Title:
Barrier system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A barrier system of the type comprising posts or pillars from which webbing extends, commonly used to demark one area from another. The barrier system comprises a pillar that tapers from a larger area base to a smaller area top. A reel assembly is located at or proximate the base section and provides a deployable and retractable length of webbing that exits from the housing near the top. The plane of the webbing as it extends upwardly has its longitudinal direction extending generally upwardly and a guide, such as a conically tapered pulley, directs the webbing from a substantially vertically extending longitudinal configuration to a substantially horizontally extending configuration in which the webbing exits the housing.



Inventors:
Field, David G. (Yiewsley, GB)
Application Number:
11/664143
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
08/30/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01F13/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ADDIE, RAYMOND W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A barrier system comprising a pillar comprising a housing that tapers from a larger area base to a smaller area top, a reel assembly disposed within the housing and providing a deployable and retractable length of webbing that exits from the housing in proximity to the top, and a guide or guides for directing the webbing from a substantially vertically extending longitudinal configuration to a substantially horizontally extending configuration.

2. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which the guide comprises a conically tapered pulley.

3. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which the housing has at least one slot for receiving webbing extending from other pillars.

4. A barrier system according to claim 3, in which there is a plurality of slots disposed around the periphery of the top of the housing.

5. A barrier system according to claim 3, in which there is at least one slot located at a mid-height on the housing.

6. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which the base of the housing is provided with ground wheels at one side.

7. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which a removable handle is provided on the top of the pillar.

8. A barrier system according to claim 7, wherein the handle is in the form of an apertured discuss.

9. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which the reel assembly is provided with a brake for preventing deployment or retraction of the webbing above a predetermined speed.

10. A barrier system according to claim 9, in which the brake comprises a bi-directional centrifugal brake.

11. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which the reel assembly is disposed at or near the base of the pillar.

12. A barrier system according to claim 1, in which the webbing has at a free end a latch for attachment to a slot in another pillar, the latch comprising a pair of sprung arms with notches that can engage with upper and lower edges of said slot in another pillar, the upper and lower notches being offset by an amount which is commensurate with the tapering of the pillar.

13. A barrier system comprising a pillar comprising a reel assembly disposed proximate a base of the pillar, the reel assembly providing a deployable and retractable length of webbing, and a guide or guides for changing within the pillar the direction and plane of the webbing so that it can exit the pillar in a substantially horizontal direction with its plane substantially vertical.

14. A barrier system according to claim 13, in which the webbing has at a free end a latch for attachment to a slot, the latch comprising a pair of sprung arms with notches that can engage with upper and lower edges of said slot.

15. A barrier system according to claim 14 in which the upper and lower notches are offset.

16. A barrier system according to claim 15 in which the webbing carries a toggle which is engageable with the latch to form a loop at the free end of the webbing.

17. A barrier system comprising a pillar comprising a reel assembly disposed within the pillar, the reel assembly providing a deployable and retractable length of webbing that exits the pillar in a substantially horizontal direction with its plane substantially vertical, and a bi-directional centrifugal brake for preventing deployment or retraction of the webbing above a predetermined speed.

18. A barrier system according to claim 17, in which the brake comprises a rotary disc including a radial slot accommodating a sprag, and a plate within which the disc rotates and having an inner rim which has two oppositely directed outwardly tapering portions each terminating in a shoulder against which the sprag can abut when it protrudes from the radial slot.

19. (canceled)

Description:

This invention relates to barrier systems having posts or pillars between which webbing extends to demark one area from another, for example to deter entry or manage a queue.

Various queue management barrier systems are known which generally comprise a post mounted on a base for stability and having a tensioned reel of webbing mounted at the upper end of the post. The webbing is extendible and has a clasp or catch for securing to another pillar. Typically a reel may contain about 3 metres of webbing.

Such systems present several problems. For example, a large number of posts is required to demark an area of significant size, which presents problems for deployment especially when rapid or temporary demarcation is required and the posts themselves are awkward to move. For stability, the prior art posts need to have base sections that are wider than the posts and these can be awkward to negotiate for wheelchairs or give risk of being tripped over or abused by being stood upon.

The state of the art is exemplified by published US application US2004/0060499-A1, which illustrates a frusto-pyramid pillar having near its top an external cassette including a reel of which the axis is vertical. A principal disadvantage of the arrangement is the comparatively small length of reel that can be accommodated in the cassette less the pillar become unstable.

Another proposal is described in WO2004/016858-A1. This describes a trolley having external reel cassettes one above the other.

A third example of the state of the art is described in published application GB-2360995. This describes a pillar which has a small, egg-shaped housing for a cassette containing a reel, particularly disposed at the top of the narrow pillar.

The present invention includes a barrier system comprising a pillar comprising a housing that preferably tapers from a larger area base to a smaller area top, a reel assembly disposed within the housing and providing a deployable and retractable length of webbing that exits from the housing in proximity to the top, and a guide or guides for directing the webbing from a substantially vertically extending longitudinal configuration to a substantially horizontally extending configuration.

The guide may comprise a conically tapered pulley; but the guides may comprise a cylindrical pulley and a static guide which can put a partial twist into the webbing and thereby change the configuration thereof.

The invention also provides a barrier system comprising a pillar comprising a reel assembly disposed proximate a base of the pillar, the reel assembly providing a deployable and retractable length of webbing and a guide or guides for changing within the pillar the direction and plane of the webbing so that it can exit the pillar in a substantially horizontal direction with its plane substantially vertical.

The webbing may have at a free end a latch for attachment to a slot, the latch comprising a pair of sprung arms with notches that can engage with upper and lower edges of said slot. The upper and lower notches may be offset. The webbing may also carry a toggle which is engageable with the latch to form a loop at the free end of the webbing.

The invention also provides a barrier system comprising a pillar including a reel assembly disposed within the pillar, the reel assembly providing a deployable and retractable length of webbing that exits the pillar in a substantially horizontal direction with its plane substantially vertical, and a bidirectional centrifugal brake for preventing deployment or retraction of the webbing above a predetermined speed.

The brake may comprise a rotary disc including a radial slot accommodating a sprag, and a plate within which the disc rotates and having an inner rim which has two oppositely directed outwardly tapering portions each terminating in a shoulder against which the sprag can abut when it protrudes from the radial slot.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows two pillars according to an embodiment of the invention with deployment of webbing in progress;

FIG. 2 shows the pillars of FIG. 1 with the webbing deployed and latched;

FIG. 3 shows an alternative arrangement with webbing deployed in a cross-over configuration;

FIG. 4 shows a second embodiment of the invention with webbing extending between pillars at two levels;

FIG. 5 shows a mechanism for attaching a handle;

FIG. 6 shows the internal arrangement of an embodiment with a single webbing reel;

FIG. 7 shows a reel cassette and bi-directional brake according to an embodiment of the invention stopped due to fast unwind;

FIG. 8 shows the bi-directional brake of FIG. 7 in the process of being stopped due to fast rewind,

FIG. 9 shows a preferred embodiment of webbing attachment latch;

FIG. 10 illustrates a detail of the bi-directional brake;

FIG. 11 illustrates a modification of the bi-directional brake; and

FIGS. 12 and 13 are a side view and a top view of a belt and latch assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, a safety barrier pillar 1 has an external housing of truncated square pyramidal shape. Other cross-sectional shape, such as conical, are possible, but a square base is preferred for stability and conformity with rectangular layout of most barrier systems. The flat sides of the pyramid also facilitate the display of information or advertising. Each pillar has four angled corner plates 2 made of a robust material, preferably metal, with on each face an interconnecting central channel 3 that may be inlaid with a reflective material. It will be noted that there is a continual taper upwardly from floor level so that there is no protruding base.

Each channel section 3 has a slot 4 at its upper end, and preferably also has a slot 5 at a lower level. The positioning of the lower slot is preferably around the mid-height or a little lower. The slots provide anchor points for webbing 6 and also selectable exit points for webbing retained on a reel within the pillar. It is not necessary for the entry and exit slots to be the same, but this enables simple manufacture with all faces the same. Likewise, slots do not have to be provided at both levels, or indeed on each face, but it is simpler and most versatile to do so.

As shown in FIG. 1 the webbing is extended from an upper slot 4 towards a corresponding slot at the upper end of another pillar 1′ and is anchored to give the configuration shown in FIG. 2. The webbing from the second pillar may then also be deployed onward to a third pillar (not shown). If it is desired to turn a corner, then the webbing is latched to a face adjacent the exit slot for the onward webbing deployment; if a straight onward deployment is required then the webbing is latched to the face opposite the exit slot.

If two pillars have their webbing extended towards one another and anchored in the lower slots of the adjacent post then a crossover barrier may be formed as shown in FIG. 3. A further variation is for there to be two reels of webbing in a pillar, the second web extending from a lower slot, enabling continuous double barriers as shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 4 also shows signs attached to a side face of each pillar. Slots may be provided to allow interchangeable signs, or a pillar may have a removable cover to allow it to conform to a user's particular color scheme or style. The pillar described may be used indoors or outdoors. It is preferably made of metal or other strong material.

The top of each pillar has a plate 8 from which a handle 9 extends and at one side of the base there are wheels 10 so that the pillar may be tilted on to the wheels and pulled along by the handle. The handle 9 preferably provides a display device; for example it may be generally in the form of a discus with an arcuate slot and having broad faces on which instructions, directions or other information can be displayed, as shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 5 shows expanded internal detail of a simple embodiment of the handle attachment assembly. A flange portion 11 of the handle 9 fits through a slot 12 in the in the plate 8. The flange has an aperture 13 that communicates with a narrower opening 14 through which a spring biased bolt 15 passes. The arrangement is such that the bolt is biased to keep a large diameter portion 16 of the bolt engaged in the aperture 13 and anchor the handle within the pillar. However, the end of the bolt remote from the spring is accessible from the outside of the pillar by insertion of a tool into a recessed opening 17, and when pressed inwardly the bolt moves so that a narrower diameter portion aligns with the narrower opening 14 and allows removal of the handle. By this means different handles may be provided to suit circumstances. Other fixing mechanisms are envisaged, for example a cruciform slot and flange so that a given sign may be rotated. This would require an offset bolt arrangement. Alternatively a cylindrical flange with a plurality of diametral through bores, for example at right angles, may be provided.

Below the bolt assembly of FIG. 5, there is a tapered pulley 20. This pulley is for guiding the webbing as the webbing extends from its reel, as will be described now also in conjunction with FIG. 6.

In FIG. 6 is shown a base platform 21 to which ground wheels 10 are mounted. The base platform 21 also includes ballast (not shown) such as concrete or steel formers. A webbing reel cassette 22 is mounted on the base platform 21, the webbing 6 extending upward and over pulley 20 and then out of the pillar via the upper slot (not visible in this Figure) as if going out the back of the paper as viewed in the drawing.

The plane of the webbing 6 as it extends upwardly from the reel has its longitudinal direction extending generally upwardly (vertically) and its lateral width horizontally, but to exit the slot this plane has to be rotated so that the longitudinal direction is horizontal and the lateral direction vertical. The taper on the pulley guides this rotation. The angle of taper should be selected such that the webbing will not tend to travel toward one or other end of the pulley and eventually jam. In the preferred embodiment a taper angle of 13 degrees (inclusive angle of 26 degrees for the cone) is used.

The arrangement shown is for a single reel. In the event that two reels are required, a second reel cassette could be located above the cassette 22, with the webbing exiting through a lower slot having passed over a similar pulley mounted level with the lower slot. Alternatively side-by side cassettes could be provided although this would require both to be slightly offset from the centre. Each reel includes a known rewind mechanism, such as a spiral spring. The cassettes may be differently oriented e.g. with at least one having a vertical reel axis and at least one with a horizontal reel axis.

Other forms of guide for the webbing are possible such as a plurality of guide bars or rollers, a shaped, flattened tube or track or any other structure that can assist smooth transition from the substantially vertically extending longitudinal configuration that the webbing requires to travel up from the base to a substantially horizontally extending configuration that is required on exit from the slot in the pillar. In the instance described for the preferred embodiment where there is both a change in direction and a twist (change in direction of the plane) this could be provided by separated guides in two stages. If the reel were mounted with its axis vertical, the route of the webbing would need to include a change of direction to vertical on exit from the cassette and another change, back to the horizontal, at the top of the pillar. This would require two sets of guides. If the cassettes are offset from the centre, as with side-by-side mounting of two cassettes, the guide or guides may also provide compensatory realignment.

Mounting the reel or reels in the lower part of the pillar has several advantages. The greater space available within the pyramidal housing enables accommodation of a much larger reel and the weight of the cassette, low down, also improves the stability and maneuverability of the pillar. Base mounting of the cassette does require the change in direction of the plane of the webbing, but this is enabled by the guide system such as the conical pulley. With the longer webbing length (e.g. 18 metres rather than the prior art 3 metres) deployable from a single pillar, far fewer pillars are required for large areas, making deployment and storage simpler and less labor intensive.

The base volume of the pillar may also be used to accommodate other features. For example there may be an electrical storage battery, which also serves as ballast, to energize lighting or moving parts. The handle 9 may include an electronic display and transponders for communication links, for example via infra-red (IR) or radio-frequency (RF) links. For some purposes it may also be desirable to have motor-driven wheels.

It is known to provide mechanisms for retarding the rate of return of the webbing. The preferred embodiment of the present invention has a brake that stops, rather than merely retards, both the deployment and rewind of the webbing if the exceeds a predetermined speed. This is particularly important during rewind to prevent the webbing flying loose.

FIG. 7 shows the reel cassette 22 with a reel 23 of webbing 6, which exits in its unwound state from the cassette through a slot 24. Mounted to the cassette is a plate 25 with an elliptically extended aperture 26. Mounted for rotation with the reel is a disc 27 that sits within an uniform radius part of the aperture 26. The radius of the rim of aperture 26 increases in both directions towards a central region at which an inwardly extending stop protrudes from the rim. Thus the stop 28 is flanked by two tapering spaces 29 each terminated by a shoulder of the stop 28.

Slidingly mounted within a radial slot 27a in the disc 27 is a weight constituted by a bar-shaped sprag 30. The sprag itself is shown in FIG. 10. At one side it carries a C-shaped contact spring 101 which fits into a recess in the side of the sprag 30. The recess comprises a hole 102 for receiving one arm of the spring 101 and a shallow inclined groove 103 for accommodating the remainder of the spring. The spring exerts sufficient frictional force on the adjacent slot to keep the sprag within the slot 31 at low rotational speeds of the disc 27. The plate 25, aperture 26, disc 27, stop 28, and sprag 30 form a bi-directional centrifugal brake. If the reel is wound or unwound at a slow rate, set to be consistent with a slow walking pace of a user who is extending or retracting the webbing, the sprag 30 and the disc 27 rotate unhindered, the sprag occupying an inward position in the slot 27a of the disc 27. If the reel is 23 wound or unwound at a faster rate then the centripetal force causes the sprag to slide outwardly and protrude from the edge of the disc 27 as soon rotation of the disc brings the sprag into one of the spaces 29. The protruding sprag then abuts the respective shoulder of the stop 28 and prevents further rotation of the reel.

The arrangement shown in FIG. 7 corresponds to the position when the webbing has been unwound too quickly and the sprag 30 has abutted the stop 28 as the reel rotates anticlockwise. In order to resume unwinding, the reel has first to rotate a small amount clockwise (i.e. a small rewind of webbing) at a slow rate which allows the elliptical cam surface formed by the rim of the aperture 26 at a space 29, to push the sprag 30 inwards. FIG. 8 shows a corresponding configuration when the rewind (clockwise) has progressed too quickly and the sprag 30 is about to abut the other side of the stop 28.

FIG. 11 shows a modification of the aperture 26 in the plate 25. The rim of the aperture has a semicircular constant radius part 111 and the rim has the same radius in a region 112 opposite the part 111. From the region 112 the rim increases in radius in both directions to a respective one of two shoulders 128, which may be spaced apart by about 180 degrees. The protruding sprag will engage one or other of the shoulders 128 according to the direction of rotation of the disc 27.

At the end of the webbing as shown in FIG. 9 and also FIGS. 12 and 13 is a latch 31 that engages in the slots 4 or 5. It may also be used to engage a slot in a fixed location such as the wall of a building. The requirement for the latch is that it should be secure against pulling in the direction along the length of the webbing, but should release under vertical force, for example as if someone fell on to the webbing. The latch has a central broadly rectangular body 32 from which extend upper and lower sprung lateral extension arms 33 and 34. Each of the extension arms has an external notch 35, 36 that engages with the respective upper and lower perimeters of the slot 4 into which the latch is inserted. The notch 35 is near the proximal end (closer to the made body) whereas the notch 36 in the lower arm is near the distal end (remoter from the main body). The distal end of the lower arm and the proximal end of the upper arm are within the receiving slot 4 in the latched configuration. Curved tapers 37 and 38 on these ends facilitates the entry of the latch into the slot 4. Downward pressure on the upper extension arm moves the notch 35 inwardly to allow the latch to be removed.

The notches 35 and 36 on the upper and lower extension arms are offset, the notch on the upper extension arm 33 being closer to the end of the latch. The spacing along the latch between the notches is in accordance with corresponds to the angle of taper of the pillar's side inclination (typically 6.25 degrees). This allows the webbing to extend horizontally. However, a sharp blow downwards on the clasp can release it from its slot.

As is shown in FIG. 12 and 13, the end of the webbing 6 can be secured to a loop 39 at the inner end of the latch. The webbing may also carry a toggle 40 which has a bridge 41 under which the webbing passes but in which frictionally engages the webbing. The toggle includes a slot 42 into which the latch 31 may be inserted, and secured by virtue of the notches 35 and 36, to form a loop of any desired size at the end of the webbing. This allows the webbing to be secured at its end around any convenient post or other object.