Guangdong Xinhui CIMC Special Transportation Equipment Co. Ltd. (XCSE) has developed a new Flatrack hinge that closes automatically when the end wall of the Flatrack is erected.
The mechanism to open the hinge can be activated by one person pulling a latch, which XCSE claims is much simpler than other systems on the market that must be closed manually.
XCSE developed the system to reduce safety issues associated with the collapsible Flatrack. With a manually latching hinge, the Flatrack end wall can stand upright when it is erected to the vertical open position, even if the operator has forgotten to lock the hinge or the hinge is not in proper working condition. Furthermore, said chief engineer Herbert Kong from XCSE, any abnormality with the hinge is hard to detect because all the parts are within the ISO container dimensions, whether the Flatrack is in the locked or unlocked position.
If the hinge is not properly locked the laden Flatrack could be damaged during lifting or stacking. Kong adds that as well as causing damage to the equipment and the cargo, this presents a safety risk for anyone around the operation.
To improve the situation XSCE has developed a hinge that closes and locks automatically, based on the Seadeck assembly. With a traditional Seadeck hinge, explains Kong, the mechanisim is moved from the lock to the unlock position by sliding its square locking pin laterally in and out of the square apertures of the inner part and outer part of the hinge.
In the new hinge developed for Flatracks, the locking part is shorter than the traditional Seadeck locking pin. “This locking part is connected to a swing arm which can swing around its pivot which is parallel to the pivot axis of the hinge. The key invention is that the swing arm and the locking pin has a combined moment about its pivot axis which keeps the locking part always moving to the locking position,” said Kong. In the case something goes wrong and prevents the swing arm from going into the locking position, the locking part extrudes from the standard ISO profile - which is a clear visual indicator that something is wrong and the Flatrack is not ready for handling.
XSCE has completed and tested a mockup unit that Kong said proved the concept works very well. A series of stringent tests and trial will be carried out on a prototype Flatrack container later this year. The company has already show the mockup version to major customers and Kong said the response was favourable. Flatracks are an important product for XCSE, and its first priority is “to make Flatracks more safe and durable,” he concluded.
From left, The new automatic hinge with the Flatrack end moving to the erect position, properly closed in the erect position, and with the hinge open to move back to the folded position.