Title:
Pusher assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pusher assembly is positionable on a shelf for maintaining product on the shelf. The pusher assembly includes a pusher frame, a pusher plate assembly, at least one stop member, and a pusher plate biasing assembly. The pusher frame has a front end, a rear end, a first sidewall, a spatially disposed second sidewall and at least one product receiving space formed between the first and second sidewalls. The pusher plate assembly is disposed in the at least one product receiving space and is selectively movable through the at least one product receiving space for moving product through the at least one product receiving space. The at least one stop member is connected to the front end of the pusher frame for stabilizing product in the at least one product receiving space. The pusher plate biasing assembly biases the pusher plate assembly forward toward the at least one stop member.



Inventors:
Medcalf, Michael (Harrah, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/639809
Publication Date:
06/19/2008
Filing Date:
12/15/2006
Assignee:
Excell Products, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F1/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, LANNA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DUNLAP CODDING, P.C. (PO BOX 16370, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 73113, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pusher assembly positionable on a shelf for maintaining product on the shelf, the pusher assembly comprising: a pusher frame having a front end, a rear end, a first sidewall, a spatially disposed second sidewall and at least one product receiving space formed between the first and second sidewalls for receiving a row of product; a pusher plate assembly disposed in the at least one product receiving space, the pusher plate assembly selectively movable through the at least one product receiving space for moving product through the at least one product receiving space when the forward most product is removed from the at least one product receiving space of the pusher frame; at least one stop member connected to the front end of the pusher frame for stabilizing product in the at least one product receiving space and for preventing discharge of product from the at least one product receiving space as the product is caused to move forward through the at least one product receiving space of the pusher frame; and a pusher plate biasing assembly for biasing the pusher plate assembly forward toward the at least one stop member, the pusher plate biasing assembly comprising: at least one roller having a circumferential groove, the at least one roller rotatably connected to a portion of the pusher frame; and a bungee cord disposed along the base of the pusher frame so as to operably engage the at least one roller rotatably connected to the portion of the base frame, the bungee cord engaging the pusher plate assembly so as to bias the pusher plate assembly in a forward direction to ensure that product is moved forward in the product receiving space of the pusher assembly when the forward most product in the row of product supported in the product receiving space is removed.

2. The pusher assembly of claim 1 wherein the pusher frame further comprises: a base assembly for supporting and stabilizing the pusher plate assembly as the pusher plate assembly travels along the product receiving space of the pusher frame.

3. The pusher assembly of claim 2 wherein the base assembly comprises: a pair of spatially disposed guide tracks extending along the base assembly of the pusher frame.

4. The pusher assembly of claim 3 wherein the pusher plate assembly comprises: a pusher sled assembly slidably mounted on the pair of guide tracks of the pusher frame, the pusher sled assembly operably connected to the bungee cord of the pusher plate biasing assembly for selectively moving the pusher sled assembly along the at least one product receiving space when product is removed from the product receiving space.

5. The pusher assembly of claim 4 wherein the pusher sled assembly comprises: at least one pusher plate; and a pusher sled supporting the at least one pusher plate, the pusher sled having a pair of spatially disposed track followers for operably engaging the pair of guide tracks extending along the base assembly of the pusher frame.

6. The pusher assembly of claim 5 further comprising: a stop plate assembly removably connected to the front end of the pusher assembly for preventing forward movement of the pusher plate assembly past the stop plate assembly.

7. The pusher assembly of claim 3 wherein the base assembly of the pusher frame assembly has a slot formed between the pair of spatially disposed guide tracks.

8. The pusher assembly of claim 7 wherein a post is connected to a portion of the pusher plate assembly, the post extending longitudinally in a downward direction so as to be substantially disposed in the slot such that the post travels along the slot.

9. The pusher assembly of claim 8 wherein the bungee cord is operably connected to the post of the pusher plate assembly whereby the pusher plate assembly is biased in a forward position in the product receiving space of the pusher frame.

10. A method for displaying and storing merchandise on a shelf comprising the steps of: providing a pusher assembly wherein the pusher assembly comprises: a pusher frame having a front end, a rear end, a first sidewall, a spatially disposed second sidewall and at least one product receiving space formed between the first and second sidewalls for receiving a row of product; a pusher plate assembly disposed in the at least one product receiving space, the pusher plate assembly selectively movable through the at least one product receiving space for moving product through the at least one product receiving space when the forward most product is removed from the at least one product receiving space of the pusher frame; at least one stop member connected to the front end of the pusher frame for stabilizing product in the at least one product receiving space and for preventing discharge of product from the at least one product receiving space as the product is caused to move forward through the at least one product receiving space of the pusher frame; and a pusher plate biasing assembly for biasing the pusher plate assembly forward toward the at least one stop member, the pusher plate biasing assembly comprising: at least one roller having a circumferential groove, the at least one roller rotatably connected to a portion of the pusher frame; and a bungee cord disposed along the base of the pusher frame so as to operably engage the at least one roller rotatably connected to the portion of the base frame, the bungee cord engaging the pusher plate assembly so as to bias the pusher plate assembly in a forward direction to ensure that product is moved forward in the product receiving space of the pusher assembly when the forward most product in the row of product supported in the product receiving space is removed; securing the pusher assembly to a shelf; moving the pusher plate assembly in a rearward direction to provide access to the product receiving space defined by the pusher assembly; aligning product within the product receiving space to form a row of products; and releasing the pusher plate assembly such that the pusher plate assembly is biased in a forward direction and engages a rearwardly disposed item in the row of product whereby as product is removed from the row of product the pusher plate assembly causes the row of product to move forward in the product receiving space whereby product present in the product receiving space remains visible and accessible to a customer.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a pusher assembly supported on a store shelf, and more particularly but not by way of limitation, to a pusher assembly for feeding a row of merchandise forward through a merchandise bay of the pusher assembly as merchandise at the front of a row or column of merchandise is removed. In one aspect, the present invention relates to a pusher assembly mounted on a store shelf such that the pusher assembly is selectively movable between a retracted position and an extended position.

2. Brief Description of the Related Art

Products or merchandise of various types and sizes are commonly stored on shelves in retail and wholesale outlets so that customers can see the product or merchandise and select product or merchandise for purchase. In some instances, the shelves are inclined downwardly from the rear of the shelf to the front of the shelf so that the merchandise can be gravity fed to the front of the shelf. However, the use of downwardly inclined shelves is often unsatisfactory because the merchandise at times does not slide smoothly down the shelf and the merchandise can fall over, thereby jamming the row or column of merchandise from feeding properly or causing the merchandise to be discharged onto the floor. Also, customers may have difficulty in viewing merchandise on lower shelves when the shelves are downwardly inclined.

To overcome this problem, various prior art devices have been proposed for use on store shelves for feeding merchandise to the front of the shelf as merchandise is removed from the shelf. In most instances, spring loaded pusher systems have been employed. However, many of the prior art spring loaded pusher systems have suffered from the disadvantage in that it is difficult to adjust such spring loaded pusher systems so that such systems can accommodate merchandise of different sizes and weight, and it is difficult to load such spring loaded pusher systems with merchandise. In addition, the prior art pusher systems have suffered from the inability to stack merchandise within the merchandise bay or product receiving space of such systems because of the restricted distance between adjacent shelves.

Thus, a need exists for an improved pusher assembly which can be readily adjusted to accommodate merchandise of different sizes and weight, which enhances loading of merchandise into merchandise bays of the pusher assembly, which permits stacking of merchandise in the merchandise bays of the pusher assembly, which is economical to manufacture, and which is substantially maintenance free. It is to such a pusher assembly that the present invention is directed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partially cutaway pictorial representation of a pusher assembly constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a rear elevational view of the pusher assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the pusher assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a pictorial representation of a pusher plate assembly of the pusher assembly of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of the pusher assembly of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1 and 2, shown therein is a pusher assembly 10 constructed in accordance with the present invention. The pusher assembly 10 functions to feed a row of merchandise or product forward on a store shelf as merchandise or product at the front of the row of merchandise is removed by a customer. The pusher assembly 10 includes a pusher frame 12 and a pusher plate assembly 14. The pusher frame 12 is characterized as having a front end 16, a rear end 18, a first sidewall 20, a spatially disposed second sidewall 22, a product receiving space 24 formed between the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22 for receiving a row of merchandise or product 26, and a base assembly 28. The pusher assembly 10 may be constructed of any material having sufficient strength and durability to enable the pusher assembly 10 to function in the manner described herein. Suitable materials include metals such as aluminum, steel, titanium, magnesium or alloys containing these metals. Other suitable materials for construction include plastics, polymeric materials, and other composite materials. The pusher assembly 10 may be any size provided that the pusher assembly 10 functions in the manner described herein.

If the pusher assembly 10 is used in combination with a wire shelf, the pusher frame 12 may also include a bottom 29 for providing a smooth surface over which the product 16 is moved through the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10.

The base assembly 28 has a first guide track 30, a spatially disposed second guide track 32 and a slot 34 formed between the first and second guide tracks 30 and 32 and which terminates a distance from the front and rear ends 16 and 18 of the pusher frame 12.

A pair of stop members 36 and 38 are removably connected to the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22 proximate the front end 16 of the pusher assembly 10 for preventing forward movement of the product past the stop members 36 and 38 to secure the forward most merchandise or product in the row of merchandise or product in a stable position. A stop plate assembly 39 is removably connected to the front end 16 of the pusher assembly for preventing forward movement of the pusher plate assembly 14 past the stop plate assembly 39.

In order to move the pusher plate assembly 14 forward along the pusher frame 12 as merchandise or product is removed from a row of merchandise or product supported in the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10, the pusher assembly 10 also includes a pusher plate biasing assembly 40. The pusher plate biasing assembly 40 includes at least one roller 42, having a circumferential groove, connected proximate the front end 16 of the pusher frame 12.

The pusher plate biasing assembly 40 of the pusher assembly 10 further includes a bungee cord 44. The bungee cord 40 has a first end 46 and a second end 48. The first end 46 of the bungee cord 44 is anchored proximate the rear end 18 of the pusher frame 12. The second end 48 of the bungee cord 44 is anchored to a portion of the pusher plate assembly 14. The bungee cord 44 operably engages the roller 42. As will be described in more detail hereinafter, the bungee cord 44 operates to bias the pusher plate assembly 14 in a forward position relative to the pusher frame 12 of the pusher assembly 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-5, the bungee cord 44 is connected to the base assembly 28 of the pusher frame 12 near the rear end 18 of the pusher frame 20 and extends around the roller 34, and is anchored to a post 50 connected to a portion of the pusher plate assembly 14. The post 50 extends longitudinally in a downward direction so as to be substantially disposed in the slot 34 of the base assembly 28 so as to travel in and along the slot 34. It should be noted that while the bungee cord 44 has been shown as an elongated member connected to the base assembly 28 of the pusher frame 12 via a connection post 52, the bungee cord 44 can be a continuous member such that the bungee cord is disposed around a post or roller having a circumferential groove formed thereon rather than being connected to the base assembly 28 via the connection post 52. The only requirement in the operation of the bungee cord 44, and its connection to the roller 42, is that the bungee cord 44 is interconnected to the pusher plate assembly 14 so as to bias the pusher plate assembly 14 in a position towards the front end 16 of the pusher frame 12 when merchandise is removed from a row of merchandise supported in the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10.

The pusher plate assembly 14 is slidably mounted on the pusher frame 12 so that the pusher plate assembly 14 moves through the product receiving space 24 towards the front end 16 of the pusher frame 12 when merchandise or product is removed from the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10.

As more clearly shown in FIGS. 1-4, the pusher plate assembly 14 includes a pusher sled assembly 60 slidably mounted on the first and second guide tracks 30 and 32, respectively, disposed along the base assembly 28 of the pusher frame 12. The pusher sled assembly 60 includes a first pusher plate 62, a second pusher plate 64, and a pusher sled 65 such that the first and second pusher plates 62 and 64 are supported by the pusher sled 65. As more clearly shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, the first pusher plate 62 is provided with at least one and desirably, two spatially disposed substantially parallel tubular members 66 and 68 on a rear side thereof; and the second pusher plate 64 is provided with at least one, and desirably two tubular members 70 and 72 on a rear side thereof. The spatially disposed, substantially parallel tubular members 66 and 68 are alignable with the spatially disposed tubular members 70 and 72 whereby the first and second pusher plates 62 and 64 can be connected via a pair of connector members 74 and 76 extending therebetween. The connector members 74 and 76 can be connected to the first and second pusher plates 62 and 64 by any suitable connector, such as thumb screws, adhesive, or may be telescopingly connected, so that the first and second pusher plates 62 and 64 are secured in a stable position on the connector members 74 and 76.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, the pusher sled 65 of the pusher sled assembly 60 is provided with a pair of spatially disposed track followers 80 and 82 which operably engage the first and second guide tracks 30 and 32 extending along the base assembly 28 of the pusher frame 12. Thus, the track followers 80 and 82 cooperate with the first and second guide tracks 30 and 32 and the pusher plate biasing assembly 40 to permit the first and second pusher plates 62 and 64 to be selectively moved through the product receiving space 24 of the pusher frame 12.

The pusher assembly 10 of the present invention can be constructed of any material. However, desirable results can be obtained wherein the first and second sidewalls 20, 22 and the pusher plate assembly 14 of the pusher assembly 10 are constructed of plastic materials. Further, in order to provide a view of the row of merchandise 26 provided in the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10, the stop plate assembly 30 is fabricated of a clear, transparent polymeric material. Furthermore, in order to enhance movement of the pusher sled assembly 60 along the first and second guide tracks 30 and 32 of the base assembly 28, it is desirable that at least the track followers 80 and 82 of the pusher sled 65 be constructed of a self lubricating polymeric material.

Referring to FIGS. 1-5, to employ the pusher assembly 10 to display merchandise or product on a store shelf, the pusher assembly 10 is assembled such that the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22 are spaced a predetermined distance apart to define the product receiving space 24 adapted to receive and support the products or merchandise therein. The bungee cord 44 of the pusher plate biasing assembly 40 is operably connected to connection post 52 of the base assembly 28 of the pusher frame 12 such that the bungee cord 44 operably engages the roller 42 rotatably mounted on the front end 16 of the pusher frame 12. Thereafter, the bungee cord 44 is operably connected to the post 50 of the pusher plate assembly 14 whereby the pusher plate assembly 14 is biased in a forward position in the product receiving space 24 of the pusher frame 12. Once the pusher assembly 10 has been assembled, the pusher assembly 10 is desirably connected to a shelf by any suitable means, such as bolts, screws, clamps, wires and the like. In connecting the pusher assembly 10 to the shelf, it is desirable that the front end 16 of the pusher frame 12 be disposed substantially adjacent the front edge of the shelf.

In those situations where the shelf is constructed of wire, the pusher frame 12 will desirably contain the bottom 29 for providing a smooth surface over which the merchandise or product can travel as the merchandise or product is moved through the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10.

In order to position the merchandise or product in the product receiving space 24 defined between the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22 of the pusher frame 12, the pusher plate assembly 14 is moved toward the rear-end 18 of the pusher frame 12 and held in place while the desired amount of merchandise or product is aligned in a row within product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10. Once the desired amount of merchandise or product has been positioned within the product receiving space 24 of the merchandise display 10, pressure is removed from the pusher plate assembly 14 whereby the pusher plate assembly 14 is biased in the forward direction in the pusher frame and frictionally engages the product disposed within the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10.

As product or merchandise is removed from the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10, the pusher plate assembly 14 moves in a forward direction along the pusher frame 12 and thus moves the remaining merchandise or product in the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10 in a forward direction toward the stop members 36 and 38 connected to the front end 16 of the pusher frame 12 of the pusher assembly 10 for preventing forward movement of the merchandise or product past the stop plate assembly 39 and thereby secure the forward most merchandise or product in the row of merchandise or product in a stable position within the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10.

As additional merchandise or product is removed from the product receiving space 24 of the pusher assembly 10, and as the pusher plate assembly is moved forward along the pusher frame as merchandise or product is removed from the row of merchandise or product supported in the product receiving space 24 by the pusher plate biasing assembly 40, the pusher plate assembly 14 engages the stop plate assembly 39 to restrict forward movement of the pusher plate assembly 14 through the product receiving space 24 so as to provide the last row of merchandise or product to be disposed adjacent the stop plate assembly 39. Once the last item of merchandise and/or product has been removed from the pusher assembly 10, additional product can be placed within the product receiving space 24 formed between the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22 of the pusher frame 12. However, if merchandise or product of different sizes are to be positioned within the product receiving space 24 of the pusher frame 12, the pusher assembly 10 is removed from the shelf and the height of the product receiving space 12 is adjusted by adjusting the distance between the first and second pusher plates 62 and 64 of the pusher sled assembly 60.

When desired, additional sidewalls can be combined with the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22 of the pusher frame assembly 12 so as to provide the merchandise display rack with a plurality of product receiving spaces 12 which may have the same width as that formed between the first and second sidewalls 20 and 22, or different widths in order to accommodate merchandise and product having different widths.

From the above description, it is clear that the present invention is well-adapted to carry out the objects and to attain the advantages mentioned herein as well as those inherent in the invention. While presently preferred embodiments of the invention have been described for purposes of this disclosure, it will be understood that numerous changes may be made which will readily suggest themselves to those skilled in the art and which are accomplished within the spirit of the invention disclosed.