Title:
Electrically insulated fence
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An electrically insulated fence including a substrate of a rigid wire mesh fence, with a coating or covering there on, rendering the fence electrically isolated, in order to deter electrocution of maintenance workers coming into contact with the electrically charged fence. All surfaces, which may be contacted by the maintenance worker, are preferably either coated or covered with an extruded piece of electrically insulating material.



Inventors:
Edens, Chad M. (New Baltimore, MI, US)
Edens, Rudolph R. (Clay Township, MI, US)
Valentine, Alan A. (Algonac, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/598666
Publication Date:
08/23/2007
Filing Date:
03/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/14; A01K3/00; E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MACARTHUR, VICTOR L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARGILL & ASSOCIATES, P.L.L.C. (Clinton Township, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A perimeter fence assembly, comprising: an electrically insulated and isolated fence assembly covering; an extruded fence post covering made of an insulated or an electrically insulating material; wherein said electrically isolating jacket covers the structural portion of the fence.

2. The fence of claim 1, where in the electrically insulating material may be selected from the group consisting of thermal plastic, thermoset, and plastic materials.

3. The electrically insulating material of claim 2, where in the material is selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, polyethylene, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride coating, ceramic, including alumina, silicon carbide, silicon nitride, and other electrically insulating ceramic formable materials.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/552,628 filed on Mar. 12, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to an electrically isolated industrial coated wire mesh fence, and more particularly to an electrically isolated and insulated fence assembly for use in an industrial plant to prevent injuries from electrocution.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Conventional perimeter fences are well known in the art, including one of the most common types of coated wire mesh or chain link fences for surrounding operating machinery. However, practitioners of those inventions have become aware of certain problems, which are presented by those prior art inventions. One particular problem that has plagued users has been industrial accidents which may occur in an industrial plant when a worker comes into contact with an electrically charged fence. An electrically charged fence may occur accidentally when an errant live wire comes into contact with a metal fence. This accidental electrification of the fence makes any worker that comes into physical contact with the fence a prime candidate for electrocution.

Therefore, it would be an advantage to the industry to provide an electrically insulated and isolated fence assembly so that a worker that contacts an accidentally electrified fence assembly would not have a chance to become electrocuted. It would also be desirable, in the industrial plant setting, to have an electrically insulated and isolated fence assembly which is always in an electrically insulated state in order to prevent electrocutions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the above-noted advantages and desires of the industry, the present invention provides an electrically insulated and isolated fence assembly which remains insulated and isolated at all times due to its construction. The fence assembly of the present invention essentially includes an electrical isolation jacket to be worn around all of the metal mesh fence sections so that any one who touches the fence is protected from electrocution. The fence assembly may include an extruded fence post and rail design which is thereafter either PVC coated or is adapted to receive any other type of electrically insulating post cover made of any suitable moldable or coatable material, such as a plastic material including thermoplastic or thermoset materials, including but not limited to polypropylene, polyethylene, polyurethane or any other suitable plastic material. Materials having the property of being electrically insulating work well for this application. In the preferred embodiment, including the design of such an extruded cover piece, the cover is combined with the plastic coating or electrically insulating layer covered material to be utilized over the metallic portion of the fence, thereby yielding an electrically insulated and isolated fence assembly which meets or exceeds all of the advantages and desires of the industry.

Although the invention will be described by way of examples hereinbelow for specific embodiments having certain features, it must also be realized that minor modifications that do not require undo experimentation on the part of the practitioner are covered within the scope and breadth of this invention. Additional advantages and other novel features of the present invention will be set forth in the description that follows and in particular will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination or may be learned within the practice of the invention. Therefore, the invention is capable of many other different embodiments and its details are capable of modifications of various aspects which will be obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art all without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the rest of the description will be regarded as illustrative rather than restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the nature and advantages of the expected scope and various embodiments of the present invention, reference shall be made to the following detailed description, and when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like parts are given the same reference numerals, and wherein;

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of an electrically isolated fence assembly made in accordance with the present inventions;

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective cutaway view of one embodiment of the various members detailing the location of the sense receptors;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a corner bracket of the present invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a top perspective cross sectional view of the most preferred embodiment of the post;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of an electrically insulated post cover made in accordance with the presence invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates an end cap to be received on top of the post shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is yet another embodiment of a post base; and

FIG. 8 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention showing an insulated perimeter fence.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates an electrically insulated and isolated fence assembly generally denoted by numeral 10 made in accordance with the present invention, which preferably includes an extruded post 12, preferably made of aluminum, and also including an insulating cover 14 thereover, where the insulating cover 14 is made of an appropriate electrically insulating material, especially thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and more preferably either an extruded polypropylene or extruded PVC or a mesh that is coated with PVC. However, post 12 may be of any suitable configuration, including a conventional steel tube coated with PVC or the like, so long as it is rendered electrically isolated. Post 12 is preferably capped with an end cap 16 in order to achieve more protection. Post 12 incorporates a design to receive corner brackets 18 which receive frame members 24. Post 12 is attached to the floor by a post base 20, which provides rigidity to the fence assembly.

FIG. 2 illustrates a first embodiment of a frame member, generally denoted by the numeral 24, which includes an extruded profile 26 and a rib member 28. In this particular embodiment, one side of frame 24 may include a single rib 28, while the other side of frame 24 includes multiple ribs 30. As with any fence, the fence itself is to be received within wire mesh receiver cavity 32. Wire mesh is not shown in FIG. 1, although it is generally accepted that a coated wire mesh fence would be in the middle of the frame member 24. Further embodiments of the fence may include any commercially available fencing or barrier material, including, but not limited to acrylic sheets, plastic fencing, plywood, or any combination thereof.

Also extruded into frame member 24 is preferably a fastening cavity 34 for receiving an extruded jacket in order to provide the electrical insulation, which is desired. Although polypropylene is preferred any suitable plastic material may be used. Extruded frame member 24 may also include an optional tang 36 emanating from the circumference of frame member 24. Tang 36 is useful for other applications, including attachment to the upright post 12. For ease of manufacturing, a tang may be included on all frame members 24, and then used for all applications, even though it might not be of any help for the horizontally mounted frame members, as seen in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates a useful corner bracket, generally denoted by the numeral 40, which includes a frame receiver 42 and a tang receiver 44. Within the circumference of frame receiver 42, there is preferably a fastening cavity 46 and a strengthening gusset 48. Although these are optional, they are most preferable for the present applications. Tang 36 shown in FIG. 2 is received within tang receiver 44 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective cross-sectional view of the most preferred embodiment of post 12 of FIG. 1. This is shown in greater detail, and the post configuration is generally denoted by the numeral 50, including angular receivers 52 extruded out of the sides of post 12 in order to provide a great deal of adjustability and angles to be made in the fence itself. Angular receivers 52 are shown as being provided in multiplicity to provide multiple options to anyone installing this type of fence, and allowing for many different angles. In the post 50 illustrated in the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, there are shown four 90° parallel receivers 54, and four intermediately angled angular receivers 52. These receivers, collectively, are designed to receive the tang 36 of the framing members illustrated as element 54 in FIG. 2. In practice, the post 12 of FIG. 1 receives the tang 36 of FIG. 2 and yields the frame assembly as illustrated in FIG. 1.

Still referring to FIG. 4, there is shown a core-out feature 56 in order to remove some of the weight of post 50. Post cover receivers 58 are illustrated in FIG. 4 and they are adapted for receiving a plastic cover, and especially adapted for receiving an extruded polypropylene or polyurethane insulating cover as described more fully with reference to FIG. 5. Surrounding the post cover receivers 58 are numerous outer post structural supports 60.

FIG. 5 illustrates an electrically insulating post cover manufactured in accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention, and is generally denoted by the numeral 62. This electrically insulating cover is preferably made of polypropylene, but may be made of any plastic, including thermoplastic or thermoset material. As long as the material is formable, extrudable, or the like, and has a property of being electrically insulating, that material is suitable for this application. Therefore, various ceramics such as alumina, silicone nitride, silicon carbide would also be suitable. Cover 62 includes an outer surface 64 into which cutouts 65 have been made in conjunction with tear-off cutouts 68 on the interior surface such that these sections can be ripped out if the cover is put over a post, such as post 50 in FIG. 4, but needs a section to be eliminated in order to allow for an angular receiver 52 to receive tang 36. This makes the cover 62 completely versatile for many installation angles and applications, and the tear-off cutouts 68 and 65 will allow someone in the field to merely rip off the plastic in a particular area for as long as it is needed to be torn off in order to make it adaptable to receive tangs in their desired configuration. Note also that key fastener 66 projects inwardly from the body of cover 62 and is designed to be received by post cover receiver 58 as illustrated in FIG. 4. Key fastener 66 may have many different configurations, any one of which will mate with the post cover receiver 58 and lock therein in order to deter someone from removing the cover and thereby possibly electrocuting themselves.

FIG. 6 illustrates an end cap, which is generally denoted by the numeral 70, and which is designed to be received on top of post 50 as illustrated in FIG. 4. The interior diameter dimension of end cap 70 is closely mated to the exterior diameter dimension of post 50, and will slip thereon in order to prevent electrocution. End cap 70 is also made of an electrically insulating material as those described hereinabove, and may be made of polypropylene, polyethylene, polyurethane, or any other suitable plastic or thermoplastic, or any type of ceramic material, or any other suitable material as long as it is electrically insulating.

FIG. 7 is another embodiment of the post base in accordance with the present invention, and includes a post receiver generally denoted by the numeral 80. Post receiver 80 includes the post receiving channel 86 and is attached to post receiving base 88 by strengthened brace gussets 82. Apertures 84 in drilled-through base 88 allow for adjustable and easy installation onto the floor of a shop in order to receive the electrically isolated fence.

Finally, we now look at FIG. 8, an insulated perimeter fence in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention and is generally denoted by the numeral 100. A coated wire mesh fence, such as this shown coated wire mesh fence 102 is installed between two upright posts 104 as shown in this illustration. Posts 104 are held within post bases 106, acting as receivers for an electrically insulated frame member 108 that holds and secures the coated wire mesh fence 102. Clearly, coated wire mesh fence 102 may be of any suitable configuration for the application, as long as it is electrically insulating. Preferably, coated wire mesh fence 102 is a wire mesh fencing material made of interlocking metal wire and is preferably dipped into an electrically insulating material, preferably a PVC solution, thereby coating the metal and rendering the fence itself electrically insulating. Thereafter, these sections may be slid into receivers within frame 108 as disclosed with regard to FIGS. 1 through 4 above. The tangs of frame member 108 (not shown here) are received within post 104 and secured therein. Referring back to FIG. 2, the mesh screen receiver 32 of the frame members 24, act as receivers for the coated wire mesh fence 102.

In summary, numerous benefits have been described which result from employing any or all of the concepts and the features of the various specific embodiments of the present invention, or those that are within the scope of the invention. The electrically insulated fence acts as a protective measure for maintenance workers.

The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best illustrate the principles of the invention and its practical applications to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims which are appended hereto.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

This invention finds particular utilities in the manufacturing art, and is especially used for perimeter fencing used around dangerous manufacturing machines.