Title:
BULKHEAD DIVIDER SYSTEM FOR A DELIVERY CONTAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bulkhead divider system including a delivery container, a divider wall, and at least one strap assembly is provided. The delivery container includes a plurality of walls defining an interior compartment. The at least one strap assembly is coupled with the divider wall for securely attaching the divider wall to at least two of the plurality of walls of the delivery container. In another aspect, the bulkhead divider system may include a divider wall having a top edge, a bottom edge, and two opposing side edges. The divider wall may further include a fold line positioned adjacent to at least one of the top edge, bottom edge, and opposing side walls to define a corresponding number of flanges. The flanges allow the divider wall to be frictionally engaged with a wall of the delivery container.



Inventors:
Carson, Terry (Woodstock, CA)
Application Number:
11/857477
Publication Date:
03/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/19/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61D45/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20090116926LOAD ANCHORMay, 2009Armour
20100014935REINFORCED BULKHEADS AND METHODS OF MAKING SAMEJanuary, 2010Jevaney
20090016840Bulkhead for Dividing a Cargo Container into Two CompartmentsJanuary, 2009Squyres et al.
20090245964Metal Coil Securing Apparatus and MethodOctober, 2009Sever
20070048104LOAD STABILIZERMarch, 2007Scott
20080019788Method For Tying Packaged Goods To A PalletJanuary, 2008Clarke
20050084359Elastic deck webApril, 2005Dempsey et al.
20060186162Motorcycle tie-down systemAugust, 2006Stubbs
20080101884TRUCK BED CARGO ORGANIZER AND METHODSMay, 2008Schmeichel



Primary Examiner:
GORDON, STEPHEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP (Rochester, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bulkhead divider system for separating an interior compartment of a delivery container, the bulkhead divider system comprising: a divider wall; and at least one strap assembly coupled with the divider wall for securely attaching the divider wall to at least two walls of the delivery container, wherein the divider wall defines two compartments within the delivery container.

2. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 1, wherein the divider wall includes at least one strap aperture defined therein, wherein the at least one strap assembly is positioned within the strap aperture to couple the at least one strap assembly to the divider wall.

3. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 1, wherein the at least one strap assembly includes an end fastener on each end for securing the at least one strap assembly to the at least two walls of the delivery container.

4. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a ratchet assembly associated with said at least one strap assembly, wherein the ratchet assembly increases the tension of the at least one strap assembly between the at least two walls of the delivery container to securely fasten the divider wall to the at least two walls.

5. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 1, wherein the divider wall includes a fold line that allows the divider wall to be collapsible.

6. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 1, wherein the divider wall is formed of corrugated plastic.

7. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 1, wherein the divider wall includes at least one handle aperture defined therein.

8. A bulkhead divider system comprising: a delivery container including a plurality of walls defining an interior compartment; a divider wall; and at least one strap assembly coupled with the divider wall for securely attaching the divider wall to at least two of the plurality of walls of the delivery container, wherein the divider wall defines the two compartments within the delivery container.

9. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, wherein the divider wall includes at least one strap aperture defined therein, wherein the at least one strap assembly is positioned within the strap aperture to couple the at least one strap assembly to the divider wall.

10. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, wherein the at least one strap assembly includes an end fastener on each end for securing the at least one strap assembly to the at least two walls of the delivery container.

11. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 10, wherein the delivery container includes a rail mounted to each of the at least two of the plurality of walls, wherein the ends fasteners are each secured to the respective rails.

12. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, further comprising a ratchet assembly associated with said at least one strap assembly, wherein the ratchet assembly increases the tension of the at least one strap assembly between the at least two walls of the delivery container to securely fasten the divider wall to the at least two walls.

13. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, wherein the divider wall includes a fold line that allows the divider wall to be collapsible.

14. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, wherein the divider wall is formed of corrugated plastic.

15. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, wherein the divider wall includes at least one handle aperture defined therein.

16. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 8, wherein the delivery container is a tractor trailer.

17. A bulkhead divider system for separating an interior compartment of a delivery container, the bulkhead divider system comprising a divider wall having a top edge, a bottom edge, and two opposing side edges, the divider wall including a first fold line positioned adjacent to one of the top edge, bottom edge, and opposing side walls to define a first flange, wherein the first flange allows the divider wall to be frictionally engaged with a wall of the delivery container.

18. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 17, wherein the divider wall includes a second fold line positioned adjacent to another one of the top edge, bottom edge, and opposing side walls to define a second flange, wherein the second flange allows the divider wall to be frictionally engaged with another wall of the delivery container.

19. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 17, wherein the divider wall has a vent aperture defined therein, and a curtain for selectively covering the vent aperture.

20. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 17, further comprising at least one strap assembly coupled with the divider wall for securely attaching the divider wall to at least two walls of the delivery container to couple the at least one strap assembly to the divider wall.

21. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 20, wherein the divider wall includes at least one strap aperture defined therein, wherein the at least one strap assembly is positioned within the strap aperture.

22. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 20, wherein the at least one strap assembly includes an end fastener on each end for securing the at least one strap assembly to the at least two walls of the delivery container.

23. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 20, further comprising a ratchet assembly associated with said at least one strap assembly, wherein the ratchet assembly increases the tension of the at least one strap assembly between the at least two walls of the delivery container.

24. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 17, wherein the divider wall includes a collapsing fold line that allows the divider wall to be collapsible.

25. A bulkhead divider system as recited in claim 17, wherein the divider wall includes at least one handle aperture defined therein.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/826,132, filed on Sep. 19, 2006.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a bulkhead divider; and particularly to a collapsible bulkhead divider for defining separate compartments within a delivery container, such as a tractor trailer, overseas container, or air container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A conventional tractor trailer or ocean container typically includes two side walls, top and bottom walls, and front and rear walls that define an interior compartment for storing goods so that they may be transported by a vehicle, such as a truck, from one location to another. Often, the goods contained within the interior compartment need to be delivered to different locations. Therefore, when loading the goods into the trailer, it is necessary to identify and organize the goods into separate loads according to the order in which the goods are to be delivered to a certain location to facilitate the off-loading of the goods upon arriving at the intended destination.

Currently, when goods are loaded into the interior compartment of a trailer, they are arranged such that the loads that will be delivered last are loaded into the trailer first, and the loads that will be delivered first are loaded last in a position near a trailer door for convenient off-loading. One problem encountered in including multiple loads within a single trailer has been the difficulty in identifying when all of the goods within a load have been fully off-loaded. Since the loads within a trailer are typically packed close together, it may be time consuming to identify where one load ends and another begins.

One solution has been to place cargo nets between the different loads within the interior compartment. However, once a load has been delivered, the empty space created within the interior compartment allows the loads still present within the interior compartment to shift, move, or fall from its original location during transport or docking despite the use of a cargo net. As a result, the goods may be damaged during transport, which would require that the goods be re-delivered, thereby causing a delay in the delivery of the goods to the intended recipient and an increased delivery costs.

Accordingly, there exists a need for an apparatus for effectively dividing the loads contained within the interior compartment of a storage container, such as a trailer. Further, there exists a need for an apparatus that secures the separate loads contained within a storage compartment during the transport of the goods to their intended destination. The present invention fills these needs as well as other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In order to overcome the above stated problems and limitations there is provided a bulkhead divider system including a delivery container, a divider wall, and at least one strap assembly is provided. The bulkhead divider wall system operates to divide different loads located within the delivery container for multiple location distribution. Furthermore, the bulkhead divider wall system operates to secure a less than total load (LTL) shipment within the delivery container during transport from one location to another, and aids in docking by preventing materials from falling within the delivery container while backing into awkward locations. In particular, the delivery container may include a plurality of walls defining an interior compartment. The at least one strap assembly is coupled with the divider wall for securely attaching the divider wall to at least two of the plurality of walls of the delivery container.

In another aspect, the bulkhead divider system may include a divider wall having a top edge, a bottom edge, and two opposing side edges. The divider wall may include a fold line positioned adjacent to at least one of the top edge, bottom edge, and opposing side walls to define a corresponding number of flanges. The flanges allow the divider wall to be frictionally engaged with a wall of the delivery container. This aspect of the delivery container may be used in an interior compartment of a refrigerated trailer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above-mentioned and other features and advantages of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become appreciated and be more readily understood by reference to the following detailed description of one embodiment of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front view of a bulkhead divider system in accordance with a first aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the bulkhead divider system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a divider wall that is part of the bulkhead divider system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a divider wall, similar to the divider wall shown in FIG. 3, showing additional features that may be incorporated therein;

FIG. 5 is a top view of an end fastener connected to one of the strap assemblies shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the end fastener shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a right side view of the end fastener shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a left side view of the end fastener shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a front view of the end fastener shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 10 is a side view of a ratchet assembly coupled to one of the strap assemblies shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged side view of the ratchet assembly shown in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a view showing the bulkhead divider wall system positioned within a delivery container, such as a tractor trailer;

FIG. 13 is a view showing the bulkhead divider wall system in the collapsed or folded position being handled by a user;

FIG. 14 is a view of a wall of the delivery container having a rail mounted thereto;

FIG. 15 is an enlarged view showing the end fastener shown in FIGS. 5-9 being coupled to the rail shown in FIG. 14; and

FIG. 16 is a front view of a divider wall similar to the one shown in FIG. 3 including a pair of side fold lines, a top fold line, and a vent aperture in accordance with a second aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings in detail, and specifically to FIGS. 1 and 2, a bulkhead divider wall system is provided in accordance with a first aspect of the present invention and is designated as reference numeral 10. In general, bulkhead divider wall system 10 is positioned within an interior compartment 36 of a delivery container 38, such as a tractor trailer, and is securely fastened between at least two walls of delivery container 38 to define or otherwise form two different compartments within interior compartment 36, as best seen in FIG. 12. The bulkhead divider wall system provides numerous benefits which include dividing different loads located within delivery container 38 for multiple location distribution, securing a less than total load (LTL) shipment from moving within delivery container 38 during transport from one location to another, and aiding in docking by preventing materials from falling within delivery container 38 while backing into awkward locations. These and other advantages will be understood and appreciated in view of the detailed description that is provided below.

As best seen in FIGS. 1-3, the bulkhead divider wall system 10 includes a divider wall 12 and one or more strap assemblies 14 associated therewith. The divider wall 12 is preferably formed of 10 mm light-weight extruded polypropylene corrugated plastic, but it will be understood that any other suitable material having various thicknesses may also be used to form divider wall. In addition, divider wall 12 may be formed of a material or color that will prevent the viewing of the contents or items located behind the divider wall 12, thereby serving as a security device.

Divider wall 12 may include a front surface 16 and a rear surface 18 defined by a top edge 20, a bottom edge 22, a first side edge 24, and a second side edge 26. The edges 20, 22, 24, 26 of divider wall 12 may be generally configured to correspond to the dimensions of a top wall 28, a bottom wall 30, and a pair of side walls 32, 34 of an interior compartment 36 of a delivery container 38, such as a tractor trailer (FIG. 12). For example, divider wall may have dimensions of 105″ by 96″; however, other dimensions are also within the scope of the present invention. Further, various labels may be placed on front and rear surfaces 16, 18 to indicate the “top” and “bottom” portions of divider wall 12.

It will be understood and appreciated that divider wall 12 may be sized in such a manner so that one or more of the edges 20, 22, 24, 26 are in contact with the interior surface of walls 28, 30, 32, 34 of delivery container 38. On the other hand, divider wall 12 may also be sized in such a manner so that none of the edges 16, 18, 20 and 22 are in contact with the interior surface of walls 28, 30, 32, 34 of delivery container 38. Both of these arrangements are within the scope of the present invention.

With continued reference to FIGS. 1-3, divider wall 12 may further include one or more score lines or fold lines 40 that extend across the span of divider wall 12, for example, either along or parallel with the longitudinal axis of divider wall 12. Fold line 40 enables divider wall 12 to be folded or otherwise collapsed to allow for convenient storage and handling of bulkhead divider wall system 10, as best seen in FIG. 13. Fold lines 40 may be embossed or otherwise installed on divider wall 12 using a method including heat and pressure. To further facilitate the handling of the bulkhead divider wall system 10, divider wall 12 may have one or more handle apertures 42 defined therein, thereby allowing a user to easily pick-up and carry bulkhead divider wall system 10 from one location to another. After bulkhead divider wall system 10 is folded or collapsed as shown in FIG. 13, one or more hook and loop fasteners 44, such as VELCRO®, may be used to hold the first and second side edges 24, 26 together so that the divider wall 12 does not unfold when the user is carrying the bulkhead divider wall system 10 from one location to another, or when bulkhead divider wall system 10 is being stored. For example, as best seen in FIGS. 1 and 3, the hook portion 46 of the fastener 44 is threaded through an aperture 48 defined in divider wall 12 and otherwise retained adjacent to first side edge 24 of divider wall 12. A loop portion 50 is mounted on rear surface 18 of divider wall 12 adjacent to second side edge 26 so that it will receive hook portion 46 when divider wall 12 is in a folded or collapsed position as best seen in FIG. 13. As best seen in FIGS. 1-3, divider wall 12 also may include one or more strap apertures 52 to allow the one or more straps 14 to be coupled to divider wall 12.

As best seen in FIG. 4, an alternative divider wall 12′ is shown, which is similar in many respects to divider 12, but is smaller in size and includes additional labeling and fold lines. Specifically, divider wall 12′ has dimensions of approximately 96″ by 92″, which allows divider wall 12′ to be used in different applications compared to divider wall 12. The additional labeling 54 on at least one of the front and rear surfaces 16, 18 may include a logo, a web address, a phone number, and/or a place card/pouch holder label system to make the identification of each of the loads easier. Also, in addition to the fold line 40, divider wall 12′ may include one or more stickered dotted lines 41 showing the location of reinforcement members embedded within or otherwise associated with divider wall 12′. Dotted lines 41 may extend along a different axis relative to fold line 40.

As best seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, each of the strap assemblies 14 include a first strap portion 56, a second strap portion 58, a pair of end fasteners 60a, 60b and a ratchet assembly 62. In general, strap assemblies 14 are used to securely fasten divider wall 12 between at least two walls of delivery container 38 to define or otherwise form two different compartments within interior compartment 36. In particular, the first strap portion 56 is threaded through one or more of the strap apertures 52 so that it is coupled or otherwise attached with divider wall 12. One of the end fasteners 60a is attached to one end of first strap portion 56 and is located adjacent to first side edge 24. The other end of first strap portion 56 is attached to ratchet assembly 62 as best seen in FIGS. 1 and 11. The second strap portion 58 may be threaded through one or more of the strap apertures 52 so that it is coupled or otherwise attached with divider wall 12. The other end fastener 60b is attached to one end of second strap portion 58 and is located adjacent to second side edge 26. The other end of second strap portion 58 is attached to ratchet assembly 62 as best seen in FIGS. 1 and 11. It will be understood that strap assemblies 14 may also utilize a chain, rope, or other type of member in place of first and second strap portions 56, 58 that may be placed in tension to maintain the position of divider wall 12 relative to the delivery container to define the two compartments therein.

As best seen in FIGS. 5-9, end fastener 60b includes a body portion 64 having a pair of notches 66, 68 defined in opposite ends thereof. With additional reference to FIGS. 12, 14 and 15, notches 66, 68 are configured to be positioned within a slot 70 defined in a rail 72 that is in turn mounted to the interior surface of side wall 34 of delivery container 38. A latch hook 74 is pivotally mounted to main body portion 64, positioned adjacent to notch 68, and biased in a direction 76 so that latch hook 74 rests against rail 72 after notches 66, 68 are positioned within the desired slot 70. Latch hook 74 thereby operates to securely fasten the end fastener 60b and second strap portion 58 to rail 72. While the description above refers to the end fastener 60b and second strap portion 58, it should be understood that the same description applies to end fastener 60a and first strap portion 56.

As best seen in FIGS. 10 and 11, ratchet assembly 62 is attached to first and second strap portions 56, 58 and is used to tighten strap assembly 14, thereby securely fastening divider wall 12 to at least two walls, for example side walls 32, 34, of interior compartment 36 of delivery container 38. Specifically, ratchet assembly 62 includes a handle 78 and spool 80 that are pivotally coupled to a base member 82. First strap portion 56 is coupled to base member 82 by forming a loop around a pin 84 that is fixedly coupled to base member 82. Second strap portion 58 may be incrementally wound around spool 80 by pulling handle in a direction 86 one or more times, thereby increasing the tension of first and second strap portions 56, 58 between side walls 32, 34 of interior compartment 36. Each time handle 78 is pulled in direction 86, handle 78 is biased to the position shown in FIG. 11. At that point, second strap portion 58 is selectively prevented from unwinding from spool 80 and decreasing the tension of first and second strap portions 56, 58. The unwinding of the second strap portion 58 from spool 80 is accomplished through the use of a ledge 88 that extends outwardly from base member 82. In particular, ledge 88 operates to engage a plurality of teeth 90 coupled with spool 80, one at a time, as well as a portion 92 of handle 78, to prevent spool 80 from unwinding. It will be understood that each of the strap assemblies 14 associated with divider wall 12 may be operated in a similar fashion to hold divider wall 12 in a desired position within delivery container 38.

In use, the bulkhead divider wall system 10 may be in a stored position similar to the one shown in FIG. 13. In this case, the hook and loop fasteners 44 may need to be unengaged so that divider wall 12 may be unfolded along fold line 40. As best seen in FIG. 12, divider wall 12 may then be held in the unfolded position within interior compartment 36 of delivery container 38. The “top” and “bottom” labels 37, 39 may be used for this purpose, but it is not necessary. With additional reference to FIG. 15, each of end fasteners 60a, 60b are then securely fastened within slots 70 formed in respective rails 72 mounted to the interior surface of the walls of delivery container 38, in this instance, side walls 32, 34. Each of the ratchet assemblies 62 are then operated so that the tension of first and second strap portions 56, 58 are increased, thereby securely fastening bulkhead divider wall system 10 to interior compartment 36 of delivery container 38.

The above described bulkhead divider wall system 10 thereby provides numerous benefits and advantages. For example, the bulkhead divider wall system 10 operates to divide different loads located within delivery container 38 for multiple location distribution. Furthermore, the bulkhead divider wall system 10 operates to secure a less than total load (LTL) shipment within delivery container 38 during transport from one location to another, and aids in docking by preventing materials from falling within delivery container 38 while backing into awkward locations.

Moreover, as best seen in FIG. 16, another divider wall 12″ is provided and includes a second aspect of the present invention. It should be understood that divider wall 12″ is similar in many respects to divider wall 12 shown in FIG. 3. However, divider wall 12″ is configured to be used in the interior compartment of refrigerated delivery containers or trailers of varying sizes. The strap assemblies 14 used in the first aspect described above are optional since divider wall 12″ is configured to be friction fit within the interior compartment of the refrigerated trailer. The friction fit divider wall 12″ may be used in a refrigeration application since it better seals off different compartments formed within the trailer to prevent or reduce the amount of warm air from reaching a frozen product. Also, divider wall 12″ may be used in a situation where the delivery container does not include a rail system (i.e., rail 72) that is mounted to opposite walls 32, 34 of the delivery container.

The dimensions of divider wall 12″ are oversized given the dimensions of the top wall 28, bottom wall 30 and side walls 32, 34 since a friction fit is desired. Divider wall 12″ is routered to include fold lines 94, 96 near the two sides 24, 26 and/or a fold line 98 near the top edge 20 to provide side flanges 100, 102 and/or a top flange 104. For example, the thickness of flaps 100, 102 may be about 2.5″ and the thickness of flap 104 may be about 10″, with the overall size of divider wall being about 102 inches by 110 inches.

In use, divider wall 12″ is pushed into the interior compartment of the refrigerated delivery container causing side flanges 100, 102 and/or top flange 104 to bend about folds lines 94, 96, 98, respectively, to accommodate the size of the refrigerated delivery container divider wall 12″ is being placed into. The flanges 100, 102, 104 create the fraction fit with the interior surface of the side walls 32, 34 and/or top wall 28 of the delivery container, thereby sealing off and preventing warm air from moving from one compartment from the other to preserve the cold temperature of the frozen items.

As best seen in FIG. 16, the divider wall 12″ may also include a curtain 106 covering a vent aperture 108 defined in a top portion of divider wall 12″. The purpose of vent aperture 108 is to provide the option to allow cold air to flow from one divided cavity to another if there are multiple divider walls 12″ in a single delivery container or trailer sectioning off multiple shipments to different locations. Divider wall 12″ may be equipped with handle apertures 42, but the material punched out to form handle apertures 42 is not removed in order to prevent cold air loss. Labels may also be present on divider wall 12″ to specify assembly instructions as well as any custom label requirements.

Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.

All features disclosed in the specification, including the claims, abstract, and drawings, and all the steps in any method or process disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive. Each feature disclosed in the specification, including the claims, abstract, and drawings, can be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.