Title:
Modular storage system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular storage system includes at least one container defining an axis and spaced end walls at opposing ends along the axis. A cylindrical shell generally extends about peripheries of the end walls and having an axis generally coextensive with the axis of the container. A top panel selectively provides access to the top of the container from an upper or top side of the container. A side panel selectively provides access to the container from a side thereof. An attaching device is provided for selectively attaching a bottom side of the container to an upper side of a like container. A gripping member at an upper side of each container allows gripping and holding and transporting one or more containers when attached to each other by the attachment device.



Inventors:
Panosian, Michael Harmik (Glendale, CA, US)
Keeler, Joshua (Glendale, CA, US)
Stobar, James (Glendale, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/001422
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/10/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/503, 220/212.5, 220/529
International Classes:
B65D21/032; B65D25/08; B65D25/28; B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DESAI, KAUSHIKKUMAR A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael H. Panosian (Glendale, CA, US)
Claims:
1. Modular storage system comprising at least one container defining an axis and spaced end walls at opposing ends along said axis, a cylindrical shell generally extending about peripheries of said end walls and having an axis generally coextensive with said axis of said container, a top panel for selectively providing access to the top of said container from an upper or top side of said container, a side panel for selectively providing access to said container from a side thereof; attaching means for selectively attaching a bottom side of said container to an upper side of a like container; and gripping means at an upper side of each container to allow gripping and holding and transporting one or more containers when attached to each other by said attachment means.

2. Modular system as defined in claim 1, further comprising a drawer mounted for sliding movement along said axis between an open position to provide access to said drawer and a closed position in which the drawer is received within said container and forms one of said end walls to close said container.

3. Modular system as defined in claim 2, further comprising locking means for selectively locking said drawer in said closed or open positions.

4. Modular system as defined in claim 1, further comprising tray means receivable through the top of said container when said top panel is opened.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to storage devices, and more specifically to a modular storage system.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Various storage systems are known. Most of these systems are static and maintain a fixed configuration under all conditions of use. Thus, for example, there are small rectangular toolboxes used by workman and do-it-yourselfers. In the purchase of such a product a buyer needs to decide how large such a tool box needs to be and anticipate the size that will be required for a given number of tools and/or materials to be stored. In some cases, professional mechanics have relatively large tool cabinets, typically provided with a plurality of differently sized drawers for storing a greater number of tools and/or materials. Again, however, the purchaser needs to decide as to the size that such a tool cabinet needs to be. If more storage is needed the only solution is to acquire an additional storage unit which, however, does not cooperate with the initial unit. It simply supplements the storage capacity of the initial unit(s).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a modular storage system in which one or more modules may be attached to each other in any desired configuration or array of modules. Whatever configuration is selected it may be supported on any suitable support surface, such as the floor, or mounted on a wall. Each module may have its interior storage area accessed from the fronts of the modules, or the tops or sides of the modules depending on the specific locations of the modules within the modular array. Two or more modules may be joined to each other so that they can be jointly lifted and transported or moved to a different location and combined with another array of modules at a different location. In this of way, different modules in an array or modular configuration may be labeled or marked for specific tools and/or materials and selected for any given project or job without the need to transport other tools and/or materials that may not be pertinent or germane for a given or project. This allows a workman to take only the tools and/or materials needed without having to transport many tools and/or materials that tend to be heavy and bulky and burdensome to transport.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects will become apparent when the drawings of the present invention are considered in detail along with the specification, taken with the drawings as follows:

FIG. 1 is a perspective rendering of a storage module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the storage module shown FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the storage module shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the storage module shown in FIGS. 1-3.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the storage module shown in FIGS. 1-4, shown with the storage drawer fully pulled out to from the storage module housing, the top cover opened and a storage tray normally within the storage module removed.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of two storage modules of the type shown in FIGS. 1-5, shown connected to each other in piggy-back fashion or vertically stacked.

FIG. 7 illustrates the stacked modules shown in FIG. 6, with the drawer of the upper module moved to the opened position.

FIG. 8 is a perspective rendering of a storage module with its drawer moved to the opened position.

FIG. 9 is a perspective rendering of an array of storage modules connected to each other in accordance with the invention, in which the array consists of two columns one with two storage modules and one with three storage modules.

FIG. 10 is similar to FIG. 9, but showing the drawer of the uppermost storage module moved to the opened position.

FIG. 11 is similar to FIGS. 6 and 7, but showing the cover of the upper module opened and a storage tray a bout to be replaced and positioned within the upper storage module.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now more specifically to the drawings, in which the identical is similar parts will be designated by the same reference numerals throughout, and first referring to FIG. 1, a modular storage unit or module is generally designated by the reference numeral 10.

The storage module 10 includes a housing 12. The specific shape or configuration of the housing 12 is not critical and any suitable configurations or shapes for such housing 12 may be used as long as the module 10 otherwise has all of the features or functions required to provide the advantages of the invention. In the preferred embodiment, the housing 12 is essentially elongate and generally defines a horizontal axis when supported on a horizontal surface or mounted on a vertical wall. The housing 12 has a generally uniform cross-section along its axis to define a cylindrical housing. In the specific unit shown in FIG. 1 the housing 12 has a generally rectangular cross-section with rounded or bulging opposing lateral side walls. The sidewalls 14, therefore, bulge outwardly to provide lateral convex configurations as shown. The top wall 16 (as well as the bottom wall) are generally flat. A front wall 18 of a drawer, to be more fully described, is dimensioned to close the housing at one axial end while a rear wall closes the rear opposing axial end.

The top wall 20 is a provided with indentations or recesses 20, one such recess being provided at each corner of the rectangular top wall. Each of the recesses 20 are dimensioned to receive legs or downwardly depending extensions of another like storage module to be placed on the top wall and secured to the storage module housing 12. Another recess 22 is provided for receiving and storing a handle 24 when the handle needs not to be used and, especially, to enable another storage module to be connected to the top wall 16. Additional recesses 25 may be provided for placement of a small items of hardware, such as screws, nails of the like while a workman is working on a project.

The sidewalls 14 are preferably formed with ribs 26 to stiffen the sidewalls which may be formed of relatively thin sheet material. A track 28 is provided extending in a generally axial direction midway between the top and bottom walls, and therefore along the housing having the greatest lateral dimension. A series of a locking tabs 30 are mounted on a slide rod or strip 32 connected to a stacking release tab 34. When the stacking release tab or finger grip 34 is in an essentially retracted position it is generally flush with the exterior surface of the drawer 18. However, when the stacking release tab 34 is pulled forwardly of the wall 18, the slide rod or strip 32 is likewise moved forwardly carrying the locking tabs 30 along the track 28. It will be evident that, from the discussion that follows, that the aforementioned mechanism may be used to secure two or more modules to stack these side-by-side along a horizontal direction. To facilitate the use of the stacking release tab 34 there is preferably provided a space 36 between the stacking release tab 34 and the proximate end of the sidewalls 14 to enable a user to place his or her fingertips within the space 36 to facilitate a pulling of the tab and, therefore, of the slide rod 32 and the locking tabs 30. When these are to be returned to a locking position the stacking release tab 34 can simply be pushed in rearwardly until the tabs 30 are returned to the position shown FIG. 1.

A rotatable locking latch 38 includes a suitable finger gripping means for gripping of the latch and for rotating the latch at least an angular distance sufficient to lock and unlock the drawer, as the latch is rotated from one extreme position to the other. In the presently preferred embodiment, the latch is rotatable 90 degrees from a position at 42, in which the drawer is locked to a position at 44 in which it is unlocked and can be easily pulled out from the housing 12.

Referring to FIGS. 1-3, provided along the bottom surface of the bottom wall 46 are four legs or protrusions generally configured to securely fit within the recesses 20 in the top wall 16 of a cooperating stacked storage module. The embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 2-4 is somewhat different from the embodiment 10 shown in FIG. 1. In this embodiment, the sidewall 14 is formed of a lower portion 50 which may be integrally formed with the bottom wall 46, while an upper portion 52 may be integrally formed with the top cover or wall 16. A pair of axially displaced latches 54 are provided with slots 56 for receiving any tabs attached to the lower portion 50 to which any suitable locking mechanism, such as a padlock, can be used to unlock the relative positions of the lower and upper portion 50, 52 to prevent inadvertent opening of the top wall or cover 16. However, it will be evident that any suitable locking mechanism may be used to maintain the upper cover or top wall 16 in the closed position shown, and the specific locking mechanism is not critical for purposes of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 5, the drawer 58 is secured to the front cover or wall 18 and is dimensioned and configured to be slidably received within an internal compartment 60 of the housing 12. As suggested above, the specific cross-section of the housing 12 is not critical. However, the configuration of the drawer 58 preferably conforms to the internal configuration of the compartment 16. When the top wall or cover 16 is opened a storage tray 62 may be removed or inserted into the housing above the level of the drawer 58 so that the tray 62 does not interfere with the free sliding axial movements of the drawer. The tray 62 is a desirable but non-critical element or component of the invention and takes advantage of any space above the drawer 58 to store small items, such as fasteners, small tools, etc. The tray 62 is easily removable and may rest on or be supported on a ledge or other suitable supports to maintain the tray at an appropriate level within the compartment 16.

In FIG. 6, two storage modules 10, 10a are shown stacked one above the other in a piggy-back arrangement in which the modules are mounted one above the other in a generally vertically spaced direction. As such, the handle of the lower module 10 is collapsed into the appropriate recess 22, as noted, while the handle 24 of the upper module 10a may be raised as shown. The two modules can be locked together in the positions shown FIG. 6 by any appropriate or suitable means. Advantageously, two vertically stacked modules can be unlocked or separated by means of a stacking release lever 40 that can disengage the two vertically stacked units from each other. However, it is important that when these units are engaged or secured or attached to each other that the locking mechanism be such that it can support the weight of one or more lower modules. In the case of the configuration shown FIG. 6, the locking latch mechanism used must be sufficiently strong to support the weight of the lower module 10 when the upper module 10a is raised such as by means of the handle 24. Thus, each of the storage modules includes two separate and distinct locking mechanisms—a first to releasably secure storage modules stacked one on top of the other and a second to releasably secure two laterally adjacent modules. In FIG. 7, the drawer 58 has been opened while the modules 10, 10a continue to be attached or connected to each other. In a similar fashion, the drawer 18 of the lower module can likewise be pulled out. In the configuration illustrated in FIG. 7 the top cover or wall 16 of the upper module 10 can be opened while the cover of the lower module 10 must be maintained in a closed condition when the two modules are fixed or connected to each other.

FIG. 8 is similar to FIGS. 5 and 7, in which a rendering illustrates the manner in which the drawer can be opened.

FIG. 9 illustrates another example of a configuration of an array of storage modules in accordance with the invention. Here, five storage modules are connected to each other in two columns, one including two modules and the other three modules. As suggested, these modules can be selectively connected and disconnected to release each other by pulling the appropriate stacking release tabs 34, 40. If, for example, a worker needs to take the short column of the two storage modules to a worksite the two release tabs 34, 40 of each of the two units in the short column are pulled forward thereby disconnecting the lateral modules from each other by moving the locking tabs 30 out of engagement with the appropriate mating retaining member (not shown) on the opposite side of an attached module. Any other disengagement mechanism may be used. Now, the shorter stack of two storage modules can be transported together since the upper and lower modules in the short column continue to be connected to each other. If, for example, a worker wished to remove the uppermost storage module in the stack of three modules its release tab 40 can be pulled to disengage the uppermost module from the middle module, as shown in FIG. 9.

Referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, it will be evident, as previously suggested, that the uppermost storage modules can be accessed by pulling out their respective drawers, as shown FIG. 10, or by opening the upper cover or wall 16, as shown FIG. 11. Of course, each of the drawers of any of the units of the modular array can be selectively opened by simply rotating the latch 38 of the associated attached units and pulling out the drawer forwardly.

Preferably, any suitable mounting means can be used on the rear walls of each of the units (not shown) to attach the units to a vertical surface such as a wall. Such retaining mechanism preferably allows each of the units to be selectively removed from the wall to provide added flexibility in assembling and moving storage units as needed. It will become evident, therefore, that the modules of the storage system of the present invention provide significant flexibility and ease in custom tailoring a module storage system or array, to satisfy almost any requirement. By using smaller, modular units tools and materials can be more specifically apportioned and organized to permit a worker to take only that storage module or two or more storage modules needed on a project and leave all the others behind. This allows a worker to remain organized and avoid having to transport heavy and bulky toolboxes full of tools and/or materials that may not or will not be necessary for a given job or project.

It should also be evident that the ability of the modular storage system to be configured in almost any array also makes the system suitable to create an array that conforms to almost any available storage space. Thus, if the available space is rectangular, triangular, arcuate or the like an array consisting of a number of appropriately-sized columns can be assembled to fit almost any such spaces.

While the preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it will be understood that the there is no intention to limit the invention by such disclosure, but rather, it is the intention to cover all modifications and alternate constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.