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Title:
MODULAR DECK SYSTEM FOR USE WITH MOVABLE PLATFORMS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/106358
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
Disclosed herein is a modular deck system that utilizes a combination of a movable platform having a plurality of vertical posts with engagement members. Decks, filled with freight, can be placed onto the vertical posts at various heights at different sections of the movable platform using a conveyance vehicle. Further, the height of the vertical posts can be extended using an extension post for securing tall cargo. The decks can also be locked to the vertical posts to prevent dislodgement of the deck during transport of the movable platform.

Inventors:
BRADLEY, Mark (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
SULLIVAN, Patrick (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
LIVELY, Shannon (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
GALEWYRICK, Seth (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
HOPKINS, Stonie (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
HENDERSON, Dylan (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
BLACKSTONE, Brad (Inc.425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 370, Little Rock AR, 72001, US)
Application Number:
US2017/059113
Publication Date:
June 14, 2018
Filing Date:
October 31, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
INNOVATIVE LOGISTICS, INC. (425 West Capital Avenue, Ste. 3700Little Rock, AR, 72001, US)
International Classes:
A47B57/30; B60P3/08; B62D33/02; B62D33/08; B65D19/06; B65D19/38; B65G1/02; E04H6/00; E04H6/06; E04H6/10
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAUER, Richard, P. (2900 K Street NWNorth Tower, Suite 20, Washington DC, 20007-5118, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A modular deck system comprising:

a base;

a plurality of vertical posts coupled to the base;

a plurality of engagement members,

wherein at least one engagement member is coupled to at least four vertical posts of the plurality of vertical posts; and

at least one modular deck comprising:

a plurality of receiving structures coupled to each corner of the at least one modular deck, the receiving structures configured to releasably mate with the engagement members on the at least four vertical posts.

2. The modular deck system according to claim 1, wherein each engagement member comprises:

a hanging member;

a face plate; and

and a receiving cup comprising:

an angled receiving surface; and

a central receiving hole in a bottom of the angled receiving surface, wherein the central receiving hole is configured to receive a portion of the receiving structure.

3. The modular deck system according to claim 2, wherein each receiving structure comprises:

a hanger bracket for coupling the receiving structure to a frame of the modular deck; an extension member extending perpendicular to a face of the hanger bracket; and a pin extending parallel to the face of the hanger bracket.

4. The modular deck system according to claim 3,

wherein the pin has a diameter less than a diameter of the central receiving hole.

5. The modular deck system according to claim 4,

wherein the pin is approximately 2-3 inches in length with a 30-40° chamfered point extending for 0.2-0.3 inches and terminating in a flat tip.

6. The modular deck system according to claim 5,

wherein the receiving surface is approximately 2-3 inches in width and 2-4 inches in length.

7. The modular deck system according to claim 2,

wherein the receiving cup has a semi-circular bore along a lower portion of the receiving cup extending perpendicular to a plane of the face plate.

8. The modular deck system according to claim 7, wherein the face plate comprises an opening for receiving a first end of a locking pin located within a frame of the modular deck, and

wherein, in an extended position, the pin engages an underside of the circular bore to lock the modular deck to the vertical post.

9. The modular deck system according to claim 8,

wherein a second end of the locking pin is located in a groove having an open-end rectangle shape, and

wherein movement of the second end of the locking pin from a first end of the groove having the open-end rectangle shape to a second end of the groove having the open-end rectangle shape causes the first end of the locking pin to engage the underside of the circular bore.

10. The modular deck system according to claim 1 , wherein the modular deck further comprises:

a frame comprising:

at least two tubular beams having open ends extending an entire width of the modular deck, and

a plurality of tubular cross-member beams extending perpendicular to the at least two tubular beams,

wherein the plurality of tubular cross-member beams are coupled to the at least two tubular beams at cutouts along sides of the at least two tubular beams to form at least two channels extending an entire length of the modular deck.

1 1. The modular deck system according to claim 1, further comprising:

a plurality of receiving structures coupled to the base,

wherein the vertical posts are bolted or welded to the receiving structures.

12. The modular deck according to claim 2,

wherein each vertical post comprises:

at least one engagement member receiving structure comprising a receiving hole and a first bolt hole;

wherein the face plate comprises a second bolt hole;

wherein the hanging member further comprises:

a lip and a semi-circular lower portion,

wherein the engagement member is coupled to the vertical post by a) inserting the lip into the receiving hole;

b) rotating the engagement member so that a front side of the lip contacts an interior of the vertical post and a rear surface of the face plate contacts an exterior of the vertical post; and

c) securing a bolt through the first bolt hole and the second bolt hole.

13. The modular deck according to claim 12,

wherein at least two sides of each vertical post comprises at least one engagement member receiving structure.

14. The modular deck system according to claim 1, further comprising:

an extension post slidingly received in at least one vertical post, wherein the extension post can be locked in an extended position and a retracted position.

15. The modular deck system according to claim 14,

wherein each corner of the extension post comprises a rail.

16. The modular deck system according to claim 15,

wherein each rail comprises a plurality of surfaces, with at least two surfaces of the rail engaging an interior of the vertical post.

17. The modular deck system according to claim 14,

wherein a side of the extension post comprises at least two locking holes.

18. The modular deck system according to claim 17, further comprising:

a locking mechanism coupled to an exterior of the vertical post configured to engage the at least two locking holes.

19. The modular deck system according to claim 17, wherein the locking mechanism comprises:

a locking member having a button at a first end and a locking button at a second end, wherein the locking button is configured to engage the at least two locking holes; and

a biasing member for securing the locking mechanism and the locking member to the interior of the vertical post; and

a spring located between the button and a spring surface of the biasing member.

20. The modular deck system of claim 19,

wherein pressing the button causes the locking member to rotate about the biasing member to cause the locking button to become disengaged from the locking holes.

21. The modular deck system of claim 19,

wherein a lower half of the locking button comprises a 45° beveled edge.

22. The modular deck system according to claim 1,

wherein the plurality of vertical posts each comprises a plurality of vertical slots configured to receive at least one shoring beam; and

wherein the modular deck system further comprises:

at least one magnetic shoring beam comprising:

a central shoring beam portion; and

a sliding subassembly slidable within a track of the central shoring beam portion, wherein an end of the first sliding subassembly terminates with a L-shaped magnetic clip,

wherein a first portion of the L-shaped magnetic clip is configured to be received into a first vertical slot of the plurality of vertical slots, and

wherein a second portion of the L-shaped magnetic clip comprises a flat surface having a coplanar or recessed magnet.

23. The modular deck system according to claim 22, wherein a magnetic force from the magnet causes the first portion to be retained within the first vertical slot.

Description:
MODULAR DECK SYSTEM FOR USE WITH MOVABLE PLATFORMS

Cross-reference to related applications

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Serial No.

62/414,967, filed October 31, 2016, and U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 62/510,032, filed May 23, 2017, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

Field of the invention

[0002] The present invention is directed to a modular deck system in which the height or location of decks can be adjusted on a movable platform (MP).

Background

[0003] The trucking industry, specifically the segment consisting of Full-Truckload (FTL) and Less-than-truckload (LTL), is a segment of the shipping industry that ships a wide array of freight. The shipment sizes can vary from an individual item consisting of one piece to a full truckload consisting of several pieces. FTL freight is typically handled only once as it is loaded into a semi-trailer at the shipper's location and unloaded at the consignee's location. In the LTL industry, freight is commonly handled multiple times, with the shipper loading the freight into a semi-trailer, then the freight is returned to a local freight terminal to be unloaded/loaded into a another trailer to be routed to the destination. This process, commonly known as a hub-and-spoke network, is used to increase the efficiency of the operation by increasing density.

[0004] The traditional method of loading freight into a semi-trailer is to back a semi-trailer to a raised dock and unload each piece/pallet using a forklift. A 53' semi-trailer van can hold up to 30 pallets on the floor of the trailer. To unload a loaded semi-trailer conventionally, it requires a single forklift driver to drive into the trailer to pick-up and remove each pallet. During this unloading process, a driver could take up to 30 trips into the trailer to remove each pallet. This process is typically completed utilizing 1 forklift driver but it is possible to utilize 2 forklift drivers to unload a trailer simultaneously.

[0005] As should be apparent, this process is wasteful in that the forklift is often not conveying cargo (empty carries). Also, because the trailer is not connected to the dock, the forklift driver must be careful each time that they enter and exit the trailer. This further reduces the speed of the process. Therefore, there is clearly a need for a more efficient platform which can be used to easily remove freight from a trailer.

[0006] Further, in cross-dock operations, there is generally no easy way to modify or stack pallets or freight. This can lead to a great deal of unused capacity in a trailer. Accordingly the present invention provides a modular system enabling the easy stacking and bulk movement of freight not previously realized.

Summary

The present invention utilizes a combination of a movable platform having a plurality of vertical posts with engagement members. Decks, filled with freight, can be placed onto the vertical posts at various heights at different sections of the movable platform using a conveyance vehicle. Further, the height of the vertical posts can be extended using an extension post for securing tall cargo. The decks can also be locked to the vertical posts to prevent dislodgement of the deck during transport of the movable platform. Brief description of the drawings

[0007] Figure 1 depicts a perspective view of the modular deck system of the present invention.

[0008] Figure 2 depicts an enhanced view of the movable platform (MP) showing the connection for a vertical post.

[0009] Figure 3 depicts a vertical post attached to an MP with an extension post extended.

[0010] Figures 4A-4D depict views of the vertical post in isolation.

[001 1] Figures 5A-5D depict views of the engagement member in isolation.

[0012] Figure 6 depicts a side view showing an engagement member attached to a vertical post.

[0013] Figure 7A-7D depict views of the extension post.

[0014] Figure 8A-8C depict views of the locking system for the extension post.

[0015] Figure 9A-9D depict views of the deck in isolation.

[0016] Figure 10 depicts the insertion of the pin of the hanger bracket into the engagement member.

[0017] Figures 1 1 A-l IB depict the locking mechanism used for locking a deck to a vertical post.

[0018] Figures 12-15 depict an adjustable shoring beam compatible with the present invention.

[0019] Figure 16 depicts an exploded view of an alternate embodiment for a deck.

[0020] Figures 17A-17B depict alternate embodiments of the engagement members.

[0021] Figure 18 depicts an alternate view of a vertical post having a hook plate. Detailed description

[0022] Referring first to Figure 1 , depicted are the principal components of the modular deck system 100. As shown, modular deck system 100 generally comprises movable platform (MP) 102, decks 104, and vertical posts 106. Each vertical post 106 has a plurality of engagement members 108 which interlocks with a receiving structure (shown later) on deck 104. Preferably, the engagement members 108 are removable/replaceable from vertical posts 106. However, a plurality of engagement members 108 may be provided at a plurality of fixed heights on each vertical post 106 for uniformity. The engagement members 108 allow the height of decks 104 to be adjusted as will be described later.

[0023] The length and width of MP 102 are such that MP 102 is easily accommodated within a standard pup trailer. In a preferred embodiment, the length of MP 102 is 26 ft. and the width of MP 102 is 8 ft. However, it should be apparent that the length and width of MP 102 can be varied to accommodate any trailer dimensions.

[0024] As shown in Figure 2, a bottom end of each vertical post 106 is connected to receiving structure 1 10 which forms a portion of the base of MP 102. Bolts 1 12 can be used to secure vertical posts 106 in receiving structures 110. This allows vertical posts 106 to be removed in no decks 104 are needed on a particular section of MP 102, thus increasing the modularity of modular deck system 100. The vertical posts 106 can also be permanently attached to MP 102 by welding.

[0025] Referring again to Figure 1, vertical posts 106 are preferably equally spaced along the length of MP 102 in pairs. This allows all decks 104 to be made a standard rectangular or square size which reduces manufacturing costs. However, it should be apparent that the distance between pairs of vertical posts 106 can be varied. This modification would require that the decks 104 be manufactured in different widths and lengths.

[0026] The vertical posts 106 located at the ends of MP 102 are preferably set back from the end of MP 102 by at least a width of the engagement members 108 (e.g., 4") to allow for easier loading of MP 102 into a trailer. However, it should be apparent that vertical posts 106 may also be located at an edge of MP 102. In such an embodiment, it may be desirable to only have engagement members 108 located along inner edges of vertical posts 106 along MP 102.

[0027] Vertical post components

[0028] Figure 3 depicts vertical post 106 inserted into receiving structure 1 10 and fixed with bolts 1 12. In this figure, the engagement members 108 can be seen in more detail. Further, extension post 1 14 can be seen extending from a top surface and interior of vertical post 106. As will be explained in more detail later, extension post 114 allows the height of vertical posts 106 to be increased up to 50%.

[0029] In other embodiments, extension posts 114 may be configured to extend a fixed distance based on a known height of a trailer (e.g., 20"). This provides a height gauge that can be used by a worker when loading freight onto MP 102 or decks 104.

[0030] Each vertical post 106 is preferably a square or rectangular in cross-section and is made from a durable metal such as steel or aluminum. Each vertical post 106 is preferably around 5-7' in height, but more preferably 6'. The square cross-section length and width is preferably 2-4", but more preferably approximately 4". Further, the edges of each vertical post 106 either have a 45° chamfer or a 90° corner on each of the four edges.

[0031] Figures 4A-4D depict left, front, right, and rear side views, respectively, of vertical post 106 in isolation. The terms left, front, right, and rear as used herein are only meant to distinguish the four sides of the vertical post 106. The sides of vertical posts 106 are able to utilize any combination of the sides described below. For example, a vertical post 106 located at a corner of MP 102 may have engagement members 108 located on perpendicular sides of vertical post 106 (front/rear and sides) whereas a vertical post located at a midpoint of MP 102 may have engagement members 108 located on opposing sides of vertical post 106 (front and rear, or left and right).

[0032] Referring first to Figure 4A, vertical post 106 preferably contains a plurality of vertical slots 402 evenly spaced along its length along the center. Preferably, each vertical post 106 is constructed from standard tubular steel or aluminum. However, in some embodiments, vertical post 106 may also include chamfered edges 404. Each vertical slot 402 preferably has a length of approximately 2-3", but more preferably approximately 2.4". Further, each vertical slot 402 preferably has a width of 0.5-0.6", but more preferably 0.55". The first vertical slot 402 from the top of vertical post 106 is preferably spaced 6-7" from the top, but more preferably 6.1". Further, the spacing between an end of one vertical slot 402 and the beginning of the next is approximately 6-7", but more preferably 6.6". It should be apparent that the number of vertical slots 402 is only limited by the height of vertical post 106. The vertical slots 402 are generally utilized to place securement such as shoring beams or webbing to secure freight to MP 102.

[0033] The bottom edge of the left side of each vertical post 106 further comprises two fixing holes 406 which are aligned with the bolt holes in receiving structure 1 10 to receive bolts 112 placed there through. A screw plate, or other fixing means, can be used in the interior of vertical post 106 to receive the ends of the bolts 1 12 and to create a more secure connection between vertical post 106 and receiving structure 1 10. [0034] Figure 4B depicts a front view of vertical post 106. The bottom of the front of vertical post 106 again comprises an additional two fixing holes 406 for receiving bolts placed through receiving structure 1 10. The front of vertical post 106 also preferably contains a plurality of vertical slots 402 having the same spacing and dimensions shown in Figure 4A. Between the vertical slots 402 are a plurality of engagement member receiving structures 408 formed from receiving hole 410 and bolt hole 412. As will be described later, the larger receiving holes 410 are sized to accommodate a hanging structure on each engagement member 108 and bolt hole 412 is used to fix an engagement member 108 after it has been inserted into receiving hole 410.

[0035] Each receiving hole 410 is approximately 1.1-1.2" in diameter, but more preferably 1.15". Further, a distance between a center of each receiving hole 410 shown in Figure 4B is preferably 8-10", but more preferably 9". Further, a distance from a top of vertical post 106 to a center of the first receiving hole 410 is preferably 1.5-2", but more preferably 1.75". Like vertical slots 402, the number and spacing of engagement member receiving structures 408 is only limited by the length of vertical post 106.

[0036] Figure 4C depicts a right side view of vertical post 106. This side of vertical post 106 comprises extension button 414 which is used to enable the extension/retraction of extension post 1 14 as will be described later.

[0037] Figure 4D depicts a rear view of vertical post 106. The rear view of vertical post 106 is substantially identical to the front view shown in Figure 4B except there are no fixing holes 406 located at the bottom of vertical post 406. However, it should be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the right side, or any side, could also include fixing holes 406 if necessary.

[0038] Engagement members [0039] Referring next to Figures 5A-5D, depicted are various views of a single engagement member 108 in isolation. Referring first to Figure 5 A, depicted is a front perspective view of engagement member 108 showing its principal components. Generally, engagement member 108 comprises hanging member 502, face plate 504, and receiving cup 506. Hanging member 502 is sized to allow engagement member 108 to be inserted into receiving hole 410 by first inserting lip 508 into receiving hole 410 at an angle and then rotating engagement member 108 in a downward direction until the flat rear surface of face plate 504 engages an exterior of vertical post 106 and a front surface of lip 508 engages an interior surface of vertical post 106. A bolt can then be placed through bolt holes 510 and 412 to fix engagement member 108 to vertical post 106. Figures 5B and 5C depict that a lower portion 512 of hanging member 502 has a semi-circular shape which mates with receiving hole 410 to help prevent movement of engagement member 108.

[0040] Figure 5C depicts a top perspective view of engagement member 108 showing additional details about receiving cup 506. Generally, receiving cup 506 comprises receiving surface 514 and receiving hole 516. The top of receiving cup 506 has a rectangular shaped cross-section having curved sides. Receiving surface 514 and receiving hole 516 form a

"funnel-like" structure that guides any pin type structure placed anywhere within receiving cup 506 into receiving hole 516. Receiving hole 516 preferably has a diameter of approximately 1". Receiving surface 514 may be formed from one or more curved and/or angled surfaces as shown in Figure 5C. The opening to receiving cup 506 is preferably 2-3" in width and 2-4" in length with a total depth of approximately 2-2.5".

[0041] Figure 5D depicts a front view of an engagement member 108. Receiving cup 506 preferably further comprises curved bore 518 along its center which intersects with receiving hole 516. Curved bore 518 is designed to interface with a locking mechanism (to be described later) which can be used to lock decks 104 onto vertical posts 106.

[0042] Figure 6 shows an engagement member 108 inserted into an engagement member receiving structure 408 of vertical post 106. As already described, a front surface of lip 508 contacts an interior of vertical post 106 and the flat rear surface of face plate 504 contacts an exterior of vertical post 106. Further, lower portion 512 of hanging member 502 fills the majority of receiving hole 410. Bolt 520 is placed through bolt holes 510 and 412 to releasably secure engagement member 108 to vertical post 106.

[0043] Extension post

[0044] Referring next to Figure 7 A, shown is close-up perspective view of extension post 1 14 extending from vertical post 106. As shown, extension post 1 14 must have a slightly smaller length and width than that of vertical post 106 to allow extension post 1 14 to easily slide relative to vertical post 106. To allow for easier sliding, each corner of extension post 114 preferably comprises a rail 702. The rails 702 may all be uniform or varied.

[0045] Figure 7B shows a top cross-section of extension post 1 14 showing sample rails 702 in more detail. The depicted dimensions are all in inches. Figure 7B depicts that the rails 702 located on a first side of extension post 1 14 have a first cross-section whereas the rails 702 located on a second side of extension post 1 14 have a second cross-section. The cross-sections depicted in Figure 7B is meant only to be exemplary and it should be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art that other cross-sections may be utilized. Further, other or additional components may be used in addition to rails such as a greased connection or wheels/bearings.

[0046] Figure 7C depicts extension post 114 in isolation. Extension post 114 may further comprise cap 704 which helps a user lift extension post 1 14 from the top of vertical post 106 and prevents extension post 114 from accidentally dropping into vertical post 106, making it harder to retrieve. Cap 704 is also useful in preventing extension post 114 from snagging trailers or freight during transport. Cap 704 preferably has a larger cross-section than extension post 1 14. In a preferred embodiment, cap 704 is preferably 4-5" in length and/or width.

[0047] Extension post 114 is preferably 38-42" in length, but more preferably

approximately 39.875" in length. And, as already described, the dimensions of extension post 1 14 are only constrained by the sizing of vertical post 106 which it must fit into.

[0048] Extension post 114 also comprises a plurality of vertical slots 706 which are preferably identical in size, shape, and spacing to vertical slots 402 depicted in Figure 4A. The vertical slots may be present on any sides of extension post 1 14 as required by intended use.

[0049] Figure 7D depicts another side view of extension post 1 14 showing two locking holes 708 used to lock extension post 1 14 in an extended position (bottom) and in a collapsed position (top).

[0050] Locking system for extension post

[0051] Extension post 114 may utilize any known method to be maintained in the extended position. For example, the length of extension post 114 may comprise a number of through holes and a locking pin may be placed through vertical post 106 and extension post 1 14. However, such a locking system may potentially be dangerous in a warehouse setting. If a user is not paying attention and removes the pin, the extension post 114 would immediately collapse into vertical post 106 and cap 704 could injure the worker as it comes into contact with the top of vertical post 106. Therefore, described below is a locking system which allows extension post 114 to be extended and collapsed in a safer manner. [0052] Figure 8A depicts locking system 800 engaging a locking hole 708 on extension post 1 14. Vertical post 106 is shown in phantom so that locking system 800 is viewable. Locking system 800 is fixed to an interior of vertical post 106 using bolts 802. Figure 8B depicts a front perspective exploded view of locking system 800 in isolation. Locking system 800 comprises locking member 804, biasing member 806, and spring 808.

[0053] Locking member 804 comprises button 414 and locking button 810 which is sized to fit snugly into locking holes 708 on extension post 1 14. A central portion of locking member 802 comprises rocking member 812 which is wider than the other portions of locking member 802.

[0054] Biasing member 806 includes spring surface 814. Spring 808 is contained between spring surface 814 and a rear of button 414. The force exerted on button 414 by spring 808 ensures that locking button 810 remains within locking hole 708 until an external force pushes button 414.

[0055] Biasing member 806 further comprises central channel 816 as depicted in Figure 8C. Central channel 816 is wider than the body of locking member 804 with the exception of rocking member 812. The upper portion of biasing member 806 comprises two recesses 818 sized to accommodate rocking member 812. The lower half of locking button 810 comprises a 45° bevel 820 allowing extension post 1 14 to be extended without button 414 being pressed.

[0056] When button 414 is pressed, spring 808 compresses, causing locking member 804 to rotate about an axis centered at rocking member 812. In turn, locking button 810 becomes disengaged from locking hole 708, allowing extension post 114 to be extended or retracted within vertical post 106.

[0057] Locking system 800 is designed to have a total thickness of less than 0.5" when assembled and a width less than the distance between channels 702 of extension post 1 14 so it does not interfere with the extension or collapsing of extension post 114. [0058] Deck construction

[0059] Figure 9A depicts a perspective view of deck 104. Deck 104 comprises beams 902 having openings 904 and six cross-members 906 having openings 908. A single beam 902 is depicted in Figure 9B. Beam 902 has a rectangular cross-section approximately 7-9" in width and approximately 2-4" in height. More preferably, the cross-section is 8" in width and 3" in height. The length of each beam 904 is approximately 90". Beam 902 further comprises rectangular cutouts 910 measuring approximately 2.5" in height and 7.5" in width. Deck 104 preferably has a length of approximately 89-90" and width of approximately 91-92" for a roll door trailer and a length of 93-94" and a width of 91-92" for a swing door trailer.

[0060] Beams 902 and cross-members 906 are preferably welded together in the layout depicted in Figure 9A. Beams 902 and cross-members 906 all have open ends which creates two channels extending the entire length of deck 104 and two channels extending the entire width of deck 104. The openings 904 and 908, as well as the channels, are sized to accommodate standard forklift tines, thereby allowing deck 104 to be picked up from any side for conveyance on a cross-dock.

[0061] Attached (e.g., welded) to the sides of beams 904 and/or cross-members 906 are support members 912 which are used to support decking 914. A single piece of decking 914 is shown removed in order to reveal support members 912 in Figure 9A. The decking 914 is preferably fixed to support members 914 using screws or another releasable connection. The outer border of decking 914 may comprise cutouts 916 to allow the decking 914 to easily be lifted and/or repositioned. Decking 914 is preferably made of a lightweight and readily available material such as plywood or plastic. However, it should be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art that other materials, such as metallic mesh, may also be utilized. [0062] The remainder of the outer edge of the frame of deck 104 is formed by deck beams 918. The connection between beams 902 and cross-members 906 with deck beams 918 is preferably a welded connection. However, the corners of deck 104 may utilize a bolted connection as depicted in Figure 9C. Here, sleeve 920 shown in broken lines, having an L-shape, is inserted into the ends of deck beams 918 before bolts are inserted to connect the deck beams 918. An end plate 922 may also further be used to strengthen the connection. As will be shown later, the corners of deck 104 must be very rigid because they support the weight of deck 104 when it is placed on vertical posts 106 as depicted in Figure 1.

[0063] Figure 9D depicts a perspective view of a corner of deck 104 opposite that of Figure 9C. Each corner of deck 104 preferably has the same construction. Specifically, Figure 9D depicts hanger bracket 924 which is attached to the edge of deck 104 near end plate 922. Hanger bracket 924 comprises bolt holes 926 so that hanger bracket can be mounted to deck 104 (through deck beams 918 and sleeve 920). Hanger bracket 924 also comprises lock opening 928 through which a locking mechanism can be extended/retracted as will be described later. Extension 930 extends perpendicular from the top face of hanger bracket 924 and terminates with pin 932. Extension 930 is approximately 2-4" in length, but more preferably 3". Further, pin 932 is preferably 2-3" in length with a 30-40° chamfered tip 934 extending for 0.2-0.3". The chamfered tip of pin 932 enables placement of deck 104 on vertical posts 104.

[0064] Referring now to Figure 10, depicted is the placement of pin 932 into engagement member 108 which occurs as deck 104 is placed onto vertical posts 104. As shown, receiving hole 516 is not much larger than the diameter of pin 932. However, receiving surface 514 is much wider than either pin 932 or receiving hole 516. Thus, as long as pin 932 is placed anywhere along receiving surface 514, the angled receiving surface 514 will guide pin 932 into receiving hole 516. Further, even if pin 932 is lowered when it is at an edge of the receiving cup 506, the chamfered tip 934 of pin 932 will help guide pin 932 onto receiving surface 514 and into receiving hole 516. Because deck 104 will typically be placed by a forklift or other conveyance vehicle which may not have great accuracy or fine positioning, the deck 104 will be properly placed onto vertical posts 106 as long as the forklift tines are lowered when pin 932 is anywhere above receiving surface 514 and/or receiving hole 516, allowing for faster placement without requiring exact preciseness.

[0065] Locking mechanism

[0066] A locking mechanism 1100 that can be used to lock deck 104 in placed on engagement members 108 is now described with reference to Figures 11 A and 1 IB. Figure 11A shows the locking mechanism 1100 before locking. As shown, locking mechanism 1 100 generally comprises lock face plate 1 102 and locking pin 1104. In the open position, a first tip of locking pin 1 104 resides in the left hand side of lock slot 1 106. A second tip of locking pin 1104 resides in lock hole 928 but does not extend past an edge of hanger bracket 924. When the locking pin 1104 is in this position, it cannot freely slide (to the right) and will remain in this position during transport of deck 104.

[0067] Locking mechanism 1 100 can easily be assembled by first sliding locking pin 1104 through an opening in deck beam 918 and into lock hole 928 (through a corresponding opening in sleeve 920). The lock face plate 1 102 is then attached to decking beam 918 using any known fastening mechanisms, such as bolts.

[0068] Referring now to Figure 1 IB, depicted is locking mechanism 1100 in the locked position. After pin 932 has been placed into engagement member 108, locking pin 1 104 is slid across lock slot from the position depicted in Figure 1 1 A to the position depicted in Figure 1 IB. As shown, this causes a tip of locking pin 1 104 to exit lock hole 928 and extend under curved bore 518 of engagement member 108. Placing the tip of locking pin 1 104 into the right side of lock slot 1106 also prevents locking mechanism 1100 from accidentally disengaging. The placement of locking pin 1 104 under curved bore 518 prevents deck 104 from being lifted off vertical posts 106 during transport.

[0069] Magnetic shoring beam

[0070] Referring to Figure 12, depicted is an adjustable shoring beam 1202 which can be placed anywhere in modular deck system 100 using vertical slots 402 or 706. Conventional shoring beams are common load-bearing freight securement devices that extend and retract with ends that lock into track systems, i.e. E-track and A-track. The beam is adjustable by either one or two sliding subassemblies 1204 located at the ends of adjustable shoring beam 1202 as depicted in Figure 12.

[0071] Figures 13A-13C depict side, top, and isometric views, respectively, of sliding subassembly 1204 in isolation. The sliding subassembly 1204 is comprised of the sub-frame 1206 that receives magnetic clip assembly 1208 and limits the motion inward and outward from adjustable shoring beam 1202. The magnetic clip assembly 1208 is fixed to the sub-frame 1206 by welding, bolting, or using the existing E-Slot or other tracking systems' spring locking mechanism to fasten to a beam. A bolt connection is used in the exemplary drawings.

[0072] Referring to Figure 14A, depicted is magnetic clip assembly 1208 in an isometric view to show the "L" shape as well as the magnet 1210 located in recess 1212. Magnet 1210 is fixed to magnetic clip assembly 1208 with bolt 1214. Bolt 1214 allows the ability to remove and install the magnet 1210 after magnetic clip assembly 1208 is welded in place.

[0073] As already described, the shoring beam can be inserted into vertical slots 402 or 706. Alternatively, as depicted in Figure 15, magnet 1210 can also be used to maintain a connection between vertical post 106 and adjustable shoring beam 1202. In this embodiment, the magnetic force of magnet 1210 provides the force to maintain the vertical resting height of the adjustable shoring beam 1202 as well as the force required to maintain the connection between adjustable shoring beam 1202 and vertical post 106, yet maintain the ability to quickly remove adjustable shoring beam 1202 by hand or machine.

[0074] Additional Embodiments

[0075] Fig. 16 depicts an alternate embodiment of deck 104 described with reference to Figures 16-17B. As depicted, deck 104 comprises two beams 902 joined by a plurality of cross-members 906. In this embodiment, beams 902 do not have rectangular cutouts 910. This leads to a simplified construction because only three pieces of decking 914 are needed to create deck 104. The corner construction is also simplified in that the corners of deck 108 are joined by two cross-members 906 having 45° angled edges.

[0076] Deck 104 depicted in Figure 16 can also be used with different embodiments of engagement member 108 as depicted in Figure 16. As shown in more detail in Figures 17A and 17B, engagement member 108 in this embodiment includes a mounting surface 1702 which is welded or bolted to deck 104 as shown in Figure 16. Engagement member 108 further includes engagement surface 1704 which has hole 1706. Hole 1706 is sized so that it can receive a pin located on vertical post 106 as will now be described.

[0077] Figure 18 depicts an alternate version of vertical post 106 described in Figures 3-4D. In this embodiment, a hook plate 1802 having a plurality of hooks 1804 is welded or bolted to vertical post 106. The hooks 1804 are preferably integrally formed with hook plate 1802 and spaced at equal intervals in pairs. Each hook plate 1802 is preferably the same to reduce manufacturing costs. However, it should be apparent that the number and spacing of the hooks 1804 can be varied.

[0078] Hook plate 1802 and hooks 1804 are preferably formed from a metal, such as carbon steel. However, other materials may also be utilized to lower weight and cost of manufacture of hook plate 1802. The size and shape of hooks 1804 may also be varied.

[0079] A central rectangular portion of hook plate 1802 is approximately 5" or less in width. This allows hooks 1804 to extend beyond the edge of vertical post 106 when attached. A total length of hook plate 1820 is preferably approximately 30.75". Hooks 1804 are preferably approximately 0.375" in thickness in a preferred embodiment. Hooks 1804 have a chamfered outside bottom corner to lower the likelihood of damaging goods when loading freight onto deck 104 or MP 102.

[0080] Each hook plate 1802 has four or more pairs of hooks 1804 which are preferably spaced approximately 10" apart. However, the number and spacing of pairs of hooks 1804 can be varied.

[0081] Preferably, a bottom of hook plate 1802 is attached approximately 30.75" from a bottom of vertical post 106 such that hooks 1804 are only located along an upper portion vertical post 106. Hooks 1804 and/or engagement members 108 are not generally needed along the lower portion of vertical post 106 because freight can be directly stacked on MP 102.

[0082] The engagement of hooks 1804 with holes 1706 allows a user to place deck 106 at a desired height and location on MP 102 and prevents deck 104 from shifting greatly in position after placement.

[0083] While the present invention has been described with respect to what is presently considered to be the preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. To the contrary, the invention is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. The scope of the following claims is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures and functions.