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Publication numberUS20060049122 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/266,826
Publication dateMar 9, 2006
Filing dateNov 4, 2005
Priority dateJan 21, 2003
Also published asUS7913861, US20040140279, US20070267367, WO2004064484A2, WO2004064484A3
Publication number11266826, 266826, US 2006/0049122 A1, US 2006/049122 A1, US 20060049122 A1, US 20060049122A1, US 2006049122 A1, US 2006049122A1, US-A1-20060049122, US-A1-2006049122, US2006/0049122A1, US2006/049122A1, US20060049122 A1, US20060049122A1, US2006049122 A1, US2006049122A1
InventorsPaul Mueller, Daniel Kump
Original AssigneeFasteners For Retail, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Shelving system
US 20060049122 A1
Abstract
An adjustable length track for a pusher system includes a first section and a second section which is operably connected to the first section. A first elongated rail extends longitudinally along the first section. A second elongated rail extends longitudinally along the second section. The second section is moveable in relation to the first section to allow a length of the track to be changed, thereby enabling the track to be placed on associated shelves of varying depths.
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Claims(20)
1. An adjustable length track for a pusher system, said track comprising:
a first section;
a second section operably connected to said first section;
a first elongated rail extending longitudinally along said first section;
a second elongated rail extending longitudinally along said section; and,
wherein said second section is moveable in relation to said first section to allow a length of said track to be changed, thereby enabling said track to be placed on associated shelves of varying depths.
2. The track of claim 1 wherein said first and second elongated rails are longitudinally aligned.
3. The track of claim 2 further comprising a pusher slidably mounted in at least one of said first and second elongated rails.
4. The track of claim 3 further comprising a biasing member for biasing said pusher in a forward direction.
5. The track of claim 4 wherein said biasing member comprises a spring.
6. The track of claim 1 further comprising a hinge connecting said first and second sections.
7. The track of claim 1 further comprising a sliding joint defined between said first and second sections, said sliding joint allowing said second section to slide in relation to said first section.
8. A shelving system comprising:
an elongated mounting member operationally securable to an associated shelf;
a track received on said mounting member wherein said track extends approximately transversely to a longitudinal axis of the associated shelf, said track comprising:
a first section;
a second section operably connected to said first section;
an elongated rail extending longitudinally along at least said first section, and
a pusher slidably mounted in relation to said rail; and, wherein said second section is moveable in relation to said first section to allow a length of said track to be changed, thereby enabling said track to be placed on associated shelves of varying depths.
9. The shelving system of claim 8 further comprising a divider received on said mounting member wherein said divider extends approximately transversely to said longitudinal axis of the associated shelf.
10. The shelving system of claim 9 wherein said divider is spaced from said track.
11. The shelving system of claim 8 wherein said mounting member comprises a first longitudinally extending groove, a portion of said track first section being accommodated in said mounting member first groove.
12. The shelving system of claim 8 wherein said pusher comprises a foot extending from a base member, said foot cooperating with said rail.
13. The shelving system of claim 8 further comprising a biasing member for biasing said pusher forwardly on said track.
14. An adjustable length merchandising system comprising:
an elongated mounting member operationally securable to a front portion of an associated shelf and extending parallel to a longitudinal axis thereof;
a plurality of spaced tracks, wherein said tracks extend rearwardly over the associated shelf, at least one of said plurality of tracks including a pusher slidably mounted thereon;
a mounting structure for mounting each of said plurality of spaced tracks to said elongated mounting member; and,
wherein at least one of said plurality of tracks comprises a means for extending an operative length of said at least one track.
15. The merchandising system of claim 14 wherein said means for extending comprises a paddle which is adapted to cantilever beyond a rear end of said track.
16. The merchandising system of claim 15 wherein said paddle comprises a foot which protrudes from a front face of said paddle.
17. The merchandising system of claim 16 wherein said paddle further comprises a bracing member spaced from said foot.
18. The merchandising system of claim 14 wherein said means for extending comprises:
a first section;
a second section; and
a means for moving said first section in relation to said second section.
19. The merchandising system of claim 18 wherein said means for moving comprises a hinge which connects said first section to said second section.
20. The merchandising system of claim 18 wherein said means for moving comprises a telescoping joint connecting said first section to said second section.
Description
  • [0001]
    This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/682,169 which was filed on Oct. 9, 2003 and is still pending. That application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/348,306 which was filed on Jan. 21, 2003 and is still pending.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention generally relates to an adjustable shelving system. More specifically, the present invention relates to an adjustable forward-feeding display shelving system for storing and displaying merchandise of a variety of shapes and sizes and automatically delivering the merchandise to the front of the shelf. The shelving system can be removably attached to an associated shelf and is configured to organize merchandise on the shelf.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Shelving is used extensively for stocking and storing products or merchandise in a variety of stores. Most stores have immovable shelving which is arranged back-to-back between aisleways. The nature of the fixed shelves makes it difficult to add and remove products. Moreover, such shelves make difficult the rotation of the shelved products, which involves moving the older stock to the front of the shelf and positioning new stock behind the older stock. For a number of important merchandising considerations, it is desirable that merchandise be displayed at the front of a shelf so that the customer is induced to purchase such forwardmost article. For example, if the goods are perishable or are subject to becoming stale (e.g. cigarettes, fruit juices, dairy products, or any item with an expiration date or a freshness date), it is important that the articles be removed in a first in, first out basis to maintain freshness. Also, if merchandise is not displayed at the front of a shelf, it may not catch the shopper's eye, which may cost the merchant sales.
  • [0004]
    In order to automatically move an item forward as the one before it is removed, numerous forward feed devices have been devised. There devices generally fall into three categories. The first category is inclined tracks, relying on gravity to feed, slide, or roll products forward. Gravity feeding is unpredictable in that various materials slide easier than others because of different weights and frictional interfaces between the products and the track. The second category employs conveyor belts which still use gravity to effect forward movement. These devices typically are cumbersome, expensive, and complicated, due to the need to properly tension and track the conveyor belts. The third category uses spring-biased paddles to feed the product forward. Such paddle-based forward feed devices have been found useful for certain merchandise.
  • [0005]
    However, a merchant with two or more different depths of shelving must purchase tracks of two or more depths, to employ the spring-biased paddles. There thus exists a need for a track system that is capable of accommodating shelving of varying depths.
  • [0006]
    Also, the current mounting designs of such spring biased paddles on rails is not optimum and, thus, leaves room for improvement.
  • [0007]
    Accordingly, it has been considered desirable to develop a new and improved track system for merchandise display which would overcome the foregoing difficulties and others while providing better and more advantageous overall results.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, an adjustable length track is provided for a pusher system. The track comprises a first section and a second section operably connected to the first section. A first elongated rail extends longitudinally along the first section. A second elongated rail extends longitudinally along the second section. The second section is moveable in relation to the first section to allow a length of the track to be changed, thereby enabling the track to be placed on associated shelves of varying depths.
  • [0009]
    In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a shelving system includes an elongated mounting member operationally securable to an associated shelf. A track is received on the mounting member, wherein the track extends approximately transversely to a longitudinal axis of the associated shelf. The track comprises a first section and a second section operably connected to the first section. An elongated rail extends longitudinally along at least the first section. A pusher is slidably mounted in relation to the rail. The second section is moveable in relation to the first section to allow a length of the track to be changed, thereby enabling the track to be placed on associated shelves of varying depths.
  • [0010]
    In accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, a merchandising system comprises an elongated mounting member operationally securable to a front portion of an associated shelf and extending parallel to a longitudinal axis thereof. A plurality of spaced tracks are provided, wherein the tracks extend rearwardly over the associated shelf. At least one of the tracks includes a pusher slidably mounted thereon. A mounting structure is provided for mounting each of the plurality of spaced tracks to the elongated mounting member. Each of the tracks comprises a first section and a second section and wherein the second section is moveable in relation to the first section to allow a length of the track to be changed, thereby enabling the track to be placed on associated shelves of varying depths.
  • [0011]
    Still other aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those of average skill in the art upon reading and understanding of the following detailed specification.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0012]
    The invention may take physical form in certain parts and arrangements of parts, several embodiments of which will be described in detail in this specification, and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof and wherein:
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1A is an exploded perspective view of a shelf management system according to the present invention, including a portion of an elongate track, two paddles in accordance with a first and a second embodiment, a front panel, and a front end clip;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 1B is an exploded perspective view of a merchandise shelving system according to the present invention, including a portion of the elongate track, two rear panels and two rear end clips in accordance with the first and second embodiments;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 2 is a sectioned view through the shelf management system of FIG. 1 in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 3 is an assembled perspective view of the shelf management system of FIG. 1 in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a shelf management system including an elongated track and paddle assembly according to a third embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 5 is a reduced top plan view of the assembly of FIG. 4;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of the assembly of FIG. 5 along line 6-6;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of a paddle of the assembly of FIG. 4;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 8 is a bottom perspective view of the paddle of FIG. 7;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a shelf management system including an elongate track and paddle assembly according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an adjustable length track according to another embodiment of the present invention, illustrating a second track section in a horizontal orientation;
  • [0024]
    FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the adjustable track of FIG. 10 with the second track section being shown in a vertical orientation;
  • [0025]
    FIG. 12 is an enlarged exploded perspective view of the adjustable track sections of FIG. 10;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 13 is a side elevational view of the adjustable track of FIG. 10 in use in a shelf management system with a paddle being located on the second track section;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 14 is a side elevational view of the adjustable track system of FIG. 13 with the second track section being shown in a vertical orientation;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a still further embodiment of an adjustable length track according to the present invention with the track being in a shortened condition;
  • [0029]
    FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the adjustable length track of FIG. 15 with the track being in a lengthened position;
  • [0030]
    FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a track and a paddle according to a yet further embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0031]
    FIG. 18 is a side elevational view of the track and paddle of FIG. 17;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 19 is a greatly enlarged cross sectional view of the track and paddle of FIG. 17;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 20 is a rear perspective view of the paddle of FIG. 17;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 21 is a front perspective view of the paddle of FIG. 17;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 22 is a cross sectional view of the paddle of FIG. 20; and,
  • [0036]
    FIG. 23 is a rear elevational view of the paddle of FIG. 20.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0037]
    Referring now to the drawings, wherein the showings are for the purposes of illustrating several preferred embodiments of the invention only and not for purposes of limiting same, FIGS. 1A and 1B show two embodiments of the shelf management system according to the present invention.
  • [0038]
    More particularly, FIG. 1A shows an exploded view of the components comprising a shelving system generally designated by reference numeral 10 including a portion of an elongate track 12, a product pusher paddle 14 with a foot 16 in accordance with a first embodiment, a front end clip 18, and a front panel 20. Also shown in phantom lines is an alternative product pushing paddle 15 without the foot in accordance with a second embodiment. The components of the shelving system 10 could be formed in accordance with the present invention from a conventional thermoplastic, such as polyvinyl chloride plastic or any other suitable plastic by extrusion, molding, or any suitable plastic forming technique. The shelving system 10 is configured in such a way so as to accept packages of various widths, depths, and configurations. More particularly, the spacing between adjacent tracks 12 can be adjusted to accommodate packages of different widths. Also, the shelving system can be employed on shelves of differing depths.
  • [0039]
    The track 12 is generally configured in an elongate orientation, including a front end portion 13 and a rear end portion 17 as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, respectively. The track 12 includes a base wall 22 and a side wall 24. The base wall 22 and the side wall 24 are perpendicular to each other. The base wall 22 of the track 12 includes a pair of T-shaped rails 26, 28 thereon. The T-shaped rails 26, 28 each include a vertical leg 30, 32, respectively extending transverse to an upper surface 33 of the base wall 22. The vertical legs 30, 32 each have a flattened horizontal surface 34, 36, respectively thereon. The flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 increase the support surface area for carrying product without impeding the sliding movement of product along the horizontal surfaces 34, 36 utilizing the available forces provided by the product feeding shelving system. The vertical legs 30, 32 space the flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 from the upper surface 33 of the base wall 22. The T-shaped rails 26, 28 extend collinear with the length of the track 12.
  • [0040]
    The track 12, at one side, includes the side wall 24 extending perpendicular to the base wall 22. The side wall 24 functions as a divider member to separate the shelf space into individual merchandise display areas. The side wall 24 includes a first face 40, a second face 42, and a flange 44. The flange 44 is generally transverse to the second face 42 of the side wall 24. The flange 44 is collinear with the length of the track 12. The flange 44 is proximal to the base wall 22 and generally coplanar with the flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 of the T-shaped rails 26, 28. The flange 44 has a horizontal surface 47. The base wall 22, at another side, includes a terminal edge 46, distal to the side wall 24, which extends upward generally perpendicular to the base wall 22. The terminal edge 46 is collinear with the length of the track 12. The front edges of the rails 27, 29, the front edge of the base wall 23, the front edge of the side wall 25, and the front edge of the flange 45 are coplanar and aligned generally with the front edge of the associated shelf, not shown.
  • [0041]
    As shown in FIG. 1A, the paddle 14 according to the first embodiment includes the foot 16. The paddle 14 further includes a pusher wall 56 with a front face 58 and a pair of gussets 60, 62 which extend rearwardly from a rear face 64. These are generally angled from the top of the pusher wall 56 to a base 70 of the paddle 14. The gussets 60, 62 serve to stiffen the pusher wall 56. The foot 16 extends forward of the pusher wall front face 58. An upper surface (shown in FIG. 2) of the base 70 serves as a spring carrier surface 72. At opposing sides of the spring carrier surface 72 are a pair of outside edges 76 and (not visible) projecting downward generally perpendicular to the spring carrier surface 72. The outside edges are parallel to one another and are spaced to slidably engage, along with an underside or sliding surface 80 of the spring carrier surface 72, the flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 of the T-rails 26, 28. The foot 16 extends forwardly transverse to the front face 58 of the pusher wall 56. The foot 16 includes a pair of opposing outside flanges 82, 84. A pair of product supporting arms 86, 88 are included on a top surface of the foot 16. A pair of guide legs 87, 89 are included on a bottom surface of the foot 16. The arms 86, 88 and legs 87, 89 are collinear with T-rails 26, 28 when the shelving system 10 is in an assembled arrangement, as will be described hereinafter.
  • [0042]
    As also shown in FIG. 1A, the second embodiment of the paddle 15 does not include a foot. However, the paddle 15 does include a pusher wall 90 with a front face 92 and a pair of gussets 94, 96 extending rearwardly from a rear face 98. These generally angle from the top of the pusher wall 90 to a base 100 of the paddle 15. The gussets 94, 96 serve to stiffen the pusher wall 90. An upper surface of the base 100 serves as a spring carrier surface. At opposing sides of the spring carrier surface are a pair of rolled edges 104, 106 projecting downwardly and inwardly. The base 100 also includes a pair of legs 118, 120 extending transverse to a lower or sliding surface 108 of the base 100. The legs 118, 120 are configured to slidably engage the upper surface 33 of the base wall 22 to support and align the paddle 15 along the track 12.
  • [0043]
    With continued reference to FIG. 1A, a front end clip 18 for each track 12 is shown. This includes a vertical rectangular front plate 130 with a front face 132 and a rear face 134. The front plate 130 includes a mounting element 136 extending transverse to the rear face 134 of the plate 130. The mounting element 136 comprises a pair of vertically oriented opposing side walls 138, 140 and a bottom wall. The mounting element 136 of the front end clip 18 slides in between the T-rails 26, 28 in the front end portion 13 of the track and frictionally engages legs 30, 32, flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 and the upper surface 33 of the base wall 22. As shown in FIG. 2, a tooth 152 protrudes from a lower face of the clip and engages in a slot 154 in the track to fix the front end clip 18 to the front end portion 13 of the track 12 without the use of any glue or other adhesive material.
  • [0044]
    Also shown in FIG. 1A is the front panel 20. The front panel 20, which can be an extruded piece, is cut to fit the length of the shelf. The front panel 20, and a rear panel described hereinafter, generally allow the product tracks 12 to be stably held so as to define a width for the product as well as to hold the product tracks 12 to the shelf at both the front and the back ends of the shelf, yet allowing them to slide sideways on the shelf. The front panel 20 and rear panel are advantageously configured such that a plurality of product tracks 12 can be slidably mounted to them. The front panel 20 is generally configured in an L-shaped arrangement with a base wall 160 and a front wall 162 extending upward generally transverse to the base wall 160. The front panel 20 may be comprised of a clear plastic material to allow a merchant or prospective purchaser a clear line of vision to the product being carried by the shelving system. The front wall 162 includes a front face 164 and a rear face 166. A downward extending flange 168 projects from the rear face 166 of the front panel 20. The flange 168 includes a first leg 170 which extends perpendicular to the rear face 166 and a second leg 172 generally perpendicular to the first leg 170. The second leg 172 extends downward generally parallel to the rear face 166. The first leg 170 and the second leg 172 form the downward extending flange configuration which provides an open slot 174. As shown in FIG. 2, the open slot 174 is configured to receive the front plate 130 of the front end clip 18. An upper portion 176 of the front wall 162 serves as a product retaining wall which extends upward and preferably angles slightly rearward from a location above the flange 168. The product retaining wall 176 serves as a forwardmost stopping surface for the shelf management system 10 and utilizes the rearward angle to hold products within the adjustable shelf management system 10 while the product is being urged forward in the manner described in greater detail hereinafter.
  • [0045]
    As shown in FIG. 1B, a low profile rear end clip 180 cooperates with a low profile rear panel 214 in the first embodiment of the present invention. With reference now to FIG. 3, these two elements are configured in such a way as to allow a rear end of the pusher paddle 14 to extend rearward beyond the rear end portion 17 of the track 12. However, the foot 16 holds the pusher paddle on the track. The low profile rear end clip 180 includes vertically extending first and second walls 184, 186, respectively. A horizontal connecting wall (not visible) connects the first and second walls 184, 186 at their respective bottom edges thereby defining an upwardly open slot 190 between the first 184 and second 186 walls. Extending transverse to the second wall 186 are two opposing upper mounting tabs 192, 194 at opposing ends of the second wall 186. A lower mounting tab 196 extends transverse to the second wall 186 centered along a lower edge 198 of the second wall 186 between the two upper mounting tabs 192, 194. Each upper mounting tab 192, 194 includes a pair of integrally formed support walls 200, 201 and 202, 203, respectively, extending from a top edge 187 of the second wall 186 angularly to the front edge of the tabs. Planar bottom surfaces are provided for the mounting tabs 192 and 194. These are configured to slidingly engage the upper surface 33 of the track base wall 22. The lower mounting tab 196 has a planar upper surface 204 including an upward projecting tooth 206 generally centered between opposed side edges 205 and (not visible) of the lower mounting tab 196 proximal to a front edge 197. The upper surface 204 of the lower mounting tab 196 is configured to slidingly engage the bottom surface 35 of the track base wall 22. As shown in FIG. 2, the upward projecting tooth 206 engages an opening 210 in the base wall 22 between the T-rails 26, 28 thereby preventing disengagement of the rear end clip 180 from the track 12.
  • [0046]
    As shown in FIG. 1B, the low profile rear panel 214 of the first embodiment is defined by a base wall 216 and an upwardly extending rear wall 218. The rear wall 218 extends transverse to the base wall 216 and includes an L-shaped upper edge 220. The L-shaped upper edge 220 has a first leg 222 generally perpendicular to the rear wall 218 and a second leg 224 extending downward generally parallel to the rear wall 218. The first leg 222 and the second leg 224 form a downwardly open channel 226. The channel 226 is configured to engage the first vertically extending wall 184 of the rear end clip 180. As with the front panel, the rear panel 214 is cut to the length of the shelf and accommodates a plurality of product tracks 12. The base wall 216 of the rear panel 214 may include anti-skid layer 230 extending along the length of the bottom side of the base wall 216 proximal to the rear wall 218 for preventing movement of the rear panel in relation to the shelf. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 2, a set of anti-skid bumps 232 may be used. The layer 230 or bumps 232 can be co-extruded or separately applied to the rear panel 214.
  • [0047]
    With reference now to the second embodiment, the front end clip 18 may be utilized also as the rear end clip as shown in FIG. 1B. For this purpose, a second embodiment of a rear panel 240 is employed. In this embodiment, the rear panel 240 includes a base wall 242 and a rear wall 244. The rear wall 244 projects upwardly transverse to the base wall 242. The rear wall 244 includes an L-shaped upper edge 246. The L-shaped upper edge 246 includes a first leg 248 projecting transverse to the rear wall 244 in a forward direction. A second leg 250 projects downward, generally parallel to the rear wall 244, from the first leg 248. In this embodiment, the rear panel 240 is similar to the front panel 20 but without a product retaining wall (upper portion).
  • [0048]
    According to the first embodiment, the paddle 14 is in sliding connection with the product track 12 (best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3). The sliding connection comprises a first and second pair of surfaces, with the first pair located adjacent the first T-shaped rail and the second pair of surfaces located adjacent the second T-shaped rail. One surface of the first and second pairs is formed on the top side of the outside flanges 82, 84 of the foot. The other surface of each of the first and second pairs is on the upper surfaces of the T-rails 26, 28. The first and second pairs of surfaces engage to resist separation of the paddle from the track. Additionally, there is a third pair of surfaces 87, 89 located on the bottom side of the foot 16. These engage adjacent surface 33 on the track base wall 22 to maintain alignment of the paddle 14 with the track 12. Furthermore, there is a fourth pair of surfaces located on the bottom side of the foot. These include respective notches 91 and (not visible) as shown in FIG. 1A. The notches engage a surface of the rear end clip 180 to halt rearward travel of the paddle on the track.
  • [0049]
    As illustrated in FIG. 2, the front face 58 of the paddle 14 extends generally normal to the upper surface 33 of the track 12. The front face 58 of the paddle is designed to allow the paddle to maintain contact with the products positioned directly in front of it. The spring carrier surface 72 and the sliding surface 80 of the paddle 14 are generally formed from the same section of material which extends rearward of the pusher wall 56 along a direction generally perpendicular to the front face 58. In the illustrated embodiment in FIG. 2, the gussets 60, 62 support the relationship between the pusher wall 56 and the foot 70. The outer edges 76 and (not visible) of the base 70 extend downward transverse to the spring carrier surface 72. These outer edges form a fifth pair of sliding surfaces. These cooperate with a respective surface of the track 12. The fifth pair of surfaces engage to maintain alignment of the paddle 14 with the track 12. The base 70 includes a central opening 71, proximate to the rear face 64, which allows a roll spring to pass therethrough.
  • [0050]
    With reference again to FIG. 1A, the opposing outside flanges 82, 84 are designed to slide under the flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 of the rails 26, 28. The sliding surface 80 (FIG. 2) of the paddle 14 is designed to slide over the flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 of the rails 26, 28. Through the use of the opposing flanges 82, 84, the opposing outside edges 76, 78, and the rails 26, 28 of the track 12, a slidable positive lock between the track 12 and the paddle 14 is formed. The slidable positive lock reduces the likelihood of the paddle 14 separating or misaligning from the track 12 under high load.
  • [0051]
    As shown in FIG. 1A, the second embodiment of the paddle 15 (phantom lines) comprises first and second rolled edges 104, 106 which, in use, are located adjacent the rails 26, 28 of the track. These cooperate with the respective adjacent track 34, 36. The rolled edges engage the tracks to maintain alignment of the paddle with the track. Additionally, the legs 118, 120 of the second paddle 15 engage adjacent portions of the respective T-rails 26, 28. Such engagement helps resist separation of the paddle from the track.
  • [0052]
    The pushing surface or front face 92 extends generally normal to the upper surface 33 of the base wall 22. The spring carrier surface 102 and the sliding surface 108 are generally formed from the same section of material which extends rearward of the rear face 98 of the pusher wall 90 along a direction generally perpendicular to the front face 92 or pushing surface. In the illustrated embodiment in FIG. 1A, a pair of gussets 94 and (not visible) support the relationship between the pusher wall 90 and the base 100 of the paddle 15.
  • [0053]
    In both embodiments, a biasing element in the form of a spring 260 is used to bias the paddle 14 toward the front end portion 13 of the track 12. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the biasing element can be a roll spring 260. The roll spring 260 has characteristics which may make it desirable over various other types of springs, such as compression springs. For instance, the roll spring 260 naturally recoils back into its tightly wound initial state after being extended and released. Also, as the roll spring 260 is stretched, the force exerted by it is approximately the same during such stretching. It will be appreciated that other biasing elements may be used, i.e. elastic straps, coil springs, and other biasing members. The roll spring 260 is advantageous because it provides a uniform force throughout its extension, is simple to install, and does not require attachment to the foot 70. The roll spring 260 may be permanently, semi-permanently, or removably attached to the front clip 18. In the embodiment illustrated, the roll spring 260 is semi-permanently attached to the clip 18 by inserting a first end 262 of the spring 260 into a slot (not visible) in the clip. A spring portion 264 immediately adjacent the first end 262 is then bent 900 and inserted into a stem of the clip. The remainder of the spring is then rotated 90 around its longitudinal axis.
  • [0054]
    The balance of the roll spring 260 rests on a spring carrying surface 72 of the base 70 of the paddle 14. Due to the configuration of the roll spring 260, it does not need to be secured to the spring carrier surface 72. Alignment of the coiled section of the roll spring 260 is maintained by the rear face 64 of the pusher wall 56, and the inside walls (not shown) of the gussets 60, 62. The rear face 64 of the pusher wall 56 provides a front support and the inside walls of the gussets 60, 62 provide side restraints with respect to movement of the roll spring 260.
  • [0055]
    With reference again to FIG. 2, it is appreciated that in the first embodiment, the foot 16 of the paddle 14 limits the forward travel of the paddle 14. Although the forward travel of the paddle is inhibited by the foot 16, the foot 16 enables the pusher wall 56 to extend rearward beyond the rear portion 17 of the track 12 (as seen in FIG. 3). This additional rearward travel of the paddle 14 allows the entire length of the track to be utilized for storing and moving products. It will be appreciated that, in the second embodiment, using the paddle 15, the paddle 15 can traverse substantially the entire length of the track 12 but the pusher wall 90 does not travel beyond the rear end of the track 12.
  • [0056]
    The shelf management system 10 comprises the track 12 to underlie a plurality of products. The track 12 extends longitudinally between the front and rear end portions 13, 17, and laterally between the terminal edge 46 and the side wall 24. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the shelving system 10 and feeding assembly generally comprises a number of product tracks 12. It will be appreciated that the base walls 160, 216, 242 of the front and rear panels are of sufficient depth in order to provide the necessary stability and alignment to the product tracks extending therebetween. Due to the use of T-rails 26, 28 product tracks 12 decrease the contact surface area between the packages and the product supporting and feeding assembly such that friction may be reduced between the products and the assembly. The horizontal surface 47 of flange 44 of a first track 12 is coplanar with the flattened horizontal surfaces 34, 36 of a second adjacent track 12 to improve the product support and alignment as the products move along the track 12.
  • [0057]
    With reference now to FIGS. 2 and 3, a plurality of adjacent tracks 12 are shown stably held by the front panel 20 and the rear panel 214. This configuration results in a secure connection of a plurality of tracks 12 within the shelving system 10 such that the individual tracks 12 cannot flop around. The front panel 20 may be attached to the shelf in any suitable manner, including friction fitting or permanent attachment (i.e. a Christmas tree clip 270 as shown in FIG. 2). The side wall 24 of each respective track 12 separates the products supported on individual tracks 12 such that the product carried by one product track 12 will not interfere with the movement of product carried by an adjacent product track 12. As shown, the side wall 24 is integral with the base wall 22. However, the side wall can be a separate divider wall (not shown). It is also appreciated that a product label 272 may be affixed to the front face 164 of the front panel 20.
  • [0058]
    With reference now to FIG. 4, another embodiment of a paddle is there illustrated. In this embodiment, like components are identified by like numerals with a primed (′) suffix and new components are identified by new numerals. In this embodiment, a paddle 300 is slidably mounted on a track 12′. The track is generally configured as an elongated member oriented such that it extends from a front of a shelf to a rear of the shelf. The track includes a base wall 22′. Mounted on the base wall are a pair of T-shaped rails 26′ and 28′. Spaced from the rails is a side wall 24′. The side wall includes a first face 40′ and a second face 42′ (FIG. 6). The paddle includes a pusher wall 310. With reference now also to FIG. 5, the pusher wall 310 includes a front face 312 for contacting merchandise and a rear face 314. The pusher wall 310 is mounted on a base 316. A pair of gussets 320 and 322 are located on opposed side edges of the pusher wall 310 and extend from the pusher wall to the base 316. The gussets are meant to reinforce the pusher wall 310. Reinforcing stakes on ribs 324 may also be provided adjacent the side walls. The stakes can be molded together with the side walls.
  • [0059]
    Positioned atop the base 316 is a spring 330. As with the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, the spring 330 may be a coil spring. In this embodiment, the coil spring is not supported by the gussets 320 and 322 since the gussets are spaced a considerable distance from the relatively central location of the spring 330. Rather, the spring is simply held on the base 316. The spring 330 does not vary its location laterally in the process of coiling and uncoiling so that it would approach either of the gussets. The spring 330 is looped around the distal end of the base 316 and then extends forward, such that a central portion 332 is located between the rails 26′ and 28′, as is best seen in FIG. 5. If desired, the spring can have a front end (not visible) which is secured either to the track 12′ or to a front clip (not illustrated), which can be of the type illustrated in FIGS. 1-3.
  • [0060]
    Defined between the side wall 24′ and the second rail 28′ is a slot 338 (FIG. 6). Positioned in the slot is a foot, guide or extension 340 of the paddle. With reference now also to FIG. 7, the foot is located adjacent the second gusset 322 and projects from a lower surface 341 (FIG. 8) of the base 316. The foot can be in the shape of an upside down U and can comprise a top wall 342. Projecting from opposite side edges of the top wall 342 are first and second arms or walls 46. Extending laterally from the first arm 344 is a flange 348. The flange is adapted to contact a lower surface 352 of the second rail 28′ as is most evident from FIG. 6. At the same time, the second arm 346 abuts against the first face 40′ of the side wall 24′ to brace the paddle 300 and retard lateral movement thereof. Cooperation of the flange 348 and the second rail 28′ retards vertical movement of the paddle 300. However, sliding movement along the rails 26′, 28′ is permitted. As is best shown in FIG. 8, a transverse stiffening wall 356 can extend between the two arms 344 and 346 between the ends thereof. It is also apparent from FIG. 8 that a rear end 360 the foot 340, can terminate short of the rear edge of the base 316, if so desired.
  • [0061]
    In this embodiment, the foot or guide 340 of the paddle is thus captured between the rail 28′ and the sidewall 24′. It should, however, be recognized that the guide 340 could be captured between a rail and any sort of wall or approximately vertically extending protrusion of the track 12′. In other words, instead of the side wall 24′ as illustrated in FIG. 6, some sort of protrusion could be employed in combination with a rail in order to capture the guide. In such a design, the side wall could be absent or could be located on the opposite side of the track. Also, a much wider track could be provided including a plurality of rails and, perhaps, a plurality of pushers mounted on such rails with each pusher having an extension that is captured between an adjacent rail and some sort of protrusion that may extend approximately vertically in relation to a base wall of the track.
  • [0062]
    With reference now to FIG. 9, still another embodiment of a paddle is there illustrated. For ease of appreciation and understanding of this embodiment, like components are identified by like numerals with a double primed suffix (″) and new components are identified by new numerals. In this embodiment, a track 12″ includes a base wall 22″ and a side wall 24″. Located on the base wall 22″ are a pair of spaced rails 26″ and 28″. Slidably mounted on the track 12″ is a paddle 400. The paddle includes a pusher wall 410 having a front face 412. The pusher wall 410 extends from a base 416. Extending from the pusher wall 410 to the base 416 are a pair of gussets 420 (only one of which is visible). These are located on opposed side edges of the pusher wall 410 and base 416.
  • [0063]
    A spring, such as a coil spring is positioned on an upper surface of the base 416. Depending from the base 416 is a foot, guide, or extension 440. More particularly, the foot depends from a lower surface of the base.
  • [0064]
    Protruding from a central portion of the base 416 is a tab or bracing member 470. The tab is meant to be used when the paddle 400 is fully retracted towards a back rail as illustrated in the embodiment of FIG. 3. In use, the tab 470 braces the paddle on the rear rail, when the paddle is fully retracted, to prevent it from wobbling. The tab protrudes from a front edge of the base lower surface in a spaced manner from the foot 440. It should be appreciated, however, that the tab can have many different designs.
  • [0065]
    The design illustrated in FIG. 9 also enables the pusher wall 412 to extend rearward beyond a rear face of the track 22′. This additional rearward travel of the paddle 400 allows the entire length of the track to be utilized for storing and moving products. Thus, the design of FIG. 9 illustrates a means for extending an operative length of the track 22′. More particularly, both the extension 440 and the tab 470 allow the paddle 400 to be retracted beyond the track 22, yet still stay connected with the track.
  • [0066]
    A similar design can be seen in the embodiment of FIGS. 4-8. In that design, the flange 348 maintains contact between the track 22′ and the paddle, even when the pusher wall 310 is retracted beyond the rear end of the track 22′. Thus, the operative length of the track can be extended so as to enable the track to be used on deeper shelves.
  • [0067]
    With reference now to FIG. 10, another embodiment of the shelving system according to the instant disclosure comprises a track 510 which includes a first section 512. The first section comprises a first rail 514 and a second rail 516. Defined between the two rails is an elongated aperture 518. A first notch 520 and a second notch 522 can be provided in a respective one of the rails. As is illustrated in FIG. 10, more than one such notch can be employed if desired. At a front end of the track first section 512, there can be provided a transversely extending slot 526, as shown in FIG. 11. The slot separates a front portion 528 of the track first section 512 from the remainder thereof. If desired, the slot can be defined in an underside of the track first section 512.
  • [0068]
    The track 510 also comprises a second section 532. With reference now also to FIG. 12, the second track section includes a first rail 534 and a second rail 536. Defined therebetween is an elongated aperture 538. Provided in the first rail 534 is a first notch 540. Provided in the second rail 536 is a second notch 542. One or more ribs 544 can connect a pair of side walls 545 and 546 on which the rails 534 and 536 are defined. It should be appreciated that similar ribs can be defined on the track first section 512, if so desired.
  • [0069]
    With reference again to FIG. 10, connecting the track first and second sections 512 and 532 is a hinge construction 550. With reference again to FIG. 12, the hinge construction can comprise a pair of pins 552 (only one of which is visible in FIG. 12) which engage a pair of opposed ears 554 defined on the track second section 532. To this end, provided in each ear is an aperture 556 for accommodating a respective hinge pin 552. To control the range of movement of the track second section 532 in relation to the first section 512, a pair of extensions 558 can be provided on the track first section 512. These cooperate with respective front sections 562 and 564 of the track second section rails 534 and 536. In this way, the track second section 532 cannot rotate past the horizontal in relation to the track first section 512 as is illustrated in FIG. 10. However, the track second section can be rotated up to 90 in relation to the track first section as is illustrated in FIG. 11. With this construction, a means is provided for extending an operative length of the track.
  • [0070]
    With reference now to FIG. 13, when the track 510 is placed on a subjacent shelf (not shown) that is deeper than is the length of the track first section 512, the track second section can be folded down. In this way, more merchandise can be accommodated on the track, and, hence on the shelf. However, when the track is of a shallower depth, the track second section can be pivoted up out of the plane of the shelf so that the track first section spans the entire depth of the shelf. This is illustrated in FIG. 14. One benefit of such a design is that the same track assembly 510 can be employed both on deeper shelves and on shallower shelves, thereby saving the merchant from having to stock two different lengths of track for its shelves.
  • [0071]
    With continued reference to FIG. 13, a pusher paddle 570 is mounted on the track 510. Since the construction of a pusher paddle has been discussed previously, that discussion will not be repeated here. The track 510 can be mounted to a front rail 580. The front rail can comprise a vertically oriented wall 582 including a fence 584 mounted in a groove 586. The front rail also includes a horizontally oriented wall 588. Defined in the horizontally oriented wall is a groove 590. The groove 590 accommodates the front portion 528 of the track first section 512. In other words, a rear portion of the front rail horizontally oriented wall 588 defines a plateau which is accommodated in the transverse slot 526 in the track. This construction is described in applicant's currently pending patent application Ser. No. 10/854,991 which was filed on May 27, 2004 and is entitled “Adjustable Shelving System”. It is also described in applicant's earlier filed application Ser. No. 10/686,096 filed on Oct. 14, 2003 and also entitled “Adjustable Shelving System”. The disclosures of both of these applications are incorporated herein in their entirety.
  • [0072]
    As discussed in the above-identified two applications, a shelf divider, such as the shelf divider 600, can also be provided. Such dividers are useful in creating rows of products held on spaced tracks. Such a divider 600 can be of one piece with the track 510 or can be connected to the track 510, if desired. Alternatively, the divider 600 can be spaced from the track 510. In this embodiment, the divider is spaced from the track and is separately mounted on the front rail 580. A variety of such divider constructions is discussed in the above-identified two applications which have been incorporated hereinto.
  • [0073]
    With reference now to FIG. 15, another embodiment of a means for selectively extending the operative length of the track is provided. In this embodiment, a track 610 includes a first section 612. The first section comprises a first rail 614 and a second rail 616. The rails are spaced from each other by an elongated longitudinally extending aperture 618. Defined adjacent a front end of the track first section can be a transverse slot 626. The track 510 also includes a second section 632 which comprises a first rail 634, a second rail 636 and an elongated aperture 638.
  • [0074]
    A telescoping track construction 650 is provided in this embodiment. More particularly, the telescoping construction comprises a first front flange 652 and a second front flange 654. These extend outwardly from respective first and second sidewalls 656 and 658 of the track second section 632. In this way, the track second section flanges accommodate respective rear portions 662 and 664 of sidewalls 666 and 668 of the track first section 612. The telescopic movement of the track first section in relation to the track second section is illustrated by the arrows in FIGS. 15 and 16. As can be seen, the operative length of the track 610 can be changed from a shorter length illustrated in FIG. 15 to a longer length illustrated in FIG. 16 by sliding the two track sections 612 and 632 in relation to each other. In this way, the track 610 can be lengthened or shortened to fit deeper or shallower shelving.
  • [0075]
    With reference now to FIG. 17, another embodiment of a track 700 is there illustrated. In this embodiment, the track does not include a longitudinally extending elongated aperture or slot. Rather, the track includes a first side wall 702, a second side wall 704 spaced therefrom and a top wall 706 which connects the two side walls. Defined on the first side wall is a first track 710. Defined on the second side wall is a second track 712. With reference now also to FIG. 19, it can be seen that the first and second tracks are defined as flanges which extend transversely away from the plane of the respective side wall. A front plate 716 can be defined on the track, as best shown in FIG. 17. Slidably mounted on the track 700 is a pusher or paddle 720. The pusher or paddle can include a front wall 721 which comprises a front face 722 and a rear face 724, best shown in FIG. 20. With continued reference to FIG. 20 now, the front wall 721 is mounted on a base 726. A pair of gussets 730 and 732 are located adjacent opposed side edges of the front wall 721 and extend from the front wall to the base 726. The gussets are meant to reinforce the front wall. Reinforcing stakes or ribs 734 may also be provided adjacent the side walls. The stakes can be molded together with the side walls if so desired.
  • [0076]
    Positioned atop the base 726 is a suitable coil spring 740, as is shown in FIG. 22. The coil spring is supported on a flange or shelf 748 which extends rearwardly from the front wall rear face 724 and is located between the pair of gussets 730 and 732 as is illustrated in FIG. 23. The spring 740 is looped around a distal end of the shelf 748 and then extends forward through a slot 750 defined in the front wall 721. This can also be seen in FIG. 21.
  • [0077]
    In this embodiment, a pair of guides 760 and 762 (see FIGS. 20 and 21) extend downwardly from the base 726. The guides include respective flanges 754 and 756, as illustrated in FIG. 21. With reference now again to FIG. 19, the flanges 754 and 756 are located beneath the first and second tracks 710 and 712. In other words, suitable channels 760 and 762 are defined in the pusher or paddle 720 so as to accommodate the rails 710 and 712 of the track 700. In this way, the pusher 720 is slidably mounted on the track 700, as is illustrated, e.g., in FIG. 18.
  • [0078]
    As with the embodiments of FIGS. 10-16, the track 700 can be provided with either a hinged section or a telescopic section to enable the length of the track to be adjusted for shelves of varying depths. This disclosure has described five different means for extending an operative length of a track. The first such means comprises the paddle assembly disclosed in FIGS. 1-3. A second such means includes the paddle assembly disclosed in FIGS. 4-8. A third means comprises the paddle assembly disclosed in FIG. 9. FIGS. 10-14 disclose a hinged track assembly, which comprises a fourth such means. Finally, FIGS. 15-16 disclose a telescoping track assembly, which comprises a fifth such means.
  • [0079]
    The invention has been described with reference to several embodiments, obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification. It is intended to include all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims and the equivalents thereof.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification211/59.3
International ClassificationA47F1/12, A47F1/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47F1/126
European ClassificationA47F1/12D1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 4, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: FASTENERS FOR RETAIL, INC., OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MUELLER, PAUL A.;KUMP, DANIEL J.;REEL/FRAME:017191/0983
Effective date: 20051026
Nov 16, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS AGENT, IL
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:FASTENERS FOR RETAIL, INC.;REEL/FRAME:018524/0236
Effective date: 20061115
Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS AGENT,ILL
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:FASTENERS FOR RETAIL, INC.;REEL/FRAME:018524/0236
Effective date: 20061115
Jul 13, 2011ASAssignment
Owner name: FASTENERS FOR RETAIL, INC., OHIO
Free format text: PATENT RELEASE OF PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT ORIGINALLY RECORDED AT REEL/FRAME 018524/0236;ASSIGNOR:GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS AGENT;REEL/FRAME:026582/0691
Effective date: 20110711