Title:
Packaging for perishable goods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ventilated storage box includes a peripheral wall defining a storage space and having ventilation openings extending therethrough and a ventilation insert insertable in the storage space. The ventilation insert has walls defining at least one ventilation channel with at least one port in periphery of the ventilation insert. At least one of the at least one ventilation port is in register and in fluid communication with at least one of the ventilation openings of the peripheral wall when the ventilation insert is inserted in the storage box and defining therewith an unobstructed ventilation path in the storage space of the storage box.



Inventors:
Price Jr., Franklin Ray (Palm Springs, CA, US)
Clerc, Patrice Michel (Sherbrooke, CA)
Marcoux, Philippe (Drummondville, CA)
Application Number:
11/407652
Publication Date:
11/08/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEUNG, CHUN HOI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EVERSHEDS SUTHERLAND (US) LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
1. A ventilated storage box in combination with a single-piece ventilation insert, the ventilated storage box comprising: a peripheral wall defining a storage space and having ventilation openings extending therethrough; and the ventilation insert being insertable in the storage space and having walls defining at least one ventilation channel with at least one port in periphery of the ventilation insert, at least one of the at least one ventilation port being in register and in fluid communication with at least one of the ventilation openings of the peripheral wall when the ventilation insert is inserted in the storage box and defining therewith an unobstructed ventilation path in the storage space of the storage box.

2. A combination as claimed in claim 1, wherein the ventilation insert comprises a plurality of ventilation channels extending substantially parallel to one another, the walls of two adjacent ventilation channels being spaced-apart from one another.

3. A combination as claimed in claim 1, wherein the walls define a first channel extending in a first direction and a second channel extending in a second direction, the first and the second channels intersecting at an intersection and being in fluid communication at the intersection.

4. A combination as claimed in claim 1, wherein the walls define a plurality of channels extending in a first direction and a plurality of channels extending in a second direction, the channels extending in the first direction and in the second direction intersecting one another and being in fluid communication for defining a grid ventilation network.

5. A combination as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least one ventilation channel is defined by at least two of the walls extending substantially parallel to one another and connected to one another along a first extended end.

6. A combination as claimed in claim 5, wherein the walls comprise a second extended end, opposed to the first extended end, at least one of the second extended ends being connected to another juxtaposed second extended end for reinforcing the ventilation insert.

7. A combination as claimed in claim 1, wherein the ventilation insert comprises an aeration face with a plurality of protrusions spaced apart from one another and defining therebetween the ventilation channels.

8. A combination as claimed in claim 7, wherein ventilation insert comprises an item supporting face, opposed to the aeration face, the item supporting face having a plurality of cavities therein, the cavities corresponding to the protrusions of the opposed aeration face.

9. A combination as claimed in claim 1, wherein the ventilation insert has a periphery defining a first surface area, the first surface area being substantially equal to the surface area of the storage space defined by the peripheral wall.

10. A combination as claimed in claim 9, wherein the at least one port of the at least one ventilation channel has a port surface area and the ventilation openings have an opening surface area, the port surface area and the opening surface area being substantially equal, the at least one port being contiguous to a respective one of the ventilation openings thereby substantially preventing obstruction of the ventilation opening when at least one item is stored in the storage space of the storage box.

11. A ventilated storage container, comprising: a box having wall panels with at least one ventilation opening extending therethrough, the wall panels defining a storage space in the box; and a ventilation insert insertable in the storage space and having an item supporting face and an aeration face, opposed to the item supporting face, the aeration face having at least one depression defining at least one air flow path therein with a port in periphery of the ventilation insert, the port being in fluid communication and in register with the at least one ventilation opening when the ventilation insert is inserted in the storage space of the box.

12. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 11, wherein the aeration face has a plurality of elongated depressions extending in a first direction and a plurality of elongated depressions extending in a second direction, the elongated depressions defining air flow paths intersecting at intersections and being in fluid communication at the intersections.

13. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 11, wherein the wall panels comprise a plurality of ventilation openings lying in a ventilation plane, the at least one air flow path of the ventilation insert being coplanar with the ventilation plane when inserted in the storage space of the box.

14. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 13, wherein the item supporting face comprises at least one cavity juxtaposed to the at least one elongated depression of the aeration face.

15. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 11, wherein the ventilation insert is single-piece and is molded from polymers.

16. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 14, wherein the at least one cavity of the item supporting face has a nadir on the opposed aeration face, the nadir abuts a bottom panel, extending between a lower edge of the wall panels, when the ventilation insert is inserted in the storage space of the box.

17. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 11, wherein the ventilation insert has a periphery defining a first surface area, the first surface area being substantially equal to a surface area of the storage space defined by the wall panels.

18. A ventilated storage container as claimed in claim 17, wherein the port of the at least one air flow path has a port surface area and the ventilation openings have an opening surface area, the port surface area and the opening surface area being substantially equal, the port being contiguous to a respective one of the ventilation openings thereby substantially preventing obstruction of the ventilation opening when at least one item is stored in the storage space of the box.

19. An item storage container, comprising: a box having a peripheral wall defining a storage space therein, the peripheral wall having ventilation openings extending therethrough; and a ventilation insert having walls defining at least one ventilation channel with at least two ports in periphery of the ventilation insert, the ventilation insert being insertable in the storage space of the box with the ports in register and in fluid communication with a respective one of the ventilation openings defining a continuous ventilation path in the storage container, the ventilation insert preventing at least partially obstruction of the ventilation openings when at least one item is stored in the storage space and the walls preventing obstruction of the at least one ventilation channel by the at least one item stored in the storage space.

20. An item storage container as claimed in claim 19, wherein the ventilation insert comprises a plurality of ventilation channels extending substantially parallel to one another, the walls of two adjacent ventilation channels being spaced-apart from one another.

21. An item storage container as claimed in claim 19, wherein at least a first ventilation channel extends in a first direction and at least a second ventilation channel extends in a second direction and intersects the at least first ventilation channel extending in the first direction at an intersection, the at least first and second ventilation channels being in fluid communication at the intersection.

22. An item storage container as claimed in claim 19, wherein the ventilation openings lie in a ventilation plane coplanar with the at least one ventilation channel of the ventilation insert when inserted in the storage space of the box.

23. An item storage container as claimed in claim 19, wherein the at least one ventilation channel is defined by at least two of the walls extending substantially parallel to one another and connected to one another along a first extended end.

24. An item storage container as claimed in claim 23, wherein the walls comprise a second extended end, opposed to the first extended end,at least one of the second extended ends being connected to another juxtaposed second extended end for reinforcing the ventilation insert.

25. An item storage container as claimed in claim 19, wherein the ventilation insert comprises an aeration face with a plurality of protrusions spaced apart from one another and defining therebetween the at least one ventilation channel.

26. An item storage container as claimed in claim 25, wherein the ventilation insert comprises an item supporting face, opposed to the aeration face, the item supporting face having a plurality of cavities therein, the cavities corresponding to the protrusions of the opposed aeration face.

27. An item storage container as claimed in claim 19, wherein the ventilation insert is single-piece and has a periphery defining a first surface area, the first surface area being substantially equal to the surface area of the storage space defined by the peripheral wall.

28. An item storage container as claimed in claim 27, wherein the at least two ports have a port surface area and the ventilation openings have an opening surface area, the port surface area and the opening surface area being substantially equal, the ports being contiguous to a respective one of the ventilation openings thereby substantially preventing obstruction of the ventilation openings when at least one item is stored in the storage space of the box.

29. A method for enhancing heat transfer in an item storage container, the method comprising: inserting, in a storage space of the storage container, a single-piece ventilation insert having walls defining ventilation channels therein with ventilation ports in periphery of the ventilation insert; aligning the ventilation ports in register and in fluid communication with ventilation openings provided in a peripheral wall of the storage container; and storing at least one item in the storage space of the container, the walls of the ventilation insert preventing obstruction of the ventilation channels and at least partial obstruction of the ventilation openings.

30. A method as claimed in claim 29 comprising inserting the ventilation insert in the storage space prior to storing the at least one item in the storage space.

31. A storage container comprising: a wall-like structure around an internal space, the wall-like structure having one or more air flow openings allowing air to flow into and out of the internal space and having a transfer opening through which items can be inserted into and removed from the internal space; a single-piece insert structured to be inserted into the internal space through the transfer opening; the insert being supported by the wall-like structure and having an upper surface; the insert dividing the internal space into an item containing space extending above the upper face and an aeration space extending below the insert, the insert being shaped to permit sufficient air flow into and out of the aeration space through the air flow openings; and at least one item stored in the item containing space onto the upper surface of the single piece insert.

32. A method for storing a product comprising: inserting a single-piece insert in an internal space of a container, the single-piece insert having walls defining an air flow path therein, the air flow path being in being in fluid communication with air flow openings in a peripheral wall of the container allowing air to flow into and out the internal space; inserting the product into the internal space, the walls of the single-piece insert preventing obstruction of the air flow path by the product; and submitting the container and the product stored therein to an environment having a temperature T1, air flowing into and out the internal space through the air flow openings and into the air flow path providing an adjustment of the product temperature towards the temperature T1 by heat transfer.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to packaging for perishable goods and, more particularly, to a storage container in combination with a ventilation insert.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

Containers to store and ship frozen or refrigerated items such as food, medicines, beverages, plant or animal matter, flowers are known. For example, it is known to provide a generally rectangular box in which the perishable good is placed for transportation from the processing plant to a freezer or refrigeration facility. The perishable good is placed in the box and then frozen or refrigerated at the freezer or refrigeration facility to a predetermined temperature, and subsequently shipped to a distribution center or directly to the consumers.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a general aspect, there is provided a ventilated storage box in combination with a single-piece ventilation insert. The ventilated storage box comprises: a peripheral wall defining a storage space and having ventilation openings extending therethrough. The ventilation insert is insertable in the storage space and has walls defining at least one ventilation channel with at least one port in periphery of the ventilation insert, at least one of the at least one ventilation port being in register and in fluid communication with at least one of the ventilation openings of the peripheral wall when the ventilation insert is inserted in the storage box and defining therewith an unobstructed ventilation path in the storage space of the storage box.

According to another general aspect, there is provided a ventilated storage container. The container comprises: a box having wall panels with at least one ventilation opening extending therethrough, the wall panels defining a storage space in the box; and a ventilation insert insertable in the storage space and having an item supporting face and an aeration face, opposed to the item supporting face. The aeration face has at least one depression defining at least one ventilation channel therein with a port in periphery of the ventilation insert, the port being in fluid communication and in register with the at least one ventilation opening when the ventilation insert is inserted in the storage space of the box.

According to another general aspect, there is provided an item storage container. The item storage comprises: a box having a peripheral wall defining a storage space therein, the peripheral wall having ventilation openings extending therethrough; and a ventilation insert having walls defining at least one ventilation channel with at least two ports in periphery of the ventilation insert. The ventilation insert is insertable in the storage space of the box with the ports in register and in fluid communication with a respective one of the ventilation openings defining a continuous ventilation path in the storage container. The ventilation insert prevents at least partially obstruction of the ventilation openings when at least one item is stored in the storage space and the walls preventing obstruction of the at least one ventilation channel by the at least one item stored in the storage space.

According to a another general aspect, there is provided a method for enhancing heat transfer in an item storage container. The method comprises: inserting, in a storage space of the storage container, a single-piece ventilation insert having walls defining ventilation channels therein with ventilation ports in periphery of the ventilation insert; aligning the ventilation ports in register and in fluid communication with ventilation openings provided in a peripheral wall of the storage container; and storing at least one item in the storage space of the container, the walls of the ventilation insert preventing obstruction of the ventilation channels and at least partial obstruction of the ventilation openings.

According to a another general aspect, there is provided a storage container comprising: a wall-like structure around an internal space, the wall-like structure having one or more air flow openings allowing air to flow into and out of the internal space and having a transfer opening through which items can be inserted into and removed from the internal space; a single-piece insert structured to be inserted into the internal space through the transfer opening; the insert being supported by the wall-like structure and having an upper surface; the insert dividing the internal space into an item containing space extending above the upper face and an aeration space extending below the insert, the insert being shaped to permit sufficient air flow into and out of the aeration space through the air flow openings; and at least one item stored in the item containing space onto the upper surface of the single piece insert.

According to a another general aspect, there is provided a method for storing a product. The method comprises: inserting a single-piece insert in an internal space of a container, the single-piece insert having walls defining an air flow path therein, the air flow path being in being in fluid communication with air flow openings in a peripheral wall of the container allowing air to flow into and out the internal space; inserting the product into the internal space, the walls of the single-piece insert preventing obstruction of the air flow path by the product; and submitting the container and the product stored therein to an environment having a temperature T1, air flowing into and out the internal space through the air flow openings and into the air flow path providing an adjustment of the product temperature towards the temperature T1 by heat transfer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view, expanded, of a storage container including a ventilation insert;

FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of the ventilation insert shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of the storage container shown in FIG. 1 with the ventilation insert inserted therein;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the storage container shown in FIG. 1 with the ventilation insert inserted therein;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a variant of the ventilation insert, wherein the ventilation insert is provided with apertures between the ventilation channels;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a further variant of the ventilation insert, wherein the ventilation channels include bridging walls connecting the lower or second ends of the side walls;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a further variant of the ventilation insert, wherein the lower or second ends of the side walls are free;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of several layers of stacked storage containers, the storage containers having items stored therein;

FIG. 9 is a flow chart of a method for storing items in a ventilated storage container; and

FIG. 10 is a flow chart of an alternate method for storing items in a ventilated storage container, wherein the items are stored prior to inserting an insert in a storage space of the storage container.

It will be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like features are identified by like reference numerals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the drawings, and particularly to FIGS. 1-4, a storage and shipping container in accordance with an embodiment is indicated generally by the reference numeral 10.

The container 10 is generally in the shape of a parallelepiped. The container 10 comprises a box 12 and a lid 14 and is provided with a plurality of ventilation openings 16. For example, the container 10 is adapted to store and ship frozen or refrigerated items such as food, medicines, beverages, plant or animal matter, flowers.

More particularly, the box 12 includes first and second generally parallel opposite transverse side panels 18, each having a lower edge 20 and an upper edge 22. The box 12 further has first and second generally parallel opposite longitudinal side panels 24, each having a lower edge 26 and an upper edge 28. The side panels 18, 24, or wall panels, together define the peripheral wall of the box 12.

The box 12 defines a storage space 29 therein with an opening 30 defined by the upper edges 22, 28 of the side panels 18, 24 and a generally flat bottom panel 32 interconnecting the lower edges 20, 26 of the side panels 18, 24. The perishable goods are inserted in the storage space 29 for storage and transportation. In an embodiment, the perishable good, placed in the box, can be frozen or refrigerated at a freezer or refrigeration facility to a predetermined temperature, and subsequently shipped to a distribution center or directly to the consumers.

The lid 14 is sized and shaped to cover the opening 30. In the embodiment illustrated, the lid 14 is fully separable from the box 12. However, the lid 14 could be formed by one or more panels connected to or integral with one or more of the upper edges 22, 28 and pivotable into a position to cover the opening 30 or any other suitable alternatives. In alternate embodiments, the container 10 can be lid-free or the shape of the lid 14 can vary from the one described above.

In the embodiment illustrated, the ventilation openings 16 are located near the lower edges 20, 26 of the side panels 18, 24. The ventilation openings 16 in the container 10 include a first set of openings 16a, each opening 16a defines an area lying in a plane substantially parallel to the longitudinal side panels 24. A second set of openings 16b is provided, wherein each opening 16b defines an area lying in a plane substantially parallel to the transverse side panels 18. The plurality of ventilation openings 16 thus allow air to flow through the box 12 in a first direction, represented by arrow 36, substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal side panels 24 as well as in a second direction, represented by arrow 38, substantially perpendicular to the transverse side panels 18. In the embodiment shown, the ventilation openings 16 in the side panels 18, 24 lie in a single horizontal ventilation plane (i.e. the openings are at the same distance from the bottom panel 32 of the box 12).

The ventilation openings 16 are sized to allow sufficient airflow through the container 10 to provide enhanced convective heat transfer, while also maintaining adequate structural strength and integrity of the container 10. In an embodiment, each ventilation opening 16 has a surface area of at least 5 square centimeters. The size of the ventilation openings 16 can be adjusted in accordance with the customer's needs and the corresponding box size.

In an embodiment, the box 12 is fabricated from corrugated paperboard, using conventional box manufacturing techniques. A wax coating can be applied to the corrugated paperboard, using conventional techniques. The lid 14 is also fabricated from corrugated paperboard. Other materials having appropriate strength characteristics over the entire temperature range of the box 12 (such as certain polymeric materials or metals) can also be used to fabricate the box 12 and lid 14.

In an embodiment especially suited for storage and shipping of food products, the longitudinal side panels 24 have a length of approximately 22 inches and the transverse side panels 18 each have a length of approximately 15 inches. Accordingly, the lid has an upper surface 42 approximately 22 inches long and 15 inches wide. In accordance with the customer'needs, the size of the box can vary.

As indicated above, since the ventilation openings 16 are located near the bottom panel 32 of the box 12, the container 10 further includes a ventilation insert 40 sized and shaped to fit within the storage space 29 of the box 12. According to the illustrated example, when the insert 40 is installed in the box 12, it rests upon and is supported by the bottom panel 32, as will be described in more details below.

The ventilation insert 40 keeps the container content away from the ventilation openings 16, and thus prevents blockage of the ventilation openings 16 by the container content.

In the embodiment shown, the ventilation insert 40, is a single piece and has a shape corresponding to the shape of the container 10. The ventilation insert 40 has a parallelepiped shape corresponding to the shape of the storage space 29 defined in the box 12. The surface area defined by the periphery of the ventilation insert 40 is substantially equal to the surface area of the storage space 29 defined by the peripheral wall. The ventilation insert 40 has an item supporting face 42 and an opposed aeration face 44.

Referring to FIG. 2, it will be seen that the aeration face 44 defines therein a plurality of elongated depressions or air channels 46 extending respectively in a first direction, represented by arrow 48, and in a second direction, represented by arrow 50, substantially perpendicular to the first direction. The air channels 46 have a substantially trapezoidal cross-section with a wider lower base end and narrower upper base end.

The air channels 46 are defined by two elongated side walls 52, extending substantially parallel to one another in one of the first direction and the second direction. Each one of the side walls 52 has a first extended end 54 and the first extended ends 54 of two substantially parallels side walls 52 are connected to one another through a first bridging wall 56.

Each one of the side walls 52 also has a second extended end 58, opposed to the first extended end 54. For reinforcing the resulting ventilation insert 40, the second extended ends 58 of the side walls 52 are connected to juxtaposed second extended ends 58 through second bridging walls 60.

The side walls 52 having their second extended ends 58 connected to one another and the second bridging walls 60 connecting the second extended ends 58 define cavities 62 (FIG. 1) in the item supporting face 42 of the ventilation insert 40. The cavities 62 have an inverted frusto pyramidal shape. Referring to the item supporting face 42, the second bridging walls 58 are the nadirs of the ventilation insert 40. Referring to the aeration face 44, the first bridging walls 56 are the apexes. The cavities 162 in the item containing face 42 are or correspond to protrusions in the aeration face 44. The protrusions are spaced apart from one another and define therebetween air channels 46.

The air channels 46 extending in the first and the second directions intersect with one another at intersections 64. The air channels 46 are in fluid communication at the intersections 64 and define an air channel network, or ventilation network.

The air channels have ports 65 in periphery of the ventilation insert 40. The ports 65 are coplanar with the air channel network.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, it will be seen that when the ventilation insert 40 is inserted into the storage space 29 of the box 12, the second bridging walls 60 abut the bottom panel 32 of the box 12. The aeration face 44 consequently faces downwardly while the item supporting face 42 faces upwardly relatively to the box 12. The air channels 46 extend substantially parallel to the bottom panel 29 of the box 12. The ventilation insert 40 therefore partitions the storage space 29 into an aeration zone 66, between the bottom panel 32 and the ventilation insert 40, and an item containing zone 68, above the ventilation insert 40. When items are stored in the storage space 29 of the box 12, they remain in the item containing zone 68 and they do not obstruct the air channels 46 in the aeration zone 66.

When the ventilation insert 40 is inserted in the storage space 29, the ports 65 of the air channels 46 are in register and in fluid communication with the ventilation openings 16 in the side walls 18, 24 of the box 12. Therefore, fresh air can enter in the box 12 through the ventilation openings 16 located proximate to the lower edges 20, 26 of the side wall panels 18, 24 and flow through the air channels 46 in the aeration zone 66 of the box 12. In the embodiment shown, the ports 65 in periphery of the ventilation insert 40 are contiguous to the ventilation openings 16 in the side walls 18, 24 of the box 12 to prevent obstruction of the ventilation openings 16 by items stored in the storage space 29.

To ensure that continuous aeration paths are defined between ventilation openings 16 and the air channels 46 of the ventilation insert 40, the air channels 46 are coplanar with the ventilation openings 16, aligned with the ventilation plane defined by the ventilation openings 16, when the ventilation insert 40 is inserted in the storage space 29. In the embodiment shown, the ports 65 have a port surface area which is substantially equal or the same than the surface area of the ventilation openings 16.

In other words, the ventilation insert 40 results in a plurality of containers having four side walls 52 and a bridging wall 60 connecting the lower ends 58 of the side walls 52. Each container defines a cavity 62 tapered outwardly from the closed bottom surface, or bridging wall 60, of the container towards its open top, or upper ends 54 of side walls 54. A rim extends outwardly from the upper ends 54 of the side walls 54. The containers are fixedly attached to one another along their outwardly extending rims, or first bridging wall 56. The containers are arranged so that their bottom surfaces 60 lie in a first common plane and the surfaces formed by their top edges, or upper ends 54, of each of their side walls 52 lie in a second common plane, thereby facilitating the alignment with the ventilation openings 16 of the box 12.

Referring now to FIG. 5, another embodiment of the ventilation insert 40 will be described wherein the features are numbered with reference numerals in the 100 series which correspond to the reference numerals of the previous embodiment.

The ventilation insert 140 includes a plurality of extending side walls 152, extending in a first direction (represented by arrow 148) and in a second direction (represented by arrow 150), substantially perpendicular to the first direction. The side walls 152 are coupled by pair and define therebetween air channels 146 with ventilation ports 165 in periphery of the ventilation insert 140. The first extended ends 154 of the side wall pairs 152 are connected to one another through a bridging wall 156. Contrary to the embodiment described above in reference to FIGS. 1 to 4, the second extend ends 158 of the side walls 152 are free ends. Therefore, the resulting ventilation insert 140 is not provided with cavities 62 extending from the item containing face 142 but with openings 162 extending from the first extended ends 154 to the second extended ends 158 of the side walls 152. The openings 162 do not have any bottom wall, they are open ended.

As for the ventilation insert 40, the air channels 146 extending in the first direction intersect with the air channels 146 extending in the second direction at intersections 164 and are in fluid communication at the intersections 164.

For storing items in the storage space 29 of the box 12, the ventilation insert 140 is inserted therein with the ports 165 of the air channels 140 in register and in fluid communication with the ventilation openings 16 in the side walls 18,24. As for the ventilation insert 40, the side walls 152 prevent the obstruction of the air channels 146 by the items stored in the box 12.

Referring now to FIG. 6, another embodiment of the ventilation insert 40, 140 will be seen wherein the features are numbered with reference numerals in the 200 series which correspond to the reference numerals of the previous embodiments.

The ventilation insert 240 includes a plurality of extending side walls 252, extending in a first direction (represented by arrow 248) and in a second direction (represented by arrow 250, substantially perpendicular to the first direction. The side walls 252 are coupled by pair and define therebetween air channels 246 with ventilation ports 265 in periphery of the ventilation insert 240. The first extended ends 254 of the side wall pairs 252 are connected to one another through a bridging wall 256. Contrary to the embodiments described above in reference to FIGS. 1 to 5, the second extend ends 258 of the side wall pairs 252 are also connected to one another through a second bridging wall 260. The resulting ventilation insert 240 is not provided with cavities extending from the item containing face 242 as the ventilation insert 40. As the ventilation insert 140, the ventilation insert 240 includes openings 262 extending from the first extended ends 254 of the side walls 252 to the second extended ends 258 of the side walls 252. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the air channels 246 are conduits with a rectangular cross-section. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that the conduits can have a different cross-section.

As for the ventilation inserts 40, 140, the air channels 246 extending in the first direction intersect with the air channels 246 extending in the second direction at intersections 264 and are in fluid communication at the intersections 264.

For storing items in the storage space 29 of the box 12, the ventilation insert 240 is inserted therein with the ports 265 of the air channels 246 in register, in fluid communication, and contiguous with the ventilation openings 16 in the side walls 18, 24. As for the ventilation inserts 40, 140, the side walls 252 and the bridging walls prevent 256, 260 the obstruction of the air channels 246 by the items stored in the box 12.

Referring now to FIG. 7, another embodiment of the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 will be seen wherein the features are numbered with reference numerals in the 300 series which correspond to the reference numerals of the previous embodiments.

The ventilation insert 340 is similar to the ventilation insert 240. However, the second extend ends 38 of the side wall pairs 352 are not connected to one another through a bridging wall. Therefore, the resulting ventilation channels 346 have an substantially inverted U-shape. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that the conduits can have a different shape. As the ventilation inserts 140, 240, the ventilation insert 340 includes openings 362 extending from the first extended ends 354 of the side walls 352 to the second extended ends 358 of the side walls 352.

Referring now to FIG. 8, it will be seen that, for storing and shipping items, the ventilation insert 40 is juxtaposed to the bottom panel 32 of the box 12. The ports 65 of the air channels 46 are in register and in fluid communication with the ventilation openings 16. The items 70 are then deposited in the storage space 29 of the box 12, juxtaposed to the item suporting face 42 of the ventilation insert 40, and the lid 14 is put on to close the box 12. Bands (not shown) can be installed on the container 10 to restrain the lid 14 to the box 12. The containers 10 are then shipped to a freezer/refrigeration facility from the processing plant. The containers 10 can be shipped on a pallet (not shown), and, in contrast to existing procedures wherein prior to the freezing/refrigeration process it is not necessary to install the dividers between layers of containers 10, the containers 10 are stacked directly on top of one another as shown.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, the perishable goods 70, or items, are packed in bags. However, a person skilled in the art will appreciate that they could be inserted directly on the storage space 29, above the ventilation insert 40. Even if the ventilation insert 40 is inserted in the boxes 12 in FIG. 5, one ordinary skilled in the art will appreciate that the ventilation inserts 140, 240 or any alternate embodiment could also be inserted in the boxes 12.

Referring now to FIG. 9, it will be seen a method for storing and shipping items in the storage space 29 of a ventilated storage box 12. A ventilation insert 40, 140, 240, 340 or any alternate embodiment is first inserted 401 in the box 12 with the ventilation holes 16 of the box 12 in fluid communication with the aeration channels 46, or the air flow path, of the insert 40 140, 240, 340. The insert 40 140, 240, 340 divides the storage space 29 in an item containing space and an aeration space. Then, the items are stored 403 in the item containing space of the box 12. The insert 40 140, 240, 340 prevents that the items obstruct the air flow path. The container 10 is then submitted to an environment having a temperature T1, which can be either lower or higher than the temperature of the item inserted in the container 10. By heat transfer, the temperature of the items stored in the container 10 is adjusted 405 towards the temperature T1. The air flows into and out the internal space through the air flow openings 16 and into the air flow path 46 providing an adjustment of the product temperature towards the temperature T1. In an embodiment, the box is placed either in a blast freezer, a conventional freezer or a refrigerator, and the items stored in the box 12 are cooled. The heat transfer occurs between the box environment and the storage space 29 through a mixture of convective and conductive heat transfer. Either before the adjustment of the item temperature or simultaneously during the adjustment of the item temperature, the items, stored in the container 10, are shipped 407. Once at destination, the items are removed 409 from the container 10.

Referring now to FIG. 10, it will be seen an alternate method for storing and shipping a product in the storage space 29 of a ventilated storage box 12. On the opposite of the previously described embodiment, the product is stored 501 in the storage 29 of the ventilated storage box 12 and then a single-piece ventilation insert 40, 140, 240, 340, or any alternate embodiment, is inserted 503 in the box 12 with the ventilation holes 16 of the box 12 in fluid communication and aligned with the aeration channels 46, or the air flow path, of the insert 40 140, 240, 340. The insert 40 140, 240, 340 prevents that the items obstruct the air flow path. The container 10 is then submitted 505 to an environment having a temperature T1. By heat transfer, the temperature of the items stored in the container 10 is adjusted towards the temperature T1. The air flows into and out the internal space through the air flow openings 16 and into the air flow path 46 providing an adjustment of the product temperature towards the temperature T1. Either before the adjustment of the item temperature or simultaneously during the adjustment of the item temperature, the items, stored in the container 10, are shipped 507 to destination.

When placed in a blast freezer, conventional freezer or refrigerator, in their stacked, palletized configuration, the combination of the ventilation holes 16 and the aeration channels 46 allow warmer air within the containers 10 to circulate with the cooler air of the freezer/refrigerator. The flow can be induced solely by natural convection, or alternatively can be a combination of natural and forced convection, as the freezer/refrigerator may be equipped with one or more fans to help force cooler ambient air through the containers 10.

The combination of the ventilation insert 40 and the ventilation holes 16 provide enhanced heat transfer rates when compared to the existing containers configuration, even when the dividers are used, as the rate of natural convective heat transfer within the container 10 is substantially increased because warm air within the container 10 comparatively readily flows out of the container 10 through the ventilation openings 16 and the air channels 46 to be replaced by cooler air. While the conventional dividers promote enhanced convective heat transfer on the exterior of the convention container 10 (at the substantial cost of providing, installing, and removing the dividers), enhancing the convective heat transfer on the interior of the container 10 is thought to be particularly effective in reducing the total freeze/refrigeration time required.

In an embodiment, the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 is molded from a single sheet of material. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that it can be made of several materials. The ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 can be made from polymers. Foamed polymers are desirable since they are lightweight and therefore do not substantially increase the weight of the resulting container. Even if in the embodiment shown the box 12 is a parallelepiped with two opposite longitudinal side panels 24 and two opposite transversal side panels 18 as peripheral wall panels, a person skilled in the art will appreciate that another shape of boxes 10 could be used. For example the box 12 could be round-shaped with a single panel defining the peripheral wall.

As mentioned above, the container 10, including the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240, provides substantially improved heat transfer performance and consequently reduces freeze/refrigeration cycle times, while also eliminating the need for use of dividers in the freezing process. The reduced freeze/refrigeration cycle times provide the advantage of reducing the risk of bacterial contamination of the perishable goods stored in the container 10.

The combination of the box 12 and the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 allows the perishable goods inserted in the center of container 10 to freeze or be refrigerated adequately and in a reasonable amount of time. The temperature of the perishable goods is lowered more rapidly than with the prior art dividers.

The packaging costs are reduced due to the lower material cost and the less time required to package the goods within the containers 10 and to insert the inserts 40, 140, 250 within the boxes 10. Moreover, less time is required to manipulated to containers 10 since no dividers are introduced between the latter.

The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary only.

In alternate embodiments, the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 could have strenghtening ribs molded therein. The surface area of the ventilation openings 16 in the side walls 18, 24 of the box 12 can be the same, smaller or larger than the surface area of the ports 65, 165, 265 of the ventilation insert 40,140, 240.

The ventilation openings 16 can be provided in the middle section or the upper section of the side walls 18, 24, i.e. proximate to the upper edges 22, 28. The position of the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 in the storage space 29 is adjusted accordingly. For example, if the ventilation openings 16 are provided in the middle section of the side walls 18, 24, the stored items can be divided into two parts: a first part stored in the lower section of the storage space 29, below the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240, and a second part stored in the upper section of the storage space 29, above the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240. The ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 is inserted in the storage space 29 between the two parts of items, the ports 65, 165, 265 of the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 being in register with the ventilation openings 16 provided in the middle section of the side walls 18, 24. Similarly, the ventilation openings 16 can be provided in the upper section of the side walls 18, 24. The items are then stored in the lower section of the storage space 29, below the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240. The ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 is inserted in the storage space 29 above the items stored, the ports 65, 165, 265 of the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 being in register with the ventilation openings 16 provided in the upper section of the side walls 18, 24.

Moreover, the item containing face 42, 142, 242 of the ventilation insert 40, 140, 240 can be a flat continuous surface, exempt of protrusions/cavities/channels. The shape of the air channels 46,146, 246 and the resulting air channel network can vary from the one shown in the above described embodiments. Moreover, the number and the distribution of the air channels 46, 146, 246 in the ventilation insert 40,140, 240 can also vary.

The air channels 46, 146, 246 providing an air flow path unobstructed from items stored in the container 10 can have a shape that differs from a straight shape. For example, they can be curvilinear or have elbows therein.

A person skilled in the art will appreciate that either the side walls 52, 152, 252 or the bridging walls 56, 60, 156, 256, 260 of the ventilation inserts 40, 140, 240 can include openings therein allowing fluid communication between the air circulating in the air channels 46, 146, 246 and the one contained in the item containing zone 68 of the storage space 29. In an embodiment, the surface area of the openings in the side walls 52, 152, 252 or the bridging walls 56, 60, 156, 256, 260 is smaller than the items stored in the box 12 to prevent their insertion into the air channels 46, 146, 246 and the obstruction of the latter.

The scope of the invention is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.