Title:
Portable Storage Container with Pallet Floor Support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable container has a floor support assembly with parallel side support rails extending from the front to the rear of the assembly and an intermediate support rail between and parallel to the side support rails. Floor support members are secured to and extend transversely across the rails. A floor is secured to the floor support members. The support rails have a height sufficient to enable the tines of a lifting device to pass under the floor support members for lifting the container. A lower stabilizing member is secured to the bottom of one or more of the deck support members and defines a downwardly facing landing pad surface. The landing pad surface has a width that is less than the distance between the tines of the lifting device and a length that is greater than the distance between the tines of the lifting device.



Inventors:
Hutchinson II, Sperry (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Mcmullen, Lucas (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/732655
Publication Date:
09/29/2011
Filing Date:
03/26/2010
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D19/00
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Primary Examiner:
FIDEI, DAVID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Venjuris. P.C. (PHOENIX, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable container including a floor support assembly comprising: two generally parallel side support rails generally extending from a front to a rear of the floor support assembly; at least one intermediate support rail generally parallel to and disposed between the side support rails; a plurality of floor support members secured to and extending transversely across the rails; a floor secured to at least one of the floor support members; and a lower stabilizing member secured generally transverse to a one or more of the deck support members and defining a generally planar downwardly facing landing pad surface; wherein the support rails have a height sufficient to enable the tines of a lifting device to pass under the floor support members for lifting the container; and wherein the landing pad surface has a width that is less than the distance between the tines of the lifting device and a length that is greater than the distance between the tines of the lifting device.

2. The portable container of claim 1 wherein the floor support assembly defines a pair of tine-receiving openings at the front of the assembly, a pair of tine-receiving openings at the rear of the assembly, and a pair of tine-receiving openings at each side of the assembly.

3. The portable container of claim 1 wherein each of the side support rails and the intermediate support rail includes a plurality of support members for supporting the side rails at the height sufficient to enable the tines of a lifting device to pass under the floor support members for lifting the container.

4. The portable container of claim 3 wherein each side support rail and its corresponding rail support members define a pair of tine-receiving openings at a side of the floor support assembly.

5. The portable container of claim 3 wherein one or more of the support members includes a beveled foot.

6. The portable container of claim 1 wherein each of the side support rails is adapted for receiving an upwardly projecting side wall.

7. The portable container of claim 1 wherein the lower stabilizing member has at least one tapered end.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to portable storage containers. More particularly, it relates to a portable storage container with a pallet floor support assembly that can be accessed by a lifting device from either end or side. The container can be lifted from the side with a lifting device having relatively short tines, such as a pallet jack.

Storage containers that can be lifted by a forklift or similar lifting device are known. In addition, pallets that support and secure goods while they are being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, or other lifting device are known. Such containers and pallets, however, have a number of drawbacks. A traditional or standard pallet can only be lifted by a forklift engaging the pallet from either end—but not the side. Such a pallet has four stringers, or rails, which are used to add stability to the pallet and to guide the lifting-device tines into place only from one end or the other. It is often desirable, however, to lift a pallet with forklift from one of its sides rather than just from one of its ends.

In addition, traditional storage containers and larger pallets cannot be conveniently lifted using standard warehouse lifting devices, such as a standard pallet jack or forklift. These containers and larger pallets typically have dimensions that exceed the fork tine length limitations of standard lifting devices, which have relatively short tines. Such storage containers and pallets therefore require specialized equipment, or frequent use of fork extensions or readjustment of the distance between the fork tines.

It is an object of the present invention, therefore, to provide an improved portable storage container and a pallet base that can be lifted with a lifting device, such as a forklift, from the front, back or either side of the container.

Another object of the present invention is to provide such a portable storage container and pallet base that can be lifted using standard warehouse lifting devices, such as a pallet jack.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide such a portable storage container and pallet base that can be lifted from the front, back or either side without having to adjust the distance between the tines of the lifting device.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a pallet base that requires fewer rails or stringers than the traditional four stringers.

Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description that follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and obtained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations pointed out in the appended claims.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To achieve the foregoing objects, and in accordance with the purposes of the invention as embodied and broadly described in this document, there is provided a portable container with a floor support assembly that has two generally parallel side support rails extending from the front to the rear of the floor support assembly. An intermediate support rail is disposed between and generally parallel to the side support rails. Floor support members are secured to and extend transversely across the rails. A floor is secured to at least one of the floor support members. The support rails have a height sufficient to enable the tines of a lifting device to pass under the floor support members for lifting the container. One or more relatively short lower stabilizing members are secured to the bottom of one or more of the deck support members and define a generally planar downwardly facing landing pad surface. The landing pad surface has a width that is less than the distance between the tines of the lifting device and a length that is greater than the distance between the tines of the lifting device.

In this configuration, the container can be lifted from the front, back or either side of the container using standard warehouse lifting devices, such as a forklift or pallet jack. The stabilizing members provide a support surface or landing pad that can rest on the tines of a forklift that engages the container from the side. With these stabilizing members, the improved pallet requires only three lengthwise stringers, rather than the traditional four stringers. The dimensions and placement of the stabilizing members also allow for lifting of the container from the front, back or either side without having to adjust the distance between the tines of the lifting device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate the presently preferred embodiments of the invention and, together with the general description given above and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a portable storage container according to the present invention, showing the container door open for loading and unloading the container.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of one embodiment of a floor support assembly of the portable storage container of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the floor support assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the floor support assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the floor support assembly of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a bottom perspective view of the portable storage container of FIG. 1, showing the container being lifted by a forklift engaging the container from an end.

FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of the portable storage container of FIG. 1, showing the container being lifted by a forklift engaging the container from a side.

DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in more detail to presently preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings. While the invention is described more fully with reference to these examples and drawings, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details, representative devices, and illustrative examples shown and described. Rather, the description which follows is to be understood as a broad, teaching disclosure directed to persons of ordinary skill in the appropriate arts, and not as limiting upon the invention.

It will be appreciated that terms such as “front”, “rear”, “side,” “top,” “bottom,” “upper,” “inner,” “outer,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” “below,” “inwardly,” “outwardly,” “downwardly” and “lower” and other positionally descriptive terms used in this specification are used merely for ease of description and refer to the orientation of the referenced components as shown in the Figures. It should be understood that any orientation of the components described in this document is within the scope of the present invention. The terms “generally” and “substantially” as used in this specification are defined as “being in general but not necessarily exactly or wholly that which is specified.” For example, “generally parallel” is used herein to indicate components that are in general, but not necessarily exactly or wholly, parallel. Also as used in this document, the term “assembly” can include a single member or an assembly of components.

Referring to FIG. 1, a portable storage container, generally designated 10, is shown. The storage container 10 can be lifted by a lifting device that engages the container from the sides 11a, 11b, as well as the front end 22 or rear end 23. The container 10 includes opposing side walls 12, a back wall 14 (not shown), a top 16, a floor 18 supported by a floor support assembly 20 and a hinged door 24 for providing access for loading and unloading the storage container 10. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the walls 12, 14, top 16, floor 18 and door 24 are made of sheet material, such as sheets of plywood, and the storage container 10 includes a protective cover 25, such as a vinyl cover, for protection against the elements. In one preferred embodiment, the storage container 10 is about 8 feet long, 5 feet wide and 7 feet high.

Referring to FIGS. 2-5, the floor support assembly 20 is in the form of a pallet, including two generally parallel side rails or stringers 26a, 26b and an intermediate rail 28 that is generally parallel to and disposed between the side rails 26. Each of the rails 26, 28 extends from the front to the rear of the floor support assembly 20. Most typically, the floor support assembly 20 will be elongated in the direction of the rails 26, 28, but it can also be constructed to be a square pallet or even shorter in the direction of the rails 26, 28 than the direction transverse to the rails 26, 28. Floor support members 30 are secured to an upwardly facing surface of the side rails 26 and extend transversely across the rails 26, 28. The container floor 18 is secured to the tops of the floor support members 30 to provide a generally planar, upwardly facing floor surface. Each of the side rails 26 has a channel 27 along its length for receiving a lower edge of one of the side walls 12.

Still referring to FIGS. 2-5, each of the side rail assemblies 26 includes a corner support block 32 at each of its ends and a side support block 33 midway between its ends. Similarly, the intermediate rail assembly 28 includes an end support block 34 at each of its ends and a center support block 35 midway between its ends. The support blocks 32, 33, 34, 35 support the rails 26, 28 at a sufficient height to enable the tines 50 of a lifting device, such as a forklift, to pass under the rails 26, 28 for lifting the container 10. The corner support block 32 and the end support block 34 define tine-receiving openings 40 in the front and rear of the floor support assembly 20 to allow the lifting device to engage the container from the front or the rear. The corner support blocks 32 and side support blocks 33 define tine-receiving openings 42 in the sides of the floor support assembly 20 to allow the lifting device to engage the container from either side 11a, 11b. In this configuration, a lifting device can lift the container 10 from the front 22, rear 23 or either of the sides 11a, 11b. In one preferred embodiment, the tine receiving openings 40, 42 have a height of about 3.5 inches to allow sufficient clearance to use a standard pallet jack to lift the container 10.

As can be seen in FIGS. 2 and 5, preferably the corner support blocks 32 and the side support blocks 33 have chamfered or beveled feet 44, 46, respectively, and the end support blocks 34 and center support block 35 have beveled feet 48, 49, respectively. The feet 44, 46, 48, 49 are mounted to their respective support blocks 32, 33, 34, 35 with carriage bolts, which extend through the feet, the support blocks and the floor 18 for added structural strength. The beveled feet 44, 46, 48, 49 can be made of a material that is more durable than the support blocks 32, 33, 34, 35, such as a composite material, so that the feet 44, 46, 48, 49 can better withstand damage if they are struck by the ends of the tines 50. If the tines of the lift device are misaligned as they are inserted under the floor support assembly 20 such that the ends of the tines strike the feet 44, 46, 48, 49, their beveled shape will tend to cause the feet to glance off the tines rather than being caught on the tines.

Referring to FIGS. 4-7, two relatively short lower stabilizing members 36 are secured to the bottom of a plurality of the floor support members 30. The lower stabilizing members 36 are in the form of boards mounted generally parallel to the intermediate rail 28 on either side of the center support block 35 and are long enough to traverse three of the floor support members 30. With the stabilizing members 36, the floor support assembly 20 requires only three lengthwise rails, rather than the four rails of a traditional pallet. Preferably, the lower stabilizing members 36 have a thickness that is the same as that of the intermediate rail 28. The lower stabilizing members 36 and the intermediate rail 28 define a generally planar downwardly facing landing pad surface 38. The landing pad surface 38 has a width W that is less than the distance between the tines 50 and a length L that is greater than the distance between the tines 50. In one preferred embodiment, wherein the width of the floor support assembly is 20 is about 5 feet, each of the lower stabilizing members 36 has a length of about 34 inches and a width of about 5.5 inches. The landing pad surface width W is about 17.5 inches and the landing pad surface length L is about 34 inches.

As shown in FIG. 7, in this configuration, the landing pad surface 38 provides a support surface that can rest on the lifting device tines 50 when the lifting device engages the container 10 from either side. While, as shown in FIG. 6, this configuration also allows for the lifting device tines 50 (shown with tine extensions 51) to be inserted underneath the floor support members 30 from the ends 22, 23 of the container 10 on either side of the landing pad surface 38 and without interference from the landing pad surface 38.

Also preferably, the stabilizing members 36 have tapered ends 37. In this configuration, if the tines of the lifting device are misaligned as they are inserted under the floor support assembly 20 from one of the container ends 22, 23 so that a tine strikes one of the stabilizing member ends 37, the tapered shape will tend to cause the stabilizer member 36 to glance off the tine rather than being caught on it.

In one preferred embodiment of the container 10, the rails 26, 28, the transverse floor support members 30, the support blocks 32, 33, 34, 35 and the lower stabilizing members 36 are made of wood and the feet 44, 46, 48, 49 are made of a composite material. Upon reading this disclosure, those skilled in the art will understand that other materials also will suffice. For example, some of the elements can be made of metal or a polymer material, depending on durability, rigidity, weight and cost requirements.

Upon reading this disclosure, it will be understood that the portable storage container of the present invention provides a number of advantages over previous designs. A container according to the invention can be lifted with a lifting device, such as a forklift, from the front, back or either side of the container. The container can be lifted using standard warehouse lifting devices, such as a pallet jack. The relatively short stabilizing members oriented lengthwise underneath the central area of the pallet platform provide a support surface or landing pad that can rest on the tines of a forklift used to lift the pallet from the side. With these stabilizing members, the improved pallet requires only three lengthwise stringers, rather than the traditional four stringers. The dimensions and placement of the stabilizing members also allow for lifting the container from the front, back or either side without having to adjust the distance between the tines of the lifting device.

Having read this disclosure, it will also be understood by those having skill in the art that modifications may be made to the invention. Therefore, the invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details, representative devices, and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of the general inventive concept.