Title:
Order picker product platform
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An order picker product platform which is designed to prevent product and/or product containers from inadvertently falling from the platform during maneuvering of the order picker. In the preferred embodiment, the product platform hereof comprises a base having the requisite fork receptacles and clamp bar as do conventional order picker product platforms. However, the inventive platform hereof provides a fixed vertical back wall and a pair of foldable side gate assemblies which extend perpendicularly to the base at edges thereof to prevent displacement of the product and/or product containers beyond the edges of the base so that they are extremely unlikely to fall off of the platform. The side gate assemblies are designed to be folded up toward the back wall during platform loading so that they don't interfere with intentional movement of packages onto or off of the platform. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the side gate assemblies are provided with spring or pneumatic-operated assist device to facilitate their folding deployment and latches to secure them in their locked-down positions so that they do not add significantly to the time required to load and unload the product platform.



Inventors:
Zahn, William F. (Orange, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/229972
Publication Date:
04/05/2007
Filing Date:
09/19/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
182/113
International Classes:
E04G3/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIN-SHUE, ALVIN CONSTANTINE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEONARD TACHNER, A PROFESSIONAL LAW (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A product platform for use with an order picker vehicle having a pair of forks and a pallet clamp extending from an operator platform; the product platform comprising: a base having fork receptacles and a clamp bar for selective attachment to said vehicle forks and pallet clamp in substantial abutment to said operator platform; at least one product retaining wall extending perpendicularly from a first edge of said base; and at least one gate assembly extending perpendicularly from a second edge of said base; said at least one retaining wall and said at least one gate assembly forming at least a part of a vertical perimeter of said product platform.

2. The product platform recited in claim 1 wherein said at least one gate assembly is selectively foldable for interrupting said vertical perimeter for gaining access to said base for loading product thereon.

3. The product platform recited in claim 2 further comprising an assist device for assistance in folding said gate assembly.

4. The product platform recited in claim 3 wherein said assist device is connected between said at least one retaining wall and said at least one gate assembly.

5. The product platform recited in claim 3 wherein said assist device comprises a pneumatically operated push rod.

6. A product platform for selective attachment to an order picker vehicle; the product platform comprising: a base for receiving product for vertical movement and horizontal translation by said order picker vehicle; a product restraining perimeter extending from said base for preventing product on said base from inadvertently falling from said base; at least a portion of said perimeter being selectably openable and closeable for facilitating movement of product onto and off of said base.

7. The product platform recited in claim 6 wherein said openable and closeable perimeter portion comprises a gate assembly which is raised to open said perimeter portion and is lowered to close said perimeter portion.

8. The product platform recited in claim 7 wherein said gate assembly comprises an assist device for mechanical assistance in raising and lowering said gate assembly.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of order pickers and more particularly to an improved platform specifically configured for use with order pickers to enhance safety for the order picker operator and for others who may be in proximity to an order picker during its operation.

2. Background Art

Order pickers are highly specialized vehicles typically used in a warehouse or large storage facility to carry product from one location to another in a three-dimensional environment (i.e., x, y and z). Thus, they are often used to pick products from shelves of various heights based upon a customer order. The products are typically stored in a rack system along multiple aisles in a massive enclosed room. Each order picker comprises a motorized steerable vehicle having an operator platform, a pair of extending forks and a pincer-type clamping mechanism. The operator platform provides vehicle controls and permits the operator to both drive the vehicle from place to place and to elevate the operator platform to access product located on shelves above the floor level. The extending forks and clamp mechanism are configured to selectively engage a product platform so that it is always on the same level and contiguous to the operator platform. The forks engage receptacles on the order platform and the clamp mechanism grasps a short vertical bar extending from the bottom surface of the product platform midway between the fork receptacles.

Conventional order picker product platforms are typically configured either as wooden pallets or other sideless planar structures. While such simple platforms make it easy for the operator to place product and product containers on the platform by simply sliding the product or container onto the platform, the absence of vertical side structure makes such platforms unsafe for the operator and especially for others near the moving order picker. Once the platform is loaded with product and/or product containers, the motion of the order picker in either elevation or in horizontal travel of the vehicle while such product is transferred to another location, can readily cause product or product containers to fall off of the conventional product platform because there is typically no side structure to restrain the products and/or product containers on the product platform.

There is therefore a need for an order picker product platform structure which retains the conveyed products and/or product containers within the border of the platform surface while the order picker is in motion and which yet does not substantially interfere with the ability of the order picker operator to move product onto and off of the platform during product loading and unloading.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises an order picker product platform which meets the aforementioned need with a configuration which is designed to prevent product and/or product containers from inadvertently falling from the platform during maneuvering of the order picker. In the preferred embodiment, the product platform hereof comprises a base having the requisite fork receptacles and clamp bar as do conventional order picker product platforms. However, the inventive platform hereof provides a fixed vertical back wall and a pair of foldable side gate assemblies which extend perpendicularly to the base at edges thereof to prevent displacement of the product and/or product containers beyond the edges of the base so that they are extremely unlikely to fall off of the platform. The side gate assemblies are designed to be folded up toward the back wall during platform loading so that they don't interfere with intentional movement of packages onto or off of the platform. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the side gate assemblies are provided with spring or pneumatic-operated assist device to facilitate their folding deployment and latches to secure them in their locked-down positions so that they do not add significantly to the time required to load and unload the product platform.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The aforementioned objects and advantages of the present invention, as well as additional objects and advantages thereof, will be more fully understood herein after as a result of a detailed description of a preferred embodiment when taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a three-dimensional view of a preferred embodiment of the order picker product platform shown in proximity of a typical order picker vehicle and in position for being secured thereto;

FIG. 2 is a view similar to that of FIG. 1 but showing the platform and order picker vehicle in their linked configuration, the view also shows in phantom a side gate assembly being folded up toward the back wall for loading the platform;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the product platform hereof showing the fork receptacles and the grasping bar; and

FIG. 4 is a side view showing the order picker and attendant product platform being employed for loading product thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the accompanying drawings, it will be seen that an order picker product platform 10 of the present invention is configured to mate with any conventional order picker vehicle 12 of the type having an operator's position stand or platform 14, forks 16 and pallet clamp 18.

The inventive platform 10 comprises a base 20, a back wall 22 and a pair of foldable side gate assemblies 24. In the preferred embodiment of the platform 10 as illustrated in FIGS. 2 through 4, the side gate assemblies 24 are provided with optional piston assist devices 25. Moreover, as shown best in FIG. 3, the platform 10 also comprises a pair of fork receptacles 26 and a pallet clamp bar 28 to facilitate mating with conventional order picker vehicles 12.

As shown best in FIGS. 2 and 4, the mated product platform 10 is configured to permit an operator to enter from the order picker vehicle 12 after the platform 10 has been positioned both horizontally and vertically to be in proximity to product or containers thereof such as containers 30 of FIG. 4. The operator may then lift one or both side gate assemblies 24 into a folded position (as shown in FIG. 2) to provide an unobstructed access to the containers to move a selected number thereof onto the base 20. The operator may then return one or both folded side gate assemblies into a nominal position where they may be latched into a locked condition. Thereafter, even with relatively swift motion of the order picker vehicle and mated platform, the product containers 30 are restrained within the perimeter of the platform base 20 by the back wall 22 and the deployed side gate assemblies 24, even in a stacked arrangement of containers 30.

Having thus disclosed a preferred embodiment of the invention, it will now be apparent to those of skill in the relevant art that various modifications may be made to the illustrated examples. By way of example, the specific configuration of the back wall 22 and side gate assemblies 24 may be readily altered to provide more or less protection of the product/containers load or to accommodate differently shaped product/container including for example smaller containers which might require a finer matrix of side gate bars to assure retention within the perimeter of the platform base. Accordingly, the scope hereof is to be limited only by the appended claims and their equivalents.