Title:
Shelving Assemblies and Methods of Use of the Same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Shelving assemblies and methods of use of the same are disclosed. The shelving assemblies include at least a pair of side units having protrusions that extend therefrom and that are received in receptacles on a plurality of shelves.



Inventors:
Scriba, Paul Steven (Western Springs, IL, US)
Heinemann III, Jules Andrew (Chicago, IL, US)
Carey, Daniel Scott (Midlothian, IL, US)
Villasenor, Mee (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/163217
Publication Date:
01/29/2009
Filing Date:
06/27/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/153
International Classes:
A47F5/01; A47F5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VARGHESE, SASHA T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COOK ALEX LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shelving assembly comprising: a plurality of side units with each side unit having a frame and protrusions extending from the frame; a plurality of shelves having a plurality of receptacles configured to receive the protrusions extending from the plurality of frames.

2. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein the frame of a first side unit is substantially in a first plane and the protrusions extend from the frame in planes substantially perpendicular to the plane of the frame.

3. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each side member includes protrusions connected to a frame.

4. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein the protrusions are formed by U-shaped members.

5. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each side unit includes the protrusions formed integrally with the frame.

6. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each frame further comprises at least two upright members.

7. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each frame further comprises at least two horizontal members.

8. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each frame further comprises at least one slat.

9. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each shelf has a main body and the receptacles of each shelf are connected to the main body.

10. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 9, wherein the receptacles of each shelf are formed integrally with the main body.

11. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein the side units have a common construction and the shelves are located between a pair of side units with one side unit being inverted and rotated relative to the other side unit.

12. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein the side units are spaced apart and the protrusions on the respective side units are aligned with and extend toward each other.

13. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each shelf further comprises at least one upstanding lip.

14. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein each shelf further comprises at least one blocking member to prevent separation of a side unit from a shelf.

15. The shelving assembly as defined in claim 14, wherein the at least one blocking member is removable.

16. A method of forming a shelving assembly comprising: providing at least a pair of side units, with each side unit having a plurality of protrusions extending therefrom; providing a plurality of shelves, with each shelf having a plurality of receptacles adapted to receive the respective protrusions of the side units; and wherein the plurality of shelves may be located between the at least pair of side units and the plurality of shelves and the at least pair of side units may be moved with respect to each other to locate at least a portion of the respective protrusions on the at least pair of side units within the respective receptacles of the shelves.

17. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein each side unit further comprises a frame and the plurality of protrusions extend perpendicularly relative to the frame.

18. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein forming a shelving assembly further comprises placing a first side unit on a substantially horizontal surface so as to have the frame of the first side unit lay on and be parallel to the substantially horizontal surface while the protrusions on the frame of the first side unit extend upward at an angle relative to the frame of the first side unit, moving the plurality of shelves to positions wherein the shelves have the plurality of protrusions on the frame of the first side unit received within receptacles of the respective shelves, and positioning a second side unit above the plurality of shelves and moving the second side unit downward to a position wherein the respective protrusions on the second side unit are received within receptacles on the respective shelves, and moving the shelving assembly to an upright position in which the protrusions of the first and second side units are parallel to the substantially horizontal surface.

19. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein the side units are identical in construction.

20. A method as defined in claim 16, wherein in forming the shelving assembly one of the side units of the at least pair of side units is inverted and rotated relative to the other of the at least pair of side units so as to have their respective protrusions of the side units be aligned with and extending toward each other.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/952,451 filed Jul. 27, 2007.

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure relates generally to shelving assemblies for supporting or displaying objects and, more particularly, to shelving assemblies having shelves and side units and methods of use of the same.

BACKGROUND

It is common to support or display items on a shelving assembly. For instance, often shelving assemblies are used within a retail merchandising or residential environment. Shelving assemblies have been available for support and display purposes in various forms, such as those made of tubing, panels, or wire, and of materials such as metal, plastic, wood or the like.

The present disclosure provides enhanced, simplified, low cost shelving assemblies for stand alone support and display of items. The disclosure also illustrates some example shelving assemblies with the potential to quickly and conveniently adapt displays to changing needs, such as may be found with retailers using shelving assemblies in point of purchase displays in an effort to best utilize merchandising space.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first example shelving assembly.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 1, with the side units separated from the shelves.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a shelf for use in the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3B is a side view of the shelf shown in FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of another example shelf for use in a shelving assembly.

FIG. 4B is a side view of the shelf shown in FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a side unit for use in the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another example side unit for use in a shelving assembly.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another example shelving assembly.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 7 with the side units spaced further apart.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 7, with the side units separated from the shelves.

FIG. 10A is a perspective view of a shelf for use in the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 10B is a side view of the shelf shown in FIG. 10A.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a side unit for use in the example shelving assembly shown in FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Although the following discloses example shelving assemblies for use supporting and/or displaying items, such as for use in point of purchase displays, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the teachings of this disclosure are in no way limited to such specific embodiments. On the contrary, it is contemplated that the teachings of this disclosure may be implemented in alternative configurations and environments. For example, although the example shelving assemblies described herein are described in conjunction with configurations for displaying items on inclined shelves, such as boxes of food items or other goods, or free standing literature such as books or periodicals, those having ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize that the example shelving assemblies may be used for support and/or display of other types of items and may be configured to correspond appropriately to the items to be displayed, whether requiring placement at a different angle, additional containment, support or other features. Similarly, while the shelving assemblies illustrated are configured to be placed on generally horizontal surfaces, it will be appreciated that example shelving assemblies also may be configured to be hung from substantially vertical surfaces, such as a common wall, pegboard, slatwall or the like.

The example shelving assemblies shown also may provide the optional advantageous feature of having an open back. Depending on the particular configuration and placement of the shelving assembly chosen, this allows items of various sizes to be shelved without obstruction from the rear of the assembly, and may provide for increased side access, and more even distribution of airflow, and light. The disclosure includes shelving assemblies that include shelves and side units, and use of such shelving assemblies.

The disclosed examples may be used in any type of format to support and/or display items. Thus, the methods, apparatus, and/or articles of manufacture disclosed herein may be advantageously adapted to enhance or improve the organization, support, display and/or dispensing of any type of items. Accordingly, while the following describes example shelving assemblies and methods of use thereof, persons of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the disclosed examples are not the only way to implement such shelving assemblies and/or methods.

A first example shelving assembly 10 is illustrated in FIGS. 1-3B and 5. The illustrated example shelving assembly 10 includes a plurality of shelves 20, and a pair of side units 30. The shelves are constructed of substantially rigid materials, such as metal, plastic wood, or the like, and include a main body 22, shown in an example having a substantially flat upper surface 22a with an upward extending front lip 24. The front lip 24 adds rigidity to the shelf 20 and may be included to help contain taller or less rigid items, while still including space along the front of the shelving assembly 10 for permitting a user to easily grasp and remove items. It will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art that the upper and lower surfaces need not be flat and that upstanding lips or walls may be formed or connected to the shelves 20 along the perimeter of the shelves or anywhere on the upper surface 22a or lower surface 22b, as desired.

In the illustrated example, the shelves 20 also have a pair of receptacles 26, 28 along a lower surface 22b. In this example, the receptacles 26, 28 are spaced apart and parallel to each other. As best seen in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the receptacles 26, 28 provide an elongated channel portion 26a, 28a. While the example receptacles 26, 28 are shown as being integrally formed with the main body 22 of each shelf 20 along its lower surface 22b, it will be appreciated that receptacles could be separately formed and then connected to a main body by suitable fastening or joining methods, whether above the upper surface, below the lower surface or coincident with a portion of the thickness of the main body 22. Also, the receptacles 26, 28 need not extend the entire length of the main body 22. Depending on the configuration chosen, the receptacles also need not necessarily be parallel. However, one advantageous feature of using integrally formed, parallel receptacles is that the shelves may be extruded as a single plastic piece, and may be formed in a variety of lengths, without requiring different tooling.

The side units 30 of the first example shelving assembly 10 are best seen in FIGS. 1, 2 and 5, and are constructed of substantially rigid materials, such as metal, plastic, wood, or the like, and in forms such as wire or rods, tubes, panels, or combinations of such materials and forms. In the illustrated first example shelving assembly 10, each side unit 30 includes a frame 32 and a plurality of U-shaped members 34 that are connected to the frame 32. In the illustrated example, the frame 32 is in the form of a closed loop shape having a pair of substantially parallel upright members 32a and a pair of substantially parallel horizontal members 32b. Each U-shaped member 34 provides added rigidity to the frame 32 and forms a pair of protrusions 36 that extend outward from the frame 32, generally within a plane that is substantially perpendicular to a plane of the frame 32. In the example shown, each of the side units 30 is formed entirely of metal wire or rod, such as, for example 3/16 inch diameter steel wire, although it will be appreciated that other suitable materials and sizes may be used. The frame 32 is made from a single piece of wire bent and butt welded to form the closed loop, although the example frame 32 could be formed of two or more pieces suitably joined together. The protrusions 36 are then joined to the frame 32 via the U-shaped members 34, which in this example also are made of bent wire or rod and joined to the frame 32, such as by welding. It will be appreciated that the side units could be formed so as to have legs and the protrusions could be formed with and/or connected directly to upright members.

The structure of the side units 30 may include at least a few advantageous features. For instance, the illustrated example side units 30 are constructed of few components and by quite conventional construction methods. Also, a common side unit 30 may be configured and constructed to be used in pairs to form a shelving unit 10 due to the symmetry formed by positioning a second side unit 30 in a manner so as to be inverted and rotated 180 degrees, to be turned to face a first side unit 30. This placement creates a mirror image or symmetrical format by which the respective protrusions 36 of each of a pair of side units 30 face each other and may be accepted into respective ends of the receptacles 26, 28 of the shelves 20. Having common structures for the side units 30 therefore may reduce the need to build and stock different right and left side units, and may permit compact stacking of side units 30 for shipment and/or storage when they are placed in a similar orientation. Thus, it will be appreciated that, although they need not be, the side units may advantageously be made in a symmetrical manner.

As shown in the illustrated example, to assemble the shelving assembly 10, the protrusions 36 on the side units 30 are inserted into the ends of the respective receptacles 26, 28 of a plurality of shelves 20. In this example, the protrusions 36 are sized to obtain a snug, press fit within the receptacles 26, 28 of four similar shelves 20. However, it will be appreciated that the protrusions could be configured to obtain a snap fit, a slip fit, and/or a connection being achieved by use of additional fastening methods, such as by use of adhesive or mechanical fasteners. In this manner, the shelves 20 become structural elements that connect the side units 30 and form a portion of the overall structure of the shelving assembly 10. Also, it will be appreciated that two or more shelves may be used in forming a shelving assembly.

This structure also permits the use of common side units 30 with shelves 20 of different lengths. Thus, a series of shelves of a common greater or lesser length could be used with the side frames 30. Also, depending on the length chosen for the protrusions 36, the shelves within a shelving unit may be of different lengths and/or the side units 30 may be moved further apart to add width to the shelving assembly 10 without using longer shelves.

In the first illustrated example, the receptacles 26, 28 are shown as being continuous in length and integrally formed with the shelves 20. This is an example configuration that provides increased bending strength for the shelves 20. The receptacles may be configured to be above, below or in line with the main body of the shelves. The receptacles also may be configured to form a shelf front or rear lip, or to form one or more dividers along the upper surface of a shelf, offering still further design alternatives.

The example side units 30 may be configured with longer or shorter length protrusions 36 depending on the support desired for the shelves 20, such as for the desired length and load capacity of the shelves 20, and on the spacing of the shelves 20 from the upright members 32a of the shelving assembly 10. The protrusions 36 also can be located at various heights and distances from each other to create many different shelving assembly formats. For instance, in the example formed of metal wire or rod, the protrusions 36 are spaced further apart than the vertical members 32a of the frame 32. The angle of the U-shaped members 34 and their location and resulting location of their protrusions 36 relative to the frame 32, along with the location of the receptacles 26, 28 on each shelf 22, permit many design alternatives.

Assembling the shelving assembly 10 may be accomplished in various ways, each of which requires first and second side units 30 to be spaced apart, with the second side unit 30 facing and aligned with the first side unit 30. In this example, this may be accomplished by inverting and rotating one side unit relative to a like second side unit. The protrusions 36 on the side units 30 are inserted into the ends of the respective receptacles 26, 28 of a plurality of shelves 20 placed therebetween, and the side units 30 are moved closer together to their desired spacing. One method of conveniently accomplishing this is to begin by laying a first side unit 30 on a ground surface with the protrusions 36 extending upward. Then, a first end of the receptacles 26, 28 of a plurality of shelves 20 are installed on the protrusions 36 of the first side unit 30. A second side unit 30 is then inverted and rotated relative to the first side unit 30 so as to have the protrusions 36 extending downward and aligned with the protrusions 36 of the first side unit 30. The protrusions 36 of the second side unit are then installed in the second end of the receptacles 26, 28 of the plurality of shelves 20, and the side units 30 may be moved to their desired spacing relative to the shelves 20. The shelving assembly 10 then may be moved to an upright position for use.

Turning to FIGS. 4A and 4B, a second example of a shelf 120 is shown. As with shelf 20 described above, shelf 120 may be made in a variety of configurations and with many different suitable materials. In this example, shelf 120 has a main body 122, shown with a substantially flat upper surface 122a with an upward extending front lip 124. In the illustrated example, the shelf 120 also has a pair of receptacles 126, 128 along a lower surface 122b of the main body 122 of shelf 120. In FIGS. 4A and 4B, it can be seen that the receptacles 126, 128 are spaced apart and parallel to each other, and are tubular in shape. This configuration can be achieved by integrally forming the receptacles 126, 128 with the main body 122 or by connecting separate receptacles 126, 128 to a main body 122 by suitable fastening or joining means. Also, the receptacles 126, 128 need not extend the entire length of the lower surface 122b of the main body 122.

A second example side unit 50 is shown in FIG. 6. The side unit 50 includes a frame 52, which is constructed of a panel made of substantially rigid materials, such as metal, plastic, wood, or the like, in a generally planar configuration. The side unit 50 also includes protrusions 56 that extend outward from the frame 52. The protrusions 56 may be, but need not be, formed of a similar material to the material used to make the frame 52 and then connected to frame 52 by suitable fastening or joining means. Alternatively, the side unit 50 may be integrally formed, such as by molding of plastic, to include a frame 52 of a panel configuration with integral protrusions 56, in the form of rods, tubes, or the like extending outward therefrom.

It will be appreciated that the side units 50 may similarly be configured to provide a common side unit 50 for use on both left and right sides of a shelving assembly by inverting and rotating one of the side units 50 with respect to another such side unit 50. While the stacking format for shipment or storage of the side frames 50 may not allow quite the same sort of higher density nested stacking as is possible with the side units 30, the side units 50 still may provide at least the benefit of having a common side unit 50 that can be used on both sides of a shelving assembly 10.

Another example shelving assembly 210 is shown in FIGS. 7-11. This further illustrated example shelving assembly 210 includes at least two shelves 220, and a pair of side units 230. The shelves are constructed of substantially rigid materials, as disclosed above with respect to shelves 20. The example shelves 220 include a main body 222 having a substantially flat upper surface 222a and lower surface 222b. The example shelf 220 also includes a front lip 224 extending both upward and downward relative to the upper and lower surfaces 222a and 222b of the main body 222. The front lip 224 may be included for similar reasons to those disclosed above with respect to front lip 24 on the first example shelving assembly 10, and it will be understood that alternative configurations may be employed.

In this illustrated example, the shelves 220 include a pair of receptacles 226, 228 along the lower surface 222b. As best seen in FIGS. 10A and 10B, the receptacles 226, 228 of this example are formed as open channels 226a and 226b which face each other. While the example receptacles 226, 228 are shown as being integrally formed with the main body 222 of the shelf 220 along its lower surface 222b, it will be appreciated that receptacles could be separately formed and then connected to a main body by suitable fastening or joining methods. Also, as with the prior example, the receptacles 226, 228 need not extend the entire length of the lower surface 222b of the main body 222. As with the prior example shelves illustrated, this example shelf 220 may be made with the advantageous feature of using integrally formed, parallel receptacles that permit the shelves to be extruded as a single plastic piece which may be formed in a variety of lengths, without requiring different tooling.

The example shelves 220 also include apertures 227 which receive blocking members 229, best seen in FIGS. 10A and 10B. The blocking members 229 are shown, for example as clips that may be made of plastic, metal or other suitable materials and may be configured to obtain a snap fit and/or to otherwise be removable. Blocking members 229 may be used to block removal of a side unit protrusion 236 from a shelf 220. It will be appreciated that the blocking members 229 may be of alternative configurations that will provide the blocking function, such as may be provided with a screw and nut, or other suitable fasteners, and may be connected to the shelves in alternative ways, such as by mounting to the lower surface 222b of a shelf 220.

The side units 230 of the example shelving assembly 210 are best seen in FIGS. 8, 9 and 11, and are constructed of substantially rigid materials, such as metal, plastic, wood, or the like, and in forms such as wire or rods, tubes, panels, or combinations of such materials and forms, as discussed above with respect to shelving assembly 10. In the illustrated example shelving assembly 210, each side unit 230 includes a wire frame 232 in the form of a closed loop shape having a pair of substantially parallel upright members 232a and a pair of substantially parallel horizontal members 232b. A plurality of wire substantially U-shaped members 234 are connected to the frame 232. The substantially U-shaped members 234 of this example are connected to the frame 232 at ends 238, and extend outward from the frame 232 in a generally rectangular or closed U-shaped protrusion 236.

The side units 230 of this example also may include intermediate supports or locations for placement of graphics or signage, such as shown in the form of slats 240 that are connected to the upright members 232a. Such slats 240 may be formed of materials like those of the frame 232 and joined thereto, such as by welding, or may be formed of entirely different materials and connected to the frame 232 by alternative fastening or joining means, such as by use of adhesives, or mechanical fasteners or other suitable means. The example slats 240 further could be formed of a flexible material, such as a film or cloth, and connected to the frame 232 simply to provide a medium for adding graphics or signage.

As with the prior example, the structure of the side units 230 is advantageous because it permits construction with few components, of like shapes, and by quite conventional construction methods. The example side units 230 also are of a common configuration that can serve both right and left sides of the shelving assembly 210 by inverting and rotating one side unit 230 relative to another, such that their respective U-shaped protrusions 236 face each other. The common structures for the side units 230 reduces the need to make and stock different right and left side units, and the protrusions 236 being narrower that the distance between upright members 232a allows compact stacking of side units 230 for shipment and/or storage when they are placed in a similar orientation. Thus, while the side units need not be common, it will be appreciated that side units having such structures may provide advantages.

As best appreciated from the illustrations in FIGS. 7-9, the shelving assembly 210 is configured with first and second side units 230 being spaced apart, with one side unit 230 inverted and rotated so as to face and be aligned with the other side unit 230. The protrusions 236 on the side units 230 are inserted into the ends of the respective receptacles 226, 228 of a plurality of shelves 220 placed therebetween, and the side units 230 are arranged in their desired spacing. The shelving assembly 210 of may be assembled in a variety of methods, as discussed above with respect to the example shelving assembly 10.

In this example shelving assembly 210, the protrusions 236 are sized to snuggly slide into the channels formed by the receptacles 226, 228. The continuous and connected form of the bottom and legs of the substantially U-shaped members 234 permit the receptacles 226, 228 to be open channels that face each other, and provide added support along the lower surface 222b of the shelf 220. It will be appreciated that the example protrusions could be configured to obtain a snap fit, a slip fit, and/or a connection being achieved by use of additional fastening methods, such as by use of adhesive or mechanical fasteners. When assembled, the shelves 220 become structural elements that connect the side units 230 and form a portion of the overall structure of the shelving assembly 210. In addition, blocking members 229 may then be inserted into the apertures 227 to prevent unintended withdrawal of the protrusions 236 from the receptacles 226, 228.

As with the example shelving assembly 10, the structure of the example shelving assembly 210 also permits the use of common side units 230 with shelves 220 of different lengths. Thus, a series of shelves of a common greater or lesser length could be used with the side frames 230. Depending on the length chosen for the protrusions 236, the shelves within a shelving unit may be of different lengths and/or the side units 230 may be moved further apart to add width to the shelving assembly 210 without using longer shelves. The protrusions 236 also can be of different configurations and located at various heights and distances from each other to create different shelving assembly formats. For instance, in this example formed of metal wire or rod, the U-shaped members 234 have protrusions 236 that are narrower than spacing of the upright members 232a of the frame 232, and are connected at their ends 238 at heights selected to yield three angled shelves. The angle of the U-shaped members 234 and their location along the upright members 232a and resulting location of their protrusions 236 relative to the frame 232, permit many design alternatives.

The receptacles 226, 228 of this illustrated example are shown as being continuous in length and integrally formed with the shelves 220. This further example receptacle configuration provides enhanced bending strength for the shelves 220. It will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art that, as with the prior example shelving assembly 10, the shelf receptacles of the shelving assembly 210 may be configured to be above, below or in line with the main body of the shelves. The receptacles also may be configured to form a shelf front or rear lip, or to form one or more dividers along the upper surface of a shelf, as desired.

While the present disclosure shows and demonstrates various example shelving assemblies that may be adapted for use in point of purchase displays of goods, these examples are merely illustrative and are not to be considered limiting. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that various shelving assemblies may be constructed to be placed on a surface or to be suspended from a further structure, such as a wall, without departing from the scope or spirit of the present disclosure. Thus, although certain example methods, apparatus and articles of manufacture have been described herein, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all methods, apparatus and articles of manufacture fairly falling within the scope of the appended claims either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.