SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR A MODULAR COOLER ASSEMBLY

- The Coca-Cola Company

A modular cooler assembly is disclosed herein. According to an embodiment, the modular cooler assembly may be configured to house one or more beverage containers therein. In some instances, the modular cooler assembly may include a number of panels. The panels may be interconnected by way of a number of joints. In certain embodiments, at least one of the panels may be configured to be opened and closed.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The disclosure claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/826,243, filed May 22, 2013, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The disclosure also claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/912,178, filed Dec. 5, 2013, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

The disclosure generally relates to a cooler assembly and more particularly relates to a modular cooler assembly configured to house, among other things, one or more products (such as beverage containers) therein.

BACKGROUND

Typical coolers, such as those intended for use in a retail venue, are constructed as large integral boxes. The walls of the boxes are generally formed from two thin steel plates with insulating foam injected therebetween. As a result, manufacturing the coolers may be time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, the quality and uniformity of the insulation within the walls of the cooler may be difficult to achieve due to the shape of the cooler and the in-situ foam expansion process. The size and weight of the cooler also may be limiting. For example, the cost to ship and store typical coolers is expensive. The dimensions of access doors in certain retail locations may limit the size of the cooler that can be installed. In addition, moving the cooler over stairs or narrow passages may be very difficult or sometimes impossible. Damage to any of the walls of the cooler may require replacement of the entire cooler. Moreover, once manufactured, the size of the cooler cannot be changed given the integral assembly.

SUMMARY

Some or all of the above needs and/or problems may be addressed by certain embodiments of the modular cooler assembly disclosed herein. According to an example embodiment, the modular cooler assembly may be configured to house one or more beverage containers therein. In some instances, the modular cooler assembly may include a number of panels. The panels may be interconnected by way of a number of joints. In certain embodiments, at least one of the panels may be configured to be opened and closed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The detailed description is set forth with reference to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale. The use of the same reference numerals may indicate similar or identical items. Various embodiments may utilize elements and/or components other than those illustrated in the drawings, and some elements and/or components may not be present in various embodiments. Throughout this disclosure, depending on the context, singular and plural terminology may be used interchangeably.

FIG. 1 schematically depicts a front perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 2 schematically depicts a rear perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 3 schematically depicts a front view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 4 schematically depicts a cross-sectional side view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 5 schematically depicts a top view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 6 schematically depicts an exploded perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 7 schematically depicts a front perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 8A schematically depicts a rear perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 8B schematically depicts a front perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 8C schematically depicts an exploded perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 9 schematically depicts a front view of a joint assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 10A schematically depicts a front view of a joint assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 10B schematically depicts a perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 10C schematically depicts a perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 10D schematically depicts a perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 11 schematically depicts a front perspective view of a modular cooler assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 12 schematically depicts an exploded perspective view of a panel assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIGS. 13(a)-(c) schematically depicts a manufacturing process for assembling a panel assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure

FIGS. 14(a)-(c) schematically depicts a manufacturing process for assembling a panel assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIGS. 15(a)-(d) schematically depict cross-sectional side views of various panel assemblies in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 16 schematically depicts a collapsible shelf assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 17 schematically depicts a collapsible shelf assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 18 schematically depicts a collapsible shelf assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 19 schematically depicts a collapsible shelf assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

FIG. 20 schematically depicts a collapsible shelf assembly in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A modular cooler assembly is disclosed herein. The modular cooler assembly may be configured to house one or more beverage containers therein. In certain embodiments, the modular cooler assembly may include a number of panels that are configured to be assembled, disassembled, and/or folded together. The modular cooler assembly may provide a number of technical advantages. For example, the panels of the modular cooler assembly may be disassembled and/or folded into a sleek profile. In some instances, the panels may be arranged in a low, small, and/or compact profile, stacked together, bound together, folded together, boxed together, or a combination thereof, etc. The disassembled panels may be arranged in any suitable configuration for storage and/or transportation thereof. In certain embodiments, the sleek profile of the disassembled or folded modular cooler assembly may substantially reduce storage and transportation costs. Also, the sleek profile of the disassembled or folded modular cooler assembly may enable the modular cooler assembly to be transported to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible for an integrally formed cooler, such as up stairs or through a small doorway. Moreover, if an individual component of the modular cooler assembly (such as one of the panels) is damaged, the damaged panel may be replaced without having to replace the entire modular cooler assembly. Further, the modular cooler assembly may be assembled by one or more individuals, thereby reducing assembly and maintenance costs. Other technical advantages may become apparent throughout the disclosure.

According to an example embodiment, the modular cooler assembly may include a rear panel, a top panel, a first side panel, and a second side panel. The modular cooler assembly also may include a number of joints configured to interconnect the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel. The joints may include one or more hinges, pivots, pins, double rabbet joints, comb joints, or a combinations thereof, although any known joints for connecting panels together may be used herein. The joints may form a seal (e.g., a hermetic seal) between the various panels.

A bottom panel may be positioned between the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel. In some instances, the bottom panel may define an upper compartment and a lower compartment of the modular cooler assembly. That is, the bottom panel may be spaced apart from a bottom portion of the modular cooler assembly. In certain embodiments, the bottom panel may include one or more apertures therethrough. The one or more apertures may provide a passage between the upper compartment and the lower compartment. The upper compartment and the lower compartment may function as cabinets for storing (both temporarily and/or permanently) various items therein. In some instances, one or more collapsible shelves may be positioned within the upper compartment and the lower compartment. The shelves may be configured to support one or more products, such as beverage containers, thereon.

A front panel may be attached to at least one of the first side panel or the second side panel. The front panel may be configured to be opened and closed. For example, the front panel may include a hinged or sliding door, although other types and styles of doors may be used. In this manner, the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, the second side panel, the bottom panel, and the front panel may define a substantially enclosed space about the upper compartment when the front panel is closed. Accordingly, the upper compartment may be used to house the one or more temperature controlled products, such as beverage containers, therein. In some instances, the front panel may be at least partially formed of glass (or transparent plastic), although other types of suitable materials may be used. A customer may open the front panel and remove one of the beverage containers therein, after which the user may close the front panel.

A base member may positioned about a bottom portion of the modular cooler assembly. The base member may act as a platform for the modular cooler assembly. In some instances, the base member may form a bottom portion of the lower compartment. In certain embodiments, the base member may include wheels or the like for transporting the modular cooler assembly when assembled. In other embodiments, the base member may be omitted.

In some instances, a number of seals may be disposed between the joints. That is, the seals may be configured to form a substantially hermetic seal at the joints between the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel. In some instances, a number of supports may be positioned about an interior of one or more of the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel. The supports may be configured to support the bottom panel thereon. Further, a number of seals may be disposed between the supports. The seals may be configured to form a substantially hermetic seal at the supports between the bottom panel, the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel. In this manner, the substantially enclosed space about the upper compartment when the front panel is closed may be hermetically sealed so as to substantially maintain a desired temperature therein.

In certain embodiments, the lower compartment may be configured to house a refrigeration unit therein. For example, once the modular cooler assembly is assembled, the refrigeration unit may be positioned within the lower compartment. In some instances, the refrigeration unit may be a separate component from the modular cooler assembly. In this manner, if the refrigeration unit malfunctions or it is in need of maintenance, it may be removed from the modular cooler assembly without having to disassembly the modular cooler assembly. Moreover, the refrigeration unit may be stored and/or transported separately from the modular cooler assembly. In certain embodiments, the refrigeration unit may be in communication with the one or more apertures of the bottom panel when housed within the lower compartment. In this manner, the refrigeration unit may be configured to cool and/or heat the upper compartment.

As noted above, the modular cooler assembly may be used to house one or more products therein, such as beverage containers. The modular cooler assembly may be configured to maintain the one or more products at a desired temperature when stored therein. In this manner, the panels of the modular cooler assembly may be insulated. The insulated panels may increase efficacy, decrease energy cost, and ensure that the one or more beverage containers are maintained at the desired temperature when stored within the modular cooler assembly. For example, in some instances, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel may each include an interior panel and an exterior panel. Moreover, one or more insulation layers may be disposed between the interior panel and the exterior panel. In some instances, the one or more insulation layers may include one or more voids disposed therein. Further, one or more vacuum panels may be positioned within the voids. In some instances, a slab, a block, an insert, or the like of phase change material may be incorporated into the insulated panels. For example, the phase change material may be used as a thermal ballast in addition to the vacuum panels. In certain embodiments, the phase change material may replace the vacuum panels and/or be used in conjunction with the vacuum panels. In some instances, the phase change material may be positioned about an inner side (or cold side) of the insulated panels, and the vacuum panels may be positioned about an outer side (or warm side) of the insulated panels or vice versa. In certain embodiments, the front panel and the bottom panel may include similar construction.

Although the disclosure has been described with reference to beverage containers, other items may be stored within the modular cooler assembly, including perishable items, edible products, promotional items, or the like. Any item or product where a temperature controlled setting is desirable may be stored within the modular cooler assembly.

These and other embodiments of the disclosure will be described in more detail through reference to the accompanying drawings in the detailed description that follows. This brief introduction, including section titles and corresponding summaries, is provided for the reader's convenience and is not intended to limit the scope of the claims, nor the proceeding sections. Furthermore, the techniques described above and below may be implemented in a number of ways and in a number of contexts. Several example implementations and contexts are provided with reference to the following figures, as described below in more detail. However, the following implementations and contexts are but a few of many.

FIGS. 1-20 schematically depict one or more example systems and methods for a modular cooler assembly 100 (and individual components thereof) for housing one or more beverage containers therein in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure. In some instances, the modular cooler assembly 100 may be used in a retail setting, such as a convenient store or the like. Generally speaking, the modular cooler assembly 100 may include a number of panels that are configured to be assembled and disassembled. For example, the modular cooler assembly 100 may include a rear panel 102, a top panel 104, a first side panel 106, a second side panel 108, a bottom panel 110, and a front panel 112. In some instances, the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, and the front panel 112 may include a greater height than width, although other dimensions are within the scope of the disclosure. In some instances, the top panel 104 and the bottom panel 110 may include a greater width than depth, although other dimensions are within the scope of the disclosure. In this manner, in certain embodiments, the modular cooler assembly 100 may generally form an elongated upright rectangular box when assembled, although the modular cooler assembly 100 may be any shape. The modular cooler assembly 100 also may include a base member 114 and a refrigeration unit 116. The base member 114 may act as a platform for the modular cooler assembly 100, and the refrigeration unit 116 may be configured to regulate a temperature within the modular cooler assembly 100. Any suitable temperature may be used herein. Moreover, the refrigeration unit 116 may be a cooling unit, a heating unit, or a combination thereof.

The various components of the modular cooler assembly 100 may be quickly assembled and dissembled by one or more users. FIG. 1 schematically depicts the modular cooler assembly 100 in the assembled configuration. FIG. 6 schematically depicts the modular cooler assembly 100 in the disassembled configuration. In some instances, the panels of the modular cooler assembly 100 may be disassembled and arranged in a sleek profile, such as stacked together or arranged in a compact profile for storage and/or transportation thereof. The sleek profile of the disassembled modular cooler assembly 100 may substantially reduce storage and transportation costs. In some instances, individual component of the modular cooler assembly 100 may be easily replaced.

The rear panel 102, the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 106 may be interconnected with one another by way of a number of joints 118. As will be discussed in greater detail below, the joints 118 may include one or more hinges, pivots, pins, double rabbet joints, comb joints, or a combinations thereof, although any number or type of joints may be used herein. Moreover, the bottom panel 110 may be interconnected with one or more of the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 108 by way of the joints 118. Moreover, the front panel 112 may be interconnected with one or more of the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 108 by way of the joints 118.

The bottom panel 110 may be positioned between the rear panel 102, the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 108. In some instances, the bottom panel 110 may be spaced apart from a bottom portion 124 of the modular cooler assembly 100. That is, in some instances, the bottom panel 110 may be spaced apart from the bottom portions of the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 108. In this manner, the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 108 may at least partially encompass the bottom panel 110. In certain embodiments, the bottom panel 110 may be supported by one or more supports disposed on one or more of the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, and/or the second side panel 108. In some instances, the supports may be L-brackets or the like, although any type of supports may be used. In addition, the bottom panel 110 may form a seal between the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, and/or the front panel 112. For example, one or more seals may be disposed about the periphery of the bottom panel 110. The seals may form a hermetic seal between the bottom panel 110 and the rear panel 102, the first side panel 106, and/or the second side panel 108. The seals also may form a hermetic seal between the bottom panel 110 and the front panel 112 when the front panel 112 is closed.

FIGS. 7 and 8A schematically depicts the modular cooler assembly 100 with the front panel 112, the refrigeration unit 116, and the base member 114 removed for illustrative purposes. The bottom panel 110 may define an upper compartment 120 and a lower compartment 122 of the modular cooler assembly 100. That is, the bottom panel 110 may be spaced apart from the bottom portion 124 of the modular cooler assembly 100. In some instances, the upper compartment 120 may be configured to house one or more beverage containers therein, although other products or items may be housed within the upper compartment 120. For example, the upper compartment 120 may include a number of shelves or the like. In some instances, the lower compartment 122 may be configured to house the refrigeration unit 116 therein. In other instances, the one or more beverage containers may be housed within the lower compartment 122, and the refrigeration unit 116 may be housed within the upper compartment 120.

In certain embodiments, the bottom panel 110 may include one or more apertures 126 therethrough. The one or more apertures 126 may provide a passage between the upper compartment 120 and the lower compartment 122. For example, as noted above, the lower compartment 122 may be configured to house the refrigeration unit 116 therein. In certain embodiments, the refrigeration unit 116 may be in communication with the one or more apertures of the bottom panel 110 when housed within the lower compartment 122. In this manner, the refrigeration unit 116 may be configured to cool and/or heat the upper compartment 120. In some instances, at least one of the one or more apertures 126 may be used for drainage or the like. In addition, in some instances, at least one of the one or more apertures 126 may be used to provide cool and/or heated air (or other fluid) to the upper compartment 120.

The rear panel 102 may extend from the bottom panel 110 to the top panel 104. In this manner, the lower compartment 122 may include an opening about the front and back. In other instances, the rear panel 102 may extend from the top panel 104 all the way to the bottom portion 124 of the modular cooler assembly 100. In this case, the lower compartment 122 may only include an opening about the front.

The front panel 112 may be attached to at least one of the first side panel 106 or the second side panel 108 by way of the joints 118. The front panel 112 may be configured to be opened and closed. For example, the front panel 112 may be a hinged door. In other instances, the front panel 112 may be a sliding door. The front panel 112 may be other types and styles of doors or access panels. In some instances, the front panel 112 may include one or more access ports or the like for accessing the upper compartment 120. In this manner, the rear panel 102, the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, the bottom panel 110, and the front panel 112 may define a substantially enclosed space about the upper compartment 120 when the front panel 112 is closed. Conversely, opening the front panel 112 may provide access to the upper compartment 120. Accordingly, the upper compartment 120 may be used to house the one or more beverage containers therein. In some instances, the front panel 112 may be glass (or transparent plastic), although other types of materials may be used.

The front panel 112 and an edge 128 of the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, and the bottom panel 110 may be configured to form a seal therebetween when the front panel 112 is closed. For example, one or more seals (such as rubber or foam gaskets) may be disposed about the front panel 112 and/or about the edge 128 of the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, and/or the bottom panel 110.

The base member 114 may be positioned about the bottom portion 124 of the modular cooler assembly 100. The base member 114 may act as a platform for the modular cooler assembly 100. For example, the refrigeration unit 116 may be positioned on or about the base member 114 when housed in the lower compartment 122. In certain embodiments, the base member 114 may include wheels or the like for transporting the modular cooler assembly 100. In some instances, the base member 114 may include one or more cutouts. In other embodiments, the base member 114 may be omitted.

FIG. 8B schematically depicts the modular cooler assembly 100 disposed about the pedestal 200. The pedestal 200 may be used in place of or in conjunction with the base member 114. In some instances, the pedestal 200 may be detachable from the modular cooler assembly 100. That is, the rear panel 102, the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, the bottom panel 110, and the front panel 112 may form a cabinet 172 which rests atop of the pedestal 200. In this manner, the pedestal 200 may support the cabinet 172 thereon.

FIG. 8C schematically depicts the modular cooler assembly 100 and the pedestal 200 in the disassembled configuration. The pedestal 200 may include a bottom member 202. In some instances, the bottom member 202 may form a U-shaped channel. The U-shaped channel may be configured to house the refrigeration unit 116 therein. The bottom member 202 may be any shape or size. The pedestal 200 also may include a front grill 204 and a rear grill 206. The front grill 204 and the rear grill 206 may be attached to the bottom member 202 to form an enclosure about the refrigeration unit 116. The front grill 204 and the rear grill 206 may be at least partially porous so as to provide ventilation to the refrigeration unit 116.

As noted above, the bottom panel 110 may include one or more apertures 126 therethrough. The one or more apertures 126 may provide a passage between the pedestal 200 and the cabinet 172. For example, the pedestal 200 may be configured to house the refrigeration unit 116 therein. In certain embodiments, the refrigeration unit 116 may be in communication with the one or more apertures of the bottom panel 110 when housed within the pedestal 200. In this manner, the refrigeration unit 116 may be configured to cool and/or heat the cabinet 172. In some instances, at least one of the one or more apertures 126 may be used for drainage or the like. In addition, in some instances, at least one of the one or more apertures 126 may be used to provide cool and/or heated air (or other fluid) to the cabinet 172.

FIGS. 9-11 schematically depict one or more embodiments of the joints 118. For example, FIG. 9 schematically depicts a hinge joint 130 between at least two of the panels. In certain embodiments, the interface between the panels may include a double rabbet joint. By way of example, the hinge joint 130 (in conjunction with the double rabbet joint) may provide a connection between the rear panel 102 and the top panel 104, although the hinge joint 130 may provide a connection between other panels as well. That is, any of the other panels discussed herein may be connected by way of the hinge assembly depicted in FIG. 9. In some instances, at least a first portion 132 of the hinge joint 130 may be associated with the rear panel 102, and at least a second portion 134 of the hinge joint 130 may be associated with the top panel 104. For example, the first portion 132 may comprise a loop, and the second portion 134 may comprise a pin. In this manner, the first portion 132 and the second portion 134 of the hinge joint 130 may be brought together to attach the rear panel 102 to the top panel 104. Other types of hinges may also be used. For example, FIG. 10A schematically depicts a hook-and-pin type hinge 136. As its name implies the hook-and-pin type hinge 136 include a hook portion 138 associated with one panel and a corresponding pin portion 140 associated with another panel.

In some instances, a number of seals 142 may be disposed between the joints 118. For example, the seals 142 may be configured to form a substantially hermetic seal at the joints 118 between the rear panel 102, the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, the second side panel 108, and/or the bottom panel 110. In certain embodiments, the seals 142 may be rubber or foam gaskets or the like. The seals 142, however, may be any material and/or configuration capable of forming a hermetic seal between the panels.

FIGS. 10B-10D depict the panels hinged together. FIG. 10B depicts the panels in a folded configuration. FIG. 10D depicts the panels in an unfolded configuration. FIG. 10C depicts the panels in transition between the folded configuration and the unfolded configuration. In some instances, the panels of the modular cooler assembly 100 may be hinged together such that the bottom panel 110 may be removed, and the remaining panels may be folded together about one or more hinges 208 (or joints) to form a sleek profile.

In certain embodiments, the hinges 208 may divide one or more of the panels into two sections. For example, the rear panel 102, the top panel 104, and the base member 114 may include a hinge 208 that divides the panels into two sections. The panels may be hinged together such that the modular cooler assembly 100 may be folded together in a sleek profile. The folded panels may be arranged in any suitable configuration for storage and/or transportation thereof. In certain embodiments, the sleek profile of the folded modular cooler assembly 100 may substantially reduce storage and transportation costs. Also, the sleek profile of the folded modular cooler assembly 100 may enable the modular cooler assembly 100 to be transported to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible for an assembled formed cooler, such as up stairs or through a small doorway.

FIG. 11 schematically depicts one or more embodiments of the joints 118 as comb joints 144 (also known as finger joints) between the panels. The comb joints 144 may include alternating cutouts 151 and fingers 150. In this manner, each cutout 151 may correspond to a finger 150 associated with an adjacent panel. In certain embodiments, the comb joints 144 between the panels may be secured together by one or more pins 146 disposed within a bore 148 of the fingers 150. The pin 146 may extend the length of the joint 118. In this manner, the panels may be secured together by way of the comb joints 144.

In certain embodiments, the modular cooler assembly 100 may be configured to maintain the one or more beverage containers at a desired temperature when stored therein. In this manner, the various panels of the modular cooler assembly 100 may be insulated. For example, as depicted in FIG. 12, the rear panel 102, the top panel 104, the first side panel 106, and the second side panel 108 may each include an interior panel 152 and an exterior panel 154. The interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154 may be made of metal, plastic, or the like, although the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154 may be any suitable material. In some instances, the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154 may be thin pieces of sheet metal or the like. In some instances, the interior panel 152 may be plastic and the exterior panel 154 may be sheet metal or the like. Between the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154 may be disposed one or more insulation layers 156. The one or more insulation layers 156 may be foam or the like. For example, the one or more insulation layers 156 may be sheets of foam insulation, although other types of material may be used. In certain embodiments, the one or more insulation layers 156 may be attached to the interior panel 152 and/or the exterior panel 154 and/or sandwiched therebetween. In some instances, the one or more insulation layers 156 may include one or more voids 158 disposed therein. Further, one or more vacuum panels 160 may be positioned within the voids 158. For example, the size and shape of the vacuum panels 160 may correspond to the size and shape of the voids 158. In this manner, the one or more insulation layers 156 and the one or more vacuum panels 160 may be sandwiched between the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 152. The one or more vacuum panels 160 may increase the insulation of the panels. In certain embodiments, the front panel 112 and the bottom panel 110 may include similar insulation construction. Such a configuration of the panels ensures consistent quality and uniformity of the panels. Moreover, the vacuum panels 160 provide increased insulation to targeted area.

According to one example embodiment, as depicted in FIGS. 13(a)-(c), the insulated panels may be manufactured by cutting the voids 158 out of the insulation layer 156. For example, a hot wire, a hot press or the like may be used to cut out the voids 158. The insulation layer 156 may then be passed between two rolls, one comprising the interior panel 152 and the other comprising the exterior panel 154. In this manner, the interior panel 152 may be attached (e.g., glued or the like) to a first side 162 of the insulation layer 156, and the exterior panel 154 may be attached (e.g., glued or the like) to a second side 164 of the insulation layer 156. Next, the assembled interior panel 152, insulation layer 156, and exterior panel 154 may be divided into two separate pieces. For example, a hot wire or the like may be used to divide the insulation layer 156 between the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154. In this manner, the interior panel 152 will have a portion of the insulation layer 156 attached thereto, and the exterior panel 154 will have a portion of the insulation layer 156 attached thereto as well. The vacuum panel 160 may be positioned within the voids 158. Lastly, the two separate pieces may be reattached to form the panel. Other manufacturing techniques may also be used to assembly the panels. For example, the described steps may be performed in any sequence.

According to another example embodiment, as depicted in FIGS. 14(a)-(c), the insulation layer 156 may be passed between two rolls, one comprising the interior panel 152 and the other comprising the exterior panel 154. In this manner, the interior panel 152 may be attached (e.g., glued or the like) to a first side 162 of the insulation layer 156, and the exterior panel 154 may be attached (e.g., glued or the like) to a second side 164 of the insulation layer 156. Next, the assembled interior panel 152, insulation layer 156, and exterior panel 154 may be divided into two separate pieces. For example, a hot wire or the like may be used to divide the insulation layer 156 between the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154. In this manner, the interior panel 152 will have a portion of the insulation layer 156 attached thereto, and the exterior panel 154 will have a portion of the insulation layer 156 attached thereto as well. Next, one or more voids 166 may be cut out of a second insulation layer 168 by way of, for example, a hot wire or hot press or the like. The vacuum panel 160 may be positioned within the voids 166 of the second insulation layer 168. The second insulation layer 168, with the vacuum panel 160 positioned therein within the void 166, may be sandwiched between the two separate pieces, thereby forming the panel. Other manufacturing techniques may also be used to assembly the panels. For example, the described steps may be performed in any sequence.

FIGS. 15(a)-(d) schematically depict cross-sectional side views of various panel assemblies in accordance with one or more embodiments of the disclosure. Specifically, FIG. 15(a) schematically depicts the insulation layer 156 positioned between the interior panel 152 and the exterior panel 154. FIG. 15(b) schematically depicts the interior panel 152 with a portion of the insulation layer 156 attached thereto, and the exterior panel 154 with a portion of the insulation layer 156 attached thereto as well. The vacuum panel 160 may be positioned within the voids 166 of the second insulation layer 168. In some instances, a slab, a block, an insert, or the like of phase change material 170 may be incorporated into the insulated panels. For example, the phase change material 170 may be used as a thermal ballast in addition to the vacuum panel 160. As depicted in FIG. 15(c), in certain embodiments, the phase change material 170 may replace the vacuum panel 160. That is, the phase change material 170 may be positioned within the voids 166 of the second insulation layer 168. In some instances, as depicted in FIG. 15(d), the phase change material 170 may be used in conjunction with the vacuum panel 160. For example, the phase change material 170 may be positioned within the voids 166 of the second insulation layer 168 nearer the interior panel 152 (which may be the colder side of the panel), and the vacuum panel 160 may be positioned within the voids 166 of the second insulation layer 168 nearer the exterior panel 154 (which may be the warmer side of the panel) or vice versa.

In certain embodiments, the insulation layer 156 may be omitted between the phase change material 170 and the interior panel 152. That is, no intervening components may be positioned between the phase change material 170 and the interior panel 152. In some instances, a layer of insulation or the like may be disposed between the phase change material 170 and the vacuum panel 160.

FIGS. 16-18 schematically depict a collapsible shelf assembly 200. The collapsible shelf assembly 200 may include an expanded (or deployed) configuration, as depicted in FIG. 16, and a collapsed (or folded) configuration, as depicted in FIG. 18. In some instances, the collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be positioned within the upper compartment 120 of the modular cooler assembly 100. For example, the collapsible shelf assembly 200 may initially be positioned within the upper compartment 120 of the cooler assembly 100 in the collapsed configured and thereafter deployed to the expanded configuration. In some instances, the collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be secured to the interior of the upper compartment 120 of the module cooler assembly 100. The collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be configured to support one or more products thereon, such as beverage containers or perishable goods.

The collapsible shelf assembly 200 may include a frame assembly 202 and a number of shelf assemblies 204. In some instances, the frame assembly 202 may include a first lateral frame 206 and a second lateral frame 208. The first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 may face each other. For example, the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 may be coupled together by the shelf assemblies 204.

The first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 may include a number of vertical supports 210 and a number of horizontal supports 212. In some instances, the vertical supports 210 may be coupled together by the horizontal supports 212. Although described as vertical and horizontal, the vertical supports 210 and horizontal supports 212 may be disposed at any angle or orientation relative to one another or the surrounding environment. For example, the horizontal supports 212 may include a number of diagonal supports or the like configured to couple the vertical supports 210. Similarly, the vertical supports 210 may be any arranged in any suitable orientation. The vertical supports 210 and horizontal supports 212 may collectively form a generally rigid structure.

The shelf assemblies 204 may include a first shelf portion 214 and a second shelf portion 216. The first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may be rotatably coupled together. For example, one or more couplings 218 may rotatably couple the first shelf portion 214 to the second shelf portion 216. In some instances, the couplings 218 may be sleeves or the like. In this manner, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may be folded together, as depicted in FIG. 18, and expanded apart, as depicted in FIG. 16. When expanded apart, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may collectively form a shelf capable of supporting one or more products thereon. For example, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may form a substantially level surface extending between the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208. In some instances, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may be wireframes, solid surfaces, or a combination thereof. In certain embodiments, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may include a spacer 220.

The shelf assemblies 204 may be rotatably coupled to the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208. In some instances, a mounting bracket 222 may couple the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 to the shelf assemblies 204. For example, the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 may include a track 224 having a number of slots 226 therein. The mounting bracket 222 may be configured to mate with at least one of the slots 226 in the track 224. The shelf assemblies 204 may be rotatably attached to the mounting bracket 222 by way of a hinge 228 or the like. In some instances, the mounting bracket 222 may be integral with the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208. That is, the mounting brackets 222 may be fixed to the frame assembly 202.

The collapsible shelf assembly 200 may include an expanded configuration and a collapsed (or folded) configuration. FIG. 16 depicts the collapsible shelf assembly 200 in the expanded configuration. To move the collapsible shelf assembly 200 from the expanded configuration to the collapsed configuration, the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 may be moved towards each other. As depicted in FIG. 17, as the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 are moved towards each other, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may pivot towards each other about the coupling 218. In addition, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may rotate about the hinge 228 of the mounting bracket 222. As a result, the first shelf portion 214 and the second shelf portion 216 may be folded together, as depicted in FIG. 18. The folded configuration may facilitate the storage, removal, and/or transportation of the collapsible shelf assembly 200. To expand the collapsible shelf assembly 200, the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 may be moved away from each other.

The collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be locked in the expanded configuration using a bracket or the like. For example, a bar may be positioned between the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208 to maintain them in the expanded configuration. Other means may be used to lock the collapsible shelf assembly 200 in the expanded configuration.

In certain embodiments, the collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be secured to the interior of the upper compartment 120 of the module cooler assembly 100 when in the expanded configuration. In some instances, the vertical supports 210 and/or the horizontal supports 212 may be fastened to the first side panel 106 and/or the second side panel 108 by one or more fasteners, such as screws, bolts, nails, etc. In certain embodiments, the interior of the upper compartment 120 may include one or more slots or recesses that correspond to the frame assembly 202. In this manner, at least a portion of the frame assembly 202 may mate with the slots to secure the collapsible shelf assembly 200 within the interior of the upper compartment 120. In some instances, the vertical supports 210 and/or the horizontal supports 212 may be secured to the first side panel 106 and/or the second side panel 108 by friction. For example, an outer surface of the vertical supports 210 and/or the horizontal supports 212 may include a surface suitable to create a friction lock between the collapsible shelf assembly 200 and the first side panel 106 and/or the second side panel 108. In some instances, the outer surface of the vertical supports 210 and/or the horizontal supports 212 may include a rubber coating or the like. Any suitable material may be used. In some instances, wheels or casters may be disposed about the frame assembly 202 for moving the collapsible shelf assembly 200.

FIGS. 19 and 20 schematically depict a tool 300 for stocking the collapsible shelf assembly 200. For example, the tool 300 may be used to remove the collapsible shelf assembly 200 from the upper compartment 120 of the modular cooler 100. In some instances, the tool 300 may apply a compressive force to the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208, thereby enabling the collapsible shelf assembly 200 to be removed from the upper compartment 120 of the modular cooler 100. Once removed, the collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be stocked with products from the rear and returned to the upper compartment 120 of the modular cooler 100. In this manner, warmer products may be positioned about the rear of the collapsible shelf assembly 200 after restocking

In certain embodiments, the tool 300 may include a platform 302. The platform 302 may be substantially horizontal. The platform 302 may be configured to engage the frame assembly 202 of the collapsible shelf assembly 200. For example, platform 302 may be positioned beneath the bottom shelf assembly 204 between the first lateral frame 206 and the second lateral frame 208. An upright support 304 may extend vertically from the platform 302. The upright support 304 may be configured to engage the frame assembly 202. For example, the upright support 304 may include framework 306 configured to engage a front portion of the frame assembly 202. In some instances, the framework 306 may prevent products from falling off the shelf assemblies 204 when the tool 300 engages the collapsible shelf assembly 200.

The tool 300 may include one or more wheels or castors 308. In addition, the tool 300 may include one or more rails 310 and at least one step 312. In some instances, at least one of the wheels 308 may act as a pivot 314 for raising and lowering the collapsible shelf assembly 200. For example, the tool 300 may pivot the collapsible shelf assembly 200 to remove it. In some instances, a user may hold the rails 310 and step on the step 312 to raise the collapsible shelf assembly 200. Once raised, the collapsible shelf assembly 200 may be removed from the modular cooler 100.

Although specific embodiments of the disclosure have been described, numerous other modifications and alternative embodiments are within the scope of the disclosure. For example, any of the functionality described with respect to a particular device or component may be performed by another device or component. Further, while specific device characteristics have been described, embodiments of the disclosure may relate to numerous other device characteristics. Further, although embodiments have been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the disclosure is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as illustrative forms of implementing the embodiments. Conditional language, such as, among others, “can,” “could,” “might,” or “may,” unless specifically stated otherwise, or otherwise understood within the context as used, is generally intended to convey that certain embodiments could include, while other embodiments may not include, certain features, elements, and/or steps. Thus, such conditional language is not generally intended to imply that features, elements, and/or steps are in any way required for one or more embodiments.

Claims

1. A modular cooler assembly configured to house one or more beverage containers therein, the modular cooler comprising:

a rear panel;
a top panel;
a first side panel;
a second side panel;
a plurality of joints configured to interconnect the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel;
a bottom panel positioned between the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel; and
a front panel attached to at least one of the first side panel or the second side panel, wherein the front panel is configured to be opened and closed.

2. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel defines an upper compartment and a lower compartment.

3. The modular cooler assembly of claim 2, further comprising a base member positioned about a bottom portion of the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel, wherein the base member forms a bottom portion of the lower compartment.

4. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, wherein the bottom panel is spaced apart from a bottom portion of the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel such that the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel at least partially encompass the bottom panel.

5. The modular cooler assembly of claim 2, wherein the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, the second side panel, the bottom panel, and the front panel define a substantially enclosed space about the upper compartment when the front panel is closed.

6. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, wherein the plurality of joints comprise one or more hinges, pins, double rabbet joints, comb joints, or a combinations thereof.

7. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of seals disposed between the plurality of joints, wherein the plurality of seals are configured to form a substantially hermetic seal between the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel.

8. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of supports positioned about an interior of one or more of the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel, wherein the plurality of supports are configured to support the bottom panel thereon.

9. The modular cooler assembly of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of seals disposed between the plurality of supports, wherein the plurality of seals are configured to form a substantially hermetic seal between the bottom panel and the rear panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel.

10. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, wherein the wherein the front panel comprises a glass door.

11. The modular cooler assembly of claim 2, wherein the bottom panel comprises one or more apertures therethrough between the upper compartment and the lower compartment.

12. The modular cooler assembly of claim 2, wherein the lower compartment is configured to house a refrigeration unit therein.

13. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, further comprising a pedestal configured to support the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, the second side panel, and the bottom panel, wherein the pedestal comprises a bottom member, a front grill, and a rear grill, wherein the pedestal is configured to house a refrigeration unit therein.

14. The modular cooler assembly of claim 1, wherein the rear panel, the top panel, the first side panel, and the second side panel each comprise:

an interior panel;
an exterior panel;
one or more insulation layers disposed between the interior panel and the exterior panel;
one or more voids disposed within the one or more insulation layers; and
one or more vacuum panels, phase change materials, or a combination thereof disposed within the one or more voids of the one or more insulation layers.

15. A modular cooler assembly configured to house one or more beverage containers therein, the modular cooler comprising:

a plurality of panels, wherein one or more of the plurality of panels comprises: an interior panel; an exterior panel; one or more insulation layers disposed between the interior panel and the exterior panel; one or more voids disposed within the one or more insulation layers; and one or more vacuum panels, phase change materials, or a combination thereof disposed within the one or more voids of the one or more insulation layers; and
a plurality of joints configured to interconnect the plurality of panels, wherein at least one of the plurality of panels is configured to be opened and closed.

16. The modular cooler assembly of claim 15, wherein the plurality of joints comprise one or more hinges, pins, double rabbet joints, comb joints, or a combinations thereof.

17. The modular cooler assembly of claim 15, further comprising a plurality of seals disposed between the plurality of joints, wherein the plurality of seals are configured to form a substantially hermetic seal between the plurality of panels.

18. The modular cooler assembly of claim 15, wherein the plurality of panels define an upper compartment and a lower compartment, and wherein an aperture is disposed between the upper compartment and the lower compartment.

19. The modular cooler assembly of claim 18, wherein the lower compartment is configured to house a refrigeration unit therein.

20. A method for assembling a panel for a modular cooler assembly configured to house one or more beverage containers therein, the method comprising:

cutting a void out of a first insulation layer;
attaching an interior panel to a first side of a second insulation layer;
attaching an exterior panel to a second side of the second insulation layer;
dividing the second insulation layer into two separate pieces;
positioning a vacuum panel, a phase change material, or a combination thereof within the void of the first insulation layer;
positioning the first insulation layer between the two separate pieces; and
sandwiching the two separate pieces of the insulation layer about the first insulation layer.

21. The method of claim 20, further comprising interconnecting a plurality of the panels to at least partially form the modular cooler assembly.

22. A collapsible shelf assembly, comprising:

a frame assembly comprising a first lateral frame and a second lateral frame; and
a plurality of shelf assemblies rotatably coupled between the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame, wherein the plurality of shelf assemblies comprise a first shelf portion rotatably coupled to a second shelf portion, wherein the first shelf portion the second shelf portion comprise a folded configuration when the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame are moved towards each other and an expanded configuration when the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame are moved away from each other.

23. The collapsible shelf assembly of claim 22, wherein the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame each comprise a plurality of supports coupled together to form a rigid structure.

24. The collapsible shelf assembly of claim 22, wherein the first shelf portion and the second shelf portion form a substantially level surface capable of supporting one or more products thereon extending between the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame when in the expanded configuration.

25. The collapsible shelf assembly of claim 22, further comprising a mounting bracket configured to couple the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame to the shelf assemblies.

26. The collapsible shelf assembly of claim 22, wherein the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame comprise a track having a number of slots therein.

27. The collapsible shelf assembly of claim 22, further comprising a spacer.

28. A modular cooler assembly kit, comprising:

a modular cooler assembly, comprising: a plurality of panels defining one or more compartments; and a plurality of joints configured to interconnect the plurality of panels, wherein at least one of the plurality of panels is configured to be opened and closed; and
a collapsible shelf assembly, comprising: a frame assembly comprising a first lateral frame and a second lateral frame; and a plurality of shelf assemblies rotatably coupled between the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame, wherein the plurality of shelf assemblies comprise a first shelf portion rotatably coupled to a second shelf portion, wherein the first shelf portion the second shelf portion comprise a folded configuration when the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame are moved towards each other and an expanded configuration when the first lateral frame and the second lateral frame are moved away from each other.

Patent History

Publication number: 20140345316
Type: Application
Filed: Apr 15, 2014
Publication Date: Nov 27, 2014
Applicant: The Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, GA)
Inventors: Vinayak S. Godbole (Peachtree City, GA), Anish Mehta (Alpharetta, GA)
Application Number: 14/253,166

Classifications