Title:
Cheese box cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cheese box cover is shaped to be self-draining from any interior region of a top surface of the cover to a periphery of the cover. Corner foot projections extending upward from each corner of the cover help position pallet feet of a superposed cheese box. Links connected between corner projections and held in place by superposed pallet feet interconnect adjacent cheese boxes for security during stacking and storage.



Inventors:
Wilcox, Donald (Rochester, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/328607
Publication Date:
08/10/2006
Filing Date:
01/10/2006
Assignee:
A. R. Arena Products, Inc. (Rochester, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROWN & MICHAELS, PC (ITHACA, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cheese box cover suitable for covering an industrial cheese box, the cover comprising: a top surface of the cover having a perimeter region extending around a central region; the top surface of the central region of the cover being elevated above the perimeter region; the elevation of the top surface of the central region of the cover being configured with a plurality of sloping surfaces; and the sloping surfaces being arranged to provide a downward sloping path to the perimeter region for liquid deposited anywhere on the top surface of the central region of the cover.

2. The cheese box cover of claim 1 wherein strengthening ribs are arranged underneath the top surface of the central region.

3. The cheese box cover of claim 2 wherein the ribs extend downward from a bottom surface of the central region.

4. The cheese box cover of claim 1 wherein top and bottom surfaces of the cover are formed so that covers can nest with each other for shipment.

5. The cheese box cover of claim 1 wherein top and bottom surfaces of the cover are formed to nest with cheese box pallets for shipment.

6. The cheese box cover of claim 1 wherein the top surface of the cover is configured to define foot support regions providing pallet foot resting places for superposed cheese boxes.

7. A cheese box comprising: a cover having a top surface, a bottom surface, and a peripheral rim dimensioned to rest on upstanding side and end walls arranged on a pallet; the top surface in a rest position of the cover being higher than the peripheral: rim, and every point on the top surface being drainable downward to the peripheral rim; and strengthening ribs extending downward from the bottom surface and extending laterally within the peripheral rim.

8. The cheese box of claim 7 wherein the top surface has foot support regions configured to provide pallet foot resting places for superposed cheese boxes.

9. The cheese box of claim 8 wherein the foot support regions include upstanding corner projections.

10. The cheese box of claim 7 wherein the bottom surface is configured to provide spring engagement regions allowing the cover to press downward on springs engaging the spring support regions.

11. The cheese box of claim 7 wherein machined off sprues for forming the cover are arranged on the bottom surface of the cover.

12. The cheese box of claim 7 configured to nest cover-to-cover, to nest cover-to-pallet, and to compactly package pallet, cheese box walls, and cover.

13. The cheese box of claim 7 wherein the top surface includes locator channels for banding straps holding the cover against the walls.

14. A cheese box having a pallet base, side and end walls extending upward from the pallet base and a cover resting on upper edges of the side and end walls, the cheese box comprising: a top surface of the cover having upstanding corner projections; tie straps having openings fitting around the corner projections; the tie straps being dimensioned to span a distance between corner projections of adjacent cheese box covers; and feet of pallets of superposed cheese boxes positioned on the corner projections being arranged to hold the ties in place connecting corner projections of adjacent cheese box covers.

15. The cheese box of claim 14 wherein covers are self-draining.

16. The cheese box of claim 14 wherein the covers have bottom surfaces with strengthening ribs.

Description:

BACKGROUND

U.S. Pat. No. 5,287,981 suggests a cheese box formed of molded resin components offering several advantages to cheese manufacturers. Such cheese boxes include a pallet base, knock down wall panels that can be assembled on the base, and a cover that rests on the wall panels. The underside of the cover engages springs that press downward on a platen within the box to keep pressure on the box contents while the cheese is being formed. The cover is banded to the box with strapping to keep the spring force applied to the platen, and cheese boxes are stacked one on top of another during the cheese forming process.

Once a finished cheese block is removed from the box, the box components can be knocked down or disassembled, cleaned, and reused to make another block of cheese. Shipping is often involved so that cheese box components are packaged for return shipment.

SUMMARY

This invention improves on the cover for a molded resin cheese box such as suggested in the '981 patent. Previous cheese box covers, with strengthening ribs on their upper surfaces such as proposed in the '981 patent, created pockets or compartments where whey or liquids draining off in the cheese making process could collect and solidify. This created a cleaning problem after a box was used. It has been recognized in the cheese making art that a self-draining cover that does not collect or retain materials draining downward from box to box during the cheese making process would be clearly desirable.

This invention addresses that goal while proposing an improved cheese box cover that also meets many other requirements for efficiency and effectiveness as a reusable cheese box cover. These requirements include adequate strength to accomplish all the required functions without cracking, warping, or breaking; rigidity sufficient to maintain a desired position and shape while supporting superposed cheese boxes and applying spring pressure to an underlying platen within the box; economy in materials and manufacturing expense so that the covers are affordable against competing alternatives; compact nestability of covers with each other and with pallet bases to economize on shipment costs of empty box components; and accomplishing all these requirements in a compact design that does not significantly increase the overall height of an assembled cheese box and cover.

DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows an exploded perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a cheese box cover combined with a cheese box assembled on a pallet base and including a spring platen and a set of compression springs disposed underneath the cover;

FIG. 2 is a view in a similar perspective to that of FIG. 1 showing the cheese box closed and the cover banded to the assembled box.

FIG. 3 is a view in a perspective similar to that of FIG. 2 showing a pair of assembled and closed cheese boxes connected together by unitizing connectors.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a connecting link for tying together covers 30 of adjacent cheese boxes.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective similar to FIG. 3 illustrating a cheese box stacked on top of a cover of an underlying cheese box.

FIG. 4A is a fragmentary cross-section through a corner region of one cheese box superposed over another.

FIGS. 5-10 show several variations of cheese box components packaged for shipment, the components including side and end walls, pallets and covers, platens and springs arranged in different packages.

FIG. 11 is a plan view of the top surface of a preferred embodiment of improved cover 30.

FIG. 12 is a plan view of the bottom surface of a preferred embodiment of improved cover 30.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the top surface of the cover of FIG. 11.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the bottom surface of the cover of FIG. 12.

FIG. 15 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line A-A thereof.

FIG. 16 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line H-H thereof.

FIG. 17 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line GI-GI thereof.

FIG. 18 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line B-B thereof.

FIG. 19 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line Z-Z thereof.

FIG. 20 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line C-C thereof.

FIG. 21 is a cross-section of the cover of FIG. 11 taken along the line Z2-Z2 thereof.

FIG. 22 is a plan view of a preferred embodiment of a pallet base on which a cheese box is assembled.

FIG. 23 is a plan view of the bottom surface of the pallet base of FIG. 20.

FIG. 24 is a cross-section of the pallet base of FIG. 21, taken along the line A-A.

FIG. 25 is an end view of the pallet base of FIGS. 20 and 21.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The general construction and operation of cheese boxes with the improved cover of this invention are shown in FIGS. 1-10. These include assembled cheese boxes in FIGS. 1-4 and packages of cheese box component assemblies for shipping purposes in FIGS. 5-10.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,287,981 suggests the general assembly of molded resin cheese boxes 50. Each of these comprises a pair of side walls 51 and a pair of end walls 52 erected and interconnected on a pallet base 55. A spring platen or plate 45 is arranged inside box 50 on top of the cheese forming ingredients, and an array of compression springs 46 are arranged on top of platen 45 to press downward on the cheese ingredients when cover 30 is closed and preferably held down with straps 31, as shown in FIG. 2. Springs 46 are compressed between an underside of cover 30 and a top side of platen 45 to push platen 45 downward and help knit the cheese together and control block shrinkage from forming within the cheese as it cools.

FIG. 3 illustrates a pair of unitizing straps or connectors 54 that can be arranged to tie together the covers of a pair of adjacent cheese boxes 50 arranged side-by-side. A preferred way of handling cheese boxes at industrial sites is to move them four at a time on a forklift truck, with two boxes arranged side by side in a bottom layer, and two more boxes superposed in an upper layer. Unitizing connectors 54, when arranged between such pairs of cheese boxes helps prevent any tilting of the boxes from the vertical. Connectors 54 provide especially strong and stable connecting links when their openings 56 encircle pallet foot locating projections 29 at the corners of covers 30 where they are held in place by pallet bases 55 of superposed cheese boxes. By interconnecting cheese boxes arranged side by side in this way, it is possible not only to move cheese boxes four at a time, but to stack cheese boxes 6-high in a chill room for curing.

Stacking of cheese boxes is shown in FIG. 4, where one box 50 is superposed over a pair of boxes interconnected by links 54. Feet of pallet 55 rest on link 54 holding it firmly against corner foot locator projections 29 that extend upward from top surfaces of covers 30. This illustrates that links 54 can provide strong interconnecting links between cheese boxes when held firmly in place by superposed feet of pallet bases 55.

The stacking of cheese box pallets 55 on connecting links 54 is also illustrated in the partially cut-away corner view of FIG. 4A. There, a fragment of cover 30 with its corner projection 29 is visible, and link 54 is positioned over projection 29 on an upper surface of cover 30 where it is held in place by the downward pressure of the foot 59 of a superposed pallet 55 supporting an upper cheese box 50. Since link 54 keeps corner projections 29 from separating and therefore does not allow adjacent boxes 50 to move apart, and since links 54 are held down on cover corner projections 29, which therefore cannot escape their interconnection, the joining of adjacent boxes 50 and the stacking of boxes atop one another is made secure.

Cheese box components are shipped several times during their effective life, and one of the design criteria for covers 30 is to accommodate such shipments. Shipping packages of cheese box components for these purposes are illustrated in FIGS. 5-10.

The shipping packages illustrated in FIGS. 5-7 are for return shipment of cheesebox components after they have been cleaned from a previous use. The package of FIGS. 5 and 7 contains side walls 51 and end walls 52 of cheese boxes arranged within a pair of side walls and an end wall erected on a pallet base 55. Four spring platens 45 are arranged within a space available between the groups of end walls 52. Springs 46 can also be included, and a cover 30 can then be arranged over the top of the assembled package and held to pallet base 55 by strapping 31 to complete the package as shown in FIG. 5. A lip on pallet 55 retains the package contents at the open end.

FIG. 6 shows an additional package made up of four more pallets 55, four more covers 30 stacked on a pallet 55, and a spring platen 45 nested within an uppermost cover 30. The package illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 7, when combined with the package illustrated in FIG. 6, allows return shipment of a full set of cheese box components for five cheese boxes.

FIGS. 8-10 show a pair of packages of originally fabricated parts for five cheese boxes. Not included in the packages of FIGS. 8-10 are springs 46 and spring platens 45, which reach the customer from a different source. The package of FIGS. 8 and 10 is formed by three walls of a cheese box arranged on a pallet 55 to contain extra side walls 51 and end walls 52 and a cover 30 arranged within the package. This is covered by a cover 30 and held with banding straps 31, as shown in FIG. 8. A companion package illustrated in FIG. 9 includes four more pallets 55 and three more covers 30 arranged on a pallet stack and held by banding straps 31. The package of FIG. 9, combined with the package of FIGS. 8 and 10 supplies the customer with components for five cheese boxes. The customer's complete needs are met by receiving from another source a package of spring platens 45 and springs 46.

FIGS. 11-19 illustrate a preferred embodiment of the inventive cover 30, which differs from previous covers in several respects. Cover 30 is preferably molded of resin material but can also be made of other materials, such as stainless steel. A periphery or perimeter 35 of cover 30 rests on the upper edges of assembled side walls 51 and end walls 52 of a cheese box erected on a pallet base 55. This effectively closes the box and also assures that the weight of superposed cheese boxes is transmitted downward through covers 30 and through walls 51 and 52 and pallets 55 to the bottom of tiers of cheese boxes.

An outer rim 41 of periphery 35 preferably overlaps and extends downward somewhat around the outside surfaces of side walls 51 and end walls 52 to rest securely on the tops of assembled cheese box walls. For strengthening purposes, it is also preferred to have an inner rim or ledge 42 extending downward around an inner perimeter spaced inwardly from outer rib or lip 41. Inner rim or ledge 42 preferably rests on the upper edges of side walls 51 and end walls 52. This again helps secure cover 30 in registered position over the tops of the walls of an assembled box and also ensures that load from superposed cheese boxes is transmitted downward through perimeter 35 to cheese box walls and platen base 55. Strengthening ribs 40 on the underside of covers 30 preferably do not extend below inner rib 42 or laterally beyond ledge 42.

All of the interior top surface regions of cover 30 within perimeter 35 are elevated above perimeter 35 and are also sloped to drain liquid materials from any internal region downward to perimeter 35. This description assumes an upright assembled cheese box with the cover on top, and with the top surface of cover 30 uppermost. The result is not necessarily a smooth dome, because many other considerations are also at work. It is preferable according to this invention, though, that no internal area within perimeter 35 be lacking a down sloping drainage path toward perimeter 35 so that no part of the upper surface of cover 35 will collect and retain liquids.

The underside of cover 30, as shown in FIGS. 12 and 14, includes spring engagement areas 36 that press against the compression springs 46, as illustrated in FIG. 1. The corresponding top surfaces 37 of spring regions 36 are sloped by small inclines toward perimeter 35 to promote top surface draining of liquid. Spring engagement areas 36 are preferably free of strengthening ribs 40.

Foot locators 29 in the form of projections raised upward from the upper surface of cover 30 are arranged at each corner to locate feet 59 of pallet base 55, which is best shown in FIG. 21. Projections 29 also engage openings 56 in connector links 54 to tie pairs of boxes together, as previously explained. When pallet feet 59 rest against connector links 54 positioned over foot locator projections 29 on adjacent covers of cheese boxes, they press down on connector links 54 to ensure that they remain connected to foot projections 29 and tie adjacent pallet boxes together. Other top surface projections 27 near corners of perimeter 35 are involved in cover-to-cover nesting and cover-to-pallet nesting for compact return shipment. Projections 27 also help ensure proper location of pallet feet 59 on cover 30.

Since liquid drainage from central regions of cover 30 toward perimeter 35 tends to be obstructed in the places where pallet feet 59 rest against a top surface of cover 30, this has been remedied by providing foot rests 26 to engage pallet foot regions 56 while leaving drainage paths 25 sloping downward from spring regions 37 past foot locator projections 29. This ensures that drainage occurs even around regions that might otherwise be blocked by pallet feet 59 and 56.

It would be too expensive and cumbersome to make a molded cover 30 strong and durable enough as a flat plastic element. The better and therefore preferred alternative illustrated in FIGS. 11-19 is to form strengthening ribs 40 on the underside of cover 30, as shown in the cross-sectional views of FIGS. 15-21 and in the perspective view of FIG. 14. Such strengthening ribs 40 are preferably formed clear of spring regions 36 and are arranged to strengthen interior regions of cover 30 so that it does not dome upward in response to the force of springs 46. Strengthening ribs 40 also support and help form the top surface contours of cover 30 that are important for draining liquids toward perimeter 35. Ribs 40 preferably do not extend downward from the underside of cover 30 to a level below inner ledge 42. This helps keep covers compact and nestable within each other. Since liquid drainage preferably occurs both crosswise and lengthwise of cover 30, ribs 40 are designed to support the sloping drainage surfaces from all central regions of cover 30 to periphery 35. Ribs 40 are also designed to make cover nesting compact so that ribs do not extend so far below cover 30 as to impractically expand the dimensions of nested covers.

Projections 27 help locate covers within a pallet base when covers 30 are stacked together in a pallet base 55 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 9. Notches 43 afford another locating feature on a top surface of cover 30. These engage with ribs 53 (FIG. 24) extending downward from pallet base 55 to help guide the feet 59 of a pallet base into proper position with cover 30. Several location features thus cooperate to ensure that each pallet base 55 registers with its predetermined position on top of a cover 30, which facilitates stacking cheese boxes.





 
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