Patent application title: MODULAR FENCE PANEL
Ronald Smith (Shropshire, GB)
BIRMINGHAM BARBED TAPE LTD.
IPC8 Class: AE04H1716FI
Class name: Fences panel
Publication date: 2012-04-26
Patent application number: 20120097909
A fence panel formed from at least two modules aligned in a vertical
plane with an elongate connecting member which is engaged with upper and
lower adjacent peripheral horizontally extending components of the
12. A fence panel comprising: upper and lower, vertically coplanar, mesh panel modules with horizontally extending, adjacent, parallel, elongate rods at a lower end of the upper module and at an upper end of the lower module respectively; and an elongate connecting member which is engageable, only with a sliding action in a longitudinal direction of the connecting member, with at least one of the elongate rods, the connecting member including at least one undercut channel in which the elongate rod is located.
13. The fence panel according to claim 12, wherein each elongate rod has a diameter D, and the connecting member further comprises: an elongate body with a base, a web on one side of the base, a crosspiece opposing the base and extending from the web, the crosspiece including a first section which forms, on a first side of the web, an undercut channel with a maximum internal cross-sectional dimension greater than 2D, and wherein a mouth to the channel has a width greater than D and less than 2D.
14. The fence panel according to claim 13, wherein the crosspiece further comprises a second section, on a second side of the web opposing the first side of the web, and which forms an undercut channel with a maximum internal cross-sectional dimension greater than 2D, and wherein a mouth to the channel has a width greater than D and less than 2D.
15. The fence panel according to claim 13, wherein the crosspiece further comprises a second section, on a second side of the web opposing the first side of the web, and which opposes a portion of the base thereby to form a channel with a maximum internal cross-sectional dimension greater than 2D, and wherein a mouth of the channel has a width greater than 2D.
16. The fence panel according to claim 12, wherein each mesh panel comprises a respective mesh sheet formed from a first array of elongate rods and a second array of elongate rods which transversely overlie and are secured to the first array of rods at locations at which the respective rods contact one another, and where the connecting member is engageable with a peripherally located first elongate rod of the first array in the upper module and with a peripherally located second elongate rod of the first array in the lower module, and the first elongate rod is adjacent and parallel to the second elongate rod.
17. The fence panel according to claim 16, wherein ends of the elongate rods in the second array of each module, which are respectively adjacent the first elongate rod, and the second elongate rod, are engaged, together with the first and second elongate rods, with the connecting member.
18. The fence panel according to claim 17, wherein the connecting member comprises an elongate body with the undercut channel within which the first elongate rod or the second elongate rod extends in a longitudinal direction and adjacent transverse portions of the elongate rods in the second array extend through formations which are provided at intervals along the length of the elongate body.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates to fencing in general and, more particularly, to fencing which is largely prefabricated and which is supplied in modular form. The invention is described hereinafter with reference to security fencing but this is exemplary only and is non-limiting.
 Constructional details and specifications of fences depend, inter alia, on installation factors and deterrent ratings. For example, in order to meet certain security and operational requirements a fence panel can be made from a mesh sheet which has a high mesh density configuration so that it is difficult for an intruder to penetrate the panel. The width of a prefabricated fence panel determines the spacing between adjacent posts which support the panel. The provision and erection of fence posts are costly and to contain this expense a fence panel should be of a substantial width. Of equal importance is the height of a panel. If the panel is of moderate height then it does not present a meaningful barrier. On the other hand if a prefabricated panel has a significant height, say in excess of 2 m, then this factor together with the implications of substantial panel width and high mesh density mean that the panel would not only be difficult to handle because of its size and mass, but would also present problems associated with the transporting thereof.
 Conceivably, prefabricated fence panels of appropriate sizes can be welded together on site but this, in turn, raises other difficulties.
 It is an object of the present invention to provide a fence panel of modular construction which substantially addresses the aforementioned aspects and which, on site, can be assembled in a neat, effective and secure manner; and to provide a connecting member for use in the fence panel.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
 The invention provides a fence panel which includes at least a first module with a first, elongate peripheral component and a second module with a second, elongate peripheral component which is adjacent the first, elongate peripheral component, and a connecting member which is engaged, at least, with the first and second peripheral components thereby to secure the modules to each other.
 Each module may comprise a respective mesh sheet of appropriate mesh density which is formed from a first array of elongate rods and a second array of elongate rods which transversely overlie and which are secured to the first array of rods, for example by means of welding, at locations at which the respective rods contact one another.
 The first elongate peripheral component is preferably a first elongate rod. Similarly the second elongate peripheral component is preferably a second elongate rod.
 In use the second module is positioned so that it is co-planar with, and vertically above, the first module with the first and second elongate rods extending horizontally, substantially side-by-side, and the connecting member is engaged with each of the first and second rods.
 The connecting member may be formed in any suitable way, for example by means of an extrusion process, by rolling, by casting or fabrication. The invention is not limited in this respect.
 Preferably, ends of the elongate rods in the second array of each module, which are respectively adjacent the first elongate rod, and the second elongate rod, are engaged, together with the first and second elongate rods, with the connecting member.
 The connecting member may include an elongate body with at least a first channel within which at least the first elongate rod extends in a longitudinal direction and adjacent transverse portions of the elongate rods in the second array may extend through formations which are provided at intervals along the length of the elongate body.
 The body of the connecting member may comprise an elongate channel section which, in cross-section, is substantially C-shaped with an elongate slot and, on opposed sides of the channel section, recessed formations which extend to the slot.
 In another form of the invention the body of the connecting member includes two channels and a web which separates the channels, with at least one channel including an undercut formation in which one of the first and second elongate rods is located with adjacent transverse portions of the elongate rod, in the second array, extending through a mouth of the channel.
 The body of the connecting member may have an elongate base, a centrally positioned web on one side of the base and a crosspiece, at an end of the web which, at least on one side of the web, forms a part of a channel and extends towards the base to define a retention formation, and which is spaced from the base to define a mouth to the channel.
 If only two panels are to be interconnected then the connecting member may have a symmetrical construction in that, on each side of the web, a respective retention formation may be formed. What this means in practice is that the first and second elongate rods are respectively engageable with the channels with a sliding-type action.
 If a third panel is to be connected to two panels which are already interconnected then a sliding action of the kind referred to may be problematical. It is to be understood a the plurality of the panels can be coupled together, one above the other in a planar array, to reach a height of 5 m or 6 m, for example. Posts which are required to support an assembly of this height must be of substantial dimensions. If a plurality of the panel modules are interconnected, each with a sliding action whereby a panel module is engaged with a respective connecting member, then substantial problems can be encountered in coupling the modules together. To avoid this the connecting member may be engageable with a peripheral component of a lower panel module, preferably with a sliding action and a peripheral component of an overlying module may be slotted into a channel, which faces upwardly, on the connecting member. Use may optionally be made of one or more fasteners to secure the peripheral component of the upper module to the connecting member in such a way that the upper module cannot be withdrawn from the channel.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The invention is further described by way of examples with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a connecting member used in a first form of the invention;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the connecting member of FIG. 1 engaged with two fence modules;
 FIG. 3 shows the arrangement of FIG. 2 in elevation;
 FIG. 4 is a view in cross-section, on an enlarged scale, of two fence modules which are interconnected using the connecting member of FIG. 1;
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a preferred connecting member;
 FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 2 and shows the use of the connecting member of FIG. 5;
 FIGS. 7 and 8 are similar to FIGS. 3 and 4 respectively but with the connecting member of FIG. 5;
 FIG. 9 is a side view of an alternative fencing arrangement according to the invention;
 FIGS. 10 and 11 show other possible forms of the invention; and
 FIG. 12 shows a modification of the invention which facilitates to a substantial extent the erection of a fence panel of significant height.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings is a perspective view of a connecting member 10 according to a first form of the invention. FIGS. 2 to 4 depict the use of the connecting member.
 The connecting member is made in any suitable way, for example from an extrusion or by means of a rolling and subsequent working process. The invention is not limited in this regard.
 The connecting member has a body 12 which, in cross-section, is in the form of an elongate C. The connecting member has a base 14, opposed curved sections 16 and 18, and a mouth 20, between opposing ends of the curved sections, which is spaced from the base.
 Recessed formations 24 are formed in each of the curved sections, opposing each other, at intervals which are regularly spaced apart by a distance 26, along the length of the connecting member. Each formation 24 extends through a respective curved section 16 or 18 substantially to an inner side of the base 14.
 FIGS. 2 and 3 show portions of two fence panel modules 30 and 32 respectively which for all practical purposes are identical. Each module has a first array of a plurality of closely and regularly spaced, horizontally extending, rods 36, and a second array of a lesser number of overlying, vertically extending rods 38, which are relatively far apart, which are welded to the rods 36 at respective points of contact 40. Horizontally projecting and portions 42 of the rods 36 are bent through an angle of about 80° to form sloping flanges 44 on respective opposing vertical sides of each panel module. In use these flanges can be bolted or otherwise fixed directly to fence posts, not shown, which in cross-section are trapezoidal.
 The modules 30 and 32 are positioned side-by-side with respective lowermost and uppermost peripheral rods 36A and 36B adjacent and parallel to each other. The elongate member 10 is engaged with these rods by positioning the rod 36A inside a space partly enclosed by the curved section 16 and the rod 36B is located, opposing the rod 36A, inside a space partly enclosed by the curved section 18. Adjacent portions of the vertically extending rods 38, on the respective modules, are positioned in the respective formations 24. The spacing 26 between these formations is the same as the spacing between adjacent vertical rods 38. The panel modules are then pivoted, about the connecting member, to a co-planar, vertical orientation. Thus interengagement of the modules with the connecting member takes place with two actions, namely by passing the elongate rods through the mouth 20 of the channel and thereafter by positioning the panel modules in a co-planar relationship.
 Once the modules are interconnected it is possible for a technician to bolt the flanges 44 to fence posts (not shown) previously planted in the ground. The fence posts are effectively in contact with opposing ends of each connecting member 10 and it is therefore not possible for the connecting member to be moved horizontally. It is only possible to remove the connecting member if the panel modules are detached from the fence posts and the structure is collapsed so that the rods 36A and 36B can be passed through the mouth 20.
 A benefit to the process is that it then becomes practical to reduce the size of the panel modules 30 and 32. Although these modules are fairly wide they are not significantly high. They can therefore be handled by technicians with relative ease and, moreover, lend themselves to being transported in a container or on the back of a relatively small vehicle--aspects which, with a large panel of integral construction, present logistical problems.
 FIGS. 5 to 8 correspond respectively to FIGS. 1 to 4 and illustrate the use of a connecting member 48, according to a second form of the invention, which includes a body 50 with a base 52, and a centrally positioned web 54 on one side of the base. A crosspiece 56, which opposes the base, has two sections 58 respectively which are mirror images of each other. Each section forms a respective recessed or undercut channel 62. Each end portion 66 of the crosspiece extends towards the base 52 and defines a relatively narrow mouth 68, to the undercut channel 62, which has a width 68A which is slightly greater than the diameter D of the horizontally extending peripheral rods 36A and 36B, and significantly less than twice the diameter D i.e. D<68A<2D. The maximum internal cross-sectional dimension 62A of the channel 62 is slightly greater than 2D.
 FIGS. 6 and 7 show two panel modules 30 and 32 which are similar to the modules in FIG. 4. The modules are positioned vertically coplanar, with the module 30 directly above the module 32. The connecting member 48 is simultaneously engageable only with a sliding action in its longitudinal direction with the lowermost rod 36A of the module 30 and with the uppermost substantially adjacent and parallel rod 36B of the module 32. The rod, in each instance, fits snugly into the respective undercut channel 62. The vertically extending rods 38, of the second array of rods, extend from the horizontal rods through the respective mouth 68. Once the modules are interconnected in this way it is possible to bolt each flange 44 to a corresponding fence post. Thereafter it is only possible to remove the connecting member if the modules are disengaged from the fence posts. The end portions 66 are slightly hook-shaped and act as retention formations which bear against the rods 36A and 36B respectively.
 Although the connecting member is slidably engaged with the two modules it cannot be removed from the erected panel because ends of the connecting member abut surfaces of fence posts to which the assembled modules, which make up the panel, are attached. Also, due to the aforementioned dimensional relationships, the peripheral rods cannot be transversely detached from the connecting member for they cannot pass through the respective mouths.
 FIG. 9 shows an interface 70 between a lower edge of an upper module 30 and an upper edge of a lower panel module 32. The two edges are bent through 90° to form relatively small flanges 72 and 74 respectively. At an erection site the flanges can be directly coupled to each other by using at least one appropriate fastener 76 which is schematically shown only. Use could for example be made of a plurality of bolts which are passed through mesh apertures in the modules. Another possible arrangement is to make use of a U-shaped channel member 78 which is engaged with the flanges 72 and 74, covering outer surfaces of the flanges, and which is then bolted in position.
 FIG. 10 shows abutting edges of upper and lower panel modules 30 and 32 respectively which are directly fixed to each other by means of an elongate channel member 80 which is positioned on one side of the modules and which, optionally, is formed with a plurality of recesses 82, generally similar to what has been shown in FIG. 1, to enable vertical wires of the panel modules to pass through the respective recesses. A second elongate member 84 e.g. in the form of a length of flat bar, is engaged with the channel member 80 and the members 80 and 84 are bolted together using appropriate fasteners 86 e.g. studs welded to an inner surface of the member 80.
 FIG. 11 shows another arrangement in which flanges 72A and 72B respectively at lower and upper edges of adjacent, vertically coplanar, panel modules 30 and 32 are formed by bending the respective mesh material through about 45°. A shaped elongate member 90, for example a length of angle iron, is positioned in a V formed by the adjacent flanges and suitable fasteners 92, e.g. bolts or rivets, are used to fix the flanges to the member. An advantage of this technique, as opposed to what is shown in FIG. 9, is that as the flanges 72A and 72B flare outwardly it is possible to stack the modules one on the other for transport and storage purposes. Also, the inclined surfaces of the flanges do not form "steps", as is the case with the flanges 72 and 74, which could assist an intruder to scale the fence.
 The preceding description has been confined, in substance, to the interconnection of a first panel module to a second panel module in a vertical array. In a preferred form of the invention this is done with a sliding-type action which has been described hereinbefore with reference to FIGS. 5 to 8. Thus an upper fence module is engaged with a lower fence module through the medium of a connecting member which is engaged with a sliding action with opposed peripheral rods of the modules. This process can be repeated, if required, to connect a third panel module to the second panel module which directly underlies the third panel module.
 If a fence of substantial height is required then the aforementioned technique, although useful, can be difficult to implement. For example a high security application might require a fence which is 5 m or 6 m high and wherein adjacent fence posts are spaced apart by up to 3.5 m. FIG. 12 depicts a modification to the principles described hereinbefore which greatly assists in constructing a fence of this type. A modified connecting member 148 is used. The connecting member 148 has a body 150 with a base 152 and a web 154 which is positioned off-centre with respect to the base. A crosspiece 156 opposes the base. On what, in use, is usually a lower side of the connecting member the body is formed with an undercut channel 162. For all practical purposes this is the same as what is shown in FIG. 8, for example. However on an opposing side of the web 154 an upwardly facing relatively deep channel 162A is formed. This channel has no equivalent to the retention formation defined by the undercut formation in the channel 162. The channel is wide enough to accommodate two or more peripheral rods 136A and the adjacent respective portions of the vertically-extending rods 138.
 If a significantly high fence is to be erected then a lowermost module 130 is positioned between, and is connected in any appropriate way, to two vertically-extending fence posts (not shown) to ensure that the spacing between the posts is correct. The posts can then be anchored in the ground by means of concrete plinths. This process can be repeated along the length of the fence.
 Prior to the lowermost panel being connected to the two posts the connecting member 148 is engaged with a sliding action with an upper periphery of the lower module 130. The channel 162A faces upwardly and is not connected with an upper module.
 Once the concrete plinths have set a second connecting member 148, not shown, is engaged with a sliding action with an upper periphery of a second panel 132 which is to be positioned overlying the panel 130. The lower peripheral edge of the panel 132 is then directly inserted into the upwardly facing channel 162A and, thereafter, opposing vertical edges of the second module are fixed to the respective fence posts. A third module can then be engaged with an upper end of the second module, in the manner described. The process can be continued in this way, within reason, to give an erected fence of a desired height.
 A significant advantage of the described approach is that, logistically, the transporting and erection of fence panels of 5 m or 6 m high and up to 4 m wide, present a significant problem. With the modular approach referred to each fence module which is of relatively small size can be handled with comparative ease and by two or three workmen.
 The fence modules are coupled together in a secure and effective way. When vertical sides of the modules are fixed to spaced-apart fence posts it is not possible for a module to be withdrawn from the channel 162A nor to be moved with a sliding action out of engagement with a channel 162. If the security of the installation is to be enhanced further a suitable fastener 180, notionally shown only in FIG. 12, can be used. This type of fastener extends between opposed portions of the base 152 and the crosspiece 156 and passes through an aperture in the corresponding panel module. The fastener can for example be a rivet, an expanding anchor or the like. The invention is not limited in this respect.
Patent applications in class PANEL
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