Title:
Electrically-switched container lock
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention is an electrically-switched container lock system. The invention utilizes an electrically-switched trigger to unlock the contain lid, allowing the container to be filled and emptied by authorized personnel only.



Inventors:
Bremer, David J. (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/185485
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
07/20/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
70/275, 292/259R
International Classes:
B65D45/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LUGO, CARLOS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David J. Bremer (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A container lid locking product, the container lid having an open position and a closed position, the product comprising: a lid restraint, the restraint being connected to the container; the restraint having an locked state and an unlocked state; the restraint in the locked state stopping the lid from moving to the open position from the closed position; an electrically-switched trigger, the trigger connected to the product; the trigger switching between an engaged condition and a disengaged condition; the trigger being in the engaged condition with the restraint in the locked state keeping the restraint in the locked state; the trigger being in the disengaged condition with the restraint in the locked state releasing the restraint from the locked state; the trigger comprising: an electric power source, the electric power source being signal connected to the trigger; the electric power source providing switching energy for switching the trigger; an exciter, the exciter being signal connected to the trigger; and the exciter switching the trigger from the engaged condition to the disengaged condition.

Description:

The products described herein are directed to containers with a lid for blocking access to a container opening.

The lid can have an open position and a closed position. The lid in the closed position blocks access to at least a part of the container opening. The lid in the open position allows access to the at least part of the container opening.

It is useful, especially for commercial applications, to have a lid lock on the container that prevents unauthorized use of the container by preventing a lid from moving from the closed position to the open position.

It is further useful to have a lid lock that can automatically unlock and re-lock when the container is being emptied so that the container can be unlocked, emptied, and re-locked without requiring intervention during the emptying cycle.

Floating Mass Container Lid Locking Product

The container can have a lid that is pivotally connected to the container along a hinge edge. The pivotally connected lid pivots between the open position and the closed position

The container with the pivotally connected lid can be emptied by lifting and rotating the container above a truck so that the lid can fall open and the container contents fall into the truck.

The floating mass container lid-locking product is designed to automatically unlock when the container is lifted and rotated for emptying. The product is further designed to automatically relock when the container is returned to an upright, substantially level position.

The floating product comprises a lid restraint and a trigger. The lid restraint has a center of mass.

The floating mass product operates by automatically reconfiguring the lid restraint as the container rotates so that the center of mass can move within the lid restraint.

The floating mass product is designed so that the moving center of mass facilitates the reliable locking and reliable relocking of the product without intervention during the emptying cycle.

The lid restraint has a locked state and an unlocked state. The lid restraint in use in the locked state prevents the lid from moving from the closed position to the open position.

The trigger has a release mode and a capture mode. The trigger in use in the capture mode with the lid restraint in the locked state prevents the lid restraint from moving from the locked state to the unlocked state.

The lid restraint has a floating mass. The floating mass moves between a retracted position and an extended position in response to an inclination of the container with respect to a gravity vector.

The lid restraint in use with the container upright and with the floating mass in the retracted position is biased towards the locked state.

The lid restraint in use with container upright and with the floating mass in the extended position is biased towards the unlocked state.

The floating mass product embodiment described here is directed to containers that are hinged at the rear of the container and are emptied by rotating the container towards the front of the container. Other embodiments can be used on containers with lids attached and hinged at different locations, such as hinged at the side and emptied by rotating towards the front, and hinged at the rear and emptied by rotating towards the rear, and various other lid attachment locations and emptying motions and combinations thereof.

The floating mass product embodiment described here is mounted on the side of the container, adjacent to the hinged side of the lid. Other embodiments can be mounted at various positions on the container, such as the front and rear sides and intermediate positions between the front and rear and between the adjacent sides.

FIG. 1 shows two floating mass product embodiments, such as the floating mass product 10 mounted on opposite sides of a container 50. The container 50 has a container lid 51 pivotally connected to the container.

The floating mass product can also function with a single product mounted on the side of the container.

As shown in FIG. 2, the floating mass product embodiment 10 has a lid restraint 20 and a trigger 60.

The lid restraint 20 comprises a pivot arm 21 pivotally connected to a pivot shaft 22. The pivot shaft is connected to the container side 52 and extends outwardly from the container side.

The pivot shaft 22 has a pivot axis 23 aligned substantially coaxially with the pivot shaft 22.

The pivot arm 21 pivots between a locked position and an unlocked position.

The lid restraint 20 further comprises a floating mass.

In the embodiment shown, the floating mass comprises a link 31 rotatably connected to the pivot arm 21.

The link 31 has a pivot end 32 and a crosspiece end 33. The link 31 is rotatably connected to the pivot arm 21 at the pivot end 32 so that the link 31 is suspended from the pivot arm 21.

The link 31 rotates between a retracted position and an extended position.

In the embodiment shown, the floating mass further comprises a crosspiece 41 connected to the link 31 at the crosspiece end 33.

The crosspiece 41 extends outwardly from the link 31 across at least part of the container lid.

As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 1, the crosspiece 41 in use with the pivot arm 21 in the locked position blocks the container lid from moving between the closed position and the open position.

FIG. 3 shows the container being rotated for emptying and the pivot arm 21 in the unlocked position.

As shown in FIG. 3, the crosspiece 41 in use with the pivot arm 21 in the unlocked position can allow the container lid 51 to move between the closed position and the open position.

The crosspiece 41 and the link 31 hang downward from the pivot arm 21 substantially parallel to a gravity vector, such as the gravity vector 71 through the pivot axis 23.

When the container is rotated; for example, when the container is rotated for emptying, the crosspiece 41 and the link 31 rotate so as to remain substantially along the gravity vector.

The crosspiece 41 and the link 31 together rotate between the extended position and the retracted position.

The floating mass product embodiment shown further comprises a trigger 60.

A trigger acts upon the pivot arm. The trigger has a release position and a capture position.

The trigger in use in the capture position prevents the pivot arm from pivoting from the locked position to the unlocked position.

The trigger in use in the release position enables the pivot arm to pivot from the locked position to the unlocked position.

The trigger can be switched between the release condition and the capture by various inputs; for example, the trigger can be switched by a change in the position of the container. For example, the trigger can be switched via an inclinometer.

Alternatively, the trigger can be switched by a contact between a emptying truck and the container.

Alternatively, the trigger can be switched by an electromagnetic signal.

Alternatively, the trigger can be switched by an audio signal.

Alternatively, the trigger can be switched by an optical signal.

Alternatively, the trigger can be switched by an electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic actuator.

Alternatively, the trigger can be manually switched.

Alternatively, the trigger can be switched by various switching methods so long as the trigger is switched between the release position and the capture position.

When the pivot arm is in the locked position and the trigger is in the capture position, the crosspiece extends outwardly across the container lid and prevents the lid from moving from the closed position to the open position.

FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 show the container in the upright position with the pivot arm in the locked position.

The crosspiece and link in use and without outside intervention are suspended downwardly from the pivot arm. The crosspiece aligns with the pivot end link arm substantially parallel to and rearward of a gravity vector passing through the pivot axis.

When the pivot arm is in the locked position and the crosspiece is rearward of the gravity vector the pivot arm is biased to remain in the locked position.

The link is free to rotate between the retracted position and the extended position, carrying with it the crosspiece. The crosspiece blocks the container lid in both the retracted position and the extended position.

When the pivot arm is in the locked position and the link is rotated to the extended position the crosspiece can be frontward of the gravity vector. When the crosspiece is frontward of the gravity vector the pivot arm can be biased to pivot to the unlocked position. However, the pivot arm can be prevented from pivoting to the unlocked position when the trigger is in the capture position.

In order to empty the container, the trigger is switched to the release position and the container is rotated frontwardly.

As the container rotates, the crosspiece and the link, suspended from the pivot arm, rotate towards the extended position. The crosspiece and the link in use and without outside intervention remain substantially parallel to the gravity vector.

As the container further rotates, the crosspiece can rotate from rearward of the gravity vector to frontward of the gravity vector. When the crosspiece is frontward of the gravity vector the pivot arm is biased to pivot to the unlocked position.

With the trigger switched to the release position, the crosspiece rotating frontward of the gravity vector causes the pivot arm to pivot to the unlocked position.

FIG. 3 shown the container rotated for emptying with the pivot arm in the unlocked position and the link and crosspiece in the extended position.

When the pivot arm pivots to the unlocked position, the container lid is free to move from the closed position to the open position.

As the container rotates back to a level position after emptying, the crosspiece and the link remain substantially parallel to the gravity vector.

As the container further returns to level, the crosspiece can rotate from frontward of the gravity vector to rearward of the gravity vector. When the crosspiece is rearward of the gravity vector the pivot arm is biased to pivot to the locked position.

FIG. 4 shows the container returned to level with the pivot arm in the unlocked position and the crosspiece and link in the retracted position.

When the pivot arm return to the locked position the trigger can switch to the capture position and the product can prevent the lid from moving between the closed position and the open position.

In the locked position with the container upright and substantially level, the product configuration is such that the center of mass is positioned to bias the product towards the locked position.

When the container is rotated so as to empty the container, the container rotation with respect to the gravity vector causes the product configuration to change.

As the container further rotates, the product configuration changes so that the center of mass is positioned to bias the product towards the unlocked position.

As the container counter-rotates after being emptied, the product configuration returns to the prior configuration so that the center of mass is again positioned to bias the product towards the locked position.

As the container again becomes upright and substantially level, the product automatically relocks and prevents the container lid from moving between the closed and open position.

In the embodiment shown, the configuration is changed by the suspended link and crosspiece. The suspended link and crosspiece rotate with respect to the container and remain substantially parallel to the gravity vector.

In addition, the rotation of the link and the crosspiece as the container rotates changes the position of the crosspiece with respect to the lid. The crosspiece moves towards the edge of the lid distal the hinge edge when the link rotates from the retracted position to the extended position.

Consequently, the pivot arm is required to pivot less in order to clear the crosspiece from the path of the lid.

Floating mass products can reconfigure in various ways to achieve the aforementioned function.

Although the pivot arm shown in the embodiment is semi-circular, the pivot arm can have various configurations so long as it functions as described herein.

Similarly, the link can have various configurations so long as it functions as described herein. For example, the link can be a flexible member, for example a cable and a wire.

For example, another embodiment can utilize a hollow component containing a flowable medium. When the container rotates the medium can flow from a first part of the component to a second part of the component so that the product center of gravity changes as required for fulfilling the requisite reconfiguration.

The flowable medium can be sand, water, lead shot, and various other flowable media.

Alternatively, another embodiment can utilize various massive elements that are connected to and moving with respect to the pivot arm so that the product center of gravity changes as required.

Underside-Activated Container Lid Lock

The container can have a lid that is pivotally connected to the container along a hinge edge. The pivotally connected lid pivots between the open position and the closed position

The container with the pivotally connected lid can be emptied by lifting and rotating the container above a truck so that the lid can fall open and the container contents fall into the truck.

The underside-activated lid-locking product is designed to automatically unlock when the container is lifted and rotated for emptying. The product is further designed to automatically relock when the container is returned to an upright, substantially level position.

The container lid has an underside that faces the container opening when the container lid is in the closed position.

The underside-activated lid-locking product has a trigger that is connected to the container lid and mounted proximal the underside.

The underside-activated lid-locking product has a latch.

The latch switches between a capture mode and a release mode.

The latch in use in the capture mode prevents the container lid from moving from the open position to the closed position.

The underside-activated lid-locking product has a trigger that is connected to the container lid and mounted proximal the underside.

The trigger is signal-connected to the latch.

The trigger when activated switches the latch from the capture mode to the release mode.

The trigger is activated when the container contents contact the trigger, as when the container is rotated for emptying.

As the container is rotated so that the container opening is facing towards the ground, the contents are urged by gravity to fall towards the container opening.

With the lid in the closed position, the contents first contact the trigger as they fall towards the lid covering the container opening.

When the container contents contact the trigger they cause the trigger to activate and switch the latch from the capture to the release mode.

With the container rotated for emptying and the latch switched to the capture mode, the lid moves to the open position and the contents fall out of the container.

The latch can be mounted to the lid and, in use in the capture mode, the latch can fix to the container to prevent the lid from moving to the open position.

Alternatively, the latch can be mounted to the container and, in use in the capture mode, the latch can fix to the lid to prevent the lid from moving to the open position.

Alternatively, the latch can have more than one component.

For example, the latch can have a lid component that is connected to the lid and a container component that is connected to the container.

When the latch is in the capture mode, the lid component can fix to the container component, preventing the lid from moving to the open position.

Alternatively, when the latch is in the capture mode, the container component can fix to the lid component, preventing the lid from moving to the open position.

The trigger can be connected to the latch via a lever. The lever-connected trigger can be suspended between the underside and the container opening.

When the container contents contact the lever-connected trigger, the trigger is caused to move towards the lid underside. The trigger movement causes the lever to activate the latch.

The trigger can be connected to the latch via a flexible link, for example by a rope, cable, fabric, and various other flexible links.

When the container contents contact the flexible link-connected trigger, the trigger is caused to move towards the lid underside. The trigger movement causes tension through the flexible link to activate the latch.

The trigger can be signal-connected to the latch. The container contents contact the signal-connected trigger and cause the trigger to emit a signal that activates the latch.

The trigger can be pneumatically-connected to the latch.

The trigger can be hydraulically-connected to the latch.

The trigger can be connected to the latch via a combination of the abovementioned connecting methods.

In FIG. 5, a container lid 100 is shown in a bottom perspective view. As shown in FIG. 5, the container lid 100 has an underside 160. The container lid 100 pivotally connects to a container at a hinge, such as the hinge 161.

The embodiment of the underside-activated lid-locking product has a flexible link-connected trigger 111 suspended proximal the underside 160 and spaced apart from the underside 160. The trigger is attached to the latch (not shown in FIG. 5) via hooks, such as the hook 121.

FIG. 6 is a section view across line 6-6 and shows the latch of the embodiment.

The latch of the embodiment comprises a container component 152 connected to the container 151.

The latch of the embodiment further comprises a lid component connected to the container lid 100.

The lid component comprises a pawl 131 pivotally mounted to rotate about a pivot axis 132.

The lid component further comprises a spring 133 connected to the pawl 131. The spring biases the pawl 131 towards a capture mode (shown in solid lines.) The pawl 131 in the capture mode captures the container component 152 and prevents the lid from moving to the open position.

The pawl 131 is connected to the flexible link-connected trigger 111 via the hook 121.

When the container 151 is rotated for emptying the container contents fall towards the lid underside and contact the flexible link-connected trigger 111. The contents push the trigger into the space between the trigger and the underside.

When the trigger moves towards the underside, the trigger movement causes tension through the flexible link to activate the latch by pulling the pawl 131 towards a release mode (shown in dashed lines.) The pawl in the release mode allows the lid to move to the open position.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show alternate embodiments of the underside-activated lid locking product. Various configuration of the product can be considered so long as the trigger is activated by contact with the container contents and the trigger is mounted proximal the lid underside and spaced apart from the underside towards the container opening.

Electrically-Switched Container Lid Locking Product

The invention pertains to container locks for various types of containers such as waste containers, dumpsters, trashcans etc.

In particular, the containers which are typically stored outdoors and are emptied by lifting and rotating the container over a truck bed.

These containers are often locked by a mechanism that prevents the container lid from opening unless unlocked by an authorized user.

There are two important tasks for these locks: one, they should be lockable/unlockable by the container user so that the user can access the container opening and limit access to the container by unauthorized users.

Two, the lock should be lockable/unlockable by the truck driver to allow emptying the container. Preferably, the lock should be lockable/unlockable without requiring the driver leave the truck.

The lock mechanism has two main components: the lid restraint and the trigger. The lid restraint is the component or combination of components that physically restrains the lid from opening when the lock is locked. The lid restraint has a locked state and an unlocked state. The lid restraint in the locked state with the lid in the closed position stops the lid from moving to the open position.

The lid restraint can be a bar that extends across the lid and prevents the lid from opening.

The lid restraint can be a hook or link that captures a lid feature and prevents the lid from opening. For example, the lid restraint can be a hook that captures a loop located on the underside of the lid. Alternatively, the lid restraint can be a wedge that blocks the rotation of a lid feature.

The trigger controls the lid restraint and enables the lid restraint to move from the locked state.

The trigger has an engaged condition and a disengaged condition. In the engaged condition, the trigger holds the lid restraint in the locked state. In the disengaged condition, the trigger allows the lid restraint to move from the locked state.

The invention is an electrically-switched container lock product wherein the trigger electrically switches between the engaged condition and the disengaged condition.

The product comprises a lid restraint, as described above. The lid restraint is connected to the container.

The product further comprises an electrically-switched trigger connected to the lid restraint. The trigger can be mechanically connected to the restraint. Alternatively, the trigger can be hydraulically connected, pneumatically connected, magnetically connected, and connected by various other methods so long as the trigger functions to control the lid restraint as described above.

The trigger, when in the engaged condition with the restraint in the locked state, keeps the restraint in the locked state. The trigger, when in the disengaged condition with the restraint in the locked state, allows the restraint to move from the locked state to the unlocked state.

The trigger comprises an electric energy source. The energy source is signal-connected to the trigger. The energy source provides switching energy for switching the trigger between the engaged condition and the disengaged condition.

The energy source can be a battery. The energy source can be a local utility grid. The energy source can be an inductive source. The energy source can be various energy sources so long as it provides electrical switching energy to the trigger.

The trigger further comprises an exciter. The exciter is signal-connected to the trigger. The exciter tells the trigger to switch between the engaged condition and the disengaged condition.

One example of the electrically-switched container lock product can utilize the floating mass container lock product. In this case, the lid restraint and trigger are as described for the floating mass container lock product.

The trigger comprises a coil-type actuator. The actuator in the engaged condition engages the pivot arm and prevents the pivot arm from moving from the locked position to the unlocked position.

The coil-type actuator can be switched by being exposed to an inductive, electromagnetic field. The field signal-connects to the coil-type actuator and causes the actuator to switch from the engaged condition to the disengaged condition. In the disengaged condition, the actuator disengages from the pivot arm and allow the pivot arm to move from the locked position to the unlocked position.

The inductive, electromagnetic field can be generated by energizing a second coil in the vicinity of the coil-type actuator. For example, the second coil can be mounted on a truck used for emptying the container. In this case, the second coil acts as both the energy source and the exciter.

After emptying the container, the truck leaves the vicinity and removes the inductive electromagnetic field from the coil-type actuator. In the absence of the inductive, electromagnetic field, the coil-type actuator returns to the engaged condition and again prevents the pivot arm from moving from the locked position to the unlocked position.

In FIG. 9, an electrically-switched container lock 80 is shown mounted on a container 50. The container 50 has a lid 51.

The container lock 80 comprises a lid restraint. In FIG. 9, the latch comprises a pivot arm 21 pivotally connected to a pivot shaft 22. The pivot arm 21 has a notch. The lid restraint further comprises a link 31 and a crosspiece 41. The crosspiece 41 extends across the container 50 and prevents the lid from opening when the lid restraint is in the locked state.

The container lock 80 further comprises a trigger. In FIG. 9, the trigger is a solenoid. The solenoid has a solenoid shaft that can engage the notch in the pivot arm 21. The trigger has an engaged condition where the solenoid shaft is extended and engages the notch in the pivot arm 21. When the trigger is in the engaged condition, the shaft engaging the pivot arm prevents the pivot arm from rotating and moving from the locked state.

As shown in FIG. 10, the trigger is shown in a disengaged condition where the solenoid shaft is retracted and disengages from the notch in the pivot arm 21. When the trigger is in the disengaged condition, the pivot arm is free to rotate and move from the locked state.

The trigger shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 further comprises an electric energy source, in this case a battery. The battery is signal connected to the solenoid.

The trigger shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 further comprises an exciter, in this case a manual switch. The switch is signal connected to the battery and the solenoid. When the switch is open as shown in FIG. 9, the electrical path between the battery and the solenoid is interrupted and the solenoid shaft remains retracted.

When the switch is closed as shown in FIG. 10, the electrical path between the battery and the solenoid is completed and the solenoid shaft extends and engages the notch in the pivot arm.