Device for retaining panels
Inactive Publication Date: 2006-09-07
6 Cites 50 Cited by
AI-Extracted Technical Summary
Problems solved by technology
Because the panels are leaning one against another, getting access to the panels placed at the rear generally involves moving all the panels in front, which increases manipulation time and effort as w...
Benefits of technology
 It is a further aim of the present invention to provide a rack for storing pan...
A rack for storing at least one panel, comprising a base having a top surface, a rear structure vertically extending from the base, at least one support in at least one of the top surface of the base and the rear structure for supporting the panel in a vertical position, and at least one arm including a connecting member connecting the arm to the rear structure, a retaining member engaging a top edge of the panel to retain the panel in the vertical position, and a flexible portion between the connecting member and the retaining member. A method using the rack defined hereinbefore. Said improved rack and method allow easy access to a desired panel.
- Experimental program(1)
 The present invention is an improvement of the rack disclosed in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/798,452 filed Mar. 12, 2004 by the applicants of the present application, which is incorporated herein by reference.
 Referring to FIG. 3, a preferred embodiment of a rack for holding panels 11 such as glass sheets or sealed glass panel units is generally indicated at 10. The rack 10 comprises a base 12 supported by four (4) vertical posts 14. The vertical posts 14 are preferably tubular members having a square cross-section. Loop members 16 are provided under the base 12 to be engaged by a fork of a lift truck such as to ease the handling of the rack 10. Two (2) of the vertical posts 14, located at the rear side of the base 12, support a rear structure 18 extending vertically from the base 12.
 The rear structure 18 comprises first, second and third horizontal bars 19,20,21 as well as a vertical plate 28, which all extend between the rear vertical posts 14. The horizontal bars 19,20,21 are preferably “L” shaped members. The first horizontal bar 19 extends between the top ends of the vertical posts 14. The vertical plate 28 is sandwiched between the second and third horizontal bars 20,21, with the third horizontal bar 21 being adjacent to a top surface of the base 12. The first horizontal bar 19 includes a plurality of slots 22 (see FIG. 4) on a bottom side thereof and the second horizontal bar 20 includes a plurality of similar slots 23 on a top surface thereof, the slots 22,23 being aligned.
 A plurality of parallel horizontal grooves 26 are defined in the top surface of the base 12. Each horizontal groove 26 extends substantially perpendicularly to the rear structure 18. Although each horizontal groove 26 is preferably sized to receive the bottom edge of a single panel 11, it is also considered to have grooves 26 which each receive more than one panel edge. Parallel vertical grooves 32 are provided on a front surface of the second and third horizontal bars 20,21. Each vertical groove 32 of the second horizontal bar 20 is aligned with one of the vertical grooves 32 of the third horizontal bar 21 as well as with one of the horizontal grooves 26 of the base 12. Although not shown, it is also considered to provide a plurality of parallel vertical grooves in the vertical plate 28, aligned with the horizontal grooves 26. The grooves 26,32 form supports which are designed to receive the panels 11 in a vertical position, perpendicularly to the rear structure 18.
 A plurality of vertical bars 40 are also part of the rear structure 18 and are received in aligned slots 22,23 of the first and second horizontal bars 19,20 such as to extend between the two. The vertical bars 40 and slots 22,23 preferably have a rectangular cross-section, although it is also considered to provide bars 40 and slots 22,23 having a different cross-section, for example square or circular. Screws 41 (see FIG. 4) are engaged to the ends of each vertical bar 40, above the first horizontal bar 19 and below the second horizontal bar 20, to retain the vertical bar 40 within the slots 22,23. One flexible arm 24 is retained on each vertical bar 40 to extend from the rear structure 18 over the base 12. Each arm 24 thus retains at least one of the panels 11 in corresponding grooves 26,32 of the rack 10 such as to maintain the panel 11 within the grooves in a vertical position, as shown in FIG. 1.
 Referring to FIG. 4, each arm 24 comprises a connecting member 43 including a slot 45 near a front end thereof to slidably receive the vertical bar 40. An angled member 47 is integral with the front end of the connecting member 43 and is downwardly inclined with respect thereto. The angled member 47 is connected to a flexible rod 49 extending over the base 12.
 A retaining member 51 is slidably received at the free end of the flexible rod 49 and includes on a bottom edge thereof at least one groove 53 which is designed to engage a top edge of a panel 11 and preferably the top front corner thereof. When the arm 24 is installed on the rack 10, the groove 53 is aligned with the corresponding groove 26 on the top surface of the base 12 (see FIG. 1). The retaining member 51 can be slid to a desired position on the flexible rod 49 and can also be easily removed and replaced. It is also considered to provide a retaining member 51 having at least two different groove profiles on opposed sides thereof such as to be able to accommodate two different kinds of panels.
 According to a particularly preferred embodiment of the invention, as illustrated in the drawings, the flexible rod 49 has a rectangular cross-section and the retaining member 51 has a longitudinal opening provided with a corresponding rectangular cross-section. This selection is particularly preferred as it allows to prevent said retaining member 51 to rotate when only one panel is contacted by one groove 53. Also, if the retaining member 51 is provided with other groove(s) of different profile (not illustrated) on an other surface of said member 51 (for example on a surface opposite the one having grooves 53), the selection of the appropriate grooves may be achieved by merely removing the retaining member 51 from the flexible rod 49 (by sliding toward the free end of said flexible rod) and replace it on said flexible rod with the selected grooves properly oriented downwardly.
 Alternatively, if the flexible rod has a circular cross-section, then the retaining member has a longitudinal opening having a corresponding cross-section to allow, by rotating the retaining member 51, to have the appropriate groove profile on the bottom.
 Referring to FIG. 5, when not engaged to a panel, the action of gravity causes the arm 24 to pivot about the vertical bar 40 to be inclined toward the base 12, thus being in a locked position at a set height. The connecting member 43 is inclined so that a rear end thereof is higher than the slot 45. This inclination of the connecting member 43 causes the slot 45 to be angled with respect to the vertical bar 40. The angle of the slot 45 brings the walls thereof in frictional contact with the vertical bar 40, effectively preventing a sliding motion of the arm 24. Thus, the arm 24 is prevented from sliding down under the action of gravity.
 Referring to FIG. 6, the arm 24 is engaged to a panel 11 according to the following. First, a downward pressure is applied on the rear end of the connecting member 43 such as to pivot the arm 24 about the vertical bar 40 to break the frictional contact between the walls of the slot 45 and the vertical bar 40. The arm 24 is slid downward until the retaining member 51 is lower than the height of the panel 11 to be retained. The arm 24 is then released such as to pivot back to a locked position which is illustrated by the plain lines in FIG. 6.
 Then, the retaining member 51 is elevated with the connecting member 43 being maintained at the same height, effectively bending the flexible rod 49, until the panel can be inserted under the retaining member 51. The retaining member 51 is then released so that the groove 53 (see FIG. 4) contains the top edge of the panel 11. The relative height of the retaining member 51 and the connecting member 43 are such that the flexible rod 49 is bent and the connecting member 43 is inclined so that the rear end is lower than the slot 45, as is illustrated in broken lines in FIG. 6. This inclination, like the inclination illustrated in FIG. 5, causes the walls of the slot 45 to be in frictional contact with the vertical bar 40, effectively preventing a sliding motion of the arm 24. Thus, the arm 24 is prevented from sliding up and as such effectively retains the panel 11.
 Because of the flexibility of the rod 49, the retaining member 51 can be easily manually lifted to disengage the panel 11 when access to the panel 11 is required.
 Accordingly, the present invention provides for a rack with arms that retain panels either individually or in small groups. Thus, an individual panel, or a small group of panels, can be removed from the rack by disengaging the corresponding arm, without the need to displace or access the other panels retained on the rack. The present invention therefore allows for easy and selective access to a desired panel, or small group of panels, regardless of the number and disposition of the other panels within the rack.
 In addition, the present invention provides a rack with arms that can be easily locked at a desired height when not in use, locked when engaging a panel and unlocked when needed, all of which is done using a simple arm design, without any locking mechanism involving moving parts that are complex to manipulate and at risk of breaking.
 Although in FIG. 3 only a few arms 24 have been illustrated for clarity, it is to be understood that a vertical bar 40 supporting an arm 24 can be provided for every set of aligned slots 22,23 in the horizontal bars 20,21, so that a panel 11 can be retained in every set of corresponding grooves 26,32.
 The elements of the rack 10 are preferably made of metal, with the exception of the flexible rod which is preferably made of fiberglass or another suitably flexible material, and of the various elements coming in contact with the panels 11, such as the retaining member 51 and the grooves 26,32, which are preferably made of plastic to minimize the risk of damage to the panels. A preferred plastic is high density polyethylene (HDPE).
 The grooves 53 may have various shape to fit with the profile of the edge of the panel to be engaged. Alternatively, various kinds of grooves 53 may be provided on opposite faces of the retaining member 51.
 Additionally, walls can be provided between the vertical posts 14 such as to obtain a closed structure containing the panels 11. To facilitate access to the panels, the front wall should preferably be completely removable or hingedly connected to another wall. Also, reinforcing members can be provided on the rack, for example supplementary horizontal bars extending between the vertical posts 14, according to the weight of the panels to be transported within the rack.
 Although the panels have been described as glass panels, the present invention can also be used to stock and transport various types of paneling, including, but not limited to, plastic, wood, and metal panels.
 The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary. Those skilled in the art will therefore appreciate that the foregoing description is illustrative only, and that various alternatives and modifications can be devised without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances which fall within the scope of the appended claims.
Description & Claims & Application Information
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