Title:
System and method for distributing air within a display case
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A display case for storing food and beverage products that evenly distributes chilled air within the display case that includes a cassette unit and a chassis that has an interior volume that is encapsulated by a front section, a rear section, a base portion and a top portion and two side portions. The chassis has one or more shelves and one or more goal posts mounted therein. The goal posts deliver chilled air to the shelves. The shelves have a bottom surface that has a plurality of impingement holes disposed therein that disperse the chilled air into the interior volume so that the chilled air blankets the top of the food and beverage products on the shelves below. The shelves may incorporate a groove in the bottom surface. Low power consumption LED lighting may be incorporated in the grove to illuminate the product on the shelf below.



Inventors:
Tilley, Keith (Denbydale, GB)
Application Number:
12/217438
Publication Date:
02/19/2009
Filing Date:
07/03/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/56, 62/255, 62/264
International Classes:
A47F3/04; F25D3/00; F25D23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROGERS, LAKIYA G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul D. Greeley (Stamford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A display case for storing food and beverage products comprising: a chassis having an interior volume encapsulated by a front section, a rear section, a base portion, a top portion and two side portions, the interior volume having air circulating therein, the chassis having one or more shelves therein, the one or more shelves having a plurality of impingement holes disposed thereon that disperse the air into the interior volume.

2. The display case of claim 1, wherein the one more shelves have a top surface and a bottom surface, and wherein the bottom surface of the one or more shelves has the plurality of impingement holes that disperse the air into the interior volume so that the air blankets a top of the food and beverage products on adjacent shelves.

3. The display case of claim 1, further comprising one or more goal posts that deliver the air to the one or more shelves.

4. The display case of claim 3, wherein the one or more goal posts are a first hollow tube on a first side of the one or more shelves and a second hollow tube on a second side of the one or more shelves to communicate the air from a refrigeration system to the one or more shelves.

5. The display case of claim 1, further comprising a cassette unit that houses a refrigeration system and one or more fans to generate and circulate the air within the display case.

6. The display case of claim 5, wherein the cassette unit is interchangeable.

7. The display case of claim 5, wherein the cassette unit is ambient storage.

8. The display case of claim 1, wherein the one or more shelves are hollow.

9. The display case of claim 1, wherein the one more shelves have a top surface and a bottom surface, and wherein the top surface of the one or more shelves has the plurality of impingement holes disposed thereon.

10. The display case of claim 1, further comprising one or more rear doors.

11. The display case of claim 1, wherein the one or more shelves have integral lighting therein.

12. The display case of claim 3, wherein the one or more goal posts are tapered toward the top of the display case.

13. The display case of claim 3, wherein the one or more goal posts have a post portion that tapers toward the front portion and a bottom portion that increases in size from the post portion towards the base portion.

14. The display case of claim 3, wherein the one or more goal posts have the air flowing there through and a post aperture, and wherein the one or more shelves have at least one shelf aperture that is in fluid communication with the post aperture of the one or more goal posts to receive the air therefrom.

15. The display case of claim 1, wherein the height of the one or more shelves is adjustable.

16. The display case of claim 4, wherein the one or more shelves have a cover plate above and below the shelf to raise and lower the one or more shelves.

17. The display case of claim 4, wherein the one or more shelves has a first shelf with a first cover plate on a first side and a second cover plate on a second opposite side, and wherein the first cover plate and the second cover plate each has a support flange that connects to a bottom portion of the first shelf by a screw through one or more slots in the support flange so that the screw slides within the one or more slots to move the first shelf with the screw.

18. The display case of claim 17, wherein the first cover plate and the second cover plate each have a cover portion that extends above, below, or above and below the first shelf when the first shelf is connected to the first and second cover plates, wherein the first cover plate and the second cover plate each have an opening to allow air from the one or more goal posts to the first shelf, and wherein the first cover plate and the second cover plate each cover a portion of an aperture in the one or more goal posts with the cover portion to maintain the air within the one or more goal posts and allow the air to pass through the opening to a shelf aperture of the first shelf.

19. The display case of claim 17, wherein the first cover plate and the second cover plate each are positioned within a guide channel formed on one of the one or more goal posts so that each of the first cover plate and the second cover plate selectively slide in the channel along a length of the one of the one or more goal posts, and wherein the or more goal posts has an inner goal post section and an outer goal post section that forms a gap there between that guides each of the first cover plate and the second cover plate within the guide channel.

20. The display case of claim 16, wherein the first shelf has a hook that is selectively able to engage with a plurality of position apertures in one of one or more goal posts.

21. A method of distributing air within a display case comprising: generating the air from a refrigeration system positioned underneath a chassis of the display case; blowing the air up one or more goal posts in the chassis; delivering the air to one or more hollow shelves that store food and beverage products in the chassis, wherein the air in the one or more hollow shelves cools the bottom of food and beverage products stored thereon; dispersing the air from the one or more shelves into an interior volume of the chassis through a plurality of impingement holes disposed on a bottom surface of the one or more shelves, wherein the dispersed chilled air blankets the food and beverage products stored on the one or more shelves with the chilled air.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

The present application is a Utility application that claims priority of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/958,488 filed on Jul. 6, 2007. The provisional application is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present disclosure relates to a display case and a method of distributing chilled air within a display case that facilitates even and denser overall product cooling to the products stored therein.

2. Description of Related Art

Food and beverage products are typically displayed to retail customers in both refrigerated and ambient display cases, depending upon the product and customer preferences.

Conventional refrigerated display cases are incapable of distributing air to evenly cool the products stored therein. For example, most conventional refrigerated display cases distribute chilled air from ports disposed about the front and/or rear of the display case. The chilled air is delivered across the shelves in the display case from a back-to-front or front-to-back direction. Thus, chilled air encapsulates the outer periphery of the interior of the display case thereby surrounding the products stored therein with the chilled air. However, the chilled air rarely, if ever, reaches the products stored on the middle of the shelves. Another drawback associated with conventional refrigerated display cases is that products that are fully surrounded by other products stored on the shelves in the display case are cooled unevenly because only the tops of the products are directly exposed to the chilled air circulating therein. As a result, food and beverage products stored within conventional refrigerated display cases are maintained at temperatures different than adjacent or neighboring food and beverage products, thus affecting the taste and quality of the products prior to use.

Another problem associated with conventional refrigerated display cases is that when chilled air is distributed from a back-to-front or front-to-back direction, there is a tendency for the chilled air to escape from the display case more easily when the front or rear door of the display case is opened. Thus, there is uneven cooling within conventional display cases because products stored farthest away from the door of the display case are maintained at colder temperatures than products stored closest to the door of the display case.

Accordingly, a need exists for an apparatus and method of distributing chilled air within a refrigerated display case that maintains food and beverage products stored therein at substantially the same temperature regardless of their proximity to the door of the display case or their positioning within the flow of the chilled air.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure provides a display case for storing food and beverage products that provides an even distribution of chilled air. The display case has a cassette unit and a chassis. The chassis has an interior volume that is encapsulated by a front section, a rear section, a base portion, a top portion and two side portions. The interior volume has chilled air circulating therein. The chassis has one or more shelves mounted therein. The chassis also has one or more goal posts mounted therein. The one or more goal posts deliver chilled air to the one or more shelves. The one or more shelves have a top surface and a bottom surface. The bottom surface of the shelves has a plurality of impingement holes disposed thereon that disperse the chilled air into the interior volume of the chassis so that the chilled air blankets the food and beverage products stored on the shelves below.

The present disclosure also provides a method of distributing air within a display case. A refrigeration system positioned underneath a chassis of the display case generates chilled air. The chilled air is blown up one or more goal posts in the chassis. The chilled air is delivered to one or more hollow shelves that store food and beverage products in the chassis thereby cooling the bottom of the food and beverage products. The chilled air is dispersed from the one or more shelves into the interior volume through a plurality of impingement holes disposed on a bottom surface of the one or more shelves thereby blanketing the food and beverage products on adjacent shelves with the chilled air.

The above described and other features and advantages of the present disclosure will be appreciated and understood by those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, drawings, and appended claims.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a right-side planar view of a display case of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a front-right-side planar view of a display case of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a bottom-right-side perspective view of a display case according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 4 is a right-side planar view of a display case according to the present disclosure that illustrates the direction of the air flowing therein.

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of a display case according to the present disclosure that illustrates the cassette unit removed from the display case.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the cassette unit of the present disclosure that houses a refrigeration system and one or more fans therein.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a shelf of the present disclosure having a plurality of impingement holes disposed thereon.

FIG. 8 is a right-side planar view of the display case of the present disclosure having goal posts that have a first post portion and a bottom portion.

FIG. 9 is a front-right-side planar view of the display case of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a front perspective view of a cover plate.

FIG. 11 is a partial top view of the display case of FIG. 8.

FIG. 12 is a shelf connected to a pair of cover plates of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a partial front perspective view of the display case of FIG. 8 having a shelf in a located position.

FIG. 14 is a partial front perspective view of the display case of FIG. 8 having a shelf in a floating position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings and, in particular, FIGS. 1-6, a display case generally referred to be reference number 100 is shown. In an exemplary embodiment, display case 100 has a cassette unit 105 and a chassis 110. Chassis 110 has an interior volume 115 that is encapsulated by a front section 120, a rear section 125, a base portion 130, a top portion 135, and two side portions 137. Interior volume 115 has chilled air circulating therein. In an exemplary embodiment, interior volume 115 decreases from base portion 130 to top portion 135.

Chassis 110 has one or more shelves 140 mounted therein. Chassis 110 also has one or more goal posts 145 mounted therein. One or more goal posts 145 deliver chilled air to one or more shelves 140. One or more shelves 140 have a top surface 150 and a bottom surface 155. Bottom surface 155 has a plurality of impingement holes 160 disposed thereon that disperse the chilled air into interior volume 115 so that the chilled air blankets the food and beverage products on the shelves below.

Chassis 110 is common for all types of display cases including refrigerated customer serve cases, refrigerated staffed serve cases, ambient customer serve cases and ambient staff served cases.

One or more goal posts 145 are mounted at the rear section 125 of chassis 110. In an exemplary embodiment, one or more goal posts 145 support one or more rear doors (not shown) in chassis 110. In another exemplary embodiment illustrated clearly in FIGS. 1 and 3, one or more goal posts 145 are tapered and reduce in area towards top portion 135 of chassis 110. In a still further exemplary embodiment illustrated clearly in FIGS. 8, 9, and 11, one or more goal posts 145 have a first post portion 145a that has a cross section that is tapered towards front portion 120 from a first width W1 to a second width W2, as shown in FIG. 11, and does not reduce in area towards top portion 135. First post portion 145a has a bottom portion 133 connecting the first post portion to base portion 130. Bottom portion 133 may have a cross section that increases in size from first post portion 145a to base portion 130. The increase in size of bottom portion 130 from first post portion 145a to base portion 130 increases an amount of air that may be communicated to one or more goal posts 145. Each of one or more goal posts 145 may have a top flange 136, as shown in FIG. 11, that connects top portion 135 to one or more goal posts 145.

In yet another exemplary embodiment, one or more goal posts 145 deliver chilled air from cassette unit 105 to one or more shelves 140. A volume of chilled air may bypass one or more shelves 140 and travel to top portion 135 of chassis 110 where it is dispersed into interior volume 115 and circulated downward so that the chilled air blankets the food and beverage products stored therein. Bypass of one or more shelves 140 may be achieved by blocking an entry of chilled air.

In an exemplary embodiment, one or more shelves 140 are hollow. Thus, the chilled air delivered to one or more shelves 140 cools the bottom of the food and beverage products stored on one or more shelves 140.

In an exemplary embodiment, the height of one or more shelves 140 is adjustable. Referring to FIGS. 9 through 14, a first shelf 140a of one or more shelves 140 may be moved to different positions on one or more goal posts 145. First shelf 140a may be connected to one or more goal posts by cover plate 165. Referring to FIG. 10, cover plate 165 has a cover portion 166 that extends above, below, or above and below first shelf 140a when first shelf 140a is connected to cover plate 165. Cover plate 165 has an opening 169 to allow air from one or more goal posts 145 through to first shelf 140a. Cover plate 165 has a support flange 167 with one or more slots 168 there through.

A first cover plate is connected to a first side of first shelf 140a and a second cover plate is connected to a second opposite side of first shelf 140a, as shown in FIG. 12. Opening 169 of each of the first and second cover plates are positioned over shelf apertures 142. As shown in FIGS. 13 and 14, first shelf 140a connects to each support flange 167 by screws 141 through each of one or more slots 168 so that support flange 167 supports first shelf 140a and screws 141 may slide within slots 168 to move the first shelf a distance with in the slots.

Cover plate 165 is positioned within a guide channel 147 formed on one of one or more goal posts 145 so that the cover plate selectively slides in the channel along a length of one of the goal posts. One or more goal posts 145 may have an inner goal post section 148 and an outer goal post section 149 that forms a gap there between that guides cover plate 165 within guide channel 147. One or more goal posts 145 have at least one aperture within the channel that distributes air from within cassette unit 105 through the aperture. Cover plate 165 covers a portion of the aperture with cover portion 166 to maintain the air within the one or more goal posts and allows air to pass from the goal post through opening 169 to shelf aperture 142.

Referring to FIGS. 9, 13 and 14, one or more goal posts 145 have a plurality of position apertures 146. As shown in FIGS. 12 through 14, first shelf 140a has a connector, for example, hooks 143 that are able to engage with plurality of position apertures 146 in one of one or more goal posts 145. Although FIGS. 13 and 14 show only one side of first shelf 140a, an opposite side of the first shelf moves to different positions on another of one or more goal posts 145 as described herein. First shelf 140a may slide via cover plate 165 sliding within the guide channel to a first pair of position apertures 146. First shelf 140a may slide to move hooks 143 into the pair of position apertures 146 by sliding screws 141 within slots 168 to engage hooks 143 with the first pair of position apertures 146 to a located position, as shown in FIG. 13.

First shelf 140a may slide toward top portion 135 via cover plate 165 sliding within the guide channel to disengage hooks 143 from position apertures 146. First shelf 140a may slide to move hooks 143 out of position apertures 146 by sliding screws 141 within slots 168 to a floating position, as shown in FIG. 14. First shelf 140a may slide via cover plate 165 within the guide channel to another pair of position apertures 146 to a different position on the one of one or more goal posts 145. There may be three pairs of position apertures 145 for each of one or more shelves 140 so that one or more shelves 140 may be moved to three different positions. The positions apertures that are not covered by one of one or more shelves 140 may dispense air to interior volume 115.

The tapered goal post section of one or more goal posts, as shown in FIG. 11, allows ease of shelf height adjustment. The mating surfaces between goal posts and shelves are tapered, as shown in FIG. 7 and FIG. 11. One or more shelves 140 only become a tight fit between one or more goal posts 145 at the final location between the goal post surfaces or the located position. Cover plates 165 may be permanently connected to one or more shelves 140 so that cover plates do not become detached and lost from the display case. As an alternative to cover plate 165, a cover cap (not shown) may connect to one or more goal posts 145 and disconnect from one or more goal posts 145 to cover any portion of the apertures not covered by one or more shelves 140.

A lighting system (not shown) is installed in a channel 170 on bottom surface 155 of one or more shelves 140, as shown in FIG. 7. The lighting system has LED low voltage DC lights that are highly efficient compared to incandescent or florescent lights. Thus, the power consumption and the heat input of chassis 110 are reduced. The power to the lights from cassette unit 105 is provided via low voltage DC supply with a plug and socket arrangement.

Referring to the drawings and, in particular, FIG. 6, a cassette unit of the present disclosure generally referred to by reference number 200 is shown. In an exemplary embodiment, cassette unit 200 houses a refrigeration system 205 and one or more fans 210 that generate and distribute chilled air within the chassis of the display case. The fans used, such as, for example, for an evaporator and/or condenser of a refrigeration system, are low voltage DC to reduce power consumption and heat input into the chilled cabinet over other available refrigeration system fans. In another exemplary embodiment, cassette unit 200 provides ambient or heated storage. Thus, cassette unit 200 provides maximum flexibility in store arrangement, rearrangement and ordering. Cassette unit 200 is removable and can be easily swapped with another cassette unit to change the display case from refrigerated to ambient and from ambient to refrigerated. The interchangeability of cassette unit 200 reduces the repair time, which thereby reduces the down time of the display case when a part malfunctions. Further, the interchangeability of cassette unit 200 allows it to be swapped by less skilled personnel thereby reducing costs.

Cassette unit 200 is mounted on castors 215 to allow for ease of movement. Cassette unit 200 engages with slide rails on either side of the display case that lift cassette unit 200 to align with the display case. This allows for the display case to be raised and leveled. When cassette unit 200 is fully engaged with the display case, a clip on either side of cassette unit 200 locks cassette unit 200 into position, thus ensuring secure engagement with the display case. Resilient seals between cassette unit 200 and the display case give security of air passage.

In one embodiment, the duct connection between cassette unit 200 and one or more goal posts 145 in the display case may be tapered to provide ease of sliding cassette unit 200 into place with the seals only touching at the final travel of cassette unit 200. Thus, the seals are not deformed in a shearing motion.

Referring to the drawings and, in particular, FIG. 7, a shelf of the present disclosure generally referred to by reference number 300 is shown. In an exemplary embodiment, shelf 300 has a graduated pattern of impingement holes 305 disposed on a bottom surface 310 of shelf 300. Impingement holes 305 evenly disperse chilled air into the interior volume of the chassis of the display case so that the chilled air blankets the top of the food and beverage products on the shelves below. Shelf 300 also chills the food and beverage products stored on top of the shelf because the products are in contact with a top surface (not shown) of shelf 300. In another exemplary embodiment, shelf 300 has a plurality of impingement holes disposed on the top surface of shelf 300.

The present disclosure is advantageous because chilled air is distributed and delivered through hollow shelves to the displayed product. The display case of the present disclosure reduces the problem of restricted air movement and distribution caused by over-filled shelves that do not leave sufficient gaps between the products for air passage. The present disclosure is also advantageous because it provides a method of cooling food and beverage products from six sides including the top, bottom, front, back, left and right, instead of traditional cooling and air distribution methods that only cool products from five sides, if sufficient air passage gaps between products are left.

The present disclosure is further advantageous because it reduces lifetime ownership costs of refrigerated display cases. At the end of the expected life of the refrigeration system and all working parts therein, only the cassette unit needs to be replaced. In addition, the present disclosure is advantageous because it overcomes the traditional problem associated with over-stocking shelves and not leaving necessary gaps between food and beverage products to allow cold air to pass from the rear of the display case to the products stored at the front of the display case.

The present disclosure further provides a method of evenly distributing air within a display case 100. Referring to FIG. 4, a refrigeration system 205 positioned underneath a chassis 110 of the display case 100 generates chilled air, as shown by arrow A. The chilled air is blown up one or more goal posts 145 in the chassis, as shown by arrow B. The chilled air is delivered to one or more hollow shelves 140 and top portion 135, as shown by arrows C, and flow through the one or more hollow shelves and the top portion, as shown by arrows D, that store food and beverage products in chassis 110 thereby cooling the bottom of the food and beverage products. The chilled air is dispersed from the one or more shelves 140 and top portion 135 into the interior volume through a plurality of impingement holes disposed on a bottom surface of the one or more shelves thereby blanketing the top of the food and beverage products on adjacent shelves with the chilled air, as shown by arrows E. Chilled air may be returned to refrigeration system, as shown by arrows F.

Another advantage of the present disclosure is that the goal posts and hollow shelves eliminate the need to blow the chilled air up ducts on the rear doors of the display case that is needed to obtain an even distribution to all shelves. This also eliminates the need for ducts at the rear of the display case, thereby allowing the use of sliding door and/or hinged doors.

While the present disclosure has been described with reference to one or more exemplary embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the present disclosure. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the disclosure without departing from the scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the present disclosure not be limited to the particular embodiments disclosed as the best mode contemplated, but that the disclosure will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.