SHELF TRAYS

Several embodiments of shelving systems are disclosed in which goods can be shipped to a store and may be ready to display. Customers may select goods from the shelving systems directly. When the goods are depleted, the shelving system may be disassembled into a more compact state for efficient storage and shipping back to the warehouse or supplier.

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Description
BACKGROUND

Many grocery store goods are shipped in boxes and/or on pallets. At the store, the goods must be removed from the boxes and or pallets and placed on a shelf for selection by the customers. Moving the goods to the shelves requires additional effort and expense.

SUMMARY

Several embodiments of shelving systems are disclosed in which goods can be shipped to a store and may be ready to display. Customers may select goods from the shelving systems directly. When the goods are depleted, the shelving system may be disassembled into a more compact state for efficient storage and shipping back to the warehouse or supplier.

In one embodiment, a tray having side walls extending upward from a base may be stacked with spacers comprising side walls, but no base. This provides increased space for accommodating goods in the trays and provides increased accessibility for customers to view and remove goods from the trays.

In another embodiment, a bin has a base and side walls extending upward from the base. Openings or collars project outward from upper edges of the side walls. Elongated supports connect to the side walls via the collars.

In another embodiment, a plurality of walls extend upward from a deck. A plurality of support surfaces are formed on the walls. An elongated support extends upward of the deck spaced away from the walls. A tray is stacked on the support surfaces and the elongated support.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shelving system according to a first embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of the shelving system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the shelving system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an exterior perspective view of one of the spacers of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is an interior perspective view of the spacer of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a shelving system according to a second embodiment with one shelving unit.

FIG. 7 is a rear perspective view of the shelving system of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the shelving system of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 is a rear view of the shelving system of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 shows the shelving system of FIG. 6 with a second bin stacked on the first bin.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a shelving system according to a third embodiment.

FIG. 12 shows the shelving system of FIG. 11 without the trays.

FIGS. 13 and 14 are exploded views of the shelving system of FIG. 11 with one shelving unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Collapsible shelving according to a first embodiment is shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 1 illustrates two known plastic trays, in particular, plastic bakery trays 10 stacked with spacers 42. This can quickly provide shelving in a store with improved visibility and access to the goods for the customer.

As is known, each tray 10 includes a base 12 and side walls 14 extending upward from side edges of the base 12. A front wall 16 extends upward from a front edge of the base 12. A rear wall 18 extends upward from a rear edge of the base 12. The front wall 16 and rear wall 18 are significantly shorter than the side walls 14. Stacking feet 20 and a center projection 22 project outward from a lower portion of each side wall 14. The stacking feet 20 include a downward projection 28 at an outer edge thereof. Complementary low stacking recesses 24 and high stacking recesses 26 are formed at an upper edge of each side wall 14, such that the tray 10 can stack at two different heights on an identical tray in either the aligned or the 180° orientation. A center receptacle 30 is defined on each side wall for receiving the center projection 22 of the tray 10 stacked thereon. A rail 32 projects upward along the length of each side wall 14. The rail 32 is aligned just inward of the downward projections 28 of the feet 20. Again, trays 10 of the type shown in FIG. 1 are known and other types of trays could also be used.

As shown the trays 10 can be used in combination with spacers 42 stacked in-between to form temporary shelving. Each spacer 42 is inserted between a side wall 14 of an upper tray 10 and a side wall 14 of a lower tray 10 to provide greater distance between the bases 12 of the two trays 10. The trays 10 then provide increased visibility and accessibility to items in the trays 10. Alternatively, the trays 10 can then accommodate larger (or more) goods. The spacers 42 in this example generally comprise a single wall which is generally structurally identical (but they only need to be complementary) to the side walls 14 of the trays 10 without the intervening front and rear walls 16, 18 or base 12. The spacer 42 may be injection-molded as a single piece of plastic.

Optionally, one or more rails (not shown) could be added to interconnect upper ends of the spacers 42. Alternatively, or additionally, one or two lower rails may extend across between the lower ends of the spacers 42 at the front and/or rear of the spacer. Alternatively, something comparable to one of the front or rear wall of the tray 10 could connect the spacers, providing accessibility only through the other side of the trays 10. In that case, the two spacers and the single wall could be integrally molded as a single piece.

FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of the trays 10 and spacers 42 of FIG. 1. FIG. 3 is a front view of the trays 10 and spacers 42 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an outer perspective view of one of the spacers 42. The spacer 42 includes guide feet 50 and a center projection 52 identical or at least compatible with the guide feet 50 and center projection 22 of the tray 10 of FIG. 1. The stacking feet 50 each include a downward projection 58 at an outer edge thereof. A rail 62 extends the length of the upper edge of the spacer 42. The rail 62 is aligned just inward of the downward projections 58 of the feet 50.

FIG. 5 is an inner perspective view of the spacer 42. The spacer 42 may also include low stacking recesses 54 and high stacking recesses 56 for providing multiple stacking height capability with the trays 10, but alternatively a single height could be provided.

Flanges 64 may project inward from each end of the spacer 42 for stability.

Referring again to FIG. 1, it should be understood that several more spacers and trays 10 would be stacked thereon to create a set of shelving. In this manner, goods can be shipped to a store in the trays 10. Several such stacks of trays 10 and spacers 42 could be loaded onto a pallet and shipped to a store. At the store, customers could view and select goods from the shelves (the trays 10) on the pallet. When empty, the spacers 42 can be placed in the trays 10 and the trays 10 can be cross-stacked with one another to minimize volume in returning the empty trays 10 for reuse to the warehouse.

FIG. 6-9 illustrate a shelving system 110 according to a second embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, a pallet 80 includes an upper deck 82 and a plurality of feet or columns 84 supporting the upper deck 82 above the floor. Several shelving units (one shown) each including a platform 112, elongated supports 118 and bin 120, can be stacked on the pallet deck 82. For example, each shelving unit can occupy one quarter of the pallet deck 82.

The platform 112 may be secured to the deck 82 by connectors extending through the platform 112 and into the deck 82 (such as screws 117 through holes in the base 116 of the platform 112 screwed into the deck 82 of the pallet 80, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9). The platform 112 includes a raised perimeter 114 having apertures 115 formed at each corner. A base surface 116 (FIG. 8) is defined within the perimeter 114 of the platform 112. A plurality of elongated supports 118, in this example cylindrical tubes 118, are inserted into the apertures 115 in the corners of the perimeter 114.

The tubes 118 support a bin 120. The bin 120 includes a base 121 and side walls 122 extending up from side edges of the base 121. In this embodiment, the side walls 122 extend upward from adjacent side edges of the base, but alternatively could be from opposed side edges of the base 121, or from three edges of the base 121. Collars 123 project outward proximate upper edges of the side walls 122 and receive the tubes 118, which extend through the collars 123 at some distance above the bin 120. Side flanges 125 may project inward from the side walls 122 partially across the front opening to the bin 120. The bin 120 may include short front wall 124, leaving large openings at the front of the bin 120 for product accessibility.

As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, a bracket 130 having apertures 132 can be placed on the bin 120 for additional support of the tubes 118. Referring to FIG. 10, additional bins 120 can be stacked on top of the bin 120 by extending the tubes 118 through the collars 123. The bracket 130 prevents the upper bin 120 from sliding down into a nesting position with the lower bin 120. Several layers of such bins 120 create a set of shelves in each quadrant of the pallet deck 82.

With such arrangement, goods can be loaded into the bins 120 on the pallet 80 and shipped to a store. The pallet 80 and bins 120 can be placed on the store floor where customers can remove products from the bins through the front opening (at each corner). When empty, the shelving can be disassembled and the empty bins 120 can be nested within one another, i.e., with the base 121 of each bin 120 received between the side walls 122 of the bin 120 below. The tubes 118 are also disassembled to occupy less volume. The disassembled shelving can then be returned to the warehouse or distribution facility for reassembly and reuse. Everything in this embodiment can be formed of plastic, including the pallet 80 (which is known), the platform 112, the bin 120 and the tubes 118 (extruded).

A shelving system 210 according to a third embodiment is shown in FIGS. 11-14. The shelving system 210 includes four quarter-pallet shelving units 212, each having perpendicular vertical walls 214 extending outward from a center. The walls 214 are secured to a base of each shelving unit 212. The shelving unites 212 are secured to the deck 82 of a pallet 80, dividing the pallet deck 82 into four (not-necessarily equal) areas. Partial shelves 218 connect adjacent surfaces of adjacent walls 214 and provide support surfaces. An elongated support, such as a post or pole 220, extends upward from the corner of the base 222. The pole 220 includes a plurality of vertically spaced support surfaces 224. The pole 220 may be retractable (e.g., telescoping) or may be formed in connectable sections. Trays, such as plastic tray 10A (or tray 10 of FIG. 1), can be stacked on the shelves 218 and supported by the support surfaces 224 on the pole 220 to form a temporary shelving unit. Upper portions 230 of the wall 214 can carry ads or information about the products in the trays 10A. As shown in FIG. 13, projections downward from the base 222 can be received in the feet openings in the deck 82 of the nestable pallet 80 for increased stability.

Again, goods can be shipped to a store in the trays 10A on the pallet 80. At the store, customers can remove goods from the trays 10A for purchase. When empty, the trays 10A can be stacked and the walls 214 can be folded together and laid flat. The poles 220 can be removed. The disassembled shelving unit can be shipped back to the warehouse or distribution facility for reuse.

In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes and jurisprudence, exemplary configurations described above are considered to represent a preferred embodiment of the invention. However, it should be noted that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its spirit or scope.

Claims

1. A shelving system comprising:

an upper tray and a lower tray, each of the upper tray and the lower tray including opposed, generally parallel tray side walls extending upward from a base; and
a pair of spacers, each spacer stacked on one of the side walls of the lower tray, each of the side walls of the upper tray stacked on one of the spacers to provide clearance between the bases of the upper tray and the lower tray.

2. The shelving system of claim 1 wherein the spacers are not connected to one another.

3. The shelving system of claim 1 wherein each tray includes stacking feet projecting outward from lower portions of the tray side walls, each of the tray side walls including high stacking recesses and low stacking recesses complementary to the stacking feet such that the upper tray can be stacked on the lower tray at two different heights in an aligned or a 180 degree orientation.

4. The shelving system of claim 3 wherein the spacers each include stacking feet projecting outward from lower portions of the spacers, each of the spacers including high stacking recesses and low stacking recesses complementary to the stacking feet of the upper tray such that the upper tray can be stacked on the spacers at two different heights in an aligned or 180 degree orientation.

5. The shelving system of claim 4 wherein the spacers each include a rail projecting upward from an upper edge thereof.

6. A spacer comprising a single wall having stacking feet projecting outward from lower portions of the wall, the wall including high stacking recesses and low stacking recesses complementary to the stacking feet, the spacer including flanges projecting perpendicularly from ends of the single wall.

7. A shelving system unit comprising:

a bin having a base and side walls extending up from side edges of the base; and
a plurality of elongated supports connected to the side walls.

8. The shelving system unit of claim 7 further including side flanges projecting inward each of the side walls.

9. The shelving system unit of claim 8 further including a front flange extending between the side flanges to define an opening above the front wall and between the side flanges.

10. The shelving system unit of claim 7 wherein the side walls extend upward from adjacent side edges of the base of the bin.

11. The shelving system unit of claim 7 further including a platform having a raised perimeter connected to lower ends of the elongated supports.

12. A shelving system including the shelving system unit of claim 11 and further including a pallet having a deck, the platform secured to the deck of the pallet, wherein the shelving unit occupies about one-fourth of the deck, such that four of the shelving units could fit on the deck.

13. The shelving system of claim 12 wherein the bin is a lower bin, the shelving system further including an upper bin secured to the elongated supports above the lower bin.

14. A shelving unit comprising:

a plurality of vertical walls, a plurality of support surfaces projecting outward from the vertical walls;
an elongated support extending upward and spaced away from the vertical walls; and
a tray stacked on the support surfaces and the elongated support.

15. The shelving unit of claim 14 further including a base, the vertical walls extending upward from the base.

16. A shelving system including a plurality of the shelving units of claim 14 placed on a deck of a pallet.

Patent History
Publication number: 20150076095
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 8, 2014
Publication Date: Mar 19, 2015
Inventor: Suzanne Whitfield Clark (Marietta, GA)
Application Number: 14/455,590
Classifications
Current U.S. Class: Distinct Seat For Stacked Element (211/126.12); Stacked Similar Units (211/188); Elements (211/183)
International Classification: A47B 47/00 (20060101); A47B 96/02 (20060101); A47B 96/14 (20060101); A47B 95/00 (20060101);