US 3648892 A
A device for supporting and dispensing articles while in their original package or container characterized by a vertical column on which a plurality of platforms having compartments for the articles are disposed and moved by gravity from an upper position as the articles are dispensed. The device includes guide means which cause the platform to move along a predetermined path and abutment means which engage the lowermost platform to prevent its movement past a predetermined point until disengaged by a person removing an article from the device.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Morgan Mar. 14, 1972  DEVICE FOR SUPPORTING AND FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS DISPENSING ARTICLES 850,689 10/ 1960 Great Britain ..l93/ I2  Inventor: Joseph Paton Morgan, Guemes I053, Apt. ll, San Salvador de Jujuy, .Iujuy Province, Argentina Primary Examiner-Robert G. Sheridan  Filed: June 22 1970 Attorney-Hill, Sherman, Meroni, Gross & Simpson [2|] Appl. No.: 48,026
 ABSTRACT  Foreign Application Priority Data A device for supporting and dispensing articles while in their original package or container characterized by a vertical July 4, 1969 Argentina ..222l63 column which a plurality of platforms having compam  us. CL 221/301 108/95 193/12 ments for the articles are disposed and moved by gravity from 1/177 an upper position as the articles are dispensed. The device in-  Int. m g 59/00 eludes guide means which cause the platform to move along a  Field of Search ..2l4/l6 B; 221/289, 295, 301, predetermined P and abutment means which engage the 221/312 A; 108/95; 211/163, I77; 193/49 D, 12 lowermost platform to prevent its movement past a predetermined point until disengaged by a person removing an article  References Cited from the device.
UNITED STATES PATENTS 10 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures 3,101,829 8/196? Silver an:
PATENTEDHAR 14 I972 3.648 892 sum 3 OF 4 IN VEN'I'UK Y Y I fijap/zffazyazz BY kZ WJTIURNHYS DEVICE FOR SUPPORTING AND DISPENSING ARTICLES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a device for supporting and dispensing articles.
2. Prior Art In many stores and supermarkets, presently known storing and dispensing devices comprise shelves on which the articles or products are placed and stored so that the customer can readily determine the products available and have ready access to any article that is selected. Even if the supermarket or store has a high ceiling, the maximum practical height for storage shelves is limited so that the top shelf can be reached by the customer. Thus with a fixed amount of shelf space, the number of each article and the number of different articles is sometimes limited. In stores and supermarkets having high ceilings, large amounts of storage space is not utilized because of the maximum practical height limit that occurs with the size of storage shelves. Thus even with high ceilings the floor area of the store or supermarket determines the variety and quantity of article or product being displayed and offer to the customer.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is directed to a device for supporting and dispensing articles which supports a large quantity of articles by vertical stacking of the articles on a series of movable platforms which are fed downward to a dispensing position as the articles are removed from the lowermost platforms. The platforms are telescopically received on a vertical column and the device includes guide means between the column and the platforms to cause the platforms to move along a predetermined path. To prevent movement of the lowermost platform past a predetermined point of the path, which point is adjacent a dispensing point abutment means are engageable with the platform and are selectively disengaged by a customer to remove the selected article and while disengaged allows the downward movement of the platform along the column to present another article at the dispensing point.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the device according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the device of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a top view of the device of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a column portion of the invention with two of the platforms illustrated therewith;
FIGS. 5 and 6 are partial side elevations at the dispensing position of the device illustrating movement of the abutment fingers for controlling the downward movement of the platforms;
FIGS. 7, 8 and 9 are diagrammatic figures illustrating the movement of the platforms and coaction with the abutment fingers during a sequence of removing several articles from the device; and
FIG. 10 is an enlarged detail of the lower end of the column illustrating the relationship of the column and the platform connection.
DESCRIPTION OFTHE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Although the principles of the present invention have utility in any vertical storing and dispensing device, they have particular utility in a storing and dispensing device generally indicated at 11 in FIG. 1. The device 11 comprises a column 12 having a center portion 13 (FIG. 2) with a cylindrical outer surface and terminating at one end in an end portion 14 of a reduced diameter and terminating at the other end in an end portion 15 of a reduced diameter.
To hold the column 12 in a vertical position, support means such as a base 16 which is illustrated as having a tripod configuration is provided. The upper end portion 14 can be attached by a connection or fitting 17 to a portion of the ceiling or an overhead structural portion 18 (FIG. 2). The end portion 14 by its fitting 17 is anchored to the ceiling to increase the stability of the device 11.
To provide support for the articles 19 which are illustrated as cans but can be other articles in their original package, the device 11 has a plurality of movable platforms 20 best illustrated in FIG. 4. The platforms 20 have a sleeve portion 21 having an inner diameter to enable their movement telescopically on the center portion 13. The sleeve 21 has longitudinally extending opening or slot 22 of a size enabling the removal of the sleeve 21 from the reduced diameter portions 14 and 15 of the column 12, however the slot 22 has a width less than the diameter of the center portion to prevent the removal of the sleeve 21 from the center portion 13.
Extending from each of the sleeves 21 of the platforms 20, means, such as compartments 23, 23 are provided for receiving and retaining the articles such as the canisters 19 to be stored and dispensed. The compartments 23 may be spaced from the sleeve 21 by a short extension 24. Preferably the compartments 23 are formed of flange member 23 which coacts with the sleeve portion 21 to firmly hold the article (FIG. 3) or is of sufficient angular extent of greater than (FIG. 4) to return the article 19.
The platforms 20 are stacked on the center portion 13 of column 12 and move down the column as the lowermost platform is removed. The platforms 20 above the lowermost platform such as 20a of FIG. 2 are gravitationally fed downward until the sleeve portions 21 abut the next lower sleeve portion. If additional vertical spacing is required between adjacent platforms, a spacing sleeve 21 which has a slot can be used.
To control the movement of the platforms 20 as they are gravitationally fed down the column 12, guide means coacting between the sleeves 21 and the surface of the center portion 13 are provided. As best illustrated in FIG. 4, the guide means is a helical slot 25 on the cylindrical surface of the center portion 13 of the column 12 which receive a projection such as pin 26 provided on the inner surface of each of the sleeves 21. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the guide means has a helical configuration along the entire length of the center portion 13. However, as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, it is within the scope of this invention for the upper portion 25a of the guide means to be substantially vertical and then extend into the helical configuration adjacent the lower portion of the center portion 13. It is also possible that the coacting guide means can be a projecting helical ridge 25' (FIG. 10) which has either a helical configuration for the entire length of the center portion 13 or for the lower portion while extending axially in the upper portion of the center portion 13. The helical ridge cooperates with either a slot or groove provided in each of the sleeves 21 for example the slot 22. The main purpose of either type of guide means is to cause the sleeve portion to rotate around the outer portion 13 as it moves therealong.
To prevent the lowermost platform 200 from moving past a predetermined point and on to the end portion 15, an abutment means 30 is provided and engages the platform 20a to stop or arrest its further movement. As illustrated, the abutment means 30 comprises an abutment finger 31 that engages the article 19a of the platform 20a. The abutment means 30, as illustrated, has an arm 32 which connects or supports the finger 31 and supports another or additional abutting finger 33 which is spaced above the finger 31. When the article 19a is engaged by the finger 31, it is wedged in the compartment 23 and prevents further rotation of the platform 20a and thus prevents further movement along the path of travel. As illustrated the arm 32 of the abutment means 30 is angularly movable and has a lower leg 34 which is pivotally connected at 35 to a rod extending radially from the lower end portion 15 and can be pivoted about the point to disengage the finger 31 from the article 19a to enable continuation of the rotary downward movement of the platform 20a along the helical path.
The abutment means 30 with the arm 32, finger 31, 33 and leg 34 arranged in an E shaped configuration is provided with means to urge it into engagement with the lowermost platform. The means for urging is provided to pivot the arm 32 toward an engagement position and can be a spring, a counterweight action on the arm 32 as illustrated in FIG. 5, or resilient means at the pivot point 35 such as a torsion bar which resists movement of the abutment means toward the disengaged position.
The abutment means 30 by preventing movement of the lowermost platform 20a at a predetermined position of travel on the column 12 prevents the platforms 20 disposed thereabove from moving. Once the abutment means is selectively removed by a person desiring to remove the article 19a from the platform 20a, the platform 20a is free to continue to move along its helical path and the remaining platforms above it will also continue to move in the downward direction until the abutment means is reengaged to stop further movement.
Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6 and the schematic FIGS. 7, 8 and 9, the operation of the device 11 at the predetermined point for dispensing is shown as various steps occur during the dispensing of articles. As illustrated in FIG. 5, a lowermost platform 20a is engaged by the finger 31 of the abutment means 30. An empty platform 20b is disposed on the lower reduced end portion 15. By removing the platform 20b, it can be loaded with new articles such as the cans l9, and then reloaded in the device 11 by being telescopically assembled onto the column 12 at the upper end portion 14. Above the lowermost platform 20a is the platform 200 which has articles 19c and 19d disposed thereon.
When the abutment means 30 is pivoted to the disengaged position, and the finger 31 disengages the article 19a, the platform 20a will revolve to present the article 19a in a position for removal from the device 11. The next platform 200 will also rotate due to the release of the restraining force applied by the abutment means 30 to the platform 20a. The uppermost platform 20c rotates until the article 190 is engaged by the upper finger 33 of the abutment means 30. The lowermost platform 20a will continue to rotate until the article 19b engages the lowermost finger 31. As illustrated, the finger 31 is slightly shorter than the finger 33 so that by engaging the finger 31 the container 19b moves the abutment means a sufficient distance to release the finger 33 from engagement with container 19c to allow it to move to a position illustrated in FIG. 9. When the abutment means 30 is actuated by a shopper, the container 19b is then presented for removal and the platform 20 a will, after removal of article 19b drop to the position of the platform 20b for removal from the device 11. In the second actuation of the abutment means 30 to release the container 19b, the container 19d is moved to assume the position of the container 19a at the beginning of this explanation.
In the above sequence of steps the abutment fingers 31 or 33 stop the movement of the platforms by engaging the article disposed thereon. If the article is missing, then the platform will continue to move downward until the sleeve 21 abuts on the next lower sleeve or until an article disposed in one of the compartments is engaged by finger 31 or 33. If the platform is completely empty and does not abut against a lowe platform, it will move onto the end portion 15.
The coaction between the fingers 31 and 33 with the articles 19 in the compartments 23 causes a wedging of the article 19 in the compartment 23 to prevent further rotational movement of the platforms 20 and thus prevent further downward movement. While the device 11 is illustrated as storing and dispensing cylindrical containers such as cans, the compartments can be designed to handle articles having various shapes or package in different type containers such as boxes. Thus the size, shape and number of compartments 23 for each platform can be changed to accommodate different sizes and types of articles or packaged products.
The device 11 enables the utilization of the vertical space between the floor and ceiling of the store. Much of this space was not used in existing shelf type storage and display devices.
By enabling vertical storage of articles to be sold, and by feeding these articles downward to a dispensing point, the device 11 enables the storage of articles at a vertical height which is out of the reach of the average customer. In the present device, the point of dispensing can be selected to be at a height which is the most desirable for the container for example within reach of the customer and yet not so low as to require stooping.
Although various minor modifications might be suggested by those versed in the art, it should be understood that I wish to employ within the scope of the patent warranted hereon all such modifications that reasonably and properly come within the scope of my contribution to the art.
I claim as may invention:
1. A device for storing and dispensing articles comprising in combination a column having a center portion with a cylindrical surface and terminating at each end with an end portion of a reduced diameter, means connected to said column for supporting said column in a vertical position, a plurality of platforms, each of said platforms having a sleeve portion and means for receiving and retaining an article to be dispensed extending therefrom, each of said sleeve portions having an axially extending slot of a width less than the diameter of the center portion but greater than the diameter of the end portion enabling the sleeve to be slipped on and OR said column at said end portions, each of said sleeves being telescopically receivable on said center portion and being movable therealong so that each of said platfon'ns is movable with respect to said column, said sleeve portion contacting adjacent sleeve portions to determine the vertical spacing between adjacent platforms, guide means acting between said center portion and each of the sleeve portions to cause the movement of each of the sleeves along said column to follow a predetermined path, said guide means including a helical guide portion to cause said sleeve portions to move in a helical path during a portion of their movement along said shaft; and abutment means disposed at a predetermined position on said column for engaging a platform and for preventing further movement of the engaged platform along said column, said abutment means being selectively disengageable from said engaged platform to enable movement thereof past said predetermined position whereby the movement of the platforms past said predetermined point is controlled by engagement and disengagement of said abutment means with the platform at said point.
2. A device according to claim 1, wherein said abutment means is disposed on an angularly movable arm attached to the lower end portion of said column so that said abutment portion is disposed adjacent the lowermost portion of the center portion of said column.
3. A device according to claim 2, wherein said arm has a second abutment member disposed above the first abutment member for engaging a platform immediately adjacent to the platform engaged by the first-mentioned abutment means so that a platform immediately above the predetermined position is engageable by the second abutment finger and selectively prevented from further movement by engagement with said second finger.
4. A device according to claim 2, wherein said angularly movable arm is capable of being manually operated and includes elastic means capable of urging the abutment means into engagement.
5. A device according to claim 2, characterized by the angularly movable arm comprising counterweights urging the abutment means into engagement with a platform upon release of the force moving the abutment means out of disengagement.
6. A device according to claim 1 in which the means for receiving and retaining an article comprises a compartment for the article to enable formation of a wedge by the abutment means as it engages the article to prevent further travel of said platform.
7. A device according to claim 1, wherein said means for supporting the column includes a base which is attached to the lowermost reduced portion and a fitting which is attached to the upper most reduced portion for anchoring the upper reduced portion of the column to overhead structural portion of the premises in which the device is placed.
8. A device according to claim 1, characterized in that the guide means comprises a groove formed on the cylindrical surface of the center portion and each of said sleeves being a projection disposed on the inner surface thereof for coacting with