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Patent Searching and Data

Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1988/005020
Kind Code:
Method for the formation of a transport unit, said transport unit comprising a bed assembly (1, 5) and a cargo (4) thereupon. The transport unit is formed as follows. A cargo (4) is laid on a first bed (1). A second bed (5) is laid on top of a handling mechanism (24'). Transfer means connected with handling mechanism (24') are set above the top surface of second bed (5). The transfer means are used to shift a cargo (4) laid on first bed (1) to above second bed (5). The transfer means are shifted relative to second bed (5) to below its top surface, whereby first bed (1) along with its cargo (4) is laid on top of second bed (5) to be supported thereby. The invention relates also to a bed assembly (1, 5) and a handling apparatus (24').

Järvinen, Pekka
Application Number:
Publication Date:
July 14, 1988
Filing Date:
January 05, 1988
Export Citation:
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International Classes:
B60P1/52; B65G67/02; B65G67/20; (IPC1-7): B65G63/02; B60P1/52; B65G67/02
Foreign References:
Other References:
PATENT ABSTRACT OF JAPAN, Vol. 9, No 155(M-392) Abstract of JP 60-31445, publ. 1985-02-18
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1. A method for the formation of a transport unit, said transport unit comprising a bed assembly and a cargo (4) thereupon, c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the following operating steps: placing a cargo (4) on a first bed (1) , positioning a second bed (5) on top of a handling mechanism (20, 20', 24, 32), positioning transfer means (31, 31 ', 31") connected with handling mechanism (20, 20', 24, 32) above the top surface of second bed (5) , carrying said cargo (4) placed on first bed (1) by means of transfer mechanisms (31, 31', 31") above said second bed (5) , and displacing said transfer means (31, 31', 31") relative to second bed (5) below its top surf¬ ace, whereby said first bed (1) along with its cargo (4) is set upon second bed (5) to be supported thereby.
2. A method as set forth in claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that a whole transport unit formed by said first bed (1), cargo (4) and second bed (5) is trans¬ ferred from the top of handling mechanism (20, 20', 24, 32) for transport purposes.
3. A method as set forth in claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the first handling mechanism (20, 20', 24, 32) is carried together with first bed (1), cargo (4) and second bed (5) into contact with a second handling mechansim, which is preferably pro¬ vided with a second bed (5) or the like, whereby said first bed (1, 1', 1") along with its cargo (4) is transferred from the first handling mechanism onto said second bed (5) of the second handling mechanism.
4. A method as set forth in claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said first bed (1) is laid on a conveyor line (23) or the like, that a cargo (4) is formed on top of the first bed (1) laid on conveyor line (23) , that a second bed (5) is mounted at the end of conveyor line (23) on top of a handling mechanism (20, 20', 24, 32) and that the transfer means (31, 31', 31"), in their position above the top surface of sec¬ ond bed (5) , are set substantially in the same level as conveyor line (23) .
5. A method as set forth in claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the transfer of first bed (1) and cargo (4) onto second bed (5) is effected at least partially by using a power unit, e.g. (27) con¬ nected with transfer means (31, 31', 31").
6. A bed assembly for a transport unit intended to carry a cargo (4) , c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said bed assembly (1, 5) comprises two components, including a first bed (1), on top of which said cargo (4) is to be laid and which is substantially a plate¬ like structure, and a second bed (5) which is provided with openings.
7. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said first bed (1) is pro¬ vided with guide means, such as at least unidirection¬ al corrugation in the bottom.
8. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said first bed (1) consists of a top sheet (2) and a base sheet (3) which are join¬ ed together.
9. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 8, c h a r ¬ a c t e r i z e d said top sheet (2) is a substantial¬ ly flat integral sheet and that said base sheet (3) is provided with guide means, such as a corrugation, e.g. by corrugating the base sheet (3) at least part¬ ially.
10. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 8, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the space between top sheet (2) and base sheet (3) contains a filler material, e.g. foamed material like polyurethane.
11. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said second bed (5) compri ses a beam structure, including at least two longitud¬ inal beams on the sides extending lengthwise of second bed (5) and cross beams spaced from each other and con¬ necting the side beams otgether in the transverse di¬ rection of second bed (5) , whereby openings (A) in second bed (5) are provided between said cross beams.
12. A bed assembly as set forth in claims 6 and 11, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said second bed (5) is constructed as a floor structure for a transport container (11) or the like.
13. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said first bed (1) and/or second bed (5) are provided with means for fastening first bed (1) and second bed (5) to each other.
14. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h r a c t e r i z e d in that said second bed (5) is pro¬ vided with means (16) for fastening second bed (5) to a handling mechanism (20, 20', 24, 32) or the like.
15. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the surface area of first bed (1) is substantially equal to that of second bed (5) or a section thereof.
16. A bed assembly as set forth in claim 6, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said first bed (1) and/or second bed bed (5) are provided with means (6, 10) for handling a transport unit and/or beds (1, 5) with a carrier means, such as a crane or a forklift.
17. A handling apparatus particularly for the form¬ ation of transport units comprising a bed assembly and a cargo (4) on top of it, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said handling apparatus comprises transfer means (31, 31', 31") adapted for movement in vertical direction, guides (31', 31") for guiding the movement of a first bed (1) of the bed assembly and fasteners (25, 25') for removably fastening a second bed (5) of the bed assembly to the handling apparatus.
18. A handling apparatus as set forth in claim 17, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that at least some of said transfer means (31, 31 ', 31") are adapted to serve as guides (31', 31") .
19. A handling apparatus as set forth in claims 17 and 18, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that said trans¬ fer means (31, 31', 31"), adapted for rotation around a horizontal axle and arranged in successive arrays, and that at least one of the rollers in some of the arrays is in its outer surface shaped as a guide (31", 31") corresponding to a guide means (3b), such as a corrugation in the bottom of first bed (1).
20. A handling apparatus as set forth in claim 17, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the position of transfer means (31, 31', 31") is adapted to be adjust¬ ed (dimension m) in horizontal direction.
21. A handling apparatus as set forth in claim 17, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that it is fitted with means (43) for linking said handling apparatus to the chassis of a truck, or the like, to a claw crane or to the forks of a forklift.
Method for the formation of a transport unit, bed assembly and handling apparatus

The present invention relates to a method as set forth in the preamble of claim 1 for the formation of a transport unit.

Prior known from e.g. US Patent Specifications 4 113 122, 4 425 071 and 3 471 047 and CH Patent Specification 512 346 are equipment and methods for loading a truck or a trailer with stuff carried on forklift pallets or any given appropriate platforms either to fill the entire cargo space or a part of it at a time. Also prior known are equipment and methods based on the utilization of various ball or roller delivery beds or tracks, air cushion elements and sliding surfaces e.g. in loading the platform of a truck or a container. These latter methods and equipment have been disclosed e.g. in FI Patent

Application 1069/67 and CH Patent Specification 624 361. In addition to the methods described in the above publications, there are available unloading and loading methods for e.g. the cargo space of a truck based on a so-called "walking floor" solution made from aluminum strips and on an endless, cargo space-covering conveyor belt whose winding gear is fitted beneath the cargo space. US Patent Specification 3 578 184 discloses a method and apparatus for effecting the unloading and loading of the covered cargo space of a truck at a loading platform by utilizing sets of rollers that are either fixedly installed or can be elevated from platform level.

The prior known methods and equipment are solutions relating exclusively to the cargo spaces of a truck

and have often been based on the transport and handling of a special cargo. They are also characterized by the fact that a cargo space carries along expensive cargo unloading and loading gear, extra equipment facilitat- ing cargo handling or by the fact that for proper oper¬ ation they require specially designed loading and un¬ loading platforms. The methods and equipment and poor¬ ly, mostly not at all applicable to a large unit cargo shifting from one transport vehicle to another or e.g. the shifting of a true trailerful from a truck to a train or vice versa.

The above leads to a high basic investment bound to a transport vehicle and, furthermore, in some respects the introduction is limited by high terminal invest¬ ments.

In the prior known methods, almost without exception, the transported dead weight is increased; the on-going handling equipment, doubled load-bearing structures. In addition to the expensive basic investment, this leads to increasing operating costs.

The prior known methods are primarily intended for handling or carrying either individually packed, box¬ like bulk cargo, a a great volume/weight ratio, or for carrying some other cargo loaded on various forklift plallets or the like. Outside the cargo space, cargo is conventionally handled as boxes or the like or as forklift pallets and the like. The problems involved in intermediate storing and reloading remain unsolved which is an essential drawback e.g. for international traffic, in which a major cargo unit; a semi- or true trailer, a container, a railway car etc.; must often be intermediately stored either as such or in unloaded

condition, loaded aboard a ship and reloaded on a new land transport vehicle at the port of export.

In the transport of paper, for example, a particular problem today in the handling of rolls of paper is a frequent gripper handling of individual rolls. At the mill and in various stages of a modern transport se¬ quence, the rolls are carried from one transport se¬ quence to another by grabbing a roll with hydraulic grippers fitted to a forklift for squeezing the roll therebetween to facilitate a rather short forklift transfer from one place to another. For example, when unloading rolls from roofed railway cars and when trans¬ ferring them to an intermediate storage, the present- day practice must often involve two handlings with grippers; a so-called low-masted forklift is used to pick up the rolls out of a railway car one by one to be carried by a larger forklift from loading platform to intermediate storage generally 2 to 4 rolls at a time. The intermediate storage is generally a covered, un¬ insulated warehouse in the harbor or immediately close by. The rolls are stored on top of each other on the floor.

With today's technique, during the transport of a roll from paper mill to intermediate storage in an export market area, said roll must be contacted 6 to 8 times depending on the types of ships used. Every gripper engagement is a potential cause of roll damage. In addition, transfers of one or 2 to 4 rolls tie in each stage a substantial amount of machinery and labor, which also considerably increases indirect costs; spare parts, maintenance, space and personnel. This require¬ ment caused by paper transport for the machinery of ports is of prime importance at several ports since

paper is quantitatively a dominating transit article.

Another drawback in the present techniques is that, due to the statutes and regulations in many countries, a fully loaded 40 ft container cannot be driver, on roads because of weight limits. The dead weight of such a container is too high for it to be loaded completely.

A method of the invention provides a decisive improve- ment in the above drawbacks. In order to achieve this, a method of the invention is mainly characterized by what is set forth in the characterizing clause of claim 1.

The most important advantage offered by a method of the invention is the possibility of forming a transport unit by means of simple and inexpensive auxiliaries and equip¬ ment. The transport unit as such can be economically put in an intermediate storage without unloading it and reclaimed as the same unit. In addition, the method offers a possibility of taking advantage of already existing transport and carrier equipment: e.g. trains, forklifts, tractors and interchangeable platform trucks. It can be simply applied e.g. to shipping containers.

By means of a method of the invention it is also pos¬ sible to lighten the tare weight of a cargo carried by land traffic equipment.

In view of individual applications, a method of the invention has a particular significance in paper trans¬ portation, wherein the method reduces the need for handling individual rolls of paper to about a third of what it is at present.

The invention relates also to a bed assembly and a handling apparatus, both usable for applying the meth¬ od. Their most essential characteristic features are set forth in the independent claims directed to such equipment.

The invention will now be described in detail with re¬ ference to the accompanying drawing figures, the in¬ vention being, however, by no means limited to the illustrated details. In the drawing

fig. 1 is an axonometric view of a first bed included in the invention,

fig. 2 shows the first bed of fig. 1 in plan view,

fig. 3 is a plan view of a second bed included in a method of the invention,

fig. 4 is a side view of a lift frame embodiment for a handling apparatus associated with the method,

fig. 5 shows in a sectional view a detail of a roller table, included in a handling apparatus of the invention and fitted with transfer means,

fig. 6 shows a cross-section of a forklift operated embodiment of a transfer mechanism for a han¬ dling apparatus associated with the method, the second bed being a container structure,

fig. 7 is a side view of the handling apparatus of fig. 6 for transferring a cargo loaded on the first bed onto a truck,

fig. 8 shows an interchangeable platform mechanism and a semitrailer associated with a method of the invention in side view and partially cutaway,

fig. 9 is a cross-section of the interchangeable plat¬ form mechanism of fig. 8,

fig. 10 is a plan view of a storage shelf for transport units of the invention,

fig. 11 is a side view of the storage shelf of fig. 10 and

fig. 12 is a sche atical view of an entire method se- quence.

Shown in fig. 1 is one preferred structure for use as a first bed 1 in a system according to the invention. The first bed 1 is a rectangular rather thin plate, whose length L and width B are selected for example in such a manner that said first bed 1 fits inside a standard shipping container filling effectively the free inside floor area of the container. In addition to the container-fitting dimensions for first bed 1 , preferred are e.g. dimensions based on the dimensions of a railway car and truck platforms as well as on the dimensions of a so-called. Euro and railway plat¬ form or sections thereof.

The first bed 1 consists e.g. of a steel top sheet 2 and a base sheet 3, which is assembled of a plurality of sections and appropriately profiled, said sheets being conventionally fastened to each other e.g. by welding. As shown in fig. 1 , the base sheet 3 can be shaped at edges 3a in a manner that the edge provides

a rigid, continuous guiding surface. Other possible preferred structural alternatives for the base of first bed 1 are illustrated in figs. 6 and 9. The profiling patterns shown in the figures are by no means intended to limit the profiling patterns of base sheet 3 or the structure of first bed 1 as such and it should be noted that the structure of first bed 1 can comprise as a part thereof some structural means allowing forklift handling, such as pockets intended for the forks of such a machine. In order to provide extra rigidity, the intermediate space between the top and base sheets 2, 3 of first bed 1 can be foamed with a known tech¬ nique, e.g. with polyurethane, to build a so-called sandwich structure. The first bed 1 can also be made of an artificial material, the appropriate structure and shape being obtained by properly shaping the arti¬ ficial material. Relative to the transverse direction, the structure of first bed 1 gives it a great longitud¬ inal rigidity. The longitudinal direction is general- ly understood to be that direction in which, accord¬ ing to the invention, said first bed 1 is transferred or carried by means of later described transfer means, such as rollers 31, 31 '. Thus, the profiling on the bottom provides at least a unidirectional corrugation 3b, which serves as a guide means in the transfer.

When the question is about a first bed 1 used in con¬ nection with 20 ft containers, some preferred materials include: top sheet of 2 mm steel sheet and base sheet of 3 mm steel sheet.

The shape and dimensions of the profile of base sheet 3 are appropriately selected considering the handling and loading stresses subjected to first bed 1 as well as rigidity, weight and volume.

The edges of first bed 1, within its boundary dimensions, can be conventionally fitted with links or the like re¬ quired for fastening a cargo 4, whereby the lines and/ or net used for tying the cargo can be secured to such links; these have not been illustrated in the figures. The edges, preferably corners of first bed 1 can also be provided with structurally prior known fastening means for coupling beds together, if necessary; neither have these been shown in the figures.

Fig. 2 shows a few possibilities for dividing a container- fitting first bed 1 into sections, said sections 1 x B and 1 x b providing beds that can be handled independent¬ ly, if necessary. These have a particular significance in the cargo supply and delivery traffic; smaller cargo loads can already be packed and fastened at the ship¬ ping end and the cargo handling e.g. in a terminal be¬ comes substantially quicker because all it takes is to assemble the smaller beds 1 x B and 1 x b into an ap- propriate unit by utilizing the above-mentioned fasten¬ ing means that are structural components of the beds. The appropriate size can be e.g. the above-mentioned bed size L x B defined by the free floor area of a 20 ft container or some other appropriate size. It should also be noted that two L x B beds 1 can be fast¬ ened one after the other to provide a bed correspond¬ ing to 40 ft containers. It should also be noted that the profiling of a base sheet 3 for small beds; 1 X B, 1 x b or e.g. Europlatform multiple; can be effected by deep drawing symmetrical cup-shaped stiffeners sym¬ metrically in the sheet. Thus, such a small bed can be moved according to the invention both in longitud¬ inal and lateral directions and it is possible to com¬ bine it functionally with corresponding small beds e.g. into an L x B unit.

Fig. 3 illustrates a second bed 5 intended for carry¬ ing a bed 1 with its cargo 4 in situations explained in more detail later. The main dimensions and struc¬ ture of second bed 5 are selected in a manner that it can be fitted into cooperation either with a loaded or unloaded first bed 1 or a section thereof.

One preferred structure is shown in fig. 3 in which the main dimensions of first bed 5 match the floor dimensions of a standard container and its corners are provided with openings 6 whose sizes and relative positions correspond to the engagement openings of container corner pieces; furthermore said second bed 5 comprises side beams 7, end beams 8 and cross beams 9, all made of steel and whose dimensions are appro¬ priately selected and which are secured to each other by welding. The structure also includes two forklift pockets 10, each being formed between two adjacent cross beams 9. The structure of second bed 5 cor- responds in its size e.g. to the uncovered floor struc¬ ture of a standard container. The corner pieces used in containers are replaced with a plate structure pro¬ vided with an opening 6.

Some preferred appropriate dimensions are; side, end and cross beams 7, 8, 9 h = 150 mm and s = 4 mm U- profiles, the regions of openings 6 reinforced with ε = 15 mm sheet sections, the regions of forklift pockets 10 reinforced with s = 6 mm sheets. The sec- ond bed 5 is a so-called skeleton structure and with¬ out a floor plywood, plating or planking. Especially the openings remaining in spaces between cross beams 9 facilitate the movement of later more fully described transfer means through second bed 5.

Fig. 4 illustrates a loading platform 22 at a terminal or the like, a conveyor line 23 installed therein and covered by a first bed 1 , which is loaded with a cargo 4 corresponding e.g. to the entire payload of a 20 ft container. The cargo 4 is fastened into contact with first bed 1. The conveyor line 23 consists e.g. of arrays of rollers or other appropriate level transfer elements for first bed 1. A container 11 with its container transfer means is mounted upon a movable lift frame 24, included in a method of the invention and serving as a handling apparatus, so that its low¬ er corner pieces 16 match the corner supports 25 of lift frame 24 fitted with clamping means for locking the container in position. The height of lift frame 24 can be adjusted as desired e.g. with articulated frame technique and it is provided either with its own power unit 27 with its control devices or means for connecting it to an external transfer device, such as a forklift. Said corner supports 25 are integral structural components in the platform 26 of said lift frame 24. Furthermore, there is a roller table 29 whose height position is adjustable relative to plat¬ form frame 26 e.g. by means of hydraulic cylinders 28. That table (fig. 5) includes braces 30, on which are journalled transfer means serving rollers 31 and 31 ' . The design and height of braces 30 as well as the size and shape of rollers 31, 31* likewise their relative distance m in fig. 5 are appropriately selected in a manner that, by lifting roller table 29 with the hyd- raulic cylinders, the top surface of said rollers 31, 31' can be lifted substantially above the top surface level of a second bed 5 serving as the floor of con¬ tainer 11.

The rollers 31, 31', serving as transfer means (see

particularly fig. 5) , a necessary number of them, are mounted on roller table 29 supported by braces 30 pre¬ ferably in a manner that there are rollers 31 , 31 ' in each open, transverse opening A between cross beams 9 of bed 5 as well as between cross beam 9 and end beam 8 (fig. 3).

All rollers 31, 31' or a necessary number of them can be set, as desired and prior known, in a controlled rotating motion, whose control is effected either by means of the control devices of power unit 27 or from the control room of an external power engine. As de¬ scribed above, said first bed 1 , together with its cargo 4, is carried into container 11 and set in trans- port position. As rollers 31, 31' are lowered, fric¬ tion will maintain first bed 1 in its position. This can be further secured by utilizing the fastening means of first bed 1 and the load securing points of contain¬ er 11.

The roller table 29 can also be embodied so that the relative distance m between the lines formed by rollers 31, 31' can be varied if necessary by constructing said braces 30, together with their rollers 31, 31', to be movable relative to roller table 29. Appropriate se¬ lection of the diameter of rollers 31, 31' can be used to provide sufficient clearances and bearing capacity for the rollers. In each array of rollers, the outer surfaces of at least the extreme rollers 31 ' are shaped to match the profile of the base sheet 3 of first bed 1 , whereby those surfaces act as guides for the paral¬ lel motion of first bed 1 setting inside the profiled shape.

S for the above-mentioned small or light-duty beds,

it is possible to employ lift frames substantially lighter than those described above but provided, how¬ ever, with characterizing features of a lift frame 24 of the invention, namely; a vertically adjustable platform frame 26 includes a roller table 29, which is elevation adjustable relative to it and fitted with rollers 31, 31' bearing and carrying said first beds 1. Technically, the same result is naturally also achieved by making each roller or array of rollers elevation adjustable relative to the platform frame.

Fig. 6 illustrates more closely a container 11 used in the application of a method of the invention, construct¬ ed according to standard but without floor boarding or planking. Fig. 6 shows a corrugated wall 12 of container 11 as well as a side beam 13, an edge strip 14, a cross beam 15 and a corner pice 16 included in a second bed 5. Instead of the above-described con¬ tainer 11 it is possible to employ in the system any ISO-standardized, container-dimensioned cargo carrier, e.g. so-called-platform containers constructed without floor covering.

In addition, fig. 6 shows in cross-section a transfer mechanism 32 of the invention, serving as a handling apparatus, linkable to a forklift 33 and shown in a side view in fig. 7, said mechanism being functional¬ ly connectable to forklift 33 through the intermediary of forklift pockets 43 by means of the forks 34 of a forklift. In fig. 6, said transfer mechanism 32 com¬ prises a platform frame 26' as described above, cor¬ ner supports 25' , hydraulic cylinders 28' , a roller table 29' with its braces 30 and rollers 31, 31'. Hydraulic cylinders 28' are fitted between platform frame 26* and roller table 29'.

In a per se known manner a forklift 33 can provide a driving force to a presently discussed transfer mech¬ anism 32 and the control equipment is fitted in the cabin of forklift 33. Fig. 7 shows also a limiter 35 included as a functional part in transfer mechanism 32 and provided either at both ends or just one end of transfer mechanism 32. Limiter 35 prevents the overrun of first bed 1 and cargo 4 carried thereon by cutting off the rotating motion of rollers 31, 31' as soon as it is contacted by first bed 1. Limiter 35 is of a known design and, if desired, it can be swung aside and switched off.

It should be noted that the embodiments of a handling apparatus of the invention, such as transfer mechanism 32 as well as a prior described lift frame 24, are capable of handling and carrying the first bed 1 with its cargo 4 either as such, in container 11 or resting on a second bed 5. As a way of example, fig. 7 illus- trates the transfer of bed 1 directly from the position supported by transfer mechanism 32 onto an interchange¬ able platform 19' without using a second bed 5.

Fig. 8 illustrates a semitrailer 17 used in the applic- ation of a method of the invention and possibly cover¬ ed with a covering 18 or uncovered. The chassis 20 of semitrailer 17 is provided with operating mechanisms for interchangeable platforms or the like equipment as well as with an interchangeable platform 19, assoc- iated with the application of a method of the invent¬ ion and serving as a handling apparatus. The operat¬ ing power for such mechanisms is received from a truck 21. The application of such a method is by no means restricted to the use of semitrailers but, for example, true trailer constructions and platforms built on the

chassis of a truck can also serve the discussed purpose. The interchangeable platform 19 is intended to serve as one preferred interchangeable platform alternative for a standard truck or a trailer in order to facilitate further applications of a method of the invention in certain cases. The auxiliaries and functions essential for the application of a method are concentrated out¬ side the chassis of a truck in an interchangeable plat¬ form 19 which, as such, is inexpensive compared to the price of a truck. The interchangeable platform 19, to¬ gether with its cargo, is not primarily intended to be lifted onto a truck or the like with conventional inter¬ changeable platform technique but, instead, it is in¬ tended for loading, for carrying during the transport and for unloading in horizontal direction a cargo 4 loaded on first beds 1 or the like from a truck or some other means of transport interconnectable with an inter¬ changeable platform 19.

Fig. 9 illustrates a cross-section of an interchange¬ able platform 19, shown in fig. 8 and serving as a handling apparatus and whose basic chassis; a side beam 41, a cross beam 42, a main beam 38; corresponds to a per se known interchangeable platform construction but is appropriately reinforced with profiles 39 and fit¬ ted with lift mechanisms 40 and associated braces 30' as well as with rollers 31, 31". Lift mechanisms 40 can be e.g. hydraulic or pneumatic. As desired, said lift mechanisms 40 can be used to lift rollers 31, 31" through the spaces between the skeleton beams of basic chassis 41, 42, 38 above the top surface. Rollers 31, 31" can be set in a controlled rotating motion. Oper¬ ating power is obtained from a truck or the like and the control equipment is appropriately placed in the cabin or immediately adjacent to interchangeable plat-

form 19. In fig. 9, the profiled shape of bed 1 matches the shape of the outer surface of the extreme rollers 31" in each array of rollers. The length of interchangeable platform 19 can, in principle, be se¬ lected arbitrarily depending on a truck, a semi- or true trailer or some other means of transport; some appropriate, in view of the presently discussed system, preferred lengths are e.g. container lengths and the widths of a railway platform.

An interchangeable platform of the invention serving as a handling apparatus can also be constructed as railway car embodiments e.g. by providing one car with a plurality of interchangeable platforms one after the other for lateral operation, whereby their unloading and loading can be effected over the side of a car. In the case of a railway car, the interchangeable plat¬ forms can be hoisted to their position e.g. by means of cranes and secured in their position by means of per se known clamping mechanisms.

Figs. 10 and 11 show a transport units storage shelf, whose load-bearing frame consists of columns 36 and appropriately secured, e.g. welded cross girders 37, two or more of which can be on top of each other as shown in the figure. The length and relative spacing of cross girders 37 in horizontal and vertical direct¬ ion are selected in a manner that a second bed 5 to¬ gether with its cargo 4 can be mounted, as shown in the figures, on top of cross girders 37. In cases where columns 36 are positioned e.g. immediately ad¬ jacent to a wall, a cross girder 37 can be located asymmetrically only on one side. In the positions corresponding to openings 6 of second bed 5, said cross girders 37 can be fitted with clamp mechanisms for

locking them in position on cross girder 37. The sec¬ ond beds.5 serve not only as a transferable load car¬ rier but also as a shelf component in the storage sys¬ tem. The second bed 5 fitted with a first bed 1 with or without a cargo 4 can be inserted in or withdrawn from its shelf position by means of mechanisms, such as a forklift, a crane or a like mechanism, engageable in forklift pockets 10 and/or openings 6 or supporting second beds 5 from below. Columns 36 are convention- ally secured to the floor and other necessary struc¬ tures of a warehouse or the like.

A method of the invention as well as a bed assembly employable therein can be preferably used in general cargo transport, e.g. from a production plant via land and sea traffic terminals to a receiver. A sensible size of transport is, however, equal to the size of the smallest preferably employed platform or bed, e.g. the size of a Europlatfor .

A method of the invention will now be described in more detail by way of an example in the transport of rolls of paper from a paper mill to an export warehouse in an export market area:

The rolls of paper are loaded with a prior known tech¬ nique, e.g. by means of a forklift, at a plant onto first beds 1 and fastening is secured e.g. by means of a net, lines or " e.g. by wrapping a bedwise number of rolls in a protective plastic tying a formed cargo 4 into a single unit. This loading onto first beds 1 is effected in a paper mill at the end of a packing line or some other appropriate location.

The loaded first beds 1 with their cargos 4 are handled

at the mill on lines like for example a conveyor line 23, whereupon their transfer is accomplished either by external pushing or as a result of the rotating motion of the rollers of conveyor line 23. In add- ition of cylindrical rolls, a conveyor line 23 made up of arrays of rollers can also include an appropriate number of rollers contacting the bottom of first bed 1, e.g. the profiled surface of a base sheet, said rollers maintaining first beds 1 in direction and stabilizing them on the track.

The handling of unloaded beds 1 is effected by means of various hoists, forklifts etc. capable of lifting and carrying them as desired by means of forks or lift members provided at bed fastening points, junction points of corner areas. The handling and carrying of unloaded first beds 1 can also be preferably effect¬ ed by employing handling equipment or mechanisms of the invention, such as interchangeable platforms 19, 19', a transfer mechanism 32 and a lift frame 24.

A first bed 1 together with its cargo 4 (fig. 12) is carried from a conveyor line 23 at a mill either into a container 11 (the floor structure of container 11 corresponds to a second bed 5) or onto a second bed 5 or onto an interchangeable platform 19 (the floor con¬ struction of interchangeable platform 19 corresponds to a second bed '5) . Container 11, interchangeable platform 19 or second bed 5 is set on a handling appa- ratus 24'. A handling apparatus shown in fig. 12 is stationary and the formed alternative transport units I, II, III are transferred from the top of it to a following carrier. If the handling apparatus comprises e.g. a transfer mechanism 23, said first bed 1 and cargo 4 can be carried e.g. onto an interchangeable

platform 19, 19' or onto a shelf. From a conveyor line 23, the transfer can be effected also directly e.g. into a railway car which, as explained earlier, is fitted with mechanisms corresponding to an inter- changeable platform 19 and included in a system of the invention.

As transfer is proceeding onto or away from the above- described handling mechanisms 24, 19, 19', 32, the above-mentioned transfer means, such as rollers 31, 31', 31" are lifted to an upper position and their possible rotation is synchronized or otherwise adapted to the advance of conveyor line 23 or a receiving mech¬ anism. When said bed 1 with its cargo 4 is properly on top of a handling mechanism 24, 19, 19', 32, said load-bearing rollers 31, 31', 31" are descended to a lower position, said first bed 1 contacting the skel¬ eton base or frame structure of second bed 5 or inter¬ changeable platform 19, 19' and maintaining its posit- ion as a result of friction. The necessary extra safe¬ ty features for mechanisms 5, 19, 19' can be obtained in a per se known manner by utilizing the above-shown engagement points of bed 1.

In case the handling apparatus comprises a transfer mechanism 32, a necessary number of rollers 31, 31' are e.g. hydraulically locked in a non-rotatable po¬ sition and these, primarily as a result of friction, miantain said bed 1 in its position, secondarily an additional locking can be achieved by using prior known mechanical auxiliaries which catch e.g. the above-described bed engagement points. A bed 1 to be carried, along with its cargo 4, can be transferred by means of a transfer mechanism 32 shown in fig. 7 within the boundaries of a mill or a terminal; said

mechanism can also be used to unload and load trucks 21 ' or railway cars. In the case of a transfer mech¬ anism 32, a forklift serving as a power unit is sub¬ stantially perpendicular to the load-transfer direct- ion. In fig. 7, to truck 21' is linked an interchange¬ able platform 19', the first bed 1 with its cargo 4 being carried from the top of transfer machanism 32 onto such platform to a position shown in dash-and-dot lines, as explained earlier. By lowering said rollers 31, 31" included in interchangeable platform 19' said bed 1 is brought into contact with the chassis struc¬ ture of interchangeable platform 19'. The necessary additional safety features are achieved as described above. A container 11 loaded according to the invent- ion is fit for further transportation in internation¬ al traffic like any standardized cargo carrier; at the receiving end said container 11 can be unloaded just like a conventional prior known container e.g. by means of a forklift since a standardized forklift load has been taken into consideration in dimensioning said bed 1 or the unloading can be effected by using mechanisms of the invention.

A transport unit 1, 4, 5 formed as described above is suitable to be carried preferably from a mill to a port warehouse or all the way to an intermediate storage in the export market area. A transport unit 1, 4, 5 is loaded by means of a forklift or hoists onto a convent¬ ional truck or a railway car and carried to a port. At the port, a second bed 5 along with its cargo is picked up from a truck or a railway car and position¬ ed onto a shelf structure 36, 37, shown in figs. 10 and 11 and in which said second bed 5 serves as a cargo 4 bearing shelf, according to the invention. Such loaded interchangeable platforml 9 , 19' or the like to-

gether with its cargo is carried by a truck or a train to a port whereat, by utilizing mechanisms of the in¬ vention and effecting the above operations in reverse order, it is further unloaded into a container 11, onto a second bed 5 and, as loaded e.g. in a semitrailer 17, it is carried forward by a truck or a ro-ro vessel. The further handling of beds 1 and cargo 4 unloaded into container 11 and onto second bed 5 proceeds as described above.

The unloading of a shelf structure 36, 37 from the intermediate storage at a port is effected by means of a forklift or hoists which carry the transport units either as such or by using the above-described mecha- nisms 24, 19, 19', 32 of the invention e.g. into a ferryboat car or the like, onto a loading platform alongside a dry-freight vessel, into a semitrailer for continued transport.

At the port in an export market area, the unloading of a ship is a reverse operation compared to loading. The rolls of paper are temporarily stored on shelf structures 36, 37 in a warehouse within the port area by using second beds 5 as shelves or the first beds 1 are unloaded with per se known mechanisms, e.g. gripper-equipped forklifts, and the rolls are forward¬ ed in a conventional manner.

On the basis of what has been described above, a system of the invention involves a rollwise gripper handling two times - in connection with the loading and unload¬ ing of bed 1. Transfers from a transport vehicle to another as well as intermediate storage are effected as a large-scale unit.

If a system of the invention is considered as applied only to paper transport, the unloaded first beds 1 will be returned to a paper mill in packages including a plurality of beds. The same applies to second beds 5.

In practice, however, sea-going is a two-way traffic and e.g. a bed assembly 1, 5 provides a container- dimensioned, floor-equipped "flat", the use of which can be exploited in the transport of a return cargo. The same applies to containers 11 which, when completed with bed 1, are in fact standardized sea-going containers.

By utilizing prior known technology, the handling mechanisms 19, 19', 24, 32 used in a system of the invention can be fitted with guides, known e.g. from cassette platforms in gravel carrying and which center the presently discussed mechanisms in a proper relative position in lateral plane. Similar guides can also be used in cooperations of the above-described conveyor lines 23 and handling mechanisms 19, 19', 24, 32.

By selecting the size of beds 1 appropriately and e.g. aluminum for a raw material, a system of the invention can also be applied to the handling and carrying of air cargo. A container 11 is replaced by a corresponding, per se known air transport container and a second bed 5 by an aluminum-structured uncovered cargo-carrying floor.