A CONTAINER AND A VEHICLE AND CONTAINER SYSTEM
THIS INVENTION relates to a vehicle and container system. The difficulties associated with the loading and unloading of containers are wide and varied. Today, as in the past, containers are frequently used for easily obtained temporary storage, as well as the more conventional use, of transportation. Thus, it is important that industry develops a system that will allow for the quick and efficient movement of a container.
Swing cranes have been mounted on vehicles for the purpose of moving containers. To load or unload a container, using a swing crane mounted on a vehicle there must be sufficient area for both the placement of the container and the vehicle placing the container. Therefore, at least double the utilised space is needed for the containers placement. For this scenario a large and heavy vehicle is also needed due to the moment created when the container is being loaded. The crane usually blocks the rear door of the container requiring that the container is lifted off the truck before the contents can be assessed. Also, the crane is permanently attached to the vehicle making the vehicle unsuitable for other purposes. Another type of vehicle that has been specifically developed for container transportation, loads and unloads the container, from the rear of the vehicle. This operation involves positioning the vehicle where the container needs to be placed. The platform supporting the container is then inclined and the container is allowed to slide from the platform, while the truck moves in a forward motion. To load the container the platform is inclined and a cable is attached to the container. The container is then hauled onto the platform. For this operation there must not be any object situated above the platform. The reason being that when the platform is fully inclined it is at least double the height of the container. This may lead to difficulties if the container needs to be placed in a
dwelling which has a low roof or outside near power lines. Also, fragile goods cannot be loaded in this way.
Another type of lifting device is widely used for skips where the skip must be loaded while staying in a horizontal position. This arrangement is unsuitable for shipping containers as these containers will cause the vehicle to tip backwards.
The systems mentioned above have the inherent difficulty of substantially jarring the container during loading and unloading. Therefore, the goods located within the container also receive a jarring. Thus the goods need to be very robust or heavily secured.
Further, the types of containers that the abovementioned vehicles carry, can only be used on substantially level ground. The reasoning being that the container will tilt with the gradient of the ground surface. Moreover, this limits the use of these types of containers.
It is an object of this invention to provide a container and a vehicle and container system which may overcome the abovementioned disadvantages or provide the consumer with a useful or commercial choice.
In one form the invention comprises a container for transporting goods, the container having lifting means for lifting the container sufficiently above a ground surface to allow a vehicle to pass beneath the container, at least part of the lifting means forming part of the container.
The container may be a fully enclosed shipping container. The container may be a standard, rectangular 20 foot container. The base of the container may be fitted or formed with a positioning member. The positioning member may extend longitudinally along the base of the container. It may be shaped so that it is able to mate with a trapezoid shaped prism.
The lifting means may be mechanically or hydraulically driven. The lifting means may remain fully extended, partially extended or retracted. Typically, the
lifting means comprises a plurality of extendible and retractable leg members. The leg members may comprise rams. The rams may extend from and retract into housings within the side walls of the container. Suitably, the lifting means consists of four rams located adjacent to corners of the container. The opposing pairs of leg members may operate in synchronous motion. The leg members may have pivotal feet attached. At least one and preferably two leg members may be attached to one or more hinged walls. The walls may be hinged relative to a front area of the container. The hinged walls may have a loading and unloading position and a transportation position. Fasteners may be used to secure the wall to the container to reduce the load on the hinges. Typically, the rams are fed by hydraulic or pneumatic hoses which extend through or along the container. The hydraulic or pneumatic hoses may be located within the walls, the floor and/or the roof of the container. Suitably, the hoses have an inlet located on the outer periphery of the container and adjacent to each other. Each hydraulic ram may have a subsequent hose attached.
In another form, the invention comprises a vehicle and container system, said vehicle having a carrying platform to support a container and providing a power source for lifting means out of the container.
The carrying platform of the vehicle may. assist in the quick and efficient loading and unloading of the container. The carrying platform may be able to pass beneath the container when the lifting means of the container are at full extension. Typically, the platform is able to pass between the leg members of the container. The leg members may be connected to a hinged wall to allow for a wider carrying platform. The carrying platform may have a positioning member that extends longitudinally along the axis of the carrying platform. It may be in the shape of a trapezoid prism. The carrying platform positioning member may mate
with the container positioning member. Both these positioning members may allow for the simple fastening of twist locks that may be used to secure the container.
A weight distribution means may be fastened or fixed on the carrying platform to enable the weight of the container to be distributed more evenly over the surface of the carrying platform. The weight distribution means is typically a beam of similar height as the twist locks, linking the twist locks. The beam may be constructed from any material, such as wood or metal.
The power source may be directly accessible to the driver of the vehicle or may be located on the outer periphery of the vehicle. The power source may be located on the mid-section of the carrying platform. The power source can provide mechanical power but typically provides hydraulic power. The power source is suitably linked to the container with hydraulic hoses, which are usually detachable. The hydraulic hoses may connect with the inlet on the container. An embodiment of the invention will be described with reference to the following figures:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a vehicle and container system with the container in the extended state.
Figure 2 is a perspective view of the vehicle and container system with the container in the retracted state.
Figure 3 illustrates a container with hinged leg members.
Referring to figure 1 and 2 it can be seen that the vehicle and container system comprises a light weight, fixed axle truck (10) and a modified shipping container (11). The truck has a carrying platform (15) and a power source (16). The container has been modified from a standard, 20 foot, rectangular shipping container.
Two opposing side walls house four hydraulic rams (12), two rams per wall. The rams, housed in opposing side walls, also oppose each other. Each ram is located adjacent a corner of the container. The rams consist of extendible and retractable leg members 13 which move into
and from its housing 13A. Housing 13A forms part of container 11 and is designed to not significantly protrude from the container walls. This allows containers to be stacked and stored with minimal loss of stacking efficiency due to gaps between adjacent containers. Also, there are road regulations with regard to load widths and the housings are therefore designed to protrude either not at all, or only slightly. The housings also can add rigidity to the container. The length of the leg member 13A is slightly longer than the height of carrying platform (15) of the truck. When the hydraulic ram has been fully retracted, the container is able to rest on its base. Attached to the end of each leg is a foot (14). This foot is hinged to the leg by a bolt, permitting the foot to pivot.
Each hydraulic ram is fed hydraulic fluid by its own internal hydraulic hose (not shown). The internal network of hydraulic hoses is located within the side walls and base of the container (not shown). The end of these hoses form an inlet (18) on the side wall of the container. The side wall containing the inlet being the one closest to the truck upon loading. The inlet is also adjacent to a corner, the corner being closest to the power source upon loading. The base of the container has been modified so that when the container is loaded on the truck, it is in the correct position to be fastened. The base is shaped so that it is able to mate with a trapezoid shaped prism located longitudinally along the axis of the carrying platform (15). Twist locks (not shown) are then used to secure the container (11) for transportation.
The carrying platform (15) has been constructed so that it is able to fit between the legs (13) of the container. it is also low enough so that it is able to pass beneath the container when the hydraulic rams are at full extension.
The power source (16) is fixed to the side of carrying platform (15). It is located in the middle of
this side. The power source (16) comprises a motor and a hydraulic pump. It can be hand operated and allows the operator to control two of the hydraulic rams so they move in a synchronous motion. Connected to the power source (16) are four external hydraulic hoses (17). These hoses are also connected to the inlet (18) of the container. These hoses are detachable and can be stored when the container is being transported.
Two beams (not shown), similar height to the twist locks, are affixed longitudinally between the two pairs of twist locks. The beams evenly distribute the container load onto the platform, preventing deformation of the chassis.
Referring to figure 3, hinged walls (19) can be connected to the corners of the container. Two hydraulic rams with connected legs and feet, are located adjacent to the edge of the wall. The rams are fed by hydraulic hoses (21) which extend from the container. This arrangement allows the spacing between the rams to be lengthened to allow a heavier truck to pass between the rams. The walls are pinned back by pins 20 to take the load off the hinges, and the spacing between the rams in the pinned back position is sufficient to allow a truck platform to pass between the rams. When the container is on the truck the walls are unpinned and swing to a position where the width of the container does not infringe road rules on load widths.
The container can be transported to a site and lowered to the ground surface. The container can be loaded or unloaded without any lifting being required. Trolleys can be simply moved in and out of the container for loading and unloading. For uneven surfaces, the legs can be adjusted to provide a level container. When full, the truck returns to the premises and powers up the legs, drives under the container with the hoses still attached and lowers the container onto the truck platform and transports the container to its required location. One truck can service many containers as the truck is not
required during the loading, unloading or storage periods.
It should be appreciated that various other changes and modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof as defined in the claims.