US 3749273 A
The disclosure illustrates a container module adapted to be readily interconnected with a series of identical modules to form an array of containers that may be configured to standard forms suitable for use with standard handling equipment. The container has vertical structural corner posts having releasable latches adjacent their upper and lower ends to laterally interconnect the module with adjacent modules. Additional latches provide a vertical connection with other stacked modules. A number of specific latch arrangements are disclosed.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 1 Wreghitt et al. July 31, 1973 MODULAR CONTAINER 3,478,722 11 1969 Falcone et al. 220 234 Inventors: Kenneth w. g Andover; 3,546,753 12/1970 Lafont 220/15 Peter Shirley Pusey, Marblehead; FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 90ml Gilbert Mun", Chelmsford, 1,520,253 2/1968 France 220/97 R all of Mass.
 Assignee: Avco Corporation, Wilmington, Del. Primary ExaminerSamue l B. Rothberg Assistant ExaminerStephen Marcus  May 1971 Attorney-Charles M. Hogan, Gary M. Gron and Abra-  Appl. No.: 143,758 ham Ogman  US. Cl 220/15, 220/234, 220/236, 1 7 ABSTRACT 220/97 R The disclosure illustrates a container module adapted  Int. Cl B6511 87/00, B65] 1/02 to be readily interconnected with a Series of identical  Field of Search 220/l.5, 23.4, 23,6, modules to form an array of containers that may be 220/97 R; 292/1 49; 287/18936 R configured to standard forms suitable for use with standard handling equipment. The container has vertical  References cued structural corner posts having releasable latches adja- UNITED STATES P E cent their upper and lower ends to laterally intercon- 3,132,ss3 5/1964 Tantlinger et al. 220/214 et the m ule ith adjacent modules. Additional 3,144,141 8/1964 Tantlinger et a1 214/105 R latches provide a vertical connection with other 3,306,487 1967 Gregoire l 220/ 1.5 stacked modules. A number of specific latch arrange Fesmire Ct al. ments are disclosed 3,092,282 6/1963 Tantlinger et a]. 220/ 1.5 3,163,306 12/1964 Bennett et al. 220/15 18 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures 7 7 i l4. e '5 I p r i l7 I 1 PATENIEDJULB 1 I973 sum 1 or 4 I VENTORS KENNETH W. WREGHITT ETER S. PUSEY DONALD G. MUNRQ I, I v/ ATTORNEYS PATENIEB JUL 3 I I973 SHEET 2 BF 4 INVENTORS KENNETH W. WREGHITT PETER S. PUSEY DONALD G. MUN R0 BY W M ,a y A ORM Pmmwma 1 ma 3.74927 3 SHEET 3 OF 4 INVENTORS KENNETH W.WREGHITT PETER s. PUSEY DONALD G. MUNRO BY M a, We
M ATTORNEYS PATENIEUJUI 31 I915 SHEEI 0F 4 INVENTORS KENNETH w. WREGHITT PETER s. PUSEY MODULAR CONTAINER The present'invention relates to modular containers as in a ships container hold.
frequently requires a substantial holding time at a terminal while a full load for shipment is packed-from a number of partial loads. Furthermore, it is often necessary to unpack the container at some point to unload one of the partial loads in the container.
All these factors greatly increase the bulk handling of the goods. As a result, shipping time is increased in addition to the possibility of pilferage and damage.
Therefore it is an object of the present invention to provide a modular container that is readily integrated into a standard container configuration of modular containers in such a fashion that all of the normal loads placed on the containers can be adequately supported.
These ends are achieved by a container module of the above general type that comprises a generally rectangular shell having structural vertical posts located at at least two of the vertical corners of the shell. A latch means is positioned adjacent the upper and lower portion of the vertical posts for releasably laterally secur ing the post to the post of an adjacent container module. The releasable latch means is capable of resisting bending forces between the adjacent container modules.
The above and other related objects and features of the present invention will be apparent from a reading of the description of the disclosure shown in the accompanying drawings and the novelty thereof pointed out in the appended claims.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an array of container modules embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a number of container modules embodying the present invention and particularly illustrating latching means for interconnecting them;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary view of one of the posts and latching means of the modules in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a greatly enlarged perspective view of the latching means of FIGS. 1 and 2 showing the position in which it is engaged to laterally secure adjacent posts;
FIG. 5 is a view taken on lines 55 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective viav of illanother latching device for securing the modules shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 7 is an elevational view of another latching device for securing the modules shown in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 8 is a view taken on line 88 of FIG. 7.
14 at its vertical comers. The base of each post extends beneath the shell 12 to form a recess 13. This permits four-way entry of fork lift truck tines for lifting purposes. It is apparent to those skilled in the art that these posts may be shaped and sized to resist maximum anticipated compressive loads placed on the container when it is located at the bottom of a number of container module configurations stacked on one another,
I As shown particularly in FIG. 3, each post 14 has a recess 16 in its top end which mates with a tab 18 formed in the bottom end of a container module that would be stacked on-top of the module. This aligns the modules with one another and resists horizontal shear forces between the upper and lower modules, for example, when a side load is placed on one layer of a series of stacked modules. The posts 14 have end caps and 17 that conform to standard shipping container'specifications established by various organizations, including the International Standards Organization (ISO), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)..I-Ioles 19 in end caps 15 and 17 enable the use of standard hooks or clevispin arrangements to lift the container modules or To connect the modules one on top of another, latches, generally indicated by reference character 20, are provided in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 2, these latches compriseta lever 21 pivotally mounted to the upper edge of the container and have a suitable overcenter latch 22 that may be engaged with a corresponding catch 24 on the bottom of a container that would be stacked on topof the container. These latches, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art, may be selected from any number of over-center latches that resist tensile loads. v g i To laterally secure the containers, latching devices, generally indicated by reference characters 26 in FIG. 1, are provided adjacent the top and bottom of the. posts 14. These latches 26 are positioned so that they transmit both bending and shear loads across module interfaces which result from lifting the array during handling. Detailed descriptions of alternate latching devices 26 will follow below. In each case, however, the
latches comprise a fist element 25 on one post releasably interengageable with a second element 27 on an adjacent post. i
To achieve the maximum flexibilityiii tliepositioning of the container modules 10 the latching elements 25, 27 are alternately positioned on the posts 14. When viewing the upper corner module 10 of FIG. 1 in the direction of the arrow A the element 25 is at the upper righthand corner of post 14 and at the lower lefthand end of post on the same'wall. The element 27 is located in the lower right and upper left corners of the post 14. This alternate arrangement of the locking components is repeated for each wall of each module so that there is complete flexibility of the manner in which the container modules 10 are oriented with respect to adjacent interconnected modules.
As shown in FIG. 4, a particular embodiment of the latching device comprises a beam 28 pivotally mounted to a sleeve 30 eccentric with respect to a shaft 32 secured to upper and lower flanges 34 and 36, respectively, on post 14. Shaft 32 is retained in flanges 34 and 36 by a nut 38 threaded onto its end. The free end of beam 28 contains a through bore 40 that is adaptedto register with openings 42 and 44 in upper and lower flanges 46 and 48, respectively, of an adjacent post. A pin 50 having a handle 52 is adapted to be releasably inserted through holes 44, bore 40 and hole 42 to lock the adjacent posts by means of the beam 28. Suitable detents 54 in the tip of pin 50 enable it to be held in place. When the beam 28 is not used for interconnecting adjacent posts 14 it is swung to the position-where bore 40 is aligned with holes 56 and 58 in flanges 34 and 36, respectively. In this position pin 50 is inserted through the holes 58 and bore 40 and hole 56 to lock the pin in place, as shown particularly in FIG. 3.
To compensate for misalignment between adjacent containers 10, shaft 32 is rotated so that the center of sleeve 30 is displaced for a limited extent relative to the openings 42 and 44 to enable the bore 40 to be positioned in line with these openings. Once this is accomplished, the pin 50 may be inserted. To lock the latching device in this position a locking plate 62 having a knurled opening 64 is telescoped over a knurled sleeve 60 on shaft 32. The plate 6 2 has flat surfaces 66 that abut the post 14 to prevent the locking plate 62 and the sleeve 60 from rotating.
FIG. 6 shows Simsnmher'einsmeamsrstena mechanism for the containers. This arrangement comprises a conical nut 80 threaded onto a bolt 82 which is secured to a post 84 journaled in a web 86 of one of the posts. Conical nut 80 is adapted to be registered with conical bores 88 and 90 in adjacent posts. The size of the bolt 82 is such that it will pass through a lateral slot 92 but the conical bushing will not. When the conical nut 80 is not to be used bolt 82 is loosened so that the conical nut 80 may swing out through the slot 92 to a lefthand position where it is held in place by tightening the conical nut 80 to seat in a conical recess 94. When it is desired to use the conical nut 80 to lock adjacent containers the bolt 82 is loosened and the assem-, bly swung around so that it seats in the open end of opening 90. The bolt is then turned to pull the conical nut 80 into the recesses 88 and 90 and thereby hold the modules together.
F 7 and 8illustrate another lateral latching ar rangement. With this arrangement a handle 95 is pivotally mounted to post 14 by bolt assemblies 96. Ram die 92 has a pin 97 spaced radially outward from bolt assemblies 96. Pin 97 provides a pivotal mounting for a hook 98 having a notch 100 which receives pin 102 mounted to extend across recess 104 in an adjac ent post 14'.
When it is desired to secure adjacent posts 14" handle 95 is swung away from post 14" so that notch 100 of hook 98 may be engaged with pin 102. Handle 95'is swung back against the post 14" so that that overcenter feature of pin 97 in handle 95 draws adjacent posts 14" together and holds them in place.
This arrangement causes adjacent modules to be drawn tightly together as the handle 92 is swung over top dead center. It also permits substantial vertical shear forces to be transmitted between recess 104 and hook 98.
It is of course apparent that all of the latching devices discussed above may be stacked in an alternating arrangement similar to the arrangement shown in FIG. 1 to achieve the same flexibility.
It should be pointed out that the invention is not limited to container modules having vertical structural posts at four corners. For certain applications the container modules may have two posts, one at each end of a vertical wall of the module. With this arrangement, in an array of such modules the posts are located on the outside walls and the means of securing adjacent modules remains the same. The posts, therefore, provide vertical support for the outside comers of the two modules while the lateral connections transfer the bending forces between the two containers. This permits a substantial reduction in weight for the individual module.
All of the above latching devices permit ready and secure attachment of containers into widely varying arrays. The location of the latching devices on the outer corners makes them highly accessible for inspection while a configuration of containers is being made up.
Since the latching devices are located adjacent the top and bottom of the vertical posts, they can much more adequately take up the bending loads that result when a configuration of the containers is picked up by either the bottom or top of the outermost comers of the configuration with standard lifting equipment. In addition, the devices all can support substantial shear loads at the joints between the containers. The arrangement "of FIG. 6 is particularly advantageous forthis purpose lsince the conical nut transmits all the shear and the bolt transmits tensile stresses.
The modular containers described above enable a substantial improvement in the efficiency with which goods are handled. These container modules permit source to destination transportation without further bulk handling of the goods. This greatly minimizes the possibility of pilferage or other damage to the goods. in addition the modular containers may be readily incorporated into standard container sizes for ease in handling and shipping.
Having thus described the invention what is claimed as novel and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:
l. A container module comprising:
a generally rectangular shell; structural vertical posts forming the vertical sides of one wall of said shell; latching means for releasably laterally securing said container module to a like adjacent module, said latching means comprising an upper set of first and second elements positioned adjacent the upper ends of said posts and a lower set of first and second elements positioned adjacent the lower ends of said posts, the first elements of each set being releasably laterally interengageable with the second elements of each set to secure together said container module and said adjacent module against both tensile and shear forces between said modules. l 2. A container module as in claim 1 wherein said posts have recesses receiving said first element when it is interengaged with said second element for resisting shear forces between adjacent modules.
3. A container module as in claim 1 wherein: said first elements in said sets are adjacent the upper end of one post at one comer of said wall and adjacent the lower end of the post at the opposite corner of said wall, respectively;
whereby the latching means permits flexibility in con- I necting with similar means on adjacent container modules.
4. A container module as in claim 1 wherein:
the first element of said latching means comprises a beam having a through bore and pivotally mounted to one of said posts; and
the second element comprises at least one flange with at least one opening and a pin adapted to be fitted through the opening and said bore to releasably secure the container.
5. A container module as in claim 4 wherein said latching means further comprises a central shaft journaled to said post, a sleeve secured to said shaft and eccentric with respect to the axis thereof, said sleeve forming a journal for said pivotal element whereby said sleeve may be rotated to laterally position the pivotal element for a limited extent to align the bore with the opening in said flange.
6. A container module as in claim 5 wherein said latching means further comprises a knurled bushing secured to said eccentric sleeve and a locking element adapted to be telescoped over said sleeve and abut the ,second element comprises a generally conical bore formed in said post and adapted to be aligned with a conical bore in an adjacent post whereby the bolt is tightened to releasably secure the posts in alignment;
whereby the conical element resists a substantial shear load across the junction of said post with an adjacent post and the bolt resists the tensile forces caused by bending.
8. A container module as in claim 7 wherein said conical bushing is pivotally mounted to the upper corner of one post at one end of a wall and to the lower corner of a post at the other end of the same wall.
9. A container module as in claim 1 wherein:
said first element comprises a handle pivotally mounted to one of said posts and a hook pivotally mounted on said handle, the pivotal mounting for said hook being spaced from the pivotal mounting of said handle;
said second element comprises a pin engageable by said hook whereby the handle is rotated to pull adjacent posts together.
10. A container module as in claim 8 wherein said handle is pivotally mounted adjacent the upper end of one post at one comer of said walland adjacent the lower end of a post at the other corner of the same wall.
11. A container module as in claim 9 wherein said posts have recesses receiving said handle and hook when it is interengaged with said pin for resisting shear forces between adjacent modules.
12. A container module as in claim 1 including four posts, and wherein:
sets of first and second elements are on all faces of the module;
each post has a face incorporated in adjacent walls, each post having the first element of said latching element on the upper face of the post incorporated in one wall and said second element of said latching element on the lower portion incorporated in the same wall, said post having the second element of said latching means on the upper portion of the face incorporated in the adjacent wall and the first element of the latching means on the lower portion of the face incorporated in the adjacent wall;
whereby the container modules may be integrated in any orientation into an array of modules.
13. A container module as in claim 1 further comprising latching means for releasably attaching said container modules stacked on top of or beneath said container module, thereby resisting horizontal shear loads between said stacked container modules.
15. A container module as in claim 1 leaving four vertical posts extending beneath the generally rectangular shell to form a recess permitting four way entry of means for lifting the container module.
16. An array of container modules comprising: a plurality of generally rectangular shells, each shell having at least two structural vertical posts on the corners of said shell; and latching means for releasably securing said posts to adjacent container modules, said latching means comprising an upper set of first and second elements and a lower set of first and second elements positioned adjacent the upper and lower ends, respectively, of said posts, at least one of said first elements in one shell releasably interengaged with at least one of said second elements on said second shell to resist tensile and shear forces between container modules.
17. An array of container modules as in claim 16 wherein said first and second elements are positioned in alternate patterns on said posts whereby the array of container modules may be positioned.
18. An array of container modules as in claim 17 further comprising latching means for vertically releasably securing the modules whereby said modules may be vertically stacked.