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Publication numberUS3436136 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 1, 1969
Filing dateJun 5, 1967
Priority dateJun 5, 1967
Publication numberUS 3436136 A, US 3436136A, US-A-3436136, US3436136 A, US3436136A
InventorsMckechnie Ian C
Original AssigneeUnited Service Equipment Co In
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Storing and dispensing apparatus
US 3436136 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

April 1, 1969 l. c. M KECHNIE STORING AND DISPENSING APPARATUS lurz Sheet Filed June 5) 1967 I NVENTOR: IAN EMBKBBHNIE.

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April 1, 1969 l. c. M KECHNIE 3,436,136

STORING AND DISPENSING APPARATUS Filed June a, 1967 Sheet 2 of 2 7 TTE'E' 1 2; INVENTOR:

w 2 6 IAN E.MUKEUHNIE.

F 7 QM Q sQM ATTYS.

United States Patent Ofice 3,436,136 Patented Apr. 1, 1969 3,436,136 STORING AND DISPENSING APPARATUS Ian C. McKechnie, Scottsdale, Ariz., assignor to United Service Equipment Co., Inc., Palmer, Mass., :1 corporation of Delaware Filed June 5, 1967, Ser. No. 643,511 Int. Cl. B65g 1/16, 11/10; A47f 1/00 US. Cl. 312-71 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Background of the invention Many attempts have 'been made in the past to provide a satisfactory storing and dispensing apparatus for the handling of trays, dishes or similar articles of uniform unit weight which are capable of being stacked. This type of apparatus is used in, for example, food handling operations in restaurants, hospitals, and similar operations.

Many of the prior art devices were suitable for the use intended when they were built for one article of a particular size and weight. Most of the prior art devices could not easily be adjusted to accommodate stacked articles of a unit weight different than the design unit weight.

Even in prior art storing and dispensing apparatus, which did have provisions for accommodating articles of a different weight, the mechanisms for making the adjustments were often complex. The problem of complex adjustments in this type of apparatus has intensified in recent years because of higher labor expenses and because of the increased use of relatively unskilled labor in both hospital and restaurant operations.

Summary of the invention The present invention solves the major problem of the prior art by providing a storage and dispensing apparatus which is easily adjusted to accommodate articles having a unit weight differing from the design unit weight.

The storing and dispensing apparatus, according to the present invention, includes a plurality of vertical support members aligned in a spaced relationship and having inner surfaces which define a central article receiving area. Means are provided for supporting the lower ends of the support members and a collar is mounted on the upper ends of the support members. The collar has a central article receiving opening which acts as an entrance to the central article receiving area. A spring is mounted adjacent each of the support members in a location exterior of the central receiving area. A platform is mounted for movement within the central receiving area and cable means are operatively connected between the springs and the platform, whereby the force produced by the weight of articles stacked on the platform is counterbalanced the desired amount by the force of the springs. The uppermost one of the stacked articles occupies a predetermined vertical position which is preferably slightly above the top surface of the collar.

It is a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles.

Brief description of the drawings FIG. 1 is a side view in elevation of an apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles, according to the present invention, having portions broken away to show interior components;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the storing and dispensing apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, vertical cross-sectional View taken along the line 33 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, perspective view of a portion of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1 and showing in particular the tape adjusting means and the indicia means;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary, vertical cross-sectional view of apparatus according to the present invention, showing another embodiment of means for varying the effective length of the springs;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary, side elevational view taken along the line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary, partially cross-sectional view taken along the line 77 of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 8. is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view taken along the line 8-8 of FIG. 5.

Description of the preferred embodiments Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles, according to the present invention, is generally indicated in FIG. 1 by the reference number 10. The apparatus 10 includes a base frame 11, and three vertical support or channel members 12, having inner surfaces 13, which extend upwardly from the base 11. The channel members 12, in the present embodiment, have generally U-shaped horizontal cross sections and are equally spaced on the base frame 11, with respect to one another.

The inner surfaces 13 of the channel members 12 define an article receiving area 14, which in the present embodiment is cylindrical in configuration.

A ring shaped collar 15 is mounted on the upper end of the three channel members 12 and defines a circular article receiving opening 16. The article receiving opening 16 in the collar 15 serves as an entrance to the article receiving area 14.

A circular platform 20 having guide recesses 21 (see FIG. 7) in its outer periphery is mounted for vertical movement in the article receiving area 14 and is positioned between the spaced channel members 12. Portions of the inner surfaces 13 of the channel members 12 are received by the guide recesses 21. As the platform 20 moves upwardly and downwardly, the channel members 12 prevent undesired rotation.

Referring to FIG. 1, upper, intermediate, and lower positions of the platform 20 are indicated by dashed lines. A plurality of stacked articles, in this case dishes 22 are shown in position on the platform 20 (see FIG. 5). The uppermost dish 22a occupies a predetermined vertical position which in the present embodiment is at an elevation slightly above the upper surface of the collar 15. When in this position, the uppermost dish 22a ma be readily grasped and removed. When this occurs, the platform 20 moves upwardly until the second dish occupies the predetermined vertical position, as will be described below.

A housing 23 is connected to the channel members 12 and encloses the apparatus 10. It is noted that, while a housing is shown in connection with the present embodiment, many times the apparatus 10 is placed in a prepared opening in, for example, a counter area, and a housing is not required.

Referring to FIG. 3, a tension spring 24 is positioned within the confines of each of the channel members 12.

The tension springs 24 are positioned or located exteriorly of the article receiving area 14, as shown in FIG. 1. In the present embodiment, the tension springs 24 have their lower ends connected directly to the base frame 11. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 7, a cover plate 25 is attached to each of the channel members 12 to completely enclose the springs 24.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, a traveling pulley 26 is attached to the upper end of each of the tension springs 24. A stationary pulley 27 is mounted on the collar in vertical spaced relationship with respect to the traveling pulley 26.

Referring to FIG. 5, three arms 28 extend outwardly from the platform 20. Each of the arms 28 mounts at its outermost end a cable or tape 29. Each tape 29 passes over a respective stationar pulley 27; thence downwardly around a traveling pulley 26; and thence upwardly to a location adjacent the collar 15. An upper end 30 of the tape 29 is received in a split bolt assembly 31 having a tightening nut 32. The split bolt assembly 31 is one embodiment of a means for adjusting the elfective length of the tape 29. When the apparatus 10 is in an unloaded condition, the nut 32 is loosened and the upper end 30 of the tape 29 is adjusted until the platform is in a desired vertical position. At this time, the nut 32 is tightened to secure the upper end of the tape 29.

In the present embodiment, a mounting rod 35 extends upwardly adjacent each of the stationary pulleys 27 and a guide post 36 is removably attached to the mounting rod 35 by a screw 37. The guide posts 36 define the entrance path to the article receiving area 14 and also restrict undesired lateral movement of the plates 22.

The use of the traveling pulley 26 provides a 2/1 mechanical advantage. The upper end of the tension spring 24 travels one-half the distance traveled by the platform 20 during its vertical movement. It has been found that the use of the tension spring 24 and the above described pulley arrangement provides the apparatus 10 with far greater flexibility than was known in prior art devices.

Means are provided for adjusting the elfective length of each of the springs 24. Referring to FIG. 3, a series of vertically spaced and opposed pairs of holes 38 and 39 are provided in the legs of each of the channel members 12. In this embodiment, a U-shaped plate 40 having legs 41 is interposed between the coils of the tension spring 24. The legs 41 are removably secured to the channel member 12 by bolts 42, which are positioned in opposed pairs of holes 38 and 39. The plate 40 renders the lower coils of the tension spring 24 inactive, thereby shortening the effective length of the spring and increasing the counterbalancing force transferred by the spring 24 to the platform 20.

If necessary, the plate 40 may be moved vertically upwardly or downwardly to alternate positions, one of such positions being indicated by dashed line position 40a in FIG. 3. The effective length of the springs 24 are adjusted when a plurality of stacked articles having a difterent unit weight are supported upon the platform 20.

By using the adjusting means described above, it has been found that it is possible to store and dispense articles having unit weights which difiFer by significant amounts. Furthermore, the use of tension springs, as opposed to compression springs, eliminates the common prior art problems of buckling and side scraping.

Referring to FIGS. 5, 7 and 8, another embodiment of means for adjusting the effective length of the springs is shown. In this embodiment, corrugated members 43 and 44 are afiixed to opposite sides of the channel member 12. The corrugated members 43 and 44 define a series of vertically spaced horizontal slots 45 and 46. In this embodiment, a rectangular plate 47 is interposed between the coils of the tension spring 24. The plate 47 is received by opposed pairs of the horizontal slots 45 and 46.

Referring to FIG. 4, indicia means, in this embodiment vertically spaced numbers are provided on one of the tapes 29. A viewing opening 50 is defined by the respective guide post 36. A restaurant or hospital worker may visually observe through the viewing opening 50 the approximate number of articles, for example plates 22, which remain on the platform 20. Other types of indicia, for example a color code may be used. For example, a red band may be placed on the tape 29 to indicate that the supply of plates 22 is relatively low.

After the apparatus 10 is installed, the installer, prior to loading the articles, adjusts the uppermost level of the platform 20. He loosens the nut 32, either shortens or lengthens the effective length of the tape 29, and then retightens the nut 32. The dishes 22 are then placed on the platform 20. As each dish 22 is placed on the platform 20, the platform 20 moves downwardly because of the force produced by the weight of the individual plate 22. This force is counterbalanced by the force produced by the tension springs 24 after the plate has moved through a distance equal to the thickness of the plate. The counterbalancing force is of an amount sufficient to at all times maintain the uppermost plate 22a at the predetermined vertical elevation shown in FIGS. 1 and 5.

If necessary, the installer adjusts the effective length of the tension springs 24, by interposing the plate 40 at the proper position within the coils of the tension springs 24 to insure that the uppermost plate 22a will at all times remain in the predetermined vertical position. After this adjustment, the unit normally does not have to be readjusted unless articles of a different unit weight are positioned on the platform 20. When the new article has a unit weight which varies considerably from the unit weight of the previous article, it is sometimes necessary to remove the tension springs 24 and replace them with springs of generally similar physical dimensions, however, having dilfering spring rates which are suitable for use with the new articles.

While the present invention has been disclosed in connection with a specific arrangement of parts and with respect to preferred embodiments, it should be expressly understood that numerous modifications and changes may be made without departing from the scope of the appended claims.

I claim:

1. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles comprising, a plurality of support members aligned in spaced relationship and having inner surfaces which define a central article receiving area, means for supporting the lower ends of said support members, a collar mounted adjacent the upper ends of said support members, said collar having a central article receiving opening, a tension spring mounted vertically adjacent each of said support members, said springs being positioned exteriorly of such central receiving area, a platform mounted for movement within such central receiving area, a traveling pulley mounted on the upper end of each of said springs, a stationary pulley mounted adjacent said collar in vertical spaced relationship with respect to each of said traveling pulleys, and a plurality of cable means operatively connected between said springs and said platform whereby the force produced by the weight of articles placed on the platform is counterbalanced by the force of said springs and the uppermost one of the articles occupies a predetermined vertical position, each of said cable means passing around a respective one of said traveling pulleys, around a respective one of said stationary pulleys, and having one end operatively connected to said platform.

2. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 1, wherein said platform defines a plurality of guide recesses in its periphery, each of such guide recesses being located adjacent one of said support members, wherein a portion of said support member is received by an adjacent one of such guide recesses, said support members guiding said platform during vertical movement of said platform.

3. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 1, including means for adjusting the effective length of each of said springs, whereby the counterbalancing spring force can be adjusted to compensate for changes in the unit weight of such articles.

4. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 3, wherein said means for adjusting the effective length of each of said springs comprises a horizontal plate interposed in the coils of each spring and means for adjustably securing said plate to said support member.

5. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 4, wherein said means for adjustably securing said plate comprises opposed vertically spaced receiving slots defined by said support members, said plate being received by an opposed pair of such slots.

6. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 2, including indicia means on one of said tapes and a viewing opening adjacent said collar, whereby the approximate number of stacked articles on said platform may be determined by visual observation of such indicia means.

7. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 2, including means for adjusting the effective length of each of said tapes.

8. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 1, including a plurality of spaced guide posts extending upwardly from said collar.

9. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles according to claim 1, wherein each of said cable means comprises a fiat tape.

10. Apparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles comprising, a plurality of vertical channel members aligned in spaced relationship and having inner surfaces which define a central article receiving area, means for supporting the lower ends of said channel members, a collar mounted on the upper ends of said channel members, said collar defining a central article receiving opening, a tension spring mounted in a vertical position adjacent each of said channel members, each of said springs being located exteriorly of such central receiving area, a platform mounted for vertical movement within such central receiving area, a traveling pulley mounted on the upper end of each of said springs, a stationary pulley mounted adjacent said collar in vertical spaced relationship with a respective one of said traveling pulleys, a plurality of cables having first ends adjustably mounted on said collar adjacent each of said springs, each of said cables passing round a respective one of said traveling pulleys, around a respective one of said stationary pulleys, and having a second end operatively connected to said platform, whereby the force produced by the weight of articles placed on the platform is counterbalanced by the force of the springs to maintain the uppermost one of such articles at a predetermined vertical position adjacent said collar, means adjacent said first end of each of said cables for adjusting the effective length of said cable, and means adjacent the lower ends of each of said springs for adjusting the effective length of each of said springs.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,461,638 2/1949 Gibbs 312-71 2,739,862 3/1956 Gibbs et a1. 31271 3,276,830 10/1966 Vorndran 312-71 BOBBY R. GAY, Primary Examiner. I. L. KOHNEN, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2461638 *Feb 17, 1945Feb 15, 1949Gibbs William JApparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles
US2739862 *Nov 1, 1951Mar 27, 1956American Mach & FoundrySelf leveling, storing, and dispensing apparatus
US3276830 *Jul 26, 1965Oct 4, 1966Vorndran Gerald FApparatus for storing and dispensing stacked articles
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3724715 *Sep 24, 1970Apr 3, 1973Universal Oil Prod CoDispenser with metering system
US4009915 *Oct 15, 1974Mar 1, 1977Alan Roy WhitelawSelf-leveling kitchen and food service equipment
US4356892 *Apr 25, 1980Nov 2, 1982Amf IncorporatedMaterial dispenser
US4742936 *Jul 9, 1987May 10, 1988The Display Equation, Inc.Dispensing device with numerical indicator for inventory control
US5181620 *Jun 4, 1991Jan 26, 1993Weber-Knapp CompanyCounterbalance mechanism
US6105791 *Apr 26, 1999Aug 22, 2000Display Technologies, LlcInventory counting article pusher display tray system
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/71
International ClassificationB65G1/06, B65G1/07
Cooperative ClassificationB65G1/07
European ClassificationB65G1/07