Patent application title: Dispenser of boxed articles for retail shops
Giuseppe Casati (San Martino Canavese, IT)
IPC8 Class: AA47F104FI
Class name: Article dispensing plural sources, stacks or compartments
Publication date: 2011-02-03
Patent application number: 20110024443
A dispenser of boxed articles for retail shops, comprising a plurality of
plates, each having a number of vertical, parallel slits, are arranged
side by side and are spaced by assembly means; rigid boards inserted
through the vertical slits to define rectangular wells for holding the
boxed articles in a stacked arrangement; and rest ledges arranged at
staggered heights below each well, in order to prevent the articles held
in the wells from dropping out, while allowing them to be horizontally
withdrawn at the bottom one at a time.
1. A dispenser of boxed articles for retail shops, comprising:a plurality
of plates, arranged side by side and spaced by assembly means, each plate
having a number of vertical, parallel slits that are aligned in adjacent
plates;respective rigid boards threaded through the aligned vertical
slits in the plates, whereby the boards and the plates define a plurality
of rectangular wells for holding the boxed articles in a stacked
arrangement; andrest ledges joined with the plates at staggered heights
below each well, whereby the ledges prevent the articles held in the
wells from dropping out, while allowing them to be horizontally withdrawn
at the bottom one at a time.
2. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 1, wherein said plates also have each a plurality of horizontal slits at staggered heights below each well, and wherein said rest ledges are formed by slats threaded through corresponding horizontal slits.
3. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 1, characterized in that said rest ledges are formed by tabs laterally projecting at right angles from leveled portions of the bottom edge of each plate.
4. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 1, wherein said boards are held laterally by rigid panels fastened to the assembly means.
5. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 1, wherein said assembly means are tension rods tying together the end plates, with respective spacers between adjacent plates.
6. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 5, wherein said tension rods are rigid sticks passing through aligned holes in the plates, and having nuts threaded on their ends, and said spacers are sleeves inserted on the sticks between adjacent plates.
7. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 6, wherein said holes are made in the corners of said plates.
8. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 6, wherein said sleeves have different lengths, whereby wells of different widths are formed.
9. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 5, wherein it is provided with supporting means comprising at least two beams having hooking means for supporting the opposite ends of said upper tension rods, said beams being attached to respective brackets.
10. The dispenser of boxed articles of claim 9, wherein said brackets comprise staves integral with the beams and adjustably received in respective tubular members.
This invention is concerned with a dispenser of boxed articles such
as packets of cigarettes, boxes of candies, or other small,
large-selling, boxed products, intended for installation in retail shops,
preferably associated to the shop's sales counter.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Many kinds of articles of large consumption, such as cigarettes, candies, but also drugs, haberdashery and others, are sold at retail under a dressing of block-shaped boxes or packets. Usually the retailers, such as tobacconists or chemists, store the boxes on shelves located behind the sales counter, and the retailer picks the boxes from the shelves one at a time depending on each customer's request.
It should also be considered that the number of different types and brands of articles, in all kinds of retail stores, such as tobacconist's or chemist's, is very large, and consequently, although the depth occupied by the articles is small, the front space required to accommodate all the products always turns out to be scanty or insufficient.
Moreover, since the shelves are located behind the counter, the retailer, at each fresh request, has to turn to the shelves, pick the desired article, and turn back to the counter for delivering the article. This operation, when repeatedly carried out during the day, not only is tiring for the retailer, but also slows down the sales, forcing the customers to long waiting times during rush periods. Lastly, the shopkeeper is obliged to often move his eyes away from the sales counter, thereby making it easier for shoplifters to pilfer any products that may be on display on the counter.
In order to fully or partly solve the above problems, documents such as U.S. Pat. No. 4,148,413 and EP 662'295 describe dispensers or shelves for boxed articles, in which a plurality of stacks of boxes of various denominations are arranged in several ranks along the depth of the shelf front, so that the number of articles accommodated in given width of the shelf is multiplied by three or four. The ranks are staggered in height, whereby the stacked boxes can be withdrawn horizontally one at a time from the bottom of each stack, the remaining stacked boxes sliding down by gravity. Such dispensers may be installed so as to be overhanging above the sales counter, in order to allow the retailer to pick the articles without having to turn, but they can only be used with boxes of a predetermined size.
Moreover, in order to accommodate boxes of different sizes, EP 1114600 provides a dispenser in which a plurality of vertical magazines of different, desired widths are hooked side by side on a frame.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is now the main object of this invention to provide a dispenser of box-like or packet-like articles as set forth above, which is cheaper to manufacture than the dispensers of U.S. Pat. No. 4,148,413, EP 662'295 and also of EP 1'114'600, while preserving the same functionality and versatility.
Another object is to provide the above dispenser so that it is less heavy than known dispensers, for a better ease of use.
Still another object is to provide the above dispenser so that it is less bulky in its disassembled condition, whereby it may be less expensive to be shipped.
This invention achieves the above and other objects and advantages, such as they will appear from the disclosure below, by means of a dispenser of boxed articles having the features set out in claim 1.
Other advantageous features are recited in the dependent claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention is further disclosed below, with reference to a few preferred embodiments, shown by way of non-limiting example in the attached drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a dispenser of boxed articles, according to a first preferred embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side view of a plate used in the dispenser of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a side view similar to FIG. 1, but showing the dispenser hanging from an overhead support;
FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of the dispenser of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a view in vertical transverse cross-section made along line V-V on FIG. 3; and
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a plate belonging to a second preferred embodiment of the dispenser according to the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
With particular reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the dispenser according to the first preferred embodiment is assembled essentially from a plurality of identical profiled plates such as 10, which are one of the most peculiar features of the invention. Each plate 10 is of metal sheet or other rigid sheet material, which is cut or punched in the shape shown in FIG. 2, i.e. having a roughly four-sided profile, with three straight sides 12, 14, 16 at right angles, and a fourth inclined side, shaped as a sequence of four steps 18. The four corners of each plate 10 are shaped into respective tabs 20 in which respective holes 22 are made.
Several plates 10 are arranged side by side, parallel to each other, by rigid tension rods 24 threading the respective holes 22 in corresponding tabs 20 in each plate. Between adjacent plates, sleeves 26 borne on the rods act as spacers to maintain a fixed mutual spacing between the plates.
Clamping nuts 28 are screwed onto the opposite ends of each rod 24 in order to maintain the structure of the dispenser rigidly assembled.
Each plate 10 is cut with five pairs of aligned vertical slits 30, 32, ending at staggered heights at the bottom, substantially aligned with steps 18. Rigid sheets or boards 34, 36, of a material such as PVC, are threaded through vertical slits 30, 32, which boards, together with adjacent plates 10, define vertical bays or wells having a rectangular transverse cross section, and arranged in four ranks over the plate width. Each plate 10 also has four horizontal slits 38, which are located near respective steps 18 (and therefore at staggered heights). Rigid slats 40 are inserted through the horizontal slits, thereby acting as rest ledges for each well, as explained below.
It should be understood the pairs of vertical slits 30, 32 are actually equivalent to respective single slits of equal overall length, in which respective vertical boards of corresponding height are received, and that their splitting into pairs of aligned slits is essentially due to the need of ensuring the structural strength of the plate. Similarly, triplets or quadruplets of aligned slits might be used. In the disclosure and the claims, the expression "vertical slit" denotes an arbitrary number of aligned slits, which together make it possible, by insertion of boards, to implement partitions that are substantially equivalent to a continuous wall.
On opposite sides of the structure two panels 42 are attached, fastened with screws 44 to the ends of the tension rods 24, which panels retain boards 34, 36 and slats 40, preventing them from sliding off the slits.
For installation in the appointed place, typically above a sales counter, the above described dispenser can be mounted on supports formed as uprights rising from below, or as supports hanging from the ceiling. For instance, in the solution of FIGS. 3 and 4, two tubular members 50 are affixed to the ceiling by fastening flanges 52, so that they extend downwardly, and they respectively receive staves 54 which can be adjusted at a desired height by screws 56 engaging in holes 58 made in the staves 54. Respective beams 60 are integral with staves 54, which are provided with respective saddles 62 at their opposite ends. The ends of the upper assembly rods of the dispenser are removably hooked on said saddles.
In the vertical wells defined by the crossings of plates 10 with vertical boards 34, 36, stacks of superposed boxes or packets can be received. With reference to FIG. 5, stacks of boxes such as 46 rest on horizontal slats 40, which, due to their staggered heights, allow the boxes to be withdrawn horizontally one at a time.
It can be seen that the shopkeeper at the counter can quickly pick the required packet, without having to move or turn. When one of the wells is empty, it can be easily reloaded from above with a fresh complete stack of boxes, by stepping on a footstool or ladder, or, alternatively, the boxes can be re-inserted one at a time from the bottom, during idle moments.
Although the drawings show uniformly spaced plates (i.e., uniformly sized sleeves 26) as well as uniformly spaced slits in each plate, it will be evident that there is no impediment that sleeves 26 may have different lengths, so that narrower and wider intervals are created between the plates, or that the distance between vertical slits 32, 34 may be different for one or more pairs of slits (for instance, an oversized distance may be chosen between the two slits at the back), provided it is identical for all plates. The dispenser can thereby be adapted to boxes having different, desired widths and lengths, within wide limits. Obviously, it is also possible to make the plates with a different number of vertical slits, say larger than four, in order distribute the wells over a larger number of ranks, or, vice verse, smaller than four, in case of special needs in connection with the sizes of the articles or the availability of space.
FIG. 6 shows an alternative version of a plate that can be used to obtain a dispenser according to the invention. Plate 10' has, again, a four-sided profile similar to plate 10 of FIG. 3, including steps 18', bored tabs 20' and vertical slits 30', 32', but has no horizontal slits; in lieu of those, plate 10' has fins 70 which are cut integral with the plate sheet at each step, and bent at right angles. Plates 10' are assembled identically as the plates 10 of FIG. 3, but do not require the horizontal slats 40 of FIGS. 1 to 5, the latter being replaced by right-angled fins 70, which act as equivalent rest ledges.
The manufacture of the dispenser only involves materials that are cheaply available on the market, such as metal plate, metal rods, etc., and which are processed by simple and inexpensive mechanical operations: with the exception of plate 10, which requires a simple die or punch, the other operations are simply cutting and boring; the overall cost of the dispenser is therefore considerably lower than similar dispenser of the prior art. It is also evident that the bulk of the unassembled dispenser is also quite limited, with consequent reduction of the costs of transport.
It is understood that changes and modifications can be made to the preferred embodiments as described above. For instance, beside changing the number of vertical slits as disclosed above, the number of box-holding wells could be reduced to three or increased to five or more, by broadening the plates and increasing the number of vertical and horizontal slits. Also, the assembly of the plates might be achieved, rather than by rods and sleeves, by means of other known assembly means which are capable of ensuring the proper mutual positioning of the plates. Furthermore, although the above disclosed supporting means for the dispenser are preferred at this time, obviously the dispenser could be supported by any other known means that may be convenient, depending on the environment in which the dispenser is to be installed. The scope of the invention should therefore be determined exclusively from the attached claims.
The disclosures in Italian Patent Application No. TO2009A000587 from which this application claims priority are incorporated herein by reference.
Patent applications in class PLURAL SOURCES, STACKS OR COMPARTMENTS
Patent applications in all subclasses PLURAL SOURCES, STACKS OR COMPARTMENTS