US20060213402A1 - Storage and transportation unit - Google Patents

Storage and transportation unit Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060213402A1
US20060213402A1 US11141419 US14141905A US2006213402A1 US 20060213402 A1 US20060213402 A1 US 20060213402A1 US 11141419 US11141419 US 11141419 US 14141905 A US14141905 A US 14141905A US 2006213402 A1 US2006213402 A1 US 2006213402A1
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Prior art keywords
shelf
unit
means
mounting means
comprises
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Abandoned
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US11141419
Inventor
Jacques Grimal
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DAHER AEROSPACE Ltd
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Daher Sawley Ltd
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D19/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D19/38Details or accessories
    • B65D19/44Elements or devices for locating articles on platforms
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2203/00Decoration means, markings, information elements, contents indicators
    • B65D2203/10Transponders
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00049Materials for the base surface
    • B65D2519/00064Wood
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00084Materials for the non-integral separating spacer
    • B65D2519/00099Wood
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00009Materials
    • B65D2519/00223Materials for the corner elements or corner frames
    • B65D2519/00233Metal
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00258Overall construction
    • B65D2519/00263Overall construction of the pallet
    • B65D2519/00273Overall construction of the pallet made of more than one piece
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00547Connections
    • B65D2519/00671Connections structures connecting corner posts to the pallet
    • B65D2519/00676Structures intended to be disassembled
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00736Details
    • B65D2519/00805Means for facilitating the removal of the load
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00736Details
    • B65D2519/0081Elements or devices for locating articles
    • B65D2519/0082Elements or devices for locating articles in the side wall
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00736Details
    • B65D2519/0086Protection against environmental hazards, e.g. humidity, bacteria, fire
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2519/00Pallets or like platforms, with or without side walls, for supporting loads to be lifted or lowered
    • B65D2519/00004Details relating to pallets
    • B65D2519/00736Details
    • B65D2519/0098Dismountable elements
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2585/00Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials
    • B65D2585/68Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form
    • B65D2585/6802Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form specific machines, engines or vehicles
    • B65D2585/686Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form specific machines, engines or vehicles vehicles
    • B65D2585/6867Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form specific machines, engines or vehicles vehicles automobiles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2585/00Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials
    • B65D2585/68Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form
    • B65D2585/6802Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form specific machines, engines or vehicles
    • B65D2585/686Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form specific machines, engines or vehicles vehicles
    • B65D2585/687Containers, packaging elements or packages specially adapted for particular articles or materials for machines, engines, or vehicles in assembled or dismantled form specific machines, engines or vehicles vehicles aircrafts

Abstract

A storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products comprises a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to a pallet for convenient handling by a fork lift truck, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting the shelf mounting means, the storage and transportation unit characterized in that the shelf support means comprises adjustable means for adjusting the height above the base that the shelf mounting means is required to be positioned.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to a storage and transportation unit. More particularly, but not exclusively, the invention relates to a storage and transportation unit comprising a rack for use in transporting components that are to be assembled in industrial production line environments.
  • BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION
  • Storage and transportation units, otherwise known as carrier units that comprise a base pallet of the type formed in a manner for convenient handling by forklift trucks are known. A rack of this type is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,572,382 and is disclosed for use in the stacked reception of flat components of essentially the same format. Such known forms of storage and transportation units are less than optimal since known rack systems are relatively product specific in the sense that they are only suitable for carrying certain sizes of products or certain kinds of products. Furthermore, known transportation units are frequently of less than optimal sizes and/or shapes such that the units do not lend themselves to efficient storage and transportation of products. For example, the units may be designed such that carrying of a number of the units on a given transportation vehicle is wasteful in terms of the amount of unused space (either to the sides or above a given unit) in the vehicle. A more versatile storage and transportation unit is therefore desirable for many applications.
  • In the manufacturing industries a serious efficiency problem is attributable to known transportation and storage solutions as used in the manufacturing chain. In other words, more efficient deployment of components from a source location to a build situation is desirable. By a build situation, it is herein meant a destination wherein a number of components are required to be used in building a complex product. By a complex product, it is meant a product that is required to be assembled from a kit of parts. By way of example, in certain build industries where complex products are manufactured from a series of components in production or assembly lines, the following stages are generally involved:
  • Manufactured components to be assembled into a complex product are placed in a suitable transportation unit for transport to their destination, such as for example, a vehicle production factory;
  • On arrival at the destination factory the transportation units are removed from the transportation vehicles and either placed in suitable secondary transportation units for transport to the required location on a production line or if the primary transportation units are suitable these are directly transported to the required location;
  • On arrival at the required location the components are removed from their transportation unit; and
  • The components are then required to be organized in to a logical order to enable them to be subsequently utilized in a build situation, such as on an assembly line in the destination factory.
  • Such a scheme of transporting and delivering required components together with the requirement to organize them prior to their being efficiently deployed in a build situation is both time-consuming and expensive in terms of the required workforce. Non-limiting examples of vehicle production industries requiring improved storage and transportation solutions for manufacturing of complex products include the automotive industry, the aircraft industry, and the aerospace industry. However, many other industries involved with manufacturing via production lines may also suffer from similar inefficiencies.
  • In view of the above, and in view of the ever-increasing demands put on manufacturers by various people, governments, and other bodies, there is a need to provide improved storage and transportation solutions. In particular, there is a need for such improvements in the manufacturing chains as currently exist in the vehicle and other large/complex product production industries.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • An object of the present invention is to provide a modular storage and transportation unit in the form of a rack such that the rack is configured for convenient handling by a forklift truck. By modular, it is meant a rack unit that is configured to be packed efficiently with a plurality of other such units. Efficient packing, in turn, yields improved efficiency particularly with respect to transportation and storage costs. Packing objectives include the ability to stack the units on top of each other and the ability to pack units as close as possible to neighboring units.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a storage and transportation unit that is versatile with respect to different sizes and kinds of products that it may be used with.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a storage and transportation unit that may be readily adapted to fit a wide variety of products that are required to be assembled from kits.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a storage and transportation unit that simplifies the aforementioned manufacturing chain such that the amount of unpacking and repacking of products to permit transportation at various stages in the manufacturing chain is reduced.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a storage and transportation unit that is streamlined in terms of its compatibility with existing standards of cargo containers and lifting devices as utilized in a particular national or international manufacturing chain.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide an improved adjustable rack that is more versatile than known racks.
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a storage and transportation unit that may be packed with its cargo of products, such as a kit of parts, at the beginning of the manufacturing chain described above and thereafter unpacked as a simultaneous stage of either assembling a product under manufacture or otherwise using the cargo as otherwise intended. In other words, in relation to assembly of a complex product an object of the invention is to provide a carrier unit that lends itself to function as a logically organized deployment device at the point where assembly of a carried product that is in kit form is to be assembled.
  • According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, the unit comprising a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to a pallet for convenient handling by a fork lift truck, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting the shelf mounting means. The storage and transportation unit is further characterized in that the shelf support means comprises adjustable means for adjusting the height above the base that the shelf mounting means is required to be positioned.
  • Preferably the adjustable means comprises at least one elongate slot having a plurality of notches for engaging with a fixing means.
  • Preferably the fixing means comprises a quick release hand operated lever.
  • Preferably the shelf support means comprises a plurality of elongate struts, at least one of the struts comprising the at least one slot.
  • Preferably the at least one slot extends in a direction substantially defined by the longitudinal axis of the strut comprising the slot.
  • Preferably the at least one slot extends in a direction that is substantially perpendicular to the plane defined by the base portion.
  • Preferably the shelf support means comprises a plurality of struts each comprising a slot.
  • Preferably each the strut is positioned nearer to a vertical corner edge of a vertical side of the rack than it is to the vertical line passing through the central point of the side.
  • Preferably the shelf mounting means comprises a carriage frame fixed to the shelf support means and a carriage element configured to move along the carriage frame, the carriage assembly thereby enabling the at least one shelf to slide in and out of the unit.
  • Preferably the shelf mounting means provides for mounting a plurality of shelves in the unit.
  • Preferably the shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf comprises a rectilinear frame.
  • Preferably the frame is provided with a shelf locking mechanism.
  • Preferably the shelf locking mechanism is provided for effecting locking of two adjacent shelves simultaneously.
  • Preferably the shelf locking mechanism allows only one shelf at a time to be opened to avoid toppling the unit.
  • Preferably the locking mechanism comprises a rotatable locking element that is substantially semicircular in shape.
  • Preferably the unit additionally comprises a top shelf panel, left and right side panels and a door assembly on the front of the unit, the unit therefore being in the form of a cabinet.
  • Preferably the unit further comprises an electronic tag to enable the presence of the unit to be identified to an electronic identification device.
  • Preferably the electronic tag comprises a radio frequency transmitter and receiver.
  • Preferably the electronic tag comprises memory means for storing details of products that are being carried.
  • According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, the unit comprising a pallet of the type convenient for handling by a fork lift truck and a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to the pallet, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting the shelf mounting means. The storage and transportation unit is further characterized in that the shelf support means comprises adjustable means for adjusting the height above the base that the shelf mounting means is required to be positioned.
  • According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, the unit comprising a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to a pallet for convenient handling by a fork lift truck, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting the shelf mounting means. The storage and transportation unit is further characterized in that the shelf mounting means comprises sliding means for enabling the at least one shelf mountable thereto to slide in and out of the unit, the sliding means is thereby configured to enable a the mounted shelf to function as a drawer.
  • Preferably the shelf mounting means comprises a member configured to slide in and out of the unit.
  • Preferably the shelf mounting means comprises a frame for mounting the at least one shelf.
  • Preferably the shelf mounting means comprises a plurality of frames used to mount a plurality of shelves.
  • Preferably each of the plurality of frames further comprises a carriage frame fixed thereto and a carriage configured to move along the carriage frame.
  • Preferably the carriage frame comprises a first elongate member configured to slide with respect to a second elongate member.
  • Preferably the carriage frame comprises a first set of the first and second elongate members and a second set.
  • According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, the unit comprising a pallet of the type convenient for handling by a fork lift truck and a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to the pallet, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting the shelf mounting means. The storage and transportation unit is further characterized in that the shelf mounting means comprises sliding means for enabling the at least one shelf mountable thereto to slide in and out of the unit, the sliding means thereby configured to enable the mounted shelf to function as a drawer.
  • According to a fifth aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of storing and transporting a plurality of products from first industrial premises to second destination industrial premises, the second premises comprising a production line for utilizing the products, the method comprising the loading of the products onto a storage and transportation unit of the type specified in any of the first, second, third or fourth aspects of the invention as detailed above.
  • Preferably the products remain in the unit during the transportation and are only removed therefrom at the second destination industrial premises, the unit comprising a plurality of drawers that function at the second industrial location as work-from surfaces.
  • According to a sixth aspect of the present invention there is provided a rack assembly having a base portion, a plurality of shelf mounting means for mounting a plurality of shelves, shelf support means for supporting the plurality of shelf mounting means and adjustable means for adjusting the height above the base that the shelf mounting means are required to be positioned, the rack characterized in that the adjustable means comprises a slot having a plurality of positions where the shelf mounting means may be fixed thereto.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • For a better understanding of the invention and to show how the same may be carried into effect, there will now be described, by way of example only, specific embodiments, methods and processes according to the present invention with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view a preferred embodiment of a storage and transportation unit having an adjustable shelf mounting means as configured in accordance with an aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2A is a front elevational view of the adjustable shelf mechanism identified in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 2B is a side elevational view the adjustable shelf mechanism illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2A;
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the inventive storage and transportation unit including one or more sliding shelves;
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view the unit illustrated in FIG. 3 in use in carrying a plurality of packaged products for use at an industrial production line;
  • FIG. 5A is an elevational view further detailing a shelf-mounting frame of the type schematically illustrated in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4;
  • FIGS. 5B and 5C are side and end elevational views, respectively, further detailing the shelf-mounting frame of FIG. 5A;
  • FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating an embodiment of an arrangement for providing sliding shelves of the type depicted in FIGS. 3 and 4;
  • FIG. 7 schematically illustrates a preferred embodiment of a shelf locking mechanism wherein the lock is in a position so as to lock two drawers at a time;
  • FIG. 8 schematically illustrates a further position of the lock of FIG. 7 wherein the lock allows only one drawer at a time to be opened;
  • FIG. 9 further details, in side elevation view, the locking mechanism of FIGS. 7 and 8; and
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention, in the form of a cabinet, of a storage and transportation unit.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The following detailed description of the preferred embodiments is made with reference to the best mode presently contemplated by the inventors. In the following description numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without limitation to these specific details. In other instances, well known methods and structures have not been described in detail so as not to unnecessarily obscure the description.
  • FIG. 1 schematically illustrates in perspective view a preferred embodiment of a storage and transportation unit as configured in accordance with an aspect of the present invention. Storage and transportation unit 101 is configured for transporting a plurality of products, such as components to be assembled on an industrial production line. Unit 101 comprises a rack assembly having a base portion 102 adjusted to fit a pallet 103 for convenient handling by a fork lift truck. Rack assembly 101 further comprises at least one means for mounting a shelf. However in the best mode contemplated a plurality of shelf mounting means 104, 105 and 106 are provided in the form of rectilinear frames. Base portion 102 similarly comprises a rectilinear frame that may serve as a shelf mounting means. Upper shelf mounting frame 104 constitutes the upper most member of assembly 101 and forms the top of the assembly. Shelf mounting frames 105 and 106 are respectively disposed between upper shelf mounting frame 104 and base portion frame 102. Thus, in the embodiment shown, there are effectively four shelf mounting frames for mounting four respective shelves. However, in practice it may be that only the base portion shelf-mounting frame 102 and the middle frames 105 and 106 are used for mounting shelves. The front side of storage and transportation unit 101 is generally pointed to by arrow 107 and relative to the front there are therefore respective left and right sides and a rear side. The overall shape of the storage and transportation unit is that of a rectangular or square parallelepiped having front and back sides, top side, base portion 102 and left and right sides. Base portion 102, upper frame 104, and middle frames 105 and 106 are each connected to a shelf support means. In the preferred embodiment, schematically illustrated, the shelf support means comprises a series of vertical (or substantially vertical) struts 108 to 113. In the preferred embodiment, there are therefore six struts all of which are vertical and all of which connect base frame 102 to upper frame 104. On the left and right hand sides of unit 101 there are provided respective pairs of struts: 108, 109 on the left side and 110, 111 on the right hand side. The side struts are preferably arranged such that each side strut on a given side is positioned nearer a vertical corner of the side than it is to a line passing vertically through the center of that side. Thus, for example, strut 108 positioned on the left hand side of the unit is positioned relatively close to the corner formed by the left hand side of the unit and the front side of the unit. Similarly strut 109, again on the left-hand side of the unit, is positioned nearer to the rear corner of the left-hand side of the unit than it is to a vertical line passing through the center of the side. Struts 108 and 111 are substantially opposite each other as are struts 109 and 110. Rear struts 112 and 113 are located on the rear side of the unit and again are positioned nearer to the corners than they are to a line passing vertically through the center of the rear side of the unit. In the embodiment shown, there are no struts provided on the front side of the unit. In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, struts 108 to 113 are each provided with adjustable means for adjusting the height above base frame 102 that frames 104, 105 and 106 may be positioned at. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the adjustable means for adjusting the height of frames 104, 105 and 106 is provided by an elongate slot which is formed as an integral part of the strut. A suitable slot may be cut out of the strut by, for example, laser cutting or other suitable processes. Thus, in respect of strut 109, an elongate slot 114 is provided that extends in the direction defined by the longitudinal axis of the strut. The struts each comprise slots that comprise a plurality of positions wherein a given frame 104, 105 and 106 may be attached thereto. A given shelf frame 104, 105 or 106 is attachable to a given strut by virtue of a clamping assembly, such as that generally indicated at 115 in respect of strut 109 and which is configured to clamp shelf frame 106 thereto. By virtue of each strut comprising a slot and a plurality of clamping assemblies, frames 104, 105 and 106 may be positioned at substantially any height above base portion 102. Although a slot assembly is preferred those skilled in the art will realize that various other structures could provide the required functionality. Thus, for example, rather than a slot, an edge of a strut, perhaps modified in some way, could be used.
  • Each frame 102, 104, 105 and 106 comprises a substantially square or rectangular planar shape having a front edge, left and right side edges and a rear edge. The edges are configured such that a suitably configured shelf or panel may be located therein, such a shelf resting upon one or more elongate cross-strut member that extend between two edges that are opposite each other. In the preferred embodiment a given frame comprises a pair of cross-strut members which extend from the rear side or edge of a given frame to the front. For example, in relation to upper frame 104 a first cross-strut member 116 extends between the rear side of the frame and the front side and a second cross-strut 117 similarly extends from the rear side to the front side of the frame. In the example shown the cross-strut members are substantially narrow elongate members that are welded to the respective front and rear sides of the frames such that they are parallel to the members that form the left and right hand sides of the frame to which they are attached. Cross-strut members, such as members 116 and 117 in respect of frame 104, are provided to allow a shelving structure to be mounted thereon. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the cross-strut members, being part of a shelf supporting means, are configured to allow a sliding means to be fitted such that the sliding means enables at least a portion of a shelf frame to slide in and out of the unit. In this way the sliding means is thus configured to enable a shelf attachable thereto to function as a drawer. In the best mode contemplated, at least one drawer is provided that substantially extends across the width of the device from the left hand side to the right hand side and in this case provision of struts on the front side of the unit is to be avoided.
  • The fact that storage and transportation rack assembly 101 is configured with a base panel 102 that is adjusted to fit a pallet is highly preferable since then unit 101 in combination with pallet 103 is readily transported by means of a fork lift truck or a hand operated dolly. Pallet 103 may be fitted to a given dolly or lifted by a given fork lift truck by virtue of orifices 118, 119 located on the front side or, for example, by using orifices 120 and 121 located on the left hand side. Similar orifices are provided on the rear and right sides. In the case of a forklift truck, a given pair of orifices 118, 119 or 120, 121 may be engaged with the fork members of the truck.
  • As described above, unit 101 substantially has the shape of a rectilinear shaped parallelepiped head such a shape being an optimal shape for arranging for a plurality of such units to be closely packed during transportation. In other words, the units may be stacked on top of each other or stored side by side. The fact that such units have a “footprint” (the surface area and configuration of the base) that is substantially that of a standard pallet means that transportation in various vehicles is standardized with little space being wasted. Thus, for example, in Europe there are standard sizes for transportation containers and a European standard pallet footprint of 1,020 mm×1,010 mm is therefore particularly advantageous for use with European transportation vehicles. In the preferred embodiment illustrated, the height of rack assembly 101 is 1,020 mm. The preferred embodiment comprises at least four substantially horizontal frames 102, 103, 104, 105 and 106 for mounting a plurality of shelves. In terms of transportation of products for use on an industrial production line each of the shelf mounting frames is able to hold a plurality of boxes containing the required products to be utilized in the production line. A particularly important application of unit 101 is the storage and transportation of automotive components or aero-space components for respective assembly of motor vehicles and aircraft. However, unit 101 may be used in a wide variety of industrial activities such as those that consume components and/or those that utilize a variety of tools. Other examples include industrial activities concerned with manufacturing spare parts, assembling or disassembling systems and assembling or disassembling sub-systems. The provision of shelves in such a unit is highly advantageous as it means that boxes placed thereon, such as European VDA carrying units, may be arranged in a logical sequence. In this way, a given worker on a production line may receive and open the boxes in a logical order without having to re-order the components prior to their assembly.
  • The clamps that are provided to clamp each respective frame to each respective strut may take a variety of forms as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In the preferred embodiment, a clamping assembly, such as assembly 115, comprises a handle operated quick release lever 122 that is configured to affect a tightening or loosening of a fixing member that passes through a plate 123 that is welded to the frames. The fixing member may be in the form of a substantially elongate threaded member that comprises a stopping member on the end opposite to the lever. The threaded portion allows the lever 122 to be operated so as to affect the tightening of the fixing member and therefore to provide the clamping effect for clamping the frame to the strut, the fixing member passing through slot 114. The shelf clamping assembly allows each shelf to be moved independently of the others. In normal function, the clamping assembly does not require tools to unlock the shelf. However, if required, the clamping assembly can be assembled so that tools are necessary to move the shelf and in this respect a quick release lever mechanism is therefore not desirable. In the example shown in FIG. 1, only middle shelf mounting frames 105 and 106 are held by a quick release clamping assembly, the upper frame 104 and base frame 105 being attached to the strut by other more permanent fixing means. In particular, upper frame 104 is attached by a bolt mechanism requiring use of a tool such as a spanner. Base portion 102 is attached by either a suitably configured weld or by one or more rivets.
  • Rack assembly 101, in the preferred embodiment, further comprises an electronic tag or other identification means to enable the presence of the unit to be identified to a suitably configured electronic identification device. Although an electronic chip is preferred other means could comprise a bar-code type of device. In the preferred embodiment, the electronic tag comprises a radio frequency transmitter and receiver which allow the unit along with its cargo to be tracked as it makes its way through a return loop in a given factory or, in fact, through any product delivery system. Such a tracking system enables the number of times a unit passes through the loop and how long it takes each time to be determined. A suitable electronic tag may comprise a credit card type of chip. In the best mode, the chip should comprise a memory of at least 2 Kbits. It is preferable that the electronic chip operates at a suitable radio frequency such as 125 kHz. This frequency provides a reading distance of approximately 80 cm depending on the antenna system of a given reader device. Special features may be included in the chip such as a password and encryption key, provision of a serial number and a unique number for each transportation unit and each box carried by the unit. Any remaining memory can be used for tracking purposes and the serial numbers can be registered and displayed on a suitable display device when they are required. A suitable scanning device for reading the electronic tag may be located in a factory entrance door or at some other suitable location. An electronic chip or other identification device may be located on a portion of unit 101, such as for example, on or in one of the struts or on the base frames 102. In a preferred embodiment, rack assembly 101 is configured for use in conjunction with specially configured boxes or other suitably configured containers wherein the boxes or containers and the rack assembly are electronically linked together as a group. Furthermore, preferably such electronic tagging comprises means for storing details of both the individual boxes/containers and of the products or goods which are being carried.
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B further detail the preferred adjustable shelf mechanism identified in FIG. 1. FIG. 2B constitutes a front elevation view and FIG. 2B constitutes a side elevation view of the adjustable mechanism. In FIG. 2A, strut 109 comprises a slot 114, which in the embodiment shown consists of two in-line slots: a lower half slot 201 and an upper half slot 202. Slot 114 may be configured as a single slot or as a set of two or more slots aligned along the same line parallel to the longitudinal axis of the strut. Slot 114 comprises a plurality of clamping bolt engagement means 203, 204, 205. The plurality of engagement means 203 to 205 may be considered to constitute notches that are able to receive the barrel or bolt portion of the clamping assembly that passes through slot 114. The bold or barrel may slide up and down slot 114 and is held in position by a side ways movement to engage with a given notch. The notches are configured such that the bolt or barrel may slide in a direction transverse to the longitudinal axis of the strut and preferably, as shown, the engagement slot is configured with a portion that allows the bolt or barrel of the fixing to drop vertically into. In this regard the transverse slot portions, that is, notches, 203, 204 and 205 are substantially in the shape of an “L”.
  • FIG. 2B schematically illustrates a side elevation view of the adjustable mechanism depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2A. In FIG. 2B, slot portions 201 and 202 are shown in broken line form since they are located within the strut and not directly viewable from the side elevation view. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that there are various mechanisms that, in accordance with an aspect of the present invention, may provide for the required adjustability of frames 104, 105 and 106. However, a preferred mechanism provides some form of slot that extends vertically or substantially vertically when a given strut is itself positioned vertically. It will be appreciated that slots extending generally upwards, but not exactly vertical, could also provide the required solution. The notches 203, 204, 205 offer one solution for engaging with a clamping bolt or barrel. A bolt or barrel solution is preferred since the bolt/barrel drops into the notch and therefore provides added strength by virtue of the weight of a given shelf mounting frame (and its cargo) pressing the barrel into the recess provided by the notch. However, slots without notches may securely hold such a barrel or bolt member if the clamp about such a slot provides a high degree of pressure.
  • FIG. 3 schematically illustrates, in a perspective view, a preferred embodiment of a storage and transportation unit as configured in accordance with the invention, the embodiment comprising one or more sliding shelves. In the embodiment illustrated, transportation and storage rack assembly 101 is again shown as assembled on pallet 103. Middle shelf mounting frames 105 and 106 are each configured to hold respect shelves 301 and 302. Shelf 302 is illustrated in a position such that it sits on top of frame 106. Shelf 301 is illustrated as having been drawn out of unit 101 by a certain amount such that the shelf extends from the front of unit 101. The shelf mounting frames are provided with shelf attachment and mounting means, a portion of which includes members 303 and 304. Shelf mounting members 303 and 304 each respectively comprise elongate members that are affixed to respective cross-struts associated with shelf mounting frame 105. Shelf 301 is attached to attachment members 303 and 304 on the underside of the shelf (not shown). In accordance with one aspect of the present invention a sliding shelf mechanism is provided. However, it is to be realized that the sliding shelf mechanism is not to be considered as necessary as regards the aspect of the invention concerning the adjustment assembly described in relation to FIGS. 1, 2A and 2B. Similarly, the adjustment mechanism described is not to be considered as limited to inclusion of slidable shelves being provided in unit 101.
  • A further preferred component of rack 101 is schematically illustrated in FIG. 3. This concerns the provision of a shelf locking mechanism as generally indicated at 305 in respect of shelf 302 and which is further detailed below in FIGS. 7 to 9.
  • FIG. 4 further schematically illustrates, in perspective view, the unit illustrated in FIG. 3 wherein the unit is in use and carrying a plurality of packaged products in box-type containers for use at an industrial production line. Shelf 301 is illustrated as accommodating a plurality of standard transportation boxes, such as, for example, used in the automotive industry each comprising a plurality of components to be assembled or otherwise used on a production line. Shelf 301 is illustrated as carrying two boxes, at the front, 401 and 402 and a wider box 403 to the rear. In general, different size boxes may be carried and a given shelf may be configured with a pre-configured engagement surface arrangement that is configured to engage with the underside of such boxes. In other words, the boxes may have a base, and for that matter sides, and an upper surface, that is/are configured to interlock with another surface, such as, for example, the surface of shelf 301 or the surface of a wall of another box. Typical standard box sizes suitable for carriage by unit 101 include the following (measurements given in millimeters):
      • 300×200;
      • 400×300;
      • 600×400;
      • 600×500;
      • 600×600;
      • 800×600;
      • 1200×500;
      • 1000×600; and
      • 1200×1000.
  • Known boxes suitable for carriage by unit 101 are made of a suitable material such as polypropylene or similar rigid plastics-based material and the containers may themselves comprise specially configured foam inserts for accommodating a plurality of components or products to be used on a given production line.
  • Rack assembly 101 is configured such that it has a weighting effect to prevent it from tipping over when a shelf is drawn out from the main body of the assembly. In other words, the construction of the assembly 101 is configured so that when a fully loaded shelf is withdrawn from the assembly, the assembly does not topple over on the side that the shelf is drawn out from. In this way, the weight of the main body of the assembly counteracts the combined weight of the drawn out shelf and the load placed thereon. In a preferred embodiment, the weight of the rack assembly 101 is carefully chosen in relation to the weight of a given shelf and the maximum permissible weight allowed to be placed upon such a shelf. This inherent ability to prevent toppling enhances safety when a given worker is using rack assembly 101.
  • FIG. 5A further details a shelf-mounting frame of the type schematically illustrated in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4. In the example shown, shelf mounting frame 105 is illustrated in plan view. Frame 105 comprises a front elongate member 501, a side elongate member 502 to the left, a side elongate member 503 to the right and a rear elongate member 504. Elongate members 501 to 504 are suitably connected, such as by appropriate welding at the corners of the frame. As mentioned earlier, frame 105 comprises one or more cross-strut members 505 and 506 that are affixed to both rear elongate member 504 and front elongate member 501. Fixing of the cross-struts to the front and back members 501, 504 may be achieved by various methods, such as, by welding. A given cross-strut member such as cross-strut 505 comprises means for attaching thereto a given shelf or an assembly for providing a slidable shelf mechanism. A plurality of orifices are provided in cross-strut 505 as indicated at 507 and 508 and these are used for connection of a shelf or a sliding shelf mechanism. FIGS. 5A and 5B further detail the shelf mounting frame of FIG. 5A in respective side and end elevation views. In FIG. 5B elongate member 501 is shown side-on and comprises respective plates 509 and 510 located towards the ends of member 501. Plates 509 and 510 are configured to enable the bolt or barrel mechanism of clamping assembly 115 to pass there-through by virtue of respective orifices 511 and 512. In this view two further plates 513 and 514 associated with respective elongate members 502 and 503 are also shown, but in end elevation view.
  • FIG. 5C further details the frame schematically illustrated in FIGS. 5A and 5B, but in end elevation view. Thus FIG. 5C represents a view looking along the plane of a frame as generally indicated at the right of FIG. 5A by arrow 515. This view makes it clear that, in the preferred embodiment of the present invention, frame 501 is configured such that back elongate member 504 does not comprise fixing plates of the type 513, 514 which are associated with the left and right hand sides of a frame. However those skilled in the art will realize that similar fixing plates could be provided on rear member 504 for added strength if so desired.
  • FIG. 6 schematically illustrates, in perspective view, a preferred embodiment of an arrangement for providing sliding shelves of the type depicted in FIGS. 3 and 4. In the example, shown frame 105 is illustrated. Two slide mechanisms are provided, the respective rear portions 303 and 304 of which were described in relation to FIG. 3. First slide mechanism 601 and second slide mechanism 602 are substantially elongate and identical to each other. Referring to slide mechanism 602, the mechanism comprises a back portion 304 fixed to frame 105. Back portion 304 is also attached to a cross-strut member located underneath. Back portion 304 is elongate and essentially forms a channel 603 provided to accommodate a run member 604. Run member 604 is configured to move along channel 603 either in a direction away from, i.e., out of, the front side of frame 105 or in a direction towards the rear side of frame 105. Run member 604 is configured with fixing means to fix it to a given shelf. In the example shown, run member 604 may be attached to a given shelf by virtue of attachment pins 605, 606 that extend in generally vertically upward from the plane of frame 105. Thus shelf mounting frame 105 comprises one or more sliding mechanisms 601, 602 for enabling at least a portion of the shelf mounting means to slide in and out of the storage and transportation unit of which it is a part of. A sliding mechanism such as 601 is thus configured to enable a shelf attached thereto to function as a drawer. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that although two parallel mechanisms 601 and 602 are illustrated, a single such mechanism could be configured to provide the required functionality of a drawer. Back portion 304 comprising channel 603 may be considered to constitute a carriage frame along which runs elongate run-member 604. In this regard, run member 604 may be considered to constitute a carriage. It is also to be realized that back portion 304, in fact, extends from the rear side to the front side of frame 105 and therefore straddles frame 105. In other words, only one end of elongate member 304 is located at the rear side of frame 105.
  • FIG. 7 further details the shelf locking mechanism 305 that was schematically illustrated in FIG. 3. FIG. 7 represents a side elevation view towards the front of unit 101. Locking mechanism 305 comprises a locking plate 701 mounted about a pivot 702 which is attached to shelf frame 106, pivot 702 configured to hold plate 701 to shelf frame 106. Plate 701 is configured to be moved by an operator of unit 101 by virtue of handle 705. In the preferred embodiment of locking mechanism 305, plate 701, as illustrated, has substantially the shape of a semi-circle. In FIG. 7 the flat edge of the semi-circle is shown in a vertical position such that locking plate 701 overlaps the edge of a box 706 located on shelf 302. Similarly, locking plate 701 overlaps box 705 located on a shelf below shelf 302. Between box 705 and shelf mounting frame 106 is a narrow gap 707.
  • FIG. 8 schematically illustrates a further position of the locking mechanism depicted in FIG. 7. In this position or orientation the locking mechanism allows box 706 located on shelf 302 to be withdrawn from unit 101, but prevents box 705 on its respective shelf from being removed from the unit by virtue of the curved side of plate 701 preventing such movement.
  • FIG. 9 further details, in a side elevation view, the locking mechanism of FIGS. 7 and 8. Handle 704 is seen to extend in a direction that is perpendicular to the plane formed by locking plate 701. Pivot 702 is seen to be attachable to a frame, such as frame 106 by virtue of a threaded bolt 708 comprising a threaded nut 709 at its rear end.
  • FIG. 10 schematically illustrates, in perspective view, a further preferred embodiment, in the form of a cabinet, of a storage and transportation unit as configured in accordance with the present invention. The carrier unit, generally indicated at 1001 is shown in combination with a pallet 1002 located underneath unit 1001. Unit 1001 comprises encasement panels that encase a unit of the type indicated at 101 in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4. Unit 1001 comprises first and second front opening doors 1003 and 1004. The sides are paneled as indicated to the right-hand side by panel 1005. Similarly a back panel (not shown) and a top panel (not shown) may also be provided. Doors 1003 and 1004 may comprise suitable door locking means 1006, 1007 to ensure that the doors remain closed when the unit is in transit. The encasement panels may be beneficial in certain situations wherein dust and dirt is required to be prevented from finding their way to the shelves and components transported thereon.
  • A unit comprising shelves of the type indicated in FIGS. 3, 4 or 10 therefore allows efficient and organized storage and transportation of products that are required to be transported to a given production line from a first location to a second location. A first location may represent a first factory and a second location may represent a second factory or the first and second locations may represent different areas within a given factory or industrial plant.
  • The storage and transportation unit schematically illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 10 is readily adapted to fit any kit situation required and all components are, in the best mode, fully serviceable and easily removed. The layout of the unit allows parts to be removed in a build situation such as on an assembly line. The modular carrier unit described allows access to parts or products carried on the unit in sequence, which, in turn, means that a work-from platform (the one or plurality of shelves) is/are provided directly from the transportation state. This is highly advantageous in build-situations such as on production lines in the automotive and aircraft manufacturing industries and in many other types of industrial activity.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, said unit comprising a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to a pallet for convenient handling by a fork lift truck, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting said shelf mounting means, wherein said shelf support means comprises an adjustable mechanism for adjusting the height above said base that said shelf mounting means is required to be positioned.
  2. 2. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said adjustable mechanism comprises at least one elongate slot having a plurality of notches for engaging with a fixing means.
  3. 3. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said shelf support means comprises a plurality of elongate struts, at least one of said struts comprising said at least one slot.
  4. 4. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said adjustable mechanism comprises at least one elongate slot having a plurality of notches for engaging with a fixing and said at least one slot extends in a direction substantially defined by the longitudinal axis of said strut comprising said slot.
  5. 5. A unit according to any claim 1, wherein said shelf support means comprises a plurality of struts each comprising a slot.
  6. 6. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said shelf mounting means comprises a carriage frame fixed to said shelf support means and a carriage element configured to move along said carriage frame, said carriage assembly thereby enabling said at least one shelf to slide in and out of said unit.
  7. 7. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf comprises a rectilinear frame fitted with a shelf locking mechanism.
  8. 8. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said shelf mounting means is provided with a mechanism for effecting locking of two adjacent shelves simultaneously.
  9. 9. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said shelf mounting means is provided with a locking mechanism comprising a rotatable locking element that is substantially semicircular in shape.
  10. 10. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said unit additionally comprises a top shelf panel, left and right side panels and a door assembly on the front of said unit, said unit therefore being in the form of a cabinet.
  11. 11. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said unit further comprises an electronic tag to enable the presence of said unit to be identified to an electronic identification device.
  12. 12. A unit according to claim 1, wherein said unit further comprises an electronic tag to enable the presence of said unit to be identified to an electronic identification device, said electronic tag comprising a radio frequency transmitter and receiver and said electronic tag comprising an electronic memory for storing details of products that are the subject of carriage on said unit.
  13. 13. A storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, said unit comprising a pallet of the type convenient for handling by a fork lift truck and a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to said pallet, a shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting said shelf mounting means, said storage and transportation unit characterized in that said shelf support means comprises adjustable means for adjusting the height above said base that said shelf mounting means is required to be positioned.
  14. 14. A storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, said unit comprising a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to a pallet for convenient handling by a fork lift truck, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting said shelf mounting means, said storage and transportation unit characterized in that said shelf mounting means comprises sliding means for enabling said at least one shelf mountable thereto to slide in and out of said unit, said sliding means thereby configured to enable a said mounted shelf to function as a drawer.
  15. 15. A unit according to claim 14, wherein said shelf mounting means comprises a member that is configured to slide in and out of said unit.
  16. 16. A unit according to claim 14 wherein said shelf mounting means comprises a frame for mounting at least one shelf and said frame comprises a carriage frame fixed to a said frame and a carriage configured to move along said carriage frame.
  17. 17. A unit according to claim 14, wherein said shelf mounting means comprises a frame for mounting at least one shelf and said frame comprises a carriage frame fixed to said frame and a carriage configured to move along said carriage frame and said carriage frame comprises a first elongate member configured to slide with respect to a second elongate member.
  18. 18. A storage and transportation unit for transporting a plurality of products, said unit comprising a pallet of the type convenient for handling by a fork lift truck and a rack assembly having a base portion adjusted to fit to said pallet, shelf mounting means for mounting at least one shelf and shelf support means for supporting said shelf mounting means, said storage and transportation unit characterized in that said shelf mounting means comprises sliding means for enabling said at least one shelf mountable thereto to slide in and out of said unit, said sliding means thereby configured to enable a said mounting shelf to function as a drawer.
  19. 19. A method for storing and transporting a plurality of products from first industrial premises to second destination industrial premises, said second premises comprising a production line for utilizing said products, said method comprising the loading of said products onto a storage and transportation unit of the type claimed in claim 1.
  20. 20. A rack assembly having a base portion, a plurality of shelf mounting means for mounting a plurality of shelves, shelf support means for supporting said plurality of shelf mounting means and adjustable means for adjusting the height above said base that each of said shelf mounting means are required to be positioned, said rack characterized in that said adjustable means comprises a slot having a plurality of positions where a said shelf mounting means may be fixed thereto.
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GB0506026D0 (en) 2005-04-27 application
EP1705126A2 (en) 2006-09-27 application

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