US 3477774 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Nov. 11, 1969 v E. G. ATWOOD 3,477,774
CAN DISPENSING AND TRANSPORTING UNIT Filed Feb. 12, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet l United States Patent 3,477,774 CAN DISPENSING AND TRANSPORTING UNIT Elmer G. Atwood, 1943 Floradale,
South El Monte, Calif. 91733 Filed Feb. 12, 1968, Ser. No. 704,830 Int. Cl. 365g 1/16; A47f 1/00, 3/02 US. Cl. 312-45 13 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Background of the invention Many consumer items are packaged in cylindrical containers such as cans and oftentimes several of the containers are purchased at one time. A consumer may purchase a carton of a particular item in which event the carton typically is a cardboard box having flaps at the upper end thereof which are appropriately sealed together to close the carton. Typically, the end Walls of the containers rest on the bottom wall of the carton and additional layers of cans may be stacked on the lower most layer.
Although the conventional carton is satisfactory for shipping and storage, it is not suitable or convenient for removal of the cans by the consumer or for display in a store. Thus, the consumer must first remove the upper wall of the carton and then take cans from within the carton as needed. One problem when the carton is stored on a shelf in a cupboard or pantry is that there oftentimes is insufiicient space on the shelf to permit, or to easily allow, removal of the containers from the carton. After some 0 fthe containers have been removed from the carton, they are free to be knocked or moved randomly within the box. Although some container dispensers are available, they are generally relatively expensive and require additional handling of the cans in that the cans must first be removed from the shipping carton and then placed in the dispenser.
Summary of the invention The present invention provides an inexpensive dispenser which can also be used for shipping and storing of the containers. The dispenser may include a plurality of inclined shelves or tiers mounted one on top of the other and With each of the shelves supporting a row of cans theeron. The cans are laid on the shelf so that they roll toward the forward end of the dispenser under the infiuence of gravity. Thus, a can is always available at the forward end of the dispenser for manual removal therefrom by a user.
To prevent the cans from rolling laterally off of the shelves, each of the shelves has upwardly projecting means for confining and directing the rolling movement of the containers. The present invention teaches that the conventional side walls for a carton may be removed if the upwardly projecting means are in the form of short rails mounted on the shelves themselves. With this arrangement, the dispenser may be of substantially open construction and considerable material is saved.
In a preferred form of the invention, the upwardly projecting means includes a pair of spaced parallel rails 3,477,774 Patented Nov. 11, 1969 and a pair of spaced parallel tongues lying in between the rails and closely adjacent thereto. With this arrangement, the can body engages and rolls along the tongues and the circumferentially extending beads at either end of the cans are received in grooves defined by the rails and tongues. Thus, in order for the can to, in effect, jump the track, the beads must cross at least one tongue and one rail. Preferably, the rails have surfaces which slope downwardly as they extend toward each other to thereby tend to earn the can inwardly to thereby prevent the can from rolling off of the track. This feature of the invention may be used for can conveying means generally and is not restricted to a can dispensing unit.
To prevent the containers from rolling off of the front or forward edges of the shelves, each of the shelves preferably has a stop member mounted thereon and extending upwardly to arrest the movement of the containers. Thus, each row of cans below the uppermost row is held downwardly against its respective shelf by the shelf immediately thereabove and is prevented from rolling 01f the forward edge of the shelf by the upwardly extending stop member. Preferably, the uppermost row of cans is prevented from rolling off of the uppermost shelf by a gate. The gate is removable or openable to allow the user to sequentially remove the cans by moving them through the space between the stop member on the uppermost shelf and the upper wall member of the dispenser. The gate is preferably a removable element which is retained at its lower end by the stop member of the associated shelf.
With this arrangement, dispensing of the containers of the several rows must progress from the uppermost row sequentially to the lowermost row. In order to dispense the containers of the lower rows, the shelf immediately thereabove must be removed or raised to permit the user to sequentially lift the containers from such row over the stop member therefor.
In order that the uppermost row of containers can be lifted over the stop member therefor after the gate has been removed, the gate should be at least somewhat flexible or resilient. Alternatively, an increased amount of vertical space may be provided between the uppermost shelf and the upper wall of the dispenser so that when the gate is removed there is sufficient space between the upwardly extending stop member and the upper wall of the dispenser to permit passage of a can therethrough. If such space is provided, a removable insert member is preferably provided therein to prevent excessive movement or rattling of the cans during transportation thereof. In addition, if the sides of the dispenser are open, such insert is necessary to hold or captivate the cans in the tracks to positively lock them against falling laterally out of the dispenser during shipping or storage of the dispenser.
The invention, both as to its organization and method of operation together with further features and advantages thereof may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying illustrative drawing.
Brief description of the drawings FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a can dispensing unit constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1 with the removable insert and gate having been removed from the dispensing unit to permit sequential removal of the cans of the uppermost row.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the dispensing unit after the uppermost row of cans has been completely dispensed and with the uppermost shelf being removed to make the next row or rows of cans ready for dispensing.
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary side elevational view of a forward portion of the dispensing unit.
FIG. 5 is a typical enlarged sectional view taken on a transverse plane through one of the shelves.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary sectional view of a second embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 7 is a sectional view on a horizontal plane through a forward portion of the dispensing unit of FIG. 6 and illustrating a detail thereof.
Description of the preferred embodiments Referring to the drawings and in particular to FIG. 1 thereof, reference numeral 11 designates a can dispensing unit or dispenser constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention. Generally the dispensing unit 11 includes a lower shelf or tier 13, an intermediate shelf 15 and an upper shelf 17. The unit 11 also has an upper wall 19 above the upper shelf and peripherally extending bands 21 and 23 are used to join the upper wall 19 and the lower shelf 13. A block 25 elevates the rear end of the dispensing unit 11 and stop members 27, 29 and 31 and gates 33, 35, and 37 prevent cans 39 from rolling out of the forward end of the dispensing unit. An insert 41, which may be integral with the gate 37 is provided intermediate the upper wall 19 and the upper row of cans 39.
Turning now to the specific construction of the dispensing unit 11, each of the shelves 13, 15 and 17 are preferably identical and, accordingly, only the shelf 17 is shown in detail. The shelf 17 is an elongated member and may be constructed of any suitable material such as plastic, wood, or relatively stiff paper which has sufficient rigidity to support a row of containers. As shown in FIG. 5, the shelf 17 has a pair of rails 43 and 45 extending longitudinally therealong in spaced parallel relationship. The rails 43 and 45 project upwardly and in the embodiment illustrated are formed along the opposite longitudinal edges of the shelf 17. The rails 43 and 45 have sloping guide surfaces 47 and 49, respectively, which extend downwardly as they extend inwardly toward each other. The shelf 17 also has a pair of spaced, parallel, longitudinally extending tongues 51 and 53 which lie intermediate the rails 43 and 45 and which are closely adjacent the'lower end of the surfaces 47 and 49, respectively. The adjacent rails and tongues define grooves 55 and 57. The tongues 51 and 53 are preferably of lesser height than the rails 43 and 45 and a depressed surface 59, which may be of approximately the same elevation as the bottoms of the grooves 55 and 57, extends between the tongues.
The conventional can 39 as shown in FIG. 5 typically includes a cylindrical peripheral wall 61, circular end walls at the opposite ends thereof, and radially enlarged circumferentially extending beads 63 at the opposite ends thereof.
As shown in FIG. 5, the beads 63 are received in the grooves 55 and 57, respectively. Preferably, the tongues 51 and 53 have sufficient height so that the peripheral wall 61 of the can 39 is supported and rides thereon. The beads 63 may also engage lower regions of the sloping guide walls 47 and 49.
With this arrangement, the sloping guide surfaces 47 and 49 act to cam the can 39 so that it will not become turned or cocked on the shelf 17 or tend to jump out of the grooves 55 and 57. Thus, if the can should become slightly turned so that it tends to roll up the guide surface 47, such movement is resisted by the tongue 53 and the incline of the guide surface 47 which tends to cam the can 39 back to the proper rolling direction. Although the rails 43 and 45 preferably extend upwardly beyond tongues 51 and 53, it is not necessary that they extend for a substantial portion of the diameter of the can 39.
The upper wall 19 and the remaining portions of the dispensing unit 11 may be constructed of any suitable packaging material, such as wood, cardboard, plastic, etc.
In the embodiment illustrated, the bands 21 and 23, the upper wall 19, and the lower shelf 13 form a frame for the dispensing unit 11. Thus, both of the bands 21 and 23 are suitably connected, as by staples 65, to the shelf 13 and the wall 19. In this embodiment of the invention, the bands 21 and 23 are preferably not attached to the shelves 15 and 17 and from the only side walls which are necessary for the dispenser. Although the bands 21 and 23 may be widened to form a complete side wall for the dispensing unit 11, the side walls of the unit may be open as shown because the cans 39 are held against lateral movement out of the dispenser by the rails 43 and 45 and other structure which is more particularly described hereinbelow.
The dispenser 11 also has a rear wall 67 which completely covers the rear face thereof to prevent the cans 39 from falling off the rear edge of the shelves. In the embodiment illustrated, the rear wall 67 has a lower portion 69 which extends beneath the band 23 to form therewith the block 25 for elevating the aft end of the dispenser 11.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, the gate 37 prevents the upper row of cans 39 from falling out of the forward end of the dispensing unit regardless of the orientation of the dispensing unit. The lower end of the gate 37 is held inwardly by the stop member 31 which projects upwardly above the shelf 17. In the embodiment illustrated, the gate 37 is integral with the insert 41 and the insert 31 is frictionally held between the containers 39 and the lower surface of the upper wall 19. With this construction the gate 37 is held in position and positively locks the containers 39 on the shelf 17 from falling forwardly out of the dispenser 11.
The insert 41 is sized to fit snugly between the upper wall 19 and the upper portions of the cans 39. Thus, the insert 41 holds the cans 39 tightly downwardly against the shelf 17 and between the rails 43 and 45. As the cans 39 are held downwardly, they cannot fall laterally out of the dispensing unt 11 because of the presence of the upwardly projecting rails 43 and 45 and are restrained against free rolling movement. Thus, the cans 39 are held firmly within the dispensing unit 11 even in the absence of full side walls for the dispensing unit. The gate 37 and the insert 41 are removable from the remainder of the dispensing unit 11 and to facilitate such removal, the gate 37 may be provided with notches 71 (FIG. 2).
The gates 33 and 35 are secured to the shelves thereabove, i.e. the shelves 15 and 17, respectively. The gates 27, 29 and 31 are secured to and project above the forward ends of their respective shelves, i.e. the shelves 13, 15 and 17, respectively. The stop members may be formed from an upward extension of the gate and additional member as shown in FIG. 4 by the stop member 31, or the stop member may be a separate element as shown by the stop member 29 in FIG. 4. Each of the stop members acts to retain the lower edge of the gate immediately thereabove as shown in FIG. 4. Such retention of these gates also acts to retain the shelf afiixed thereto.
With the components of the dispensing unit 11 as shown in FIG. 1, all of the cans 39 are firmly retained therein and the dispensing unit 11 can be shipped or stored in that condition. When it is desired to use some of the cans 39, the gate 37 and the insert 41 are withdrawn through the forward end of the dispenser 11 as shown in FIG. 2. The stop member 31 and/or the gate 37 are preferably sufliciently flexible and resilient to permit the user to pull the gate 37 upwardly to allow the lower edge thereof to clear the upper end of the stop member 31 at which time the user directs and outward pulling force to withdraw the insert 41. With the insert 41 withdrawn, the cans are not tightly held against the upper shelf 17 and they are free to roll forwardly to the position shown in FIG. 2 in which the forwardmost can 39 engages and is retained by the stop member 31.
The space between the upper edge of the stop member 31 and the inner or lower surface of the upper wall 19 defines a dispensing opening 73 (FIG. 2) through which the cans 39 may be withdrawn by the user. The dispensing opening 73 may have a sufficient vertical dimension so that the cans 39 may be pulled therethrough without deforming of the stop member 31. Alternatively, the dispensing opening 73 may have a smaller vertical dimension and the stop member 31 maybe made slightly flexible or resilient so that the can 39 will deform the stop member 31 slightly as it is withdrawn through the dispensing opening. As all of the shelves are inclined downwardly toward the forward end thereof by the block 25, the cans roll along the rails 43 and 45 following the removal of the forward most can so that a can is always provided at the dispensing opening 73.
The shelves 15 and 17 rest on the row of cans 39 immediately therebelow and are not secured to the bands 21 and 23. Accordingly, when the uppermost row of cans 39 has been completely dispensed, the user merely removes the shelf 17, the gate 35, and the stop member 31 as a unit as shown in FIG; 3. Prior to the removal of the shhelf 17 and with the upper row of cans 39 thereon, the lower rows of cans were held captive between the rails 43 and 45 by the shelf immediately thereabove. However, once the shelf 17 has been removed, the cans 39 resting on the shelf 15 roll forwardly until the forwardmost can 39 engages the stop member 29. There is, of course, ample room between the upper edge of the stop member 29 and the upper wall 19 to permit the user to sequentially remove the cans 39 from the shelf 15 by lifting them over the stop member 29. Similarly, when the cans on the shelf 15 have been completely removed, the shelf 15 and the stop member 29 :and the gate 33 afiixed thereto are removed from the dispensing unit 11 to allow dispensing of the row of cans on the lower shelf 13.
Of course, any number of shelves can be provided. If desired, the dispensing unit 11 may be widened to carry two or more rows of cans on each of the shelves with the cans of each row being in end to end relationship. This could be accomplished by merely widening the shelf so that it would be symmetrical about a line A--A (FIG. 5). The dispensing unit 11 may be disposed of when all the cans 39 have been removed therefrom or, it may be refilled with cans and used again.
FIG. 6 illustrates another dispensing unit 101 constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention. The dispensing unit 101 may include an outer shell 103 having an upper wall 105, a rear wall 106, side walls 108 (FIG. 7), and a suitable bottom wall 108a.- The side walls may be strip-like as shown in FIG. 1 or completely cover the sides of the dispensing unit 101. -A plurality of shelves 107 are mounted as by staples 109 to the rear wall 106. Each of the shelves 107 has a stop member 111 extending upwardly from the forward end thereof. If desired, the shelves 107 may be identical to the shelf 17 (FIG. 5) in cross section. An upper gate 113 is integral with the upper wall 105 and the lower edge thereof is retained by the uppermost stop member 111. The shell 103 may be oonstructed froma single foldable blank and suitably held together at the seams thereof as by brackets 115. The uppermost row of cans 117 is held downwardly against the uppermost shelf 107 and in between the rails thereof by a removable insert 119. The cans 117 of the shelves below the uppermost shelf 107 are held within the dispensing unit 101 by the stop members 111 and no separate gate need be provided therefor. The dispensing unit may be inclined downwardly toward the forward end thereof by elevating the aft end thereof with a block 120.
To use the dispensing unit 107, the gate 113 is swung outwardly in the direction of the arrow in FIG. *6. This is preferably accomplished by constructing the gate 113 of somewhat flexible material to allow bending thereof and movement of the gate over the stop member 111. Next, the insert 119 is removed to free the cans for rolling movement along the shelf 107. Then, the cans 117 may be lifted through the dispensing opening intermediate the lower surface of the upper wall and the upper edge of the stop member 111. As with the above described embodiment, the dispensing opening may have a suflicient vertical dimension to allow the cans 1117 to pass therethrough without deflecting on the stop membe 111 or alternatively, the stop member 111 may be slightly flexible and the vertical dimension of the dispensing opening can be decreased accordingly.
When the uppermost row of cans 117 has been completely removed from the shelf 107 the user pivots the uppermost shelf 107 to the position shown in phantom in FIG. 6 to thereby free the row of cans 117 immediately therebelow for free rolling movement toward the associated stop member 111. Prior to raising of the uppermost shelf 107, the cans 117 of the next lower row of cans were held firmly against their shelf by the uppermost shelf 107. As the space between the stop member 111 of such next lower shelf and the uppermost shelf 107 was too small, prior to pivoting the uppermost shelf, the cans 117 could not roll out the forward end of the dispenser.
FIG. 7 shows that the peripheral Walls 108 of the dispensing unit 101 have U-shaped end portions 121 which are turned back to tightly frictionally engage the outer end of the stop member 111 to normally frictionally retain the shelf 107 in the position shown in full lines in FIG. 6. However, the user can overcome the force of friction and pivot the shelf 107 to the position shown in phantom in FIG. 6 and in so doing will remove the outer surface of the stop member 111 from the end portions 121. However, when the shelf 111 tends to return to its original position under the influence of gravity, it will lightly contact the end portions 121 and be arrested thereby well before the time it reaches the position shown in full lines in FIG. 6. Thus, the uppermost shelf 107 will not return to its initial position merely under the influence of its own weight and accordingly, the cans 117 of the row immediately therebelow remain free to roll forward- 1y as the forwardmost can of such row is removed from the dispensing unit.
Although exemplary embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, many changes, modifications, and substitutions may be made by one having ordinary skill in the art without necessarily departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
1. In a dispenser for dispensing containers of the type adapted to roll along a supporting surface, the combination of:
a lower shelf for supporting a lower row of containers thereon;
an upper shelf for supporting an upper row of containers, said upper shelf being supportable on the lower row of containers on said lower shelf;
an upper wall above the upper row of containers;
side walls connected to the upper wall and extending between said upper shelf and said lower shelf;
each of said shelves having forward and rearward ends with an upwardly extending stop member mounted a on said forward end thereof against which the adjacent container can roll, the space between the stop member of the upper shelf and the upper wall defining an upper dispensing opening, the space between the stop member on the lower shelf and the upper shelf being insufficient to allow passage of the containers on said lower shelf therethrough;
means for inclining said shelves downwardly toward the forward ends thereof to cause the containers to tend to roll toward the forward end of their respective shelves;
movable means for preventing movement of the upper row of containers through said dispensing opening, said movable means being movable: to unblock the dispensing opening to allc w a user to sequentially remove the containers of the upper row of containers through the dispensing opening;
said upper shelf being movable when the upper row of containers have been removed therefrom a sufficient amount to allow passage of the containers on the lower shelf over the stop member on the lower shelf whereby the containers of the lower row of containers can be dispensed, and
a rear wall for preventing the containers from falling rearwardly off of their respective shelves.
2. A combination as defined in claim 1 wherein the upper shelf is connected to the rear wall and pivotable upwardly away from the lower shelf.
3. A combination as defined in claim 1 wherein the upper shelf is removable and means are provided to releasably retain the upper shelf within the dispenser.
4. A combination as defined in claim 3 wherein a gate member is connected to said upper shelf and depends therefrom to cover the space between the stop member of the lower shelf and the upper shelf, said gate member being retained at its lower end by the stop member on the lower shelf.
5. A combination as defined in claim 1 wherein said movable means includes a gate covering the dispensing opening and retained at its lower end by the stop member on said upper shelf.
6. A combination as defined in claim 1 wherein the containers are cylindrical and have circumferentially extending heads at the opposite ends thereof, the upper surface of each of said shelves having grooves therein for receiving the beads annd guiding the rolling movement of the containers toward the forward ends of the shelves.
7. In a dispenser for dispensing a plurality of rollable containers, the combination of:
a shelf for supporting at least one row of the containers, said shelf having forward and rearward ends and upwardly projecting means thereon for retaining the containers against significant lateral movement relative to the shelf and for guiding the rolling movement thereof, said shelf being inclinable to cause movement of the containers downwardly therealong toward said forward end under the influence of gravv;
removable insert means engageable with the upper portions of the containers on said shelf;
means for urging the insert downwardly against the containers to thereby firmly hold the containers against the shelf to permit said projecting means to retain the containers against significant lateral movement regardless of the orientation of the dispenser;
side wall means extending between said means for urging and said shelf;
a rear wall for preventing the containers from falling rearwardly off of the shelf;
a gate adjacent the forward end of the shelf for preventing forward movement of the containers off of the shelf, said gate being openable to at least partially provide a dispensing opening for the containers; and
stop means extending upwardly from said shelf at the forward end thereof for preventing the containers from moving through the dispensing opening under the influence of gravity whereby opening of said gate unblocks said dispensing opening and removal of said removable insert frees the containers for free rolling movement toward said forward end so that a user can sequentially move the containers over said stop means and through said dispensing opening, said containers being gravity fed to said opening. 8. A combination as defined in claim 1 wherein said gate and said insert are interconnected and removable as a unit from the dispenser.
9. A combination as defined in claim 1 wherein the upwardly projecting means includes spaced first and second pairs of ribs on the upper surface of the shelf, each pair of said ribs defining a groove, the containers being cylindrical and having circumferentially extending beads at each end thereof which are receivable, respectively, in said grooves.
10. A combination as defined in claim 7 wherein said side wall means does not completely cover the sides of the dispenser.
11. A gravity feed conveyer for containers wherein each of the containers has a generally cylindrical peripheral wall and has a circumferentially extending bead at each end thereof, said conveyer comprising:
an elongated member having an upper surface wider than the axial dimension of the container and being sufficiently rigid to support a series of the containers;
said elongated member having first and second spaced and generally parallel rails projecting upwardly therefrom, each of said rails having a guide surface extending downwardly as it extends inwardly;
said elongated member having first and second spaced and generally parallel tongues projecting upwardly therefrom, said first and second tongues lying closely adjacent said first and second rails, respectively, and in between said first and second rails, said first rail and said first tongue and said second rail and said second tongue, defining first and second grooves, respectively, for receiving the circumferentially extending beads, respectively, of the container, the peripheral wall adjacent the circumferential beads of the container being adapted to ride on the first and second tongues; and
means for inclining the elongated member to allow the containers to roll therealong.
12. A conveyer as defined in claim 11 wherein said first and second rails extend upwardly beyond the first and second tongues.
13. A conveyer as defined in claim 11 wherein the tongues are separated by a relatively wide depressed surface which is not engageable with the peripheral wall of the container.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,996,344 8/1961 Garman 312- 3,178,242 4/1965 Ellis et al 312-45 3,207,564 9/1965 Patrick et al. 31273 3,318,455 5/1967 Takahashi 31245 CASMIR A. NUNBERG, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 21l-49; 312-73