Title:
Lock for shelving assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The lock for a shelving assembly secures the connector ends of the horizontal members to the uprights of the assembly, preventing the horizontal members from being lifted from their attachments to the uprights. The lock comprises a rigid, inflexible lock bar having a peripheral frame surrounding a central passage therethrough, and an opposite distal end with a lock tab extending therefrom. The attachment edge of the lock bar frame is hooked upon a protruding lance tab of the connector end, with the lance tab serving as a hinge or fulcrum for the lock bar. A spring is wedged between the attachment edge of the lock bar frame and the adjacent connector end, urging the distal end of the lock bar toward the connector to engage the lock tab within aligned holes of the connector and upright to which it is attached.



Inventors:
Nance, David W. (Trenton, TN, US)
Application Number:
12/073423
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
03/05/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PUROL, SARAH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A lock for a shelving assembly, the shelving assembly including at least one connector having at least one lance tab extending outwardly therefrom and a lock tab passage formed therethrough, and including at least one upright having the upper portion of an elongated connector pin passage aligned with the lock tab passage of the connector when the connector is installed upon the upright, the lock comprising: a rigid lock bar having an attachment end, a lock tab end opposite the attachment end, mutually opposed first and second lateral edges, a front face, a connector contact face opposite the front face, and a lock tab extending from the lock tab end of the connector contact face generally normal thereto; and a spring bearing against the attachment end of the lock bar, the spring urging the attachment end of the lock bar away from the connector and the lock tab end of the lock bar toward the connector to engage the lock tab within the lock tab passage of the connector and upper portion of the connector pin passage of the upright when the attachment end of the lock bar is installed upon the lance tab of the connector.

2. The lock for a shelving assembly according to claim 1, wherein the lock bar has a connector pin clearance opening formed therethrough.

3. The lock for a shelving assembly according to claim 1, wherein the lock tab comprises mutually folded first and second extensions of the lock bar formed integrally therewith.

4. The lock for a shelving assembly according to claim 1, further including a finger lift tab extending from the lock tab end of the lock bar.

5. The lock for a shelving assembly according to claim 1, wherein the lock bar is formed of hardened steel.

6. The lock for a shelving assembly according to claim 1, wherein the compression spring comprises a thin, resilient metal leaf having a narrow, generally U-shaped cross section.

7. A shelving assembly lock and connector combination for attachment to a shelving system having at least one upright with at least one connector pin passage defined therethrough, the lock and connector combination comprising: a connector having a lock bar contact face, an upright contact face opposite the lock bar contact face, and at least one lock tab passage formed therethrough, the lock tab passage being adapted for alignment with an upper portion of the connector pin passage of the upright when the connector is installed thereon; at least one connector pin extending from the upright contact face of the connector generally normal thereto, the connector pin being adjacent the lock tab passage; at least one lance tab extending from the lock bar contact face of the connector; a rigid lock bar having an attachment end pivotally disposed upon the lance tab of the connector, a lock tab end opposite the attachment end, mutually opposed first and second lateral edges, a front face, and a connector contact face opposite the front face; a lock tab extending from the lock tab end of the connector contact face of the lock bar generally normal thereto; and a spring disposed between the connector and the attachment end of the lock bar, the spring urging the attachment end of the lock bar away from the connector and the lock tab end of the lock bar toward the connector to engage the lock tab within the lock tab passage of the connector and upper portion of the connector pin passage of the upright.

8. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 7, wherein the lock bar has a connector pin clearance opening formed therethrough.

9. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 8, wherein the attachment end of the lock bar has a beveled upper edge defining the lower edge of the connector pin clearance opening.

10. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 7, wherein the lock tab comprises mutually folded first and second extensions of the lock bar formed integrally therewith.

11. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 7, further including a finger lift tab extending from the lock tab end of the lock bar.

12. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 7, wherein the lock bar is formed of hardened steel.

13. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 7, wherein the compression spring comprises a thin, resilient metal leaf having a narrow, generally U-shaped cross section.

14. A shelving assembly, comprising: a plurality of uprights having a plurality of elongated connector pin passages disposed therethrough, each of the connector pin passages having an upper portion; a plurality of connectors, each of the connectors having a lock bar contact face, an upright contact face opposite the lock bar contact face, a connector pin extending from the upright contact face of the connector generally normal thereto, the connector pin selectively engaging a corresponding one of the connector pin passages of a corresponding one of the uprights, and at least one lock tab passage formed therethrough, the lock tab passage being aligned with the upper portion of one of the connector pin passages of the corresponding one of the uprights when one of the connectors is installed thereon; a lance tab extending from the lock bar contact face of each of the connectors; a plurality of rigid lock bars having an attachment end pivotally disposed upon the lance tab of a corresponding one of the connectors, a lock tab end opposite the attachment end, mutually opposed first and second lateral edges, a front face, and a connector contact face opposite the front face; a lock tab extending from the lock tab end of the connector contact face of each of the lock bars generally normal thereto; and a spring disposed between each of the connectors and the attachment end of a corresponding one of the lock bars, the spring urging the attachment end of the lock bar away from the connector and the lock tab end of the lock bar toward the connector to engage the lock tab within the lock tab passage of the connector and upper portion of the connector pin passage of the corresponding one of the uprights.

15. The shelving assembly according to claim 14, wherein the lock bar has a connector pin clearance opening formed therethrough.

16. The shelving assembly lock and connector combination according to claim 15, wherein the attachment end of the lock bar has a beveled upper edge defining the lower edge of the connector pin clearance opening.

17. The shelving assembly according to claim 14, wherein the lock tab comprises mutually folded first and second extensions of the lock bar formed integrally therewith.

18. The shelving assembly according to claim 14, further including a finger lift tab extending from the lock tab end of the lock bar.

19. The shelving assembly according to claim 14, wherein the lock bar is formed of hardened steel.

20. The shelving assembly according to claim 14, wherein the compression spring comprises a thin, resilient metal leaf having a narrow, generally U-shaped cross section.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/929,013, filed Jun. 8, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to shelving assemblies. More particularly, the present invention relates to a lock for a shelving assembly that fastens shelf components to standards or uprights having shelf bracket engagement openings formed therein, usually at spaced intervals, to lock the shelves at adjustable heights.

2. Description of the Related Art

Prefabricated shelving is in common use in many environments, e.g., warehouses and other storage facilities, so-called “big box” stores, etc. Such shelving generally have uprights and horizontal crossmembers, which have connector ends that attach removably to the uprights by pins fitting into cooperating slots in the uprights. The uprights generally include a large number of closely spaced slots, with the slots usually having a “teardrop” or “keyhole” shape, i.e., being wider at the upper portion thereof to allow the passage of the wider head of the attachment pin, and narrower at the lower portion in order for the narrower shank of the pin to rest therein and capture the wider head of the pin behind the upright.

The above-described structure allows the components to be assembled quickly and easily, and provides for considerable adjustment in the height of the crossmembers and corresponding shelves. This configuration is commonly used for large and heavy-duty shelving assemblies in warehouses and the like for the storage of palletized goods, which are placed upon and retrieved from the shelving by fork lift equipment or the like.

One problem that can occur in such an environment is that the tines of the forklift may be placed inadvertently beneath the crossmember of the shelving structure, or perhaps for the pallet or other article to become caught on the shelving crossmember. When this occurs, the crossmember becomes dislodged from its installation to the adjacent upright when the tines of the forklift are raised. The result is the dropping of at least one end of the crossmember and all of the goods resting upon that shelf level, unless the forklift operator recognizes the problem in time and is able to get some assistance in reinstalling the crossmember. Even so, the reinstallation of a shelving crossmember when the shelf is loaded is not a trivial task, and may prove to be impossible under the circumstances.

Accordingly, a large number of fasteners of various types have been developed to lock the shelving crossmembers to their respective uprights in order to prevent such accidents. One exemplary device is described in Swiss Patent No. 602,438, published on Jul. 31, 1978. According to the drawings and English abstract, the device comprises an adjustable height shelving system for pallets, with the uprights having a plurality of keyhole slots therein for receiving pins extending from the connector ends of the horizontal members.

Thus, a lock for a shelving assembly solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The lock for a shelving assembly provides for the locking together of the crossmembers and uprights of a prefabricated shelf system to prevent their inadvertent disassembly. The lock comprises a rigid, inflexible lock bar stamped or otherwise formed of a single, unitary metal plate. The lock includes a peripheral frame defining a central passage therethrough, with the attachment end of the lock bar frame being hooked upon a lance tab extending outwardly from the connector end of the crossmember. A spring is installed between the attachment end of the lock bar frame and the underlying structure of the connector end component, with the spring urging the attachment end of the lock bar outwardly, i.e., away from the connector end. The opposite distal end of the lock bar is thus urged toward the connector end as the lock bar pivots about the fulcrum defined by the lance tab.

The distal end of the lock bar includes a lock tab extending normal thereto, i.e., toward the connector end component and underlying upright. The lock tab is preferably stamped and formed as an integral unit from the lock bar plate, and engages aligned holes through the connector end component and underlying upright. When the lock bar tab is so engaged, the tab prevents the connector end component from moving parallel to the underlying upright, thereby preventing the attachment pins of the connector end from disengaging from their seats within the upright passages and assuring that the shelving assembly remains assembled.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental perspective view of a shelving assembly including a series of locks for shelving assembly according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a detailed environmental perspective view of a portion of the shelving assembly of FIG. 1, showing further details of the lock for the shelving assembly according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a detailed environmental front elevation view of the installed lock for a shelving assembly according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a detailed exploded perspective view of a lock bar and a spring of a lock for a shelving assembly according to the present invention, showing further details thereof.

FIG. 5 is a detailed environmental side elevation view in section of the lock for a shelving assembly according to the present invention in its installed and locked state on a shelving assembly, showing various details thereof.

FIG. 6 is a detailed side elevation view in section of the lock installation of FIG. 5, showing the lock bar pivoted to its unlocked state.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to various embodiments of a lock for a shelving assembly, assuring that the horizontal crossmembers or shelf support members cannot be lifted from their attachment to the standards or uprights of the assembly. FIG. 1 of the drawings provides an illustration of an exemplary shelving assembly 10, including a plurality of uprights 12 with horizontal crossmembers 20 secured between the uprights 12 and supporting one or more shelves thereon. The detail perspective view of FIG. 2 illustrates further details of this structure, showing the elongated connector pin passages 14 formed through each of the uprights 12.

Each of the connector pin passages 14 includes a relatively wider upper portion 16 dimensioned to allow the passage therethrough of the relatively wider head of the connector pin, and a relatively narrower lower portion 18 supporting the narrower shank of the pin therein and capturing the wider head of the pin therebehind. Each of the connector pin passages 14 illustrated in the drawings comprises a “teardrop” shape, i.e., having a smoothly tapering side extending between the wider upper portion 16 and narrower lower portion 18 thereof. However, other passage shapes having relatively wider upper portions and narrower lower portions, e.g., “keyhole” configuration, etc., may be used.

Each of the horizontal shelf support crossmembers 20 includes opposite distal ends 22, with each of the ends 22 having a connector 24 extending therefrom. Each of the connectors 24 has an outwardly facing lock bar contact face 26 and an opposite, inwardly facing upright contact face 28, with the upright contact face 28 being shown most clearly in the cross-sectional views of FIGS. 5 and 6. The connectors 24 are preferably formed as stamped angles and welded or otherwise permanently and immovably attached to the ends 22 of the crossmembers 20, but other configurations may be used. Each of the connectors 24 has at least one, and preferably a plurality of, connector pin(s) 30 extending inwardly from the upright contact face 28 thereof, with such pins 30 best being shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. Each of the pins 30 has a relatively wide head, which is captured behind the corresponding upright 12 by the narrower portion 18 of the connector pin passage 14 through which it was installed, and a narrow shank resting in the narrower lower portion of the passage 14, as described further above.

As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, each of the connectors 24 has a lock tab passage 32 formed therethrough for accepting the lock tab of a lock bar, described in detail further below. The lock tab passage 32 of the connector 24 is aligned with the upper portion 16 of a corresponding connector pin passage 14 when the connector 24 is installed upon the upright 12, as shown in FIGS. 3, 5, and 6 of the drawings. Each of the connectors 24 also has a lance tab 34 extending outwardly from its lock bar contact face 28, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6. Each of the lance tabs 34 has an outwardly extending leg 36 and a leg 38 generally parallel to the plane of the connector 24. The lance tab 34 serves as a pivot or hinge attachment point for a lock bar 40, as described further below.

The lock bar 40 comprises a rigid, inflexible bar stamped or otherwise formed of a relatively heavy sheet of durable metal, e.g., steel. The bar 40 is preferably treated after forming to increase its strength and durability further, e.g., case hardening, etc. Each lock bar 40 includes an attachment end 42 and an opposite distal lock tab end 44, mutually opposed first and second lateral edges 46 and 48, a front face 50, and an opposite connector contact face 52. The two ends 42, 44 and edges 46, 48 define a passage 54 formed through the bar, with the passage permitting removable attachment of the bar 40 to the lance tab 34 of the corresponding connector 24. Specifically, the lance tab attachment end 42 of the bar 40 extends across the outwardly extending leg 36 of the lance tab 34, with the leg 36 passing through the lock bar passage 54. The attachment end portion 42 of the bar is captured between the parallel leg 38 of the lance tab 34 and the underlying lock bar contact surface 26 of the connector 24 to pivotally secure the lock bar 40 to the connector 24. The passage 54 through the lock bar 40 may be enlarged to serve as a connector pin clearance opening, allowing the lock bar 40 to seat directly upon the lock bar contact surface 26 of the connector 24 around the protruding attachment end of the adjacent connector pin 30.

A lock tab 56 protrudes from the connector contact face 52 of the lock tab end 44 of the lock bar 40, generally normal to the plane of the bar 40. The lock tab 56 is preferably formed integrally with the remainder of the bar 40 of the same metal as the plate or sheet used to form the bar 40. The flat stock used to form the lock bar 40 before bending includes first and second end distal extensions 58 that are bent to form the protruding portion of the lock tab 56, and laterally opposed first and second intermediate extensions 60 that are mutually folded back against the connector contact face 52 of the bar 40. Alternatively, the tab 56 could be formed as a separate component (bolt, rivet, pin, etc.) mechanically secured through or welded to the lock tab end 44 of the bar 40 to extend from the connector contact face 52 of the bar.

The lock bar 40 has a finger lift tab 62 extending from the lock tab end 44 of the bar. This finger lift tab 62 is preferably formed in the same manner as the lock tab 56 described above, i.e., formed integrally with the remainder of the bar 40 of the same metal as the plate or sheet used to form the bar 40. The finger lift tab 62 is bent to protrude outwardly from the front face 50 of the bar 40 in order to facilitate manipulation of the lift tab 62. It is preferred to incorporate the finger lift tab 62 when forming the lock bar 40, as the protruding finger lift tab 62 extends outwardly, i.e., spaced away from the outer face 26 of the connector 24, at least even with the outwardly protruding lance tab 34. Thus, in the event of contact with the shelving assembly 10 by a massive object, e.g., by a fork lift or the like during maneuvering, the outwardly protruding finger lift tab 62 serves to protect the remaining structure of the lock bar 40 and associated lance tab 34 from damage or deformation.

The lock bar 40 is held in place upon the lance tab 34 of the respective connector 24 by a spring 64. The spring 64 is formed of a relatively thin and resilient metal leaf having a narrow, generally U-shaped cross section, as shown in FIGS. 4 through 6. The spring 64 includes opposite connector and lock bar engagement tabs, respectively 66 and 68, which secure the spring 64 in place when the spring 64 and lock bar 40 are installed. The connector engagement tab 66 seats against the edge of the hole or passage 70 formed when the lance tab 34 is stamped or punched away from the connector 24, with the opposite lock bar engagement tab 68 bearing against the lower edge of the attachment end 42 of the lock bar 40.

The spring 64 exerts a torque that urges the lock bar attachment end 42 of the bar 40 upwardly against the junction of the outward extending leg 36 and parallel leg 38 of the lance tab 34, and further urges the lock bar attachment end 42 outwardly away from the front face 50 of the connector 24. The upper edge of the lock bar attachment end 42, i.e., the edge defining the lower edge of the connector pin clearance opening 54 in the center of the lock bar 40, may have a bevel or chamfer 72 to fit more closely with the inner radius of the bend or junction between the two legs 36 and 38 of the lance tab 34.

As the junction of the outward extending leg 36 and parallel leg 38 of the lance tab 34 acts as a fulcrum or pivot point for the lock bar 40, it will be seen that the distal lock tab end portion 44 of the lock bar 40 is urged toward the front face 50 of the connector 24, thereby also urging the lock tab 56 into the aligned lock tab passage 32 and upper portion 16 of a connector pin passage 14. Thus, once the lock bar 40 is installed with its spring 64, the lock tab 56 automatically engages the connector 24 and underlying upright 12 to prevent the connector 24 from lifting relative to the upright 12, thereby assuring that the shelving assembly 10 cannot be disassembled either intentionally or inadvertently without positively and intentionally pivoting the lock bar 40 outwardly away from the front face 50 of the connector 24 against the pressure of the spring 64. Yet, the lock bar 40 is easily released by intentionally pulling or prying outwardly upon the upwardly disposed finger lift tab 62, thereby pulling the lock tab from the upper portion 16 of the connector pin passage 14 with which it was engaged, thus allowing the connector bracket 24 (and any attached crossmember 22) to be lifted for removal or relocation along the corresponding upright 12.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.