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Title:
MAGAZINE FOR STORING HEAVY, PLATE-LIKE ARTICLES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/027884
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A magazine comprising a storage rack (10) with storage positions for storing plate-like articles (100) and an extraction device (5) for extracting one or more of the articles from the storage rack, wherein the storage rack is provided with a base (2) and a plurality of storage slots (25-28,35,36) for receiving and holding the articles in the storage positions with their main surfaces under an oblique storage angle with respect to the base (2), wherein the extraction device (5) is moveable overhead the articles parallel to the longitudinal direction of the storage rack and is arranged for operationally engaging the one or more articles to be extracted and extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction under an oblique extraction angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus five degrees with respect to the storage angle.

More Like This:
Inventors:
TOLLENAAR, Roland Wilhelm Anton (Engweg 9, LK Laren, NL-1251, NL)
Application Number:
NL2013/050585
Publication Date:
February 20, 2014
Filing Date:
August 08, 2013
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
TI B.V. (Engweg 9, LK Laren, NL-1251, NL)
International Classes:
B65G1/04
Foreign References:
JPS5612204A
US4563120A
DE3529155A1
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MELCHIOR, Robin (Octrooibureau Vriesendorp & Gaade B.V, Dr. Kuyperstraat 6, BB Den Haag, NL-2514, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
C L A I M S

1. Magazine comprising a storage rack with a longitudinal direction and a plurality of storage positions for storing plate-like articles and an extraction device for extracting one or more of the articles from the storage rack, wherein the storage rack is provided with a base extending in the longitudinal direction of the storage rack and a plurality of storage slots for receiving and holding the articles in the storage positions with their main surfaces under an oblique storage angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction device is moveable overhead the articles in a direction parallel to the longitudinal direction of the storage rack, wherein the extraction device is arranged for operationally engaging the one or more articles to be extracted and extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction under an oblique extraction angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus five degrees with respect to the storage angle.

2. Magazine according to claim 1, wherein the base extends substantially horizontal.

3. Magazine according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the storage angle is in the range of twenty to eighty degrees, preferably in the range of thirty to eighty degrees, and most preferably in the range of forty-five to seventy-five degrees.

4. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus two degrees with respect to the storage angle, wherein, preferably, the extraction angle is substantially the same as the storage angle.

5. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the storage slots are spaced apart such that, considered in a vertical direction, articles stored in one of two subsequent storage positions determined by said storage slots substantially overlap the articles stored in the other of the two subsequent storage positions.

6. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the extraction device comprises a hoisting assembly which, in an extraction position, is placed under the extraction angle for hoisting the articles from the storage rack under the extraction angle.

7. Magazine according to claim 6, wherein the hoisting assembly comprises a support plane on which the articles are at least partially supported during hoisting, wherein, in the extraction position, the support plane extends under the extraction angle.

8. Magazine according to claim 7, wherein the support plane, in the extraction position, is substantially in-line or coplanar with the plane in which the articles to be extracted are held in the storage slots.

9. Magazine according to any one of claims 5-8, wherein the storage rack is provided with a top which is spaced apart from the base by a connecting structure.

10. Magazine according to claim 9, wherein the extraction device is arranged for extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction through the top.

11. Magazine according to claim 9 or 10, wherein the top is provided with rails, wherein the extraction device is provided with a carriage which is moveably placed on said rails for displacing the extraction device in a displacement direction along the storage rack towards the storage position of the articles to be extracted.

12. Magazine according to claim 11, wherein the hoisting assembly is rotatably coupled to the carriage, wherein the extraction device is provided with actuators between the carriage and the hoisting assembly, for rotating the hoisting assembly with respect to the carriage between the extraction position and an unloading position, wherein, in the unloading position, the support plane extends substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the base.

13. Magazine according to any one of claim 8-12, wherein the support plane is formed by one or more conveyors .

14. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the extraction device is provided with engagement members, wherein handling tools are provided which hold the articles, wherein the handling tools comprise engageable elements for, in cooperation with the engagement members, providing the operational engagement between the extraction device and the one or more articles to be extracted.

15. Magazine according to claims 13 and 14, wherein the conveyors are provided with conveyor drives for moving the conveyors in the support plane in an extraction direction, wherein the engagement members are fixedly attached to the conveyors so as to be moveable in unison with the conveyors in or over the support plane in the extraction direction.

16. Magazine according to claim 14 or 15, wherein the handling tools comprise a plurality of cassettes, wherein each cassette comprises a holding frame in which the articles are held, wherein the plurality of storage slots is arranged for receiving and holding the cassettes under the storage angle with respect to the base.

17. Magazine according to claim 16, wherein the intermediate distance between two cassettes, when stored in two directly subsequent storage slots, is less than the thickness of each of the cassettes.

18. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the plurality of storage slots comprises lower storage slots at or near the base and upper storage slots at a distance from the lower storage slots for supporting the articles under the storage angle at a distance from the lower storage slots.

19. Magazine according to claims 10 and 18, wherein the upper storage slots are arranged at or near the top of the storage rack.

20. Magazine according to claim 18 or 19, wherein the lower storage slots and the upper storage slots are arranged in two parallel arrays, wherein the storage angle of the articles in one storage position depends on the lower storage slot in which said articles are supported and the relative position of the upper storage slot in which the same articles are supported with respect to the lower storage slot.

21. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the storage slots are arranged for holding the articles under at least two different storage angles.

22. Magazine according to claim 20, wherein the storage slots has a concave shape, preferably the shape of a circular segment or a semi-circle.

23. Magazine according to claims 14 and 22, wherein the handling tools comprise placement bars for placement of the handling tools in the storage slots, wherein the placement bars are shaped complementary to the storage slots, preferably with a semi-circular or a circular cross section.

24. Magazine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the articles are stored mutually parallel within the storage rack.

25. Method for extracting one or more plate-like articles from a storage rack of a magazine with the use of an extraction device, wherein the storage rack has a longitudinal direction and is furthermore provided with a base extending in the longitudinal direction of the storage rack and a plurality of storage slots for receiving and holding articles in a plurality of storage positions within the storage rack with their main surfaces under an oblique storage angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction device is moveable overhead the articles in a direction parallel to the longitudinal direction of the storage rack, wherein the method comprises the steps of having the extraction device operationally engage the one or more articles to be extracted and operating the extraction device to extract the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction under an oblique extraction angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus five degrees with respect to the storage angle .

26. Method according to claim 25, wherein the base is substantially horizontal.

27. Method according to claim 25 or 26, wherein the storage rack is provided with a top which is spaced apart from the base by a connecting structure, the extraction device is arranged for extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction through the top.

28. Method according to any one of claims 25-27, wherein the extraction device comprises a hoisting assembly, wherein the method comprises the steps of, prior to the extraction, moving the hoisting assembly into an extraction position in which the hoisting assembly is placed under the extraction angle, and, during extraction, hoisting the engaged one or more articles under the extraction angle.

29. Method according to claim 28, wherein the hoisting assembly comprises a support plane which, in the extraction position, extends under the extraction angle, wherein the method comprises the step of, during hoisting, at least partially supporting the engaged one or more articles on the support plane.

30. Method according to claim 29, wherein, after the one or more articles have been extracted from the storage rack, the method comprises the step of rotating the hoisting assembly from the extraction position into an unloading position, wherein, in the unloading position, the support plane extends substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the base. o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

RM/HZ

Description:
Magazine for storing heavy, plate-like articles

BACKGROUND

The invention relates to a magazine with a storage rack in which heavy, plate-like articles are stored.

A known magazine for storing heavy, plate-like articles is provided with a high rise storage rack, in order to save space on the factory floor. The storage rack is provided with heavily constructed, horizontal shelves to support the weight of the articles. The articles are inserted into and extracted from the storage rack by a forklift .

Although the surface area consumed by the high- rise storage rack is quite small, the magazine still requires a lot of space on the factory floor. Particularly the space around the storage rack has to be sufficient in order to allow for a forklift with articles loaded thereon to maneuver freely without hitting the storage rack or other objects. The maneuvering makes the space around the storage rack a hazardous place, particularly for human operators. Additionally, the heavy construction of the shelves of the storage rack results in a lot of inefficiently used space, or dead space, in between the articles.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a magazine with a storage rack in which heavy, plate-like articles are stored, wherein the space required for operation of the magazine, in particular in or around the storage rack, can be reduced.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect, the invention provides a magazine comprising a storage rack with a longitudinal direction and a plurality of storage positions for storing plate-like articles and an extraction device for extracting one or more of the articles from the storage rack, wherein the storage rack is provided with a base extending in the longitudinal direction of the storage rack and a plurality of storage slots for receiving and holding the articles in the storage positions with their main surfaces under an oblique storage angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction device is moveable overhead the articles in a direction parallel to the longitudinal direction of the storage rack, wherein the extraction device is arranged for operationally engaging the one or more articles to be extracted and extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction under an oblique extraction angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus five degrees with respect to the storage angle.

By extracting the one or more articles from the storage rack in an upward direction, the operational space required at the sides of the storage rack can be reduced. Furthermore, due to the extraction of the one or more articles taking place under the extraction angle which is within a close range or the same as the storage angle, less space is required to space the articles apart during extraction, allowing the one or more articles to be stored closer together. This can result in a higher storage density and a more efficient use of space within the magazine. In an embodiment the base extends substantially horizontal. The horizontal base can provide a stable surface for the storage rack.

In an embodiment the storage angle is in the range of twenty to eighty degrees, preferably in the range of thirty to eighty degrees, and most preferably in the range of forty-five to seventy-five degrees. Due to the oblique storage angle, the weight of the articles is transmitted transverse to the main surface of the articles, rather than normal to the main surface of the articles. As a result, the articles can partially support their own weight. Thus, the storage rack can be constructed more lightweight and compact .

In an embodiment the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus two degrees with respect to the storage angle, wherein, preferably, the extraction angle is substantially the same as the storage angle. With the extraction angle being close to or the same as the storage angle, the articles can be extracted from the storage rack with a minimal change in direction.

In an embodiment the storage slots are spaced apart such that, considered in a vertical direction, articles stored in one of two subsequent storage positions determined by said storage slots substantially overlap the articles stored in the other of the two subsequent storage positions. Such overlapping arrangement of the articles would not be possible if the one or more articles were to be extracted vertically, because the one or more articles to be extracted would hit the articles stored in directly adjacent storage positions. By placing the articles in overlapping arrangement, the storage space within the storage rack can be efficiently used.

In an embodiment the extraction device is placed overhead with respect to the storage rack. In this manner, the one or more articles can be easily extracted in an upward direction, without creating a hazardous environment for human operators at the sides of the storage rack. Furthermore, because the storage rack does not extend above the overhead position of the extraction device, said extraction device can freely move over the storage rack, which would be impossible in known magazines since the next level of the high-rise storage rack would hinder the movement of the extraction device. Additionally, overhead cranes or any other components of the factory related to or used in combination with the magazine, which would otherwise experience hinder from a high-rise storage rack, can have an increased freedom of movement with respect to the storage rack according to the invention.

In an embodiment the extraction device comprises a hoisting assembly which, in an extraction position, is placed under the extraction angle for hoisting the articles from the storage rack under the extraction angle. The extraction angle matches the storage angle so that the hoisting assembly can act under the angle under which the one or more articles to be extracted are stored in the storage rack.

In an embodiment the hoisting assembly comprises a support plane on which the articles are at least partially supported during hoisting, wherein, in the extraction position, the support plane extends under the extraction angle. The one or more articles can be supported in said same plane, even when, during extraction, the one or more articles are no longer supported by the storage slots.

In an embodiment the support plane, in the extraction position, is substantially in-line or coplanar with the plane in which the articles to be extracted are held in the storage slots. The alignment of the support plane reduces the shocks and changes in direction to which the one or more articles are subjected during their extraction from the storage rack.

In an embodiment the storage rack is provided with a top which is spaced apart from the base by a connecting structure. The top can provide additional strength to the storage rack and additional support for the articles stored within the storage rack.

In an embodiment the extraction device is arranged for extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction through the top. By extracting and inserting the articles through the top in an upward and downward direction, respectively, there is no need for maneuvering space on the factory floor around the storage rack. Thus, the magazine can consume less operational space on the factory floor than known magazines in which articles are removed in sideways extraction and insertion directions. The saved space can be used for other purposes, for example for additional storage racks .

In an embodiment the top is provided with rails, wherein the extraction device is provided with a carriage which is moveably placed on said rails for displacing the extraction device in a displacement direction along the storage rack towards the storage position of the articles to be extracted. The extraction device can be moved over the top of the storage rack to be selectively aligned with the one or more articles to be extracted.

In an embodiment the hoisting assembly is rotatably coupled to the carriage, wherein the extraction device is provided with actuators between the carriage and the hoisting assembly, for rotating the hoisting assembly with respect to the carriage between the extraction position and an unloading position, wherein, in the unloading position, the support plane extends substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the base. In the unloading position, one or more articles can be unloaded in their preferred orientation from the support plane for further processing within the factory. For example, metal sheets are preferably unloaded in a horizontal orientation, while concrete slabs are preferably unloaded in a perpendicular or vertical direction with respect to the base.

In an embodiment the support plane is formed by one or more conveyors. The conveyors can provide a moveable surface for aiding the hoisting of the one or more articles to be extracted.

In an embodiment the extraction device is provided with engagement members, wherein handling tools are provided which hold the articles, wherein the handling tools comprise engageable elements for, in cooperation with the engagement members, providing the operational engagement between the extraction device and the one or more articles to be extracted. The handling tools can simplify handling of the one or more articles to be extracted, which, in many cases, are not specifically adapted to be engaged by the extraction device .

In an embodiment the conveyors are provided with conveyor drives for moving the conveyors in the support plane in an extraction direction, wherein the engagement members are fixedly attached to the conveyors so as to be moveable in unison with the conveyors in or over the support plane in the extraction direction. Thus, the aiding of the hoisting and the hoisting itself can be effected by one driving motion.

In an embodiment the handling tools comprise a plurality of cassettes, wherein each cassette comprises a holding frame in which the articles are held, wherein the plurality of storage slots is arranged for receiving and holding the cassettes under the storage angle with respect to the base. The cassettes can hold one or more articles which would otherwise have to be engaged individually.

In an embodiment the intermediate distance between two cassettes, when stored in two directly subsequent storage slots, is less than the thickness of each of the cassettes. In this manner, a high storage density can be achieved.

In an embodiment the plurality of storage slots comprises lower storage slots at or near the base and upper storage slots at a distance from the lower storage slots for supporting the articles under the storage angle at a distance from the lower storage slots. The upper storage slots can prevent the articles from falling over.

In an embodiment the upper storage slots are arranged at or near the top of the storage rack. In this manner, the articles can be supported both at the lower storage slots at the base and the upper storage slots at the top .

In an embodiment the lower storage slots and the upper storage slots are arranged in two parallel arrays, wherein the storage angle of the articles in one storage position depends on the lower storage slot in which said articles are supported and the relative position of the upper storage slot in which the same articles are supported with respect to the lower storage slot. The storage angle can be chosen depending on the dimensions of the articles to be stored, wherein a sharp storage angle allows for larger articles to be stored in a more flat orientation and an obtuse storage angle allows for smaller articles to be stored in a more steep orientation.

In an embodiment the storage slots are arranged for holding the articles under at least two different storage angles. In a related embodiment the storage slots has a concave shape, preferably the shape of a circular segment or a semi-circle. In a further related embodiment the handling tools comprise placement bars for placement of the handling tools in the storage slots, wherein the placement bars are shaped complementary to the storage slots, preferably with a semi-circular or a circular cross section. Thus, the articles can be stored under various storage angles without having to adjust or replace parts of the storage rack.

In an embodiment the articles are stored mutually parallel within the storage rack. Therefore, the articles can be subsequently stored at a short intermediate distance, without having to leave space for articles stored under different storage angles.

According to a second aspect, the invention provides a method for extracting one or more plate-like articles from a storage rack of a magazine with the use of an extraction device, wherein the storage rack has a longitudinal direction and is furthermore provided with a base extending in the longitudinal direction of the storage rack and a plurality of storage slots for receiving and holding articles in a plurality of storage positions within the storage rack with their main surfaces under an oblique storage angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction device is moveable overhead the articles in a direction parallel to the longitudinal direction of the storage rack, wherein the method comprises the steps of having the extraction device operationally engage the one or more articles to be extracted and operating the extraction device to extract the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction under an oblique extraction angle with respect to the base, wherein the extraction angle lies within a range of plus or minus five degrees with respect to the storage angle .

By extracting the one or more articles from the storage rack in an upward direction, the operational space required at the sides of the storage rack can be reduced. Furthermore, due to the extraction of the one or more articles taking place under the extraction angle which is within a close range or the same as the storage angle, less space is required to space the articles apart during extraction, allowing the one or more articles to be stored closer together. This can result in a higher storage density and a more efficient use of space within the magazine.

In an embodiment the base is substantially horizontal. The horizontal base can provide a stable surface for the storage rack.

In an embodiment the storage rack is provided with a top which is spaced apart from the base by a connecting structure, the extraction device is arranged for extracting the engaged one or more articles from their storage position in the storage rack in an upward direction through the top. By extracting and inserting the articles through the top in an upward and downward direction, respectively, there is no need for maneuvering space on the factory floor around the storage rack. Thus, the magazine can consume less operational space on the factory floor than known magazines in which articles are removed in sideways extraction and insertion directions. The saved space can be used for other purposes, for example for additional storage racks.

In an embodiment the extraction device comprises a hoisting assembly, wherein the method comprises the steps of, prior to the extraction, moving the hoisting assembly into an extraction position in which the hoisting assembly is placed under the extraction angle, and, during extraction, hoisting the engaged one or more articles under the extraction angle. The extraction angle substantially matches the storage angle so that the hoisting assembly can act substantially under the angle under which the one or more articles to be extracted are stored in the storage rack .

In an embodiment the hoisting assembly comprises a support plane which, in the extraction position, extends under the extraction angle, wherein the method comprises the step of, during hoisting, at least partially supporting the engaged one or more articles on the support plane. The one or more articles can be supported in said same plane, even when it is no longer supported by the storage slots.

In an embodiment, after the one or more articles have been extracted from the storage rack, the method comprises the step of rotating the hoisting assembly from the extraction position into an unloading position, wherein, in the unloading position, the support plane extends substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the base. In the unloading position, one or more articles can be unloaded from the support plane for further processing within the factory.

The various aspects and features described and shown in the specification can be applied, individually, wherever possible. These individual aspects, in particular the aspects and features described in the attached dependent claims, can be made subject of divisional patent applications .

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be elucidated on the basis of an exemplary embodiment shown in the attached schematic drawings, in which:

figure 1 shows an isometric view of a magazine with a storage rack for storing plate-like articles, according to a first embodiment of the invention;

figures 2-5 show the magazine of figure 1, in cross sectional side view, during steps of a method for extracting the plate-like articles from the storage rack; and

figure 6 shows an isometric view of an alternative magazine with a storage for storing plate-like articles, according to a second embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Figures 1-5 show a magazine 1 with a storage rack

10 according to a first embodiment of the invention. In the storage rack 10 heavy, flat or plate-like articles 100, such as concrete slabs or metal sheets, are stored. The magazine 1 is part of a factory (not shown) in which the articles 100 are processed. The articles 100 are stored in the magazine 1 in between one or more of the steps of said processing. The magazine 1 comprises an extraction device 5 which is arranged above the storage rack 10 to selectively extract one or more of the articles 100 from the storage rack 10 in a manner which will be described hereafter.

As shown in figure 1, the storage rack 10 is provided with a horizontal base 2, a horizontal top 3 which extends parallel to the base 2 and vertical connecting structures 4 which connect the top 3 in a spaced apart relationship to the base 2. In figure 1, only one of the connecting structures 4 is shown. At least one similar connecting structure 4 is placed at an opposite end of the magazine 1. The base 2, the top 3 and the connecting structure 4 define a box-like storage volume for storing the articles 100.

The base 2 is provided with a first base beam 21 and a second base beam 22 which extend mutually parallel and which are placed horizontally on a flat surface, for example on the factory floor. In this exemplary embodiment, the base

2 comprises an additional third base beam 23 and fourth base beam 24, extending parallel to and in between the first base beam 21 and the second base beam 22. The necessity of the additional third base beam 23 and fourth base beam 24 depends on the weight of the articles 100 to be supported on the base 2. The top 3 is provided with a first top beam 31 and a second top beam 32 which, considered in a vertical direction, extend straight above and parallel to the first base beam 21 and the second base beam 22, respectively. Next to the first top beam 31 and the second top beam 32, the top

3 is provided with I-beams which form a first rail 33 and a second rail 34, respectively. The connecting structure 4 comprises two uprights 41, 42 and two cross bars 43, 44 which together form a rectangular connecting frame between the base 2 and the top 3. The connecting structure 4 can however also be a wall, such as the factory wall, or any other suitable connecting structure 4 which bridges the gap between the base 2 and the top 3.

Each of the base beams 21-24 is provided with a plurality of lower storage slots 25-28 in the form of concave recesses or corrugations, spaced apart at regular intervals along the length of the base beams 21-24. Similarly, each of the top beams 31, 32 is provided with a plurality of upper storage slots 35, 36 in the form of concave recesses or corrugations, spaced apart at regular intervals along the length of the top beams 31, 32. Alternatively, one could also provide protrusions extending from beams 21-24, 31, 32 at regular intervals to define the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36. For each lower storage slot 25 along the first base beam 21, there are associated lower storage slots 26-28 and upper storage slots 35, 36 along the other beams 22-24, 31, 32. The storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 form an array of indices or storage positions in which the articles 100 can be stored in a manner which will be described hereafter.

For simplifying the handling of the articles 100, the articles 100 can be operationally engaged with the aid of handling tools. In this example, the handling tools are formed by a plurality of metal cassettes 81-86, which are specially adapted for placement in subsequent storage positions formed by the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 of the storage rack 10. In each cassette 81-86, one or more of the articles 100 can be held and grouped into packages, for example based on their dimensions. The extraction device 5 can engage onto and extract a selected cassette 81-86 from its respective storage position in the storage rack 10, instead of having to engage each element 100 individually. In order to keep figures 1-5 simple, only six cassettes 81- 86 have been shown, wherein only one of the cassettes 84 holds a group of articles 100.

As shown in figure 1, each cassette 81-86 comprises a rectangular holding frame 90 having triangular support surfaces 91 in the four corners thereof, for supporting the articles 100 within the holding frame 90. The rectangular holding frame 90 spans a main surface of the cassettes 81-86. The articles 100 are placed within the cassettes 81-86 with their main surfaces parallel to the main surface of the cassette 81-86. The cassettes 81-86 and the articles 100 held within said cassettes 81-86 are placed in the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 of the storage rack 10 with their main surfaces under an inclined, angled or oblique storage angle S with respect to the horizontal plane of the base 2. In said oblique orientation, the lower horizontal edge of the holding frame 90 extends along the base 2 and the upper longitudinal edge of the holding frame 90 extends along the top 3.

The holding frame 90 is provided with a first placement bar 92 along the lower longitudinal edge, which first placement bar 92 can be placed in and supported by one of the lower storage slots 25-28 at the base 2. The holding frame 90 is provided with a second placement bar 93 along the upper longitudinal edge, which second placement bar 93 can be placed in and supported by one of the upper storage slots 35, 36 at the top 3.

As shown in figures 1-5, each cassette 81-86 has a height H which is greater than the vertical distance Z between the lower storage slots 25-28 at the base 2 and the upper storage slots 35, 36 at the top 3 of the storage rack 10. The height H has been chosen such that, under a certain storage angle S, the first placement bar 92 at the lower edge of the cassettes 81-86 and the second placement bar 93 at the upper edge of the cassettes 81-86 are at the same time supported by lower storage slots 25-28 of the base beams 21-24 and by the upper storage slots 35, 36 of the top beams 31, 32, respectively. In this exemplary embodiment, said storage angle S is approximately sixty-five to seventy- five degrees.

However, when the height H of the cassettes 81-86 is chosen differently, the storage angle S will change accordingly. For example, when the height H of the cassettes 81-86 is greater, the cassettes 81-86 have to be stored at a sharper storage angle S with respect to the base 2, for example at a storage angle S in the range of twenty to sixty-five degrees. On the other hand, when the height H of the cassettes 81-86 is smaller, the cassettes 81-86 have to be stored at an obtuse storage angle S with respect to the base 2, for example at a storage angle S in the range of sixty five to eighty degrees. Preferably, the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 are substantially semi-circular and the placement bars 92, 93 are complementary shaped to the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36, preferably having a substantially semi-circular or circular cross section. In this manner, the placement bars 92, 93 can be received in the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 in various angular orientations .

Depending on the storage angle S, the first placement bar 92 at the lower edge of the cassettes 81-86 are supported by a lower storage slot 25-28 of the base beams 21-24 which is at a different position along the length of the base beams 21-24 with respect to the position of the upper storage slot 35, 36 where the second placement bar 93 at the upper edge of the cassettes 81-86 is supported. In this exemplary embodiment, with a storage angle S of sixty-five degrees, each of the cassettes 81-86 extends from a lower storage slot 25-28 at the base 2 towards an upper storage slot 35, 36 at the top 3 which is five upper storage slots 35, 36 further with respect to the upper storage slot 35, 36 which is straight or vertically above said lower storage slot 25-28. Within the five storage positions defined by said storage slots 25-28, 35, 36, five cassettes 81-86 can be placed substantially in overlap, thereby reducing the amount of area consumed on the factory floor for said cassettes 81-86.

Because of the oblique storage angle S of the cassettes 81-86 with respect to the base 2, the weight of the articles 100 stored within said cassettes 81-86 is dissolved in a vertical force component and a horizontal force component. Depending on the storage angle S, most of the weight of the articles 100 is absorbed by the base 2. For example, with a storage angle S of approximately seventy-five degrees, almost ninety-seven percent of weight of the articles 100 is supported on the lower storage slots 25-28 of the base 2, while only three percent of the weight of the articles 100 is supported by the upper storage slots 35, 36 of the top 3. The upper storage slots 35, 36 can therefore be of light-weight and compact construction, as they only have to counter the relatively small horizontal force component of the weight of the articles 100, to prevent the articles 100 from falling over.

Additionally, due to the oblique storage angle S, the weight of the articles 100 is transmitted transverse to the main surface of the articles 100, rather than normal to the main surface of the articles 100. As a result, the articles 100 can partially support their own weight. Thus, less or no support of the cassettes 81-86 or the articles 100 is necessary in between the base 2 and the top 3 of the storage rack 10, and the cassettes 81-86 can be kept lightweight and compact as it is not required to support the entire main surface of the articles 100.

Because of the compact construction of both the storage rack 10 and the cassettes 81-86, the distance between two subsequent storage slots 25-28, 35, 36, the two subsequent storage positions defined by said storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 and the distance between two subsequent cassettes 81-86 can be small to achieve a higher storage density within the storage rack 10. Preferably, the intermediate distance between two cassettes 81-86 which are placed in two directly subsequent storage positions is smaller than the thickness of each of the cassettes 81-86.

As shown in figure 1, the holding frame 90 of each cassette 81-86 is provided, at its upper longitudinal edge, with a first engageable element 94 and a second engageable element 95. In this exemplary embodiment, the engageable elements 94, 95 are formed as engageable holes. Alternatively, the engageable elements 94, 95 can be formed as rings, hooks, pins, recesses, electromagnets or other suitable engageable elements for, in cooperation with the extraction device 5, extracting a selected cassette 81-86.

As shown in figure 1, the extraction device 5 is provided with a hoisting assembly 50 for hoisting the cassettes 81-86 from the storage rack 10 and a carriage 60 for moving the hoisting assembly 50 over the top 3 of the storage rack 10. The hoisting assembly 5 comprises a first endless chain conveyor 51 and a second endless chain conveyor 52 positioned near the first top beam 31 and the second top beam 32, respectively. In this exemplary embodiment, the hoisting assembly 50 is provided with a third endless chain conveyor 53 which is placed in the middle between the first conveyor 51 and the second conveyor 52. The conveyors 51-53 are interconnected via two cross beams 54, 55. Each conveyor 51-53 has an upper transport side and a lower return side. Together, the transport sides 51-53 of the conveyors 51-53 span a support plane N onto which the cassettes 81-86 can be hoisted. In this exemplary embodiment, the space between the conveyors 51-53 is open. Alternatively, the extraction device 5 can be provided with one or more belt conveyors having a more continuous surface (not shown) with respect to said support plane N, passive roller conveyors (not shown) in between said chain conveyors 51-53 or additional support surfaces (not shown) .

The hoisting assembly 5 further comprises a first conveyor drive 56 and a second conveyor drive 57 which are operationally coupled to the first conveyor 51 and the second conveyor 53, respectively. The conveyor drives 56, 57 are interconnected via a chain drive shaft 58 to jointly drive the first conveyor 51 and second conveyor 52, as well as the third conveyor 53 in between the first conveyor 51 and the second conveyor 52.

The hoisting assembly 50 is provided with a first engagement member 71 and a second engagement member 72 which are fixedly attached to the chains of the first conveyor 51 and the second conveyor 52, respectively. As a result, the engagement members 71, 72 can be moved in unison with the first conveyor 51 and the second conveyor 52 along an extraction path P over the support plane N. The engagement members 71, 72 are arranged to cooperate with the engageable elements 94, 95 of the cassettes 81-86. To this end, the engagement members 94, 95 according to this exemplary embodiment of the invention are formed as hook members, comprising a main body 70 which is fixedly attached to the chain of the respective conveyor 51-52 and a hook 73 extending from the main body 70 in the direction of the engageable elements 94, 95 of the cassettes 81-86. Alternatively, the engagement members 71, 72 can be formed as rings, hooks, pins, recesses, electromagnets or other suitable engagement members for, in cooperation with the engageable elements 94, 95 on the cassettes 81-86, extracting a selected cassette 81-86.

Optionally, the hoisting assembly 50 is provided with a third engagement member (not shown) , similar to the other engagement members 71, 72, fixedly attached to the chain of the third conveyor 53 and a corresponding third engageable element (not shown) on the cassette 81-86. A third engagement member and a third engageable element can provide a stronger engagement between the extraction device 5 and the cassettes 81-86.

The carriage 60 is provided with a first guide 61 and a second guide 62 which are placed on the first rail 33 and the second rail 34 of the top 3, respectively. The guides 61, 62 are provided with displacement drives (not shown) so as to be moveable over said rails 33, 34 in a displacement direction X, parallel to the longitudinal direction of the storage rack 10. The guides 61, 62 are interconnected via two cross beams 63, 64 to form a rigid under-frame for the carriage 60. The carriage 60 is provided with a first hinge 65 on the first guide 61 and a second hinge 66 which is coaxially placed with respect to the first hinge 65 on the second guide 62. The hoisting assembly 50 is coupled to the hinges 65, 66 so as to be tiltable or rotatable in a rotational direction C about a rotational axis R which extends parallel to the support plane N of the conveyors 51-53 and the horizontal plane of the base 2.

The extraction device 5 is provided with actuators in the form of a first piston 67 and a second piston 68 which, at one end, are coupled to the carriage at a distance from the hinges 65, 66, and which, at the opposite end, are coupled to the hoisting assembly 50 at one of the cross beams 55 at a distance from the hinges 65, 66. With the pistons 67, 68, the hoisting assembly 50 can be moved between an extraction position as shown in figures 1-4, wherein the support plane N of the conveyors 51-53 is under an extraction angle E with respect to the carriage 60 and the base 2, and an unloading position as shown in figure 5, wherein the support plane N of the conveyors 51-53 is substantially horizontal or parallel to the carriage 60 and the base 2.

The steps of the method for extracting heavy, plate-like articles 100 from the storage rack 10 of the magazine 1 will be described hereafter with reference to figures 2-5. It is noted that figures 2-5 are cross sectional side views which, for reasons of clarity, only show one side of the magazine 1 according to figure 1. In the following description however, reference is made to both sides, as both sides operate symmetrically and essentially in the same manner.

Figure 2 shows the situation wherein the extraction device 5 is at a random position overhead the storage rack 10. An operator or computer elects one of the cassettes 81-86 as the selected cassette 84 based on a match between dimensional or other relevant data relating to the articles 100 which are held in said selected cassette 84 and the requirements of the articles 100 to be processed. The selected cassette 84 is stored in one of the storage positions of the storage rack 10 under a storage angle S of, in this example, approximately sixty-five to seventy-five degrees. The first placement bar 92 at the bottom of the selected cassette 84 is received in and supported by the lower storage slots 25-28 of the base 2 which are associated with said storage position, while the second placement bar 93 at the top of the selected cassette 84 is received in and supported by the upper storage slots 35, 36 of the top 3 which are associated with said storage position. The pistons 67, 68 are controlled to rotate the hoisting assembly 50 so that the extraction angle E substantially matches the storage angle S of the selected cassette 84.

Figure 3 shows the situation wherein the drive in the carriage 60 of the extraction device 5 is controlled to displace the extraction device 5 over the rails 33, 34 of the top 3 in the displacement direction X into a position in which the support plane N of the conveyors 51-53 is aligned with the selected cassette 84. More in particular, the support plane N extends in the same plane as the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36 supporting the selected cassette 84, so that the selected cassette 84 can be supported in said same plane, even when it is no longer supported by the storage slots 25-28, 35, 36. This reduces the shocks and changes in direction to which the selected cassette 84 is subjected during extraction from the storage rack 10. The conveyor drives 56, 57 are controlled so that the chains of the conveyors 51-53, and thus the engagement members 71, 72 fixedly attached thereto, are moved in an engagement direction A into engagement with the engageable elements 94, 95 of the selected cassette 84. More in particular, in this example, the hooks 73 of the engagement members 71, 72 are engaged into the holes of the engageable elements 94, 95.

Figure 4 shows the situation wherein the conveyor drives 56, 57 are controlled so that the chains of the conveyors 51-53, and thus the engagement members 71, 72 fixedly attached thereto, are moved in an upward extraction direction B, parallel to the extraction angle E. The selected cassette 84, which is engaged by the engagement members 71, 72, is extracted from its storage position in the storage rack 10 in an upward direction along the path of extraction P. During extraction, the selected cassette 84 passes between the top beams 31, 32 of the top 3, while the selected cassette 84 is guided by its neighboring cassettes 83, 85. Alternatively, the storage rack 10 could be provided with guiding members (not shown) along the extraction path P. The extraction along the extraction path P continues until the selected cassette 84 is substantially clear from the storage rack 10, as shown in figure 4. During said extraction, the selected cassette 84 is extracted under the set extraction angle E of the extraction device 5, which is substantially the same as the storage angle S under which the selected cassette 84 was stored within the storage rack 10 prior to its extraction. Thus, the extraction of the selected cassette 84 takes place in substantially the same plane in which the selected cassette 84 was stored within the storage rack 10 prior to its extraction. With "substantially the same", an oblique extraction angle E is meant that lies in a range of plus or minus five degrees with respect to the storage angle S or the storage plane, including a situation wherein the extraction angle E is the same as the storage angle S.

During the aforementioned extraction, the selected cassette 84 is hoisted upwards through the top 3 onto the support plane N, where it is supported by the chains of the conveyors 51-53.

Figure 5 shows the situation wherein the pistons 67, 68 are controlled to tilt or rotate the hoisting assembly 50 in the rotational direction C from its extraction position under the extraction angle E into the substantially horizontal unloading position. Alternatively, the pistons 67, 68 can be controlled to tilt or rotate the hoisting assembly 50 in the opposite rotational direction C from its extraction position under the extraction angle E into the substantially vertical unloading position (not shown) . In said unloading position, the main surfaces of the selected cassette 84 and the articles 100 held within said selected cassette 84 extends substantially parallel or perpendicular to the base 2. An overhead crane (not shown) can be moved in position above the selected cassette 84 and can extract one or more of the articles 100 in an upward unloading direction D as indicated.

The aforementioned steps of the method can be partially or fully automated. The extraction device 5 is the only active component of the magazine 1, which can be of relatively simple construction. The steps of the method for inserting heavy, plate-like articles 100 into the storage rack 10 of the magazine 1 involves the aforementioned steps in opposite order. In short, the steps comprise loading articles 100 into a selected cassette 84 which has been placed in the unloading position as shown in figure 5, rotating the hoisting assembly 50 into an insertion position similar to the extraction position as shown in figure 4, lowering the selected cassette 84 from the support plane N into its assigned storage position in the storage rack 10 along an insertion path opposite to the extraction path P as shown in figure 3 and releasing the engagement members 71, 72 from the engageable elements 94, 95 of the selected cassette 84.

By extracting and inserting the cassettes 81-86 from and into the storage rack 10 through the top 3 in an upward and downward direction, respectively, there is no need for maneuvering space on the factory floor around the storage rack 10. Thus, the magazine 1 consumes less operational space on the factory floor than known magazines in which articles are removed in sideways extraction and insertion directions. The saved space can be used for other purposes, for example for additional storage racks.

Furthermore, due to the extraction and insertion of the cassettes 81-86 taking place in substantially the same plane and the same angle as the plane and angle in which the cassettes 81-86 are stored within the storage rack 10, the cassettes 81-86 can be stored closer together, resulting in a higher storage density and a more efficient use of space.

It is to be understood that the above description is included to illustrate the operation of the preferred embodiments and is not meant to limit the scope of the invention. From the above discussion, many variations will be apparent to one skilled in the art that would yet be encompassed by the spirit and scope of the present invention .

For example, the person skilled in the art would appreciate that multiple storage racks 10 according to the aforementioned exemplary embodiment of the invention can be placed in multiple stories above each other, wherein the stories are spaced apart to accommodate an extraction device 5 overhead each storage rack 10.

In yet another example, the cassettes 81-86 can be stored under various storage angles S within the same storage rack 10, provided that the cassettes 81-86 are sufficiently spaced apart. In said situation, the extraction angle E of the extraction device 5 would have to be adjusted when subsequently extracting cassettes 81-86 which are stored under different storage angles S.

Figure 6 shows an alternative magazine 101 with an alternative storage rack 110 according to a second embodiment of the invention. Components of the alternative magazine 101 which are substantially similar to components of the magazine 1 according to the first embodiment of the invention have been indicated with the same reference numerals and will not be recited in detail hereafter. This applies in particular to the extraction device 5 and the rails 33, 34 over which the extraction device 5 is moveable in the displacement direction X overhead the alternative storage rack 110.

Again, a number of alternative cassettes 181-184 are provided, which are similar in function to the cassettes 81-86 as shown in figures 1-5. The alternative cassettes 181-184 differ from the cassettes 81-86 as shown in figures 1-5 in that each alternative cassette 181-184 comprises a rectangular frame 190 without placement bars. Instead, the rectangular frame 190 is supported in the storage positions of the alternative storage rack 110 along its outer perimeter in a manner which will be described hereafter. Furthermore, the support surfaces 191 are of rectangular shape and extend on the sides of the rectangular frame 190 between the corners of said frame 190. The alternative cassettes 181-186 are provided with engageable elements 194, 195 along the upper longitudinal edge of the frame 190 for cooperation with the extraction device 5.

The alternative magazine 101 comprises a base 102, a top 103 and a connecting structure 104 with a number of pillars 141 which support the top 103 at a distance from the base 102. The base 102 differs from the previous base 2 in that it is provided with three base beams 121-123 having lower storage slots 125-127 which are shaped to hold the alternative cassettes 181-184 with the articles 100 in a plurality of storage positions under one specific storage angle S.

In this example, said specific storage angle S is approximately seventy-five degrees. Under such an angle, most of the weight of the articles 100 is transmitted to the base 102. The specific storage angle S allows for the lower storage slots 125-127 to be optimally shaped to adsorb said weight of the articles 100. More in particular, the lower storage slots 125-127 each comprise a support surface 128 that extends under the storage angle S and which is complementary formed to the underside of the frame 190 of the alternative cassettes 181-184 in order to provide an optimal contact surface. Each lower storage slot 125-127 further comprises a leaning surface 129 extending perpendicularly from the support surface 128 at the lower side of said support surface 128 for supporting the alternative cassettes 181-184 in a sideways direction. The leaning surface 129, in combination with the support surface 128, provide a stable and statically determined support for the alternative cassettes 181-184.

The alternative storage rack 110 as shown in figure 6 further differs from the storage rack 10 according to figures 1-5 in that the upper storage slots 135 are provided on intermediate beams 130-132 extending parallel to the base 102 at various intermediate heights between the base 102 and the top 103. The upper storage slots 135 are shaped as simple recesses which only serve to support the alternative cassettes 181-184 in a horizontal direction, thereby preventing them from falling over. The upper storage slots 135 are placed in arrays along the intermediate beams 130-132 in such a manner that, under the specific storage angle S, the sides of the rectangular frame 190 of the alternative cassettes 181-184 extends through one upper storage slot 135 at each intermediate beam 130-132. Therefore, during extraction, the selected cassette 183 to be extracted is guided by the upper storage slots 135 along a substantial part of the extraction path P.