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Publication numberUS20030150230 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/156,155
Publication dateAug 14, 2003
Filing dateMay 28, 2002
Priority dateFeb 11, 2002
Publication number10156155, 156155, US 2003/0150230 A1, US 2003/150230 A1, US 20030150230 A1, US 20030150230A1, US 2003150230 A1, US 2003150230A1, US-A1-20030150230, US-A1-2003150230, US2003/0150230A1, US2003/150230A1, US20030150230 A1, US20030150230A1, US2003150230 A1, US2003150230A1
InventorsRobert Waddle, John Weber
Original AssigneeWaddle Robert Michael, John Weber
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Ice merchandiser
US 20030150230 A1
Abstract
A packaged product merchandiser (such as an ice merchandiser) for merchandising frozen or refrigerated packaged products includes: (a) a housing in which a multitude of packaged products (such as bags of ice) are to be stored, having at least one door on the front wall thereof; (b) a cooling unit including a compressor assembly; (c) an elevated shelf mounted within the housing perimeter formed by the front, rear, top and side walls, approximate the top wall of the housing, where the elevated shelf seats the compressor assembly, and where the elevated shelf and compressor assembly are substantially closed-off with respect to the interior of the housing; and (d) at least two ventilation panels, where each ventilation panel is installed on a respective one of the front, rear, top and side walls over a corresponding opening to the closed-off compressor assembly.
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Claims(29)
What is claimed is:
1. A packaged product merchandiser for merchandising frozen or refrigerated packaged products comprising:
a housing having a front wall, rear wall, two side walls, a top wall, and a bottom defining an interior of the housing in which a multitude of packaged products are to be stored, the planes of the front, rear, top and two side walls defining a housing perimeter;
at least one door on the front wall providing access to the interior of the housing;
a cooling unit including a compressor assembly;
an elevated shelf mounted within the housing perimeter approximate the top wall of the housing, the elevated shelf seating the compressor assembly, wherein at least a majority of the packaged products may be stored therebelow, the elevated shelf and compressor assembly being substantially closed-off with respect to the interior of the housing; and
at least two ventilation panels, each ventilation panel being installed on a respective one of the front, rear, top and side walls over a corresponding opening in the respective one wall to the closed-off compressor assembly.
2. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 1, wherein the shelf and seated compressor assembly are positioned at a top-rear corner of the housing substantially at an intersection of the top wall, rear wall and one of the side walls.
3. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 2, wherein the housing includes a collapsed portion at the top-rear corner providing the elevated shelf.
4. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 3, wherein three of the ventilation panels are provided on the top, rear and one side walls.
5. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 4, wherein the three ventilation panels are integral with each other to provide a pyramidal ventilation corner cover.
6. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 1, wherein the shelf extends from the front wall to the back wall of the housing and is positioned substantially midway between the two side walls.
7. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 6, wherein a first one of the ventilation panels is installed on the front wall and a second one of the ventilation panels is installed on the rear wall.
8. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 6, comprising two doors provided on left and right segments of the front wall, covering respective left and right access openings, the shelf being positioned completely between the left and right access openings.
9. The packaged product merchandiser of claim 1, wherein the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
10. An ice merchandiser for merchandising bags of ice, comprising:
a housing having a front wall, a rear wall, two side walls, a top wall, a bottom and at least one door in the front wall providing access to an interior of the housing in which a multitude of ice-bags are to be stored; and
a freezing device including a compressor assembly, the compressor assembly being positioned at the top-rear corner of the housing substantially at an intersection of the top wall, rear wall and one of the side walls.
11. The ice merchandiser of claim 10, wherein the housing includes a collapsed portion at the top-rear corner of the housing, the collapsed portion providing a shelf, substantially external to the interior of the housing, for seating the compressor.
12. The ice merchandiser of claim 11, further comprising a vented cover mounted to the housing and concealing the collapsed portion.
13. The ice merchandiser of claim 12, wherein the vented cover is substantially pyramidal, having three sides that are substantially flush with the top, rear and one side walls of the housing.
14. The ice merchandiser of claim 13, wherein the three sides of the vented cover each include a plurality of vents uniformly distributed substantially completely thereabout.
15. The ice merchandiser of claim 11, wherein the collapsed portion is substantially pyramidal.
16. The ice merchandiser of claim 11, wherein the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
17. The ice merchandiser of claim 10, wherein at least two of the top, rear and one side wall forming the top-rear corner are ventilated to provide fluid communication between the compressor assembly and the ambient environment.
18. The ice merchandiser of claim 10, wherein the top, rear and one side wall forming the top-rear corner are ventilated to provide fluid communication between the compressor assembly and the ambient environment.
19. An ice merchandiser for merchandising bags of ice, comprising:
a housing having a front wall, a rear wall, two side walls, a top wall, a bottom and at least one door in the front wall providing access to an interior of the housing in which a multitude of ice-bags are to be stored;
a freezing device including a compressor assembly; and
a shelf, enclosed with respect to the interior of the housing and positioned completely within the peripheral planes formed by the front, rear, top and two side walls of the housing;
the shelf extending from the front wall to the back wall of the housing; and
the compressor assembly being seated on the shelf.
20. The ice merchandiser of claim 19, wherein the shelf is positioned substantially midway between the two side walls.
21. The ice merchandiser of claim 20, comprising two doors provided on left and right segments of the front wall, covering respective left and right access openings, the shelf being positioned completely between the left and right access opening.
22. The ice merchandiser of claim 20, further comprising:
a first ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the front wall of the housing;
and a second ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the rear wall of the housing.
23. The ice merchandiser of claim 22, wherein the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
24. The ice merchandiser of claim 19, further comprising:
a first ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the front wall of the housing;
and a second ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the rear wall of the housing.
25. The ice merchandiser of claim 19, wherein the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
26. An ice merchandiser for merchandising bags of ice, comprising:
a housing having a front wall, a rear wall, two side walls, a top wall, a bottom and at least one door in the front wall providing access to an interior of the housing in which a multitude of ice-bags are to be stored;
an enclosure positioned within the interior of the housing, the enclosure having a top that is substantially flush with the top wall of the housing, and the enclosure being ventilated with respect to the external environment; and
a compressor assembly housed within the enclosure.
27. The ice merchandiser of claim 26, wherein the enclosure has a vertical height slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
28. The ice merchandiser of claim 27, wherein:
the enclosure has two sides substantially flush with a respective two of the front, rear and side walls of the housing; and
the two sides substantially flush with the respective two of the front, rear and side walls of the housing are ventilated.
29. The ice merchandiser of claim 28, wherein the top of the enclosure is ventilated.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/355,503, filed Feb. 11, 2002.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to refrigerated merchandisers for storing and vending packaged products; and more particularly, to ice merchandisers for vending bags of ice, having a novel positioning of a compressor assembly for improved capacity, efficiency and/or cleanliness of the merchandiser.
  • [0003]
    Ice merchandiser units are essentially refrigerated cabinets, with at least one door providing access to the cabinet, that store and vend bagged ice inside or outside of grocery stores, convenient shops, gas stations and the like. The interior ice merchandisers typically include at least one glass door while the exterior merchandisers typically include insulated doors.
  • [0004]
    Many conventional ice merchandiser units position their compressor assemblies of their freezer units at the bottom of the ice merchandiser. Such compressor assemblies are typically enclosed from the interior of the ice merchandiser housing by insulated walls and are typically ventilated by positioning a ventilated panel on the front wall of the ice merchandiser unit over an opening that communicates with the compressor assembly enclosure. This configuration may be disadvantageous in certain situations. For example, as will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, such compressor assemblies tend to give off significant amounts of heat, which tends to rise and potentially damaging to the contents of the ice merchandiser unit. To counter the affect of the heat rising from the compressor assembly and into the ice bags stored in the ice merchandiser unit interior, the compressor assemblies in such conventional ice merchandisers are heavily insulated, decreasing the capacity of the ice merchandiser interior. Furthermore, because the ventilation panel is positioned close to the ground at the front of the ice merchandiser unit, it tends to collect a significant amount of dirt and other debris kicked up by foot traffic, for example, in front of the ice merchandiser unit.
  • [0005]
    Additionally, some conventional ice merchandiser units position their compressor assemblies on the top wall of the unit's housing that defines the interior in which the bags of ice are stored, where the compressor assembly is covered by a false top or a shell. As such the added height of the unit provided by this positioning of the compressor assembly may reduce the vertical space left for the unit's storage capacity.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0006]
    The present invention provides an ice merchandiser, or a packaged product merchandiser, including a shelf area or enclosure positioned at a top-rear corner of the merchandiser housing or along a top portion (such as the top-center) of the merchandiser housing for enclosing the compressor assembly therein. Because the compressor assembly is thus placed at the level of the merchandiser's evaporators, the compressor assembly is positioned within the merchandiser assembly in a space that is typically unused, thereby increasing the capacity of the ice merchandiser. Furthermore, because the heat rising from the compressor assembly will not rise into the packaged products stored within the merchandiser, the amount of insulation provided around the compressor assembly enclosure may be decreased, thereby, further increasing the capacity of the ice merchandiser. Likewise, because heat from the compressor assembly will not tend to rise into the refrigerated/frozen product, the efficiency of the merchandiser unit may also be increased. Finally, because the ventilation panels for the compressor assemblies are positioned well above the ground, the compressor assemblies will tend to stay much cleaner.
  • [0007]
    Accordingly, it is the first aspect of the present invention to provide a packaged product merchandiser for merchandising frozen or refrigerated packaged products that includes: (a) a housing in which a multitude of packaged products are to be stored having at least one door on the front wall thereof; (b) a cooling unit including a compressor assembly; (c) an elevated shelf mounted within the housing perimeter formed by the front, rear, top and side walls, approximate the top wall of the housing, where the elevated shelf seats the compressor assembly, and where the elevated shelf and compressor assembly are substantially closed-off with respect to the interior of the housing; and (d) at least two ventilation panels, where each ventilation panel is installed on a respective one of the front, rear, top and side walls over a corresponding opening to the closed-off compressor assembly. In a more detailed embodiment, the shelf and compressor assembly are positioned at a top-rear corner of the housing substantially at an intersection of the top, rear and one of the side walls. In yet a further detailed embodiment, the housing includes a collapsed portion at the top-rear corner providing the elevated shelf. In yet a further detailed embodiment, three of the ventilation panels are provided on the top, rear and one side walls. In yet a further detailed embodiment, the three ventilation panels are integral with each other to provide a pyramidal ventilation corner cover.
  • [0008]
    In an alternate detailed embodiment to the first aspect of the present invention, the shelf extends from the front wall to the back wall of the housing and is positioned substantially mid-way between the two side walls. In a further detailed embodiment, a first one of the ventilation panels is installed on the front wall and a second one of the ventilation panels is installed on the rear wall. In an alternate detailed embodiment, the ice merchandiser further includes two doors provided on left and right segments of the front wall, covering respective left and right access openings, where the shelf is positioned completely between the left and right access openings.
  • [0009]
    In another alternate detailed embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention, the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
  • [0010]
    It is a second aspect of the present invention to provide an ice merchandiser for merchandising bags of ice that includes: (a) a housing with at least one door providing access to an interior of the housing in which a multitude of ice bags are to be stored; and (b) a freezing device including a compressor assembly, where the compressor assembly is positioned at the top rear corner of the housing substantially at an intersection of the top, rear and one of the side walls. In a further detailed embodiment, the housing includes a collapsed portion at the top-rear corner of the housing, where the collapsed portion provides a shelf substantially external to the interior of the housing for seating the compressor. In a further detailed embodiment, the ice merchandiser further includes a vented cover mounted to the housing and concealing the collapsed portion. In yet another further detailed embodiment, the vented cover is substantially pyramidal, having three sides that are substantially flush with the top, rear and one side walls of the housing. In yet a further detailed embodiment, the three sides of the vented cover each include a plurality of vents uniformly distributed substantially completely thereabove.
  • [0011]
    In an alternate detailed embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention, at least two of the top, rear and one side walls forming the top-rear corner are ventilated to provide fluid communication between the compressor assembly and the ambient environment.
  • [0012]
    In yet another alternate detailed embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention, the top, rear and one side walls forming the top-rear corner are ventilated to provide fluid communication between the compressor assembly and the ambient environment.
  • [0013]
    It is the third aspect of the present invention to provide an ice merchandiser for merchandising bags of ice that includes: (a) a housing having at least one door in a front wall thereof providing access to an interior of the housing in which a multitude of ice bags are to be stored; (b) a freezing device including a compressor assembly; and (c) a shelf, enclosed with respect to the interior of the housing and positioned completely within the peripheral planes formed by the front, rear, top and two side walls of the housing; where the shelf extends from the front wall to the back wall of the housing and the compressor assembly is seated on the shelf. In a further detailed embodiment, the shelf is positioned substantially mid-way between the two side walls. In yet a further detailed embodiment, the ice merchandiser includes two doors provided on left and right segments of the front wall, covering respective left and right access openings, where the shelf is positioned completely between the left and right access openings. In an alternate detailed embodiment, the ice merchandiser further includes a first ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the front wall of the housing and the second ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the rear wall of the housing. In a further detailed embodiment, the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
  • [0014]
    In an alternate detailed embodiment of the third aspect of the present invention, the ice merchandiser further includes a first ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the front wall of the housing and the second ventilation panel installed over an opening to the shelf on the rear wall of the housing.
  • [0015]
    In yet another alternate detailed embodiment of the third aspect of the present invention, the vertical distance between the shelf and the top wall is slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly.
  • [0016]
    It is the fourth aspect of the present invention to provide an ice merchandiser for merchandising bags of ice that includes: (a) a housing having at least one door in a front wall thereof providing access to the interior of the housing in which a multitude of ice bags are to be stored; (b) an enclosure positioned within the interior of the housing, where the enclosure has a top that is substantially flush with the top wall of the housing, and where the enclosure is ventilated with respect to the external environment; and (c) a compressor assembly housed within the enclosure. In a more detailed embodiment, the enclosure has a vertical height slightly greater than the height of the compressor assembly. In yet a further detailed embodiment, the enclosure has two sides substantially flush with the respective two of the front, rear and side walls of the housing, where such flush sides are ventilated. In yet a further detailed embodiment, the top of the enclosure is also ventilated.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 1 is a perspective front view of a first exemplary embodiment ice merchandiser according to the present invention;
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 2 is an exploded, rear perspective view of the first embodiment shown in FIG. 1, illustrating the evaporator assembly in phantom;
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 3A is a perspective front view of a second exemplary embodiment ice merchandiser according to the present invention;
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 3B is a perspective rear view of the second embodiment; and
  • [0021]
    [0021]FIG. 4 is a perspective rear view of the second embodiment illustrating the compressor enclosure and evaporator assemblies in phantom.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0022]
    As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an exemplary embodiment of an indoor ice merchandiser 10 according to the present invention includes a housing having a front wall 12, a top wall 14, a left side wall 16, a right side wall 18, a rear wall 20 and a bottom (not shown). The front wall 12 includes a pair of glass doors 22 providing access to the interior of the housing so that ice bags can be stocked by suppliers and removed by customers. The walls of the housing are typically insulated.
  • [0023]
    Referring specifically to FIG. 2, the left rear corner of the housing (at the intersection of the top wall 14, rear wall 20 and left side wall 16) includes a collapsed portion 24 forming a shelf 26 for seating the compressor assembly 28 thereon. A top ventilation panel 30, a rear ventilation panel 32 and a side ventilation panel 34 are mounted flush with the respective top, rear and side walls over the collapsed portion 24 and shelf 26 to provide a ventilated covering for the compressor assembly 28. The collapsed portion includes side walls 36, 38 closing off the shelf 26 from the interior of the housing, where the vertical side walls may also include ports for communicating the compressor assembly 28 with the internal evaporator 40 and/or with power sources and the like.
  • [0024]
    By positioning the compressor assembly within the rear top corner of the ice merchandiser housing as in the first exemplary embodiment, the compressor assembly fills a formerly unused space adjacent to the evaporator 40 allowing for greater effective use of the merchandiser interior, thereby increasing the capacity of the merchandiser. Additionally, because the compressor assembly is positioned above the frozen merchandise, heat will not tend to rise from the compressor assembly into the frozen merchandise. This may increase the efficiency of the ice merchandiser and may also decrease the thickness of the insulation provided between the compressor assembly and the interior of the merchandiser housing, which could also increase the capacity of the ice merchandiser. Additionally, because the compressor assembly is now located above the floor, away from traffic, it potentially will not collect dirt as quickly as prior art compressor assemblies located near the floor.
  • [0025]
    While the compressor assembly of the first exemplary embodiment is positioned at the left rear corner of the housing, it is, of course, within the scope of the present invention to locate the compressor assembly of the first exemplary embodiment at the right rear corner of the housing. Furthermore, while the ventilation panels 30, 32 and 34 are shown as individual panels, it is within the scope of the invention that the panels can be coupled together to form a pyramidal ventilation panel or, alternatively, be integrated into the respective walls themselves.
  • [0026]
    As shown in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 4, a second embodiment of the present invention is an outdoor ice merchandiser 42 having a merchandiser housing with a top wall 44, back wall 45, a left side wall 46, a right side wall (not shown), a lower front wall 48, an upper-angled front wall 50, and a bottom (not shown). These walls are typically insulated. The upper-angled front wall 50 includes a pair of openings accessible by insulated doors 52, 54. The doors 52, 54 provide access to the interior of the ice merchandiser 42 so that suppliers can supply bagged ice to the merchandiser and customers can retrieve bags of ice from the merchandiser. An enclosed shelf 56 is positioned between each of the doors 52, 54 and extends from the upper-angled wall 50 of the ice merchandiser back to the rear wall 45 of the ice merchandiser. (See FIG. 4) This enclosed shelf 56 houses a compressor assembly 58 therein and has a vertical height slightly larger than the height of the compressor assembly 58 so as to maximize capacity of the ice merchandiser interior.
  • [0027]
    The enclosure 59 formed by the enclosed shelf 56 and side walls 64 and 66 includes a top that is flush with the top wall 44 of the housing. The front of the enclosure 59 is flush with the upper-angled front wall 50 of the housing, and the rear of the enclosure 59 is flush with the rear wall 45 of the ice merchandiser housing. Referring to FIGS. 3A and 3B, the front of the enclosure 59 is covered by a ventilated panel 60 and the rear of the enclosure 59 is also covered by a ventilated panel 62. The ventilated panels 60, 62 provide ventilation for the compressor assembly 58 with the ambient environment. Preferably the side walls 64 and 66 and the shelf 56 of the enclosure 59 are insulated.
  • [0028]
    Referring again in FIG. 4, the elevated compressor assembly 58 is positioned on the enclosed shelf 56 between the pair of evaporators 68, 70 thereby filling unused space between the evaporators and maximizing the capacity of the ice merchandiser for bags of ice. Furthermore, by positioning the compressor assembly above the frozen product, the heat tending to rise from the compressor assembly 58 will not rise into the frozen product stored within the merchandiser, thereby increasing the efficiency of the ice merchandiser and decreasing the amount of insulation needed between the compressor assembly and the interior of the ice merchandiser housing. Finally, because the ice merchandiser is positioned above the ground level, it will be less susceptible to the intake of dirt and other debris.
  • [0029]
    Following from the above description and invention summaries, it should be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that, while the apparatuses herein described constitute exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it is to be understood that the inventions contained herein are not limited to these precise embodiments and that changes may be made to them without departing from the scope of the inventions as defined by the claims. Additionally, it is to be understood that the invention is defined by the claims and it is not intended that any limitations or elements describing the exemplary embodiments set forth herein are to be incorporated into the meanings of the claims unless such limitations or elements are explicitly listed in the claims. Likewise, it is to be understood that it is not necessary to meet any or all of the identified advantages or objects of the invention disclosed herein in order to fall within the scope of any claims, since the invention is defined by the claims and since inherent and/or unforeseen advantages of the present invention may exist even though they may not have been explicitly discussed herein.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7810301Jan 20, 2009Oct 12, 2010Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging apparatus
US7849660Aug 10, 2007Dec 14, 2010Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging system and method
US8132392Sep 7, 2010Mar 13, 2012Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging apparatus
US8468784Aug 13, 2010Jun 25, 2013Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging system including auxiliary source of bags
US8763352Nov 8, 2010Jul 1, 2014Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging system and method
US20080022635 *Aug 10, 2007Jan 31, 2008Reddy Ice CorporationIce Bagging System and Method
US20090120039 *Jan 20, 2009May 14, 2009Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging apparatus
US20100326013 *Sep 7, 2010Dec 30, 2010Reddy Ice CorporationIce bagging apparatus
US20140290284 *May 22, 2013Oct 2, 2014Spinnaker Process InstrumentsProximity detection in networked freezer stocking management
US20160113415 *Oct 23, 2015Apr 28, 2016Leer, Inc.Ice merchandiser
Classifications
U.S. Classification62/246, 62/440
International ClassificationF25D11/04, F25D23/00, A47F3/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47F3/0404, F25D23/003, F25D2400/10, F25D11/04
European ClassificationF25D11/04, F25D23/00B, A47F3/04A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 22, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: TRUCK CAB MANUFACTURERS, INCORPORATED, OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WADDLE, ROBERT MICHAEL;WEBER, JOHN III;REEL/FRAME:013409/0174
Effective date: 20021010