Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
WEDGE TOOL FOR SHIPPING CONTAINER TWIST LOCKS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/090402
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A tool (10) comprising an elongate member (20) having a pair of sides (30, 31 ) extending longitudinally between first and second ends (40, 41). The sides and said ends defining top and bottom surfaces (50, 51 ). A slot (33) extends away from the first end towards the second end. The slot extends between the top and bottom surfaces to define first and second arms (60, 61). A cross sectional thickness of a portion of the arms increases from the first end towards the second end. The tool is adapted to engage a releasing means of a lock in the slot to retain the releasing means in an unlocked position. An embodiment is particularly adapted to engage a releasing means of a semi-automatic twistlock of the type used to secure shipping containers in order to retain the twistlock in a fully unlocked position even if the release means, in the form of a release wire, has stretched.

Inventors:
RYAN, Andrew Neville (70-78 Daly Street, Chambers FlatBrisbane, Queensland 4133, AU)
Application Number:
AU2014/001113
Publication Date:
June 16, 2016
Filing Date:
December 11, 2014
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ANDREW RYAN NOMINEES PTY LTD (70-78 Daly Street, Chambers FlatBrisbane, Queensland 4133, AU)
International Classes:
B65D90/00; F16B2/14; F16G11/00
Foreign References:
EP1939386B12013-01-02
Other References:
PECK & HALE: "Cargo Securing Systems and Solutions", 23 January 2013 (2013-01-23), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20150119]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROSENTHAL, Daniel (IP Gateway Patent & Trade Mark Attorney Pty Ltd, Suite 9a Springwood Chambers,3360 Pacific Highwa, Springwood Queensland 4127, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A tool for use with a twistlock for securing shipping containers, the twistlock comprising a release element extendible away from an external surface of the twistlock to unlock the twistlock and the release element having an abutment thereon, the tool comprising:

a spacing member comprising a spacing formation for spacing the abutment from the external surface; and

wherein the spacing formation is configured to provide a plurality of different spacings to allow selection of a desired spacing of the abutment from the external surface,

2. A tool as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the spacing formation is elongate.

3. A tool as claimed in claim 2. wherein the spacing formation has a thickness and is of non-uniform thickness along its length.

4. A tool as claimed in claim 3, wherein the thickness of the spacing formation gradually increases along at least part of its length.

5. A tool as claimed in claim 4, wherein the thickness of the spacing formation increases at a steady rate along its length.

6. A tool as claimed in any of claims 3 to 5, wherein the spacing formation comprises a wedge structure.

7. A tool as claimed in claim 6, wherein the wedge structure provides a wedge angle, between generally opposite surfaces of the wedge structure, of between approximately 5 degrees and approximately 15 degrees.

8. A tool as claimed in claim 7, wherein the angle is between approximately 6 degrees and approximately 10 degrees.

9. A tool as claimed in claim 8, wherein the angle is approximately 8 degrees.

10. A tool as claimed in any of claims 6 to 9, wherein the different spacings for spacing apart the abutment and the external surface are provided at least partly by the non-uniform thickness of the wedge structure along its length,

11. A tool as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the spacing formation defines an opening therein for passage of the release element therethrough and wherein the opening is dimensioned to prevent passage of the abutment therethrough.

12. A tool as claimed in claim 11 , wherein the opening is configured for passage of the release element therethrough in a thickness direction of the spacing formation, so that the different spacings are dependent upon different thicknesses of the spacing formation.

13. A tool as claimed in either of claims 11 or 12, wherein the opening has a width of between 5mm and 7mm.

14. A tool as claimed in any of claims 1 1 to 13, wherein the spacing formation defines two arms and the opening is in the form of a slot defined between the two arms.

15. A tool as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the spacing formation is linearly extending. 16. A tool as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the spacing member is made from a reinforced plastic.

17. A tool as claimed in claim 16, wherein the spacing member is made from glass reinforced nylon.

18. A tool as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the spacing member is injection molded.

19. A tool as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the tool comprises an attachment part for releasably attaching the spacing member to the twistlock, and the attachment part comprises a flexible element having one end region attached to the spacing member and another end region that is attachable to the release element of the twistlock. 20. A tool comprising:

an elongate member having first and second sides extending between first and second longitudinal ends, said sides and said ends at least partially defining top and bottom surfaces; a slot extending away from the first end towards the second end, the slot extending between the top and bottom surfaces to define first and second arms; and

wherein a cross sectional thickness of a portion of said arms increases from the first end towards the second end the slot being adapted in use to engage a release element of a locking arrangement to retain the release element in an unlocked position.

21. A tool as claimed in claim 20, wherein the lock is in accordance with any one of claims 1 to 19. 22. A tool for use with a locking arrangement which has a release element which can be forced away from at least one other part of the locking arrangement in order to force the locking arrangement into a release configuration and which provides an abutment portion on the release element for allowing the release element to be retained in the release configuration, the tool comprising:

a spacing member for spacing apart the abutment portion and the at least one other part of the locking arrangement;

the spacing member comprising a plurality of first surface portions for engaging and retaining the abutment portion and at least one second surface portion for engaging said at least one other part of the locking arrangement;

the spacing member defining an opening therein for the release element to extend therethrough between at least one first surface portion and at least one second surface portion; and

wherein a plurality of different spacings are provided between said first surface portions and said at least one second surface portion, so that the position at which the abutment portion is retained is adjustable by engaging the abutment portion with different first surface portions.

23. A tool as claimed in claim 22, wherein the opening is dimensioned to allow part of the release element to pass therethrough and to prevent passage of the abutment portion therethrough.

24. A tool as claimed in either of claims 22 or 23, wherein the spacing member varies in thickness along at least part of its length, and wherein the plurality of first surface portions comprise portions of a first of two generally opposite surfaces of the spacing member and the at least one second portion comprises one or more portions of a second of the two generally opposite surfaces of the spacing member, so that the plurality of different spacings are provided by the variation in thickness of the spacing member. 25. A tool as claimed in any of claims 22 to 24 wherein the tool is also in accordance with any of claims 1 to 21.

26. A method of holding a release element of a twistlock in an extended position so that the twistlock is held in its unlocked configuration to facilitate handling of a shipping container, the method comprising:

inserting a spacing member between an abutment on the release element and an external surface of the twistlock, the spacing member comprising a spacing formation that is configured to form provide a plurality of different spacings to space the abutment a suitable distance from the external surface of the twistlock to hold the twistlock in the unlocked configuration.

27. A method as claimed in claim 26, wherein the method comprises manually extending the release element prior to insertion of the spacing member, in order to configure the twistlock into the unlocked configuration, and releasing the release element after insertion of the spacing member, so that the spacing of the abutment from the external surface by the spacing member holds the release element a sufficiently extended position to hold the twistlock in the unlocked configuration.

28. A method as claimed in either of claims 26 or 27, wherein the spacing member is provided by a tool which is not part of the locking arrangement. 29. A method as claimed in any of claims 26 to 28, wherein the spacing member comprises a tapered portion which is tapered in a first direction, and adjusting the spacing member to retain the abutment portion in a position in which the locking arrangement is maintained in the unlocked configuration comprises adjusting the position of the tapered portion in the first direction. 30. A method as claimed in claim 29. wherein the tapered portion comprises a slot for receipt of part of the release element and respective first and second parts of the tapered portion, provided on respective first and second sides of the slot, each engage the abutment portion.

31. A method as claimed in claim 26 to 28, wherein the method comprises use of a tool in accordance with any of claims 1 to 25.

32. A method of using a tool according to any of claims 14, 20 or 21 to retain a release element of a lock in the unlocked position, the method comprising:

holding the release element in the unlocked position;

engaging the slot with the release element by positioning the release element along the length of the slot until the arms retain the release element in the unlocked position; and

releasing the release element.

33. A method of maintaining a locking arrangement for a shipping container in an unlocked configuration, wherein the locking arrangement has a release element with an extended position thereof corresponding to an unlocked configuration of the lock arrangement, comprising:

providing a spacing member between at least part of the locking arrangement and an abutment portion of the release element to space apart the abutment portion and said at least part of the locking arrangement and retain the abutment portion in a retained position relative to said part of the locking arrangement;

wherein the spacing member is adjustable to adjust the retained position of the abutment portion relative to said part of the locking arrangement; and

adjusting the spacing member to retain the abutment portion in a position in which the locking arrangement is maintained in the unlocked configuration.

34. A method as claimed in claim 33, wherein the locking arrangement is a twistlock.

35. A method as claimed in either of claims 33 or 34, wherein the spacing member is provided by a tool which is not part of the locking arrangement.

36. A method as claimed in any of claims 33 to 35, wherein the spacing member comprises a tapered portion which is tapered in a first direction, and adjusting the spacing member to retain the abutment portion in a position in which the locking arrangement is maintained in the unlocked configuration comprises adjusting the position of the tapered portion in the first direction.

37. A method as claimed in claim 36, wherein the tapered portion comprises a slot for receipt of part of the release element and respective first and second parts of the tapered portion, provided on respective first and second sides of the slot, each engage the abutment portion. 38. A method as claimed in claim any of claims 33 to 37, wherein the method comprises use of a tool in accordance with any of claims 1 to 25.

Description:
WEDGE TOOL FOR SHIPPING CONTAINER TWIST LOCKS

FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a tool, and especially, but not exclusively, to a tool for use with a twistlock or the like as used in the transportation industry, DEFINITION

In the specification the term "comprising" shall be understood to have a broad meaning similar to the term "including" and will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps. This definition also applies to variations on the term "comprising" such as "comprise" and "comprises".

BACKGROUND

Twistlocks (often also referred to as "twist locks") or the like are used in the transportation industry to secure ISO containers or the like that have corner castings in place on container ships, semi-trailer trucks and/or railway trains. Also, twistlocks are used on all four corners of ISO containers to secure two or more ISO containers together or to fixtures, {e.g. stacked) to ensure that they do not move during transportation. It should be appreciated that use of the term "twistlock" herein is intended to mean a twistlock of a type suitable for use in securing an ISO or similar shipping container.

Typically, a semi-automatic twistlock, for example, comprises a housing with a shaft mounted thereto, at least one cone on an end of the shaft, a release wire in mechanical relationship with the shaft, and a stopping collar secured to the release wire. The twistlock is configurable between a locked position and an unlocked position, and is biased to the locked position. In the locked position, the cone is rotated such that it is able to securely engage to a corner casting of an ISO container. In the unlocked position, the cone is rotated such that it is able to disengage from the corner casting of the ISO container.

To rotate the cone from the locked position to the unlocked position, the release wire is pulled away from the shaft causing the shaft to rotate and thereby rotating the cone to theunlocked position. To maintain the cone in the unlocked position without intervention, the release wire is received into a groove on the housing such that the stopping collar abuts with the housing preventing the release wire from retracting back towards the shaft and thus preventing the cone rotating back to the locked position towards which it is biased. It will be appreciated that the bias of the twistlock to the locked position also biases the release wire towards its retracted position.

Over extended periods of use, the semi-automatic twistlocks can become damaged or worn. In particular, the release wire can become deformed such that it increases in length. An increased length of release wire is undesirable because it allows the shaft to substantially rotate back towards the locked position even when the stopping collar abuts with the housing. This causes the cone to still be in substantial engagement to the corner casting of the ISO container and thus makes it troublesome (or impossible) to lift the ISO container during unloading. To overcome this problem, a person is required to manually pull and hold the release wire such that the cone is properly in the unlocked position until the comer casting of the ISO container is lifted and released from the cone. However, this places the person in close proximity with the ISO container whilst the crane lift is taken. When a crane lift is undertaken where the twistlocks in all four corners are not in a completely unlocked position, one or more corners can become 'stuck' or 'snagged' and the force of the lift can cause the container to swing in a dangerous manner should the 'snagged' comer release during the lift. The swing of containers in this manner has caused significant injury and death.

Due to safety concerns and to allow the crane lift to be taken, numerous makeshift methods have been devised. For example, a person places dunnage (e.g. scraps of wood) into the corner casting in an attempt to jam the cone from rotating to the locked position. This is often time consuming and ineffective. Limitations of these ad hoc measures include that such measures are even less effective when more than one twistlock on an ISO container is unable to be disengaged. Additionally dunnage can fall from the container corner casting from height. In another example, an unlocking pole is used to pull and hold the release wire. Although the unlocking pole allows the person to manipulate the release wire from a distance, the person is still within close proximity to the lifted/suspended ISO container which is a significant safety concern.

It should also be appreciated that ISO containers are often stacked, sometimes in stacks of up to seven ISO containers. ISO containers may be approximately three meters in height, so a person working to free the topmost ISO container of a stack of shipping may be working at height of fifteen to twenty meters, typically in a man cage. This has safety implications and can also make manual operations, such as using dunnage to jam the cone of a twistlock in an unlocked position, considerably more onerous than they would be if performed at ground level. Further, the deployment of multiple people at respective different corners of an ISO container can be difficult and/or time consuming under such circumstances, as is moving a person away from a twistlock being worked on and then back to the twistlock if the attempted jamming operation proves unsuccessful or if the movement of the corner casting relative to the cone dislodges the dunnage.

Further, it should be appreciated that delays due to snagged ISO containers can be very costly, for example due to wasted personnel time and to inefficient use of the millions of dollars' worth of equipment used in unloading such containers.

Reference to prior art or other background in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgment or any form of suggestion that the referenced prior art or other background forms part of the common general knowledge in Australia or in any other country. SUMMARY

The present inventor has discerned that there is a need for a tool that can allow a damaged semi-automatic twistlock to be maintained in an unlocked position in an effective manner to allow the lift to be taken and without a person in close proximity manipulating the release wire during unloading. Further the inventor has discerned that it would be desirable to provide a tool that is effective, simple and easy to use to allow efficient unlocking of ISO containers during unloading, is cheap and easy to manufacture and is not difficult for a user to carry or store away.

It would be desirable if at least preferred embodiments in accordance with the present disclosure could substantially address one or more of the above needs, or at least provide a useful alternative.

According to a first aspect of the present disclosure there is provided a tool for use with a twistlock for securing shipping containers, the twistlock comprising a release element extendible away from an external surface of the twistlock to unlock the twistlock and the release element having an abutment thereon, the tool comprising:

a spacing member comprising a spacing formation for spacing the abutment from the external surface; and

wherein the spacing formation is configured to provide a plurality of different spacings to allow selection of a desired spacing of the abutment from the external surface.

In an embodiment the spacing formation is elongate. In an embodiment the spacing formation has a thickness and is of non-uniform thickness along its length. In an embodiment the thickness of the spacing formation increases along at least part of its length.

In an embodiment the thickness of the spacing formation gradually increases along at least part of its length. In an embodiment the thickness of the spacing formation increases at a steady rate along its length.

In an embodiment the spacing formation comprises a wedge structure.

In an embodiment the increase of thickness of the spacing formation is provided by the wedge structure. In an embodiment the wedge structure provides a wedge angle, between generally opposite surfaces of the wedge structure, of between approximately 5 degrees and approximately 15 degrees.

In an embodiment the angle is between approximately 6 degrees and approximately 10 degrees. In an embodiment the angle is approximately 8 degrees.

In an embodiment the different spacings for spacing apart the abutment and the external surface are provided at least partly by the non-uniform thickness of the wedge structure along its length.

In an embodiment the thickness of the wedge structure increases from a minimum of approximately 1.5mm.

In an embodiment the thickness of the wedge structure increases to a maximum of approximately 12mm.

In an embodiment the wedge structure provides an inclined wedge surface which is generally planar. In an embodiment the wedge structure provides wedge base surface which is generally planar.

The wedge base surface may be generally opposite the inclined wedge surface of the wedge structure. In an embodiment the wedge structure comprises two wedge formations extending away from a wedge apex.

In an embodiment the spacing formation defines an opening therein for passage of the release element therethrough. In an embodiment the opening is dimensioned to prevent passage of the abutment therethrough.

In an embodiment the opening is configured for passage of the release element therethrough in a thickness direction of the spacing formation.

Thus the different spacings may be dependent upon different thicknesses of the spacing formation.

The different spacings may be dependent upon different depths of the opening.

One or more depths of the opening may be in the thickness direction of the spacing formation.

The opening may have a length which extends in a direction of elongation of the spacing formation. Each spacing may be dependent upon the thickness of the spacing formation at a particular position along the length of the spacing formation.

In an embodiment, a desired spacing may, in use, be selected by selection of the position, along the length of the spacing formation, at which the release element passes through the opening. In an embodiment the opening has a substantially uniform width.

In an embodiment the opening has a width of between 5mm and 7mm.

In an embodiment the spacing formation defines two arms and the opening is in the form of a slot defined between the two arms.

In an embodiment each of the two arms comprises a wedge formation, In an embodiment the spacing member further comprises a support formation and the spacing formation extends away from the support formation. In an embodiment the spacing formation is linearly extending.

In an embodiment the abutment comprises a collar or swage provided on the release element.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a composite material. In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a reinforced plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a fibre-reinforced plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from glass reinforced plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from glass reinforced nylon.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from glass reinforced nylon with a glass content of between 25 and 35 percent by weight.

In an embodiment the spacing member is injection molded.

In an embodiment the tool comprises an attachment part for releasably attaching the spacing member to the twistlock.

In an embodiment the attachment part comprises a flexible tether having one end region attached to the spacing member and another end region that is attachable to the release element of the twistlock.

According to a second aspect of the present disclosure there is provided a tool comprising: an elongate member having first and second sides extending between first and second longitudinal ends, said sides and said ends at least partially defining top and bottom surfaces; a slot extending away from the first end towards the second end, the slot extending between the top and bottom surfaces to define first and second arms; and

wherein a cross sectional thickness of a portion of said arms increases from the first end towards the second end the slot being adapted in use to engage a release element of a locking arrangement to retain the release element in an unlocked position. In an embodiment the cross sectional thickness gradually increases from the first end towards the second end.

In an embodiment a portion of the top surface is inclined from the first end towards the second end at an angle relative to the bottom surface.

In an embodiment the angle is between approximately 5 degrees and approximately 1 1 degrees.

In an embodiment the angle is approximately 8 degrees. In an embodiment the bottom surface is substantially planar.

In an embodiment the cross sectional thickness increases from a minimum of approximately 1.5 mm.

In an embodiment the cross sectional thickness increases to a maximum of approximately 12mm. In an embodiment the lock is a twistlock type lock.

In an embodiment the lock is a semi-automatic twistlock type lock.

In an embodiment the release element comprises a release cable with a collar secured thereto.

In an embodiment the arms abut with the collar in use. In an embodiment the tool comprises an attachment part adapted to releasably attach the elongate member to the lock.

In an embodiment the tool comprises an attachment part adapted to releasably attach the elongate member to the release element.

In an embodiment the attachment part comprises a cord. In an embodiment the attachment part comprises a cord having an adjustable loop.

In an embodiment the attachment part comprises a cord having an adjustable loop configured to receive the release element there through for releasable attachment thereto.

In an embodiment the elongate member has an aperture to allow the cord to be threaded therethrough for attachment to the elongate member. In an embodiment the aperture is located substantially adjacent an end of the elongate member. In an embodiment the aperture is located substantially adjacent the second end of the elongate member.

According to a third aspect of the present disclosure there is provided a tool for use with a locking arrangement which has a release element which can be forced away from at least one other part of the locking arrangement in order to force the locking arrangement into a release configuration and which provides an abutment portion on the release element for allowing the release element to be retained in the release configuration, the tool comprising:

a spacing member for spacing apart the abutment portion and the at least one other part of the locking arrangement;

the spacing member comprising a plurality of first surface portions for engaging and retaining the abutment portion and at least one second surface portion for engaging said at least one other part of the locking arrangement;

the spacing member defining an opening therein for the release element to extend therethrough between at least one first surface portion and at least one second surface portion; and

wherein a plurality of different spacings are provided between said first surface portions and said at least one second surface portion, so that the position at which the abutment portion is retained is adjustable by engaging the abutment portion with different first surface portions. In an embodiment the opening is dimensioned to allow part of the release element to pass therethrough and to prevent passage of the abutment portion therethrough.

In an embodiment the spacing member is elongate.

In an embodiment the spacing member is substantially straight.

In an embodiment the opening comprises a slot which extends substantially in the direction of elongation of the spacing member.

In an embodiment the spacing member provides first and second arms on respective first and second sides of the slot.

In an embodiment the arms are substantially straight.

In an embodiment the spacing member varies in thickness along at least part of its length. In an embodiment the spacing member is tapered along at least part of its length. In an embodiment the plurality of first surface portions comprise portions of a first of two generally opposite surfaces of the spacing member and the at least one second portion comprises one or more portions of a second of the two generally opposite surfaces of the spacing member, so that the plurality of different spacings are provided by the variation in thickness of the spacing member.

In an embodiment the tool is adapted to lie substantially flat against part of the locking arrangement.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a composite material. In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a reinforced plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from a fibre-reinforced plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from glass reinforced plastic.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from glass reinforced nylon.

In an embodiment the spacing member is made from glass reinforced nylon with a glass content of between 25 and 35 percent by weight.

In an embodiment the spacing member is injection molded.

According to a fourth aspect of the present disclosure there is provided a method of holding a release element of a twistlock in an extended position so that the twistlock is held in its unlocked configuration to facilitate handling of a shipping container, the method comprising: inserting a spacing member between an abutment on the release element and an external surface of the twistlock, the spacing member comprising a spacing formation that is configured to form provide a plurality of different spacings to space the abutment a suitable distance from the external surface of the twistlock to hold the twistlock in the unlocked configuration. In an embodiment the method comprises manually extending the release element prior to insertion of the spacing member, in order to configure the twistlock into the unlocked configuration.

In an embodiment the method comprises releasing the release element after insertion of the spacing member, so that the spacing of the abutment from the external surface by the spacing member holds the release element a sufficiently extended position to hold the twistlock in the unlocked configuration.

In an embodiment the spacing formation is of non-uniform thickness along its length. In an embodiment the spacing member is provided by a member which is distinct from the locking arrangement.

In an embodiment the spacing member is provided by a tool which is not part of the locking arrangement.

In an embodiment the spacing member comprises a tapered portion which is tapered in a first direction, and adjusting the spacing member to retain the abutment portion in a position in which the locking arrangement is maintained in the unlocked configuration comprises adjusting the position of the tapered portion in the first direction.

In an embodiment the tapered portion comprises a slot for receipt of part of the release element and respective first and second parts of the tapered portion, provided on respective first and second sides of the slot, each engage the abutment portion.

In an embodiment the method comprises use of a tool in accordance with one or more of the first, second and third aspects.

According to a fifth aspect of the present disclosure there is provided a method of using a tool according to the second aspect, or an according to an embodiment of the first aspect which comprises a slot between two arms, to retain a release element of a lock in an unlocked position, the method comprising:

holding the release element in the unlocked position;

engaging the slot with the release element by positioning the release element along the length of the slot until the arms retain the release element in the unlocked position; and

releasing the release element.

According to a sixth aspect of the present disclosure there is provided a method of maintaining a locking arrangement for a shipping container in an unlocked configuration, wherein the locking arrangement has a release element with an extended position thereof corresponding to an unlocked configuration of the lock arrangement, comprising:

providing a spacing member between at least part of the locking arrangement and an abutment portion of the release element to space apart the abutment portion and said at least part of the locking arrangement and retain the abutment portion in a retained position relative to said part of the locking arrangement:

wherein the spacing member is adjustable to adjust the retained position of the abutment portion relative to said part of the locking arrangement; and

adjusting the spacing member to retain the abutment portion in a position in which the locking arrangement is maintained in the unlocked configuration.

In an embodiment the locking arrangement is a twistlock.

In an embodiment the spacing member is provided by a member which is distinct from the locking arrangement, In an embodiment the spacing member is provided by a tool which is not part of the locking arrangement.

In an embodiment the spacing member comprises a tapered portion which is tapered in a first direction, and adjusting the spacing member to retain the abutment portion in a position in which the locking arrangement is maintained in the unlocked configuration comprises adjusting the position of the tapered portion in the first direction.

In an embodiment the tapered portion comprises a slot for receipt of part of the release element and respective first and second parts of the tapered portion, provided on respective first and second sides of the slot, each engage the abutment portion.

In an embodiment the method comprises use of a tool in accordance with one or more of the first, second and third aspects.

It will be appreciated that features, characteristics and the like described above in relation to any of the above aspects may be incorporated in embodiments of other aspects.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

A preferred embodiment in accordance with the present disclosure will be described hereinafter, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 shows a known semi-automatic twistlock which has been damaged;

Figure 2 is a side view of the semi-automatic twistlock of Figure 1 located within a corner casting of an ISO container that is not fully unlocked, apparent by the twistlock cone partially turned/engaged; Figure 3 is a perspective view of a tool according to a preferred embodiment in accordance with the present disclosure:

Figure 4 is a top view of the tool of Figure 3;

Figure 5 is a side view of the tool of the Figure 3; Figure 6 shows the semi-automatic twistlock of Figure 1 within the corner casting and being held by a person in an unlocked position;

Figure 7 shows the semi-automatic twistlock of Figure 1 within the corner casting with the tool of Figure 3 being engaged to a release wire;

Figure 8 shows the semi-automatic twistlock of Figure 1 within the corner casting with the tool of Figure 3 engaged and attached to the release wire: and

Figure 9 shows the semi-automatic twistlock of Figure 1 within the corner casting with the tool of Figure 3 retaining the twistlock in the unlocked position.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Figure 1 shows a known semi-automatic twistlock 1000 and Figure 2 shows the twistlock 1000 within a corner casting 1005 of an ISO container. The semi-automatic twistlock 1000 comprises a housing 1010 with a groove 1020, a shaft (not shown) mounted thereto, a cone 1030 attached to an end of the shaft, a release wire 1040 in mechanical relationship with the shaft and a stopping collar 1050 secured to the release wire 1040. The twistlock 1000 also comprises a toggle 1060 attached to a free end of the release wire 1040 to allow a person to easily manipulate (e.g. pull) the release wire 1040.

From extended use, the release wire 1040 of the twistlock 1000 becomes plastically deformed such that its length is increased. Accordingly, referring specifically to Figure 2, the cone 1030 rotates back towards the locked position even when the stopping collar 1050 abuts with the housing 1010. For the purpose of this description, a tool 10 of a preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described in use with the twistlock 1000. It will be appreciated, however, that the tool 10 can be used with other types of twistlocks.

Figures 3 to 5 show the tool 10 according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention. The tool 10 comprises an elongate member 20 which is substantially rectangular in shape. The elongate member 20 having a pair of sides 30, 31 extending longitudinally between first 40 and second 41 ends. The sides 30, 31 and the ends 40, 41 define top 50 and bottom 51 surfaces. The elongate member 20 further has an aperture 21 extending between the top 50 and bottom 51 surfaces and located adjacent the second end 41. The elongate member 20 may be made from any suitable material. In one embodiment the elongate member 20 is made from plastic and formed by injection molding. It will be appreciated that the tool may be subject to considerable forces and or wear in use. In order to provide a durable tool it is currently preferred that the elongate member is made from a durable reinforced plastic and/or composite material such as, for example, glass reinforced nylon. Glass reinforced nylon with a 30% glass content is considered a suitable material. It will be appreciated that other plastics and reinforcing materials may be used. Further, other materials, such as timber or metal, could be used (although reinforced plastic is currently preferred).

One perceived benefit of using a suitable plastic is that plastic normally has low electrical and thermal conductivity which may enhance safety when working with powered (eg refrigerated) containers or in very cold conditions. Use of a suitable plastic may also enable the stopping collar to 'bite' slightly into the plastic and therefore provide better grip than would be provided by a metal elongate member, at least in conditions where a contaminant such as grease is present. The tool 10 further comprises a slot 33 extending away from the first end 40 towards the second end 41. The slot 33 also extends between the top 50 and bottom 51 surfaces to define first 60 and second 61 arms. The arms 60, 61 are identical in shape and size. The slot 33 has a width that is constant and about the same as the diameter of the release wire 1040. The slot 33, in use. is adapted to engage the release wire 1040 of the twistlock 1000 to retain the twistlock 1000 in an unlocked position.

It will be appreciated that, in other embodiments, the slot 33 can be adapted to engage a releasing means of any lock that has substantially similar mechanisms as the twistlock 1000.

Each of the arms 60, 61 has a sloped portion 70, 71 with a cross sectional thickness that gradually increases from the first end 40 towards the second end 41. In this embodiment, the cross sectional thickness of the sloped portions 70, 71 increases from about 1.5 mm to 12 mm. The bottom surface 51 of the elongate member 20 is substantially planar. The top surface 50 is also substantially planar with a portion of the top surface 50 located over the sloped portions 70. 71 inclining from the first end 40 towards the second end 41 by an angle of about 8 degrees.

It will be appreciated that, in other embodiments, the bottom surface 51 may also have a portion located over the arms 60, 61 that inclines from the first end 40 towards the second end 41. The tool 10 further comprises an attachment means 80 adapted to releasably attach the elongate member 20 to the twistlock 1000. The attachment means 80 comprises a cord 81 having an adjustable loop 82 at one end. The adjustable loop 82 is configured to receive the toggle 1060 of the release wire 1040 therethrough and tighten onto the release wire 1040 for releasable attachment thereto. The other end of the cord 81 is threaded through the aperture 21 for secure attachment to the elongate member 20. The attachment means 80 of the tool 10 also reduces the risk of the tool 10 from falling while in use whilst the container is suspended at height.

A method of using the tool 10 to retain the twistlock 1000 in the unlocked position will now be described with reference to Figures 6 to 9. In each of the Figures 6 to 9, the twistlock 1000 is within the corner casting 1005 of the ISO container 1006 such as in typical use.

Firstly, as shown in Figure 6, toggle 1060 is pulled and held by a person such that the twistlock 1000 is in the unlocked position. The person then manipulates the release wire 1040 such that it is received into the groove 1020. Due to the increased length in the release wire 1040, the twistlock 1000 cannot be properly maintained in the unlocked position (i.e. the cone 1030 rotates towards the locked position).

Accordingly, as shown in Figure 7, the person positions the tool 10 such that the slot 33 receives and engages a portion of the release wire 1040 located between the housing 1010 and the stopping collar 1050. The person receives the portion of the release wire 1040 along the length of the slot 33 until the top surface 50 over the sloped portions 70, 71 abuts with the stopping collar 1050 and the bottom surface 51 abuts with the housing 1010. As shown in Figures 7 and 8, the person also positions the adjustable loop 82 to receive the toggle 1060 therethrough and tightens the adjustable loop 82 over the release wire 1040 for secure attachment thereto.

As shown in Figure 8, the person then releases the toggle 1060. Due to the abutment of the stopping collar 1050 with the tool 10, the release wire 1040 is prevented from retracting back and thus substantially returning the twistlock 1000 to the locked position. The bias force of the twistlock towards the locked position, which biases the release wire towards the retracted position, allows the tool 10 to be held in place by the force applied by the stopping collar.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the tool 10 of the preferred embodiment is able to retain the twistlock 1000 in the unlocked position without a person manually holding the release wire 1040. This allows the person to be at a safe distance from the twistlock, and thereby the ISO container, during unloading. The tool 10 is also effective, relatively simple to use, cheap to manufacture, reusable, easy to carry and store away and allows ISO containers to be unloaded in a safe and efficient manner. An appropriate number of tools each of the same type as the tool 10 can easily be deployed to hold open multiple twistlocks on the same ISO container. The tool 10 may be of any dimensions suitable for performing the functions described herein. Further the proportions and dimensions may be varied.

In one embodiment the dimensions are as follows. The elongate member has a length of approximately 145mm, and a width of approximately 31mm. The slot has a length of 85 mm. The sloped portions have a length of about 75mm and a thickness which varies from about 1.5mm to about 12mm. Such dimensions make the tool convenient in use, and able to be placed conveniently in a pocket or other suitable receptacle when not in use. Such dimensions are also suitable for manual gripping, including with gloved hands.

The width of the slot is sufficient to allow the release cable to pass therethrough, but small enough to prevent the stopping collar (or other functionally equivalent stopping part) from passing therethrough. A common type of twistlock has a release cable with a diameter of approximately 5mm, and a tool for use with such a twistlock therefore has a slot with a width slightly greater than 5mm. Some twistlocks (sometimes referred to as 'deluxe' or 'luxury' twistlocks) have a release wire with a larger diameter and a tool for use with such twistlocks would have a slot of suitable width. The problem of twistlocks being jammed' or "snagged' because the normal operation of the release cable does not result in the cone of the twistlock being properly maintained in the release position has been known to cause injury and death. Previous attempts to maintain twistlocks in the release configuration when the release cables are stretched (deformed) have often been time consuming and/or unreliable. The tool disclosed herein is quick and easy to employ and in turn assists in the safe, efficient and timely unloading of containers, for example from vessels, thus positively impacting on both safety and productivity.

While gantry cranes are operating on a vessel loading or unloading containers a restricted work zone can be established. The principal purpose of the restricted work zone is to ensure that personnel do not enter a zone where crane operations are taking place. This tool will further aid in maintaining the integrity of the restricted work zone and where required reduce the number of personnel that enter the zone to disengage twistlocks. Further, it should be appreciated that the tool in accordance with at least the main embodiment described herein can be used without requiring intricate manual manipulation, and is therefore well suited to many situations in which it is required to operate twistlocks. For example, a person operating a twistlock may be working at considerable height and/or in freezing conditions which may make the wearing of gloves highly desirable. Simple and non- intricate operation is therefore highly beneficial.

Speed of operation is also important. It is not unusual for twistlocks to go many years without significant maintenance or replacement. A large container ship may carry several thousand shipping containers. Four twistlocks are associated with each container. Therefore even if only a very small proportion of the twistlocks carried by a large container ship, the problem of incomplete release, as described above, may still occur in a significant number of twistlocks on a single vessel. This can result in significant delay and expense in unloading. The tool in accordance with the present disclosure has the potential to significantly reduce such delay and expense.

Although the invention has been described with reference to a preferred embodiment, it will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the invention may be embodied in many other forms.

Modifications and improvements may be incorporated without departing from the scope of the invention as described herein.