Title:
Wheel shipping member
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for shipping a vehicle wheel. The apparatus includes an annular member adapted to be placed on the vehicle wheel specifically on the outer rim portion thereof. A partition member is connected to the annular member and extends into an interior area defined by the outer peripheral edge of the annular member. Accordingly, the partition member provides a buffer or protective member that protects the outer surface of the vehicle wheel from damage.



Inventors:
Hasenbusch, Ronald (Grosse Pointe Park, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/290661
Publication Date:
06/21/2007
Filing Date:
11/30/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NEWAY, BLAINE GIRMA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUNG & ASSOCIATES (Garden City, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shipping member used for transporting a vehicle wheel comprising: an annular member including an outer peripheral edge and having an interior area circumscribed by said outer peripheral edge; and a partition member, said partition member connected to said annular member and extending into said interior area.

2. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 including said annular member having an inner peripheral edge and having a circumferential groove between said outer peripheral edge and said inner peripheral edge, said interior area circumscribed by said inner peripheral edge.

3. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 wherein said partition member occupies said interior area.

4. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 wherein said partition member occupies a portion of said interior area.

5. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 wherein said partition member includes a plurality of spokes, said spokes connected to said annular member and extending inward into said interior area.

6. A shipping member as set forth in claim 5 including a hub, said spokes connected to said hub.

7. A shipping member as set forth in claim 5 wherein said spokes have first and second ends, said first ends connected to said annular member and said second ends connected to each other.

8. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 wherein said partition member has at least one opening therein.

9. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 wherein said partition member includes a plate member having top and bottom surfaces.

10. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 including said plate member having a multi-level configuration and having a plurality of openings extending between said top and bottom surfaces.

11. A shipping member as set forth in claim 1 including a plurality of shipping members joined together at adjacent annular members to form a single layer.

12. A shipping member for transporting a vehicle wheel comprising: an annular member including an outer circumferential flange and an inner circumferential flange, a base member extending between said outer circumferential flange and said inner circumferential flange, said base member cooperating with said outer circumferential flange and said inner circumferential flange to form a circumferential groove configured to receive a rim flange of the wheel, said inner circumferential flange circumscribing a cylindrical opening; and a partition member located in said cylindrical opening.

13. A shipping member as set forth in claim 12 wherein said partition member is connected to said annular member.

14. A shipping member as set forth in claim 12 wherein said partition member has a multi-level configuration.

15. A shipping member as set forth in claim 12 including said partition member including a hub; and a plurality of spokes connected at one end to said annular member and at an opposite end to said hub.

16. A shipping member as set forth in claim 12 wherein said partition member includes a top surface, a bottom surface and a plurality of openings extending between said top surface and said bottom surface.

17. A shipping member as set forth in claim 12 including said base member of said circumferential groove having a lower surface, said lower surface lying in a plane and said bottom surface of said partition member lies above said plane.

18. A shipping member as set forth in claim 12 wherein said partition member has at least one opening therein.

19. A shipping member for transporting a vehicle wheel comprising: an annular member including an outer circumferential flange and an inner circumferential flange, a base member extending between said outer circumferential flange and said inner circumferential flange, said base member cooperating with said outer circumferential flange and said inner circumferential flange to form a circumferential groove configured to receive a rim flange of the wheel, said inner circumferential flange circumscribing a cylindrical area; and a partition member located in said cylindrical area, said partition member connected to said annular member and having at least one opening therein.

20. A shipping member as set forth in claim 19 wherein said partition member has a multi-level configuration.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to an apparatus for shipping an article; and, more specifically to an apparatus used to secure a wheel during shipment and protect the wheel during loading and unloading.

2. Description of Related Art

Lightweight automotive vehicle wheels cast from aluminum magnesium or titanium are very popular. After casting, a machining process provides the wheel with a smooth outer surface. The wheel than undergoes some type of surface finish to give the wheel a high luster surface. Various types of surface finishes are known. For instance, the surface may be brushed or polished, a surface treatment such as chrome plating may be applied or an overlay may be permanently attached to the outer surface. Upon completion of the manufacturing process, the finished wheel is packaged and shipped for installation on a motor vehicle.

Different forms of packaging and shipping containers have been used for transporting the finished wheel. One method was to place the wheels in a cardboard container having a plurality of dividers forming separate compartments for each wheel. To prevent the wheels from shifting during transport, foam or other packing material is placed in the compartment. In addition, often the wheels are placed inside a plastic bag for protection after which they are placed in the compartment prior to placing the packing material around the wheel. Such shipping methods are labor intensive and material laden. In addition, after the wheel reaches its ultimate destination, the packaging materials are removed and typically discarded.

FIG. 1 illustrates a prior art wheel shipping assembly in which the wheels are stacked on top of one another with a plastic ring member placed between each wheel. A cap is placed on the top wheel. Depending upon the size of the shipping pallet, multiple stacks of wheels are placed on each pallet.

One problem with the above described prior art wheel shipping assembly is illustrated in FIG. 2. Specifically, when loading or unloading wheels, a wheel contacting the wheel below it causes damage to the outer surface of the lower wheel. If the damage is minor, the wheel may be repaired and in cases of major damage, the wheel must be scrapped. Either case results in increased costs, both time and material. Accordingly, is desirable to have a wheel shipping member that both protects the wheel surface from damage and reduces costs associated with removing and discarding packaging materials.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an apparatus for shipping a workpiece; in particular, a vehicle wheel. The apparatus includes an annular member having an outer peripheral edge and a base member located adjacent the outer peripheral edge. A partition member connected to the annular member extends into an open area circumscribed by the outer peripheral edge. Accordingly, as the apparatus is placed between adjacent wheels, the partition member minimizes contact between adjacent wheels.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the annular member also includes an inner peripheral edge and a circumferential groove located between the inner and outer peripheral edge. The partition member includes a plurality of spokes connected to the annular member and extending inwardly into the open area. The spokes may be connected to one another or to an annular hub located in the open area.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded, perspective view of a wheel and wheel shipping assembly according to the prior art;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the prior art illustrating contact between upper and lower wheels;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the shipping member according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view illustrating an upper wheel being removed; and

FIG. 6 is a plan view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a plan view illustrating a plurality of shipping members according to the present invention formed as a single layer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As shown in FIG. 1, a ring 10 according to the prior art is used to ship wheels 12. During the packaging procedure, a worker first places a bottom ring 14 on a pallet (not shown) and then proceeds to stack the wheels 12 to a desired height while placing a ring 10 between each wheel 12. When the stack reaches the desired height, a lid or cover 16 is placed on the top wheel 12.

To tie the individual stacks together, horizontal layers of adjacent rings 10 are sonically welded together at the point they contact an adjacent ring. For instance, if a pallet will ultimately hold six stacks of wheels 12, then prior to stacking the wheels 12, the rings 10 of each layer are sonically welded to one another at their contact points to form a single, six-ring layer. Accordingly, each layer of rings 10 is welded together, whereby the layers help tie all of the wheels 12 together to reduce both shifting and wheel to wheel contact during transport.

FIG. 2 illustrates one problem with the prior art, specifically the finished outer surface 18 of the wheel 10 is exposed. When lifting and removing the upper wheel 12 from the stack, in the direction shown by the arrow 20, the lower flange or rim 22 of the upper wheel 12 may strike the finished outer surface 18 of the lower wheel 12 causing damage in the form of a scratch or dent 24. Depending upon the severity of the scratch or dent 24, repair of the wheel 12 may not be possible and the wheel 12 must then be scrapped.

FIGS. 3-5 illustrate a wheel shipping member, seen generally at 30, constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The wheel shipping member 30 generally includes an annular member 32 and a partition member 34. The annular member includes an outer wall or flange member 36 forming an outer peripheral edge and an inner wall or flange member 38 forming an inner peripheral edge. A base member 40 extends between the outer wall 36 and inner wall 38 and cooperates with the outer and inner walls 36, 38 to form a circumferential groove 42. The wheel shipping member 30 also includes an interior area 44 defined as that area or region circumscribed by the inner wall 38 of the annular member 32. The interior area 44 may be a cylinder, a portion of which being within the area circumscribed by the inner wall 38.

A partition member, seen generally at 46, is connected to the annular member 32 and extends into the interior area 44. In the preferred embodiment, the partition member 46 includes a plurality of spokes 48 connected to the annular member 32 and extending radially into the interior area 44. The spokes 48 connect at a hub 50 with openings 54 located between the respective spokes 48. The hub 50 further includes a center opening 52. In the illustrated embodiment, the partition member 46 is a plate member 56 having a top surface 58 and a bottom surface 60.

As illustrated in FIG. 4, the plate member 56 may be configured to include a step or multi-level configuration that provides strength and rigidity to the partition member 34. In addition, the step configuration 62 raises the bottom surface 60 of the plate member 56 to provide additional clearance for the outer surface 18 of the wheel, as the outer surface 18 may extend past the flange or rim of the wheel 12. In use, the shipping member 30 is placed on top of the wheel 12 such that the lower surface 66 of the base member 40 rests on the upper flange or rim of the wheel 12. The outer wall 36 extends downwardly past the upper flange or rim of the wheel 12 to hold the shipping member 30 in place on the lower wheel 12. The partition member 34 extends across and over the outer surface 18 of the wheel 12. The next or upper wheel 12 is then placed on the shipping member 30 such that the lower flange or rim of the upper wheel 12 is located on the upper surface 68 of the base member 40, which, along with the outer wall 36 and the inner wall 38, forms the circumferential groove 42.

As shown in FIG. 5 the shipping member 30 provides a skid or bumper surface that acts as an interface between adjacent wheels 12 to reduce the likelihood that adjacent wheels 12 will contact one another and thus damage the outer surface 18 of the lower wheel 12 when stacking or unstacking the wheels 12. Should a material handler not fully lift a wheel 12 and thus drag or drop it on the wheel 12 immediately below, the wheel 12 will strike the partition member 46 instead of the outer surface 18 of the adjacent wheel 12. Accordingly, the partition member 46 protects the finished outer surface 18 of the wheel 12.

Depending upon the configuration of the particular wheel 12 being shipped, the size and configuration of the partition member 34 may vary. For instance as shown in FIG. 6, the spokes 48 are formed as a plurality of narrow rib members 70 extending inwardly from the annular member 32 and intersecting at a common point 72. The openings of this embodiment are greater in size or area than the previous embodiment, thereby reducing the amount of material needed to form the partition member 34. Accordingly, based upon the outer surface configuration 18 of the wheel, the partition member 34 can be configured in a multitude of shapes, sizes and designs with the ultimate purpose being to protect the outer surface 18 of the wheel 12 against contact with an adjacent wheel 12 when the adjacent wheel 12 is removed.

The shipping member 30 can be made from a highly recyclable material, such as polypropylene which can be injection molded in various shapes, sizes or configurations depending upon the size and outer surface configuration of the wheel 12. In addition, as illustrated in FIG. 7, multiple shipping members 30 can be formed together as a single unitary member joined at their contact points 82. Thus, depending upon shipping parameters, a single layer of interconnected shipping members 30 are formed in a desired shipping pattern. While shown herein as two columns of three, other configurations are also contemplated.

The description of the invention is merely exemplary in nature and, thus, variations that do not depart from the gist of the invention are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention.