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1. WO1999003767 - SYSTEME DE STOCKAGE DE CONTENEURS

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

CONTAINER STORAGE SYSTEMS

The invention relates to container storage systems.

Systems for storing containers, for example I.S.O. shipping containers, are well known.

Generally, there is an elongate storage area with a central roadway running down the length of the storage area. The storage area is straddled by a gantry crane which comprises a cross member extending transversely across the storage area, each end of the cross member having a support leg mounted on wheels. An overhead crane can move back and forth along the cross member and the wheeled gantry can move up and down the length of the storage area so that the crane can move containers between vehicles and desired storage points in the area.

The known system has a number of disadvantages. The roadway extending the entire length of the storage area substantially reduces the area that is available for containers, since the roadway has to be kept clear.

If the gantry crane breaks down, the storage area may be rendered unusable for a significant period of time.

We have invented a much more versatile and efficient system based on the realisation that a roadway could be arranged to extend transversely of a container storage area, rather than longitudinally, thus taking up less space.

The invention provides a container storage system comprising a storage area and a support frame work, the storage area having a longitudinal axis and a shorter transverse axis, an overhead crane mounted on the support framework, and at least one vehicle roadway extending substantially parallel to the transverse axis of the storage area, the overhead crane being moveable on the support framework to remove containers from a vehicle on the roadway and deposit the containers for storage in the storage area, and subsequently replace containers on a vehicle after storage.

It would not be possible to utilise a gantry crane with a storage area having a transverse roadway because the length of the cross member of the gantry would have to be of a similar length to the length of the storage area and it is not possible to have an unsupported span of such a length.

However, we have invented a fixed framework having a plurality of support legs spaced apart around the storage area, overhead support rails extending longitudinally of the storage area, an overhead cross member moveable along the rails, with the overhead crane being mounted on the cross member for movement back and forth along the cross member.

Preferably, there are two roadways, one at each end of the storage area.

Preferably, a crane transfer device is provided at at least one end of the storage area, the overhead crane being moveable from the support framework onto the transfer device for movement away from the storage area. This not only enables a crane to be removed, for example for repair or replacement, but it also enables cranes to be moved about for use in different storage areas.

This gives added advantages over the prior art systems. If a particular storage area is not being used, then there is no need for a crane to remain idle above that storage area. The crane can be used elsewhere. Similarly, if one storage area is particularly busy, then more than one overhead crane may be used in that storage area.

The invention includes a method of storing containers comprising providing a storage area of the support framework, the storage area having a longitudinal axis and a shorter transverse axis, an overhead crane being mounted on the support framework, moving vehicles through a roadway extending substantially parallel to the transverse axis of the storage area, and moving the overhead crane on the support framework to remove containers from a vehicle on the roadway, deposit the containers for storage in the storage area, and subsequently replace containers on a vehicle after storage.

The method may be used to store elongate containers and it is preferred that the longitudinal axis of the elongate containers are arranged substantially parallel to the roadway.

By way of example, a specific embodiment of the invention will now be described, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which :-

Figure 1 is a general end view of an embodiment of container storage system according to the invention;

Figure 2 is a side view of the container storage system shown in Figure i ;

Figure 3 is a plan view of the container storage system shown in Figure

Figure 4 is a more detailed view of an overhead crane, looking in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the container storage system;

Figure 5 is a view of the overhead crane looking in the direction of the transverse axis of the container storage system;

Figure 6 is a more detailed view of a transfer car of the system, looking in the direction of the transverse axis of the system;

Figure 7 is a view of the transfer car looking in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the system;

Figure 8 is a plan view of the transfer car;

Figure 9 is a plan view showing a number of crane bays including one in which two cranes are operating;

Figure 10 illustrates the means of locking the transfer car in position to enable a crane to be moved from one bay to another;

Figure 11 illustrates a raised stop at the end of each bay which prevents the crane falling from the gantry; and

Figure 12 illustrates the method by which the stop is lowered to enable a crane to move on and off the transfer car.

Referring firstly to Figures 1 to 3, there is provided an elongate storage bay 10 having a longitudinal axis 11 and a shorter, transverse axis 12 (see Figure 3).

Positioned around the storage area is a plurality of fixed support legs

13.

The row of legs 13 at one side of the storage bay support a first elongate rail 14 and the row of legs 13 at the opposite side of the storage bay support a second longitudinal rail 15.

A cross member 16, supported on wheels 17 (see Figure 2) is moveable back and forth along the length of the rails 14 and 15 by conventional means.

An overhead crane 18 is mounted on the cross member and is moveable back and forth along the length of the cross member, again by conventional means.

The cross member 16 and crane 18 are shown in more detail in Figures 4 and 5.

At each end of the storage bay there is provided a roadway 19 through which trucks 20 can drive and stop, the trucks being adapted for the carriage of I.S.O. storage containers.

Because the movement of the cross member 16 along the rails 14 and 15 and the movement of the crane 18 along the cross member 16 provide the ability to position the crane over any desired point in the storage bay. The crane is provided with a conventional gripping mechanism for gripping shipping containers and by lowering and raising the gripping mechanism as desired, containers can be removed from vehicles, stored in the storage bay, for example in stacks as shown at 21 in Figure 1, and then in due course the containers can be removed from storage and placed back upon the vehicles.

Because the roadways 19 take up a relatively small part of the storage bay, the storage area within the storage bay is useable to the maximum efficiency.

The efficiency and versatility of the system is further increased by providing a transfer car 22 at one end of the storage bay. This transfer car has rails 23, 24 which can be respectively aligned with the rails 14 and 15 such that the cross member 16, together with its crane 18, can be rolled off the rails 14 and 15 and onto the transfer car.

The transfer car 22 can then be moved away from the storage bay, by movement in the direction of the transverse axis 12.

This ability to move the overhead crane has a number of advantages.

Firstly, if the crane 18 should break down, it can be removed immediately for repair or replacement, so that the storage bay is not rendered useless.

Secondly, additional cranes can be brought into position using the transfer car and moved onto the rails 14 and 15, should the container movement within the bay be particularly busy.

Thirdly, additional storage bays can be provided, parallel to the bay shown in the drawings, each with its own support framework and rails, so that cranes can be moved about between bays. For example, if a bay is particularly inactive for a period of time, the crane for that bay need not remain idle. It can be removed for use in other bays. Such an arrangement is illustrated in Figure 9. Bay 10a, for example, is provided with two cranes 18.

The transfer car is shown in more detail in Figures 6 to 8 and 10 to 12.

To lock the transfer car 22 in position to receive a crane the rails 15 and 24 need to be aligned to within +5 mm by the electrical control system. With the transfer car stationary the travel brake is held off whilst the actuator 26 is energised to engage roller 27 into socket 25. This engagement aligns the transfer car rail 24 to rail 25 precisely, following which the transfer car brake is applied. This is shown on Figure 10.

Figure 11 shows the gantry 15 and stop 28 raised to prevent the crane running off the end of the gantry should the travel limits fail. The crane is equipped with energy absorbing buffers 29 to absorb the kinetic energy of a crane running into the stop 28.

With the transfer car 22 locked in position, end stop 28 is lowered by operation of actuator 30 as shown in figure 12 thus allowing the crane to move onto the transfer car. With the crane fully on the transfer car, actuator 30 is retracted, end stop 28 is automatically raised by tension spring 31.

The transfer car with the crane on board may now be travelled to another bay to move the crane into that bay by a reversal of the process described.

It will be appreciated that the operation of the crane, movement of the transfer car, operation of the actuator 26 and stop 28 can all readily be controlled by an electrical control system, making it possible to automate the whole operation.

For example various container movement operations and crane transfer operations can be carried out automatically by means of an appropriately programmed computer.

The reader's attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with or previous to this specification in connection with this application and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference.

All of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), and/or all of the steps of any method or process so disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment(s). The invention extends to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), or to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the steps of any method or process so disclosed.