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(11) Patent Number: KE 204

(45) Date of grant: 05/09/2005

(12) PATENT
 
(73) Owner: NAMPAK PRODUCTS LIMITED, 114 DENNIS ROAD, ATHOLL GARDENS, SANDTON, GAUTENG, South Africa

(72) Inventor: IAN EARNEST MCBEAN; MICHAEL DOUGLAS WYTHE; MICHAEL WYTHE DOUGLAS

(22) Filing date: 07/07/1999

(30) Priority data: 98/5986 07/07/1998 ZA

(74) Agent/address for correspondence: Hamilton Harrison & Mathews,
        P.O. Box 30333-00100,
        Nairobi
 
(54) Title: A BOTTLE CRATE

(57) Abstract:
A socket-defining member for a bottle crate includes a body member having an inner wall which defines a socket, the socket having a first region adjacent an operatively inner end of the socket for locating a closure of a bottle; and a second region intermediate an entrance of the socket and the locating region, the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region being shaped and configured to provide working clearance between it and the closure and the axial dimension of the locating region being at most one quarter of the axial dimension of the socket. The invention extends to a 'bottle crate having at least one such socket.

            THIS INVENTION relates to a bottle crate.  More particularly, the invention relates to a socket-defining member for a bottle crate.
            In stackable bottle crates, each such crate has one or more sockets opening into a base of the crate. A part of a bottle in a subjacent crate is received in each such socket for stacking the crates and improving the stability of such crates. The part of the bottle which is received in the socket is either a closure of the bottle (commonly referred to as "closure loading crates" or "rim loading crates") or a neck of the bottle (commonly referred to as "neck loading crates"). This invention has particular application in respect of closure loading crates.
         As far as the applicant is aware, the sockets in the base of a closure-loading crate normally have a shape in which an operatively lower region of the socket is in the form of a frusto-conical portion leading into an upper, cylindrical portion with a well-defined junction or transition between the frusto-conical portion and the cylindrical portion.
          The cylindrical portion has a diameter such that a closure of a bottle is a snug fit therein.  If an upper crate is pushed relative to a subjacent crate such that a bending moment or torque is applied to the closure, the closure could be displaced relative to the bottle resulting in a release of gas from the bottle and, in so doing spoiling the contents of the bottle.
         According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a socket-defining member for a bottle crate, the socket-defining member including a body member having an inner wall which defines a socket, the socket having
     a first region, being a locating region, adjacent an operatively inner end of the socket for locating a    closure of a bottle; and
     a second region intermediate an entrance of the socket and the locating region, the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region being shaped and configured to provide working clearance between it and the closure and the axial dimension of the locating region being at most one quarter of the axial dimension of the socket.
        The axial dimension of the locating region of the socket may be at most one fifth of the axial dimension of the socket. Instead, the axial dimension of the locating region of the socket may be at most one sixth of the axial dimension of the socket. Further instead, the axial dimension of the socket may be at most one seventh of the axial dimension of the socket.

       The inner wall of the body member bounding the second region of the socket may converge inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the locating region such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the locating region. The inner wall of the body member bounding the second region may be substantially frusto-conical in shape.
 
        The inner wall of the body member bounding the locating region and the second region may converge inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the operatively inner end of the socket such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the inner end of the socket.
        The inner wall may be configured so that no well-defined junction or transition is formed in the inner wall in a region where a twisting moment or torque can be applied to the closure received in the socket in the event that a superjacent crate in displaced laterally, in use. Further, the inner wall may be configured so that sufficient working space is defined between the inner wall in the second region and the closure so that no a point of contact is provided between the inner wall and the closure in the event that a superjacent crate is displaced laterally, in use, thereby to again inhibit a torque being applied to the closure.
         The inner end of the socket may be defined by an annular member which, in use, bears against a top rim of the closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate.
           According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a bottle crate having at least one socket-defining member including a body member having an inner wail which defines a socket which opens out into a floor of the crate to receive a closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate when packed crates are stacked in use, the, or each, socket having
       a first region, being a locating region, adjacent an operatively inner end of the socket for locating a closure of a bottle; and
       a second region intermediate an entrance of the socket and the locating region, the inner Wall of the body member bounding the second region being shaped and configured to provide working clearance between it and the closure and the axial dimension of the locating region being at most one quarter of the axial dimension of the socket.
          The axial dimension of the locating region of the, or each, socket may be at most one fifth of the axial dimension of the socket. Instead, the axial dimension of the locating region of the, or each, socket may be at most one sixth of the axial dimension of the socket. Further instead, the axial dimension of the, or each, socket may be at most one seventh of the axial dimension of the socket.
          The inner wall of the body member bounding the second region of the, or each, socket may converge inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the locating region such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the locating region. The inner wall of the body member bounding the second region of the, or each, socket may be substantially frusto-conical in shape.
           The inner wall of the body member bounding the locating region and the second region may converge inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the operatively inner end of the socket such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the inner end of the socket.
           The inner wall may be configured so that no well-defined junction or transition is formed in the inner wall in a region where a twisting moment or torque can be applied to the closure received in the socket.
            The inner end of the, or each, socket may be defined by an annular member which, in use, bears against a top rim of the closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate.
            As described above, the socket of the socket-defining member may face operatively downwardly to receive the closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate therein.
Thus, the body member maybe arranged above a base region of the crate to form a part of the base region and opening into a floor portion or bottom of the crate, said opening defining the entrance. Instead, the body member may be a discrete pod-like element projecting from the base region of the crate. It will be appreciated that the pod-like element is, in practice, moulded integrally with the remainder of the crate as a one-piece unit.
             The invention is now described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings.
           In the drawings,
      Figure 1 shows a sectional side view of a part of a socket-defining member for a bottle crate in accordance with a first aspect of the invention;
      Figure 2 shows a sectional side view of a part of the socket-defining member positioned with respect to a bottle; and
       Figure 3 shows a partly sectional side view of a bottle crate in accordance with a second aspect of the invention.
           In the drawings, reference numeral 10 generally designates a socket-defining member, for a bottle crate 12, the bottle crate 12 being of the type commonly referred to as a "closure loading crate" or "rim loading crate".
           Such crates 12 conventionally have a floor portion 14, a pair of opposed side walls 16 and a pair of opposed end walls 18 bounding and extending upwardly from the floor portion 14.  The side walls 16, end walls 18 and intermediate webs define primary sockets 20 in each of which a bottom part (not shown) of a bottle is received for transportation purposes.
            One socket-defining member 10, in accordance with the invention, is arranged within the interior of the crate 12 in each primary socket 20 to define a seat 22 for a bottom of the bottle.
The socket-defining member 10 defines a socket 24 which opens out into the floor 14 of the crate 12 to receive a closure 26 of a bottle 28 in a subjacent crate when packed crates 12 are stacked in use.
            Each socket-defining member 10 comprises a boss portion 30 extending upwardly from the floor 14 of the crate 12. A top of the boss 30 defines the seat 22.                                                
            The boss portion 30 has an inner wall32 which bounds the socket 24. The socket 24 has a first, locating region 34 adjacent an operatively inner end 36 of the socket 24 for locating a closure 26 of a bottle 28, as may be seen in Figure 2. The socket 24 further has a second region 40 intermediate an entrance 38 of the socket 24 end the locating region 34.  The inner wall 32 bounding the second region 40 converges inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance 38 to the socket 24 to the locating region 34 such that no transition is defined in the inner wall 32 between the entrance 38 and the locating region 34. The axial dimension, indicated by the arrow marked 42 in Figure 1, of the locating region 34 is about fifteen percent of the axial dimension, indicated by the arrow marked 44 in Figure 1, of the socket 24.
            The inner wall 32, in the second region 40, is substantially frusto-conical with no well defined junction defined therein and is of uniform taper from the entrance 38, or opening, of the socket 24 to the operatively inner end 36 of the socket 24.
             An inwardly extending, annular lip 46 defines the inner end 36 of the socket 24, the lip 46 bearing against the top rim 47 of the closure 26 of the bottle 28 received in the socket 24, in use.  A slight step 48 is defined immediately below the lip 46 to facilitate location of the closure 26 in the socket 24.
             It is a problem with closure loading crates, of which the applicant is aware, that the sockets defined in such crates, in which closures of bottles in subjacent crates are received, have a well defined junction between a tapering lower region and a cylindrical, upper region. The cylindrical region is generally deep in relation to the depth of the socket and comprises a substantial proportion of the length of the closure received therein. The closure of the bottle is normally received in the cylindrical region and is a snug fit within the cylindrical region. In practice, when stacked crates are transported or moved about, a stack of the crates are placed on trolleys. To mount the stack of crates on the trolleys, an operator normally presses against the top crate in the stack resulting in a torque or bending moment being applied to the stack. Due to the snug fit of the closures within the sockets, the torque is applied to the closures which can result in the closures being displaced relative to the bottles causing the release of gas, in the case of carbonated beverages, thereby spoiling the contents of the closures. Also, spillage of the contents from the bottles may result.
           While the invention has been described with reference to the socket-defining members 10 projecting above the floor 14 of the crate 12, it will readily be appreciated that, instead, the socket-defining members 10 could project downwardly from the floor 14 of the crate 12. Then, each socket-defining member 10 would be in the form of a pod-like element projecting below the floor 14 of the crate 12.
          The applicant believes that, with the provision of a socket-defining member 10 having the frusto-conical inner wall 32, this problem should, to a large extent, be overcome while still maintaining the stability of the stacked crates.
 
CLAIMS

  1.       A socket-defining member for a bottle crate, the socket-defining member including a body member having an inner wall which defines a socket, the socket having
       a first region, being a locating region, adjacent an operatively inner end of the socket for locating a closure of a bottle; and
       a second region intermediate an entrance of the socket and the locating region, the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region being shaped and configured to provide working clearance between it and the closure and the axial dimension of the locating region being at most one quarter of the axial dimension of the socket.
2.        The socket-defining member as claimed in Claim 1, in which the axial dimension of the locating region is at most one fifth of the axial dimension of the socket.
 3.        The socket-defining member as claimed in Claim 1, in which the axial dimension of the locating region is at most one sixth of the axial dimension of the socket.
 
4.         The socket-defining member as claimed in Claim 1, in which the axial dimension of the locating region is at most one seventh of the axial dimension of the socket.
 5.       The socket- defining member as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region converges inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the locating region such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the locating region.
 6.       The socket-defining member as claimed in Claim 5, in which the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region is substantially frusto-conical in shape.
 7.       The socket-defining member as claimed in Claim 1, in which the inner wall of the body member bounding the locating region and the second region converges inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the operatively inner end of the socket such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the inner end of the socket.
 8.      The socket-defining member as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, in which the inner end of the socket is defined by an annular member which, in use, bears against a top rim of the closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate.
 9.      A bottle crate having at least one socket-defining member including a body member having an inner wall which defines a socket which opens out into a floor of the crate to receive a closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate when packed crates are stacked in use, the socket having
     a first region, being a locating region., adjacent an operatively inner end of the socket for locating a closure of a bottle; and
     a second region intermediate an entrance of the socket and the locating region, the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region being shaped and configured to provide working clearance between it and the closure and the axial dimension of the locating region being at most one quarter of the axial dimension of the socket.
 10.      The bottle crate as claimed in Claim 9, in which the axial dimension of the locating region of the, or each, socket is at most one fifth of the axial dimension of the socket.
 11.      The bottle crate as claimed in Claim 9, in which the axial dimension of
the locating region of the, or each, socket is at most one sixth of the axial dimension of the socket.
 
 12.       The bottle crate as claimed in Claim 9, in which the axial dimension of
the locating region of the, or each, socket is at most one seventh of the axial dimension of the socket.
  13.      The bottle crate as claimed in any one of Claims 9 to 12, in which the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region of the, or each, socket converges inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the locating region such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the locating region.
  14.      The bottle crate as claimed in Claim 13, in which the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region of the, or each socket is substantially frusto-conical in shape.
 15.       The bottle crate as claimed in Claim 9, in which the inner wall of the body member bounding the locating region and the second region converges inwardly substantially continuously from the entrance to the socket to the operatively inner end of the socket such that no transition is defined in the inner wall between the entrance and the inner end of the socket.
16.        The bottle crate as claimed in any one of Claims 9 to 15, in which the inner end of the, or each, socket is defined by an annular member which, in use, bears against a top rim of the closure of a bottle in a subjacent crate.
 17.       A socket-defining member substantially as herein described with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings.
 18.      A bottle crate substantially as herein described with reference to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings.
 
ABSTRACT
A socket-defining member for a bottle crate includes a body member having an inner wall which defines a socket, the socket having a first region adjacent an operatively inner end of the socket for locating a closure of a bottle; and a second region intermediate an entrance of the socket and the locating region, the inner wall of the body member bounding the second region being shaped and configured to provide working clearance between it and the closure and the axial dimension of the locating region being at most one quarter of the axial dimension of the socket. The invention extends to a bottle crate having at least one such socket.

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