Title:
Shelf tray assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is an improved shelf tray assembly for use to hold and move forward in a simple and efficient way articles of a given dimension placed on a shelf toward a front edge of this shelf in order to allow frontal display of these articles. This assembly has a front rail installable on the shelf close to its front edge, a rear rail installable onto the shelf in parallel relationship with respect to the front rail and one or more tracks snappable onto the front and rear rails, each track acting as a support for the articles to be displayed and having a guiding rail on which a pushing element is slideably mounted. Advantageously, one or more clips are provided at the front end of each track to rigidly retain this track to the front rail. Advantageously also, each track has several slots made in its upper surface to receive one or more lateral partitions so as to guide the articles to be displayed when they are pulled forward, whatever their size.



Inventors:
Dumontet, Ronald (Sherbrooke, CA)
Application Number:
11/311258
Publication Date:
06/21/2007
Filing Date:
12/20/2005
Assignee:
TABLEX INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/134
International Classes:
A47F1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROBIC (MONTREAL, QC, CA)
Claims:
1. In a shelf tray assembly for use to hold and move forward in a simple and efficient way articles of a given dimension placed on a shelf toward a front edge of said shelf in order to allow frontal display of said articles, said assembly comprising: (i) a front rail installable onto the shelf close to its front edge, said front rail having an upper surface of a given length with an upwardly projecting tongue extending all over its length, (ii) a rear rail installable onto the shelf at a distance away from the front rail in parallel relationship therewith, said rear rail also having an upper surface of a given length with an upwardly projecting tongue extending all over its length; (iii) at least one track extending perpendicularly to the front edge of the shelf, each said at least one track having a front end with a bottom surface provided with a transversal groove sized to be snapped onto the tongue of the front rail; a rear end with a bottom surface provided with a transversal groove sized to be snapped onto the tongue of the rear rail; and an upper surface having a longitudinal portion devised to receive and support the articles to be displayed, said upper surface comprising a guiding rail that extends perpendicularly to the front edge of the shelf when the track is installed; and (iv) pushing means comprising: a pushing element projecting upwardly from each of said at least one track, said pusher element being slideably mounted into the guiding rail of said at least one track; and means for pulling said pushing element toward the front end of said at least one track; the improvement wherein: the front rail (i) also has an upwardly projecting L-shaped element extending rearwardly of the tongue of said front rail in parallel relationship therewith; and the front end of each of said at least one track (iii) also has at least one clip sized and positioned to clip onto the L-shaped element of said front rail when said track is installed.

2. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 1, wherein each of said at least one track also has a set of parallel slots that are made in its upper surface and extend in parallel relationship with respect to the guiding rail, and wherein said assembly further comprises: (v) at least one lateral partition detachably insertable into one of said slots made in the upper surface of one of said at least one track in such a manner as to extend vertically and thus to laterally guide and retain the articles positioned onto said at least one track while said articles are pulled forward.

3. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 2, wherein said at least one lateral partition is of a given height and may be replaced by another one of a different height depending on the articles to be guided.

4. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 3, wherein said means for pulling the pushing element consists of a spring having one end connected to the front end of each of said at least one track and another opposite end connected to the pushing element.

5. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 3, wherein said means for pulling the pushing element consists of a pulling rod extending within the guiding rail, said pulling rod having one end located at the front end of said at least one track and a rear end devised to catch and pull the pushing element when said pulling rod is pulled forward.

6. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 3, wherein said assembly further comprises: (vi) a stop plate attachable to the front end of each of said at least one track to retain the articles positioned onto this track where they are pulled forward, and to prevent them from falling down from the shelf.

7. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 6, wherein said assembly further comprises: (vii) a retaining plate of a given width and height that is detachably connectable to the pushing element of each of said at least one track, said retaining plate providing better holding and stability to the articles mounted on said at least one track when they are pulled forward.

8. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 6, wherein each of said at least one track is of a small thickness ranging from ¼ to 5/16 inches.

9. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 8, wherein each of said at least one track has a length ranging from 12 to 20 inches.

10. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 6, wherein said assembly further comprises: (vii) a retaining plate of a given width and height that is detachably connectable to the pushing element of each of said at least one track, said retaining plate providing better holding and stability to the articles mounted on said at least one track when they are pulled forward. and wherein each of said at least one track is of a small thickness ranging from ¼ to 5/16 inches, and a length ranging from 12 to 20 inches.

11. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 10, wherein all of its components are made of molded plastic material.

12. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 11, wherein said means for pulling the pushing element consists of a spring having one end connected to the front end of each of said at least one track and another opposite end connected to the pushing element.

13. The improved shelf tray assembly of claim 11, wherein said means for pulling the pushing element consists of a pulling rod, extending within the guiding rail, said pulling rod having one end located at the front end of said at least one track and a rear end devised to catch and pull the pushing element when said pulling rod is pulled forward.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an improved shelf tray assembly for use to hold and move forward in a simple and efficient way articles of a given dimension placed on a shelf toward a front edge of this shelf in order to allow frontal display of these articles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Shelf tray assemblies of the above-mentioned type, also called “universal shelving”, “shelf display dispenser” or “shelf organizer”, are products that are already known and commonly used in retail stores where it is desirable that the articles displayed on a shelf extend near the front edge of the shelf in order to give to the consumers an impression of cleanliness and order. Frontal display is also desirable for the consumers since they do not have to reach to the back of the shelf to pick up the desired article, in the case where other articles placed in front of the shelf have already been picked up. Such a frontal display may in fact allow the store owner to increase his/her sales by displaying the articles in a more desirable fashion and by allowing the consumer to have quicker and easier access to the article labels, and thus to shop more easily.

As to the utility and advantages of such kind of shelf tray assembly, reference can be made by way of non-restrictive examples to U.S. Pat. No. 6,527,127 that was granted on Mar. 4, 2003, with designation of the same inventor and same assignee. Reference can also be made to the numerous prior art references that are discussed in the preamble of the specification of this U.S. patent and on the cover sheet of it.

In this U.S. Pat. No. 6,527,127, the track which is used to support the articles, is provided with pushing means to pull the articles forward to the front of the shelf. This track is connected to a front rail positioned onto the shelf close to the front edge thereof, and to a rear rail positioned onto the shelf at a distance away from the front rail. Such a connection is achieved by means of grooves that are provided in the front and rear ends of the track, and may be snapped onto the front and rear rails, respectively.

A problem with the existing assemblies is that, once the track is snapped on its holding rails, it can easily be moved laterally on one side or the other, unless very specific means such as teeth are used. If, however, such teeth are used, it becomes very difficult to remove the track and move it, especially when the assembly has to accommodate articles of dimensions different from those that were used so far on the same track.

Another problem with the existing assemblies is that some of them have one lateral partition that projects from the track in order to extend vertically and thus laterally guide and retain the articles in position onto the track when these articles are pulled forward. However, in all the shelf tray assemblies known to the Applicant, such a lateral partition forms an integral part of the track and is therefore always positioned at a same given distance away from the guiding rail that serves to guide the pusher element used to pull the articles forward toward the front edge of the shelf.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a plurality of improvements made to a shelf tray assembly for use to hold and move forward in a simple and efficient way articles of a given dimension placed on a shelf toward a front edge of the shelf in order to allow frontal display of said articles, which assembly is of the type comprising:

    • (i) a front rail installable onto the shelf close to its front edge, this front rail having an upper surface of a given length with an upwardly projecting tongue extending all over its length,
    • (ii) a rear rail installable onto the shelf at a distance away from the front rail in parallel relationship therewith, this rear rail also having an upper surface of a given length with an upwardly projecting tongue extending all over its length;
    • (iii) at least one track extending perpendicularly to the front edge of the shelf, each said at least one track having:
      • a front end with a bottom surface provided with a transversal groove sized to be snapped onto the tongue of the front rail;
      • a rear end with a bottom surface provided with a transversal groove sized to be snapped onto the tongue of the rear rail; and
      • an upper surface having a longitudinal portion devised to receive and support the articles to be displayed, this upper surface comprising a guiding rail that extends perpendicularly to the front edge of the shelf when the track is insta led; and
    • (iv) pushing means comprising:
      • a pushing element projecting upwardly from each of said at least one track, this pusher element being slideably mounted into the guiding rail of said at least one track; and
      • means for pulling the pushing element toward the front end of the at least one track.

In accordance with the invention, the above-mentioned shelf tray assembly is improved in that:

    • its front rail (i) also has an upwardly projecting L-shaped element extending rearwardly of the tongue of the front rail in parallel relationship therewith; and
    • the front end of each of said at least one track (iii) also has at least one clip sized and positioned to clip onto the L-shaped element of the front rail when the track is installed.

Thanks to these clips, each track is mounted in a rigid manner onto the front rail and can therefore be moved laterally only if these clips are released.

In accordance with a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, each of the tracks of the improved shelf tray assembly according to the invention, also has a set of parallel slots that are made in its upper surface and extend in parallel relationship with respect to the guiding rail. These slots are devised to receive at least one lateral partition detachably insertable therein in such a manner as to extend vertically and thus to laterally guide and retain the articles positioned onto the at least one track while these articles are pulled forward.

Preferably, each lateral partition which is of a given height, can be replaced by another one of a different height, depending on the size of the articles to be guided.

In accordance with another particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, the above-mentioned shelf tray assembly may further comprise a retaining plate of a given width and height that is detachably connectable to the pushing element of each of the at least one track, the retaining plate providing better holding and stability to the articles mounted on the track when they are pulled forward.

Advantageously, all the components of the improved shelf tray assembly according to the invention are made of molded plastic material. Advantageously also, each track is of small thickness ranging from ¼ to 5/16 inches and has a length ranging from 12 to 20 inches.

The invention and its advantages will be better understood upon reading the following non-restrictive description of a preferred embodiment thereof, made with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a shelf tray assembly according to a preferred embodiment of the invention, with no pushing element shown on the track;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1, showing the same shelf tray assembly with a pushing element pulled by a spring;

FIGS. 3 and 4 are side elevational views of FIG. 2, showing the pushing element at two different positions along the length of the track;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1, showing the shelf tray assembly with a pushing element actuated by a pulling rod;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, showing in addition a stop plate insertable into one of the slots of the track, and a retaining plate insertable onto the pushing element;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the retaining plate shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the track of the shelf tray assembly shown in FIG. 6, indicating where the retaining plates may be positioned;

FIGS. 9 and 10 are top and bottom perspective views of the track of the shelf tray assembly shown in the previous drawings;

FIGS. 11, 12 and 13 are top, side and bottom plan views of the track shown in the previous figures;

FIGS. 14a and 14b are cross-sectional views showing how the front end of the track of the shelf tray assembly shown in the previous drawings can be connected to the front rail; and

FIGS. 15a and 15b are cross-sectional views showing how the rear end of the track of the shelf tray assembly may be attached to the rear rail.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

The improved shelf tray assembly 1 according to the preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in the accompanying drawings is intended to be used for holding and moving forward in a simple and efficient way a plurality of articles of a given dimension placed on a shelf toward a front edge of the shelf in order to allow frontal display of these articles. This assembly basically comprises:

    • (i) a front rail 3 installable onto the shelf close to its front edge
    • (ii) a rear rail 5 that is parallel to the front rail and installable onto the shelf at a distance away from the front rail; and
    • (iii) at least one track 7 extending perpendicularly to the front edge of the shelf.

As is better shown in FIGS. 14a and 14b, the front rail 3 has an upper surface of a given length with an upwardly projecting tongue 9 extending all over its length. As is shown in FIGS. 15a and 15b, the rear rail 5 also has an upper surface of a given length with an upwardly projecting tongue 11 extending all over its length. These tongues 9, 11 are devised so as to have some flexibility to allow easy snapping of the track 7 on them. For this purpose, each track 7 has a front end with a bottom surface provided with a transversal groove 13 sized to be snapped onto the tongue 9 of the front rail 3 and a rear end with a bottom surface provided with a transversal groove 15 sized to be snapped onto the tongue 11 of the rear rail 5.

As also shown in the drawings, each track 3 has an upper surface with a longitudinal portion devised to receive and support the articles to be displayed. This upper surface comprises a guiding rail 19 that is made therein in such a manner as to extend perpendicularly to the front edge of the shelf when the track is installed. This guiding rail 19 is intended to receive and guide a pushing element 21 that is slideably mounted in it and projects upwardly from the track 7.

As is shown in FIG. 6, a retaining plate 23 of a given width and height may be used to provide better holding and stability to the articles mounted on the track 7 when they are pulled forward by the pushing element 21. This plate 23 is detachably insertable onto the pushing element and may be replaced by another similar plate of different size and shape whenever desired.

As is of common practice with this kind of shelf tray assembly, means are provided for pulling the pushing element 21 toward the front end of the track 7.

As shown in FIGS. 2 to 4 and 6, these pulling means may consist of a spring 25 having one end connected to the front end of the track and another opposite end connected to the pushing element 21. This spring 25 may be lodged with a compartment 27 forming part of the pushing element 21 at the rear of it.

Alternately, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the pulling means may consist of a pulling rod 29 extending within the guiding rail 19. This pulling rod has one end located at the front end of the track 7 and a rear end with an upwardly projecting element devised to catch and pull the pushing element 21 when the pulling rod 29 is pulled forward.

Advantageously, the shelf tray assembly 1 may further comprise a stop plate 31 attachable to the front end of the track 7 in order to retain the articles positioned onto this track where they are pulled forward, and thus to prevent them from falling down from the shelf. This stop plate 31 may also act as a support for a label, if desired.

Advantageously also, each track 7 has a set of parallel slots 33 made in its upper surface in such a manner as to extend in parallel relationship with respect to the guiding rail 19. In the illustrated embodiment (see in particular FIG. 8), the track comprises four slots 33, three of them being located on one side of the guiding rail, the fourth one on the other side of this rail. These slots are devised to receive at least one lateral partition 35 detachably insertable into them in such a manner as to extend vertically and thus laterally guide and retain the articles positioned onto the track 7 while these articles are pulled forward.

As may be appreciated, each lateral partition 35 is of a given height and may be replaced by another one of a different height depending on the size of the articles to be guided. Such of course gives much more versatility to the shelf tray assembly 1 since each of its tracks can then be easily adapted to the size of the articles positioned on it while ensuring that such articles are properly held and guided.

In accordance with a particularly important aspect of the invention which is better shown in FIGS. 14a and 14b, the front rail 3 of the assembly has an upwardly projecting L-shaped element 37 extending rearwardly of its tongue 9 in parallel relationship therewith. The front end of the track 7 also has at least one clip 39, actually three in the illustrated embodiment, that are sized and positioned to clip onto the L-shaped element 37 of the front rail when the track is installed. Thanks to these clips, each track is mounted in a rigid manner onto the front rail and can therefore be moved laterally only if these clips are released.

The front rail 3 may also be provided with other projections 41 that extend in parallel relationship with respect to the tongue 9 and to the L-shaped element 37, and are positioned in such a manner as to properly retain the track 7 and prevent it from moving. A tongue 43 and a groove 45 are advantageously provided in the bottom portion of the front end of the track 7 to “cooperate” with the projections 41 and allow proper attachment of the track 7 to the front rail.

Advantageously, all the components of the shelf tray assembly 1 disclosed hereinabove are made of molded plastic material. Their respective shape and size are adapted to make them as light and thin as possible while being strong enough to support the load and making sure that it may be properly connected to each other. Preferably, each track 7 has a thickness ranging from ¼ to 5/16 inches and a length of from 12 to 20 inches.

Of course, numerous modifications could be made to the preferred embodiment disclosed hereinabove without departing from the scope of the invention.