Title:
Modular rack and system of use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A unit rack for use in providing shippable storage for a plurality of panels is disclosed. The unit rack includes a first elongated bar having a top surface, a second elongated bar having a top surface, at least one base rigidly mounted to the second bar, a plurality of spacers, and at least one hanging member rigidly mounted to the second bar. The second bar top surface is coplanar to the first bar top surface. Each spacer has a first end portion mounted to the first bar and a second end portion mounted to the second bar. A method of use is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Mchugh, Michael P. (Solon, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/931744
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
09/01/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G19/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PUROL, SARAH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Watts Hoffmann, Ste 1750 CO. L. P. A. (1100 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44114, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A unit rack for use in providing shippable storage for a plurality of panels, said unit rack comprising: a) a first elongated bar having a top surface; b) a second elongated bar having a top surface, said second bar top surface coplanar to said first bar top surface; c) at least one base rigidly mounted to said second bar; d) a plurality of spacers, each spacer having a first end portion mounted to said first bar and a second end portion mounted to said second bar; and e) at least one hanging member rigidly mounted to said second bar.

2. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein each of said plurality of spacers comprises an arcuate portion adjacent to said first end portion.

3. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein each of said plurality of spacers comprises an arcuate portion adjacent to said second end portion.

4. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein a series of said first end portions of each of said plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to said first bar top surface.

5. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein a series of said second end portions of each of said plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to said second bar top surface.

6. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein said at least one base comprises a planar engagement surface.

7. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein said at least one hanging member comprises a c-shaped hook oriented in a direction of said first elongated bar.

8. The unit rack of claim 1 comprising a first hanging member and a second hanging member, said first and second hanging members each rigidly mounted to a bottom surface of said second bar, wherein said first and second hanging members are disposed in a spaced relationship at opposite ends of said second bar.

9. The unit rack of claim 1 wherein each of said plurality of spacers comprises spacer identifying indicia on an exterior surface thereof, wherein adjacent spacers are identified with contrasting indicia.

10. A shipping assembly and a plurality of panels supported therein in parallel planes, the assembly comprising: a cart comprising a main body having a planar top surface and a plurality of wheels mounted to said main body, wherein said cart is transportable across a horizontal surface; a support frame removably engaged to said main body top surface, said support frame comprising a substantially vertical wall and a horizontally disposed base rigidly mounted to said wall and having a top surface; and a plurality of unit racks, each of said unit racks comprising: a) a first elongated bar having a top surface; b) a second elongated bar having a top surface, said second bar top surface coplanar to said first bar top surface; c) at least one base rigidly mounted to said second bar; d) a plurality of spacers, each spacer having a first end portion mounted to said first bar and a second end portion mounted to said second bar; and e) at least one hanging member rigidly mounted to said second bar; f) wherein a number of units racks are in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base and a said number of unit racks are removably disposed on said support frame vertical wall, whereby spacers of said units racks in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base are cooperatively aligned with spacers of said unit racks removably disposed on said support frame vertical wall.

11. The shipping assembly of claim 10 wherein said vertical wall of said support frame comprising a horizontal beam and each of said at least one hanging member comprises a c-shaped hook, wherein each of said number of unit racks removably disposed on said support frame vertical wall is hung upon said horizontal beam by said c-shaped hook.

12. The shipping assembly of claim 10 wherein each of said plurality of spacers comprises a first arcuate portion adjacent to said first end portion and a second arcuate portion adjacent to said second end portion

13. The shipping assembly of claim 10 wherein a series of said first end portions of each of said plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to said first bar top surface and a series of said second end portions of each of said plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to said second bar top surface.

14. The shipping assembly of claim 10 wherein said at least one base comprises a planar engagement surface, wherein said planar engagement surface engages said top surface of said frame base.

15. The shipping assembly of claim 10 comprising a first hanging member and a second hanging member, said first and second hanging members each rigidly mounted to a bottom surface of said second bar, wherein said first and second hanging members are disposed in a spaced relationship at opposite ends of said second bar.

16. A shipping assembly and a plurality of panels supported therein in parallel planes, said panels having a corner defined by two perpendicular edges, the assembly comprising: a cart comprising a main body having a planar top surface and a plurality of wheels mounted to said main body, wherein said cart is transportable across a horizontal surface; a support frame removably engaged to said main body top surface, said support frame comprising a substantially vertical wall and a horizontally disposed base rigidly mounted to said wall and having a top surface; and a plurality of unit racks, each of said unit racks comprising: a) a first elongated bar having a top surface; b) a second elongated bar having a top surface, said second bar top surface coplanar to said first bar top surface; c) at least one base rigidly mounted to said second bar; d) a plurality of spacers, each spacer having a first end portion mounted to said first bar and a second end portion mounted to said second bar; and e) at least one hanging member rigidly mounted to said second bar; f) wherein a number of units racks are in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base and a said number of unit racks are removably disposed on said support frame vertical wall, whereby each of said panels is supported substantially along said two perpendicular edges by a spacer on opposing sides of each of said panels.

17. The shipping assembly of claim 16 wherein said vertical wall of said support frame comprising a horizontal beam and each of said at least one hanging member comprises a c-shaped hook, wherein each of said number of unit racks removably disposed on said support frame vertical wall is hung upon said horizontal beam by said c-shaped hook.

18. The shipping assembly of claim 16 wherein each of said plurality of spacers comprises a first arcuate portion adjacent to said first end portion and a second arcuate portion adjacent to said second end portion.

19. The shipping assembly of claim 16 wherein a series of said first end portions of each of said plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to said first bar top surface and a series of said second end portions of each of said plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to said second bar top surface.

20. The shipping assembly of claim 16 wherein said at least one base comprises a planar engagement surface, wherein said planar engagement surface engages said top surface of said frame base.

21. The shipping assembly of claim 16 comprising a first hanging member and a second hanging member, said first and second hanging members each rigidly mounted to a bottom surface of said second bar, wherein said first and second hanging members are disposed in a spaced relationship at opposite ends of said second bar.

22. The shipping assembly of claim 16 wherein said spacers of said units racks in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base are cooperatively aligned with spacers of said unit racks removably disposed on said support frame vertical wall.

23. A method of transporting panels comprising: a) securing a cart, said cart comprising a main body having a planar top surface and a plurality of wheels mounted to said main body, wherein said cart is transportable across a horizontal surface; b) removably engaging a support frame to said top surface of said cart body, said support frame comprising a substantially vertical wall and a horizontally disposed base rigidly mounted to said wall and having a top surface; c) acquiring a plurality of unit racks, each rack comprising: i) a first elongated bar having a top surface; ii) a second elongated bar having a top surface, said second bar top surface coplanar to said first bar top surface; iii) at least one base rigidly mounted to said second bar; iv) a plurality of spacers, each spacer having a first end portion mounted to said first bar and a second end portion mounted to said second bar; and v) at least one hanging member rigidly mounted to said second bar; d) disposing essentially half of said unit racks in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base; e) removably hanging essentially half of said unit racks on said support frame vertical wall, whereby spacers of said units racks in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base are cooperatively aligned with spacers of said unit racks removably hanging on said support frame vertical wall so as to form at least one rack pair; f) acquiring an inventory of panels; and g) loading said inventory of panels into said at least one unit rack pair whereby said plurality of panels are supported upright therein in parallel planes.

24. The method of claim 23 comprising the step of removably connecting said unit racks in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base to said frame by a fastener.

25. The method of claim 23 comprising the step of inserting a support sheet above said first bar and said second bar and below said spacers of each unit rack disposed in engaging contact with said top surface of said support frame base.

26. The method of claim 23 comprising the step of inserting a support sheet in a space between said first bar and said second bar and said spacers of each unit rack removably hanging on said support frame vertical wall.

27. The method of claim 23 comprising the steps of unloading said inventory of panels, removing said plurality of unit racks from said support frame, and stacking said unit racks in an alternating nesting pattern.

28. The method of claim 23 comprising the step of loading said inventory of panels into said at least one unit rack pair whereby said plurality of panels are supported upright therein in parallel planes, wherein said inventory of panels are loaded in a pre-determined sequential order without regard to panel size.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a modular rack and system of use, and more particularly, to a modular rack and system of use for providing transportable storage for planar objects such as insulating glass units, single glass panels and other similar materials.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Manufacturers of insulating glass units are required to take appropriate care in storing and shipping product due to the inherent fragileness of the glass, the main component of the product. Insulating glass units are manufactured by sandwiching a peripheral spacer between two cooperatively aligned and parallel panels of glass. Once assembled, the insulating glass units must be properly secured and shipped to a remote window manufacturing site where appropriate frames and other hardware is added to form completed windows or doors. With the purchasing requirements of specialized orders, shorter lead times, and reduced order quantities, manufacturers preferably ship insulating glass units of various size within the same order. However, the inherent fragile nature of glass prohibits insulating glass units of varying size from being stacked or bundled in bulk. Similar care must be taken for single panels of glass that require transportation to another site.

Packaging for insulating glass units has been developed in the art to reduce breakage during shipment. Several designs include structure to equally space the units in a substantially vertical position using spacers or fixed racking. These designs lack flexibility and have no modular components. Typical designs support the units at the corners or horizontally across the panel surface in a “harp string” manner. These and other designs do not support the panels along two perpendicular edges. Further, these designs require the inefficient shipment of empty and relatively large returnable rack assemblies.

One object of the present invention is to reduce glass breakage as compared to “harp string” style and corner support designs. The present invention utilizes a modular rack system that provides elongated contact with the insulating glass unit in an elongated area adjacent two perpendicular edges.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a storage and transport system that allows for convenient sequential loading and unloading of glass units of various sizes and shapes.

Another object of the present invention is to reduce freight costs of empty racks returned from the window manufacturer to the panel manufacturer. The present invention is designed for use with a main transport cart. Conventionally, a glass manufacturer or supplier ships sheet glass to a panel manufacturer using a cart and frame system. Individual carts are sized to fill the bottom surface of an over-the-highway trailer. Each cart may contain a plurality of glass sheets of varying length, width and depth. Conventionally, the carts are unloaded and returned to the glass manufacturer. The present invention includes a modular rack apparatus suitable for mounting on either the vertical or horizontal portion of the frame. Once the panels are unloaded at the window manufacturer, the racks can be nested to significantly reduce the such the trailer loads of returnable racks to the panel manufacturer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In an illustrated embodiment of the invention, a unit rack for use in providing shippable storage for a plurality of panels is disclosed. One exemplary panel type is an insulating glass unit. It should be understood that the illustration and description of an insulating glass unit is for perspective and exemplary purposes only, and the invention may be practiced with any fragile planar objects, including sheet glass and single window panels.

In the illustrated embodiment, a unit rack includes a first elongated bar having a top surface, a second elongated bar having a top surface, the second bar top surface being coplanar to the first bar top surface, at least one base rigidly mounted to the second bar, a plurality of spacers, each spacer having a first end portion mounted to the first bar and a second end portion mounted to the second bar, and at least one hanging member rigidly mounted to the second bar.

A plurality of spacers may include a first arcuate portion adjacent to the first end portion and a second arcuate portion adjacent to the second end portion. A series of first end portions of each of the plurality of spacers may be equidistantly mounted to the first bar top surface. A series of second end portions of each of the plurality of spacers may be equidistantly mounted to the second bar top surface.

The at least one base may include a planar engagement surface. The at least one hanging member may include a c-shaped hook oriented in a direction of the first elongated bar.

The unit rack may include a first hanging member and a second hanging member. The first and second hanging members are each rigidly mounted to a bottom surface of the second bar, wherein the first and second hanging members are disposed in a spaced relationship at opposite ends of the second bar.

Each of the plurality of spacers may include spacer identifying indicia on an exterior surface of the spacers, wherein adjacent spacers are identified with contrasting indicia.

In another embodiment, a shipping assembly and a plurality of panels are supported therein in parallel planes. The assembly includes a cart, a support frame, and a plurality of unit racks as above described. The cart includes a main body having a planar top surface and a plurality of wheels mounted to the main body, wherein the cart is transportable across a horizontal surface. The support frame is removably engaged to the main body top surface and includes a horizontally disposed base having a top surface and a substantially vertical wall. A number of units racks are in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base and a same number of unit racks are removably disposed on the support frame vertical wall, whereby spacers of the units racks in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base are cooperatively aligned with spacers of the unit racks removably disposed on the support frame vertical wall.

The support frame may include a horizontal beam and each of the at least one hanging member may include a c-shaped hook. Each of the number of unit racks removably disposed on the support frame vertical wall is hung upon the horizontal beam by the c-shaped hook.

In another embodiment, a shipping assembly as above described and a plurality of panels supported therein in parallel planes. The panels have a corner defined by two perpendicular edges. Each of the panels is supported substantially along the two perpendicular edges by a spacer on opposing sides of the panel.

The base may include a planar frame engagement surface, wherein the frame engagement surface engages the top surface of the frame base.

The present invention includes a method of transporting panels. The method includes the first step of securing a cart. The cart includes a main body having a planar top surface and a plurality of wheels mounted to the main body. The cart is transportable across a horizontal surface. A second step includes removably engaging a support frame to the base top surface. The support frame includes a horizontally disposed base and a substantially vertical wall rigidly mounted to the base. A third step includes acquiring a plurality of unit racks as above described.

Once a plurality of units racks are acquired, the method includes the step of disposing essentially half of the unit racks in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base. Another step includes removably hanging essentially half of the unit racks on the support frame vertical wall, whereby spacers of the units racks in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base are cooperatively aligned with spacers of the unit racks removably hanging on the support frame vertical wall so as to form at least one rack pair.

Final method steps includes acquiring an inventory of panels and loading the inventory of panels into the at least one unit rack pair whereby the plurality of panels are supported upright therein in parallel planes.

The method may include the step of removably connecting the unit racks in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base to the frame by a fastener.

The method may include the step of inserting a support sheet above the first bar and the second bar and below the spacers of each unit rack disposed in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base.

The method may include the steps of unloading the inventory of panels, removing the plurality of unit racks from the support frame, and stacking the unit racks in an alternating nesting pattern.

Further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description made with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a unit rack constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, showing a rack and an inserted sheet of plywood;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a storage system including four unit racks of FIG. 1, showing a loaded support frame placed upon a transportation cart;

FIG. 3 is a side cross-sectional view of the storage system of FIG. 2, as seen approximately from a plane taken along the lines 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an exploded side cross-sectional view of an area designated in FIG. 3, showing the unit rack of FIG. 1 mounted to a horizontal cross member of the support frame; and

FIG. 5 is a side view of a plurality of unit racks of FIG. 1, showing a nested stack of unit racks suitable for return shipment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, a unit rack 10 constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The unit rack 10 is used to provide shippable storage for a planar object. It should be understood that the present invention will be described in connection with insulating glass units for exemplary purposes only, and that the present invention may be practiced in connection with any fragile planar object, including glass sheet, single glass panels, or framed windows.

The present invention allows a plurality of unit racks to be used in a modular fashion within a shipping assembly. The unit racks form pairs, with one member of a pair horizontally disposed and the other pair member disposed essentially vertical. Spacers on each pair member cooperatively align to form channels into which an insulating glass unit may be inserted. Within a channel, an insulating glass unit is loosely supported substantially along either side of two perpendicular and contiguous edges by spacers. This support structure is believed to reduce glass breakage over other prior art designs. Further, the modular design allows a single unit rack to be used in either pair location. When not in use, the unit racks stack in an alternating nesting pattern as shown in FIG. 5. This feature reduces storage space and return shipping costs.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a perspective view of a unit rack constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, showing a rack 10 and an inserted sheet of plywood 12.

The unit rack 10 includes a first elongated bar 14, a second elongated bar 16, at least one base 18a, a plurality of spacers 20a, 20b, 20c . . . 20z, and at least one hanging member 22. As shown, a plywood panel 12 is disposed in a position between the first and second bars 14, 16 and the plurality of spacers. This panel 12 is used in a shipping assembly that includes a multiple of unit racks 10 as shown in FIG. 2. The panel may be constructed of plywood or any suitable material that conforms to a planar shape. As best seen in FIG. 3, the outer circumferential edge of an insulating glass unit loaded into a channel is contiguous with the panel 12.

As shown, the first elongated bar 14 is a planar rectangular-shaped member having a top surface 30 and a bottom surface (not shown). Any suitable metal or material of sufficient strength and rigidity may be used to construct the first bar 14. The dimensions of the first bar may vary in the practice of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 2, the first bar 14 is sized to permit two unit racks 10 to fit lengthwise in series across the top surface of an industry standard frame. Further, a series of apertures are equally spaced through the top surface 30 of the first bar 12. These apertures (not shown) are mounting holes for the plurality of spacers. The aperture size and spacing may be varied in the practice of the present invention.

The second elongated bar 16 as shown is also a rigid planar member. As illustrated, the second bar 16 is essentially identical to the first bar 14. As such, the above discussion of the first bar 14 applies as well to the second bar 16. In addition, the second bar 16 has a top surface 32. The second bar top surface 32 is coplanar to the first bar top surface 30. This feature is apparent in the illustration in FIG. 1. As shown, the plywood panel 12 evenly rests upon the first bar top surface 30 and the second bar top surface 32.

At least one base 18a is rigidly mounted to the second bar 14. In the embodiment illustrated, two internally disposed bases 18a and two externally disposed base 18b are mounted a bottom surface of the second bar 14. Each base 18a, 18b is a rectangular-shaped open-ended box formed from sheet metal. Each base must be of sufficient strength to not bend or otherwise deform under the weight of the stored panels. Further, as shown in FIG. 5, each base must be of sufficient strength to not deform when under the weight of a series of nesting unit racks 10.

As best seen in FIGS. 4-5, each base 18a, 18b includes a planar engagement surface 36. The structural effect of this feature is shown in FIG. 3. When a unit rack 10 is placed upon a horizontal surface, the unit rack rests upon a planar bottom surface 36 of the base. Consequently, the plane formed by the second bar top surface 32 and the first bar top surface 30 is not parallel to horizontal. Further, each base may have one or more apertures through the bottom surface. Utilizing this feature, an operator may attach the unit rack 10 to a frame by installing a threaded screw or other suitable fastener.

As discussed, the unit rack 10 includes a plurality of spacers 20a, 20b, 20c . . . 20z. A total of 26 spacers are included in the illustrated embodiment, although it should be understood by others with ordinary skill in the art that the present invention may be practiced with any practical number of spacers.

Each spacer includes an elongated center portion between two end portions. Specifically, each spacer includes a first end portion 40 mounted to the first bar 14 and a second end portion 42 mounted to the second bar 16. Any suitable mounting method may be used. As best seen in FIG. 3, each spacer includes a first arcuate portion 44 adjacent to said first end portion 40 and a second arcuate portion 46 adjacent to the second end portion 42. Each spacer itself is an elongated bar cut from rigid material stock.

The dimension of the spacer may vary in the practice of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 3, the spacer 20z is sized to permit one unit rack 10 to fit depth wise across the top surface of an industry standard frame.

In the illustrated embodiment, a series of first end portions of each of the plurality of spacers are equidistantly mounted to the first bar 14 top surface 30. This may be achieved through the first and second bar aperture pattern previously discussed. Cooperatively, a series of second end portions of each of the plurality of spacers are also equidistantly mounted to the second bar 16 top surface 32. As such, each unit rack 10 may become a modular item in a shippable assembly, i.e., each unit rack 10 is installable in any of the four positions shown in FIG. 2.

When used as a modular unit, another feature of the present invention is appreciated. The plurality of spacers may include spacer identifying indicia on an exterior surface of the spacers. As such, adjacent spacers are identified with contrasting indicia. For example, spacers 20a, 20c, 20e . . . may be covered with a blue indicia in the form of a hard plastic coating, and spacers 20b, 20d, 20f . . . may be covered with a white indicia. This contrasting indicia pattern on adjacent spacers advantageously provides visual assistance to a user of the shipping assembly when loading insulating glass units.

Lastly, the unit rack 10 includes at least one hanging member 22 used by an operator to hang the unit rack upon a vertical wall. The unit rack 10 of FIG. 1 includes two hanging members 22 rigidly mounted to opposite end of the second bar 16. In the embodiment illustrated, the hanging members 22 are connected to a bottom surface of the second bar 14. It should be understood by others with ordinary skill in the art that in the practice of the present invention the hanging member 22 and base 18b could be constructed as a unitized piece. In the embodiment shown, the hanging members 22 are c-shaped hooks oriented in a direction of the first elongated bar 14, as best seen in FIGS. 3-4.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a perspective view of a storage and shipping assembly 48 is illustrated, including four unit racks of FIG. 1. The units racks 10 shown are identical and therefore, may be randomly loaded onto a transportation cart 50. FIG. 3 is a side cross-sectional view of the storage system of FIG. 2, as seen approximately from a plane taken along the lines 3-3 of FIG. 2.

The shipping assembly 48 is adapted to support a plurality of panels therein in parallel planes. For perspective, three insulating glass units 52, 90, 91 are show in dashed lines in a stored position in FIG. 2. The assembly 48 includes a cart 50, a support frame 54, and four essentially identical unit racks 10. The four racks form two pairs of racks. Each pair is defined by one horizontally and one substantially vertically disposed unit rack. A panel of plywood 12 is also slid between the spacers and elongated bars 14, 16 of each unit rack. It should be obvious to others with ordinary skill in the art that other unit rack pairs and combinations may be used in the practice of the present invention.

The cart 50 includes a main body 56 having a planar top surface 58 and four wheels 60 mounted to the main body 56. The cart may be of any conventional design that is easily transportable across a horizontal surface by one or more operators. Moreover, the cart 50 must be of sufficient structural strength to support the weight of the remainder of the assembly 48, i.e., the support frame, any number of unit racks, and any loaded insulating glass units.

Again referring to FIGS. 2-3, a support frame 54 is illustrated in contact with the main body 56 top surface 58 of the transportation cart 50. The support frame is an industry standard frame conventionally used to ship sheet glass. The frame is heavy relative to the units racks and rests without support on the cart. As illustrated, the support frame 54 includes a horizontally disposed base 62 having a top surface 64 and a substantially vertical wall 66. The vertical wall 66 is rigidly connected to an outer edge of the base 62. The frame base 62 is supported above the cart by several legs 68.

The frame is advantageously constructed to create a structure for securing the insulating glass units. The plane of the substantially vertical wall 66 is essentially perpendicular to a plane formed by the second bar top surface 32 and the first bar top surface 30 of a unit rack resting on the support frame 54 top surface 64. As can be seen in FIG. 3, this feature provides two perpendicular surfaces upon which to contact the outer circumferential edges of an insulating glass unit.

An exploded side cross-sectional view of a small area designated in FIG. 3 by a dashed circle is shown in FIG. 4. The vertical wall 66 includes a horizontal beam 70. As shown, the c-shaped hook 22 of the unit rack is removably hung upon the horizontal beam. This mating structure does not require any tooling or fasteners. Unit racks can be manually hung or removed in a matter of seconds.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the assembly 48 includes four identical unit racks 10. Two units racks are disposed in contact with the top surface 64 of the support frame base 62. In such a position, the base engagement surface 36 rests upon the top surface 64. As discussed, this step may include securing the unit racks with a fastener to the support frame base 62. An equal number of unit racks are removably hung on the support frame vertical wall. In this configuration, spacers of the units racks in a horizontal position are cooperatively aligned with spacers of unit racks in a substantially vertical position. Thus, insulating glass units 52 may be placed in channels defined by aligned spacers on a pair of unit racks. In such a position, an insulating glass unit is supported substantially along two perpendicular edges by a spacer on opposing sides of the unit. In this configuration, the individual insulating glass units are not rigidly. Rather, each insulating glass unit is permitted a limited amount of side to side movement essentially insufficient to cause damage.

The spacers of the present invention do not traverse the individual insulating glass units in a direction from a horizontal frame edge to a vertical frame edge, in contrast to prior art so-called “harp string” designs. Although not wanting to be bound by theory, it is believed that elongated contact with the glass near two contiguous perpendicular edges better prevents glass breakage as compared to harp style racks.

The present invention includes a method of use of the assembly 48 as above described to transport insulating glass units. After the cart 50 and support frame 54 are acquired and assembled essentially as shown in FIG. 2, two unit racks 10 are engaged in contact with the top surface 64 of the support frame base 62. Essentially concurrently, two identical unit racks 10 are hung on the support frame 54 vertical wall 66. In such a position, spacers on the units racks in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base are cooperatively aligned with spacers on the unit racks removably hanging on the support frame vertical wall so as to form two rack pairs.

The next method step is inserting a plywood sheet 12 above the first bar and the second bar and below the spacers of each unit rack disposed in engaging contact with the top surface of the support frame base. As shown in FIG. 2, a plywood sheet 12 may be similarly inserted in the unit racks vertically hung on the support frame horizontal beam.

After the assembly 48 is complete as shown in FIG. 2, an inventory of insulating glass units is acquired. One benefit of the present invention is that the panels may be of a varying width and length. Further, the insulating glass units may be loaded in any pre-determined sequential order as requested by the end user of the product. This feature eliminates excessive unpacking, sorting, and repacking steps by the window manufacturer or other end user.

Next, the inventory of insulating glass units is loaded onto the assembly. Each insulating glass unit rests between cooperatively aligned spacers within a unit rack pair. When loaded, the plurality of panels 52, 90, 91 are supported upright therein in parallel planes as shown in FIG. 2. Once the loading is complete, additional elastic constraints or other support apparatus is not required. The cart 50 is rolled onto the bed of a trailer, or alternatively, manually transported to a remote end use location. Of course, the cart must be adequately secured within the trailer during over-the-highway travel.

Another benefit of the present invention is apparent after the insulating glass panels are unloaded at the end user. After emptied, the unit racks 10 may be nested to reduce required shipment space and, thus reduce return shipment costs. FIG. 5 is a side view of a plurality of unit racks of FIG. 1, showing a nested stack 100 of unit racks suitable for return shipment. Eight unit racks 110, 112, 114, 116, 118, 120, 122, 124 illustrated in FIG. 5 represent the unit racks from two assemblies. It is believed that when this nesting method step is practiced, approximately ten trailer loads of insulating glass units will generate only one trailer load of returnable unit racks to the panel manufacturer. The support frame 62 can be shipped directly to the glass manufacturer for a repeat cycle through the supplier chain.

While several embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in considerable detail, the present invention is not to be considered limited to the precise constructions disclosed. Various adaptations, modifications and uses of the invention may occur to those skilled in the arts to which the invention relates. It is the intention to cover all such adaptations, modifications and uses falling within the scope or spirit of the claims filed herewith.