male, then female, then male, then female, etc connection portions). The male and female connecting portions are of complementary shape so that the male portion may be snugly accommodated in the female portion of an adjacent tile with little relative movement possible between the tiles when so joined. Each of the male and female connecting portions may include a bore in a position where the bores of joined male and female portions are coaxial so as to allow insertion of a securing rod therethrough. Female connecting portions preferably include a recess proximate said bore adapted to receive a head of said securing rod so that the head of the securing rod can be recessed below the plane of said upper surface. More preferably the recess is located in the upper flange of the female connecting portion.

Additionally tiles may include a bore in a central region or any other region of the upper surface through which a securing rod may be passed. Such a bore preferably has a recess adapted to receive the head of a securing rod, and may have additional recesses proximate the first recess to facilitate removal of a securing rod.

In another aspect of the invention there is provided a modular deck comprising a plurality of like-configured modular tiles as previously defined, wherein male connecting portions of tiles are inserted into female connecting portions of adjacent tiles such that tiles resist lateral, upward and downward movement relative to adjacent tiles. In yet another preferred embodiment the modular decking may further include a plurality of securing rods located through the bores of joined male and female connecting portions, and wherein the securing rods have heads located in recesses in the female connecting portions. In another aspect of the invention there may be provided a modular deck as previously defined consisting of a first layer of assembled tiles and a second layer of assembled tiles, wherein the edges of the first layer of tiles are offset from the edges of the second layer of tiles and where bores of tiles in the first layer are coaxial with bores of the second layer so that a securing rod may be passed through both layers of tiles to secure said deck in position. Additionally, any number of layers of tiles can be achieved so that a securing rod can be passed through all layers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

It will now be convenient to describe the invention with particular reference to the preferred embodiments. It will be appreciated that the drawings related to a preferred embodiment only and are not to be taken as limiting the invention.

FIG. 1 shows a top view of a modular decking tile according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a bottom view of a modular decking tile according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of a female connector portion of the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a male-connector portion of the present invention;

FIG. 5 shows a top plan of a modular deck made up from two layers of modular decking tiles of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a fixing peg of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In FIG. 1, modular decking tile 1 has a planar hexagonal upper surface 3 bearing a pattern of raised friction lugs 5 to provide grip to upper surface 3. Lugs 5 are shown in a chequer plate configuration designed to ensure that wheels of vehicles or footwear of pedestrian traffic does not slip on upper surface 3, particularly when upper surface 3 is wet or muddy. The surface area of upper surface 3 may be up to approximately 3 m2 although smaller or larger versions may be made if desired. Peripheral edges 7, 7a and &7b each have a female connector portion 9, 9a and 9b typically shown in more detail in FIG. 3.

Peripheral edges 11, 11a and 11b each have male connector portions 13, 13a and 13b typically shown in more detail in FIG. 4.

Upper surface 3 has recessed lines 15 and 15a which are reduced slightly below the plane of upper surface 3. Recessed lines 15 and 15a may accommodate an adhesive marking tape (not shown) for clearly outlining desired areas of a decking made up of modular decking tiles 1, for example. The marking tape may define a landing zone for helicopters, or a walkway or vehicle pathway bordered by tape or other marking means in the recessed lines 15 and 15a of one or more modular decking tiles 1.

Securing openings are provided in various locations through the modular decking tile. Securing openings 16, 16a and 16b are shown in female connector portions 9, 9a and 9b and securing openings 18, 18a and 18b are shown in male connector portions 13, 13 and 13b. Central securing opening 20 is shown in the center of modular decking tile 1 and has a head recess 22. The securing openings are adapted to receive a fixing peg shown in FIG. 6.

In FIG. 2, the underside of modular decking tile 1 is shown. Under-side 17 comprises a multitude of structural reinforcing web members typically shown as 19, 19a and 19b. These webs are perpendicular to the plane of upper surface 3 and give the modular decking tile 1 structural and torsional rigidity and load bearing capability for loads applied to upper surface 3. Webs are generally lo arranged in a square or rectangular arrangement shown typically as 21 and 21a, with additional webs forming concentric circular reinforcing structures 23, 23a and 23b.

Two severing lines 25 and 25a are shown where webs are positioned and aligned on either side of these lines. This is so that the modular decking tile 1 can easily be cut or sawn along either of severing lines 25 or 25a to form alternative polygonal shapes. These may be required to fill certain spaces in a modular deck that cannot be filled with a full sized decking tile, particularly along edges or corners of such a deck. The severing line 25 extends between opposite corners 29 and 29a and severing line 25a extends between adjacent corners 27 and 27a. Webs falling along the severing lines 25 and 25a are preferably spaced less than about 20 mm from their respective severing line. This is so that if the modular decking tile is cut, the ingress of water, soil, insects, or other things into recesses created by cutting the modular decking tile are minimized at the same time maintaining the strength and integrity of the tile even though the tile has been cut.

In FIG. 3 female connector 9 consists of an upper flange 31, which extends from and is continuous with upper surface 3 and a lower flange 33 of corresponding shape to upper flange 31. Upper flange 31 and lower flange 33 define a recess 35 that receives a male portion, which is shown in more detail in FIG. 4. Recess 35 extends into the body of modular decking tile 1 at least as deep as the extent to which flanges 31 and 33 extend beyond edge 37.

Upper flange 31 includes a pair of access slots 39 and 39a to assist with peg removal, a fixing peg head recess 41 and a securing opening 18, and lower flange 33 includes a securing opening (not shown) coaxial with securing opening 18. Access slots 39 and 39a are provided to allow a tool to be hooked underneath the head of a “T” shaped fixing peg so as to withdraw the fixing peg from securing opening 18. The head of the fixing head is located within the confines of head recess 41 so that it does not project into upper surface 3 to present a hazard. Recess 35 may be offset from the centerline of edge 37 (i.e., upper flange 31 may be thicker than lower flange 33).

In FIG. 4 male connector portion 13 consists of a tongue 43 which projects beyond edge 45. Tongue 43 is of a complementary shape to recess 35 and is of slightly smaller dimensions so it can be snugly located within recess 35. Male connector portion also includes cut away region 47 of upper surface 3 and cut away region 50 of under-side 17.

The design of the connector portions shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 is such that when the female connector portion of one modular decking tile is coupled with the male connector portion of another modular decking tile, the mating engagement provides for a very secure fit which minimizes the risk of progressive loosening and separation of the joined tiles, particularly after repetitive traffic movement over the modular deck. Male connector portion 13 also includes a securing opening 49 in a position corresponding to that in the female connector portion of FIG. 3. This is so that a fixing peg can be inserted through the securing openings of both male and female connector portions when assembled to more securely fix the decking in position.

In FIG. 5 three upper tiles 51, 51a and 51b are shown laid in an offset arrangement over four lower tiles 53, 53a, 53b and 53c. This offset arrangement provides a highly stable platform with high load bearing capacity. Fixing pegs, typically shown as 55, are provided where male and female connector portions of upper tiles 51 and 51b are joined, which is in register with where male and female connector portions of lower tiles 53 and 53b are joined. The single fixing peg thus secures four tiles into position in three ways. First it secures all four tiles in position relative to the ground on which they lie. Secondly, it secures each pair of tiles whose male and female portions are coupled relative to each other. Thirdly, it secures the upper layer relative to the lower layer to prevent the upper layer from sliding over the lower layer.

Fixing pegs, typically shown as 55a, are provided where the center of a tile (51b) in the upper layer is in register with where the male and female connector portions of tiles 53c and 53b are joined. The resultant platform has an extremely high degree of stability to resist the downward loads, lateral shearing and uplifting forces which are encountered while in use.

In FIG. 6, fixing peg 56 is substantially “t” shaped and consists of an elongate shank 57 and a head 59 connected thereto. Elongate shank 57 is of suitable strength to be driven into the ground to secure decking tiles in position and is of a diameter slightly less than the diameter of openings 16, 18 and 20, so it can easily be inserted through them. Head 59 is of suitable strength and is affixed to the shank 57 so as to withstand hammering to drive shank into the ground and being pulled to withdraw the fixing peg when the modular deck is dismantled. Head 59 is of a size and shape to enable it to fit within head recess 22 or 41, so that it does not protrude beyond the top of the deck surface.

To assemble a modular decking of the present invention on a cleared ground, a pair of modular decking tiles are positioned so that the male connector portion of one decking tile is positioned close to the female connector portion of an adjacent decking tile. The male and female connector portions are then fully engaged so that the cooperation of the two connector portions prevents both lateral and vertical relative movement of the two modular decking tiles along their abutting edge. Further decking tiles are added to those already assembled so as to build up the desired decking area.

If the decking arrangement requires a space to be filled into which a whole modular decking tile will not fit, a decking tile may be cut by suitable means along either or both of the cutting lines described above. The cut piece is then fitted into the decking in the same manner as for whole modular decking tiles.

If only light or moderate loads and forces are likely to be applied to the modular decking, a single layer of modular decking tiles may be adequate. If high loads and forces are likely, a second layer or multiple layers of modular decking tiles may be assembled on top of the first layer. Preferably this is done in an offset manner as shown in FIG. 5. In this configuration, the center of a modular decking tile in the upper layer is positioned directly above the joined male and female connector portions of the underlying modular tiles.

Fixing pegs may be used to additionally secure the modular decking into position if desired. Fixing pegs may be inserted through either center openings in modular tiles or through the openings in joined male and female connector portions and hammered home so that the head of the peg is located in the recess at the opening. This latter arrangement ensures that the male and female connector portions stay engaged and greatly enhances the structural integrity of the modular decking. It will not generally be necessary to insert a fixing peg through each pair of joined connector portions because when other adjacent modular decking tiles are assembled, they will tend to resist movement of other tiles in the array. However, it may be desirable to use more fixing pegs in high traffic areas to further reduce the risk of movement of the modular tiles.

Disassembly of the modular deck is essentially the reverse of assembly. First, a fixing peg removal tool is used. This tool has one or preferably two prongs which are inserted into slots adjacent the head recess and the tool is hooked under the head of the fixing peg. The fixing peg can then be drawn vertically from the ground into which it is driven and removed from the openings. Adjacent modular tiles are then separated one by one, commencing at the periphery of the modular deck. The individual tiles are then optionally cleaned, stacked and transported for reuse.

The modular decking tiles may be made from any suitable material, for example thermoplastic polymers such as virgin or recycled polyethylene or polypropylene, with or without various stabilizers and/or modifiers, or metals such as aluminum or steel, and may be made by any suitable method such as injection molding, rotary molding or casting. Preferably the modular decking tiles are made from polyethylene, although depending on the demands of the modular decking, modular tiles of different materials but of complementary dimensions may be employed together. Tiles may be provided in a range of colors so that selected areas of decking may be colored. For example, red tiles may be used in high danger areas to warn workers of hazard areas.

Finally, the decking tiles may be made in any sizes suitable for easy handling and rapid installation.

It is to be understood that various modifications, additions and/or alterations may be made to the arrangements previously described without departing from the ambit of the present invention.