Title:
Shelf divider apparatus assisting in sliding sheet removal for gravity feed shelving
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shelf divider member for use with gravity feed shelving systems, having outwardly-extending connector clips at each end, the shelf divider formed of generally elongated L-shaped divider member having a lowered connection point to the associated gravity feed shelf unit at the front, and an elevate+d connection point at the rear. Generally V-shaped divider guests extend downwardly from the elongated divider member to facilitate maintaining gravity feed product within the flow lanes. A plastic slide track sheet associated with the gravity feed shelf unit can be readily removed for cleaning, replacement and reinsertion, all without requiring any removal, including of any portion, of the respective shelf divider members.



Inventors:
Knorring I Jr., Edward (Wheaton, IL, US)
Coretti Jr., Joseph (Wheaton, IL, US)
Massett, Henry J. (Evergreen Park, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/999726
Publication Date:
06/01/2006
Filing Date:
11/30/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/181.1, 211/134
International Classes:
A47F1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAVCHAVADZE, COLLEEN MARGARET
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP (233 S. WACKER DRIVE, SUITE 6300, SEARS TOWER, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A divider member for use to separate flow lanes in a gravity feed shelf, the shelf having side members connected by at least front and rear transverse support rods, the divider member comprising: a first elongate portion extending in a direction generally parallel to an inclined plane of a gravity feed shelf; a second portion extending downwardly from and generally perpendicular to said first elongate portion; and a connector clip member projecting rearwardly from a rear end of the first elongate portion, said connector clip member being selectively secured to a crossbar spaced a distance above a rear of the gravity feed shelf, said distance being sufficiently greater than a thickness of a slide sheet received on the gravity feed shelf to permit removal of said slide sheet from a direction rearward of the gravity feed shelf without a need to first disconnect said connector clip member from the crossbar.

2. The divider member of claim 1 further comprising a front connector clip member projecting forwardly of a lower end of the second portion, said front clip member being selectively secured to a front transverse support rod of the inclined shelf.

3. The divider member of claim 2, wherein the first elongate portion and the second portion are compressibly biased when the connector clip member is connected to the crossbar and the second connector clip is connected to the front transverse support rod.

4. The divider member of claim 1 further comprising at least one gusset extending downwardly from the first elongate portion.

5. The divider member of claim 4, wherein the at least one gusset is generally V-shaped.

6. A gravity feed shelving system including: at least one inclined gravity feed shelf having side members connected by at least a front transverse support rod and a rear transverse support rod; a crossbar spaced a distance above the rear transverse support rod; at least one divider member including: a) a first elongate portion extending in a direction generally parallel to an inclined plane of the gravity feed shelf, b) a second portion extending downwardly and generally perpendicular to the first elongate portion, and c) a connector clip member projecting rearwardly from a rear end of the first elongate portion, said connector clip including a plurality of clip projections; and said crossbar including a first row of slotted openings sized to selectively receive at least two of the plurality of clip projections for securement of the rear end of the first elongate portion at a first height.

7. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 5, further including a slide sheet member provided on the at least one inclined gravity feed shelf, said slide sheet member having a thickness sufficiently less than the distance between the crossbar and the rear transverse support rod to permit removal of the slide sheet from a direction rearward of the inclined gravity feed shelf without a need to first remove the connector clip member from the crossbar.

8. The gravity feed shelf system of claim 7, wherein the connector clip member further includes a pair of clip projections at a different height than said at least two of the plurality of clip projections, said pair of clip projections facilitating securement of the rear end of the first elongate portion to the crossbar at a second height, said second height being at a different height than said first height.

9. The gravity feed shelf system of claim 8, wherein the at least one divider member includes at least one gusset extending downwardly from the first elongate portion, and when each of the pair of clip projections is received in the slotted openings of the crossbar, said at least one gusset engages the slide sheet member.

10. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 6, wherein the crossbar further includes a second row of slotted openings sized to selectively receive at least two of the plurality of clip projections, said second row of slotted openings being disposed lower than the first row of slotted openings to facilitate securement of the rear end of the first elongate portion at a second height, said second height being below said first height.

11. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 10, wherein the at least one divider member includes at least one gusset extending downwardly from the first elongate portion.

12. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 11, wherein the at least one gusset is generally V-shaped.

13. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 11, wherein the at least one inclined gravity feed shelf further includes a plurality of laterally spaced wire slide members extending between the front support rod and the rear support rod.

14. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 13, wherein when the clip projections are received in the first row of slotted openings, the at least one gusset does not extend below an inclined plane defined by the plurality of laterally spaced wire slide members.

15. The gravity feed shelving system of claim 14, wherein when the clip projections are received in the second row of slotted openings, a lower portion of the at least one gusset extends between a pair of the wire slide members, thereby extending below the plane defined by the plurality of laterally spaced wire slide members.

16. A divider member for use to separate flow lanes in a gravity feed shelf, having side members connected by transverse supports and a slide surface formed of a plurality of wire slide members, the divider member comprising: an elongate divider bar member having a plurality of downwardly-extending gusset members; connection clip members attached at each of a front end and a rear end of the divider bar member to facilitate adjustable positioning of the divider bar member relative to the gravity feed shelf with the front end of the divider bar member carrying the connector clip members at a lower location than at the rear end relative to the gravity feed shelf, the divider bar member adapted to permit removal for cleaning and replacement of an associated slide track sheet without the need for removing the divider bar member or any part of the divider bar member.

17. The divider member of claim 16, wherein the elongated divider bar member comprises a generally L-shaped rod member.

18. The divider member of claim 16, wherein the connector clip members comprise multiple outwardly extending clip projections permitting retention of the clip projections within slotted openings of a crossbar associated with the gravity feed shelf.

19. The divider member of claim 17, wherein the clip projections further permit respective engagement with a plurality of vertically aligned slot openings along the crossbar associated with the gravity feed shelf to thereby permit selective vertical positioning of the divider bar member relative to the associated gravity feed shelf unit.

20. The divider member of claim 17, wherein the clip connector members formed at the rear end of the divider bar member include upper and lower clip projections, thereby permitting, depending on which of the upper and lower clip projections are selected for engagement with the associated gravity feed shelf unit, of an elevated or a lowered positioning of the divider bar member relative to the gravity feed shelf.

21. Method of providing an inclined shelf of a gravity feed shelving system with a readily removable slide sheet, comprising: providing an inclined shelf including side members connected by at least front and rear transverse support rods; providing a slide sheet on said inclined shelf; providing at least one divider member having a first elongate portion extending in a direction generally parallel to the inclined shelf, a second portion extending downwardly from and generally perpendicular to the first elongate portion, and a connector clip member projecting rearwardly from a rear end of the first elongate portion; and connecting the connector clip member to a crossbar spaced a distance above a rear of the inclined shelf, said distance being sufficiently greater than a thickness of the slide sheet to permit removal of the slide sheet from a direction rearward of the inclined shelf without a need to first disconnect said connector clip member or any portion thereof from the crossbar.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein in providing the at least one divider member, the divider member includes a front connector clip member projecting forwardly of a lower end of the second portion, and further comprising connecting the front connector clip member to the front transverse support of the inclined shelf.

Description:

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure relates to gravity feed shelving, and more specifically, to a shelf divider that permits ready removal for cleaning or replacement of an underlying sliding sheet material.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

Gravity feed shelving is used in many applications, including for food containers, such as in grocery and convenience stores. For example, bottles of milk, cans of soda, juice boxes, and other like items are transported, in a first in-first out format, along angled, gravity feed shelf systems. One such gravity flow shelving system is typified by U.S. Pat. No. 5,607,068, as owned by the assignee of the present disclosure. Some applications for such gravity flow shelving include indexable and adjustable positioning structure, i.e. so as to allow the shelf lane dividers to be adjusted in their position, to accommodate larger or smaller product sizes, among the multiple flow lanes of a given gravity shelf unit. Such indexable and adjustable shelf assemblies are typified by U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,047,647 and 6,332,547, both as owned by the assignee of the present disclosure.

Many different attempts have been made to create shelf divider members that extend from the front to the rear of a gravity feed shelf and which can be easily adjusted. However, the known adjustable shelf divider members prevent the easy removal of any so-called PST sheet (plastic slide track sheet) which is used to better promote gravity feeding of certain sizes and shapes of food or beverage containers. Thus, when there has been product spillage for example, i.e. milk carton leaks, onto the PST sheet, is difficult to remove the sheet without removing at least the rear, if not the entirety, of the individual shelf divider members.

Thus, there is a need for a shelf divider which is sufficiently rigid to maintain the proper gravity feed flow lanes in a gravity feed shelf system, is readily adjustable from one position to another, so as to increase or decrease the width of a given flow lane, and which will allow the ready removal of the PST sheet for cleaning or replacement.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure concerns an adjustable shelf divider adapted to be readily adjustably connected to both the front and rear ends of a gravity feed shelf, and having downwardly extending gusset members to help provide flow lane separation. Further, the shelf divider is adapted to permit ready removal of the underlying PST sheet without removal of the shelf divider member itself. The shelf divider is formed as a generally elongated L-shaped wire member. It has a low-lying front end connector clip having forwardly-extending clip projections to be selectively positioned in a desired lateral location along the gravity feed shelf's front cross bar. The shelf divider also includes an elevated rear end connection clip with rearwardly-extending clip projections to be selectively positioned in the desired lateral location along a rear cross bar of the shelf. Further, by manipulating the rear connector clip projections to be inserted in either an upper or lower position, the lowermost point of the downwardly-extending gusset members can be caused to engage, or be elevated from the underlying PST sheet. Alternatively, where no PST sheet is present, and with use of a modified rear cross bar with multiple levels of slotted openings, the gusset members can be caused to extend down through and between the wire slides forming the gravity feed shelf surface, to assist in lane separation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 a is a rear perspective view of a gravity feed shelf fitted with the divider bar of the present disclosure and with the underlying plastic slide track sheet removed for better viewing;

FIG. 1b is a rear end elevation view of the gravity feed shelf of FIG. 1a, and depicting the presence of the plastic slide track sheet;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the gravity feed shelf of FIG. 1a;

FIG. 3a is a side view of the gravity feed shelf of FIG. 1, and depicting the lower points of the wire gussets of the shelf divider in an elevated position relative to the slide track sheet;

FIG. 3b is a side view similar to FIG. 3a, but depicting the gussets of the shelf divider in a lowered position engaging the underlying PST sheet, and which further depicts in phantom the plastic slide track sheet being removed from the rear end of the gravity feed shelf unit, as well as in phantom a further lowered position for the lower points of the wire gussets;

FIG. 4a is an enlarged side view of the rear crossbar of the shelf of FIG. 1, depicting the shelf divider's rear connector clip end engaged in an elevated position;

FIG. 4b is similar to FIG. 4a, but depicting the shelf divider's rear connector clip engaged in a lowered position;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective fragmented view (viewed from the outside of the rear of the shelf) of the rear clip's projections as engaged to the shelf's rear crossbar;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view (viewed from the inside of the rear of the shelf) and depicting the rear clip's projections engaged to the shelf's rear crossbar, and further depicting a modified rear connector clip;

FIG. 7a is a perspective view of the front clip projections as engaged to the shelf's lower front crossbar;

FIG. 7b is another perspective view, similar to FIG. 7a, but viewed from the opposite angle, depicting a somewhat lowered front upper cross bar for the shelf unit, and depicting the presence of the plastic slide track sheet, as well as a portion of the associated shelf standard; and

FIG. 8 depicts an enlarged section of a modified form of the shelf's upper rear cross bar, having multiple levels of slotted openings, and depicting the rear connector clip in a lowermost of multiple positions.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Having reference to the drawings, where like reference numbers comprise like elements, there is shown in FIG. 1a gravity feed shelf unit, generally denoted by reference numeral 10. Shelf unit 10 includes respective side support members 12a, 12b, each formed of metallic rod stock in a generally rectangular closed loop and each carrying along its lower end a stiffening angle iron member 14 having hangar slots 16 formed transversely across shelf unit 10. The hangar slots 16 are used to adjustably position the shelf unit 10 in a well known fashion relative to the associated shelf supports (not shown). Between the respective side support members 12a, 12b are formed a series of transverse support rods 18. The transverse support rods 18 include a front support rod 20 and a rear support rod 22. Additionally, so as to provide extra support, secondary stiffener supports 19 are formed as wire sections and welded to the underneath side of certain of the respective transverse rods 18 (see FIG. 1a). An upper front support rod 24 is also formed between the front ends of side members 12a, 12b, while an upper rear support rod 26 is formed at the rear end between side members 12a, 12b. Further, a slotted crossbar 28 is formed between the upper reaches of the rear portions of side members 12a, 12b. Crossbar 28 is used to provide support between the respective side members 12a, 12b, as well as to provide lateral adjustment, in the form of slotted openings 30, as used to permit adjustment of certain shelf divider bars, as explained later herein. A plurality of shelf slide surface members, shown as laterally spaced, front-to-rear extending wire slide members 32, are formed to extend along the entire length of the shelf unit 10 as fixed to and supported by the respective front, rear and other support rods 18, 20 and 22.

As seen in FIG. 1, a food or beverage container, such as a square milk carton, a round can of soda, or other shaped container, can be gravity fed, on a first-in first-out basis, from the rear end (i.e. left end in FIG. 1a) to the front end (i.e. right end in FIG. 1a) of gravity feed shelf unit 10, across the wire slide surface members 32. In some situations, it has been found that a plastic slide track (PST) material, such as a plastic slide sheet member 34 (see FIGS. 16, 6 and 3a), can be used to promote better gravity-feed sliding action along the rear-to-front dimension of gravity feed shelf unit 10. Such a PST member 34 can be formed of, for example, a ridge-configured sheet made of polystyrene with injected silicone material.

Referring to FIGS. 1a, 1b, and 6, there is seen a plurality of adjustable shelf divider members, each generally denoted by reference numeral 36. Each shelf divider member 36 comprises a generally elongate L-shaped support bar 38, preferably formed as a paint-coated steel rod member. Each bar 38 comprises an upper elongate horizontal section 40 (i.e. oriented generally parallel to the shelf unit 10) and a downwardly bent relatively short vertical section 42 (i.e. depending generally perpendicular to the upper elongate horizontal section 40) to be located along the front of the shelf unit 10. A divider wire 44, as formed into a pair of downwardly-extending generally V-shaped divider gussets 46, is preferably attached, such as by welding, to the lower side of the horizontal upper section 40. The lower points 48 of the respective generally V-shaped divider gussets 46 extend down towards, but do not always contact (at least in FIG. 3a) the upper surface 35 of PST sheet 34 as carried by the wire slide members 32. In other situations, such points 48 can touch PST sheet 34 (see FIG. 3b).

As best seen in FIG. 7, the lower end of the short vertical section 42 of shelf divider member 36 has a generally U-shaped connector clip 50. Each connector clip 50 extends outwardly from the lower front end of each shelf divider member 36 and is adapted to clip onto the lower front support rod 20 at a desired lateral position between selected respective wire slide surface members 32. The connector clip 50 grips and clips to the rod 20 generally under spring bias within support bar 38, and permits adjustable lateral positioning of the front end of the shelf divider member 36 relative to the shelf unit 10, so as to help form a flow lane thereon.

Similarly, formed so as to extend rearwardly of the rearmost (left end of FIG. 1a) end of the upper section 40 of L-shaped support bar 38 is a generally “H-shaped” rear connector clip 52. More specifically, rear connector clip 52 includes two pairs of clip projections 54, each of which pair can be placed into a pair of desired slotted openings 30 formed along slotted rear crossbar 28. It will be understood that, if the lower pair of clip projections 54 are placed into the slotted openings 30, such that the upper two clip projections 54 extend above and along the top surface 56 of slotted crossbar 28, then the lower points 48 of generally V-shaped divider gussets 46 will normally not engage the top surface 35 of plastic slide track sheet 34 (see FIGS. 1a, 1b, 3a and 4a). On the other hand (see FIGS. 3b and 4b), if instead the upper pair of clip projections 54 are inserted into the slotted openings 30 of crossbar 28, such that the lower pair of clip projections 54 extend under and along the lower surface 58 of crossbar 28, then the lower points 48 of the generally V-shaped divider gussets 46 will normally contact, i.e. be engaged into, the top surface 35 of plastic slide track sheet 34. It will be noted that the preferred form of rear connector clip 52 is shown in FIG. 5, where the clip is preferably formed as a flat stamped, generally “H” pattern member, with the clip projections 54 each bent outwardly, and that unit is then welded onto the rear end of the respective support bar 38. An alternative form of rear connector clip 52 is shown in FIG. 6, where respective generally U-shaped clips are welded to each end of a metal crossbar, which welded-up clip unit is then welded onto the rear end of the support bar 38.

Further yet, in one embodiment made in accordance with the present disclosure (see FIG. 8), no PST sheet 34 is used, and a modified slotted rear crossbar 60 is used (instead of crossbar 28) as having two vertically separated, and horizontally-aligned, rows of slotted openings 62, to, in essence, allow three vertical levels of potential engagement positions for the rear clip 52. For example (see FIG. 8), if the upper pair of clip projections 54 is inserted into the lower row of slotted openings 62 (see FIG. 8), that then causes the lower points 48 of generally V-shaped divider gussets 46 to reside even lower, that is, to extend down between and reside below the respective wire slide members 32 (see phantom location of such lower points 48 as depicted in FIG. 3b). In that case, the downwardly extending generally V-shaped divider gussets 46 are better stabilized, by being able to contact and be supported by the respective wire surface slide members 32 between which they extend. This is particularly helpful when relatively tall containers, or so-called reverse cone shaped products (such as certain yogurt containers), are the products being gravity fed through the various flow lanes of the gravity feed shelf unit 10.

Now, turning to FIGS. 1b, 3a, 3b, and 6, it is seen that the rear edge 64 of the plastic slide track sheet 34, and hence the sheet 34 itself, can be readily removed, i.e. grabbed and lifted out, from the rear of shelf unit 10 (see rear edge 64 of sheet 34 being removed, in phantom, in the direction of the arrow in FIG. 3b). As such, removal of the plastic slide track sheet can be accomplished without any need for disengaging one or both ends, or otherwise removing completely, the various shelf divider members 36 to free up the sheet 34.

This is a substantial advantage in that the end user of the gravity feed shelf unit 10, when formed to include the shelf divider members 36 of the present disclosure, is able to quickly remove, clean, replace, and reinstall the plastic slide track sheets 34 (assuming, of course, that all product is first removed from shelf unit 10) without any need to reconfigure, or otherwise unhook or remove, any of the shelf divider members 36 or any portions thereof. This presents a significant savings in both time and labor over prior shelf dividers for gravity feed shelf systems.

Based on the foregoing, one of ordinary skill in the art will readily understand that the teachings of this disclosure can be employed to create a shelf divider to assist in unencumbered sliding track sheet removal for gravity feed shelving systems.





 
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