US 3282382 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Nov. 1, 1966 Filed Aug. 2'7, 1964 o. H. THOMPSON 3,282,382
MILK MERCHANDISING APPARATUS 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 E i z l E g ATTORNEYS United States Patent f MHLK MERCHANDISIN G APPARATUS Oliver H. Thompson, 716 Cherry Ave., Big Rapids, Mich. Filed Aug. 27, 1964, Ser. No. 392,434 6 Claims. (Cl. 1861) This invention relates to refrigeration milk display and merchandising equipment and more particularly to a unique apparatus and system for handling, transporting, displaying and merchandising milk cartons from the dairy to the retail store.
This is a continuation-in-part application of my copending application entitled Milk Handling System, S.N. 327,385 filed December 2, 1963, now Patent No. 3,237,- 721.
Merchandising ofmilk, today sold in stores largely in paperboard cartons, involves considerable time and labor if properly done according to present techniques. Beginning at the dairy, after the cartons are filled with processed milk, they are individually loaded into crates, carted in the crates to the loading dock, manually loaded onto a truck, transported to the store, manually is loaded from the truck, carried into the store cooler room, and then periodically crate by crate, taken into the store and manually removed carton by carton and placed in the display cooler for sale. The total time and manual labor required is considerable, especially in view of the relatively small profit margin on milk, both for the dairy and the retail store.
It is an object of this invention to provide a unique system and apparatus for handling, transporting, displaying and merchandising articles, and especially cartons of milk, from the dairy to the store, causing individual cartons to 'be loaded and handled only once, at the dairy, prior to self-service sale to customers. No crates are used or needed. All previous manual lifting of crates for loading, unloading, filling the display cooler, etc., are eliminated. All manual re-handling of individual cartons is eliminated.
Another object of this invention is to provide a novel apparatus for merchandising cartons or other containers of paper, glass, or plastic having contents to be refrigerated, wherein a novel transportation and retention vehicle for the containers also forms an essential part of the merchandising and display assembly. Moreover, it uniquely cooperates with a novel refrigeration and display housing of the apparatus to effect an attractive storage and self-service display combination.
These and several other objects of this invention will become apparent upon studying the following specification in conjunction with the drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the system including the novel refrigeration storage and display housing and contained vehicle, in normal use conditions;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the novel system with the special cooler housing being loaded by a filled transporting and display vehicle;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the interior of the novel housing when empty, as viewed through the open vehicle inlet door;
FIG. 4 is a schematic elevational view of the refrig- Patented Nov. 1, 1966 novel display and transporting cart or vehicle 14 to form a self-service apparatus.
The housing has two end walls 16, two like side walls 18, and an enclosing exterior roof 20. The housing con tains an elongated station or receiving area 24 (FIGS. 3 and 5) receiving one of a plurality of the like carts 14. The housing has customer access and display door means 28 (FIG. 3) on opposite sides thereof in the two side walls. Each door means preferably includes a double door frame 30 suspending a pair of hinged doors 32 and 34. Insulating seals are provided around the doors.
On one end of the housing, or if desired, in both ends of the housing, is a vehicle inlet and exit area 36 in the form of a hingedly mounted door with a latch means 38. This door is thermally insulated, as are the walls of the housing, to maintain refrigerated air inside the housing.
The station area in the housing is therefore founded in front and back by the customer access doors, on both ends by the housing end walls having at least one vehicle entry door, by the housing floor, and by a ceiling.
Mounted above the ceiling of the housing, beneath the roof is a refrigeration system 40, including a typical compressor and evaporator driven by a motor and drive assembly. Since such are well known, it is not shown in detail. The hot air withdrawn from this refrigeration system is vented through end vents 44, and/ or if desired, through vents in the decorative cupola 46 on roof peak. The cooling coils of the refrigerator extend down below the ceiling 52 of the housing with a pair of circulator units 48 and 50. Each unit includes a circulating fan, 54 (FIG. 3), an open inlet to the outer back of the unit and an outlet opening 56 directed diagonally and downwardly toward the middle of the housing and the contained vehicle, to circulate air continuously around the housing.
Any cool water condensed on units 48 and 50, as from behind humid ambient air, is passed through conduits 60 and 62 to a heater evaporator unit 64 mounted on the floor of the housing.
Adjacent to the floor of the housing is a special cart guide and locator means 70. It aligns each cart to determine the limits of its movement inside the house. This keeps the cart in optimum relationship at a small selected spacing from each set of access doors on opposite sides, thereby presenting the milk cartons for optimum display viewing, and ready access through the sets of doors. This guide means 76 preferably comprises a metallic, elongated, configurated bar, generally U-shaped in configuration. The two ends 72 and 74 are fixedly mounted to the sides of the housing near vehicle entry door 36. The adjacent portions converge inwardly to a width slightly greater than each vehicle 14 retained therein. The bar is spaced several inches from the housing wall on both opposite sides and at the far 'or inner end wall opposite door 36, to exactly control the cart location. Spacing and mounting is achieved intermediate the ends of the bar by a plurality of spacer brackets 78 attached to the housing walls. conceivably, this vehicle guide and locator means could be varied in construction, as by joining it into the floor in the form of channel tracks.
The cart itself has a metallic frame with a pair of enclosing end panels 80, and a central, dividing, verticle, sheet, partition 82 extending between the end panels and attached thereto. On the opposite sides of this vertical panel is a plurality of open sided shelves 84 extending toward the respective side access doors. These are mounted to partition 82 and end panels 80. The cart is supported on a plurality of steerable rolling caster wheels 88, to enable it to comprise transportation means for the articles as well as storage and display means. The central partition not only serves as a support, but also controls the flow of air through the cooling housing so that air always circulates on both sides, in optimum relation to the articles exposed to the side doors. The side doors are raised from the floor so that the wheels are not externally visible, causing the vehicle to appear merely as a display support.
In the preferred form of the structure, the cooling display house includes roofing shingles, siding, and a c-upola to have a decorative appearance resembling an outdoor milk house. The structure may be formed of wooden support studs 90 (FIG. 5) enclosed by siding '92 and the shingling. The stud and beam framework is sufficient to support the overhead refrigeration apparatus. This basic construction could of course, be modified to be of other materials and configurations within the scope of this invention, provided that suitable housing insulation and circulation means is employed to control air flow, customer access doors are properly related to the guided vehicle, and the vehicle access door has its lower extremity at the floor level and its upper extremity at about the height of the top of the self-service doors, with a height greater than the vehicle height, to receive the vehicles.
Also it is conceivable that, as illustrated in FIG. 6, the housing may be modified as at 100 to receive a plurality of the individual carts, end to end, so that it could contain two, three, or another selected number of carts. The housing could still have an end access door 36 to receive loaded vehicles to be unloaded by customers through door assemblies 28. Also, it is conceivable that the customer access doors may be of sliding type.
During use, the system has been found to be extremely effective and enthusiastically received by both the store owners and customers. Dairymen, such as the applicant herein, also find tremendous savings and conveniences as well as time saving benefits with the system. At the dairy, the processed milk cartons are loaded directly onto the sanitized shelves of the carts. The vehicles are then wheeled directly into trucks for transport to the stores. At the stores, the desired number of carts are wheeled directly from the transporting truck into the cooling room, from whence they are moved an entire cart at a time as needed into the store, through door 36 of the novel housing, and from part of the display assembly. When loaded, the empty cart is simply wheeled out of the housing and replaced by a loaded one, the empty cart being retained in the back room for return to the dairy.
The entire system eliminates handling of individual cartons except initial loading at the dairy. It eliminates lifting and handling of the heavy crates previously employed, exclusively.
Various additional advantages to those specifically recited will probably occur to those in this field upon studying the foregoing form of the invention and the possible variations thereof. It is also conceivable that the details of construction could be modified in a variety of minor ways without departing from the unique concept taught. Therefore, the invention is intended to be limited only by the scope of the appended claims and the reasonably equivalent structures to those defined herein.
I. A dairy-to-retail store milk handling and merchandising system, comprising: a retail store display housing having a floor, a top, ends, and sides, forming an enclosed display space, and having contained refrigeration means with cool air outlet means directed into said display space; display and access means on the sides of said housing; Wheeled container supporting, display, and transporting cart means in said housing, having open sided shelves adjacent said access means; display cart inlet means on the end of said housing extending to said floor and higher than said cart means to receive said wheeled cart means; normally closed door means for said cart inlet means; cart guide and orienting means in said housing adjacent said inlet means and access means, to guide loaded cart insertion for optimum display and access of containers through said access means; said display and access means being on both sides of said housing, and said cart having a central vertical partition and open sided shelves on both sides thereof, opening toward the respective access means.
2. A retail store milk carton handling and merchandising apparatus comprising: a retail store display housing having a floor, a top, ends and sides forming an enclosed receiving space; refrigeration means in said housing with cool air outlet means directed into said receiving space; container display and customer self-service access means in the opposite sides of said housing; display vehicle inlet means on the end of said housing extending up from said floor to receive wheeled carts; normally closed door means over said inlet means; cart guiding and positioning means in said housing from said inlet means adjacent said access means and positioned with respect thereto to orient a container vehicle inserted into said area; and said apparatus including means cooperative with said access means for retaining cool air in said space.
3. The system in claim 2 wherein said cart guiding and positioning means comprises a fixed bumper element mounted in said housing and configurated to have a divergent receiving mouth oriented toward said vehicle entry and exit means.
4. A self-service display and merchandising system for refrigerated merchandising, comprising: an elongated display and storage housing forming a vehicle station area and having elongated sides, a vehicle support surface, ends, and a top; display and access means in said elongated sides; wheeled storage and display vehicle means in said housing, having article retention means oriented toward said access means to retain articles visible and accesible through said access means; refrigeration means having outlet means directed into said area toward said display vehicle means; vehicle entry and exit means into said housing, enabling substitution of loaded vehicles for unloaded vehicles; vehicle guide and orienting means in said housing spaced from said access means and extending from said entry and exit means adjacent said vehicle station area to guide and position an entering vehicle for display and access of the articles through said access means; and said appartus including means cooperative with said access means for retaining cool air in said space.
5. The system in claim 4 wherein said vehicle station area is elongated and equivalent in area to a plurality of vehicles, said vehicle means comprises a plurality of vehicles, and said side viewing and customer access means includes a like plurality of areas aligned with the respective vehicles.
6. The system in claim 4 wherein said housing top includes a ceiling over said space and a peaked roof over said ceiling, said refrigeration means being mounted therebetween with said cool outlet means extending through said ceiling into said space toward said vehicle means.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,058,320 10/1962 Foster et al. 62302 FOREIGN PATENTS 1,236,869 6/1960 France.
ANDRES H. NIELSEN, Primary Examiner.