US20100107670A1 - Ventilated merchandising system - Google Patents

Ventilated merchandising system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100107670A1
US20100107670A1 US12/499,628 US49962809A US2010107670A1 US 20100107670 A1 US20100107670 A1 US 20100107670A1 US 49962809 A US49962809 A US 49962809A US 2010107670 A1 US2010107670 A1 US 2010107670A1
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Prior art keywords
base
merchandising
platform
coupled
products
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Abandoned
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US12/499,628
Inventor
Fredrick L. Kottke
Peter F. Wolski
Dennis Gundrum
Allen Johnson
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DCI Marketing Inc
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DCI Marketing Inc
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Priority to US7929508P priority Critical
Priority to US14386209P priority
Application filed by DCI Marketing Inc filed Critical DCI Marketing Inc
Priority to US12/499,628 priority patent/US20100107670A1/en
Assigned to DCI MARKETING, INC. reassignment DCI MARKETING, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: GUNDRUM, DENNIS, JOHNSON, ALLEN, WOLSKI, PETER F., KOTTKE, FREDRICK L.
Publication of US20100107670A1 publication Critical patent/US20100107670A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47FSPECIAL FURNITURE, FITTINGS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR SHOPS, STOREHOUSES, BARS, RESTAURANTS OR THE LIKE; PAYING COUNTERS
    • A47F3/00Show cases or show cabinets
    • A47F3/14Display trays or containers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47FSPECIAL FURNITURE, FITTINGS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR SHOPS, STOREHOUSES, BARS, RESTAURANTS OR THE LIKE; PAYING COUNTERS
    • A47F1/00Racks for dispensing merchandise; Containers for dispensing merchandise
    • A47F1/04Racks or containers with arrangements for dispensing articles, e.g. by means of gravity or springs
    • A47F1/12Racks or containers with arrangements for dispensing articles, e.g. by means of gravity or springs dispensing from the side of an approximately horizontal stack
    • A47F1/125Racks or containers with arrangements for dispensing articles, e.g. by means of gravity or springs dispensing from the side of an approximately horizontal stack with an article-pushing device
    • A47F1/126Racks or containers with arrangements for dispensing articles, e.g. by means of gravity or springs dispensing from the side of an approximately horizontal stack with an article-pushing device the pushing device being urged by spring means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47FSPECIAL FURNITURE, FITTINGS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR SHOPS, STOREHOUSES, BARS, RESTAURANTS OR THE LIKE; PAYING COUNTERS
    • A47F3/00Show cases or show cabinets
    • A47F3/04Show cases or show cabinets air-conditioned, refrigerated
    • A47F3/0482Details common to both closed and open types
    • A47F3/0486Details common to both closed and open types for charging, displaying or discharging the articles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47FSPECIAL FURNITURE, FITTINGS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR SHOPS, STOREHOUSES, BARS, RESTAURANTS OR THE LIKE; PAYING COUNTERS
    • A47F5/00Show stands, hangers, or shelves characterised by their constructional features
    • A47F5/08Show stands, hangers, or shelves characterised by their constructional features secured to the wall, ceiling, or the like; Wall-bracket display devices
    • A47F5/0807Display panels, grids or rods used for suspending merchandise or cards supporting articles; Movable brackets therefor
    • A47F5/0838Rails or bars; Article supports therefor, e.g. brackets being slidably attached on the outside thereof

Abstract

A ventilated merchandising system for products displayed in merchandise coolers such as refrigerator or freezer cases. One embodiment of the merchandising system includes a base member and a platform coupled to the base member such that air can flow between the platform and the base member. One or more plenum plates can be coupled to the base for directing air between the platform and the base member. A pusher plate may also be coupled to and movable along the platform for advancing products along the platform. A baffle system that may be coupled to a merchandising tray and a method of distributing air flow within a merchandise cooler unit are also provided.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is based on and claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/143,862 filed on Jan. 12, 2009 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/079,295 filed on Jul. 9, 2008, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entities for all purposes.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to the field of merchandising systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to a ventilated merchandising system which allows for enhanced air circulation for items presented in a refrigerated display case.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Merchandising systems for displaying products on shelves, in cabinets or in display cases are frequently found in consumer retail settings such as grocery stores, retail outlets and department stores. In particular, merchandising systems are not only used to conveniently store products, but are also used to provide an effective and aesthetically pleasing display for presenting the product to the consumer.
  • Display systems in refrigerated or freezer cases provide a unique merchandising difficulty if they are replacing manufacturer shelving units. In particular, cool air is pumped into the refrigerated case from the top and front of each case, and display systems located in the case obstruct the air flow patterns and cause the cool air to be diverted from the products, and also disrupt the balance of air inside the case and increase the amount of cool air pumped in (and therefore increase the overall energy needed to keep the case at the appropriate temperature). To help improve air circulation, baffles may be added between the merchandising displays in the case to aid in directing the cool air to the products on the shelves above and below the baffles. However, this is an added cost to the retailer, as they have to purchase the baffles, install them, and lose valuable space in the cases to allow room for the baffles between the displays. Baffles currently used are often unsightly because they tend to droop downwards from the point of attachment to the display grid, and tend to be installed irregularly within a case and among adjacent cases. Furthermore, the same types of shelves need to be installed throughout a case in order for baffles placed among the shelves to properly direct the cold air. The shelves must also be positioned at the same linear height within the case. As such, retailers are restricted to particular shelves and shelf configurations when using the baffles. Additionally, the irregular and imprecise placement of the baffles by the installers of the cooler units and store employees often fails to direct airflow correctly around the products.
  • There exist merchandising systems that allow for the presentation of products on display shelves and grid systems, but are not specifically designed for applications in refrigerator or freezer units where proper air circulation is important for food safety and preservation. Examples of such systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,769,248, U.S. Pat. No. 5,855,283 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,886,699. For example, conventional automatic feed product displays are configured to maintain the products to be displayed at the front of the display, improving access to and visibility of products to the consumer. The automatic feed displays eliminate a customer having to reach into the display to access a product, and may also provide a means for a portion of the display system to be advanced forward for easy loading by the retailer. However, conventional merchandising systems are not specifically designed for refrigerator or freezer applications where the proper circulation of cool air is essential to appropriately cool the products on the shelves. Further, as discussed above, the use of baffles is costly, unsightly, and inaccurate as a means of solving the problem of circulation of air within a cooler unit.
  • As such, it is an object of the present invention to provide a ventilated merchandising system for products displayed in refrigerator or freezer cases, such that the merchandising system is aesthetically pleasing, easy to install and versatile, and effectively circulates cold air around the products without the need for baffles.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides a ventilated merchandising system for products displayed in merchandise cooler units such as refrigerator or freezer cases. One embodiment of a merchandising system of the present invention includes a base member and a platform coupled to the base member. A gap between the platform and the base member allows air to flow between the platform and the base member. One or more plenum plates can be coupled to the base for directing air into the gap. The plenum plates can include fingers for directing air into the gap, wherein the fingers may be snap-fit on to vertical wires of a display grid. A pusher plate may also be coupled to and movable along the platform for advancing products along the platform.
  • Another embodiment of the present invention includes a base member, a platform and one or more plenum plates. The platform is coupled to the base member, moveable relative to the base member, and formed to support products to be displayed. The one or more plenum plates are coupled to the base member for directing air between the platform and the base member. The platform can include a separator coupled to the base member and a tray coupled to the separator for supporting products for display. The separator is preferably selectably slidable on the base member. The tray can include a channel along which the pusher plate is moveable. One or more arms may be coupled to the tray for supporting products. The arms are preferably adjustable to accommodate products of varying sizes. A front plate for retaining products can also be included, where the front plate is coupled to the platform and includes one or more vents to allow air to flow through the front plate.
  • The present invention also contemplates a baffle system that may be coupled to a merchandising tray. The baffle system includes a base member having a gap that allows air to flow through the base member and one or more wings coupled to the base member, wherein coupling the baffle system to a merchandising tray allows air to flow beneath products supported on the merchandising tray. One or more wing extensions may be moveably coupled to the wings, and one or more plenum plates may be coupled to the base member for directing air into the gap.
  • A method of distributing air flow within a merchandise cooler unit having a plurality of merchandising systems installed therein is also contemplated by the present invention. The method includes the steps of: capturing cold air produced by the merchandise cooler; directing the captured cold air into a gap between a base member and a platform of each of the merchandising systems in the merchandise cooler; and allowing the directed cold air to flow through the gap between the base member and the platform, thereby cooling products displayed on the merchandising system.
  • It will be understood by those skilled in the art that one or more aspects of this invention can meet certain objectives, while one or more other aspects can lead to certain other objectives. Other objects, features, benefits and advantages of the present invention will be apparent in this summary and descriptions of the preferred embodiments, and will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Such objects, features, benefits and advantages will be apparent from the above as taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures and all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a partial rear perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system without plenum plates in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2A is a rear perspective view of a base member, separator, tray and mounting brackets of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a bottom view of a separator, front plate and plenum plates of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of a base member of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system with arms expanded and in product loading position in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 is a bottom view of a tray and arms of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8 is a side view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9 is a bottom view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9A is a bottom view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9B is a bottom view of the embodiment in FIG. 9A, without a base member;
  • FIG. 9C is a bottom view of the embodiment in FIG. 9A with arms expanded;
  • FIG. 9D is a bottom view of the embodiment in FIG. 9A with arms expanded and in product loading position;
  • FIG. 10 is a bottom perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system with arms expanded in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 12 is a front view of a ventilated merchandising system with arms expanded in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 13 is a bottom perspective view of a separator and front plate of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 14 is a rear view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15 is a top view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15A is a detail side perspective view of the rear portion of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15B is a detail side perspective view of the rear portion of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15C is a detail top perspective view of the rear portion of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 16 is a detail side perspective view of the rear portion of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 17 is a schematic side view of ventilated merchandising systems with products displayed and installed in a refrigerator or freezer case;
  • FIG. 17A is a front view of a grid system;
  • FIG. 18 is a schematic of numerous ventilated merchandising systems with products displayed and installed in a refrigerator case;
  • FIG. 19 is a schematic view of numerous ventilated merchandising systems installed in a refrigerator case.
  • FIG. 20 is a top perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 21 is an exploded view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 22 is a rear perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 23 is a front view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 24 is a side perspective view of the rear portion of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 25 is a top view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 26 is a bottom view of a tray and side arms of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 27 is a side view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 28 is a bottom view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;
  • FIG. 29A is a perspective view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 29B is a perspective view of a standard merchandising shelf to which a baffle system may be coupled n accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 30 is a perspective view of a baffle system in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 31 is a top view of a baffle system in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 32 is a bottom view of a baffle system in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 33 is a top view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 34 is a side view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 35 is a front view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29;
  • FIG. 36 is a perspective view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29, attached to a grid system;
  • FIG. 37 is a perspective view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29, attached to a grid system;
  • FIG. 38 is a rear perspective view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29, attached to a grid system;
  • FIG. 39 is a side perspective view of a baffle system coupled to a merchandising shelf in accordance with the embodiment in FIG. 29, attached to a grid system.
  • FIG. 40A is a top perspective view of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 40B is a bottom view of the ventilated merchandising system of FIG. 40A.
  • FIG. 41 is a top perspective view of a base member of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 42A is a top perspective view of a front plate of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 42B is an exploded view of the front plate of FIG. 42A.
  • FIG. 43A is a top perspective view of a front plate of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 43B is a bottom view of the front plate of FIG. 43A.
  • FIG. 44A is a top perspective view of a front plate of a ventilated merchandising system in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 44B is a bottom view of the front plate of FIG. 44A.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • One embodiment of a ventilated merchandising system 30 for placement on a grid system 10 of a refrigerator or cooler case 20 is shown in the FIGS. 1-18. As seen in FIGS. 1-4, the system 30 includes a base member 40, separator portion 50 and tray 60. The separator portion 50 and the tray 60 together form a platform coupled to the base member 40 for supporting products to be displayed. As seen best in FIG. 2, the separator 50 is coupled to the base member 40 by flanges 41, 42 which fit into slots 51, 52 of the separator 50. In one embodiment, the slots 51, 52 of the separator 50 fit over the flanges 41, 42 so that the entire separator 50 is slidably coupled to the base member 40. As seen in FIG. 3, lips 53A, 53B, 54A 54B are located on the bottom of the separator 50. These lips 53A, 53B, 54A 54B fit into a groove 48 coupled to a button 47 on the base 40 (other similar means of releasably engaging the separator 50 to the base 40 could also be used). In the first mode of operation, the display mode seen in FIG. 1, the front lips 53A, 53B are fit into the groove 48. To disengage the separator 50 and slide the separator 50 and tray 60 forward away from the rear edge 45 of the base 40 to the second mode of operation, the loading mode seen in FIG. 6, the button 47 is pressed upward, causing the groove 48 to move downward away from the separator 50 and moving the groove 48 away from the front lips 53A, 53B. This releases the separator 50 from the base 40 and allows for the separator 50 (and tray 60 coupled to the separator 50) to be advanced away from the rear edge 45 of the base 40 so that the tray 60 can be moved forward to allow easy loading of products onto the tray 60. The rear lips 54A, 54B then engage with the groove 48 to secure the separator 50 in the second position for loading of the products. When the products have been loaded, the release button 47 is again pressed upward, moving the groove 48 away from the rear apertures 54A, 54B so that the separator 50 can be slid backward toward the rear edge 45 into the first position. The groove 48 then engages again with the front apertures 53A, 53B to secure the tray 60 with loaded products in the first display position. As seen in an alternate embodiment in FIGS. 9A-9D, the release mechanism may be located on the separator 50, and metal supports 130 may be incorporated into the bottom of the separator 50 for added stability when separator 50 is pulled away from the base member 40 for product loading.
  • Tray 60 is coupled to separator 50 by fitting front edge 63 of tray 60 into channels 55A, 55B of separator 50. In other embodiments, tray 60 may be integrally formed with or rigidly coupled to the separator 50. Separator 50 may include a generally rectangular opening 58 along the length of the separator 50. As seen in FIGS. 1 and 5, tray 60 includes a generally rectangular opening 62 that extends along the length of the tray 60 to a distance adjacent the front 63 and rear 64 edges of the tray 60. A projection 72 on the bottom of a pusher plate 70 snap-fits securely into the opening 62 of the tray 60. As is well known in the art, the pusher plate 70 and a coil spring (not shown), which fits into a trough 74 of the pusher plate 70, serve as means of biasing products toward the front 63 of the tray 60 as products are removed from the tray 60. The coil spring abuts the pusher plate 70 and biases the pusher plate 70 forwardly toward the front edge 63 of tray 60.
  • As seen in FIGS. 8-10, base 40 may also include tracks 49A, 49B into which mounting brackets 90A, 90B can be fit. Mounting brackets 90A, 90B are slid into tracks 49A, 49B to mount system 30 on a wire grid system 10 in the back of a case 20. As seen in FIG. 17A, grid system 10 includes a plurality of horizontal 12 and vertical 14 bars. Each mounting bracket 90A, 90B includes one or more hooks 92 located, when assembled, near the rear edge 45 of base 40. Hooks 92 hook over horizontal bars 12 of the grid system 10 to mount the system 30 in place on the grid 10. Base 40 may include additional tracks 49A, 49B to accommodate additional mounting brackets 90A, 90B for mounting the system 30. Each mounting bracket 90A, 90B could also include additional hooks 92 for hooking the mounting brackets 90A, 90B onto the grid system 10.
  • As seen in FIGS. 9-12, system 30 may also include adjustable side arms 80 and 82 to accommodate different sized products. Arms 80, 82 are adjustable to contain various sizes of products so that the products do not fall off the tray 60 over the side of the system 30. Arms 80, 82 are movable in the directions indicated by arrows E1, such that they can be positioned nearer the tray 60 and away from the tray 60. As seen in FIG. 7, arms 80, 82 are coupled to the tray 60 by flexible tabs 84A, 84B, 86A, 86B at the edges of each arm 80, 82. Tabs 84A, 84B, 86A, 86B fit into slots 65 near the front edge 63 of and rear edge 64 of tray 60. When arms 80, 82 are in the first or unexpanded position, tabs 84A, 84B, 86A, 86B are fit into the centermost slots 65 of the tray. To move the arms 80, 82 away from the tray 60 to the extended position (FIGS. 6, 12), a user can pull outward on the arms 80, 82 until the tabs 84A, 84B, 86A, 86B loosen from the slots 65. When the arms 80, 82 are at the desired position, tabs 84A, 84B, 86A, 86B fit into the appropriate slots 65 to secure that arms 80, 82 at the desired expanded position. Other means of moving and securing the arms 80, 82 may be used. Alternatively, side rails may be used in place of arms 80, 82. Stationary side arms may also be used in lieu of movable arms 80, 82. Arms 80, 82 may also include vents 88 to allow the cool air to easily travel to the front of the case 20. Also, as seen in an alternate embodiment in FIGS. 9C and 9D, support arms 89 may be coupled to base 40 to provide added stability to the arms 80, 82 in their extended position.
  • System 30 also includes a front plate 100. Front plate 100 is aligned with the front edge 63 of tray 60 as seen in FIGS. 11-12. The front plate 100 acts as a product stop so that products do not fall over the front edge 63 of the tray 60. Front plate 100 is coupled to the separator 50 by a lip 101 extending from front plate 100 that fits into recesses 56 on bottom of separator 50 (see FIGS. 3, 13). As shown best in FIG. 43B, snap-fit tabs 107 b can be used to fit the lip 101 into recesses 56. As seen in FIGS. 8 and 15, front plate 100 has a curved shape. This shape provides several advantages over traditional flat front plates. First, when bagged products are displayed on the system 30, the bottom curvature 102 gives a bigger footprint to the bottom of the bags to help in keeping the bags upright on the tray 60. Additionally, the top curvature 104 both helps to keep bagged products upright, and also, with any shape of product used with the system 30, makes removal of products easier as the products easily slide over the top curvature 104 for smooth removal from the tray 60 (as opposed to traditional flat plates, which have a blunt straight top edge that can make pulling products over the edge difficult). As seen best in FIG. 12, front plate 100 also provides a display surface on which indicia such as graphics, information, labels, tags or bar codes can be placed. In the embodiment shown, front plate 100 includes a two label holders 106, 108. First label holder 106 is sized to fit standard-sized price tags. The second label holder 108 includes two protrusions 108A, 108B to form the top and bottom walls of the label holder 108. Because no side barriers are included, second label holder 108 can accommodate non-traditional sized tags or labels. Second label holder 108 could also be formed by including differently-sized or shaped protrusions 108A, 108B and/or spacing the protrusions 108A, 108B further apart or closer together to accommodate various types and sizes of labels or tags. Front plate 100 further includes vents 109. As seen in FIGS. 11 and 17, vents 109 allow cool air which enters the at the rear of the system 30 to flow through and out of the front of the system 30 through the vents 109 (indicated by arrow A1).
  • FIGS. 42 and 42A show another embodiment of a front plate. The front plate 100 a includes an adapter plate 111 a and coupler plate 113 a. The coupler plate 113 a can be coupled to the separator 50 as described with respect to front plate 100. The adaptor plate 111 a can be removably coupled to the coupler plate 113 a via channels 115 a for quick and easy assembly, removal and replacement of the adapter plate 111 a. Like front plate 100, front plate 100 a can also include vents 109 a and label holders 108 a. Another embodiment of a front plate is shown in FIGS. 43A and 43B. Like front plate 100, the front plate 100 b is curved and includes vents 109 b and lip 101 b. Front plate 100 b includes a curved label holder 106 b, and a short section 117 b. FIG. 43B also shows snap-fit tabs 107 b that can be used to fit any front plate of the present invention to recesses 56 on the bottom of separator 50. Yet another embodiment of a front plate is shown in FIGS. 44A and 44B. Like front plate 100 b, front plate 100 c includes a curved label holder 106 c, vents 109 c and lip 101 c.
  • System 30 can also include one or more plenum plates 110A, 110B. Each plenum plate 110 has a plurality of fingers 112. As seen best in FIGS. 15A-15C, plenum plates 110A, 110B are attached to base by channels 49A, 49B molded into the rear edge 45 of base 40. Plenum plates 110A, 110B are also adjustable. To adjust plenum plates 110A, 110B a user can slide the plates 110A, 11B toward (15A) or away from (15B, 15C) the center of the base 40 in the channels 49A, 49B. Plenum plates 110A, 110B can be adjusted to align with the positioning of the adjustable arms 80, 82, and adjustment also allows alignment of slits 114 between fingers 112 with the vertical grid wires 14. When mounting the system 30 onto a grid 10, fingers 112 are placed between the vertical grid wires 14 and pushed through, so that vertical grid wires 14 slide through slits 114 and into voids 116 in the plenum plates 110A, 110B and system 30 is snap-fit onto the grid system 10. As seen in FIGS. 16 and 17, the fingers 112 act to capture cold air which would otherwise drop behind the products (as shown by the lines C3) and guide the cold air into the gap 44 in the system 30 (shown by the arrow A1) to promote better cooling of the products displayed on the system 30.
  • System 30 is also effective without plenum plates. FIGS. 40A, 40B and 41 show one embodiment of system 30 without plenum plates. While the plenum plates are effective to direct cold air into the gap 44, the placement of the fingers between the vertical grid wires 14 can be an extra step in the installation process that merchandisers may want to avoid. Without the plenum plates, cold air still flows into gap 44 to sufficiently circulate cold air beneath the products. For these reasons, merchandisers may prefer the system 30 without plenum plates.
  • As shown in FIG. 17, cold air is pumped into the case 20 at the front side of the case in the direction indicated by the arrow C1. The cold air then circulates around the bottom of the case 20 and upward toward the top of the case 20 along the back wall of the case 20, as indicated by the arrow C2. Normally, as shown by the dotted line C3, the cold air then falls to the bottom of the case 20 behind the products, meaning cold air is not directed to the products themselves. Not only does the insufficient direct cooling present food safety issues, but the response to the issue is often to increase the amount of cold air pumped into the case 20 to decrease the overall air temperature in the entire case 20. The increased energy necessary to cool the entire case 20 means an increased expense to the retailer and possible damage to the food from improper temperatures. To attempt to stop cold air from falling behind the products, baffles are sometimes placed between traditional display systems within the case to attempt to stop cold air from falling behind the products and directing it to the products on the shelves. However, as described above, the baffles present a host of disadvantages to the retailer, consumer, and, because of imprecise placement in the case, often fail to sufficiently direct the cold air to the products on the shelves.
  • The current system 30 solves these problems by allowing proper cooling of the products through capturing of the falling cold air (C3) and circulation under the products (A1) in one easy-to-install, versatile, space-saving system 30. Ventilation of the system 30 works as follows. As seen best in FIGS. 2, 2A and 17, the assembled system 30 includes a gap 44 between the base member 40 and the separator 50, allowing cold air to pass through the gap 44 and beneath the products displayed on the system 30. If used, the fingers 112 of the plenum plates 110A, 110B help capture the falling cold air (C3) and direct it into the back of the system 30, above the rear edge 45 of the base 40, and through the gap 44 beneath the products displayed on the system 30. The cold air then exits the front of the system 30 through the vents 109 in the front plate 100 aligned with the gap 44. This airflow through the system is indicated by arrows A1. By allowing the cold air to flow beneath the displayed products, the food is more directly cooled than in traditional systems, without the use of baffles. The self-ventilating system 30, by eliminating the need for baffles, allows retailers to increase the number of systems 30 in a case by placing them closer together and without space-wasting baffles in between. Also, as seen in FIGS. 18 and 19, systems 30 do not have to be linearly aligned across the case to accommodate baffles, and as such a retailer has more freedom to vary the number and types of systems 30 and products within a case 20.
  • In another embodiment shown in FIGS. 20-28, the system 30 includes a base member 400, separator portion 500 and tray 600. In this embodiment, the separator portion 500 is stationary and does not slidably connect to the base member 400. As seen in FIG. 21, the tray 600 is snap-fit into the separator portion 500 by inserting shafts 610 on the bottom of the tray 600 into holes 510 in the separator 500. The separator 500 is sized so that it securely snap-fits into the base 400. As seen in FIGS. 23 and 24, a gap 440 is provided between the base 400 and the separator 500 through which air can flow beneath products on the tray 600.
  • Similar to the embodiment including the pull-out features shown in FIGS. 1-19, the embodiment in FIGS. 20-28 includes adjustable side arms 800 and 820 to accommodate different sized products by positioning them nearer the tray 600 and away from the tray 600. As seen in FIG. 26, arms 800, 820 are coupled to the tray 600 by flexible tabs 840A, 840B, 806A, 860B at the edges of each arm 800, 820. Tabs 840A, 840B, 860A, 806B fit into slots 650 near the front and rear edges of tray 600. When arms 800, 820 are in the first or unexpanded position, tabs 840A, 840B, 860A, 860B are fit into the centermost slots 650 of the tray. To move the arms 800, 820 away from the tray 600 to the extended position, a user can pull outward on the arms 800, 820 until the tabs 840A, 840B, 860A, 806B loosen from the slots 650. When the arms 800, 820 are at the desired position, tabs 840A, 840B, 860A, 860B fit into the appropriate slots 650 to secure that arms 800, 820 at the desired expanded position. Stationary side arms may also be used in lieu of movable arms 800, 820. Arms 800, 820 may also include vents 880 to allow the cool air to easily travel to the front of the case 20.
  • As seen in FIGS. 20-22, 25 and 26, tray 600 includes a generally rectangular opening 620 that extends along the length of the tray 600. Similarly to the embodiment in FIGS. 1-19, a pusher plate 700 snap-fits securely into the opening 620 of the tray 600. The pusher plate 700 and a coil spring 710, which fits into a trough 740 of the pusher plate 700, serve as means of biasing products toward the front of the tray 600 as products are removed from the tray 600. As seen in FIGS. 22-24 and 27-28, base 400 may also include tracks 490A, 490B into which mounting brackets 900A, 900B can be fit. Mounting brackets 900A, 900B are slid into tracks 490A, 490B to mount system 30 on a wire grid system 10 in the back of a case 20 as shown in FIG. 17A and described above.
  • Similar to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-19, the embodiment of system 30 in FIGS. 20-28 also includes a front plate 1000. Front plate 1000 is coupled to the separator 500 by inserting screws 1010 through holes 505 in the separator and tightening into holes (not shown) in the front plate 1000. Front plate 1000 also has the curved shape and display surface and advantages of these features as described above with respect to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-19. Front plate 1000 further includes vents 1090 to allow cool air which enters the at the rear of the system 30 to flow through and out of the front of the system 30 through the vents 1090 as described above.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 20-28, system 30 also can include one or more plenum plates 1100A, 1100B. As seen in FIGS. 20 and 22-24, these plenum plates 1100A, 1100B are the same as those described above with respect to previous embodiments, where each plenum plate 1100 has a plurality of fingers 1120, and plenum plates 1100A, 1100 are attached to base 400 by channels 495A, 459B molded into the base 400. Plenum plates 1100A, 1100B are also adjustable and can be adjusted to align with the positioning of the adjustable arms 800, 820, and adjustment also allows alignment of slits 1140 between fingers 1120 with the vertical grid wires 14, where the grid wires 14 fit in the voids 1160 in the plates 1100A, 1100B. In the same way as described above and as seen in FIGS. 16 and 17, the fingers 1120 act to capture cold air which would otherwise drop behind the products (as shown by the lines C3) and guide the cold air into the gap 44 in the system 30 (shown by the arrow A1) to promote better cooling of the products displayed on the system 30. As with other embodiments, the system 30 is also effective without the plenum plates.
  • The embodiment shown in FIGS. 20-28 fits into the same types of cases 20 in the same way as described above and has the same features and advantages as described above. It allows proper cooling of the products through circulation of cold air under the products (A1) in one easy-to-install, versatile, space-saving system 30. If used, the fingers 1120 of the plenum plates 1100A, 1100B help capture the falling cold air (C3) and direct it into the back of the system 30, above the rear of the base 400, and through the gap 440 beneath the products displayed on the system 30. The cold air then exits the front of the system 30 through the vents 1090 in the front plate 1000 aligned with the gap 440. By directing the cold air to flow beneath the displayed products, the food is more directly cooled than in traditional systems, without the use of baffles.
  • In yet another embodiment of the system 30 shown in FIGS. 29-39, a baffle system 2000 is added to a standard merchandising system 2500 to allow cold air to move under the products as described above and shown in FIGS. 17-19. FIG. 29B shows one example of a standard merchandising shelf 2500 to which a baffle system 2000 may be added. The shelf may include a tray 2510, a pusher plate 2520, a front plate 2530, a coil spring 2540, side arms 2550A, 2550B which may be adjustable, and mounting brackets 2560A, 2560B. Other configurations of merchandising systems with additional or modified components may also be used with a baffle system 2000. By fitting a standard shelf 2500 with a baffle system 2000 as shown in FIG. 29A, cooling of the products on the shelf 2500 by directing cold air through the baffle system 200 beneath the products may be accomplished without the need to purchase an entirely new self-ventilating merchandising system. A baffle system 2000 as shown in FIGS. 30-39 would provide all of the advantages described with respect to the other embodiments contemplated herein (such as proper cooling of products, varied arrangements of shelves in the cases, ventilation without the need for troublesome stand-alone baffles placed between shelves, etc.), but could also be easily coupled to standard merchandising shelves 2500 already in use in refrigerator or freezer cases.
  • One embodiment of a baffle system 2000 in accordance with the embodiment shown in FIGS. 29-39 that can be added to a standard merchandising shelf 2500 is shown in FIGS. 30-32. Baffle system 2000 includes baffle base 2020, baffle wings 2030A, 2030B, wing extensions 2040A, 2040B, and plenum plates 2050A, 2050B. Baffle base 2020 snap-fits onto the merchandising shelf 2500, and as seen in FIGS. 29A and 33-39, assembled baffle system 2000 works to direct air from the back of the cooler beneath products on the shelf 2500 to provide direct cooling to the products. Baffle base 2020 includes slots 2025 into which plenum plates 2050A, 2050B can be slidably fit and allows slidable adjustment of the plenum plates 2050A, 2050B.
  • Baffle wings 2030A, 2030B snap-fit onto baffle base 2020. As seen in FIGS. 30-32, openings 2032 in wings 2030A, 2030B are used to movably attach wing extensions 2040A, 2040B to each wing 2030A, 2030B. Tabs 2042 on the wing extensions 2040A, 2040B friction fit into the openings to allow wing extensions 2030A, 2030B to slide toward and away from the center of the baffle base 2020. This allows wing extensions 2030A, 2030B to be adjusted to accommodate larger products which extend beyond the tray 2510 and are held in place by extendable side arms 2550A, 2550B and ensure that cold air directed by the plenum plates 2050A, 2050B (also adjustable to line up with larger products extending beyond the tray 2510) is directed beneath the entire product area. Thus, plenum plates 2050A, 2050B, wing extensions 2030A, 2030B and arms 2550A, 2550B of the shelf 2500 can all be adjusted to accommodate products of varying sizes to ensure that cold air is properly directed beneath the products. Wing extensions 2030A, 2030B may also include vents 2045 to allow further circulation of cold air beneath products on the tray 2510 above.
  • As seen best in FIG. 30, baffle base 2020 includes a gap 2010. Similar to the other embodiments shown and described herein, the plenum plates 2050A, 2050B in this embodiment capture the falling cold air (C3) and direct it into the back of the system 30, through the gap 440 beneath the products displayed on the merchandising shelf 2500. In the same way as described above and as seen in FIGS. 16 and 17, the fingers 2054 of the plenum plates 2050A, 2050B act to capture cold air which would otherwise drop behind the products (as shown by the lines C3) and guide the cold air into the gap 2010 in the system 30 (shown by the arrow A1) to promote better cooling of the products displayed on the system 30. By directing the cold air to flow beneath the displayed products, the food is more directly cooled than in traditional systems. Plenum plates 2050A, 2050B, as seen in FIGS. 36-39, are adjustable, and adjustment allows alignment of slits 2052 between fingers 2054 with the vertical grid wires 14, where the grid wires 14 fit in the voids 2056 in the plates 2050A, 2050B. Thus, when plenum plates 2050A, 2050B are adjusted to accommodate products of varying sizes on the shelf 2500, the slits 2052, fingers 2054, and voids 2056 ensure that the system 30 can be attached to a grid.
  • Although the invention has been herein described in what is perceived to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific embodiments set forth above. Rather, it is recognized that modifications may be made by one of skill in the art of the invention without departing from the spirit or intent of the invention and, therefore, the invention is to be taken as including all reasonable equivalents to the subject matter of the appended claims and the description of the invention herein.

Claims (23)

1. A merchandising system comprising:
a base member;
a platform coupled to the base member, wherein a gap between the platform and the base member allows air to flow between the platform and the base member; and
a pusher plate, the pusher plate coupled to the platform and movable along the platform for advancing products along the platform.
2. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the platform is selectably slidable on the base member.
3. The merchandising system of claim 1, wherein the platform includes a separator coupled to the base member and a tray coupled to the separator to support products to be displayed.
4. The merchandising system of claim 3, wherein the tray includes a channel along which the pusher plate is moveable.
5. The merchandising system of claim 3, further comprising one or more arms coupled to the tray for supporting products, the arms adjustable to accommodate products of varying sizes.
6. The merchandising system of claim 1, further comprising a front plate for retaining products, the front plate coupled to the platform and including one or more vents to allow air to flow through the front plate.
7. The merchandising system of claim 1, further comprising one or more plenum plates coupled to the base member for directing air into the gap.
8. The merchandising system of claim 7, wherein the plenum plates include fingers for directing air into the gap, wherein the fingers may be snap-fit on to vertical wires of a display grid.
9. A merchandising system comprising:
a base member;
a platform coupled to the base member, the platform moveable relative to the base member and formed to support products to be displayed; and
one or more plenum plates coupled to the base member for directing air between the platform and the base member.
10. The merchandising system of claim 9, wherein the platform includes a separator coupled to the base member and a tray coupled to the separator to support products to be displayed.
11. The merchandising system of claim 10, wherein the separator is selectably slidable on the base member.
12. The merchandising system of claim 9, further comprising a front plate for retaining products, the front plate coupled to the platform and including one or more vents to allow air to flow through the front plate.
13. The merchandising system of claim 9, wherein the plenum plates include fingers for directing air between the platform and the base member, wherein the fingers may be snap-fit on to vertical wires of a display grid.
14. A merchandising system comprising:
a base member;
a platform coupled to the base member such that a gap is formed between the platform and the base member; and
one or more plenum plates coupled to the base member for directing air into the gap.
15. The merchandising system of claim 14, further comprising one or more arms coupled to the platform for supporting products, the arms adjustable to accommodate products of varying sizes.
16. The merchandising system of claim 14, further comprising a front plate for retaining products, the front plate coupled to the platform and including one or more vents to allow air to flow through the front plate.
17. A baffle system that may be coupled to a merchandising tray, the baffle system comprising:
a base member, the base member having a gap that allows air to flow through the base member;
one or more wings coupled to the base member; and
wherein coupling the baffle system to a merchandising tray allows air to flow beneath products supported on the merchandising tray.
18. The baffle system of claim 17, further comprising one or more wing extensions moveably coupled to the wings.
19. The baffle system of claim 17, further comprising one or more plenum plates coupled to the base member for directing air into the gap.
20. The baffle system of claim 19, wherein the plenum plates include fingers for directing air into the gap.
21. The baffle system of claim 20, wherein the fingers may be snap-fit onto vertical wires of a display grid.
22. A method of distributing air flow within a merchandise cooler unit having a plurality of merchandising systems installed therein, the method comprising the steps of:
capturing cold air produced by the merchandise cooler unit;
directing the captured cold air into a gap between a base member and a platform of each of the merchandising systems in the merchandise cooler;
allowing the directed cold air to flow through the gap between the base member and the platform, thereby cooling products displayed on the merchandising system.
23. The method of claim 22, wherein plenum plates coupled to the base member help capture and direct the cold air into the gap between the base member and the platform.
US12/499,628 2008-07-09 2009-07-08 Ventilated merchandising system Abandoned US20100107670A1 (en)

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