US20050279464A1 - Apparatus and method for blocking access to an aisle - Google Patents

Apparatus and method for blocking access to an aisle Download PDF

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Publication number
US20050279464A1
US20050279464A1 US10872641 US87264104A US2005279464A1 US 20050279464 A1 US20050279464 A1 US 20050279464A1 US 10872641 US10872641 US 10872641 US 87264104 A US87264104 A US 87264104A US 2005279464 A1 US2005279464 A1 US 2005279464A1
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
barrier
condition
aisle
barriers
loop
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US10872641
Inventor
Thomas O'Brien
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American Recreation Products Inc
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American Recreation Products Inc
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Classifications

    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E01CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS, RAILWAYS, OR BRIDGES
    • E01FADDITIONAL WORK, SUCH AS EQUIPPING ROADS OR THE CONSTRUCTION OF PLATFORMS, HELICOPTER LANDING STAGES, SIGNS, SNOW FENCES, OR THE LIKE
    • E01F13/00Arrangements for obstructing or restricting traffic, e.g. gates, barricades ; Preventing passage of vehicles of selected category or dimensions
    • E01F13/02Arrangements for obstructing or restricting traffic, e.g. gates, barricades ; Preventing passage of vehicles of selected category or dimensions free-standing; portable, e.g. for guarding open manholes ; Portable signs or signals specially adapted for fitting to portable barriers
    • E01F13/028Flexible barrier members, e.g. cords; Means for rendering same conspicuous; Adapted supports, e.g. with storage reel

Abstract

A safety barrier system for blocking access to an aisle defined by first and second opposing structures. The system includes at least two barriers, and each barrier includes a flexible, resilient frame defining a span. A flexible sheet is secured to the frame and extending across the span. The frame is movable between an unfolded condition and a folded condition for storage. At least one strap is connected to the sheet and has a free end. A fastener is attached to the free end of the at least one strap for connecting the barrier to one of the first and second structures when the frame is in the unfolded condition to block access to the store aisle. The system also includes a holder for the at least two barriers.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    The invention relates generally to aisle barrier systems, and more particularly to foldable aisle barriers and methods of using such barriers.
  • [0002]
    An example prior art aisle barrier comprises a large (e.g., 4 feet by 6 feet) fabric sheet having a warning printed thereon to warn against entry into the aisle. The barrier includes rigid rods attached to the sheet along its top edge, and elastic cords for hanging the banner across the aisle. When not in use, the barrier is folded and rolled into a compact shape and stored on a lift vehicle or the like. This type of barrier is generally satisfactory, but is not easily compacted for storage on the lift vehicle. Moreover, the barrier tends to look worn relatively quickly, thus requiring frequent replacement.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Briefly, one aspect of the invention is directed to a safety barrier system for blocking access to an aisle defined by first and second opposing structures. The system comprises at least two barriers, each barrier comprising a flexible, resilient frame defining a span and a flexible sheet secured to the frame and extending across the span. The frame is movable between an unfolded condition and a folded condition for storage. The frame is biased toward the unfolded condition. At least one strap is connected to the sheet and has a free end. A fastener is attached to the free end of the at least one strap for connecting the barrier to one of the first and second structures when the frame is in the unfolded condition to block access to the store aisle. The system further comprises a container for receiving and constraining the at least two barriers when the barriers are in the folded condition.
  • [0004]
    In another aspect, the system comprises at least two barriers, each of which comprises a foldable loop of wire defining a span and a flexible sheet secured to the loop and extending across the span. The sheet includes a warning thereon to warn against entry into the aisle. The loop of wire is formed into an oval shape in an unfolded condition and formed into overlapping rings in a folded condition for storage. The loop is biased toward the unfolded condition. A connector is connected to the sheet and is adapted to connect the barrier to the first and second structures when the frame is in the unfolded condition to block access to the store aisle.
  • [0005]
    The invention is also directed to a method of blocking access to an aisle using a barrier movable from a folded condition to an unfolded condition. The aisle having opposing first and second structures defining the aisle therebetween. The barrier includes a resilient loop of wire biased into the unfolded condition. The method comprises removing the folded barrier from a storage container, unfolding the barrier by holding only a portion of the loop of wire and allowing the remainder of the wire to open into the unfolded condition, and connecting the barrier to the first and second structures so as to block access to the aisle.
  • [0006]
    Other features of the present invention will be in part apparent and in part pointed out hereinafter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0007]
    FIG. 1 is a front view of a barrier of one embodiment of the invention and shown secured to posts of an aisle;
  • [0008]
    FIG. 2 is a rear view of the barrier of FIG. 1 and showing details of the barrier;
  • [0009]
    FIGS. 3A-3F are a sequence showing folding of the barrier and placing the barrier in a bag;
  • [0010]
    FIG. 4 is a perspective view of four barriers and the bag; and
  • [0011]
    FIG. 5 is a side view of the bag mounted on a lift vehicle.
  • [0012]
    Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views of the drawings.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • [0013]
    Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIGS. 1 and 4, a safety barrier system of one embodiment of the present invention is designated in its entirety by the reference numeral 11. The system generally comprises four barriers 15, each of which has a folded and unfolded condition, and a bag 17 (broadly, a holder or container) for holding the barriers in the folded condition. Each barrier 15 may be deployed as shown in FIG. 1 to extend across an aisle 21 defined by right and left posts 23 a, 23 b (broadly, structures), thereby blocking access to the aisle. Each barrier 15 generally comprises a flexible, resilient wire loop 27 (broadly, a frame) defining a span and a flexible sheet, generally designated 31, connected to the loop and extending across the span. The loop 27 and sheet 31 are movable between an unfolded condition and a folded condition for storage. The barrier 15 also comprises a connector, generally designated 35, for connecting the barrier to the right and left posts 23 a, 23 b.
  • [0014]
    Referring to FIGS. 2 and 4, the loop 27 is formed into an oval shape in the unfolded condition (FIG. 2) and is foldable or twistable into overlapping rings (e.g., three rings as shown in FIG. 4) in the folded condition. The loop 27 is suitably made of steel wire, for example, 65 Mn steel wire having a cross section of 1.5 mm by 5 mm. The loop 27 is one continuous piece of wire, the ends of the wire being joined by a tubular connector. The loop 27 is resilient and is biased to return to the unfolded condition automatically if released from the folded condition.
  • [0015]
    The flexible sheet 31 is generally oval-shaped and includes a main layer of fabric extending across the span. A narrow ribbon 43 of fabric is joined to the periphery of the main layer so as to form a closed sleeve 45 around the periphery. The wire loop 27 is retained inside the closed sleeve. The flexible sheet 31 is brightly colored, e.g., orange or yellow, and includes a warning message thereon, such as “NO ENTRY” or symbols indicating similar messages. The flexible sheet 31 is made of a suitable fabric, such as nylon. The outer periphery of the sheet may also be reinforced, such as by stronger nylon fabric (not shown). A pocket 49 is attached to an upper portion 51 of the sheet to receive the connector when it is not secured to the posts 23 a, 23 b.
  • [0016]
    Referring to FIG. 1, the upper portion 51 of the sheet 31 includes an open-ended sleeve 53. In one embodiment, the connector 35 comprises a strap 55 extending through the sleeve 53. The strap 55 is attached (as by sewing) to the sheet 31 inside the sleeve 53. The strap 55 further includes free ends 57 a, 57 b on right and left sides of the barrier, respectively. At least one fastener is attached to each of the free ends for securing the barrier 15 to the posts 23 a, 23 b. As shown in this example, each free end 57 a, 57 b includes two separate fasteners, a hook fastener 59 and mating buckle elements 63 a, 63 b for securing the barrier 15 to the posts 23 a, 23 b. Note that typically, only one of the two fasteners is secured to a post. Also, other types of fasteners, such as VELCRO™ or magnet fasteners, are contemplated within the scope of this invention.
  • [0017]
    The strap 55 is adjustable to accommodate aisles of different widths. For example, the strap 55 or a portion thereof is made of an elastic material so that the strap can be extended to span a variety of aisle widths, e.g., aisles of 8 feet to 11 feet. The barrier 15 may also include a second connector (not shown) comprising, for example, a strap similar to that of the first connector, extending from a lower portion of the flexible sheet 31.
  • [0018]
    Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the bag 17 is sized and shaped to receive the barriers 15 when the barriers are in the folded condition. The bag 17 also constrains each folded barrier 15 so that it does not return to its unfolded condition until it is removed from the bag. The bag 17 is generally circular to correspond to the shape of the folded barriers 15. The bag 17 has a width sufficient to receive at least three barriers 15, and in this embodiment four barriers. It is contemplated that the bag 17 be sized to receive any number of barriers 15, including only one. The bag 17 includes means for connecting the bag to a variety of different lift vehicles. Such include, for example, grommets 67, elastic loops 69, or large carrying handles 71 that may also be used to carry the bag 17. In one embodiment, the bag 17 is made of a transparent material, such as a mesh material, so that the user can see through the bag when it is empty. This feature may be helpful, for example, when the bag 17 is hung on a lift vehicle in the field of view of the lift vehicle operator. In this way, the operator knows from a quick glance at the bag 17 that he has not deployed all of the barriers 15 to block the aisle or aisles in which he is operating the lift vehicle. In such case, the operator will then deploy the remaining barriers 15 before performing further lift operations. Note that the bag may be hung on a variety of vehicles including forklifts, “reach trucks” and “order pickers, as well as other types of vehicles. The bag 17 may also be hung on a stationary structure, rather than a vehicle, within the scope of this invention. The bag may also be made of opaque material within the scope of the invention.
  • [0019]
    In an exemplary method of blocking access to an aisle 21 using the barriers 15, one of the barriers is removed from the bag and the barrier is unfolded. The barrier 15 may be unfolded by holding only a portion of the sheet 31 and loop 27 with one hand, and simply allowing the remainder of the loop to unfold. The loop 27 tends to unfold automatically because it is biased toward the unfolded condition, as described above. The barrier 15 is placed between the posts 23 a, 23 b and the straps 55 are fastened to the posts so as to block access to the aisle 21. Typically, another barrier 15 is removed from the bag 17 and is connected to posts 23 a, 23 b or other structure of the aisle 21 in the same manner so as to block a section of the aisle between the barriers (or to block the entire aisle if the barriers are placed at the ends of the aisle). Further, the adjacent aisle may be blocked by removing the other two barriers from the bag, unfolding them and securing them to structures in the adjoining aisle.
  • [0020]
    When the aisle 21 is to be unblocked, each barrier 15 is disconnected from the posts 23 a, 23 b, folded, and replaced in the bag 17. An exemplary folding and replacement operation is shown in more detail in FIGS. 3A-3E. The barrier 15 is held at the upper corners and the user moves his hands toward one another, thereby flexing the top portion of the loop 27 inward as shown by the arrows in FIGS. 3A and 3B. The inward motions tension the loop 27 and cause the lower portion of the loop to automatically move upward toward the top portion. In FIG. 3C, the user continues to move his hands together and twists the loop so that the loop assumes the nearly folded condition shown in FIG. 3D. In the folded condition, the loop forms three overlapping rings. The folded barrier 15 is then reinserted in the bag 17 (FIG. 3E). Another suitable method of folding a similar frame is described in expired U.S. Pat. No. 4,951,333, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0021]
    As various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. For example, other types of frames, besides a wire loop are contemplated within the scope of the invention. Further, the holder may include a clasp for binding the barrier or barriers in the folded condition (with or without a bag). The holder may also include a strap, such as the connector strap described above, with the strap fixed to one of the barriers and adapted to extend around the other barriers to bundle the barriers together. Further, the strap (or broadly, the connector) may be permanently attached (as by sewing) or otherwise connected to the sheet, and may also be attached to another part of the barrier, such as the barrier.
  • [0022]
    When introducing elements of the present invention or the preferred embodiment(s) thereof, the articles “a”, “an”, “the” and “said” are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising”, “including” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements.

Claims (23)

  1. 1. A safety barrier system for blocking access to an aisle defined by first and second opposing structures, the system comprising:
    at least two barriers, each barrier comprising:
    a flexible, resilient frame defining a span,
    a flexible sheet connected to the frame and extending across the span,
    the frame being movable between an unfolded condition and a folded condition for storage,
    the frame being biased toward the unfolded condition,
    at least one strap connected to the sheet and having a free end,
    a fastener attached to the free end of the at least one strap for connecting the barrier to one of the first and second structures when the frame is in the unfolded condition to block access to the store aisle, and
    a container for receiving and constraining the at least two barriers when the barriers are in the folded condition.
  2. 2. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein a central portion of the strap is attached to the sheet, the strap having at least two free ends, the fastener on the first of the free ends for connecting the barrier to the first structure, a second fastener on the second of the free ends for connecting the barrier to the second structure.
  3. 3. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the frame includes a loop of wire.
  4. 4. A system as set forth in claim 3 wherein the loop of wire is formed into an oval shape in the unfolded condition and is formed into overlapping rings in the folded condition.
  5. 5. A system as set forth in claim 4 wherein the loop is made of steel.
  6. 6. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flexible sheet is brightly colored and includes a warning thereon to warn against entry into the aisle
  7. 7. A system as set forth in claim 6 wherein the flexible sheet is made of nylon fabric.
  8. 8. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container is sized to receive at least three barriers.
  9. 9. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container is generally circular to correspond to the shape of the folded barriers and wherein the container has a width sufficient to receive at least four barriers.
  10. 10. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container is made of a transparent material.
  11. 11. A system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container includes means for connecting the container to a vehicle.
  12. 12. A safety barrier system for blocking access to an aisle defined by first and second opposing structures, the system comprising:
    at least two barriers, each barrier comprising:
    a foldable loop of wire defining a span,
    a flexible sheet connected to the loop and extending across the span,
    the sheet including a warning thereon to warn against entry into the aisle,
    the loop of wire being formed into an oval shape in an unfolded condition and formed into overlapping rings in a folded condition for storage,
    the loop being biased toward the unfolded condition,
    a connector connected to the sheet,
    the connector adapted to connect the barrier to the first and second structures when the frame is in the unfolded condition to block access to the store aisle, and
    a container for receiving the at least two barriers when the barriers are in the folded condition.
  13. 13. A system as set forth in claim 12 wherein the connector extends from an upper portion of the flexible sheet.
  14. 14. A system as set forth in claim 12 wherein the connector comprises a strap having a portion attached to the flexible sheet and having at least two free ends, a first fastener on the first of the free ends for connecting the barrier to the first structure, and a second fastener on the second of the free ends for connecting the barrier to the second structure.
  15. 15. A system as set forth in claim 12 installed in the aisle wherein the first fastener is secured to the first structure and the second fastener is secured to the second structure.
  16. 16. A system as set forth in claim 15 wherein the strap is adjustable to accommodate aisles of different widths.
  17. 17. A system as set forth in claim 15 wherein the free end of the strap includes at least two fasteners for securing the barrier to one of the first and second structures.
  18. 18. A system as set forth in claim 15 wherein at least one of the fasteners is a hook.
  19. 19. A system as set forth in claim 15 wherein at least one of the fasteners is a buckle.
  20. 20. A method of blocking access to an aisle using a barrier movable from a folded condition to an unfolded condition, the aisle having opposing first and second structures defining the aisle therebetween, the barrier including a resilient loop of wire biased into the unfolded condition, the method comprising:
    removing the folded barrier from a storage container,
    unfolding the barrier by holding only a portion of the loop of wire and allowing the remainder of the wire to open into the unfolded condition, and
    connecting the barrier to the first and second structures so as to block access to the aisle.
  21. 21. A method as set forth in claim 20 further comprising disconnecting the barrier, folding the barrier by forming the loop of wire into at least two overlapping rings, and replacing the folded barrier in the storage container.
  22. 22. A method as set forth in claim 20 further comprising:
    removing a second folded barrier from the storage container, unfolding the barrier, and
    connecting the barrier to first and second structures of the aisle to block access to a section of the aisle between the barriers.
  23. 23. A method as set forth in claim 22 further comprising:
    removing third and fourth folded barriers from the storage container,
    unfolding the barriers, and
    connecting the barriers to first and second structures of a second aisle adjacent to the first-mentioned aisle to block access to a section of the second aisle between the barriers.
US10872641 2004-06-21 2004-06-21 Apparatus and method for blocking access to an aisle Abandoned US20050279464A1 (en)

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US29327155 Continuation USD600755S1 (en) 2004-06-21 2008-10-31 Aisle banner

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US20150190001A1 (en) * 2014-01-07 2015-07-09 Target Brands, Inc. Apparatus for restricting access to a retail store aisle

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