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Publication numberUS20060231517 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/377,933
Publication dateOct 19, 2006
Filing dateMar 16, 2006
Priority dateNov 17, 2003
Publication number11377933, 377933, US 2006/0231517 A1, US 2006/231517 A1, US 20060231517 A1, US 20060231517A1, US 2006231517 A1, US 2006231517A1, US-A1-20060231517, US-A1-2006231517, US2006/0231517A1, US2006/231517A1, US20060231517 A1, US20060231517A1, US2006231517 A1, US2006231517A1
InventorsRichard Bothun, Mark Gallea, Michael Jines, Frederick Mather, Gregg Nelson, Marty Prins, Craig Ulrich
Original AssigneeBothun Richard A, Gallea Mark E, Jines Michael D, Mather Frederick A, Nelson Gregg S, Prins Marty L, Ulrich Craig J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular storage system for logistical management of operational units
US 20060231517 A1
Abstract
An organization system according to the present invention generally includes a plurality of reconfigurable carts that can be positioned in the storage site in a generally side-by-side configuration. At least one of the carts can be movable from the storage site to the remote location independent of the other cart. The carts can include one or more selectively positionable partitions, such that the storage space is adjustably dividable into a number of defined reconfigurable modules for separable storage of the equipment.
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Claims(29)
1. An organization system for storing equipment at a storage site and transporting the equipment between the storage site and a location remote from the storage site, the system comprising:
at least first and second reconfigurable carts selectively positionable in the storage site in a generally side-by-side configuration, wherein at least first cart is movable from the storage site to the remote location independent of the other cart, said first cart including:
a base having generally opposed sides presenting a cart width and generally opposed ends presenting a cart length, the ends having end panels operably extending upwardly therefrom to a cart top, the end panels and the base generally defining a storage space therebetween, the storage space comprising a storage space height presented between the base and cart top, a storage space length presented between the end panels, and a storage space width presented between the sides;
one or more partitions selectively positioned in the storage space, such that the storage space is adjustably dividable into a number of defined reconfigurable modules for separable storage of the equipment, the partitions operably dividing at least two of the storage space height, storage space length, or storage space width to define the modules; and
ground engaging wheel assemblies operably attached to and extending below the base, such that said first cart is selectively movable on the wheel assemblies from the storage site to the remote location remote.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein one or more partitions comprise a shelf disposed intermediate the base and cart top, the shelf selectively vertically positionable in the storage space to present a first reconfigurable module above the shelf and a second reconfigurable module below the shelf.
3. The system of claim of claim 2, wherein the shelf is comprised of a wire-grille.
4. The system of claim 2, wherein the shelf is operably coupled to the end panels.
5. The system of claim 2, wherein the end panels are each comprised of a wire-grille operably attached to a tubular frame structure.
6. The system of claim 5, wherein the shelf comprises a plurality of shelf hangers having engagement members presented thereon, such that the shelf is operably coupleable to the wire-grille of the end panels with the engagement members.
7. The system of claim 2, wherein the shelf comprises a wall portion extending upwardly from an edge presented on the shelf, wherein the wall portion is configured to operably retain contents on the shelf when the first cart is selectively moved between the storage site and location remote from the storage site.
8. The system of claim 7, wherein the one or more wall portions are selectively removable from the shelf.
9. The system of claim 7, wherein the wall portions comprise netting.
10. The system of claim 2, wherein the one or more partitions comprises one or more selectively positionable dividers operably coupled to and extending upwardly from the shelf, wherein the divider portions are configured to operably divide the first reconfigurable module into two or more secondary reconfigurable modules above the shelf.
11. The system of claim 10, wherein the dividers comprise two or more generally planar portions, the planar portions operably coupleable at selective positions to define a selectively variable divider height.
12. The system of claim 1, wherein the one or more partitions comprise a panel disposed intermediate the ends, panel selectively removable from at least one of the cart sides and selectively horizontally positionable in the storage space to present a first reconfigurable module and a second reconfigurable module along the cart length.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein the one or more partitions further comprise a shelf disposed intermediate the base and cart top, the shelf selectively removable from at least one of the cart sides and selectively vertically positionable in the storage space to divide the first reconfigurable module into two or more secondary reconfigurable modules.
14. The system of claim 1, further comprising at least one track follower mechanism operably attached to the base and a track operably positioned on the floor and extending along a track axis that is generally transverse to the cart length, the track follower mechanism selectively engageable with the track such that the carts are movable only in a direction generally parallel to the track axis when the at least one track follower is selectively engaged with the track.
15. The system of claim 1, further comprising an equipment holder selectively operably coupled to at least one end panel.
16. The system of claim 1, wherein the one or more partitions comprises one or more selectively positionable divider panels, the divider panels being selectively removable and horizontally positionable between the cart sides to present a first reconfigurable module and a second reconfigurable module along the cart width.
17. The system of claim 16, wherein the divider panel is generally flexible.
18. A method of assembling an organization system for storing equipment at a storage site and transporting the equipment between the storage site and a location remote from the storage site, the method comprising:
providing at least first and second reconfigurable carts selectively positionable in the storage site in a generally side-by-side configuration, wherein at least first cart is movable from the storage site to the remote location independent of the other cart, said first cart including:
a base having generally opposed sides presenting a cart width and generally opposed ends presenting a cart length, the ends having end panels operably extending upwardly therefrom to a cart top, the end panels and the base generally defining a storage space therebetween, the storage space comprising a storage space height presented between the base and cart top, a storage space length presented between the end panels, and a storage space width presented between the sides; and
ground engaging wheel assemblies operably attached to the base, such that said first cart is selectively movable on the wheel assemblies from the storage site to the remote location remote; and
selectively positioning one or more partitions in the storage space, such that the storage space is adjustably dividable into a number of defined reconfigurable modules for separable storage of the equipment, the partitions operably dividing at least two of the storage space height, storage space length, or storage space width to define the modules; and
19. The method of claim 18, further comprising operably coupling a shelf intermediate the base and cart top, the shelf selectively vertically positionable in the storage space to present a first reconfigurable module above the shelf and a second reconfigurable module below the shelf.
20. The method of claim 19, further comprising operably coupling one or more wall portions on the shelf, such that the wall portions extending upwardly therefrom, wherein the wall portions are configured to operably retain contents on the shelf when the cart is selectively moved between the storage site and location remote from the storage site.
21. The method of claim 19, further comprising operably coupling one or more selectively positionable dividers to the shelf, such that the divider portions are configured to operably divide the storage space above the shelf.
22. The method of claim 18, further comprising operably coupling a panel intermediate the ends, the panel selectively removable from at least one of the cart sides and selectively horizontally positionable in the storage space to present a first reconfigurable module and a second reconfigurable module along the cart length.
23. The method of claim 18, further comprising operably attaching at least one track follower mechanism to the base and operably positioning a track on the floor and extending along a track axis that is generally transverse to the cart length, the track follower mechanism selectively engageable with the track such that the carts are movable only in a direction generally parallel to the track axis when the at least one track follower is selectively engaged with the track.
24. The method of claim 18, further comprising operably disposing one or more selectively positionable divider panels in the storage space, the divider panels being selectively removable and horizontally positionable between the cart sides to present a first reconfigurable module and a second reconfigurable module along the cart width.
25. A rail system for use with a transportable equipment organization system having a cart, the rail system comprising:
a rail disposed in a groove presented on a floor surface and extending along a rail path, the rail at least partially presenting a storage site, the rail comprising first and second generally opposed flanges and a channel depending from the first and second flanges and extending along the rail generally parallel to the rail path, the first and second generally opposed flanges having an upper surface and a lower surface, the rail operably positioned in the groove such that the lower surfaces of the first and second flanges operably couple the floor surface and the channel extends therebelow; and
a rail follower mechanism operably attached to a cart and selectively engageable with the channel,
such that when the at least one rail follower mechanism is selectively engaged with the channel the cart is movable along the rail within the storage site in a direction generally parallel to the rail path, and
such that when the at least one rail follower mechanism is selectively disengaged with the channel the cart can be moved on the floor and across the upper surfaces of the first and second generally opposed flanges to enable removal of the cart from the storage site.
26. The system of claim 25, wherein the rail further comprises one or more rail supports extending below the channel towards a groove base presented in the groove, such that the one or more rail supports can inhibit deformation to the rail.
27. The system of claim 25, wherein the upper surfaces of the first and second generally opposed flanges are generally ramped, such that the cart can be more easily moved across the upper surfaces.
28. The system of claim 25, wherein the rail is installed in relation to a floor that is selected from the set consisting of: the floor of a vehicle, the floor of a trailer, the floor of a storage system than includes a plurality of movable floors, an existing floor, or a newly formed floor surface.
29. The system of claim 25, wherein the rail is selected from the set consisting of a unitary rail or a rail having a plurality of sections.
Description
PRIORITY CLAIM

This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 10/990,766, entitled “MODULAR STORAGE STRUCTURE FOR LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Nov. 17, 2004, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/523,044, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Nov. 17, 2003, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/543,047, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Feb. 9, 2004, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/599,227, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Aug. 5, 2004, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/616,538, entitled “LOGISTICAL MANAGEMENT OF FIELD EQUIPMENT FOR OPERATIONAL UNITS” filed Oct. 6, 2004. The disclosures of the aforementioned applications are hereby incorporated by reference to the extent not inconsistent with the present disclosure.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to movable storage cabinets. More particularly, the present invention relates to a modular storage system for the logistical management of operational units.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Those involved in field operational units often possess or require a large amount of uniforms, supplies, and other equipment. Examples of such operational units are athletic teams, construction industries, medical and hospital organizations, military and paramilitary organizations, theatre companies, and marching and concert bands. There is currently a need within these groups for better equipment storage and handling solutions. Specifically, there is a need for a storage system that can be used to effectively store equipment at storage sites and cycle and transport the equipment between the storage sites and areas in which the equipment is used.

As an example, space is always at a premium in schools and athletic facilities. There is rarely enough room allocated for athletic equipment storage. The storage space that is made available for athletic equipment is often located in storage facilities that are inconvenient for coaches, equipment managers, and players. These storage facilities are often small, cramped rooms, closets or portions of rooms or similar sites or spaces. Storage facilities often overflow into areas that are not intended for storage purposes, such as locker rooms, gymnasiums, and coaches' offices. Equipment storage facilities are frequently messy with athletic equipment strewn about the floor. If there are storage shelves and bins, they usually do not have labels or enable the equipment managers to visually inspect or manage the gear. Equipping players at the beginning of the season is usually disorganized and characterized by piles of gear spread out over the storage facility or locker room for weeks.

Mobility is also an essential part of the storage of items for field operational units. While a permanent storage facility enables certain efficiencies to be gained by having a central location of the stored items, in many instances some of these items need to be transported to another site quickly, inexpensively, and with minimal planning. For instance, in athletic endeavors, planning and managing the practice, game, and travel logistics of teams is a complicated task and usually not the primary focus of the athletic or activities director, coaches, players, and trainers. Athletic equipment is constantly being moved through a usage cycle between “off-season” storage and “in-season” use and management. During the season, equipment constantly needs to be moved to and from storage areas, practice fields, and game sites.

Safety is also a very important aspect of equipment management. Player safety and avoidance of program and personal liability can be accomplished by effectively managing gear through regular inspections and record keeping. Regular gear inventory and inspection is critical to identify and replace expired, damaged, and lost equipment. By taking care of their equipment and knowing what equipment is on hand and “game ready,” schools can also extend equipment life and can assure purchases only as necessary. Safety also encompasses the sanitary aspects of storage. With adequate ventilation, well-designed storage can mitigate the growth and spread of mold and odor associated with locker rooms. Also, by effectively managing and organizing equipment, schools can inhibit and control loss and theft.

Moreover, in the field of athletics, equipment storage systems must reflect the pride, excellence, and the winning attitude of the schools' athletic programs. Pride and excellence are rarely reflected in current equipment management areas or processes. Messy, disorganized equipment areas do not reflect discipline, pride, or excellence. Disorganized equipment distribution to players does not support the desired tone of the program. If the storage areas are poorly kept, they do not reflect well on a school's excellence to parents, alumni, fellow educators, and recruits. The makeshift storage areas are usually in a state of disarray and can be a source of embarrassment for the schools. As a result, the areas are often shut or closed during recruiting trips to inhibit such embarrassment.

There are not any commercially available organizational storage systems meeting the current needs or addressing the current problems discussed above. As an illustration, high schools, colleges, and universities usually use storage systems ranging from makeshift and make-do systems to generic, mass-marketed products modified for use as athletic equipment storage systems. The makeshift or make-do solutions often comprise homemade wooden shelves or generic shelving available from local hardware stores. Carts are also often homemade and storage containers are usually corrugated boxes, gear bags, garbage bags, laundry hampers, or generic plastic bins. Any labeling is usually done with a marker and tape on the equipment, shelves, and boxes.

Some universities/colleges and professional sports organizations currently use expensive, high-density storage solutions such as those manufactured by Spacesaver Corporation. Such high-density storage solutions have movable shelving units carried on a rail system typically installed in a raised floor such that the shelving units can be slide together and apart to provide for more space efficient storage as shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,688,708, 6,669,314, 6,644,213, 6,371,031, 6,231,138, 6,161,485, 4,557,534, 4,432,589, and 3,829,189. Because these systems are fixed on dual tracks, those using the system are not enabled to bring the storage system to an off-site area. Those wishing to access the storage must come to the storage facility and cannot bring the storage system with them. In addition, solid panels enclose the shelves and/or bins in the storage system, which inhibits any airflow within the arrangement. Moreover, the bin and shelving arrangement within the systems are also fixed so those using the systems do not have the flexibility of being able to arrange the shelves and/or bins in appropriate dimensions for different sized articles. Also, although the storage solutions manufactured by Spacesaver Corporation have been modified to accommodate athletic equipment, the solutions are generally designed for document storage and therefore cannot fulfill all of the aforementioned equipment storage needs of logistical management units.

Other similar movable storage systems have been developed for storage units that are fixed onto and movable along dual tracks. Some exemplary systems can be seen in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,644,213, 6,371,031, 6,112,917, 6,027,190, 5,160,189, 4,597,615, 4,467,924, 4,307,922, 4,256,355, and 6,161,485. The storage units in these storage systems are movable along the dual tracks and the contents can be accessed when two adjacent units are separated by a space. However, the units in these storage systems cannot be removed from the dual tracks and taken out of the storage site. As a result, those desiring to transport equipment to an off-site area will not be able to do so using the units in the storage systems described in these patents.

There have also been systems developed in which the units are fixed relative to a wall but that can be pulled outwardly away from the wall to access the contents. U.S. Pat. No. 6,688,708 describes a space saving storage system in which the storage modules move along a bracket mounted on the wall. The storage modules are movable along the bracket and can be pulled outwardly from the wall to access the contents. However, as with the patents listed above, the units cannot be removed from the bracket and taken out of the storage facility. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,231,138, 6,027,190, and 5,683,155 describe additional fixed storage systems. The storage units described in these patents can be pulled outwardly from the wall to access the contents, but cannot be removed from the tracks and taken out of the storage facility. As a result, those desiring to transport equipment to an off-site area will not be able to do so using the units in the storage systems described in these patents.

While the vast majority of storage systems are fixed within a given facility, there have been a few attempts to provide storage units that can be removed from the storage facility. U.S. Pat. No. 4,807,765 describes a space saving system in which the storage units are movable on casters along adjacent dual track arrangements within a storage facility to provide front-to-rear movement of adjacent carts that are stored in a side-by-side relation in their storage position. While these carts could be removed from the track and taken out of the storage facility, the carts are not designed to accommodate equipment that is used by field operational units. In addition, the carts or shelves can only be removed off the end of the tracks. U.S. Pat. No. 6,241,106 is directed to a space saving system in which the storage units are shelf main bodies that are provided with pivotable casters and are movable along a dual set of overhead rails within a storage facility. While these shelf main bodies can be removed from the overhead rails so as to function as conveyer wagons, as with the above-listed patents, neither the shelf main bodies nor the overhead rails are not designed to accommodate equipment that is used by field operational units.

A patent that is directed towards an athletic equipment carrier rack can be seen in U.S. Pat. No. 2,904,383. The patent describes an athletic equipment carrier rack to be used for the care and handling of various articles of athletic equipment. However, the cart described by this patent is an isolated unit and is not designed to be incorporated into a modular storage system.

Because the deficiencies discussed above have not been addressed by conventional modular storage systems and carts, there is a current need for a modular storage cart addressing the problems and deficiencies inherent with conventional designs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The organization system and cart according to the present invention solve the deficiencies of conventional equipment storage systems by providing a system that can be used to effectively store uniforms and equipment at a storage facility and transport the equipment between the facility and remote areas in which the equipment is to be used. Unlike conventional systems, the carts according to the present invention can be selectively reconfigurable to present storage spaces of varying sizes, shapes, and configurations for accommodating uniforms and equipment of different field operational units. The organization system generally includes a plurality of reconfigurable carts positionable in the storage site in a generally side-by-side configuration. At least one of the carts can be movable from the storage site to the remote site independent of the other cart or carts.

Each of the carts can include a track follower mechanism attached to the base and a track operably positioned on the floor and extending along a track axis that is generally transverse to the cart length. The track follower mechanism is engageable with the track at the storage site such that the carts are movable only in a direction generally parallel to the track axis when the at least one track follower is selectively engaged with the track. The track can include track supports extending therebelow into a groove that is defined in the floor to inhibit deformation to the track.

An aspect of various embodiments of the present invention is that the carts can include partitions selectively positionable in the storage space, such that the storage space is adjustably dividable into a number of defined reconfigurable modules for separable storage of the equipment. The partitions can include shelves, panels, and adjustable dividers.

A shelf can be disposed intermediate the base and cart top and selectively vertically positionable in the storage space to present a first reconfigurable module above the shelf and a second reconfigurable module below the shelf. The shelf can include shelf hangers for coupling the shelf to the end panels of the cart and wall portions configured to retain contents on the shelf when the cart is moved from a storage facility. The wall portions can be ridge members or generally flexible members, such as netting.

A further aspect of various embodiments of the present invention is that the partitions can include a panel disposed intermediate the sides or ends of the cart. The panels can be removable from the cart sides and positionable in the storage space to present a first reconfigurable module and a second reconfigurable module along the cart length or width.

Because the carts according to the present invention can be selectively reconfigurable to present storage spaces of varying sizes, shapes, and configurations, the carts can be used to accommodate uniforms and equipment of many different field operational units.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a modular storage system, depicting a plurality of carts selectively engaged with a track at a storage site;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of a modular storage system, depicting a cart having a wire-grille panel and equipment disposed therein;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a modular storage system, depicting a cart having equipment disposed therein and being manually moved along a track;

FIG. 4 is a top front perspective view of a retained cart;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of a base of the retained cart of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a top front perspective view of the base of FIG. 5, depicting a wheel mechanism, track follower mechanism, and logo plate in exploded view;

FIG. 7 is a bottom front perspective view of the base of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a top front perspective view of the base of FIG. 5, depicting bumpers prior to being placed on respective frame posts;

FIG. 9 is a top front fragmentary perspective view of the frame post of the base of FIG. 8, depicting bumpers placed on respective frame posts;

FIG. 10 is a top front perspective view of the bumper of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a top front perspective view of a retained cart, depicting end frames coupled to the base;

FIG. 12 is a top front fragmentary perspective view of the frame post of the base, depicting bumpers and end frames being coupled to the base;

FIG. 13 is a top front perspective view of the end frame of FIG. 11 and wire-grille panel prior to being coupled to the end frame;

FIG. 14 is a top front perspective view of a bracket prior to being coupled to an end frame;

FIG. 15 is a top front perspective view of the bracket of FIG. 14 being coupled to an end frame;

FIG. 16 is a top front perspective view of the bracket of FIG. 14 coupled to an end frame and wire-grille panel;

FIG. 17 is a top front perspective view of a locking bracket coupled to an end frame and wire-grille panel;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of an outside portion of the bracket of FIG. 14;

FIG. 19 is an end view of the outside portion of the bracket of FIG. 18;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of an outside portion of the locking bracket of FIG. 17;

FIG. 21 is an end view of the outside portion of FIG. 20;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of an inside portion of the bracket of FIG. 14 and locking bracket of FIG. 17;

FIG. 23 is an end view of the inside portion of FIG. 22;

FIG. 24 is a top front perspective view of a handle bracket prior to being coupled to an end frame;

FIG. 25 is a top front perspective view of the handle bracket of FIG. 24 and a handle, depicting the handle bracket and handle being coupled to the end frame;

FIG. 26 is a perspective view of an inside handle bracket portion of the handle bracket of FIG. 24;

FIG. 27 is an end view of the inside handle bracket portion of FIG. 26;

FIG. 28 is a perspective view of an outside handle bracket portion of the bracket of FIG. 24;

FIG. 29 is an end view of the outside handle bracket portion of FIG. 28;

FIG. 30 is a top front perspective view of the retained cart of FIG. 11, depicting a wire-grille panel coupled to the end frame;

FIG. 31 is a top front perspective view of a cart top of the cart of FIG. 4, depicting a top panel being coupled to a pair of top panel extrusions;

FIG. 32 is a top front perspective view of the cart top of FIG. 31 being operably coupled to an end frame;

FIG. 33 is a top elevational view of the top panel extrusion of FIG. 31;

FIG. 34 is an end view of the top panel extrusion of FIG. 31;

FIG. 35 is a perspective view of the top panel extrusion of FIG. 31, depicting a roof cap being coupled to the top panel extrusion;

FIG. 36 is a top front perspective view of the end frame and wire-grille panel of FIG. 13, depicting a solid panel being coupled to the end frame and wire-grille panel;

FIG. 37 is a top front perspective view of a track;

FIG. 38 is an end view of the track of FIG. 37;

FIG. 39 is a perspective view of the track of FIG. 37, depicting spring pins prior to being coupled to the track;

FIG. 40 is a perspective view of the track of FIG. 37, depicting the track prior to being coupled to a second track member;

FIG. 41 is a perspective view of the track of FIG. 37, depicting an end cap being coupled to the track;

FIG. 42 is a perspective view of a track follower;

FIG. 43 a is a top elevational view of a plunger of the track follower of FIG. 42;

FIG. 43 b is a side elevational view of the plunger of FIG. 43 a;

FIG. 44 a is a side elevational view of a roller of the track follower of FIG. 42;

FIG. 44 b is a top elevational view of the roller of FIG. 44 a;

FIG. 44 c is a cross-sectional view of the roller of FIG. 44 a;

FIG. 45 is an elevational view of the shoulder bolt of a track follower;

FIG. 46 is a perspective view of the plunger guide of a track follower mechanism;

FIG. 47 is a top front perspective view of a modular cart;

FIG. 48 is an exploded view of a base of the cart of FIG. 47;

FIG. 49 is a top front perspective view of the base of FIG. 48;

FIG. 50 a is a perspective view of a wheel mechanism of the cart of FIG. 47, depicting the wheel mechanism being coupled to the base of FIG. 47;

FIG. 50 b is a side view of the wheel mechanism of FIG. 50 a;

FIG. 50 c is a front view of the wheel mechanism of FIG. 50 a;

FIG. 51 is an exploded view of a track follower mechanism;

FIG. 52 is a perspective view of a plunger clip of the track follower mechanism of FIG. 51;

FIG. 53 is a perspective view of a backer of the track follower mechanism of FIG. 51;

FIG. 54 is a perspective view of the track follower mechanism of FIG. 51;

FIG. 55 is a top front perspective view of a modular cart, depicting bypass doors in a closed configuration;

FIG. 56 is a top front perspective view of the cart of FIG. 55, depicting the bypass doors in an open configuration and equipment disposed therein;

FIG. 57 a is a cross-sectional view of a bypass door track;

FIG. 57 b is a side elevational view of the bypass door track of FIG. 57 a;

FIG. 57 c is a top elevational view of the bypass door track of FIG. 57 a;

FIG. 58 is a side elevational view of a bypass door glide;

FIG. 59 is a cross sectional view of the bypass door glide of FIG. 58;

FIG. 60 a is a front elevational view of a bypass door;

FIG. 60 b is a side elevational view of the bypass door of FIG. 60 a;

FIG. 60 c is a front elevational view of the bypass door of FIG. 60 a;

FIG. 61 is an exploded view of a bypass door latch being coupled to the bypass door of FIG. 60 a;

FIG. 62 is an exploded view of a bypass door latch being coupled to the bypass door of FIG. 60 a;

FIG. 63 is an exploded view of a bypass door roller being coupled to the bypass door of FIG. 60 a;

FIG. 64 a is an exploded view of a bypass door glide of the bypass door of FIG. 60 a;

FIG. 64 b is an exploded view of a bypass door of FIG. 64 a without a glide;

FIG. 65 is a perspective view of a first bypass door according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 66 is a fragmentary perspective view of the bypass door of FIG. 65;

FIG. 67 is a perspective view of a second bypass door according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 68 is a perspective view of a bypass door roller of the bypass door of FIG. 65;

FIG. 69 is a fragmentary perspective view of a wire-grille panel and truss system;

FIG. 70 is a side elevational view of a double truss;

FIG. 71 a is a rear perspective view of a truss hanger;

FIG. 71 b is a front perspective view of the truss hanger of FIG. 71 a;

FIG. 72 is a front perspective view of a shelf hanger;

FIG. 73 is a fragmentary perspective view of a truss, depicted with equipment disposed thereon;

FIG. 74 is a perspective view of a helmet hanger;

FIG. 75 is a perspective view of a cart having a plurality of helmet hangers disposed therein, depicting fully populated helmet hangers;

FIG. 76 is a perspective view of a long pad hanger;

FIG. 77 is a perspective view of a short pad hanger;

FIG. 78 is a perspective view of a retained cart, depicting fully populated pad hangers;

FIG. 79 is a perspective view of a pad hanger according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 80 is a perspective view of a hanger according to a third embodiment;

FIG. 81 is a perspective view of a cart having fully populated pad stackers;

FIG. 82 is a perspective view of a cart having an unpopulated pad stacker;

FIG. 83 is a perspective view of a pad stacker;

FIG. 84 a is an elevational view of a pad tower of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 84 b is bottom elevational view of a pad tower of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 84 c is an elevational view of a pad tower of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 84 d is a perspective view of a pad tower of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 85 a is a side elevational view of a base of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 85 b is a top elevational view of a base of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 85 c is a side elevational view of a base of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 86 a is a side elevational view of a pad support of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 86 b is a side elevational view of a pad support of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 86 c is a top elevational view of a pad support of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 87 a is a perspective view of a support channel of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 87 b is a side elevational view of a support channel of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 87 c is a top elevational view of a support channel of the pad stacker of FIG. 83;

FIG. 88 is a perspective view of a modular cart;

FIG. 89 is a perspective view of the track follower of a cart and a track, depicting the track follower in an engaged configuration;

FIG. 90 is a perspective view of the track follower track of FIG. 89, depicting the track follower in an engaged position prior to being disengaged using a foot;

FIG. 91 is a perspective view of the track follower track of FIG. 89, depicting the track follower in an disengaged position after being disengaged using a foot;

FIG. 92 is a perspective view of a modular cart, depicting the cart partially outside of the storage site;

FIG. 93 a is a perspective view of the track follower of a modular cart and a track, depicting the track follower in a locked position by a plunger lock bracket;

FIG. 93 b is a perspective view of the plunger lock bracket of FIG. 93 a;

FIG. 94 is a perspective view of a modular cart, track, and island stop;

FIG. 95 is a perspective view of an island stop base of the island stop of FIG. 94;

FIG. 96 is a perspective view of a retained cart having an attic;

FIG. 97 is a perspective view of the attic of FIG. 96;

FIG. 98 a is a perspective view of an attic frame of the attic of FIG. 96;

FIG. 98 b is a side elevational view of the attic frame of FIG. 98 a;

FIG. 98 c is a side elevational view of an attic frame;

FIG. 99 is a cross-sectional view of a cart having a video system in an employed position;

FIG. 100 is a cross-sectional view of the cart of FIG. 99 depicting the video system in an unemployed position;

FIG. 101 is a side elevational view of the cart of FIG. 98;

FIG. 102 is a perspective view of a cart having two shelves in a side-by-side configuration depicting the shelves extending substantially along the length of the cart between front and rear end panels;

FIG. 103 is a perspective view of a shelf having two shelf channels operably coupled to an underside thereof;

FIG. 104 is a perspective view of a shelf hanger having engagement members operably coupled to a wire-grille end panel;

FIG. 105 is a fragmentary perspective view of a shelf prior to being operably coupled to a shelf hanger;

FIG. 106 is a fragmentary perspective view of a shelf of FIG. 105 after being operably coupled to a shelf hanger depicting the shelf channel pin operably positioned in the shelf hanger;

FIG. 107 is a perspective view of a cart having two shelves in a side-by-side configuration depicting the shelves extending only partially along the length of the cart;

FIG. 108 is a perspective view of a cart having a shelf and an adjustable divider selectively position and operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 109 is a perspective view of a shelf and an adjustable divider prior to being operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 110 is a perspective view of the adjustable divider of FIG. 109 being operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 111 a-111 e are perspective views of an adjustable divider being adjusted in height.

FIG. 112 is a perspective view of a cart having a shelf extending substantially along the length of the cart between front and rear end panels and a pair of shelf lips operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 113 is a perspective view of a shelf lip;

FIG. 114 is a fragmentary perspective view of a shelf and a shelf lip prior to being operably coupled to the shelf, with arrows indicating the position of the shelf lip relative to the shelf;

FIG. 115 is a fragmentary perspective view of the shelf lip of FIG. 114 being operably coupled to the shelf, with arrows indicating the position of the shelf lip relative to the shelf;

FIG. 116 is a perspective view of a cart having a shelf configuration depicting the shelf extending only partially along the length of the cart and a pair of shelf lips operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 117 is a perspective view of a cart having a shelf and a cart divider operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 118 is a side elevational view of a cart divider;

FIG. 119 is a fragmentary view of a wire-grille end panel depicting the eyelet of the cart divider operably coupled to the wire-grille end panel with a tie;

FIG. 120 is a perspective view of a cart having a configuration depicting the card divider extending only partially along the length of the cart;

FIG. 121 is a perspective view of a cart having a shelf extending substantially along the length of the cart between front and rear end panels and a pair of shelf nets operably coupled to the shelf;

FIG. 122 is a perspective view of a shelf net;

FIG. 123 is a fragmentary perspective view of a shelf and end panel and a shelf net operably coupled to the end panel proximate the shelf;

FIG. 124 is a perspective view of a cart having a shelf configuration depicting the shelf extending only partially along the length of the cart and a shelf net operably coupled to the end panel and a grill divider proximate the shelf;

FIG. 125 is a perspective view of a bat/racquet holder;

FIG. 126 is a side elevational view of a bat/racquet holder;

FIG. 127 is a perspective view of a bat/racquet holder with its engagement member operably coupled to a wire-grille end panel and a plurality of bat operably hung on recesses formed on the bat/racquet holder;

FIG. 128 is a fragmentary perspective view of a track operably coupled in a groove defined on the floor; and

FIG. 129 is an end view of the track depicted in FIG. 128.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As depicted in FIGS. 1-3, a modular storage system 110 according to an embodiment of the present invention generally comprises a track 114 and one or more carts 112, 212. The carts 112 are arranged in a storage facility along a single track 114. The storage facility can be a retrofitted area of an already existing facility or the storage facility can be designed and implemented into a newly constructed facility. In an already existing facility, the track 114 can be positioned onto and connected to a pre-selected portion of a floor. In a newly constructed facility, the track 114 can be integrated directly into or onto a newly formed floor.

The modular storage system as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 includes a mixture of retained carts 112 (as shown in FIG. 3) and modular carts 212 (as shown in FIG. 55). As can be seen in FIG. 3, the retained carts 112 populated with uniforms and equipment are preferably movable by manual force in a direction that is generally parallel to and along the track 114. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the modular carts 212 are also preferably movable along the track 114. In addition to being movable along the track 114, the modular carts 212 can also be removed from the storage site 11 and taken to an off-site location.

It will be understood that the mixture of retained carts 112 and modular carts 212 can be of any number and mix, depending upon the length of the track 114 installed at the storage facility and the width of each cart 112, 212. It will also be appreciated that any number of tracks 114 could be installed in a variety of floor plan configurations at a given storage facility given the dimensions of the floor plan of the storage facility. As shown in FIG. 1, some of the retained carts 112 are full width (112 a) and others are half width (112 b). Preferably, all of the carts 112, 212 have a similar length, although this is not required. For purposes of describing the various embodiments of the present invention, the carts 112, 212 will be referred to as having a width in a direction generally parallel to the track 114 and a length in a direction generally perpendicular to the track 114. Similarly, the carts 112, 212 will have sides oriented along the length of the carts and ends oriented along the width of the carts.

The carts 112, 212 generally comprise a reconfigurable storage structure that includes a number of different means for storing uniforms, equipment, and other items used by field operational units. The modular storage system 110 as depicted in the figures is designed to accommodate high school athletic equipment. As such, the following description of different means for storing uniforms, equipment, and other items is generally directed to athletic equipment storage. However, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the storage structures and means could be easily used to accommodate a number of different operational units, including, but not limited to, construction industries, medical and hospital organizations, military and paramilitary organizations, theatre companies, and marching and concert bands.

In addition, the arrangement of the track 114 and carts 112, 212 enable users to come to the storage facility, quickly find their equipment in a particular cart, move the carts along the track to access the appropriate cart, remove their equipment from the cart, and move on to an off-storage-site location with the necessary equipment. Because the uniforms and equipment are organized and arranged within the carts, those persons who monitor and track the equipment to be stored in the modular storage system 110 are able to determine what equipment remains within the storage facility and what equipment is being used at an offsite location. When users return to the storage facility to return their uniforms or equipment, they can give the uniforms and equipment to the persons responsible for monitoring and tracking the equipment, who can then return the equipment to the proper cart within the storage facility. Alternatively, users can return their own equipment to the proper cart within the storage facility.

Because the modular carts 212 can be taken out of the confines of the storage facility and transported to an off-site location, the modular storage system 110 of the present invention permits operational units that require large amounts of uniforms and various pieces of equipment to transport the uniforms and equipment in an organized manner. By doing so, the units are much less likely to forget or lose track of the uniforms and equipment. For example, military units often travel with large amounts of gear including uniforms, weapons, first aid kits, tents, cots, ammunition, and other equipment. When the military unit must travel, the logistics of transporting the members and equipment can create pose significant logistical problems. However, by using a modular storage system 110 according to the various embodiments of the present invention, the military unit can travel in an organized manner. Each uniform and piece of equipment can have a position within the carts 112, 212 when leaving a storage facility and when arriving at a destination. Because the equipment does not need to be removed from the cart during transportation, much time and effort can be saved by not having to load and unload any containers.

Also, when inventory is taken prior to leaving a storage facility, inventorying is not required when arriving at a destination as there is no need to remove anything from the cart. These same benefits occur with other operational units such as athletic teams, construction industries, medical and hospital organizations, theatre companies, marching and concert bands, police and fire departments, and medical rescue teams.

Description of the Retained Carts

Referring to FIGS. 3-12, embodiments of the retained cart will be described. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 100's are generally used to denote the base features and components of the retained carts 112. The retained carts 112 are preferably retained within the storage facility during normal use and not designed to be removable from the storage facility. In order to be removed from the storage facility, the retained carts 112 generally would need to be lifted out of the track 114 by selectively releasing them from the confines of the track 114 and then carried out of the storage facility (i.e., to a location other than the location of the track 114). Alternatively, the track 114 may be removed in order to permit the retained carts 114 to be removed from the storage facility.

As depicted in FIG. 4, a retained cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention preferably comprises a cart base 116, a cart top 122, a front end 118, and a rear end 120 opposed the front end 18. The cart base 116, cart top 122, front end 118, and rear end 120 generally define a reconfigurable storage structure. The front end 118, rear end 120, and cart top 122 preferably have substantially similar structure on both the retained cart 112 and modular cart 212. As such, the discussion of the front end 118, rear end 120, and cart top 122 with respect to the retained cart 112 is therefore relevant and incorporated by reference to the later discussion with respect to the modular cart 212. For purposes of this description, front is used to reference the end of the cart base that, when in position on the track 114, is closest to the track 114. Rear is used to reference the end of the cart base 116 that is furthest from the track 114.

The cart base 116 of the retained cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention, as depicted in FIGS. 5-8, preferably comprises a bottom 124, a pair of opposed base sides 130 a, 130 b connected to the bottom 124, a front plate 126, and an opposed rear plate 128. The front plate 126 and rear plate 128 are operably connected to a bottom front 132 and a bottom rear 134, respectively, wherein the bottom front 132 and bottom rear 134 are preferably substantially perpendicular to the opposed sides 130 a, 130 b. As can be seen in FIG. 2, the bottom 124, front plate 126, rear plate 128, and base sides 130 a, 130 b generally define a storage basement 117 that can be used to store various equipment or articles below a horizontal level of a top surface of base sides 130 a, 130 b. The bottom 124, front plate 126, rear plate 128, and base sides 130 a, 130 b are preferably constructed of sheet steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composites materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The cart base 116 further preferably comprises a plurality of preferably cylindrical frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d disposed on the base sides 130 a, 130 b where the base sides 130 a, 130 b intersect the front plate 126 and rear plate 128. The frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d preferably include a post slot 171 such that the base sides 130 a, 130 b and frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d can be connected by sliding the post slots 171 onto the base sides 130 a, 130 b. Although the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d are depicted as being cylindrical in shape, it is contemplated that they may be square, rectangular, or any other geometric shape. The frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

As depicted in FIG. 5, the front plate 126 and rear plate 128 are preferably “C” or channel shaped and comprise concave-shaped plate ends 146 so that the plates 126, 128 substantially abut the cylindrical frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d when the cart base 116 is assembled. The front plate 126 and rear plate 128 are preferably connected to the bottom 124 using fasteners 800. The terms “fastener” as used in this application includes screw, bolt, nut, rivet, snap, or other generally known mechanical fasteners. Although the plates 126, 128 are depicted as being “C” or channel shaped, it is contemplated that they be curved or flat. As depicted in FIG. 6, the front plate preferably includes a logo plate 144.

While the preferred embodiment of the present invention describes the operable connection of various members and elements of the carts 112, 212 with the use of mechanical fasteners 800, the various components of the carts 112, 212 could be assembled by welding or gluing in an alternative embodiment. It will be understood, however, that this alternate embodiment of assembling the carts 112, 212 does not facilitate easily on-site assembly of the carts 112, 212 as is provided for by the preferred embodiment.

The cart base 116 further preferably comprises a pair of opposed beams 164 a, 164 b disposed on and extending along the base sides 130 a, 130 b between the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. The beams 164 a, 164 b are preferably tubular in shape and comprise concave shaped beam ends 166 so that the beams 164 a, 164 b substantially abut the cylindrical frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. While the beam cross-sections as depicted are tubular in shape, it is contemplated that the beams nave a different shaped cross-section, such as square, rectangular, flat, or other various geometric shapes. The beams 164 a, 164 b are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The bottom 124 preferably comprises a top surface 136, an underside 138 opposed the top surface 136, and a plurality of wheel slots 140 extending from the top surface 136 through the underside 138. The wheel slots 140 are preferably located proximate the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, and 168 d. The bottom 124 further comprises a support bar 142 that is disposed on the underside 138 extending substantially between the opposed base sides 130 a, 130 b. The support bar 142 as depicted has a square-shaped cross-section although it is contemplated that the support bar 142 be flat or tubular in shape. The support bar 142 can be constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials or plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Each wheel slot 140 preferably comprises an axle plate 150 having an axle pin aperture 158 and a plurality of axle plate tabs 160.

The cart base 116 further preferably comprises a plurality of wheels covers 148, each wheel cover 148 having a plurality of axle pin apertures 152, a plurality of wheel cover tabs 154, and a plurality of axle plate tab slots 156. When the wheel cover 148 is placed onto the bottom 124 of the cart base 116, the wheel cover 148 preferably extends between the opposed sides 130 a, 130 b. In this position, the wheel cover tabs 154 are inserted into a plurality of wheel cover tab slots 162 included on the bottom 124 of the cart base 116 and the axle plate tabs 160 on the axle plates 150 are inserted into the axle plate tab slots 156 on the wheel covers 148. The wheel cover tabs 154 and axle plate tabs 160 assist in holding the axle plates 150 and wheel covers 148 in place. The wheel covers 148 and axle plates 150 are preferably constructed of sheet steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials or plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The components of the above-described cart base 116 are preferably selected, configured, and assembled so that the base 116 has a structural integrity and strength sufficient so that when the carts 112 are moved along the track 114, the carts 112 will not canter, flex, or bend by more than S degrees from normal to the track 114, and preferably by no more than 2-3 degrees from normal. By having such a structural integrity, when the carts 112 are moved along the track 114, the cart will not bind on the track 114, thus enabling easy manual movement of the carts 112 along the preferred embodiment of a single track 114. As a result of this preferred structural integrity, the present invention is able to dispense with the need for dual track arrangements as is generally taught in the modular storage systems of the prior art.

With continuing reference to FIG. 6, the cart base 116 preferably comprises at least three wheel mechanisms 172. The wheel mechanisms 172 on the retained cart 112 are generally axle-type wheels and generally comprise a wheel 174 having a wheel aperture 176, an axle pin 178 extending through the wheel aperture 176, and a plurality of washers 180. To connect each wheel 174 to the cart base 116, prior to placing the wheel covers 148 onto the cart base 116, the axle pin 178 is first inserted through the axle pin aperture 152 in the wheel cover 148. The axle pin 178 is then preferably inserted through a washer 180, the wheel aperture 176, through more washers 180, and then through the axle pin aperture 158 in the axle plate 150. The axle pin 178 is then connected to the wheel cover 148 by inserting a fastener 800 through a portion of the axle pin 178 into the wheel cover 148. The axle pins 178 and washers 180 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys or graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. When the wheel mechanisms 172 are installed on the cart base 116, at least a portion of the wheels 174 extends below the underside 138 of the bottom 124. The wheels 174 are preferably constructed of nylon or polyolefin, such as part number PB0820112WS02 from Tricker Caster & Wheel Sales in Fairbault, Minn., although other equivalent polymer materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In an embodiment, a total of four wheel mechanisms 172 are utilized, with one pair of wheel mechanisms 172 on each end of the cart base 116. It will be understood that any number of wheel mechanism 172 greater than two could be incorporated into the design of the cart base 116 to decrease the weight load per wheel mechanism 172, for example, by providing additional wheel mechanisms 172 positioned at different points along the length of the cart base 116. In another embodiment of the present invention, the wheel 174 could be a caster wheel or ball wheel.

The cart base 116 further comprises at least one track follower mechanism 182. The track follower mechanism 182 can be seen in FIG. 5 and in greater detail in FIGS. 42-46. As depicted in the figures, the retained cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention includes two track follower mechanisms 182 positioned at opposite sides of the front end 118, although it is contemplated that the carts 112 could include one or more track follower mechanisms 182 positioned to engage the track 104 wherever the track 114 is positioned relative to the length of the carts 112, 212. For example, in an alternate embodiment, the track 114 and corresponding track follower mechanisms 182 could be positioned proximate the rear end 120 of the carts 112 or the track followers 182 could be positioned at any position along the length of the cart 112, for example, in the middle of the length of the cart 112. It will be understood, however, that the advantage of the positioning of the track follower mechanisms 182 on the front end of the carts 112 permits for easy following of a single track with the ability to manually move the carts 112 with a minimum amount of effort.

The track follower mechanism 182 comprises a track follower 184 having a plunger 186 that can be cylindrical in shape and a roller 192 connected to the plunger 186 using a shoulder bolt 194. The frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d preferably include a plunger guide 190, such that when the track follower mechanism 182 is inserted into the frame post 168, the plunger 186 of the track follower mechanism 182 rests within the plunger guide 190. Once the plunger 186 rests within the plunger guide 190, the roller 192 can be connected to the plunger 186 using the shoulder bolt 194. In this position, the track follower mechanism 182 is vertically movable and rotatable about the plunger 186 within the frame post 168 in the plunger guide 190. When the track follower mechanism 182 is inserted into the frame posts 168 a, 168 d, the track follower roller 192 extends below the frame posts 168 a, 168 d. A plunger cap 188 on the plunger 186 opposite the shoulder bolt 194 inhibits the track follower mechanism 182 from falling out of the frame post 168. The roller 192 can be constructed of glass-filled nylon, although other materials such as steel, aluminum, bronze, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The plunger 186, shoulder bolt 194, and plunger guide 190 are preferably constructed of steel or aluminum, although other materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The cart base 116 further preferably includes a plurality of bumpers 196. As depicted in FIGS. 8-12, the bumpers 196 are preferably cylindrical or donut-shaped and preferably comprise a bumper clearance aperture 198 and a bumper flat surface 199. The bumpers 196 are placed onto the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d so that the bumper clearance apertures 198 are substantially aligned with post clearance apertures 170 that are included on the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. In this position the bumper flat surfaces 199 on the bumpers 196 proximate the rear plate 128 substantially face one another and the bumper flat surfaces 199 on the bumpers 196 proximate the front plate 126 substantially face one another. This flat surface 199 extends laterally beyond vertical members 304 of frames 302 to provide clearance for any panels that are placed onto the carts 112. The bumpers 196 are preferably constructed of nylon, although other materials such as rubber or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The bumpers 196 protect adjacent carts 112, 212 when the carts 112, 212 are moved along the track 114 within the storage facility. If a first cart 112 is moved towards a second cart 112, such that the carts 112 contact one another, the bumpers 196 on the first cart 112 will contact the bumpers 196 of a second cart 112 rather than other parts of the carts 112 coming into contact with one another. As the bumpers 196 are constructed of nylon or other similar resilient materials, they will absorb the forces exerted when adjacent carts 12 are moved into an abutting relation along the track 14.

The cart as depicted in FIG. 4 also preferably comprises a front end 118 and a rear end 120, each end 118, 120 preferably comprising a frame 302 and a wire-grille panel 300 connected to the frame 302 using a plurality of brackets 310. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 300's are generally used to denote the features and components of frame, ends and top of the retained carts 112. The frame 302 comprises a pair of generally opposed vertical members 304 connected by a substantially horizontal member 306. As depicted in FIGS. 11-12, to connect the frames 302 to the cart base 116, the lower portion 305 of the vertical members 304 are inserted into the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d. Once the frame 302 is inserted into the frame posts 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, 168 d, a fastener 800 is inserted through the bumper clearance aperture 94, through the frame post aperture 170, and into the aperture in the frame. While the frames as depicted are tubular in shape, it is contemplated that the frames have a different shaped cross-section, such as square, rectangular, flat, or other various geometric shapes. The frames 302 are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The wire-grille panel 300 can be constructed of wire steel, although other materials such as mesh or plastic wire could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

In an embodiment, the wire-grille panel 300 enables air to move within the cart 112. When uniforms or wearable equipment are placed into the cart 112, the air movement will enable the uniforms and wearable equipment to dry out, inhibiting any mold, fungus, or bacteria from forming and spreading on the uniforms and wearable equipment. Preferably, the wire-grille panels 300 have an at least 25% opening in the panel and optionally an at least 50% and up to 95% opening. Although the panels 300 are preferably constructed as wire-grilles, solid panels with equivalent cut out apertures could also be utilized to achieve the desired airflow.

The brackets 310 are generally used to connect the wire-grille panel 300, or a solid panel 326 as depicted in FIG. 36, to the frames 302. As depicted in FIGS. 14-22, the brackets 310 comprise an inside bracket portion 312 and an outside bracket portion 314. In order to connect the wire-grille panel 300 to the frame 302, the wire-grille panel 300 is placed into the frame 302 and the inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314 are placed together so that they capture the frame 302 and wire-grille panel 300. The inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314 are then connected using a plurality of fasteners 800.

As depicted in FIG. 17, the bracket 310 can also include a lock portion 316. When one desires to connect adjacent carts 12 in a modular storage system 10, brackets 310 comprising lock portions 316 are included. To lock adjacent carts 112 together, adjacent carts 112 including lock portions 316 are placed together. A lock is then inserted into the lock portions 316 of each bracket 310 and then secured. The brackets 310 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Once the frames 302 and wire-grille panels 300 or solid panels 326 have been installed on the cart base 116, the cart base 116, and panels on the front end 118 and rear end 120 generally define a storage structure. As discussed below, the storage structure can be reconfigurable and can be used to store uniforms, wearable equipment, equipment, gear and other various articles for equipping field operational units.

As depicted in FIGS. 4 and 30, the front end 118 further preferably comprises a handle 324 connected to the frame 302 with a handle bracket 318 having an inside handle bracket portion 320 and outside handle bracket portion 322. Once the wire-grille panel 300 has been positioned in the frame 302, the inside handle bracket portion 320 and outside handle bracket portion 322 are placed together so that they capture the frame 302 and wire-grille panel 300. Fasteners 800 are then inserted through the inside handle bracket portion 320 and outside handle bracket portion 322 and into the handles 324. The handles 324 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The ends of the carts 112 can also preferably include labeling panels that can be attached to the wire-grille panels 300 or solid panels 326. By including a labeling panel, those using the carts 112 can determine what the cart 112 contains without needing to look within the cart, but by merely looking at the labeling panel.

As stated above, and as depicted in FIG. 36, the front end 118 and rear end 120 can also include a solid panel 326. Once the wire-grille panel 300 has been positioned in the frame 302, the solid panel 326 is then positioned in the frame 302. The inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314 are then placed together so that they capture the frame 302 and wire-grille panel 300. Fasteners 800 are then inserted through the inside bracket portion 312 and outside bracket portion 314. In an embodiment of the present invention, the solid panel 326 is substantially the same size as the wire-grille panel 300.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the solid panel 326 comprises a plurality of solid panel 326 sections selectively positioned on the wire-grille panel 300. In another embodiment of the present invention, the carts 112 could comprise a solid panel 326 without using a wire-grille panel 300. In an embodiment, the solid panels 326 are preferably constructed of ⅝″ veneer core plywood with a laminate overlay, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

As depicted in FIG. 4, the cart 112 also preferably comprises a top 122, which can be seen in greater detail in FIGS. 31-35. The cart top 122 generally comprises a top panel 328 extending from the front frame 302 a to the rear frame 302 b and a plurality of top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b positioned on opposing sides of the top panel 328 and extending substantially along the length of the top panel 328. The top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b are preferably connected to top panel 328 using a plurality of fasteners 800. As can be seen in the figures, the top panel extrusions preferably have a profile that matches the profile of the end frames 302 where the vertical members 304 intersect the horizontal member 306. The top panel 328 is positioned on support brackets 308 disposed on the horizontal member 306 of the frames 302. Once the top panel 328 is positioned on support brackets 308, it is then preferably connected to the support brackets 308 using fasteners 800.

Once the top panel 328 is connected to the frames 302 a, 302 b, the top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b are connected to the top panel 328 using fasteners 800. Roof caps 332 are then connected to the top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b using fasteners 800. The roof caps 332 protect the top panel extrusions 330 a, 330 b and provide a more aesthetically appealing appearance. The top panels 328 are preferably constructed of ⅝″ veneer core plywood with a laminate overlay, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The roof caps 332 are preferably constructed of 14-gauge steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

As depicted in FIGS. 96-98, the cart 112, in an embodiment of the present invention, an attic 334 is disposed on the cart top 122 of the cart 112. The attic 334 comprises a pair of generally opposed attic frames 336 a, 336 b separated by and connected to an attic top 338. The attic 334 further preferably comprises attic wire-grille panels 340 connected to the attic frames 336 a, 336 b using brackets 342 that are substantially similar to brackets 310 described above. The attic top 338 can be the same length as the cart top 122. The attic 334 is assembled substantially as described with reference to earlier discussion of the construction and materials of the cart 112, the earlier discussion being incorporated with reference to the attic 334.

As depicted in FIGS. 55-56, the retained cart 112 and modular cart 212 can further comprise a bypass door mechanism 344. The bypass door mechanism 344 comprises at least one bypass door 350, a bottom door track 348, and a top door track 346. The at least one bypass door 350 can be constructed of ⅝″ veneer core plywood with a laminate overlay, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The door tracks 346, 348 are preferably constructed of extruded aluminum, although other materials such as alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, the bypass doors 350 comprise a bottom door glide 354 and a top door glide 352 connected to the bottom 353 and top 351 of the bypass door 350, respectively. As depicted in FIG. 64 a, the glides 354, 352 are connected to the bypass door 350 using fasteners 800. The bypass door 350 also preferably comprises a latch mechanism 360 connected to the bypass door 350 using fasteners 800, as can be seen in FIG. 61-62. The bottom door glide 354 preferably comprises a plurality of door rollers 356. As depicted in FIG. 63, the door rollers 356 are connected to the bottom door glide 354 using fasteners 800 and door roller plate 358. The door glides 354, 352 are preferably constructed of extruded aluminum, although other materials such as steel, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The latch mechanisms 360 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The door rollers 356 are preferably constructed of sintered bronze, although other materials such as nylon, urethane, or various polymer materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

An alternative embodiment of the bypass door 350 b can be seen in FIGS. 65-68. The door 350 b of this embodiment comprises a plurality of door rollers 356 b disposed on the bottom of the door 350 b and a plurality of door claws 362 disposed at the top 351 b of the door 350 b. When the doors 350 b are assembled on the cart 12, the claws 362 slide along the top door track 346 b disposed on the top 351 b of the door 350 b.

The Track

The modular storage system 110 preferably comprises a single track 114. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 400's are generally used to denote the features and components of the track 114. Although a single track 114 can be utilized, it will be understood that for certain aspects of the present invention, a plurality of tracks 114 may be provided and utilized within the scope of those aspects of the present invention.

As depicted in FIGS. 37-41, the track 114 of the modular storage system 110 generally comprises a track length 400, a track width 402, a channel 404 extending along the track length 400, and a pair of generally opposed ramped surfaces 406, the ramped surfaces 406 being perpendicular to the track length 400. In an embodiment of the present invention, the track length 400 comprises a unitary, integral track section. In another embodiment of the present invention, the track 114 comprises separate track sections connected using a plurality of spring pins 408. As depicted in FIGS. 39-40, to connect separate track portions, the spring pins 408 are inserted into a cross-section of the track 114 and the portions are then placed together.

For cross-sections of the track 114 that end in the middle of a room, i.e., not at a wall, a track cap 410 having dimensions that are substantially the same as the exposed cross-section can be connected to the track 114 using fasteners 800 to inhibit the carts 112, 212 from moving beyond the track length 400. The track cap 410 also protects the exposed cross-section and provides a pleasing appearance. The track 14 can be constructed of extruded aluminum, although other materials such as steel could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The spring pins 408 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, bronze, or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The track caps 410 are preferably constructed of 16-gauge steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the track 114 can be installed into a newly formed surface. In this embodiment, the ramped surfaces 406 would not be required, as the channel 404 would be incorporated below the surface of a floor.

Referring to FIG. 128, an in-ground track 800 can comprise a pair of generally opposed and planar flanges 802 that rest upon the floor. A portion of the track 800 can extend into the groove that is defined below the surface of the floor. The portion of the track 800 extending below the surface of the floor generally comprises a pair of side walls 806 for guiding a track follower along the length of the track 800. The in-ground track 800 can also comprise one or more T-shaped track supports 808 extending below the track 800. The track 800 supports can inhibit deformation of the track 800 into the groove if a great and/or non-uniform downward force is place on the track 800. The track can be operably coupled to the floor using fasteners 810, such as screws. Alternatively, the track 800 can rest in the groove with gravity or can be operably coupled to the groove with an adhesive, such as glue or epoxy.

The track 114 could also be installed on the floor of a vehicle, the floor of a trailer, or the floor of a storage system than includes a plurality of movable floors.

As described above, an “in-ground” track can be used in conjunction with the modular storage system for selectively and engageably tracking modular or retained carts thereto. Such a track can be incorporated into or operably coupled in a groove defined on a floor in a new or existing facility. The floor and groove defined therein are described in greater detail below. By incorporating or coupling the track in a groove defined in the floor, as opposed to on the surface of the floor, the overall height of the track can be minimized. This can enable a user to move a cart over a track with minimal force and gravitational resistance. This configuration can also inhibit any structure protruding from the floor, thus providing numerous aesthetic and operational benefits.

Referring to FIGS. 128 and 129, an in-ground track 800 generally comprises a first generally planar elongate track flange 802 and a second generally opposed and generally planar elongate track flange 804. As will be described in greater detail below, the track flanges 802, 804 can provide structure for a track 800 to rest upon when the track 800 is disposed in a groove that is incorporated into the floor.

The track 800 further generally comprises a first elongate track channel wall 806 and a second generally opposed elongate track channel wall 808, the track channel walls 806, 808 operably depending from the first and second track flanges 802, 804, respectively. The track channel walls 806, 808 can depend from a flange edge 816 included on the respective track flanges 802, 804, as generally depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129. Alternatively, the track channel walls 806, 808 can depend from a portion intermediately positioned on the track flanges 802, 804. The track channel walls 806, 808 can be integrally formed with or operably coupled to the track flanges 802, 804.

Referring to FIG. 129, the track 800 also generally comprises a generally planar elongate track base 810 operably coupled to the wall lower end 838 of the first and second track channel walls 806, 808. The track base 810 can be generally parallel the track flanges 802, 804. In addition the track base 810 can be integrally formed with or operably coupled to the track channel walls 806, 808.

The track channel walls 806, 808 and track base 810 generally define a track channel 812 therein that is configured to guide a track follower mechanism (not depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129) when the track follower mechanism is operably selectively engaged with the track 800. As generally depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129, the track channel 812 comprises a cross section that is generally rectangular in shape. The track channel 812 alternatively can comprise a cross section of any number of shapes or configurations, such as square, triangle, or other polyhedron. In general, the track channel 812 comprises a shape defined such that it can correspond with the general shape of a track follower on a track follower mechanism.

Referring to FIG. 129, as described above, each of the elongate track flanges 802, 804 is generally operably coupled to a respective track channel walls 806, 808 with a flange edge 816 on an upper end 838 of the track channel walls 806, 808 that is defined between the track flanges 802, 804 and the respective track channel walls 806, 808. The flange edge 816 can be generally curvilinear (as depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129) or generally linear. The flange edge 816 can provide the junction between the track flanges 802, 804 and respective track channel walls 806, 808 with additional stability and support. When the track 808 is disposed in a groove defined on the floor, the track flanges 802, 804 can support the track 800 on the floor. Such configuration can place additional stress at the junction between the track flanges 802, 804 and respective track channel walls 806, 808 when weight is placed on the track 800 or when a cart is operably coupled with the track 800. The weight or stress can be countered with the additional material defined at the flange edge 816.

Referring to FIG. 129, each of the track flanges 802, 804 also generally comprises a generally planar upper flange surface 818 and a generally opposed lower flange surface 820. The track flanges 802, 804 also comprise an outer track edge 814 intermediate the upper and lower flange surfaces 818, 820 on the outside portions thereof. The track edge 814 can be generally rounded or angled to minimize the overall height of the track edge 814.

Each of the flanges 802, 804 can also comprise a track lip 822 generally opposed the outer track edge 814, the track lip 822 being defined proximate the track channel 812 and positioned proximate the intersection of either of the track flanges 802, 804 and respective track channel walls 806, 808. The track lip 822 can extend inwardly with respect to the track channel 812 and can provide structure for operable engagement with a track follower on a track follower mechanism when the track follower mechanism is operably engaged with the track 800.

Each of the track lips 822 can comprise an inner lip surface 824, a lower lip surface 826, and a lip radius surface 828 intermediate the track lip 822 and respective inner track channel wall surface. The lip radius surface 828 can provide sufficient structure to inhibit any stress concentration or crack formations intermediate the track lips 822 and track channel wall 806, 808. In addition, the lip radius surface 828 can be used to place spring pins to connect separate sections of the track 800. The spring pins can be substantially the same as the spring pins 408 depicted and described with respect to the above-ground track in FIGS. 39 and 40. The upper and bottom flange surfaces 818, 820, track edge 814, and track lip 822 can generally define each of the track flanges 802, 804. The relatively short height of the track lip inner surface 824 compared to the track channel wall inner surfaces 836 can minimize and surface friction between a track follower (not depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129) and the track when the track follower mechanism is operably engaged with the track 800. The track channel wall inner surfaces 836 are described in greater detail below with respect to the elongate track channel walls 806, 808.

The track flanges 802, 804 each comprise a flange thickness 830. The flange thickness 830 a proximate the track edge 814 can be less than the thickness 830 b proximate the track lip 822. This can provide a generally slightly ramped upper flange surface 818 (ramped upwardly from the track edge 814 towards the track channel 812) and can enable a cart being moved over the track 800 to easily traverse the track. This can also minimize the height of the track edge 814 yet retain a thickness 830 of the track flanges 802, 804 generally sufficient to inhibit damage to the track 800 when weight is placed on the track 800 or when a cart is operably coupled to the track 800.

Referring to FIG. 129, each of the elongate track channel walls 806, 808 generally comprises an outer track channel wall surface 834 and an inner track channel wall surface 836. The inner track channel wall surface 836 on first and second generally opposed track channel walls 806, 808 generally partially define the track channel 812. Each of the track channel walls 806, 808 also generally terminate on a wall upper end 838 at the respective track flanges 816 proximate the track lip 822 described above with respect to the track flange portions 802, 804. The track channel walls 806, 808 can be generally uniform in thickness, but can be greater in thickness proximate the upper and lower ends of the walls to provide additional strength and support to the track 800. The thickness of the track channel walls 806, 808 is generally sufficient to inhibit damage to the track 800 when weight is placed on the track 800 or when a cart is operably coupled to the track 800.

Referring to FIG. 129, the elongate track base 810 generally comprises an upper track base surface 842 and a generally opposed track bottom surface 844. The track base 810 can also comprise a pair of base edges 852 intermediate the track base 810 and respective track channel walls 806, 808. The thickness of the track base 810 is generally sufficient to inhibit damage to the track 800 when weight is placed on the track 800 or when a cart is operably coupled to the track 800.

The track base 810 can further include a first track support 848 and a second track support 850 operably coupled to and extending below the track base bottom surface 842. In other embodiments, the track base 810 can include more than two supports. Each of the track supports 848, 850 generally comprises a support column 854 operably coupled to the track bottom surface 854 at a first column end 853 and a support base 856 operably coupled to the support column 854 at a second column end 855. Each of the support bases 856 can comprise a first support flange 858 and a second support flange 860. The track supports 848, 850 in this configuration can be generally T-shaped, as depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129. The track supports 848, 850 can inhibit deformation of the track 800 into the groove defined on a floor if a great and/or non-uniform downward force is place on the track 800.

Referring to FIGS. 128 and 129, the in-ground track 800 can generally be used in conjunction with a groove 866 defined on a floor 862 below a floor surface 864. The groove 866 can generally comprise a groove base 868 and first and second base walls 870, 872 extending upwardly from the groove base 868 to the floor surface 864. While the groove 866 is generally depicted as comprising a rectangular cross-section, the groove 866 can comprise a cross-section of other geometric configurations without departing from the scope and sprit of the present invention, such as square, triangle, or other polyhedron. In addition, while edges 874 defined at the intersection of the groove base 868 and respective groove walls 870, 872 is depicted as being generally angular, the edge 874 can be defined to be generally curvilinear.

The groove 866 can be formed into a newly-formed surface. For example, in a concrete or cement floor, a mold or other structure can be used to form the groove 866 into the floor 862. Alternatively, the groove 866 can be cut out or otherwise formed into an already-existing floor 862. Those skilled in the art will recognize that a number of methods can be used to define the groove 866 in a floor 862. The floor 862 can be formed of concrete, cement, wood, various polymers, various metals, or any other materials known to those skilled in the relevant arts.

Once a floor 862 has a groove 866 defined therein, the track 800 can be placed into the groove 866. To do this, the base 810 and track channel walls 806, 808 are placed such that they operably rest in the groove 866. The track supports 848, 850 can operably rest upon the groove base 868 of the groove 866 and inhibit any further downward displacement of the track 800. Alternatively, as generally depicted in FIG. 129, the lower flange surfaces 820 of the track flanges 802, 804 can operably rest upon the floor surface and inhibit any further downward displacement of the track 800. In this embodiment, the track supports 848, 850 are operably retained at a distance from the groove base 868. However, in the event that anything could displace the track base 810 downwardly, the first and second track supports 848, 850 can inhibit any excessive deformation of the track 800.

The track 800 can be operably coupled to the floor 862 using any type of fastener 876, such as screws as depicted in FIGS. 128 and 129. Alternatively, the track 800 can rest in the groove 866 with gravity or can be operably coupled to the groove 866 with an adhesive, such as glue or epoxy.

The in-ground tack 800 can be constructed of extruded aluminum. However, those skilled in the art will recognize that the track 800 can be constructed of other materials, such as extruded polymers, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention. In addition, some of the features described above and included in the track 800 can be machined into the track 800 after initial formation.

Features of the above-ground track 114 depicted and described above can also be included in the in-ground track 800. As such, such depictions and descriptions with respect to the above-ground track 114 are hereby incorporated by reference with respect to the in-ground track 800.

The Modular Cart

Referring now to FIG. 47, a modular cart 212 in accordance with the present invention will be described. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 200's are generally used to denote the features and components of the modular cart 212. As shown in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 47, the modular cart 212 generally comprises a base 216, a top 222, a front end 218, and a rear end 220 generally opposed the front end 218, wherein the cart base 216, top 222, front end 218, and rear end 220 generally define a storage structure. The modular cart 212 according to this embodiment is designed to be selectively removable from the track 114 in the storage facility for purposes of transporting equipment and articles within the modular cart 212 to an off-site location. Once the logistical purposes of equipping a field unit at a location off-site and remote from the storage facility have been accomplished, the modular cart 212 can be reloaded with the equipment, gear and articles and returned to the storage facility where it can then be selectively re-engaged with the track 114 as part of the modular storage system 110.

As can be seen in FIG. 47, the ends 218, 220 and top 222 of this embodiment of the cart 212 are substantially similar to those as described in relation to the cart 112 according the first embodiment as described above. The above discussion of the ends 118, 120 and top 122 for the retained cart 112 is hereby incorporated with respect to the ends 218, 220 and 222 of the modular cart 212 according to this embodiment.

The cart base 216 of the modular cart, as depicted in FIGS. 48-49, comprises a bottom 224, a front plate 226 and a rear plate 228 connected to the bottom 224 using fasteners 800, and a pair of generally opposed sides 230 a, 230 b. The cart base 216 further preferably comprises a plurality of cylindrical frame posts 268 disposed on the sides 230 a, 230 b. The frame posts 268 preferably include a side slot 271 such that the sides 230 a, 230 b can be connected to the frame posts 268 by sliding the sides 230 a, 230 b into the slots 271. The cart base 216 also preferably comprises beams 264 connected to the sides 230 a, 230 b and extending substantially from the frame posts 268 proximate the front plate 226 to the frame posts 268 proximate the rear plate 228.

Referring to FIGS. 50 b and 50 c, the bottom 224 generally includes a plurality of wheel mechanisms 272, each wheel mechanism 270 comprising a caster 275 and a wheel 274. As depicted in FIG. 50 a, the casters 275 are connected to the bottom 224 using fasteners 800. It is contemplated that the casters 275 be pivotable or static. Wheel mechanisms 272 according to the various embodiments of the present invention are preferably exemplified by part number 16-XA-06201-S from Tricker Caster & Wheel Sales in Fairbault, Minn. Again, any number of wheel mechanisms 272 greater than two could be provided on the cart base 216. The casters 275 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Wheels 274 according to this embodiment are preferably constructed of urethane, although other materials such as nylon or other similar polymer materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. In another embodiment of the present invention, the wheel 274 could be an axled wheel or ball wheel. The wheel mechanisms 227 are preferably 6″ to 9″ high, optimally 7.5″ high, and the wheels 274 preferably have a diameter of approximately 4″ to 8″, optimally 6.0″ and a width of approximately 1.5″ to 3″, optimally 2.0″. The wheels 274 each have a load rating of at least 500-100 pounds, optimally 850 pounds. As can be seen in FIG. 50 a, the wheels 274 preferably comprise a concave cross-section in which the diameter at the center of the wheel is slightly larger than the diameter at the edges of the width of the wheel.

The cart base 216 also preferably comprises a plurality of track follower mechanisms 282. The track follower mechanisms 282 are substantially the same as the track follower mechanisms 182 described above. However, track follower mechanisms 282 further comprise a locking mechanism 293 as depicted in FIGS. 51-54. The locking mechanism 293 enables a user to lock the track follower 284 up in a retained position when the modular cart 212 is removed from the track 114 in the storage facility. As depicted in FIGS. 51-54, the locking mechanism 293 preferably comprises a lever arrangement with a plunger clip 295 and a backer 297, the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 preferably being L-shaped, the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 being connected to the underside 238 using fasteners 800. The plunger clip 295 and backer 297 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. Although the locking mechanism 293 is described in terms of the lever arrangement as described, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that numerous other locking mechanisms could be implemented to secure the track follower mechanism 282 in a retained position, such as a pin and aperture arrangement, a friction fit or wedge arrangement, a screw arrangement, a slot and ledge arrangement or the like.

Although the track follower mechanism 282 and locking mechanism 293 are preferably disposed on the front end 218 of the modular cart 220, it will be recognized that alternate embodiments are also contemplated by the present invention. For example, in an alternate embodiment, the track 114 and corresponding track follower mechanisms 282 could be positioned proximate the rear end 220 of the carts 212 with appropriate coupling and linkages could be provided for mechanical triggering the track follower mechanism 282 and locking mechanism 293 from the front end 218 of the cart 212. In another embodiment, the track followers 282 could be positioned at any position along the length of the cart 212, for example, in the middle of the length of the cart 112 corresponding to placement of the track 114, and electronic powered controls, such as battery operated solenoids, could be used to remotely operated the track follower mechanism 282 and locking mechanism 293.

Trusses, Hangers Stackers and Shelves

Referring now to FIGS. 69-73, the carts 112, 212 preferably include a truss system 364 having a truss or rod 366 and a truss hanger 376. The truss 366 comprises a truss hanger 376 and preferably comprises a first truss member 370 and a second truss member 372. The second truss member 372 can be shorter in length than the first truss member 370. The truss 366 can be selectively positioned on the wire-grille panel 300 using a plurality of truss hangers 376. The truss hangers 376 have a body 378 and a plurality of engagement members 380 disposed perpendicular to the body 378. The distance between each of the engagement members 380 generally corresponds to the spacing in the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. Once a user has selected a position for the truss hanger 376, the hanger 376 can be positioned on, and engaged with, the wire-grille panel 300. A truss hanger 376 positioned on, and engaged with, a wire-grille panel 300 can be seen in FIG. 69.

Once a pair of truss hangers 376 a, 376 b are engaged with opposed front and end wire-grille panels 300 a, 300 b, the truss 366 can be placed onto the truss hangers 376. The body 378 of the truss hanger 376 preferably comprises a first truss member slot 382 and a second member slot 384, which the first truss member 370 and second truss member 372 fit, respectively. Including a first truss member 370 and second truss member 372 provides many benefits. For example, when helmet hangers 502 or pad hangers 504 populated with equipment and hung on the truss 366, the populated hangers will have a center of gravity that is below the second truss member. When a cart 12 having these populated hangers is moved along the track 14, the hangers are likely to swing back and forth in a pendulum motion that is parallel to the movement of the cart. The swinging hangers will make it more difficult to move the cart 12 as the momentum of the cart will be constantly changing due to the swinging hangers. By providing a first truss member 370 and second truss member 372, the populated hanger will be inhibited from excessive swinging as the combined height of the truss members 370, 372 gives more height and surface area for the hangers to contact and thus more height and surface area to inhibit swinging of the hangers. Alternatively, a single truss member could be used if the height was sufficient to provide the same height and surface area. The truss members 370, 372 are preferably constructed of tubular steel, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The hangers 376 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

The present invention includes a number of means for hanging equipment, such as football helmets and football shoulder pads. It will be noted that reference numerals in the 500's are generally used to denote the features and components of hangers and stackers adapted for use in the modular storage system 110 of the present invention. A helmet hanger 502 can be seen in FIG. 74. The helmet hanger 502 comprises a plurality of truss hooks 508 and a pair of generally opposed helmet hanger members 509. The helmet hanger 502 further comprises a plurality of helmet hooks 510 disposed vertically along the pair of generally opposed hanger members 509. As depicted in FIG. 75, the helmet hanger 502 is hung on the truss 366 and the helmet hanger 502 can then be populated with helmets. The helmet hanger 502 can be constructed of wire steel, although other materials such as graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

Another means for hanging equipment includes a pad hanger 504. Long and short pad hangers 504 a, 504 b can be seen in FIGS. 76-77. The pad hangers 504 a, 504 b comprise a truss hook 512 connected to a pad hanger member 513. The pad hangers also comprise a pad hook 514 generally opposed the truss hook 512. As depicted in FIG. 78, the pad hanger 504 is hung on the truss 366 and the pad hanger 504 can then be populated with pads. The pad hanger 504 can be constructed of wire steel, although other materials such as graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. Alternative pad and helmet hangers 503 can be seen in FIGS. 79-80.

In one embodiment, the present invention preferably includes means for stacking equipment within the storage space of the carts 112, 212. A pad stacker 506 can be seen in FIGS. 81-87. The pad stacker 506 preferably comprises a stacker base 516, a stacking tower 518, a pad support 520, and a support channel 522. The stacker base 516 comprises a pair of generally opposed stacker frames 524 a, 524 b connected to a stacker frame cross tube 526. The stacker base 516 further comprises a pair of stacker handles 528 a, 528 b connected to the pair of generally opposed stacker frames 524. The stacker base 516, stacking tower 518, and support channel 522 are preferably constructed of steel, although other materials such as aluminum, alloys, graphite or composite materials or various plastics could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. The pad support 520 can be constructed of vacuum formed ABS, 0.125″ thick, with a haircell finish, although other materials could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

The stacking tower 518 comprises a short tube loop 530 and a long tube loop 536, the tube loops 530, 536 connected at a bottom end 532 to a tower channel 531. At least one of the tube loops 530, 536 comprises a plurality of pin apertures 534. The pad support 520 comprises a pad support base 538 and a pad support member 540. The support channel 522 comprises a support plate 542 and a support channel member 544 connected to the support plate 542. The pad support 520 is then connected to the support plate 542 of the support channel 522.

To assemble the pad stacker 506, the stacking tower channel 531 is connected to the stacker frame cross tube 526 using fasteners 800. A pin is then inserted into one of the pin apertures 534 and the support channel 522 and pad support 520 are then placed onto the stacking tower 518 and lowered down until it rests upon the pin.

Once the pad stacker 506 has been assembled, the pad stacker 506 can be placed onto the cart base 116 or 216 of a cart. As can be seen in FIG. 82, the pad stacker 506 is depicted in a cart 112. The stacker frames 524 are supported by the sides 130 a, 130 b of the cart base 116. A pad stacker 506 populated with pads can be seen in FIG. 81. In an embodiment of the present invention, the pad stacker 506 comprises wheels. When the pad stackers 506 are fully populated with pads, the pad stackers 506 will very likely be extremely heavy. Those involved with athletics will appreciate that a pad stacker 506 according to this embodiment can be moved along a surface without the need of lifting the pad stacker 506 off of the ground. When the pad stackers 506 have been populated and placed into the cart 12, each of the carts 12 can preferably hold more than eighty sets of shoulder pads.

As depicted in FIG. 3, the cart 112 according to an embodiment of the present invention also includes a shelf system 386. A shelf 388 can be selectively positioned on the wire-grille panel 300 using a plurality of shelf hangers 390. The shelf hangers 390 have a body 392 and a plurality of engagement members 394 disposed perpendicular to the body 392. The distance between each of the engagement member 394 generally corresponds to the spacing in the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. Once a user has selected a position for the shelf hanger 390, the shelf hanger 390 can be positioned on, and engaged with, the wire-grille panel 300. Once a pair of shelf hangers 390 is engaged with opposed front and end wire-grille panels 300, the shelf 388 can be placed onto the shelf hangers 390. The shelf 388 can be constructed of sheet or wire steel, although other materials such as aluminum or plastic could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

Installation

When the track is installed in a room not near the wall, an island stop 354 may be needed to create the bounds of the storage facility. In this type of embodiment, the storage facility will be generally defined by the track length 342 and the overall length of the carts as they are moved along the track 114. When the track is installed in an area not near a wall, track end caps 350 should be used to inhibit damage to the exposed cross section of the track 14 and also to provide a more pleasing appearance.

Once the modular storage system 110 of the present invention has been installed in a storage facility, the carts 112, 212 can be placed into the storage facility. In an embodiment, a plurality of carts 112, 212 will be used, the plurality of carts comprising both retained carts 112 and modular carts 212. To place the retained carts 112 into the storage site, they generally would have to be lifted into the storage facility and positioned such that the track followers 184 are directly above the channel 404 of the track 114. Once the retained carts have been positioned, the track followers 184 should be enabled to engage with the channel 404 of the track 114. Once the track followers 184 engage with the channel 404 of the track 114, the retained carts can then be manually moved within the storage facility in a direction along the track 114.

To place modular carts 212 in the storage facility, the modular carts 212 can be manually moved over the track 14. By manually providing the modular cart 212 with enough momentum, the wheels 274 will roll over the ramped surfaces 406 of the track. The modular cart can then be placed so that the track followers 284 are directly above the channel 404 of the track 114. Once the modular carts 212 have been positioned, the track followers 284 should be enabled to engage with the channel 404 of the track 114. To do this, the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 should be pulled away from the track follower 284 so that the track follower can move freely. Once this is done, the track follower 284 will engage with the channel 404 of the track 114. The modular carts 212 can then be manually moved within the storage facility in a direction along the track 114.

In an embodiment, there can be at least a portion of the track 114 that does not include a cart 112, 212. By having such a space, the carts 112, 212 can be moved along the track 114 and different carts 112, 212 can then be accessed proximate the portion not including a cart 112, 212.

In an embodiment of the present invention, comprising modular carts 212 and retained carts 112, the modular carts 212 could contain uniforms and equipment in off-season use or uniforms and equipment that is not need to be taken out of the storage facility in the cart. This type of uniforms and equipment could be retrieved by individuals or taken to the individuals. The retained carts 112 could contain equipment that is needed out of the storage site 11 and easier to transport in a cart 12. Such equipment could include game uniforms and equipment. A modular cart 212 such as this could be simply loaded onto a trailer or into a vehicle and transported to a game site.

When the at least one track follower mechanism 282 on modular carts 212 is selectively engaged with the track 114, these carts 212 are operably retained by and movable only in a direction generally parallel to the track 114 permitting the cart to be selectively positioned within a storage position that is generally side-by-side with an adjacent cart 112, 212 along the track. In this position, the contents of the carts 112, 212 are accessible position as the carts 112, 212 are generally spaced apart with adjacent carts along the track.

As depicted in FIG. 88-89, when it is desired that the cart 212 remain in the storage facility, the rollers 292 of the track followers 284 are engaged with the channel 404 of the track 114. In this position, the cart 212 is movable in a direction along the track 114. However, as can be seen in FIGS. 91-92, the modular cart 212 is removable from the track 114 and movable in a direction generally perpendicular to the track 114 when the at least one track follower 284 is selectively disengaged from the track 114. FIG. 90 depicts a track follower 284 in an engaged position with respect to the track 114. By using a foot, as depicted in FIG. 91, the track follower 284 can be lifted so that the plunger clip 295 and backer 297 on the locking mechanism 293 retains the track follower 284 in a retained position. As depicted in FIG. 92, once the track follower 284 is in a retained position, the modular cart 212 is removable from the track 114 and movable in a direction generally perpendicular to the track 114.

If those using modular carts 212 desire to inhibit the cart 212 from being removed from the storage facility, the plunger lock bracket 602 can be used to keep the track follower 284 in an engaged position. The plunger lock bracket 602 comprises a lock slot 604 that can be placed onto the locking portion 316 of a bracket 310 and a channel portion 606 that inhibits the track follower 284 from being placed in a retained position. The plunger lock bracket 602 can be seen in FIG. 93.

The storage facility for the modular storage system 110 of the present invention can be located in any area of the room, facility or even a storage area in vehicle such as a truck or trailer. While it is preferred that the storage facility be located near a wall and in the corner of a room, it is contemplated that the storage facility be located in the center of a room. In this type of arrangement, there will likely be a need to place an island stop 608, as depicted in FIGS. 94-95, within the room. The island stop 608 comprises an island stop frame 610 and an island stop base 612 located on ends 614 a, 614 b of the island stop frame 610. The island stop base 612 comprises a substantially flat island stop plate 620 and an island stop bracket 618 connected to the island stop plate 620. The island stop bracket 618 preferably comprises an island stop glide 616 to inhibit damage to the underside of the cart base 116. When the modular storage system 110 is used with an island stop 608, the island stop 608 is placed near the termination of a track 114. When a cart 112 is moved along the track 114 towards the island stop 608, the island stop 608 inhibits the cart 112 from running out of track 114. This type of arrangement enables a user to place the modular storage system 110 in any location within a room or storage area.

The cart base 116/216, cart top 122/222, front end 118/118, and rear end 120/220 of the retained cart 112 and the modular cart 212 according to the various embodiments of the present invention provides the carts 112, 212 with a defined structural integrity that is sufficient to permit the manual movement of the carts 12 in the direction that is generally parallel to the track 14 by a manual force greater than the coefficient of a rolling friction of the wheels 172/272 times the maximum gross weight exerted on one of the ends 18, 20 of the cart 12 and inhibit binding along the length of the cart 12.

Instructional and AV Accessories

As depicted in FIG. 1, a modular cart 212 according to an embodiment of the present invention can be provided with a drawing panel or white board 622. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the white board 622 is mounted on a front end 218 of the modular cart 212, although it will be understood that white board 622 could be mounted on either a side or end of the modular cart 212 or even the front end of a retained cart 112.

As depicted in FIGS. 99-101, a cart 212 according to an embodiment of the present invention comprises a video system 624. The video system 624 preferably includes a camera 626 and monitor 628 operably connected to a processor 630. The video system 624 is connected a power source 632 such as a battery or may be plugged into an electricity outlet.

Storage Shelf Accessories

Referring to FIGS. 102 and 107, the retained and modular carts as described above can include one or more storage shelves 700 to enable a user to further organize the contents that are stored and transported within the storage structure that is defined in the retained and modular carts. Referring to FIG. 102, the storage shelf can be positioned in a retained cart 212 (as depicted) or in a modular cart. As will be described in greater detail below, the storage shelf 700 is placed onto a plurality of shelf hangers 718 that are operably coupled to wire-grille panels 300 included on the end panels 218 of the retained cart 212. The end panels 218, 220 and wire-grille panels 300 are depicted and described in greater detail above.

Referring to FIG. 103, the storage shelf 700 generally includes a shelf portion 702 that can be constructed of sheet or wire steel and one or more shelf channels 704 that are operably coupled to an underside of the shelf portion 702. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the shelf portion can be constructed of other materials, including but not limited to various metals, plastics, and fibrous materials.

Referring to FIG. 103, when the shelf portion 702 is constructed of wire steel, the shelf portion 702 can comprise a plurality of generally parallel elongate primary wire members 706 operably coupled to generally parallel elongate secondary wire members 708 that can be generally perpendicular to the primary wire members 706. A wire frame member 710 can frame the primary and secondary wire members 706, 708 and can include rounded portions 709 and any corners thereof. The wire members 706, 708 can be circular in cross-section, as depicted generally in the figures. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the wire members 706, 708 and wire frame member 710 can comprise differently shaped cross sections.

The network of primary and secondary wire members 706, 708 can be welded or otherwise coupled at some or all of the intersections of the primary and secondary wire members 706, 708. In addition, the primary and secondary wire members 706, 708 can be welded or otherwise coupled at their ends to the wire frame member 710. The network of wire members 706, 708 and the wire frame 710 can provide strength and stability to the storage shelf 700 and can also enable air movement through the air spaces defined between the wire members. The shelf 700 can be constructed of other materials known to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention, such as aluminum or various plastics. In addition, the wire members 706, 708 and the wire frame 710 can be painted or coated with variously colored paint or polymer coatings to inhibit corrosion of the shelf portion 702, provide an appealing aesthetic appearance, and inhibit damage to contents placed upon the shelf 700.

Each of the shelf channels 704 that are operably coupled to the shelf portion 702, such as on an underside of the shelf portion 702, can comprise an elongated channel member 712 and a pair of shelf channel pins 714 disposed at the ends of the channel member 712.

Referring to FIG. 105, the elongated channel member 712 can comprise a C-shaped cross section. Those skilled in the art would recognize that other channel member shapes and configurations can be used, such as a hollow or solid cylindrical or other various shaped configurations. The shelf channel member can comprise first and second elongate generally opposed wall portions and an elongate base portion. In this embodiment, the shelf channel comprises a generally C-shaped cross section. The shelf channel can be welded or otherwise coupled to the wire members 706, 708 and/or the wire frame 710 and can provide strength and stability to the storage shelf 700. The channel member 712 can be constructed of steel, although those skilled in the art would recognize that other materials, such as aluminum or various plastics, could be used without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.

The shelf channel pins 714 can be circular in cross-section, as depicted generally in the figures. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the shelf channel pins 714 can comprise differently shaped cross sections. The shelf channel pins 714 can be welded or otherwise coupled to the shelf channel base 713 proximate the ends of the shelf channels 704. Referring to FIGS. 105-106, the shelf channel pins 714 can operably couple a portion of a shelf hanger 718 to retain the shelf 700 in its position within the storage space of a retained or cart 112, 212. The shelf hangers 718 are described in greater detail herein.

Referring to FIG. 102, the shelves 700 can extend substantially along the length of the cart 212 between the front and rear end panels 218, 220. Alternatively, the shelves can extend only partially along the length of the cart 212. For example, as depicted in FIG. 107, a grill divider 716 is included on the cart. The grill divider 716 can include substantially the same structure as the wire-grille panels 300, which are depicted and described in greater detail above. In this embodiment, the shelves 700 extend between the rear end panel 220 of the cart 212 and the cart divider 716. The cart 212 can include any number of full or partial shelves. The cart can comprise single-spaced shelves or side-by-side shelves (depicted in FIGS. 102 and 107).

Referring to FIGS. 104-106, the shelf hangers 718 can be operably coupled to the wire-grille panels 300 included on the end panels 218, 220 of the cart 212 and provide a top portion for the shelves 700 to rest upon to retain the shelves 700 in their position within the storage structure. As previously described herein with respect to the storage shelf and also as previously described herein with respect to truss hangers 376 for the truss system (FIGS. 71 a and 71 b), the shelf hangers 718 generally comprise a body 720 and a plurality of engagement members 722 disposed generally perpendicular to the body 720 on a pair of generally parallel extensions 724 extending from the shelf hanger body 720.

The engagement members 722 are generally hook-shaped and the distance between each of the engagement members 722 generally corresponds to the spacing in the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. The hanger body 720 can also include one or more cutouts 726 defined thereon in which, for example, the channel member 712 can operably couple when the shelves 700 are placed onto the shelf hanger 718. In addition, the shelf hanger can include a hanger tab 725 on a lower end thereof that can couple with a portion of the wire-grille panel 300 to securely retain the shelf hanger 718 with respect to the wire-grille panel 300.

Referring again to FIGS. 104-106, once a user has selected a position for the shelf hanger 718, the shelf hanger 718 can be positioned on and engaged with the wire-grille panel 300. Once a pair of shelf hangers 718 are engaged with opposed front and end wire-grille panels 218, 220, the shelf 700 can be placed onto the shelf hangers 718 such that the shelf channel pins 714 operably couple the body 720 of the shelf hangers 718. In this position, the channel member 712 can be positioned in the cutout 726 included on the body 720 of the shelf hanger 718. The pin 714 can inhibit side-to-side movement of the shelf 700 by operably engaging the extensions 724 of the hanger. In addition, the channel member 712 can inhibit side-to-side movement of the shelf 700 by operably engaging the cutout 726 in the shelf hanger body 720.

There can be an aperture 727 formed on the body 720 of the shelf hanger 718 through which a nylon tie (not depicted) can be inserted. The nylon tie can then be inserted through a portion of the wire-grille panel 300 and tied off, such that the nylon tie can retain the shelf hanger 718 with respect to the wire-grille panel 300.

The shelves 700 can be various widths, for example, 24 inches and 32 inches, and can be vertically adjustable in various increments, for example, one-inch increments. The shelves 700 can also include a shelf liner, such as a plastic, metal, or paper liner, that can be placed on the shelf 700 and enable a user to more easily slide items in and out of the carts. The shelves 700 can enable adjustable storage space a variety of contents, including water jugs, duffel bags, ball bags, storage bins, helmets, and various uniforms.

Referring to FIGS. 108-127, the retained and modular carts 112, 212 and storage shelf 700 can also comprise various shelf accessories to enable a user to organize additional contents, equipment, and uniforms within the storage structure. Such accessories can include grill dividers, adjustable storage space dividers, shelf lips, panel dividers, and cargo nets. The retained and modular carts can also include an equipment holder, for example, a bat/racquet holder, that can be used to hang bats, racquets, and other equipment thereon.

Referring to FIG. 108, an adjustable shelf divider 728 can be positioned on and operably coupled to a shelf 700. In this position, the adjustable shelf divider 728 can be used to divide space along the length of the cart 112 on the shelf 700. Such division can enable various contents to be organized and stored in separate storage space portions or “cubbies” on the shelf 700. While the shelf 700 is depicted as including one adjustable shelf divider 728 creating two separate storage space portions, those skilled in the art will recognize that two or more adjustable shelf dividers 728 can be placed on the shelf 700 or in other locations in the cart 112 to create three or more separate storage space portions on the shelf 700 or in other locations in the cart 112.

Referring to FIG. 109, an adjustable shelf divider 728 can comprise a lower panel 730 and an upper panel 732 operably coupleable with the lower panel 728. The lower panel 730 can comprise a divider portion 738 comprising a plurality of tab slots 740 and a knob 742. The lower panel 730 can also comprise a base flange 734 operably coupled to or integrally formed with the divider portion 738 of the lower panel 730. The base flange 734 can be generally perpendicular to the divider portion 738 and can comprise a plurality of apertures 736 thereon.

The upper panel 732 can comprise a plurality of knob slots 744 between a top edge 743 and a bottom edge 745 thereof and one or more tabs 746 defined on the bottom edge 745. The upper and lower panels 73, 732 of the shelf divider 728 can be constructed of sheet steel, although those of skill in the art will recognize that other materials can be used.

Referring to FIGS. 109-111, to assembly and install the shelf divider 728, the shelf divider 728 is selectively placed at a desired location on a shelf 700. The shelf divider 728 can then be coupled to the shelf 700 using a fastener assembly 748, such a bolt 750 and a wing nut 752, by coupling the base flange 734 of the lower panel 730 to one or more of shelf channels 704 such that the shelf portion 702 is intermediate the base flange 734 and shelf channel 704. Referring to FIG. 111, once the divider 728 is operably installed on the shelf 700, the height of the divider 728 can be adjusted. First, the knob 742 can be twisted to unlock the top panel 732. Next, the top panel 732 can be lowered and the top panel 732 can be removed. The tabs 746 on the top panel 732 can then be inserted into the selected slots 740 on the lower panel 730 at a desired height. The top panel 732 can then be raised and the knob 742 can be twisted such that the top panel 732 is locked into place.

The shelf divider 728 can enable a user to divide the storage space on, above, or below a storage shelf 700 into smaller organized storage spaces. This can enable the available storage space on one shelf 700 to be used for storing distinct items in separate areas, such as clothing or equipment for different sports.

Referring to FIG. 112, a shelf lip 754 can be placed on a shelf to enable items to be placed on the shelves 700 without rolling or sliding off of the shelf 700. Referring to FIG. 113, a shelf lip 754 comprises an L-shaped elongated portion having two generally perpendicular sections, an upper portion 756 and a lower portion 758. As depicted, the two sections 756, 758 comprise a relatively short upper section 756 and a relatively long lower section 758. In another embodiment, the two sections 756, 758 can be generally equal in length. In another embodiment, the two sections 756, 758 comprise a relatively short lower section 758 and a relatively long upper section 758. Referring to FIG. 113, the upper and lower portions 756, 758 can include shelf lip overlaps 755, 759, respectively that can provide the shelf lip 754 with further stability and support.

The shelf lip 754 can be constructed of sheet steel, although those of skill in the art will recognize that other materials, such as aluminum and various plastics, can be used without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention. The sections 756, 758 can include a plurality of apertures 760 defined therein such that a number of fasteners 748, such as a bolt 750 and wing nut 752, can be used to attach the lip 754 to the shelf 700.

Referring to FIGS. 114-115, to assembly and install the shelf lip 754, the shelf lip 754 is selectively placed at a desired location on a shelf 700. Referring to FIG. 115, the shelf lip 754 can then be coupled to the shelf 700 using a fasteners 748, such as a bolt 750 and wing nut 752, by coupling the lower portion 758 to one or more of shelf channels 700 such that the shelf portion 702 is intermediate the lower portion 758 of the shelf lip 754 and shelf channel 704.

The shelf lip 754 can enable items to be placed on the shelves 700 without rolling or sliding off of the shelf 700. For example, balls can be placed on the shelf 700 and retained on the shelf 700 by the shelf lip 754. When the retained or carts 112, 212 are moved along a track 114 in a storage site 111 or moved to in any direction off of a track, the balls can be inhibited from rolling off of the shelf 700 by the shelf lip 754. Various other equipment and clothing, such as jerseys or uniforms, can be placed on a shelf 700 having a shelf lip 754 and can be inhibited from falling off of the shelf 700 by the shelf lip 754.

The shelf lip 754 can extend substantially along the length of retained or cart 112, 212 or can extend partially along the length of the retained or carts 112, 212. For example, on the full-length shelf 700 as depicted in FIG. 112, the shelf lip 754 extends substantially between the end panels 118, 120 of a cart. In FIG. 116, on the partial-length shelf 700, wherein a grill divider 716 is included on the cart 112, the shelf lip 754 extends between the front end 118 of the cart 112 and the cart divider 116. The cart 112 can include any number of full or partial shelves 700, each of these can optionally include a shelf lip 754.

Referring to FIG. 117, the cart 112 can also include a storage space divider panel 762 to enable a user to divide the storage space into smaller organized storage spaces along the width of the cart. Such division can enable various contents to be organized and stored in separate storage space portions or “cubbies” within the cart 212. While the cart 212 is depicted as including one storage space divider panel 762 creating two separate storage space portions, those skilled in the art will recognize that two or more storage space divider panels 762 can be placed in the cart 212 to create three or more separate storage space portions in the cart 112.

Referring to FIG. 118, the storage space divider panel 762 generally includes a panel 763 and a plurality of eyelets 764 for connection with the end panels 118, 120. The divider panel 762 can be coupled to the end panels 118, 120 using nylon or wire ties 765. The divider panel 762 can be constructed of a flexible polymer sheet, although those of skill in the art will recognize that other flexible or rigid materials can be used. The divider panel 762 can be positioned at a desired position within the storage structure and the nylon ties 765 can then be used to tie the divider panel 762 to the wire-grille panels 300 included on the end panels 118, 120.

The divider panel 762 can enable a user to divide the storage space into smaller organized storage spaces. This can enable a first space to be used for storing distinct items from a second space, such as clothing or equipment for the same or different sports. By being flexible, the divider panel 762 can enable a storage space to flex as needed with the contents of in the storage spaces. In addition, the divider can act as a visual barrier from one side of a cart to the other.

Referring to FIG. 121, the cart 112 can also include a net, such as a cargo net 766 to enable items to be placed on the shelves without rolling or sliding off of the shelf. Referring to FIG. 122, the cargo net 766 can comprise a border 770 and netting 768 defined therein. The cargo net 766 can be connected to the wire shelving 700 or the end panels 118, 120 using s-hooks 774 that are operably coupled to loops 772 that are included on the border 770 or the netting 768 or border 770 at selected positions.

The netting 768 can be constructed of synthetic fiber, although those of skill in the art will recognize that other materials, such as natural fibers, can be used. The netting 768 and border 770 include some elasticity such that the cargo net 766 can flex as items are placed in or move within the storage space on the shelf 700. The elasticity also can enable items generally larger than the width of the shelf 700 to be placed on and retained within the storage space on the shelf 700. Referring to FIG. 123, the s-hooks 774 on the cargo net 766 can be operably coupled to the wire-grille panels 300 to operably retain the cargo net 766 with respect to the shelf 700.

The cargo net can enable items to be placed on the shelves without rolling or sliding off of the shelf. For example, balls can be placed on the shelf and retained on the shelf by the cargo net. When the cart is moved along a track in a storage site or moved to in any direction off of a track, the balls will be inhibited from rolling off of the shelf by the cargo net. Various other equipment and clothing, such as jerseys or uniforms, can be placed on a shelf having a cargo net and inhibited from falling off of the shelf by the cargo net.

The cargo net 766 can extend substantially along the length of the cart 112 or can extend partially along the length of the cart 112. For example, on the full-length shelf 700 as depicted in FIG. 121, the cargo net 766 extends substantially between the end panels 118, 120 of a cart 112. In FIG. 124, on the partial-length shelf 700, wherein a grill divider 716 is included on the cart 112, the cargo net 766 extends between the front end 118 of the cart 112 and the cart divider 716. The cart 112 can include any number of full or partial shelves 700, each of these can optionally include a cargo net 766.

Referring to FIGS. 125 and 126, an equipment holder 776 or bat/racquet holder generally includes an elongated portion 778 and a plurality of extensions 780 extending from a front side of the elongated portion 778 and coupled at a bend 779 therebetween. There are a number of bat or racquet handle recesses 782 that are defined between the extensions 780 that are selectively sized to hang bats or racquets within. An upturned lip portion 784 located on the end of the extensions 780 can inhibit any bats and/or racquets from sliding off of the holder 776 once positioned within the recesses 782 formed on the bat/racquet holder 776. The bat/racquet holder 776 can be constructed of formed sheet steel, although those of skill in the art will recognize that other materials can be used.

The equipment holders 776 or bat/racquet holders are generally retained in position by one or more bat/racquet holder hooks 786 that are integrally formed with or operably coupled to a rear portion of the elongated portion 778. The bat/racquet holder hooks 786 each have a body 788 and a plurality of engagement members 792 disposed on an extension 790 extending generally perpendicularly from the body 788.

The distance between each of the engagement members 792 generally corresponds to the spacing in the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. Once a user has selected a position for the bat/racquet holder 776, the bat/racquet holder hooks 774 can be positioned on, and engaged with, the wire-grille panel 300, as depicted in FIG. 127. The engagement members 792 can create a “hook” 793 at a bend thereof that can rest upon the wire members on the wire-grille panel 300. The bat/racquet holders 776 can further be retained in position on the wire-grille panel 300 using a nylon tie (not depicted). There can be an aperture 794 formed on the body 788 of the bat/racquet holder hooks 786 through which the nylon tie can be inserted. The nylon tie can then be inserted through a portion of the wire-grille panel 300 and tied off, such that the nylon tie retains the bat/racquet holder 776 with respect to the wire-grille panel 300. In addition, the bat/racquet holder 776 can include a hanger tab 795 on a lower end thereof that can couple with a portion of the wire-grille panel 300 to securely retain the bat/racquet holder 776 with respect to the wire-grille panel 300.

The bat/racquet holders 776 can be used for various types of equipment. In athletics, such equipment can include baseball or softball bats, tennis or racquetball racquets, gloves, or many other types of sports equipment that those skilled in the art would recognize. In military organizations, such equipment can include weapons, helmets, scopes, or many other types of military equipment that those skilled in the art would recognize. In marching or concert bands, such equipment could include instruments, uniforms, or other equipment that those skilled in the art would recognize.

The embodiments described herein are intended to be illustrative and not limiting. Additional embodiments are described within the claims. Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made to the embodiments in form and detail without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7484631 *Nov 16, 2004Feb 3, 2009Nenger CorporationModular storage system for logistical management of operational units
US7963533Mar 16, 2007Jun 21, 2011Wenger CorporationAll-terrain retail merchandising unit
US8464878 *Oct 19, 2007Jun 18, 2013Enjoy Group AbShelving section pivotable between a display and a refill position
US20100140201 *Oct 19, 2007Jun 10, 2010Enjoy Group AbShelving section pivotable between a display and a refill position
Classifications
U.S. Classification211/151
International ClassificationE04H1/00, A47F5/08
Cooperative ClassificationA47F5/08, E04H1/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 19, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: WENGER CORPORATION, MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:A., BOTHUN RICHARD;GALLEA, MARK E.;JINES, MICHAEL D.;ANDOTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017807/0615;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060605 TO 20060608