Title:
TRANSPORTATION PAD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rack assembly for transporting a unit from a first location to a second location and installing the unit at the second location on a support surface. The rack assembly can include a first pad member coupled to and supported by a plurality of uprights, a second pad member coupled to and supported on the plurality of uprights over the first pad member, and a space defined by the first pad member, the plurality of uprights, and the second pad member for receiving the unit. The second pad member can be removed from the rack assembly at the second location, and the first pad member and the unit can be secured to the support surface, such that the first pad member remains at the second location as a mounting structure for the unit when the unit is operational.



Inventors:
Mattson, David Owen (Baraga, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/428213
Publication Date:
10/22/2009
Filing Date:
04/22/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B47/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEN, JOSE V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP (Mke) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A rack assembly for transporting a unit from a first location to a second location and installing the unit at the second location on a support surface, the assembly comprising: a first pad member coupled to and supported by a plurality of uprights; a second pad member coupled to and supported on the plurality of uprights over the first pad member; and a space defined by the first pad member, the plurality of uprights, and the second pad member for receiving the unit; wherein the second pad member is removeable from the rack assembly at the second location, and the first pad member and the unit are secured to the support surface, such that the first pad member remains at the second location as a mounting structure for the unit when the unit is operational.

2. The rack assembly of claim 1 further comprising a stabilizing member coupled at an angle between adjacent uprights.

3. The rack assembly of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second pad members is formed of a substantially non-degradable material.

4. The rack assembly of claim 1 wherein at least one of the plurality of uprights defines a pre-stressed region.

5. The rack assembly of claim 1 further comprising a third pad member coupled to and supported on the plurality of uprights, and with the plurality of uprights and the second pad member, defining a second space for receiving a second unit.

6. The rack assembly of claim 5 wherein at least a portion of the plurality of uprights, the second pad member, and the third pad member defining the second space are transportable to a third location for installation on a second support surface.

7. The rack assembly of claim 6 wherein the third pad member is removeable from the rack assembly at the third location, and the second pad member and the second unit are secured to the second support surface, such that the second pad member remains at the third location as a mounting structure for the second unit when the second unit is operational.

8. The rack assembly of claim 1 further comprising a second plurality of uprights coupled to and supported by the second pad member; and a third pad member coupled to and supported on the second plurality of uprights; wherein the third pad member, the second plurality of uprights, and the second pad member define a second space for receiving a second unit.

9. The rack assembly of claim 8 wherein the second plurality of uprights, the second pad member, and the third pad member defining the second space are transportable to a third location for installation on a second support surface.

10. The rack assembly of claim 9 wherein the third pad member is removeable from the rack assembly at the third location, and the second pad member and the second unit are secured to the second support surface, such that the second pad member remains at the third location as a mounting structure for the second unit when the second unit is operational.

11. The rack assembly of claim 1 wherein the first pad provides insulation between the unit and the support surface.

12. A system for transportation of a unit from a first location to a second location and installation of the unit on a support surface, the system comprising: a transportation module comprising: an installation module comprising a first pad member and the unit; a plurality of uprights coupled to and supporting the installation module; and a second pad member supported on the plurality of uprights over the first pad member; wherein the unit is supported by the first pad member and positioned in a space defined by the first pad member, the plurality of uprights, and the second pad member; wherein the installation module is decoupled from the transportation module at the second location and securedly mounted on the support surface for operation of the unit.

13. The system of claim 12 wherein the transportation module further comprises a stabilizing member coupled at an angle between adjacent uprights.

14. The system of claim 12 wherein at least one of the first and second pad members is formed of a substantially non-degradable material.

15. The rack assembly of claim 12 wherein at least one of the plurality of uprights defines a pre-stressed region.

16. The system of claim 12 wherein the transportation module further comprises: a second installation module comprising the second pad member and a second unit; a second plurality of uprights coupled to and supporting the second installation module; and a third pad member supported on the second plurality of uprights over the first pad member; wherein the second unit is supported by the second pad member and positioned in a space defined by the second pad member, the second plurality of uprights, and the third pad member.

17. The system of claim 16 wherein the second installation module is decoupled from the transportation module at a third location and securedly mounted on a second support surface for operation of the second unit.

18. The system of claim 12 wherein the first pad provides insulation between the unit and the support surface.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/046,959, filed Apr. 22, 2008, the entire contents of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a transportation, storage, and installation rack assembly for machine units, in some embodiments for electrical transformers.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, the invention provides a rack assembly for transporting a unit from a first location to a second location and installing the unit at the second location on a support surface. The rack assembly can include a first pad member coupled to and supported by a plurality of uprights, a second pad member coupled to and supported on the plurality of uprights over the first pad member, and a space defined by the first pad member, the plurality of uprights, and the second pad member for receiving the unit. The second pad member can be removed from the rack assembly at the second location, and the first pad member and the unit can be secured to the support surface, such that the first pad member remains at the second location as a mounting structure for the unit when the unit is operational.

In some embodiments, the rack assembly can further include a stabilizing member coupled at an angle between adjacent uprights. The pad members can be formed of a substantially non-degradable material. Additional pad members can be supported on the uprights to vertically stack units on the rack assembly.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a system for transportation of a unit from a first location to a second location and installation of the unit on a support surface. The system can have a transportation module including an installation module, the installation module having a first pad member and the unit. The transportation module can also include a plurality of uprights coupled to and supporting the installation module, and a second pad member supported on the plurality of uprights over the first pad member. The unit is supported by the first pad member and positioned in a space defined by the first pad member, the plurality of uprights, and the second pad member. The installation module can be decoupled from the transportation module at the second location and securedly mounted on the support surface for operation of the unit.

Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a rack assembly according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the rack assembly of FIG. 1 without stabilizing members.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the rack assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the rack assembly of FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4 showing the stabilizing members.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the upper pad member of the rack assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the upper pad member of FIG. 5 taken along line 5-5.

FIG. 7 shows the upper pad member of FIG. 4 detached from the base pad member.

FIG. 8 is a side view of a partially installed rack assembly in relation to a forklift.

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of an upper pad member according to another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms “mounted,” “connected,” “supported,” and “coupled” and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings.

FIGS. 1-7 illustrate a rack assembly 10 for storing, transporting and installing an electrical transformer or other machine unit. The rack assembly 10 includes a first or base pad member 14, a plurality of uprights 18 and a second or upper pad member 22. A space 26 is at least partially defined between the base pad member 14, uprights 18 and upper pad member 22 for receiving a transformer (not shown). The rack assembly 10 further includes a number of stabilizing members 30.

In the illustrated embodiment, the upper pad member 22 is approximately rectangular and has an upper surface 34 and a lower surface 38. The upper pad member 22 can be between about 30-48 inches wide and between about 30-48 inches long. The upper pad member 22 can include an aperture 42 extending from the upper surface 34 to the lower surface 38. The aperture 42 accommodates protruding portions of the transformer and/or connectors passing therethrough for connection with the transformer.

The upper pad member 22 also includes a plurality of corner apertures 44 for receiving the uprights 18 therethrough. An end portion 18A of each upright 18 protrudes upwardly of the upper surface 34 of the upper pad member 22 (see FIG. 1).

The base pad member 14 is approximately rectangular and has an upper surface 46 and a lower surface 50 for supporting the transformer. The base pad member 14 can be between about 30-48 inches wide and between about 30-48 inches long. The base pad member 14 can include an aperture 54 extending from the upper surface 46 to the lower surface 50. The aperture 54 can accommodate protruding portions of the transformer and/or connectors passing therethrough for connection with the transformer.

In some embodiments, the base pad member 14 and the upper pad member 22 are substantially identical and interchangeable. The upper pad member 22 can also support a transformer on the upper surface 34. Thus, the rack assembly 10 can support two transformers, one on the upper surface 46 of the base pad member 14 and one on the upper surface 34 of the upper pad member 22.

The base pad member 14 and the upper pad member 22 can be formed of a substantially non-degradable material such as polymer concrete or other concrete and polyester fiberglass hybrid, a poly-plastic, HDPE, ABS, urethane, foam, etc. Thus, the base pad member 14 and upper pad member 22 can be formed of a material that is suitable for serving as an installation pad for the transformer, i.e., for being permanently installed beneath the transformer. In some embodiments, however, the upper pad member 22 can be formed of different materials. For example, the upper pad member 22, if not intended for use as an installation pad, but merely as a roof for the rack assembly 10, can be formed of a material that is degradable such as wood.

The base pad member 14 also includes a plurality of corner apertures 58 for receiving the uprights 18 therethrough (see dashed representation in FIG. 1). An end portion 18B of each upright 18 protrudes downwardly from the lower surface 50 of the base pad member 14. The rack assembly 10 is supported on a support surface by the end portions 18B of the uprights 18. The end portions 18B form a gap between the support surface and the lower surface 50 of the base pad member 14 for accommodating access by a forklift for transportation. In other embodiments, the ends 18B of the uprights 18 can be approximately flush with the lower surface 50 of the base pad member 14 so that the lower surface 50 rests on the support surface. Therefore, the base pad member 14 can also include forklift packets (not shown) for engaging with a forklift for transportation.

Each upright 18 includes the aforementioned end portions 18A, 18B and a middle portion 18C. The middle portion 18C can be a reinforced portion having a greater thickness than the end portions 18A, 18B. The corner apertures 44 in the upper pad member 22 can be sized and shaped to receive only the end portions 18A such that the middle portion 18C forms a mechanical stop limiting the distance that the upright 18 extends upwardly of the upper pad member 22. Each upright 18 can also include a lower stop 59 secured to the end portions 18B below the base pad member 14. The corner apertures 58 in the base pad member can be sized and shaped to receive only the end portions 18B such that the lower stop 59 forms a mechanical stop supporting the base pad member 14 above a support surface. In other embodiments, the upright end portions 18A and 18B can be directly secured to the upper pad member 22 and base pad member 14, respectively, eliminating the need for mechanical stops to support the upper pad member 22 and base pad member 14 relative to the uprights 18.

The upright 18 includes a secondary member 60 fastened thereto for forming the reinforced middle portion 18C. In the illustrated embodiment, the upright 18 and the secondary upright member 60 are in the form of a pair of two-by-four lengths of milled wood that are fastened to one another. In other embodiments, the reinforced middle portion 18C can be integrally formed with the upright 18. In still other embodiments, the upright 18 has a uniform thickness along its entire length, such that the middle portion 18C lacks a reinforcing element relative to the ends 18A.

Referring now to FIG. 3, each upright 18 can include one or more weakened or pre-stressed regions 64 for facilitating cutting through the upright 18. For example, the pre-stressed region 64 can be in the form of perforations through the upright 18, or a partial thickness cut through or a notch cut into the upright 18. In some embodiments, the pre-stressed region 64 includes a visual indicator to show where the cut should be positioned. The visual indicators can facilitate cutting level cuts, and also cutting the uprights 18 at the same distance from the lower surface 38. This helps to provide a substantially uniform length of each upright 18 extending below the upper pad member 22 when the upper pad member 22 is detached from the base pad member 14. The visual indicator can be provided by physical deformation of the pre-stressed region 64. The visual indicator can also be a marking or other separate visual identifier placed on the upright 18 near to the pre-stress region 64. In other embodiments, the uprights 18 lack the pre-stressed region 64 and/or the visual indicator.

Each stabilizing member 30 is coupled between adjacent uprights 18 for stabilizing the uprights 18. In the illustrated embodiment, the stabilizing members 30 are in the form of four cables or rope-like members, such as poly strap, steel banding, etc., that are looped about the upper ends 18A of two diagonally opposed uprights 18 and the lower ends 18B of the adjacent uprights 18. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-7, the stabilizing members 30 are tensioned to exert a compressive force on the associated uprights 18. The stabilizing members 30 are not directly fastened to the uprights 18 or the upper and base pad members 22, 14, but rather are looped around the ends 18A, 18B of the uprights 18. The tension on the stabilizing member 30 between the associated uprights 18 prevents the stabilizing member 30 from inadvertently disengaging from the uprights 18.

The stabilizing member 30 can be formed of a substantially non-stretchable material that is tensioned by tightening the stabilizing member 30. In other embodiments, the stabilizing member 30 can be formed of a substantially stretchable material that is tensioned by stretching the ends of the loop over the uprights 18 to exert a compressive force on the uprights 18.

In the illustrated embodiment, one stabilizing member 30 is provided on each side of the rack assembly 10. In other embodiments, a pair of opposing stabilizing members 30 is provided on each side of the rack assembly 10.

In other embodiments, fasteners (not shown) can be provided for securing the uprights 18 to the upper pad member 22 and to the base pad member 14. Fasteners can take the form of clamps, nails, bolts and/or adhesives, or a combination thereof. In other embodiments, the uprights 18 are integrally formed with either the base pad member 14 or the upper pad member 22.

In other embodiments, the stabilizing member 30 can be a rigid member coupled at an angle between adjacent uprights 18. For example, the stabilizing member 30 can be a length of wood coupled to adjacent uprights 18 at each end. Thus, the stabilizing member 30 need not be coupled to the uprights 18 under tension to provide a stabilizing force to the uprights 18.

Once the rack assembly 10 has arrived at an installation, distribution, etc., location, the rack assembly 10 with the transformers supported therein is carried to the installation location. The rack assembly 10 can be transported using a fork lift. The fork lift is operated to place the rack assembly 10 at the specific location with the upright ends 18B positioned on a support surface, such as the ground.

Once the rack assembly 10 is in the selected location, the stabilizing members 30 are detached from the uprights 18. This can be accomplished by cutting through the loop of each stabilizing member 30 and pulling the stabilizing member 30 off of the associated uprights 18. Each upright 18 is then cut through the pre-stressed region 64 to detach the upper pad member 22 from the base pad member 14. The cutting location for each upright 18 can be about 3 inches below the upper pad member 22 to form stubs 64 from the cut upright 18. The stubs 64 can be of similar length as the lower stop 59.

After each upright 18 has been detached from the base pad member 14, the upper pad member 22 and stubs 64 are lifted off of the base pad member 14 and removed. FIG. 7 illustrates the upper pad member 22 after being detached from the base pad member 14. The upper pad member 22 and associated upright stubs 64 are thus converted into pallet for transporting another transformer carried thereon.

FIG. 8 illustrates the rack assembly 10 in relation to a forklift 100. As shown, the base pad member 14 and associated transformer 102 have been installed on support surface 104. The forklift 100 then raises the upper pad member 22 away from the base pad member 14 to transport and install the upper pad member 22 and associated transformer 106 elsewhere. The remaining portions of the uprights 18 are removed from the base pad member 14 so that the lower surface 50 rests on the support surface. The base pad member 14 is thus converted from a pallet for transporting the transformer to an installation pad. The base pad member 14 remains permanently in place, supporting the transformer. In this sense, the base pad member 14 also serves as an installation pad for the transformer.

The upper pad member 22 and the transformer carried thereon can then be moved to another location. An upper retainer 66 can protrude from each upright end 18A to prevent the upright end 18A from sliding through the corner aperture 44 and inadvertently detaching from the upper pad member 22. The upper retainer 66 can be in the form of a nail, bolt or screw partially driven into the upright end 18A. The upper pad member 22 can be lowered onto a support surface and the stubs 64 removed so that the lower surface 38 of the upper pad member 22 rests on the support surface. The upper pad member 22 is thus converted from a pallet for transporting a transformer carried thereon into an installation pad. The upper pad member 22 remains permanently in place, supporting the transformer. In this sense, the upper pad member 22 also serves as an installation pad for the transformer.

The remains of the uprights 18 and the stabilizing members 30 can then be disposed of or recycled.

The rack assembly 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-8 included two pad members supported on the uprights 18. In other embodiments, additional pad members can be carried on the uprights 18 to increase the number of transformers carried on the rack assembly 10. For example, three pad members can be carried on the uprights 18 to store, transport and install three transformers.

FIG. 9 illustrates an alternate embodiment of an interchangeable base pad member 14 and upper pad member 22 (hereinafter generally referred to as pad member 14). In the illustrated embodiment, the pad member 14 includes a plurality of first stacking recesses 68 extending inwardly from the upper surface 34. The pad member 14 includes a plurality of second stacking recesses 70 extending inwardly from a lower stub portion 72. The first and second stacking recesses 68 are sized and shaped to receive the ends 18A, 18B of the uprights 18 to facilitate vertically stacking a plurality of pad members 14 to form a rack assembly 10. Two-five of the interchangeable pad members 14 shown in FIG. 9 can be assembled with associated uprights 18 and stabilizing members 30 for stacking two-five transformers for transportation and installation. The rack assemblies 10 are stabilized against lateral or horizontal movement relative to one another. This arrangement provides a compact and convenient arrangement for transporting a plurality of transformers.