US 20040050811 A1
A frame for a shelving system for presenting items includes a front member (200) and a rear member (400), which rear member is spaced apart from the front member and connected to the front member by at least two spaced apart further frame members (110). In one aspect, a source of illumination (800) is housed at least partly within the front member, and a lens member (600) extends upwardly from the front member and is able to receive light from the source of illumination. Items presented for display adjacent the lens member are at least partly illuminated by light projected by the lens member. In another aspect, at least one product support (120) extends between the front member and the second member in one of a plurality of laterally spaced product support positions, and at least one key mechanism (510, 128) is able to selectively permit and prevent movement of the product supports between the product support positions.
1 A frame for a shelving system for presenting items, the frame including:
a front member and a rear member, which rear member is spaced apart from the front member and connected to the front member by at least two spaced apart further frame members;
a source of illumination housed at least partly within the front member; and
a lens member extending upwardly from the front member and able to receive light from the source of illumination;
wherein items presented for display adjacent the lens member are at least partly illuminated by light projected by the lens member.
2 A frame according to
3 A frame according to
4 A frame according to
5 A frame according to any one of
6 A frame according to any one of
7 A frame according to any one of
8 A shelving system for presenting items, the system including:
a front member and a rear member spaced apart from the rear member,
means joining the front member and the rear member;
at least one product support extending between said front member and said second member in one of a plurality of laterally spaced product support positions; and
at least one key mechanism which is able to selectively permit and prevent movement of said product supports between said product support positions.
9 A shelving system according to
10 A shelving system according to
11 A shelving system according to
12 A shelving system according to
13 A shelving system according to any one of
14 A shelving system according to any one of
15 A shelving system according to any one of
FIG. 1 illustrates, in cross-section, a shelving system 100 according to an embodiment of the invention. The shelving system 100 is supported by two or more brackets 110 that engage a wall or a matching vertically-oriented fitting such, as a slotted pillar or other upright (not shown). The brackets have upper edges that define an inclination at which products are to be displayed by the system.
 The brackets 110 connect front and rear members in the form of a front rail assembly 200 and a rear rail assembly 400. These assemblies are oriented substantially parallel to each other. The front rail assembly 200 and rear rail assembly 400 are spaced apart from each other, as illustrated, and connected by brackets 110. A centre rail 300 is also oriented substantially parallel with the front and rear rail assemblies 200, 400, and is supported by the brackets 110 and located about midway between the front and rear rail assemblies 200, 400. In smaller systems, centre rail 300 is omitted.
 The front rail assembly 200 is comprised of two principal co-operating components, ie. a first elongate member 220 and a second elongate member 260 that jointly house a source of illumination 800 in a cavity 802 defined between them. The source of illumination is an elongate tubular lighting member, such as a fluorescent or incandescent light tube 800. Extending upwardly from the front rail assembly 200 is a generally planar lens panel 600, constructed of a substantially transparent or at least translucent material.
 The lens panel 600 is located with respect to the front rail assembly 200 so that it receives illumination from the light tube 800. The light tube is located immediately below the bottom edge 620 of panel 600 so that light from the tube is projected upwardly within the lens panel 600 and then outwardly from the panel 600 to illuminate items presented for purchase by the shelving system. It will be appreciated that the combination of light tube 800 and lens panel 600 is an edge lighting configuration, and that panel 600 also doubles as a front ledge or produce stop for the shelving system.
FIG. 2 illustrates, in cross-section, the lens panel 600 more clearly. The lens panel is an integral item of generally planar and laterally elongate form, and has a lower edge 620 joined to an upper edge 660 by a body or middle section 640. Adjacent the lower edge 620, which engages the front rail assembly 200, there is a main lower edge portion 622 wider than middle section 640. At the top of lower edge portion 622, a front base flange 628 extends the full length of the panel and has a down-turned outer lip 629. At regular intervals vertical vent openings 624 through edge portion 622 and flange 628 allow ventilation of hot air from light cavity 802. On the rear of the panel 600 and aligned with front base flange 628 is a corresponding rear base flange 630. A retaining lip 626 depends from the rear base flange 630, parallel to but spaced from edge portion 622, to engage the second elongate member 260, in a manner to be explained.
 The upper edge 660 of lens panel 600 has a rearwardly and downwardly arched profile immediately above a rearwardly projecting product spacing flange 662. The rear base flange 630 and the product spacing flange 662 are contacted in use by products held in the shelving system and thereby maintain the products a minimum distance from the body 640 of the lens panel. This is desirable to ensure that the front products so presented are well lit by the lens panel 600. It will of course be appreciated that the products are urged into contact with flanges 630, 662 by the inclined orientation of the system.
FIG. 2 also more clearly illustrates the complementary cross-sections of the first and second members 220, 260 of the front rail assembly 200. Members 220, 260, and rail 300 and rear rail 400, are typically powder-coated aluminium extrusions of uniform cross-section and will hereinafter be referred to as cover extrusion 220 and key supporting extrusion 260. The front face 222 of the cover extrusion 220 includes pairs of matched undercut slots 224, 226 into which data ticket strips for product labels or the like (not shown) can be pairwise fitted. These strips can be variously positioned on the front face 222, depending on which pair of the slots 224, 226 are used. A base flange 232 and a lower partition 234 parallel to flange 232 define retaining spaces 230, 231 extending the full length of the cover extrusion. Space 230 locates tabs (not shown) on brackets 110. The lower partition 234 is connected to a flat rear wall 238 by an arched externally convex wall 236 that bounds the front of cavity 802. In the full assembly, rear wall 238 locates behind flange lip 829 of lens panel 600.
 The key support extrusion 260 has an uppermost retaining flange 278 that is vertically oriented in situ and is received firmly between retaining lip 626 and edge portion 622 of lens panel 600 so that the two components remain engaged when the front rail assembly 200 is disassembled. The retaining flange 278 is connected to a ledge 276 on which product supports 120 rest as they extend between the front rail assembly 200 and the rear rail assembly 400. The ledge 276 is, in turn, attached to a part annular member 272 which provides a bearing for a rib-locking key member to be later described in further detail.
 Key support extrusion 260 is completed by a pair of parallel bottom flanges 284, 286 defining, with a front connecting web 290, a rearwardly opening U-shaped channel 285, again for locating tabs of brackets 110. The U-shaped structure is linked to key bearing member 270 by web 280.
 A pair of integral forwardly open part-annular channels 274, 282 are respectively formed on the rear of key bearing member 272 and web 280: these receive self-tapping screws by which extrusion 260 is fastened to support brackets 110 at each end, and also provide respective seats for the legs 812 of brackets 810 mounting light tube 800 in cavity 802.
 Cover extrusion 220 is retained by location behind flange lip 629 and by clips slid into retaining spaces 231, 285 on the respective components. This allows easy removal for replacement or service of the light fitting.
FIG. 3 is a cross-section of an alternative one-piece front rail assembly 200′ where a light fitting is not required. Like parts are indicated by like primed reference numerals. An alternative data strip and label mounting face is also depicted.
 Rear rail assembly 400 is detailed in FIG. 4 and, in one-piece, complements a number of features of the components of front rail assembly 200, including a part-annular key bearing member 412, ledge 414 on which dividers 120 rest, screw mounting channels 420, 422 for fixing the support brackets 110, a rear vertically oriented channel 427 for locating tabs of brackets 110, and an integral rear stop panel 416. There is also a rear channel 425 for fitting a rear panel or basket attachment.
 Centre rail 300 is depicted in FIG. 5 and has an upstanding flat topped ridge 310 on which the support shelves and dividers rest, defined longitudinally extending slots 320 to locate tabs of brackets 110, a screw receiving formation 315, and slots 325 to support an optional shelf base 325.
 As already foreshadowed, several product supports 120 that are also product dividers are arranged along and rest on ledge 276 at the front, ridge 310 at the centre and ledge 414 at the rear. Product supports 120 are generally in the form of an inverted T, save for the L-shaped supports placed at the lateral ends of the unit. The inverted T supports 120 can be selectively placed at intermediate positions to suit desired widths of product display spaces. Once in position, the product supports are locked in place by rotatable key members 510.
 Each product support 120 (FIGS. 6 and 7) consists of an elongate flat base 124, a main upright divider panel 126 that intersects base 124 along its longitudinal centre line so that the respective halves of the base provide lateral support surfaces 125 for the products to be displayed. Accordingly, each pair of supports 120 must be placed sufficiently close for the associated products to bridge any gap between them. Surfaces 125 have shallow longitudinal ribs 123 to reduce product friction so that they can freely slide down the incline. Depending from base 124 at its longitudinal edges are a pair of fins or ribs 128. These fins or ribs are set back from the front and rear ends of the product support in order to accommodate ledges 276, 414, and are divided centrally by cross-fins 127 a, 127 b defining a channel 129 that nests with ridge 310 of centre rail 300. Channel 129 also helps in locating the product support so that it is square to the rails when placed into position.
 Each product support 120 is latched into its selected position by rotatable key members 510 at front and rear that grip and thereby lock the ribs or fins 128.
 A typical rib-locking key member 510 is illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9. It has a main body 514 defined by baffles 511 and generally circular cross-braces 513, and a projecting planar lever wing 512 in a plane offset from the axis of body 514. Body 514 is of overall cylindrical profile and is rotatably retained in part-annular bearing member 272 or 412 with wing 512 under the product supports and pointing to the other end. The top of body 514 is truncated flush with the top of wing 512 to a mid-line 517 and then from this mid-line a longitudinally extending ridge 519 is multiply slotted to define multiple thin tabs 515. Tabs 515 are separated by a distance defining respective slots 518 to receive ribs or fins 128 of product supports 120 in a firm fit. Each key member 510 is rotatable, by grasping wing 512, between a product support release position (FIG. 1 at right), in which wing 512 is raised and fin 128 is clear of slots or notches 518 and tabs 515, and a product support latch position (FIG. 1 at left), in which wing 512 is down and ribs or fins 128 are gripped and thereby “locked” in a respective slot or notch 518 between tabs 515. Slot or notch 518 is tapered at its entry as shown to facilitate increasing clamping engagement as the key member is rotated to the latch position.
 There may be one or several key members 510 along each of the front and rear of the system, according to the width of the system. To move a given product support laterally involves three easily executed steps. The appropriate front and rear key members are rotated upwardly to release the product support, the product support is slid along to the new selected position, and the key members are rotated down again. In a system of sufficient width, multiple product supports or dividers can be freely arranged to define product spaces of different widths.
 It will be understood that the system is readily adapted to a different mode of use in which product supports 120 with divider panels 126 are not employed but instead simple shelf segments or mats are arranged on the support ledges 276, 414.
FIG. 1 is a side cross-sectional view of a shelving system constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary enlargement of part of FIG. 1 showing the lens panel and the two components of the front rail assembly of the shelving system of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a cross-section of an alternative one-piece front rail assembly.
FIG. 4 is a cross-section of the rear rail assembly of the shelving system of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is a cross-section of a centre rail of the shelving system of FIG. 1.
FIGS. 6 and 7 are respective perspective and end elevational views of a product support, which is also a product divider.
FIGS. 8 and 9 are respective isometric views of the rib-locking key member of the shelving system of FIG. 1.
 The invention relates to shelving systems and relates particularly, though not exclusively, to shelving systems for use in retail environments.
 Shelving systems are used in retail environments such as supermarkets to present product items for sale. It is desirable that the items be attractively displayed in a low-cost and convenient manner to encourage customers to purchase, and to present the supermarket as an appealing and attractive venue to shop.
 It is recognised that a significant factor in presenting items involves the appropriate use of lighting. Typically, supermarkets use banks of fluorescent tubes to create relatively bright ambient lighting. However, due to the regular placement of high shelves, typically arranged in a number of long rows, the aisles can requires a great deal of lighting to achieve adequate illumination.
 In the past, the impact of lighting has been enhanced by fitting existing shelves with fluorescent tube lighting. The fluorescent tubes are located under the shelves, hidden from the view of customers but positioned to light up the products on the shelf immediately below. Typically there may be fitted a baffle to hide the tube and associated components, thus avoiding any direct exposure to the lighting produced by the tubes, which is relatively harsh when not reflected from the product items on display.
 This approach achieves a generally favourable result, but is not without limitations. In particular, it can be relatively expensive to retrofit existing shelving systems so that they are capable of being lit in the manner described. Also, this exercise does not necessarily result in the most favourable presentation of illuminated items. In particular, the items may cast shadows, as the lighting produced by the fluorescent tubes is not sufficiently dispersed.
 It is accordingly an object of the invention in a first aspect to address these and other problems associated with the prior art.
 Another desirable feature for retail shelving, especially in supermarkets, is an ability to freely vary the lateral space occupied by rows of products. A common approach is to avoid the use of dividers altogether, but this has the disadvantage that disorder can easily become the norm on the shelving, and spaces created when all of a given product have been taken can easily be closed by adjacent product. The absence of the product is then readily overlooked, and a mismatch with pricemarks arises. Dividers overcome these problems but usually cannot be freely placed on the shelving but have fixed engagement locations that define a restricted number of alternative row widths. A result of this reduced flexibility is that shelf space is not occupied to an efficient optimum.
 Accordingly, a further object of the invention is to provide a shelving system with product dividers that are adjustable to allow an efficient use of display space.
 A first inventive concept resides in a recognition that lighting in display shelving is advantageously improved by the introduction of an elongate source of illumination which is able to project light though an upstanding lens member that preferably assists in improving the ambient lighting in the display shelving as well as highlighting items on display in the shelving.
 Accordingly, in a first aspect, the invention provides a frame for a shelving system for presenting items. The frame includes a front member and a rear member. The rear member is spaced apart from the front member and connected to the front member by two spaced apart further frame members. A source of illumination is housed at least partly within the front member, and a lens member extends upwardly from the front member and is able to receive light from the source of illumination. Items presented for display adjacent the lens member are at least partly illuminated by light projected by the lens member.
 Preferably, the front, rear and side members are each generally elongate in construction. Preferably, the lens member is substantially elongate and planar in form.
 Preferably, the lens member is generally planar and has a front face, a rear face, a lower end and upper end. In use, the front face is preferably facing outwardly from the front member, and the lower end is adapted to be received within the front member.
 Preferably, the front member includes respective portions interconnected in use so that, when connected, they jointly house the source of illumination completely within the resulting front member.
 Preferably, at the lower end of the lens member there is a support portion which slots within a suitably dimensioned slot in the front member.
 Preferably, the front member and the rear member can be manufactured as extruded lengths for construction of shelving frames of the required dimensions.
 Preferably, the lens member includes means on its rear face to space items adjacent to it at least a predetermined distance from it. This spacing preferably assists in improving the visual impact of the lighting provided by the lens member on the product.
 A second inventive concept resides in a recognition that shelving systems are advantageously improved by the use of a key mechanism that is able to selectively engage product supports such as dividers that separate the shelving space of the shelving system into discrete partitions, to facilitate the convenient reconfiguration of the placement of the product supports along the shelving system.
 Accordingly, in a second aspect, the invention provides a shelving system for presenting items. The system includes a front member and a rear member spaced apart from the rear member. Means is provided joining the front member and the rear member. At least one product support extends between the front member and the rear member in one of a selectable plurality of product support positions. At least one key mechanism is provided to selectively permit and prevent movement of the product supports between the product support positions.
 Preferably, the key mechanism includes one or more elongate key members disposed on the front member and/or the rear member.
 Preferably, the key members have a wing or lever portion and a body portion. Preferably, the elongate key members are retained within a housing portion of the front member or rear member, so that the main body portion is rotatable by manual movement of the lever portion between engaging and non-engaging positions in which the key members respectively prevent and permit movement of the product supports.
 The or each key member may define a plurality of slots or notches spaced in its longitudinally direction for receiving a complementary portion of the respective product support, eg. a depending fin of the product support.
 In one embodiment, the product support is or includes a product divider.