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Publication numberUS20080237165 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/135,817
Publication dateOct 2, 2008
Filing dateJun 9, 2008
Priority dateOct 7, 2005
Also published asCA2561409A1, US20070079735
Publication number12135817, 135817, US 2008/0237165 A1, US 2008/237165 A1, US 20080237165 A1, US 20080237165A1, US 2008237165 A1, US 2008237165A1, US-A1-20080237165, US-A1-2008237165, US2008/0237165A1, US2008/237165A1, US20080237165 A1, US20080237165A1, US2008237165 A1, US2008237165A1
InventorsArthur H. Bobis, Winston Scott Fowler, Phillip Allan Rosenband
Original AssigneeBobis Arthur H, Winston Scott Fowler, Phillip Allan Rosenband
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Movable shelving system and method
US 20080237165 A1
Abstract
In some embodiments, a shelving system configured to be coupled to a wall and supported on a support surface is provided. The shelving system can include a fixed shelving unit extending laterally from the wall, and a movable shelving unit. The fixed shelving unit can include a vertical support coupled to a base. The movable shelving unit can also extend laterally from the wall, and can be movable through a shelving path. In some embodiments, the shelving system can be provided with a floor leveling system enabling a user to easily and quickly level the shelving system. Also, in some embodiments, the movable shelving unit includes a damper that slows the movable shelving unit prior to being stopped.
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Claims(24)
1. A product storage space comprising:
an area defined at least in part by a floor and a wall extending from the floor;
a fixed shelving unit extending from the wall, across the floor, and into the area, the fixed shelving unit having a side from which products in the fixed shelving unit are accessed; and
a movable shelving unit having a front from which products in the movable shelving unit are accessed, and opposite sides, the movable shelving unit substantially parallel to the side of the fixed shelving unit, wherein one of the opposite sides of the movable shelving unit substantially faces the wall, the movable shelving unit laterally movable along the floor to different distances from the wall to expose different portions of the side of the fixed shelving unit.
2. The product storage space of claim 1, wherein the movable shelving unit comprises at least one wheel.
3. The product storage space of claim 1, wherein the movable shelving unit comprises first and second wheels located at different elevations on the movable shelving unit.
4. The product storage space of claim 1, wherein:
the movable shelving unit comprises a depth, and a height and width each substantially greater than the depth and defining a plane of the movable shelving unit;
the movable shelving unit is movable in a direction substantially parallel to the plane of the movable shelving unit.
5. The product storage space of claim 2, wherein the shelving system comprises a track to which the at least one wheel is coupled and along which the at least one wheel is movable.
6. The product storage space of claim 5, wherein the wheel and track are shaped to have a mating male and female connection.
7. The product storage space of claim 3, wherein the shelving system comprises upper and lower tracks to which the first and second wheels are coupled and along which the first and second wheels are movable.
8. The product storage space of claim 1, further comprising a damper movable to slow the movable shelving unit along a range of movement of the movable shelving unit.
9. The product storage space of claim 8, wherein the damper comprises a cylinder, a piston movable within the cylinder, and a magnet.
10. The product storage space of claim 1, wherein the fixed shelving unit is a first fixed shelving unit, and the movable shelving unit is a first movable shelving unit; the shelving system further comprising
a second fixed shelving unit having a side from which products in the second fixed shelving unit are accessed, the second fixed shelving unit located adjacent the wall; and
a second movable shelving unit having a front from which products in the second movable shelving unit are accessed, and opposite sides, the second movable shelving unit substantially parallel to and spaced a distance from the first movable shelving unit to define an aisle between the first and second movable shelving units, the second movable shelving unit substantially parallel to the side of the second fixed shelving unit, wherein one of the opposite sides of the second movable shelving unit substantially faces the wall, the second movable shelving unit laterally movable to different distances from the wall to expose different portions of the side of the second fixed shelving unit.
11. A method of operating a shelving system within a storage area, the method comprising:
providing a fixed shelving unit having an open front from which products in the fixed shelving unit are accessed, a first end and a second end opposite the first end;
positioning the fixed shelving unit on a floor adjacent a wall in an orientation in which the fixed shelving unit extends from the wall, across the floor, and into the storage area, and in which the first end faces the wall;
providing a movable shelving unit having a front from which products in the movable shelving unit are accessed, a first side, and a second side opposite the first side;
positioning the movable shelving unit on the floor in an orientation in which the first side faces the wall;
laterally moving the movable shelving unit, wherein laterally moving the movable shelving unit comprises
moving the second side to different distances with respect to the wall;
moving the movable shelving unit in a path substantially parallel to the fixed shelving unit; and
exposing a front portion of the fixed shelving unit formerly obstructed by the movable shelving unit.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein laterally moving the movable shelving unit further comprises moving the shelving unit along a track to which the movable shelving unit is coupled.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein laterally moving the movable shelving unit further comprises moving the shelving unit along first and second tracks to which the movable shelving unit is coupled, wherein the first and second tracks are located at different elevations.
14. The method of claim 12, wherein laterally moving the movable shelving unit further comprises moving a wheel of the movable shelving unit in male and female mating engagement with the track.
15. The method of claim 11, further comprising:
stopping lateral movement of the movable shelving unit; and
slowing the movable shelving unit with a damper prior to stopping lateral movement of the movable shelving unit.
16. A product storage space comprising:
an area defined at least in part by a floor and a wall extending from the floor;
a support surface substantially supporting the floor;
a plurality of fasteners coupled to the floor, each of the plurality of fasteners adjustable to raise and lower the floor with respect to the support surface;
a first shelving unit coupled to the floor and including first and second ends, the first end positioned adjacent the wall, the first shelving unit substantially extending from the wall, across the floor, and into the area;
a track coupled to the floor;
a second shelving unit having a front from which products in the second shelving unit are accessed, and first and second sides opposite one another, the second shelving unit substantially extending into the area, the second shelving unit laterally movable along the track with respect to the first shelving unit to and from a position in which the second shelving unit is located at least partially in front of the first shelving unit.
17. The product storage space of claim 16, wherein the plurality of fasteners are threaded fasteners that can be threaded to raise and lower the floor.
18. The product storage space of claim 16, wherein the plurality of fasteners are accessible for adjustment from a top surface of the floor.
19. The product storage space of claim 16, further comprising a damper movable to slow the second shelving unit along a range of motion of the second shelving unit.
20. The product storage space of claim 19, wherein the damper comprises a cylinder, a piston movable within the cylinder, and a magnet.
21. A method of installing a product storage system in an area, the method comprising:
coupling the floor to a support surface;
leveling the floor with respect to the support surface;
positioning a first shelving unit on the floor and adjacent a wall, the first shelving unit having a front side, a back side and opposing ends;
coupling the first shelving unit to the floor;
positioning the first shelving unit in an orientation in which one of the opposing ends faces the wall and in which the first shelving unit extends from the wall, across the floor, and into the area;
coupling a track to the floor;
coupling a second shelving unit to the track, the second shelving unit having a front side and a back side; and
moving the second shelving unit along the track to and from a position in which at least a portion of the back side of the second shelving unit is adjacent and substantially faces at least a portion of the front side of the first shelving unit.
22. The method of claim 21, wherein leveling the floor comprises adjusting a plurality of fasteners coupled to the floor to change an elevation of the floor at each of the plurality of fasteners.
23. The method of claim 21, further comprising:
stopping the second shelving unit; and
slowing the second shelving unit with a damper prior to stopping the second shelving unit.
24. The method of claim 21, wherein coupling the second shelving unit to the track comprises mating a male portion of the second shelving unit with a female portion of the track.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/246,444 filed on Oct. 7, 2005, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    In retail sales, warehouse, storage, and other environments, it is common to use one or more shelving units to store packaged and unpackaged products in different forms. Such products can include food, beverages, clothing, household goods, medicine, electronics, tools, hardware, machinery, parts, and the like, can be packaged in boxes, bags, wrappers, bottles, cans, or in any other conventional packaging, and can be stored in rows, stacks, upon pallets, on hangers, in crates or bins, and the like.
  • [0003]
    A wide variety of shelving is available for storing products as described above. For example, shelving can include a movable or fixed wall-mounted shelving unit mounted with the back of the shelving unit against a wall, a fixed wall-mounted unit mounted with the side of the shelving unit against a wall (i.e., wherein the shelving unit extends away from the wall), a gondola-type shelving unit having one or more uprights coupled to a base and adapted to support cantilevered shelves, a free-standing shelving unit, and the like.
  • [0004]
    A challenge faced in many shelving environments is the need to maximize the available storage area for storing products within the shelving unit. This challenge is more significant in applications where there is limited floor space available within the environment. An example of an environment in which this type of challenge is faced is in a pharmacy, where maximum shelving space is desired to accommodate the ever-growing number of different medications that pharmacies must carry to service their customers, but where limited floor space is often available for shelving. Another common challenge is to ensure that all of the medication stored within the shelving in the pharmacy is readily accessible, easy to organize, and easy to find as quickly as possible. Also, the ability to rapidly install such shelving in a level manner is typically important. Thus, improved shelving systems and associated shelving methods are welcome additions to the art.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0005]
    In some embodiments, a shelving system adapted to be coupled to a wall and supported on a support surface is provided, and comprises a fixed shelving unit having a side from which products in the fixed shelving unit are accessed, the fixed shelving unit located adjacent the wall; and a movable shelving unit having a front from which products in the movable shelving unit are accessed, and opposite sides, the movable shelving unit substantially parallel to the side of the fixed shelving unit, wherein one of the opposite sides of the movable shelving unit substantially faces the wall, the movable shelving unit laterally movable to different distances from the wall to expose different portions of the side of the fixed shelving unit.
  • [0006]
    Some embodiments of the present invention provide a method of operating a movable shelving system installed adjacent a wall and a fixed shelving unit extending from the wall, wherein the method comprises providing a movable shelving unit having a front from which products in the movable shelving unit are accessed, a first side, and a second side opposite the first side and substantially facing the wall; and laterally moving the movable shelving unit, wherein laterally moving the movable shelving unit comprises moving the second side to different distances with respect to the wall; moving the movable shelving unit in a path substantially parallel to the fixed shelving unit; and exposing a front portion of the fixed shelving unit formerly obstructed by the movable shelving unit.
  • [0007]
    In some embodiments, a movable shelving system for installation on a support surface is provided, and comprises a floor; a plurality of fasteners coupled to the floor, each of the plurality of fasteners adjustable to raise and lower the floor with respect to the support surface; a first shelving unit coupled to the floor; a track coupled to the floor; a second shelving unit having a front from which products in the second shelving unit are accessed, and first and second sides opposite one another, the second shelving unit laterally movable along the track with respect to the first shelving unit to and from a position in which the second shelving unit is located at least partially in front of the first shelving unit.
  • [0008]
    Some embodiments of the present invention provide a method of installing a movable shelving unit, comprising coupling a floor of the movable shelving unit to a support surface; leveling the floor with respect to the support surface; coupling a first shelving unit to the floor, the first shelving unit having a front side and a back side; coupling a second shelving unit to a track coupled to the floor, the second shelving unit having a front side and a back side; and moving the second shelving unit along the track to and from a position in which at least a portion of the back side of the second shelving unit is adjacent and substantially faces at least a portion of the front side of the first shelving unit.
  • [0009]
    In some embodiments, a shelving system adapted to be installed upon a floor is provided, and comprises first and second tracks; at least one fixed shelving unit coupled to the floor, the at least one fixed shelving unit having opposite first and second sides; a first movable shelving unit coupled to the floor adjacent the first side of the at least one fixed shelving unit, the first movable shelving unit coupled to and movable along the first track; a second movable shelving unit coupled to the floor adjacent the at least one movable shelving unit, the second movable shelving unit coupled to and movable along the second track, wherein the at least one fixed shelving unit is located between the first and second tracks; and a damper coupled to and extending from the first movable shelving unit, the damper movable to slow movement of the first movable shelving unit through a range of movement of the first movable shelving unit along the first track.
  • [0010]
    More information and a better understanding of the present invention can be achieved by reference to the following drawings and detailed description.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0011]
    The present invention is further described with reference to the accompanying drawings, which show some embodiments of the present invention. However, it should be noted that the embodiments as disclosed in the accompanying drawings is illustrated by way of example only. The various elements and combinations of elements described below and illustrated in the drawings can be arranged and organized differently to result in embodiments which are still within the spirit and scope of the present invention.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 1 is a plan view of a pharmacy having a shelving system according to aspects of the present invention.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 2 is a front view of a portion of a shelving system bay illustrated in FIG. 1, showing components of a fixed shelving unit.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 3 is an end view of a shelving system bay illustrated in FIG. 1, showing movable and fixed shelving units of the shelving system bay.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 4 is a front view of a portion of the shelving system of FIG. 1, showing components of a movable shelving unit and a damping and stopping mechanism of the movable shelving unit.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 5 is a detail end view of a shelving system bay illustrated in FIG. 1, showing the floor of the pharmacy and wheel assemblies of two movable shelving units.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 6 is a detail view of a wheel assembly shown in FIG. 5.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 7 is a detail perspective view of a portion of a shelving system bay of FIG. 1, showing a shelf connected to the shelving system.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0019]
    FIG. 1 illustrates a pharmacy 24 having a shelving system 20 embodying some aspects of the present invention. It should be understood that in other embodiments, the shelving system 20 can be utilized in other environments while still falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention, and that the following description of the shelving system 20 within a pharmacy 24 is merely illustrative. For example, the shelving system 20 can instead be utilized in any environment where product storage is needed, including without limitation any retail, warehouse, manufacturing, or other environment for storing any type of packaged and unpackaged products in any form as described above.
  • [0020]
    The pharmacy 24 illustrated in FIG. 1 includes various work areas, including a will-call area 28 where customers can pick up waiting prescriptions, and a plurality of pill bays 32. In other pharmacies and in other environments, fewer, more, and different types of work areas are possible. In the illustrated embodiment, three pill bays 32 are shown, though it is understood that more or fewer pill bays 32 can be used as desired. The pill bays 32 in FIG. 1 include fixed storage areas 34 on one end, a plurality of shelving units 36, and an aisle between adjacent pill bays 32 within the shelving system 20 in which pharmacists and technicians can move to remove and stock appropriate items from the shelving system 20. Although the fixed storage areas 34 are not utilized in other embodiments, the fixed storage area 34 can provide additional storage space, and can include or be defined by shelves, baskets, hangers, and other product storage elements coupled to the pharmacy wall W. The pill bays 32 in some embodiments can also include one or more work tables 38 at the end of one or more shelving units 36 to provide work space for those working in or adjacent the pill bays 32. Alternatively, one or more of the work tables can be replaced by additional storage areas, such as by fixed shelving units, cabinets, displays, and the like, any of which can also have a work surface, if desired.
  • [0021]
    The shelving units 36 are grouped together in the illustrated embodiment in groups of seven or eight shelving units 36. Each group of shelving units 36 forms one pill bay 32. It should be understood that in other embodiments, any other number of shelving units and shelving unit groupings can be used while still falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, one or more of the pill bays 32 can have one or more fixed shelving units 36F (described in greater detail below) sandwiched between a pair of movable shelving units 36M (also described in greater detail below). As another example, one or more of the pill bays 32 can have one or more fixed shelving units 36F and two or more movable shelving units 36M oriented substantially parallel to the fixed shelving unit(s) 36F and only on one side (e.g., a front or back) of the fixed shelving unit 36F. As yet another example, one or more of the pill bays 32 can have one or more fixed shelving units 36F, two or more movable shelving units 36M oriented substantially parallel to the fixed shelving unit 36F on one side (e.g., a front or back) of the fixed shelving unit 36F, and one or more movable shelving units 36M oriented substantially parallel to the fixed shelving unit(s) 36F on an opposite side of the fixed shelving unit(s) 36F, and the like. In those embodiments having two or more fixed shelving units 36F, the fixed shelving units 36F can be positioned back-to-back and/or end-to-end (e.g., extending lengthwise away from the wall in end-to-end fashion). For example, each pill bay 32 illustrated in FIG. 1 has two pairs of fixed shelving units 36F, wherein each pair of the fixed shelving units 36F is positioned back-to-back with respect to one another, and wherein the two pairs of back-to-back fixed shelving units 36F are positioned in end-to-end format to extend outwardly from the pharmacy wall W. It will be appreciated that any number of additional fixed shelving units 36F can be positioned in end-to-end format in other pill bays 32 to extend farther from the pharmacy wall W.
  • [0022]
    With reference again to the pharmacy 24 in FIG. 1, each shelving unit 36 in the illustrated embodiment is approximately four feet long and approximately eight inches wide, although the particular measurements of the shelving units 36 will vary depending at least in part upon the environment in which the shelving system 20 is to be used and the products intended to be stored in the shelving units 36. In this regard, the shelving units 36 can have any length, width, and height desired. Each work table 38 illustrated in FIG. 1 has a width that is slightly greater than the width of two shelving units 36. However, in other embodiments, the work table 36 can be wider or narrower as desired.
  • [0023]
    With reference to FIGS. 2-4, each illustrated shelving unit 36 includes an upright portion 40 that includes one or more substantially vertical supports 44 at least partially defining a frame of the upright portion 40. For example, the upright portion 40 in the illustrated embodiment each include four vertical supports 44, although fewer or more vertical supports 44 can be utilized in other embodiments. In some embodiments, some or all of the vertical supports are coupled together via one or more additional frame components located anywhere along the height of the vertical supports 44 for this purpose, such as stretchers 46 located only at the top and/or bottom of the upright portion 40, stretchers located intermediate the top and bottom of the upright portion 40, and the like.
  • [0024]
    The upright portion 40 can be adapted to connect to any number of shelving components (e.g., shelves, brackets, hangers, baskets, signage, and the like) in any manner. For example, the vertical supports 44 of the upright portions 40 illustrated in FIGS. 2-4 can be provided with fasteners or fastening features to which such shelving components can be coupled. Fasteners and fastening features can include holes, grooves, recesses, and other apertures having any shape and size, teeth, hooks, pins, fingers, clips, clamps, magnets, and the like. In the illustrated embodiment, for example, the vertical supports 44 are provided with generally elongated holes 48 into which portions of one or more shelving components (e.g., teeth, hooks, pins, fingers, or other projections of a shelf, bracket, hanger, basket, sign, and the like) can be received to connect the shelving components to the vertical supports 44.
  • [0025]
    It should be noted that the vertical supports 44 can be provided with any number and combination of fastening features and fasteners anywhere along the lengths of the vertical supports 44 as desired. Also, the fasteners and fastening elements of the vertical supports 44 can be located on two or more sides of the vertical supports 44 for attachment of shelving components on such sides. For example, the vertical supports 44 of the fixed shelving units 36F in the illustrated embodiment have apertures on all sides of the vertical supports 44, thereby enabling the connection of shelving components on such sides of the vertical supports 44. Also, the vertical supports 44 of the movable shelving units 36M in the illustrated embodiment have apertures on opposite sides of the vertical posts 44, thereby enabling the connection of shelving components on the opposite sides of the upright portion 40.
  • [0026]
    In some embodiments, the upright portions 40 of the movable and/or fixed shelving units 36M, 36F include one or more grids, plates, sheets, or other elements (hereinafter referred to only as “panels” 52) at least partially defining a back of the shelving unit 20. The panels 52 can be connected to the vertical supports 44 and/or the stretchers 46, or can be secured with respect to the rest of the upright portion 40 in any other manner desired. In some embodiments, panels 52 (e.g., pegboard, slotted panels, or other types of panels) extend between the vertical supports 44, and can be secured in place by edges of the panels 52 received within channels of or connected to the vertical supports 44 and/or channels of or connected to the stretchers 46. The panels 52 of the upright portion 40 can be configured to receive hooks or other fastening elements for hanging fixtures or products on the panels 52. In other embodiments, some or all of the shelving units 36 may not utilize a panel between the vertical supports 44, but rather the space between the vertical supports 44 can remain open such that a user can see through the shelving unit 36.
  • [0027]
    As mentioned above, in some embodiments, the shelving system 20 includes one or more fixed shelving units 36F, and one or more movable shelving units 36M on either side of the fixed shelving unit(s) 36F or on both sides of the fixed shelving unit(s) 36F (i.e., sandwiching the fixed shelving units 36F within a given grouping of shelving units 36). In some embodiments, the movable shelving units 36M include a panel 52 that essentially divides the width of the shelving units 36M in half, wherein shelving or other product storage elements are located on opposite faces of the panel 52. In other embodiments, the movable shelving units 36M will not have the panel 52 such that a user can see through the shelving units 36M (sometimes known as peek-a-boo shelving).
  • [0028]
    FIG. 2 illustrates a fixed shelving unit 36F of a shelving system bay 32 illustrated in FIG. 1. The fixed shelving unit 36F of FIG. 2 includes four vertical supports 44 coupled to a base portion 56 defined by one of the stretchers 46 described earlier. The base portion 56 includes legs 60 at each end to support the fixed shelving unit 36F on a support surface, such as the floor 64. An end 68 of the fixed shelving unit 36F can be attached to a pharmacy wall W. The fixed shelving unit 36F can also be attached to the floor 64 in a manner that will be described below. In other embodiments, the fixed shelving unit 36F has no legs 64, or has any other number of legs located anywhere along the bottom of the fixed shelving unit 36F.
  • [0029]
    As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the movable shelving units 36M include lower wheel assemblies 72 and upper wheel assemblies 76. The lower wheel assemblies 72 each include a wheel 80 mounted to the movable shelving unit 36M, movable along a lower track 128 (see FIG. 5), and permitting movement of each movable shelving unit 36M in a direction substantially parallel to a plane 82 in which each movable shelving unit 36M lies and/or substantially perpendicular to the upright portion 40 (in a direction indicated by dotted line 90 in FIG. 3). The upper wheel assemblies 76 each include a wheel 84 mounted to the movable shelving unit 36M, movable along an upper track 88, and also permitting movement of each movable shelving unit 36M in a direction substantially parallel to the plane 82 and/or substantially perpendicular to the upright portion 40.
  • [0030]
    In other embodiments, any or all of the movable shelving units 36M are provided only with one or more upper wheel assemblies 76 movable within an upper track 88 and/or one or more lower wheel assemblies 72 movable within a lower track 128 as just described. In such embodiments, the rolling movement of such movable shelving units 36M can be accompanied by sliding motion of one or more portions of the shelving units 36M (e.g., edges, projections, and the like) along a track or other portion of the shelving units 36M, such as by using ball, linear, or other bearing sets, and the like.
  • [0031]
    With reference to FIGS. 5 and 6, the lower wheel assemblies 72 include the wheel 80 mounted for rotation about an axle 92, and includes a channel portion 96 therein for cooperating with a portion of the lower track 128, as will be described in more detail below. In the illustrated embodiment, a channel 100 is coupled to the bottom of the vertical supports 44, and provides mounting locations for the lower wheel assemblies 72. In other embodiments, other elements and structures can be utilized for this purpose, such as one or more brackets directly or indirectly connected to the vertical supports 44, one or more plates, rods, fingers, or other elements extending to locations at which the lower wheel assemblies 72 can be mounted, and the like. Each movable shelving unit 36M can have any number of lower wheel assemblies 72 desired.
  • [0032]
    The channel 100 of the lower wheel assembly 72 illustrated in FIGS. 3-6 includes arm portions 104 that each have an aperture therein to receive the axle 92. With particular reference to FIG. 6, bushings 108 constructed of suitable materials (e.g., brass or other metal, UHMW or other polymer materials, and the like) line the aperture that receives the axle 92, and support roller bearings 112 thereon to enhance the rolling motion of the wheel 80. In other embodiments, the lower wheel assembly 72 can have other types of bushings and/or bearings 112, or can have none at all. Nylon washers 116 can be coupled to the axle 92 between the wheel 80 and the arm portions 104 to reduce any friction that could occur from contact between the wheel 80 and the arm portions 104 during movement of the shelving unit 36M. Also, retaining rings 120 can retain the axle 92 in place with respect to the channel 100 and/or can support the arm portions 104 on the axle 92 to reduce lateral movement of the arm portions 104 with respect to the axle 92 during movement.
  • [0033]
    With reference now to FIG. 5, the pharmacy 24 of the illustrated embodiment includes a floor 64. The floor 64 of the illustrated embodiment is a wood floor having a thickness of approximately of an inch, although other floor materials (e.g., plastic and other polymers, fiberglass, metal, composites, and the like) and other floor thicknesses can be used as desired. The floor 64 in the illustrated embodiment is designed to be affixed to a concrete support surface 122. However, the floor 64 can be attached to and supported upon any other surface desired.
  • [0034]
    Some embodiments of the present invention employ a leveling system enabling an installer to quickly and accurately level each shelving bay 32—a process that would otherwise take significant time and effort or would not take place at all. In the illustrated embodiment, the floor 64 is provided with a number of fasteners 124 that can be adjusted to level the floor 64. In some embodiments (e.g., in the illustrated embodiment), the fasteners 124 have threads enabling a user to thread the fasteners 124 into and out of threaded apertures in the floor 64, thereby changing the height of the floor 64 at the location of each threaded fastener 124. To provide installer access to the fasteners, the tops of the fasteners 124 can be exposed from a top side of the floor 64 through apertures 144 in the floor 64. In some embodiments, the tops of the fasteners 124 can be releasably connectable to a socket, Allen wrench, screwdriver, or other tool in order to turn the fasteners 124 for leveling the floor 64.
  • [0035]
    With continued reference to FIG. 5, lower track 128 can be attached to the top surface of the floor 64, and is configured to engage the wheels 80 of the lower wheel assemblies 72. The lower track 128 of the illustrated embodiment is made of aluminum and includes a steel insert 132 running lengthwise along the center of the lower track 128. In some embodiments, the lower track 128 is integrally formed with a center wheel-engaging portion having the shape shown in FIG. 5. The lower track 128 (and insert 132, if utilized) can be made of any material, including without limitation steel, aluminum, iron, and other metals, plastic, UHMW, and other polymers, and the like.
  • [0036]
    The insert portion 132 of the illustrated movable shelving unit 36M runs lengthwise along the center of the lower track 128, and has a width sized to fit within the channel portion 96 in the wheel 80 to center and guide the wheel 80 on the lower track 128 during motion of the movable shelving unit 36M. In other embodiments, the wheel 80 can have other shapes adapted to provide other types of male/female mating between the wheel 80 and the lower track 128. For example, the channel portion 96 of the wheel 80 can be substantially V or U-shaped for mating with a correspondingly-shaped elongated protrusion of the lower track 128. As another example, the wheel 80 can instead be provided with a circumferential protrusion received within a correspondingly-shaped groove or other aperture in the lower track 128. Still other types of mating engagement between the wheel 80 and the lower track 128 are possible, and fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention. In some alternative embodiments, any of the mating wheel engagements described herein can instead be employed between the wheel and a surface of the floor 64. In still other embodiments, no such mating engagement exists between the wheel 80 and the lower track 128, in which case the lower track 128 can still be utilized to provide a rolling surface for the wheel 80 and/or has one or more sides for retaining the wheel 80 on the lower track 128.
  • [0037]
    The floor 64 and the lower track 128 and insert 132 (if employed) can be secured to the support surface 122 in a number of different manners, such as by bolts, screws, nails, rivets, pins, and other conventional fasteners, by adhesive or cohesive bonding material, by welding or brazing, by clips, clamps, brackets, or inter-engaging elements, and the like. In the illustrated embodiment, for example, aligned apertures are formed in the insert 132, the floor 64, and the concrete support surface 122 to receive a connecting bolt 136. Additional aligning apertures can be formed in the floor 64, the support surface 122, and one or more legs 60, the base 56, or other portion of the fixed shelving unit 36F to also receive an anchor bolt 140. The connecting and/or anchor bolts 136, 140 can anchor the floor 64 to the support surface 122, while the anchor bolt 140 can also anchor the fixed shelving units 36F to the floor 64. However, before the anchor bolt 140 is secured in the apertures, the floor 64 can be leveled with respect to the support surface 122 to ensure level display surfaces on the shelving units 36F, 36M by manipulation of the leveling fasteners 124.
  • [0038]
    Referring back to FIGS. 3 and 4, the upper track 88 is coupled to the top surfaces of the vertical supports 44. The upper track 88 receives the wheels 84 of the upper wheel assemblies 76, which rotate in a direction perpendicular to the direction of rotation of the wheels 80 to provide additional guidance to the shelving unit 36M as the shelving unit 36M moves. In other embodiments, the upper wheels 84 rotate about horizontal axes or about axes extending in any other direction to enable the upper wheels 84 to run along an upper track 88 having a different shape.
  • [0039]
    In some embodiments (see FIGS. 3 and 4), a dust cover 148 is located over the shelving units 36M, 36F, and can be coupled to the upper tracks 88, to the vertical supports 44 of the fixed shelving units 36F, and/or to the stretchers 46 or other portions of the fixed shelving units 36F to protect items on the upper portions of the shelving units 36M, 36F from dust and debris.
  • [0040]
    In shelving systems that include movable shelving components, abrupt stopping of the motion of the shelving units can be problematic, causing products on the shelving units to fall over, fall off the shelving units, shift their positions, or otherwise be displaced and adding to the time necessary to retrieve needed products from the shelving units. Therefore, any or all of the movable shelving units 36M can be provided with a damper 152 in order to slow (and in some cases, stop) movement of the shelving units 36M when they approach an end of their range of movement and/or an adjacent shelving unit 36M. In some embodiments, the dampers 152 are coupled to locations that are stationary with respect to the movable shelving units 36M, such as to the dust cover 148 (as in the illustrated embodiment), to stretchers connected to one or more adjacent fixed shelving units 36F, to a wall, ceiling, frame, or other structure adjacent the movable shelving units 36M, and the like.
  • [0041]
    In some embodiments, the damper 152 comprises a pneumatic or hydraulic piston and cylinder. For example, each of the dampers 152 in the illustrated embodiment comprises a piston 164 telescopingly received within a cylinder 168 at least partially filled with liquid or gas to dampen motion of the piston 164 therein.
  • [0042]
    Each of the dampers 152 in the illustrated embodiment also includes a magnet 156 that is mounted in a location in which the magnet 156 comes into contact with the piston 160 of a corresponding damper 152 when the corresponding movable shelving unit 36M approaches the end of its range of motion or another movable shelving unit 36M. In some embodiments, the magnet 156 is mounted to a movable shelving unit 36M, and is brought into contact with the damper 152 mounted to an adjacent movable shelving unit 36M or to a stationary part of the pill bay 32 (e.g., to the dust cover 148, an adjacent stretcher connected to a fixed shelving unit 36F, a wall, ceiling, frame, or other adjacent structure, and the like). In other embodiments, the magnet 156 is mounted to a stationary part of the pill bay 32 such as those just mentioned, wherein a damper 152 is brought into contact with the magnet 156 by movement of a movable shelving unit 36M to which the damper 152 is mounted. In still other embodiments, the magnet 156 is located on the damper 152 (whether mounted to a movable shelving unit 36M or to any of the stationary structures just mentioned), and is attracted to an adjacent movable shelving unit 36M, stationary structure, or to another magnet mounted to an adjacent movable shelving unit 36M or stationary structure.
  • [0043]
    The magnet 156 is employed to temporarily and releasably connect the damper 152 (and therefore, the movable shelving unit 36M coupled thereto) to an adjacent movable shelving unit 36M or stationary structure, thereby causing the piston 164 to be withdrawn from the cylinder 168 upon movement of the movable shelving unit 36M away from the adjacent movable shelving unit 36M or stationary structure. This action extends and primes the piston 164, thereby readying the damper 152 for another damping action.
  • [0044]
    With reference to the illustrated embodiment, for example, FIG. 4 illustrates a first stopping mechanism 152A with the piston 164 compressed within a cylinder 168 after movement of the right movable shelving unit 36M has been stopped, and a second stopping mechanism 152B shown with the piston 164 extended and ready for compression when the right movable shelving unit 36M is moved to the left in FIG. 4 (or when the left movable shelving unit 36M is moved to the right in FIG. 4). When the right movable shelving unit 36M in FIG. 4 is moved to the left, or when the left movable shelving unit 36M is moved to the right, the piston 164 of the corresponding damper 152B is eventually compressed into its corresponding cylinder 168, thereby generating a damping and slowing effect of the moving shelving unit 36M. Similarly, when the right movable shelving unit 36M was moved to its location shown in FIG. 4, the piston 164 of the corresponding damper 152A was compressed into its cylinder 168, thereby generating a damping and slowing effect of the moving shelving unit 36M.
  • [0045]
    To help prevent shifting or displacement of products on the movable shelving units 36M, individual shelves 172 that are coupled to the vertical supports 44 can, in some embodiments, include a non-slip liner 176 (see FIG. 7) that increases friction between the shelves 172 and product stored on those shelves to lessen the instances of disruption of the products.
  • [0046]
    The shelving system 20 described above and illustrated in the accompanying figures can be installed and utilized according to the following methods by way of example only. The pharmacy 24 of the illustrated embodiment is a modular pharmacy created within an already existing retail environment. In modular pharmacies such as these where there is a defined space footprint F available for the pharmacy 24, storage space is at a premium. The pharmacy walls W are erected, thereby defining the footprint F.
  • [0047]
    The floor 64 is then installed onto the support surface 122 of the retail area. The floor 64 is adjusted to ensure the floor 64 is level with respect to the support surface 122, utilizing the leveling fasteners 124 as discussed above. The fixed shelving units 36F are then secured to the floor 64 using the anchor bolts 140. As shown in FIG. 1, the fixed shelving units 36F have an end 68 secured to the wall W such that the shelving units 36F are positioned perpendicular to the wall W in a wing-type configuration. In the illustrated embodiment, each pill bay 32 has two fixed shelving units 36F in back-to-back configuration, although any of the other shelf configurations described above can instead be used for any of the pill bays 32.
  • [0048]
    Movable shelving units 36M can be attached to the floor 64 by aligning the channel portion 96 of the wheels 80 with the insert 132 within each corresponding track 128. In the illustrated embodiment, at least one movable shelving unit 36M is placed adjacent the front side of each of the two fixed shelving units 36F such that the two fixed shelving units 36F are sandwiched by movable shelving units 36M. In some embodiments, multiple movable shelving units 36M are placed end-to-end in front of a fixed shelving unit 36M. The upper wheel assemblies 76 are placed within the upper track 88 to further guide the movable shelving units 36M during motion through their shelving path.
  • [0049]
    Thus, within a pharmacy environment, sections of shelving two, three, four, or more shelves deep can be created. Each of the shelves can be loaded with different medications in an organized manner. When a pharmacist needs a particular medication housed on an innermost shelf, he or she simply slides one or more of the movable shelving units 36M toward or away from the wall W to reveal the desired medication upon a shelf formerly obstructed by the movable shelving unit(s) 36M. In this manner, more storage is provided within the pharmacy 24 while reducing the required amount of aisle space by providing a simple, sturdy, and useful system to store a greater number of products within a given pharmacy footprint F.
  • [0050]
    In the illustrated embodiment, movable shelving units 36M are configured to be grasped and moved in a sliding motion along guide tracks 128 to reveal movable shelving units 36M and/or fixed shelving units 36F therebehind. However, it is understood that in other embodiments, the movable shelving units 36M could include cranks or other user-manipulatable controls driving movement of the movable shelving units 36M by gear, pulley and cable, chain and sprocket, pulley and belt, or other power transmission systems to manually move the movable shelving units 36M. Additionally, while the movable portions of the shelving system 20 of the illustrated embodiment are movable manually, it is also contemplated that movement of the movable shelving units 36M can be automatically controlled utilizing motors or other prime movers to move the movable shelving units 36M. A user may simply push a button or operate any other user-manipulatable control to cause a motor or other prime mover to move the appropriate movable shelving unit 36M.
  • [0051]
    It should be understood that substitutions for many of the individual parts described above are possible while still falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, in any place where a particular fastener or fastening method is described, other fasteners, such as a screw, bolt, pin, nail, etc., or other fastening methods, such as welding, gluing, coupling by means of a fastener, etc., may be substituted. Additionally, materials other than those specifically described herein can be used to form the components of the shelving system 20.
  • [0052]
    It should also be understood that the shelving system 20 can be configured to be retrofit to a portion of an existing pharmacy, or can be installed as part of a new pharmacy erected within a larger retail environment, as described and illustrated above.
  • [0053]
    The embodiments described above and illustrated in the figures are presented by way of example only and are not intended as a limitation upon the concepts and principles of the present invention. As such, it will be appreciated by one having ordinary skill in the art that various changes in the elements and their configuration and arrangement are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims.
  • [0054]
    Various features and aspects of the invention are set forth in the following claims.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification211/151, 211/134, 211/153
International ClassificationA47F5/08
Cooperative ClassificationA47B53/02
European ClassificationA47B53/02
Legal Events
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Jun 30, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: L&P PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY, CALIFORNIA
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Owner name: L&P PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY, CALIFORNIA
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