US 20070241104 A1
A plastic storage and transport container (1) has a floor and, preferably perpendicular to that, a peripheral side wall. The side wall is formed from several side wall elements (2, 3, 4), which are telescopical for the purpose of changing a container volume, preferably in a direction perpendicular to this floor.
1. Storage and transport container of plastic, comprising a floor surrounded by a side wall, characterized by the fact that the container has telescopical side wall elements which are telescopically in container height for changing the height of the container.
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The application concerns a plastic storage and transport container, especially for accommodating piece goods and bulk goods. More particularly, this invention relates to such a container which has telescoping side walls to change the height of the container.
Storage or transport containers are preferably used for storing or transporting all kinds of piece goods and bulk goods. Such storage and transport containers generally consist of a container floor and a side wall. By piece goods is understood all kinds of goods, including packaged and unpackaged food, and by bulk materials is understood pourable, loose goods such as screws, shavings, sand etc. Further, such storage and transport containers are also designed to be stackable. Of special importance in the case of such plastic storage and transport containers is their storage and return when empty. To save transport volume, so-called folding containers are well-known, which are folded up for the purpose of storage or return. However, due to the folding mechanism, such folding containers usually have insufficient stability or rigidity. Under high loads, for example when stacked together, material fracture can occur, especially in the area of the folding joints. Conventional plastic folding boxes are therefore not normally used for storing and transporting heavy goods.
All these storage and transport containers have the disadvantage, however, that the storage or transport volume provided cannot be varied. The useful container volume is given by the size of the container floor and the height of the side wall. Especially when a container can only be partly filled, for example, due to the maximum possible transport weight, this leads to increased transport volume, which would not necessarily be caused by the volume of the contents accommodated, but is due to the size of the container.
The object of the invention is to make available a plastic storage and transport container, which offers a variable container volume, wherein this container volume is designed such that it is readily variable. This container shall moreover possess adequate stability.
In accordance with the invention, the side wall of the container is provided with a telescope mechanism, which comprises several telescopic side wall elements. Such a telescopic arrangement of individual side wall elements facilitates appropriate adjustment or change of container volume to the quantity or size (more precisely, the volume) of the accommodated goods, combined with high stability of the container. The container volume is essentially adjusted by changing the height of the side wall.
Such a telescope mechanism can moreover be operated easily and simply and the function of the telescope mechanism is more or less intuitive to the user. Thus, the inventive container can also be transformed very easily into the collapsed position of the side wall elements, in which its volume is minimal, for return or storage when empty.
A description of the advantages of the dependent claims follows from here on: In a preferred embodiment, the side wall elements are frame-like and formed as one piece. This confers sufficiently high strength on each side wall element, since the enclosed frame-like structure dissipates all kinds of load forces very well. These side wall elements are mounted inside each other and capable of sliding toward each other and form the side wall of the container in the manner of telescope elements. Provision is made for each side wall element to have an enclosed peripheral side wall of defined height. This ensures good guidance of the telescope mechanism and concomitantly user-friendly smoothness in operation.
In a further preferred embodiment, the container of the invention has precisely three side wall elements: lower, central and upper. These three side wall elements yield a relatively compact container structure (favorable ratio of external dimensions to internal space), whereby, at the same time, the container volume can be flexibly adjusted over a wide range by means of the three side wall elements. The inventive container can also be made available with several central side wall elements such that altogether more than three side wall elements are comprised.
In a similarly preferred embodiment, the container of the invention has precisely two side wall elements: lower and upper. Such a container offers an extremely compact container structure combined with relatively low manufacturing costs.
Expediently, the side wall elements are nested inside one another in the collapsed position. This yields a very compact container structure in the collapsed position. In the collapsed position, that side wall element which forms the lowermost side wall element of the side wall in the fully extended condition is advantageously arranged on the inside and that one which (in the extended condition) forms the uppermost side wall element is arranged on the outside. In the fully extended condition, as seen from the container floor, the transport space becomes increasingly broader and longer in the upward direction, as a result of which the contents to be transported can be introduced and removed particularly easily.
Advantageously, the lowermost side wall element is formed as one piece with the container floor. This confers a particularly stable structure.
Advantageously, the lower areas of the lowermost side wall element and preferably also each central side wall element are formed with an outwardly projecting peripheral edge or several projecting edge sections, which increase(s) on one hand the stability of the side wall element and on the other also constitute certain impact protection for the side wall element and concomitantly for the entire side wall. Furthermore, these edge elements form a stop for the collapsed side wall elements in the collapsed position. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the edge is formed such that, when the container is fully collapsed, a flat exterior wall is formed at least on the long sides, which is free from projections or shoulders and the like, and thus can be used, for example, generally speaking as an advertising surface.
The side wall elements, which can telescope into each other, are provided with guide surfaces in order that hooking and jamming of the telescope mechanism during collapsing and extending may be prevented. The guide surfaces can be formed as recessed or protruding wall sections, with the correspondingly guided side wall element having appropriately shaped wall sections.
Expediently, the container is rounded, especially in the corner areas of the side wall elements, for the purpose of optimizing force flows as well as for lowering the risk of injury.
Especially, it is provided that the individual side wall elements are lockable in at least one defined telescope position. This may be effected, for example, with locking elements, such as detent members, snap connections or clamping connections. The locking mechanism is advantageously formed such that locking occurs automatically, for example through pre-tensioned locking elements, whose locking tongues or the like engage with corresponding detent recesses. This facilitates simple and uncomplicated handling of the container, but is also a substantial safety aspect, since the container volume defined by the locked telescope position of the side wall elements cannot change unintentionally. Such detent elements can be simply unlocked so that the container volume may be adjusted.
A stable locking mechanism, especially in the extended position, also advantageously makes it possible to stack the containers, even when the contents are heavy.
For stable locking, four locking elements each are advantageously provided for each telescopic side wall element (these are usually the central side wall elements and the upper side wall element), which are each arranged in pairs so as to be readily accessible at the end walls of the container (more precisely, at the end faces of the respective side wall element). The locking elements have a handle part, which is advantageously formed like an eye, as a result of which the locking element concerned, with its associated locking tongue, can be actuated particularly easily against a pre-tension spring force. The handle part at an end wall is thereby advantageously arranged such that it can be actuated comfortably simultaneously and single-handedly or by engagement of the thumb and index finger of the same hand. An ergonomic design of the eye area, for example through enlargement of a force-transmission surface, enhances convenience of operation and safety in use.
In an alternative embodiment, the pairs of locking elements at the end faces of the side wall elements concerned are connected to a common means of actuation, such as a release belt or a release lever or the like or formed as one piece with this. Advantageously, through the application of force on the means of actuation, both locking elements can be operated at the same time against the pre-tension spring force, for which, e.g., only one finger is needed. Such a means of actuation can moreover be gripped very well even under difficult conditions, a fact which increases convenience of operation.
In order that damage to the locking elements may be avoided, especially the handle parts or the release levers or the release belts, these are advantageously protectively arranged in a recessed wall area or in a recess of the side wall element. Essential parts of the locking elements can moreover be arranged so as to be hidden, e.g. inside a double wall, as a result of which protection against pinching of fingers and against contamination is provided.
In an advantageous embodiment, the side wall elements are formed in sections so as to be reinforced, e.g. by integrated cavities or reinforcing ribs or bracing ribs, especially in the corner areas, in order that the stability and strength, especially the impact strength of the side wall element and thus the entire side wall, may additionally be increased.
Furthermore, the container can be provided with a suitable cover, which may also be formed so as to be multipart, such that complete encasing of contents to be transported results advantageously. The cover can be formed as a separate element or as a hinged element.
All elements of the previously described container are formed advantageously from a recyclable from a recyclable plastic.
Further advantages arise from the following description of an embodiment using the figures described below:
The opening of the container 1 for introducing and removing the contents to be transported is covered with a cover, which is formed here by way of example from two cover flaps 5 a and 5 b. As particularly readily identifiable in
Each of these three side wall elements 2, 3 and 4 has a peripheral frame-like side wall section (with two long sides and two end faces) of a defined height that is rounded off in the corner areas for the purpose of optimizing any force flows and for reducing the danger of injury. As evident from
The central side wall element 3 is telescopically mounted to the lower side wall element 2, more precisely such that the interior surfaces of the central side wall element 3 face the corresponding exterior surfaces of the lowermost side wall element 2, or in other words, that the central side wall element 3 comprises or encloses or embraces the lowermost side wall element 2, with, however, translational movement being possible in accordance with the arrow T1 in
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The arrangement of the side wall elements 2, 3 and 4 in accordance with the illustrations in
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As illustrated, the handle part, that is, the drawbar eye 11, is ergonomically formed such that the drawbar eye's inner surface provided for applying an actuating force is formed such that it is enlarged in order that this area may, for example, be optimally gripped with a finger and high forces may be applied, and in order that the danger of slipping due to larger contact friction may be reduced.
Of the locking elements 10, essentially only the handle parts, i.e., the drawbar eyes 11, are accessible. The shaft, the detent tongue 12 and the spring elements 13 are essentially arranged and protected against damage and contamination in the inside side wall elements 3 and 4, which are double-walled in this area. Through an appropriately formed opening, the detent tongue 12 of the locking element 10 can engage with a corresponding detent recess 16 in each of the lower side wall elements. Corresponding considerations apply to the remaining locking elements of the container.
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The arrangement of the locking elements 10 described above is only one example, albeit an advantageous one, but can be effected in another way, for example by arranging the locking elements 10 on the lowermost side wall element 2 and on the uppermost side wall element 4 while the central side wall element 3 remains free of locking elements. The described arrangement in the cavity of a double wall area is also only one example.
For changing the telescope position of the side wall elements 3 or 4, i.e. for adjusting or adapting the container volume, the container 1 is placed, for example, with its container floor on a solid surface. Thereafter, the current locking state must be released, which is usually done by simultaneous actuation of the locking elements 10 arranged on the end walls by engaging thumb and index finger of each hand into the drawbar eyes 11. Afterwards, the telescope segment or side wall element concerned can be raised or lowered. The container volume is thus changed in steps, i.e. only one telescope segment or a side wall element is raised or lowered at a time.
To rapidly enlarge the container capacity, it is also possible to hold the container 1 with both hands and, as just described, to briefly bring the locking elements 10 into an unlocking position, whereupon each side wall element arranged below lowers itself downward due to the force of gravity. The possibility of such rapid and easy enlargement of the container volume can especially be of great advantage in everyday use. For easier actuation of the telescope mechanism, the side wall elements 3 and 4 can be pre-tensioned with springs as well, such that, after locking has been released, these proceed automatically (in the sense of by themselves) into an extended position or conversely into a collapsed position.
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In relation to the solution with drawbar eyes 11, such a release lever 18 has the advantage that it can be actuated with only one finger, which makes handling of such a telescopic storage and transport container 1 even easier and more comfortable for daily, especially industrial use.