Title:
Shopping separator device, with dispensing function
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Shopping separator device, intended to be used at a cash till, in order to separate articles which form the shopping of a queue of purchasers and are arranged on an optionally movable surface associated with the till, comprising an elongated housing defining internally at least one storage chamber able to receive and display articles (ABC, DAF), the purchase of which is to be promoted at the till, and comprising dispensing means which feed said articles towards a dispensing opening in order to allow removal thereof by the purchaser.



Inventors:
Mozzillo, Andrea (Pino Torinese (Torino), IT)
Application Number:
12/021725
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
01/29/2008
Assignee:
FERRERO S.p.A. (Alba (Cuneo), IT)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
221/247
International Classes:
A47F9/04; B65H3/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SHAPIRO, JEFFREY ALAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROTHWELL, FIGG, ERNST & MANBECK, P.C. (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Shopping separator device, intended to be used at a cash till, in order to separate articles which form the shopping of a queue of purchasers and are arranged on an optionally movable surface associated with the till, comprising an elongated housing defining internally at least one storage chamber able to receive and display articles (ABC, DAF), the purchase of which is to be promoted at the till, wherein it comprises dispensing means which feed said articles towards a dispensing opening of the housing in order to allow removal thereof by the purchaser.

2. Separator device according to claim 1, wherein said dispensing means comprise at least one dispensing opening formed in a wall of the housing and resilient pushing means which push said articles towards said opening.

3. Separator device according to claims 1 or 2, wherein said dispensing means comprise a shoulder member mounted slidably on horizontal guide elements associated with the bottom of the housing and a resilient member which pushes said shoulder member in a horizontal direction so as to cause the horizontal displacement of said aligned articles.

4. Separator device according to claim 1, wherein said dispensing means comprise at least one dispensing opening formed in an upper wall of the housing, pushing means with a horizontal action which push said articles aligned in a row in a horizontal direction towards said opening and pushing means with a vertical action which push an end article of the row in a vertical direction towards and through said dispensing opening.

5. Separator device according to claim 1, wherein said dispensing means comprise at least one dispensing opening formed in a wall of the housing, pushing means with a horizontal action which push said articles aligned in a row in the horizontal direction towards said opening and ramp-like support means able to support an end article of the row so as to cause raising thereof towards and through said dispensing opening.

6. Separator device according to claim 4, wherein said pushing means with a vertical action comprise a resilient member able to cause the pushing, in a vertical direction upwards, of an aligned end article towards said dispensing opening.

7. Separator device according to claim 1, wherein it has transparent longitudinal side walls and a removable lid which is associated with said side walls.

8. Separator device according to any one of claims 1 or 2, wherein said housing comprises a first and a second storage chamber, each able to receive said articles to be dispensed (ABC, DAF) arranged in a row in an aligned arrangement, each of said chambers having, associated therewith, respective dispensing means comprising an opening formed in the wall of the housing and respective resilient pushing means able to push said articles towards the respective dispensing opening.

9. Separator device according to claim 8, wherein said dispensing means comprise, for each storage chamber, pushing means with a horizontal action which push said articles in a horizontal direction towards said opening and pushing means with a vertical action which push the end article of the row towards and through said opening.

10. Separator device according to claim 8, wherein said dispensing means comprise, for each storage chamber, pushing means with a horizontal action which push said articles in the horizontal direction towards said opening and ramp-like support means able to support an end article of the row so as to cause raising thereof towards said opening.

11. Separator device according to claim 1, wherein the top wall of the housing or lid comprises a slit for inserting a fidelity card or credit card.

12. Device according to claim 1, wherein said opening is formed in an upper wall or lid of the housing and optionally extends along a side wall of the housing.

Description:

The present invention relates to a separator device, referred to below more specifically as a shopping separator since it is intended to be used to separate articles which make up the shopping of a queue of purchasers and are arranged on an optionally movable surface, typically a conveyor belt, associated with a cash till of a large shop or supermarket.

Nearly all large shops provide their customers with separating bars which the customers themselves arrange transversely on the cash-till conveyor belt in order to indicate to the cash-till operator the start and/or the end of their shopping, so as to prevent, at the time of payment, mixing thereof with the articles purchased by another customer.

In patent literature it has also been proposed to use a shopping separator device of the type mentioned above as a means for conveying information, generally of an advertising nature, or as a display device for articles, the sale of which is to be promoted at the cash till.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,534,126 describes a shopping divider device having a hollow elongated body with walls which are at least partly transparent so as to allow viewing of advertising material inserted inside the body.

A hollow body divider provided internally with means for viewing information is also described in GB-A-2 330 680 and FR-A-2 784 781.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,450,926 describes a shopping divider device with display function, including internally articles for sale which are visible through the transparent walls of the divider body. The divider may be provided with signalling means which may be activated by the customer in order to indicate to the cash till operator that he/she intends purchasing the products displayed inside the divider; these articles are thus extracted manually from inside the divider body.

The present invention relates to a shopping separator device having the function of a device for displaying articles, sale of which is to be promoted at the cash till, and also having the function of a dispenser since it is provided with dispensing means which feed the articles displayed inside it towards a dispensing opening which is formed in the body of the separator device so as to allow removal thereof by the customer.

The invention therefore relates to a shopping separator device having the characteristic features defined in the claims which follow.

The dependent claims, which form an integral part of the present description, define further characteristic features relating to currently preferred embodiments and provided by way of a non-limiting example.

Further characteristic features and advantages of the separator device according to the invention will become clear from the detailed description which follows, provided with reference to the accompanying drawings.

In the accompanying figures:

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a separator device including articles ABC and/or DAF to be dispensed;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the separator device without the above-mentioned articles;

FIG. 2a is a perspective view, similar to FIG. 2, relating to a variant of the separator device;

FIG. 3 is a view cross-sectioned along the line III-III of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the separator according to FIG. 1 along a plane perpendicular to the abovementioned line III-III; and

FIG. 4a is a schematic cross-sectional view, similar to FIG. 4, which shows a variant of the dispensing means.

With reference to the drawings, the shopping separator device has a body formed by an elongated housing 2 which, in the example shown, has the shape of a parallelepiped.

The housing 2 is typically made of plastic and is obtained by means of extrusion or injection moulding, with transparent longitudinal side walls and lateral end walls 6 which may be made of transparent or non-transparent plastic.

The housing 2 defines internally at least one storage chamber 5, 7 housing one or more rows of articles on display which are indicated by ABC and DAF. In the example, these consist of containers or boxes with a prismatic shape, in particular with a parallelepidal shape, for example including a confectionery product, such as lozenges or sweets, for example. It is understood, however, that the principle on which the separator device according to the invention is based is not limited to a specific shape of the articles contained inside it, provided that this shape is such as to allow dispensing thereof through an opening 10 formed in the body of the housing 2 and such as to allow alignment thereof inside the storage chamber.

In the example according to FIGS. 1 and 2, the housing 2 has a—preferably transparent—upper lid 8 which engages, for example by means of snap-engagement, with the side walls of the body of the housing and which is removable so as to allow insertion of the articles inside the storage chamber.

The lid 8, or in some cases also a side wall of the housing body, has at least one opening 10 which is big enough to allow removal of one of the articles ABC, DAF, inserted inside the housing chamber.

In the example according to FIG. 2a, the housing 2 has an upper wall 8a which is connected, preferably permanently, to the side walls 4 and 6 of the housing body; in this case, the openings 10 also extend along the side walls 4 and 6 and are shaped so as to allow both the insertion of the articles inside the storage chamber and extraction thereof.

In the examples shown, the articles ABC and DAF are arranged in two parallel rows inside respective chambers 5 and 7 which are separated by a longitudinal wall 12 and the lid 8, or the upper wall 8a, have two openings 10 for extracting the articles of a respective row.

The storage chamber of the housing 2 has associated internally dispensing means which feed the articles ABC and DAF towards the dispensing opening 10.

In one embodiment (FIG. 4), the dispensing means comprise first pushing means 14 with a horizontal action which push the articles aligned in a horizontal direction towards an outlet opening 10 and second pushing means 16 (shown in broken lines since they are optional) with a vertical action, which push in a vertical direction an end article in the row of articles towards the abovementioned opening, so as to cause it to exit at least partially through said opening.

In the examples shown, where the articles are aligned in two parallel rows, the dispensing means comprise, for each row, a shoulder member 18 having, associated therewith, a resilient member 14, for example a helical or coil spring 14 which, acting against the end wall 6, pushes the shoulder member 18 in the horizontal direction. The shoulder member 18 has a bottom portion 20 which is provided with longitudinal grooves 24 sliding on respective longitudinal ribs 26 and 28 formed respectively on a longitudinal wall 4 and on the separating wall 12 so that the shoulder member 18 is movable when acted on by the pushing means 14 in the horizontal direction.

In the example shown in FIG. 4, the optional pushing means 16 with a vertical action consist for example of a leaf spring 16 (shown in broken lines) which causes raising of the end article DAF or ABC through the opening 10, so that this article projects from this opening by an amount (for example 25%) of its height.

Alternatively (FIG. 4a), the pushing means 16 with a vertical action may be replaced by ramp-like support means 19 (shown in broken lines), which form part of the bottom support on which the articles rest and are intended to support an end article of the row so as to cause the gradual raising thereof towards and through the dispensing opening during the course of its horizontal displacement towards said opening.

As mentioned above, the pushing means 16 with a vertical action or the ramp-like support means 19 are optional and used only in the case where the opening 10 is formed only in the lid 8 or upper wall 8a in such a way that, in order to allow removal of the article, it is necessary to cause it to exit at least partially through this opening 10.

The articles ABC and DAF are arranged in an aligned position, resting for example on the ribs 26 and 28.

30 denotes a slit which is formed in the lid 8 and which allows the insertion, by the customer, of a card, for example a fidelity card or credit card T, inside a corresponding slit formed in the dividing wall 12.

Owing to the structural characteristics illustrated, the shopping separator device according to the invention fulfils the following uses.

In its display function, the device has the effect that the customer's attention is attracted by the articles displayed in it; in this way, the waiting time at the cash tills is advantageously used in order to attract the customer's attention to these articles and/or to the advertising information which may be associated inside or outside the housing of the separator; if the customer decides to purchase an article on display, he/she is able to remove this article directly, extracting it from the outlet opening 10 and place it among the articles forming his/her shopping.

Extraction of the article by the purchaser causes the aligned article, following it, to be immediately pushed into a position suitable for extraction owing to the action of the dispensing means described above, such that the article is made available for removal if necessary by the next customer.

Obviously, without modifying the principle of the invention, the embodiments and the constructional details may be greatly varied with respect to that described and illustrated, without departing from the scope of the claims which follow.

It is understood that the constructional characteristics of the dispensing means may be varied with respect to that specifically illustrated.