Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
REINFORCED SHELVES, KITS THEREFOR AND SHELVING UNITS COMPRISING REINFORCED SHELVES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/053850
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure relates to reinforced shelves, kits for reinforced shelves and shelving units comprising at least one reinforced shelf.

More Like This:
JP2013022023SHELF
WO/2006/108900SHELVING
Inventors:
BRUNNER YARON (IL)
VARDI-BOUGAY AYALA (IL)
Application Number:
IL2019/051004
Publication Date:
March 19, 2020
Filing Date:
September 09, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KETER PLASTIC LTD (IL)
International Classes:
A47B96/02; A47B47/00; A47B57/34
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012032517A12012-03-15
Foreign References:
US4242848A1981-01-06
US20140263136A12014-09-18
IL257186D02018-03-29
US6412739B12002-07-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SOKOL, Edith (IL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A reinforced shelf having:

a shelf comprising:

a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and

support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and

a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion;

wherein the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions, whereby the reinforcing member attached to the respective edge increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the respective edge of the shelf.

2. The reinforced shelf of claim 1, wherein the reinforcing member has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf.

3. A reinforced shelf having:

a shelf comprising:

a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and

a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion;

wherein the reinforcing member has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf,

whereby the reinforcing member attached to the respective edge increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the respective edge of the shelf.

4. The reinforced shelf of claim 3, wherein the shelf comprises support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and wherein the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions.

5. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein one of the first and second engagement portions comprises a recess and the other of the first and second engagement portions comprises a protrusion arranged to be received in the recess.

6. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein:

the first engagement portion comprises two separate engagement portions disposed on either side surface of the shelf; and

the second engagement portion of the reinforcing member comprises two separate engagement portions, each of which is configured to engage one of the first engagement portions.

7. The reinforced shelf of any one claims 1 to 6, wherein the reinforcing member comprises an elongate member arranged to attach in a clipping manner to the first engagement portion of the shelf.

8. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the shelf comprises a polymer material and the reinforcing member comprises a metal material.

9. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the reinforcing member is formed from sheet metal.

10. The reinforced shelf of claim 9, wherein the reinforcing member is formed from steel sheet metal.

11. The reinforced shelf of claim 9 or 10, wherein:

the sheet metal reinforcing member is arranged to surround the respective edge of the shelf;

the first engagement portion comprises a channel on either side surface of the shelf; and

the second engagement portion comprises folded edges of the reinforcing member configured to be received within the channels.

12. The reinforced shelf of claim 11, wherein the folded edges of the reinforcing member are elastically moved away from one another while the reinforcing member is pushed onto the edge of the shelf and a return bias force in the sheet metal reinforcing member brings the folded edges back towards one another as the folded edges engage in the channels.

13. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the first engagement portion comprises a locking portion arranged to retain the second engagement portion against disengagement.

14. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 13, wherein the reinforcing member extends along a majority of the respective edge of the shelf between the opposed side edges.

15. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the shelf comprises at least one stiffening rib, spanning the shelf between the front edge and the rear edge and spaced from the opposed side edges, whereby the at least one stiffening rib increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the span of the at least one stiffening rib.

16. The reinforced shelf of claim 15, wherein the at least one stiffening rib comprises a plurality of stiffening ribs positioned parallel to one another and spaced from one another.

17. The reinforced shelf of claim 15 or 16, wherein the shelf comprises connector ribs connecting the at least one stiffening rib to one of the two side surfaces of the shelf.

18. A reinforced shelf having:

a shelf comprising:

a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces; and at least one stiffening rib, spanning the shelf between the front edge and the rear edge and spaced from the opposed side edges,

whereby the at least one stiffening rib increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the span of the at least one stiffening rib.

19. The reinforced shelf of claim 18, wherein the at least one stiffening rib comprises a plurality of stiffening ribs positioned parallel to one another and spaced from one another.

20. The reinforced shelf of claim 18 or 19, wherein the shelf comprises connector ribs connecting the at least one stiffening rib to one of the two side surfaces of the shelf.

21. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 18 to 20, wherein:

at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprises a first engagement portion;

the shelf further comprises support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members;

the reinforced shelf further comprises a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion; and

the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions.

22. The reinforced shelf of claim 21, wherein the reinforcing member has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf.

23. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 18 to 20, wherein:

at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprises a first engagement portion;

the reinforced shelf further comprises a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion; and

the reinforcing member has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf.

24. The reinforced shelf of claim 23, wherein the shelf comprises support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and wherein the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions.

25. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 21 to 24, wherein one of the first and second engagement portions comprises a recess and the other of the first and second engagement portions comprises a protrusion arranged to be received in the recess.

26. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 21 to 24, wherein:

the first engagement portion comprises two separate engagement portions disposed on either side surface of the shelf; and

the second engagement portion of the reinforcing member comprises two separate engagement portions, each of which is configured to engage one of the first engagement portions.

27. The reinforced shelf of any of claims 21 to 26, wherein the reinforcing member comprises an elongate member arranged to attach in a clipping manner to the first engagement portion of the shelf.

28. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 21 to 27, wherein the shelf comprises a polymer material and the reinforcing member comprises a metal material.

29. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 21 to 28, wherein the reinforcing member is formed from sheet metal.

30. The reinforced shelf of claim 29, wherein the reinforcing member is formed from steel sheet metal.

31. The reinforced shelf of claim 29 or 30, wherein: the sheet metal reinforcing member is arranged to surround the respective edge of the shelf;

the first engagement portion comprises a channel on either side surface of the shelf; and

the second engagement portion comprises folded edges of the reinforcing member configured to be received within the channels.

32. The reinforced shelf of claim 31, wherein the folded edges of the reinforcing member are elastically moved away from one another while the reinforcing member is pushed onto the edge of the shelf and a return bias force in the sheet metal reinforcing member brings the folded edges back towards one another as the folded edges engage in the channels.

33. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 21 to 32, wherein the first engagement portion comprises a locking portion arranged to retain the second engagement portion against disengagement.

34. The reinforced shelf of any one of claims 21 to 33, wherein the reinforcing member extends along a majority of the respective edge of the shelf between the opposed side edges.

35. A shelving unit comprising at least one reinforced shelf according to any one of claims 1 to 34.

36. A kit of parts for a reinforced shelf comprising:

a shelf comprising:

a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and

support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and

a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion arranged to engage the first engagement portion;

wherein the reinforcing member is configured to be spaced from the vertical shelf support members when the first and second engagement portions are engaged.

37. A kit of parts for a reinforced shelf comprising:

a shelf comprising: a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and

a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion arranged to engage the first engagement portion;

wherein the reinforcing member is configured to has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf.

Description:
REINFORCED SHELVES, KITS THEREFOR AND SHELVING UNITS COMPRISING REINFORCED SHELVES

TECHNOLOGICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to reinforced shelves, kits for reinforced shelves and shelving units comprising at least one reinforced shelf.

BACKGROUND

In conventional shelf design, there needs to take into account the load to be borne by a shelf in order to design a shelf which will support the desired load. The loading of a shelf causes the shelf to bend along its span between side edges of the shelf. Various solutions to this problem include making a thicker shelf and providing more vertical supports along the span of the shelf, and/or providing shorter spans of shelf. However, this can reduce the space in which to store quantities of material and can increase the economic cost of such a shelving unit.

GB 1503403 discloses a shelving structure comprising two side -pieces, a back plate and a plurality of movable shelves. Each shelf comprises a wooden panel whose leading edge is reinforced with a reinforcing means having the form of a rail formed from sheet-metal, the overall depth of which rail is greater than the thickness of the shelf panel and which is arranged to be securely clamped thereto. The side edges of the sheet-metal rail are supported by supporting means which are arranged in apertures in vertical sheet-metal posts which reinforce the leading edges of the side pieces.

US 5893470 discloses a display shelf for a refrigerated food case, the outer edge of which can have an aluminum price tag molding secured thereto. Reinforcing members extending along the length of the shelf are welded to the underside of the shelf.

Acknowledgement of the above references herein is not to be inferred as meaning that these are in any way relevant to the patentability of the presently disclosed subject matter. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

According to a first aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a reinforced shelf having: a shelf comprising: a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion; wherein the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions, whereby the reinforcing member attached to the respective edge increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the respective edge of the shelf.

Since the second engagement portion of the reinforcing member engages the first engagement portion of the shelf, a secure engagement between the reinforcing member and the shelf can be achieved. Since the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions, the shelf can be reinforced without the need for adaptations to be made to the support portions, or for that matter, to the vertical support members which support such a reinforced shelf, resulting in a simplified design. Since the reinforcing member stiffens the shelf along the respective edge of the shelf, the shelf will be reinforced against bowing along its length.

The reinforcing member may have a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf. In this arrangement, the reinforcing member may lie flush with the side surfaces (top and bottom surfaces) of the shelf, avoiding a lip or other undesirable obstruction along the edge of the shelf.

According to a second aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a reinforced shelf having: a shelf comprising: a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion; wherein the reinforcing member has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf, whereby the reinforcing member attached to the respective edge increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the respective edge of the shelf. The shelf may comprise support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and the reinforcing member may be spaced from the support portions.

The first and second aspects may comprise one or more of the following features:

One of the first and second engagement portions may comprise a recess and the other of the first and second engagement portions may comprise a protrusion arranged to be received in the recess. In this manner, the reinforcing member and the shelf can be securely engaged with one another.

The first engagement portion may comprises two separate engagement portions disposed on either side surface of the shelf; and the second engagement portion of the reinforcing member may comprise two separate engagement portions, each of which is configured to engage one of the first engagement portions. With this arrangement, the reinforcing member can be securely attached to both side surfaces, i.e. the top and bottom surfaces of the shelf, preventing accidental detachment.

The reinforcing member may comprise an elongate member arranged to attach in a clipping manner to the first engagement portion of the shelf. The clipping manner may be a snap-fit arrangement which is easy to assemble and difficult to disassemble. This can ensure that the reinforcing member is maintained on the edge of the shelf despite load being applied to the shelf.

The shelf may comprises a polymer material and the reinforcing member may comprise a metal material. Since metal is stiffer than polymer, the metal reinforcing member can provide a stiffening effect to the polymer shelf.

The reinforcing member may be formed from sheet metal. In some embodiments, the reinforcing member may be formed from steel sheet metal. Sheet material can be readily bent, curved and formed into a desired shape and can have increased stiffness provided by means of its formation as well as its material. Steel has a property of very high stiffness and can provide more support against bending deformation of a polymer shelf compared to many other metal materials.

The sheet metal reinforcing member may be arranged to surround the respective edge of the shelf. The first engagement portion may comprise a channel on either side of the shelf. The second engagement portion may comprise folded edges of the reinforcing member configured to be received within the channels. With this arrangement, since the folded edges are received within the channels, the engagement between the reinforcing member and the shelf extends along the length of the reinforcing member, between the folded edge of the reinforcing member and the channels of the shelf. This provides a secure connection between the reinforcing member and the shelf along the length of the reinforcing member, reduces the likelihood of separation of the reinforcing member and the shelf and helps to mitigate shelf bending along the length of the reinforcing member.

The folded edges of the reinforcing member may be elastically moved away from one another while the reinforcing member is pushed onto the edge of the shelf and a return bias force in the sheet metal reinforcing member may bring the folded edges back towards one another as the folded edges engage in the channels. This flexing arrangement of the reinforcing member provides ease of fitting the reinforcing member to the shelf and secure locking of the reinforcing member to the shelf once the reinforcing member is in position.

The first engagement portion may comprise a locking portion arranged to retain the second engagement portion against disengagement.

The reinforcing member may extends along a majority of the respective edge of the shelf between the opposed side edges. In this manner, support can be provided along a majority of the shelf length.

The shelf may comprise at least one stiffening rib, spanning the shelf between the front edge and the rear edge and spaced from the opposed side edges, whereby the at least one stiffening rib increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the span of the at least one stiffening rib. Since the at least one stiffening rib extends between the front edge and the rear edge, the at least one stiffening rib is transverse to the reinforcing member. Therefore the at least one stiffening rib can provide stiffening of the shelf in addition to the reinforcing member, in a different bending direction than the reinforcing member. Since the at least one stiffening rib is spaced from the opposed side edges, the at least one stiffening rib can provide a reinforcing effect throughout a central portion of the shelf, in addition to the reinforcing effect provided for by the reinforcing member at the front and/or rear edge of the shelf. The at least one stiffening rib may be formed integrally with the shelf or may be subsequently attached thereto. The at least one stiffening rib may comprise a plurality of stiffening ribs positioned parallel to one another and spaced from one another. With this arrangement, having stiffening ribs spanning the shelf between the front edge and the rear edge of the shelf in the central portion of the shelf (i.e. spaced from the opposed side edges of the shelf) can provide increased bending stiffness across the central portion of the shelf away from the opposed side edges.

The shelf may comprise connector ribs connecting the at least one stiffening rib to one of the two side surfaces of the shelf. The connector ribs may provide a secure attachment between the at least one stiffening rib and the respective side surface of the shelf. The connector ribs may be formed integrally with the shelf and/or the at least one stiffening rib, or may be formed separately and subsequently attached.

According to a third aspect of the present disclosure, there is provide a reinforced shelf having: a shelf comprising: a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces; and at least one stiffening rib, spanning the shelf between the front edge and the rear edge and spaced from the opposed side edges, whereby the at least one stiffening rib increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the span of the at least one stiffening rib.

The at least one stiffening rib provides stiffening of the shelf, without the need to increase the thickness of the entire shelf. Thus a stiff, lightweight shelf can be easily produced. Since the at least one stiffening rib is spaced from the opposed side edges, the at least one stiffening rib can provide a reinforcing effect throughout a central portion of the shelf, in addition to the reinforcing effect provided for by the reinforcing member at the front and/or rear edge of the shelf. The at least one stiffening rib may be formed integrally with the shelf or may be subsequently attached thereto. The at least one stiffening rib provides stiffness against bending of the shelf about an axis perpendicular to the span of the at least one stiffening rib.

The at least one stiffening rib may comprise a plurality of stiffening ribs positioned parallel to one another and spaced from one another. With this arrangement, having stiffening ribs spanning the shelf between the front edge and the rear edge of the shelf in the central portion of the shelf (i.e. spaced from the opposed side edges of the shelf) can provide increased bending stiffness across the central portion of the shelf away from the opposed side edges. The shelf may comprise connector ribs connecting the at least one stiffening rib to one of the two side surfaces of the shelf. The connector ribs may provide a secure attachment between the at least one stiffening rib and the respective side surface of the shelf. The connector ribs may be formed integrally with the shelf and/or the at least one stiffening rib, or may be formed separately and subsequently attached.

At least one of the front edge and the rear edge may comprise a first engagement portion; the shelf may comprise support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; the reinforced shelf may comprise a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion; and the reinforcing member may be spaced from the support portions. Since the second engagement portion of the reinforcing member engages the first engagement portion of the shelf, the reinforcing member can be securely attached to the shelf. Since the reinforcing member is spaced from the support portions, the shelf can be reinforced without the need for adaptations to be made to the support portions, or for that matter, to the vertical support members which support such a reinforced shelf, resulting in a simplified design. Since the reinforcing member stiffens the shelf along the respective edge of the shelf, the reinforcing member is transverse to the at least one stiffening rib. Therefore the reinforcing member can provide stiffening of the shelf in addition to the at least one stiffening rib, in a different bending direction than at least one stiffening rib, i.e. the shelf will be further reinforced against bowing and deformation along its length.

The reinforcing member has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf. In this arrangement, the reinforcing member may lie flush with the side surfaces (top and bottom surfaces) of the shelf, avoiding a lip or other undesirable obstruction along the edge of the shelf.

At least one of the front edge and the rear edge may comprise a first engagement portion; the reinforced shelf may comprise a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion which engages the first engagement portion; and the reinforcing member may have a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf.

The shelf may comprise support portions at the opposed side edges thereof which may be configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and the reinforcing member may be spaced from the support portions. One of the first and second engagement portions may comprise a recess and the other of the first and second engagement portions may comprise a protrusion arranged to be received in the recess. In this manner, the reinforcing member and the shelf can be securely engaged with one another.

The first engagement portion may comprises two separate engagement portions disposed on either side surface of the shelf; and the second engagement portion of the reinforcing member may comprise two separate engagement portions, each of which is configured to engage one of the first engagement portions. With this arrangement, the reinforcing member can be securely attached to both side surfaces, i.e. the top and bottom surfaces, of the shelf, preventing accidental detachment.

The reinforcing member may comprise an elongate member arranged to attach in a clipping manner to the first engagement portion of the shelf. The clipping manner may be a snap-fit arrangement which is easy to assemble and difficult to disassemble. This can ensure that the reinforcing member is maintained on the edge of the shelf despite load being applied to the shelf.

The shelf may comprises a polymer material and the reinforcing member may comprise a metal material. Since metal is stiffer than polymer, the metal reinforcing member can provide a stiffening effect to the polymer shelf.

The reinforcing member may be formed from sheet metal. In some embodiments, the reinforcing member may be formed from steel sheet metal. Sheet material can be readily bent, curved and formed into a desired shape and can have increased stiffness provided by means of its formation as well as its material. Steel has a property of very high stiffness and can provide more support against bending deformation of a polymer shelf compared to many other metal materials.

The sheet metal reinforcing member may be arranged to surround the respective edge of the shelf. The first engagement portion may comprise a channel on either side of the shelf. The second engagement portion may comprise folded edges of the reinforcing member configured to be received within the channels. With this arrangement, since the folded edges are received within the channels, the engagement between the reinforcing member and the shelf extends along the length of the reinforcing member, between the folded edge of the reinforcing member and the channels of the shelf. This provides a secure connection between the reinforcing member and the shelf along the length of the reinforcing member, reduces the likelihood of separation of the reinforcing member and the shelf and helps to mitigate shelf bending along the length of the reinforcing member.

The folded edges of the reinforcing member may be elastically moved away from one another while the reinforcing member is pushed onto the edge of the shelf and a return bias force in the sheet metal reinforcing member may bring the folded edges back towards one another as the folded edges engage in the channels. This flexing arrangement of the reinforcing member provides ease of fitting the reinforcing member to the shelf and secure locking of the reinforcing member to the shelf once the reinforcing member is in position.

The first engagement portion may comprise a locking portion arranged to retain the second engagement portion against disengagement.

The reinforcing member may extends along a majority of the respective edge of the shelf between the opposed side edges. In this manner, support can be provided along a majority of the shelf length.

According to a fourth aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a shelving unit comprising at least one reinforced shelf assembly according to the first, second or third aspect.

According to a fifth aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a kit of parts for a reinforced shelf comprising: a shelf comprising: a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and support portions at the opposed side edges thereof configured, in use, to engage vertical support members; and a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion arranged to engage the first engagement portion; wherein the reinforcing member is configured to be spaced from the vertical shelf support members when the first and second engagement portions are engaged.

According to a sixth aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a kit of parts for a reinforced shelf comprising: a shelf comprising: a front edge, a rear edge, a pair of opposed side edges and two side surfaces, at least one of the front edge and the rear edge comprising a first engagement portion; and a reinforcing member configured with a second engagement portion arranged to engage the first engagement portion; wherein the reinforcing member is configured to has a height which is smaller than or equal to a greatest height between the two side surfaces of the shelf. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order to better understand the subject matter that is disclosed herein and to exemplify how it may be carried out in practice, embodiments will now be described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 shows a top perspective view of a shelving unit comprising reinforced shelves;

Fig. 2 shows a top perspective view of a reinforced shelf;

Fig. 3 shows a bottom perspective view of the reinforced shelf of Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 shows a top perspective view of the reinforced shelf of Fig. 2 further comprising reinforcing elements;

Fig. 5 shows a bottom perspective view of the reinforced shelf of Fig. 4;

Fig. 6 shows a top perspective view of the reinforced shelf of Fig. 4 when cut along the plane A- A;

Fig. 7 shows a detail top perspective view of the reinforced shelf of Fig. 2 of the area BB ;

Fig. 8 shows a top perspective view of the reinforcing members for the reinforced shelf of Fig. 4;

Fig. 9 shows an end perspective view of one of the reinforcing members of Fig.

8;

Fig. 10 shows a cross-sectional view of the reinforcing member of Fig. 9;

Fig. 11 shows a partial cut-away perspective view of a reinforcing member engaging with a locking portion of the shelf;

Fig. 12 shows a partial perspective view of the locking portion of Fig. 11 with the reinforcing member not shown;

Fig. 13 shows a perspective view of a compact arrangement of the components of the shelving unit of Fig. 1 ;

Fig. 14 shows an exploded view of the compact arrangement of Fig. 13.

Fig. 15 shows an exploded view of parts of the shelving unit of Fig. 1 without the reinforced shelves or shelf connectors which connect the reinforced shelves to vertical support members;

Fig. 16 shows a perspective view of a shelf connector; Fig. 17A shows a perspective view of a shelf connector connected to vertical support members;

Fig. 17B shows a cross-sectional view, taken along a vertical mid-plane, of the arrangement of Fig. 17A; and

Fig. 18 shows a cross-perspective view of cross-sectional view of a reinforced shelf connected to vertical support members by a shelf connector.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

In the following description and accompanying drawings, like features are denoted by like reference signs.

Fig. 1 shows a shelving unit 1 comprising a number of reinforced shelves 10 supported by four vertical support members 40 at the bottom of which are feet 42. The reinforced shelves 10 of the shelving unit 1 are shelves 20 with reinforcement as described below with reference to Figs. 2-10.

As shown in Fig. 2, shelf 20 comprises a front edge 21, a rear edge 22, a pair of opposed side edges 23, 24, a top side surface 25 and a bottom side surface 26 (seen more clearly in Fig. 3). Shelf 20 has four support portions 27 arranged at the opposed side edges 23, 24, for engaging the four vertical support members 40. Reinforced shelf 10 of this specific embodiment is shown as a shelf 20 having added thereto two types of reinforcement as described below. However it is envisaged that a reinforced shelf according to the present disclosure may have one or both types as described below.

With reference to Figs. 2 and 3, reinforced shelf 10 comprises a shelf 20 having a plurality of stiffening ribs 29 at its bottom side surface 27. The stiffening ribs 29 are spaced from the opposed side edges 23, 24, and span the shelf 20 between the front edge 21 and the rear edge 22. The stiffening ribs 29 provide a stiffening effect to the shelf 20, without the need to increase the thickness of the entire shelf 20, thereby allowing weight savings. The multiple stiffening ribs 29 are parallel to one another and spaced apart from one another. This allows a reinforcing effect to be provided throughout a central portion of the reinforced shelf 10 away from the opposed side edges 23, 24. In the reinforced shelf 10, the stiffening ribs 29 may be formed integrally with the shelf 20, for example by injection molding processes, or may be subsequently attached thereto. The at least one stiffening rib increases the bending stiffness of the shelf about an axis Ai perpendicular to the span of the stiffening ribs 29.

The stiffening ribs 29 may be connected to the surface 26 of the shelf 20 by connector ribs 28. The connector ribs 28 provide a secure attachment between the stiffening ribs 29 and the side surface 26 of the shelf 20. The connector ribs 28 may be formed integrally with the shelf 20 and/or the stiffening ribs 29, such as by injection molding processes, or may be formed separately and subsequently attached thereto. Although the connector ribs 28 are shown as being discontinuous along a direction between the opposed side edges 23, 24 of the shelf 20, separated by the stiffening ribs 29, it is envisaged that the connector ribs 28 may alternatively be continuous along a direction between the opposed side edges 23, 24 of the shelf 20. In such an arrangement, the connector ribs 28 may have a depth greater than a depth of the stiffening ribs 29 so that the connector ribs 28 bridge or cross over the stiffening ribs 29 in a continuous manner.

In addition, each shelf 20 is provided with a further reinforcement in the form of two reinforcing members 60 (Figs. 4 and 5) for stiffening the shelf 20 along the front and rear edges 21, 22 of the shelf 20. The reinforcing member 60 is spaced from the support portions 27, which allows the shelf 20 to be reinforced and stiffened without the need to redesign the vertical supports 40, since there is no direct interaction between the vertical supports 40 and the reinforcing members 60.

As shown in Figs. 6 and 7, the front edge 21 of the shelf 20 comprises a first engagement portion 30 in the form of a recessed channel 32 on the top and bottom side surfaces 25, 26. The recessed channel 32 comprises multiple locking portion 34 spaced along the recessed channel 32 for engaging in a locking manner a portion of the reinforcing member 60 as will be described in more detail below.

With reference to Figs. 9 and 10, each reinforcing member 60 comprises a strip of sheet-metal, such as steel, which has been bent or extruded in a form having a cross- section of an approximate C-shape as shown in Fig. 10, having an outside surface 61 and an inside surface 63. The pair of reinforcing members 60 are arranged to surround the front and rear edges 21, 22 of the shelf 20 respectively and are shown in Fig. 8. The inside surface 63 of each reinforcing member 60 is arrange to at least partially rest on, bear against or be supported by, non-continuous side -ribs 21a, 22a arranged on the respective front and rear edges 21, 22 of the shelf 20. The non-continuous side -ribs 21a, 22a comprise sloped portions 21b, 22b, which will be described in more detail below.

The reinforcing member 60 comprises, at either end of the C-shaped cross- section, end portions 62 comprising second engagement portions 70 described in more detail below protruding inwardly, towards each other. Each of the second engagement portions 70 is arranged to engage with the recessed channels 32 of the first engagement portion 30 and to lock with the locking portions 34 of the first engagement portion 30. Although not visible in Figs. 5 and 6, an identical reinforcing member 60 is attached in the same manner to a recessed channel 32 on the rear edge 22 of the shelf 20.

With reference to Fig. 10, the height H of the reinforcing member 60 in a relaxed state is the same as or slightly smaller than the maximum height h (see Fig. 6) of the shelf 20 between the top and bottom side surfaces 25, 26 of the shelf 20, such that the reinforcing member 60 is arranged to lie flush with the top and bottom side surfaces 25, 26 of the shelf 20, as shown in Fig. 6.

The reinforcing member 60 is capable of flexing elastically about the midpoint 64 of its cross-section, i.e. about its neutral axis AN, such that the end portions 62 of the sheet-metal reinforcing member 60, can move towards or away from each other. This aids in mounting the reinforcing member 60 on the front and rear edges 21, 22 of the shelf 20, since the reinforcing member 60 can flex or stretch to allow the end portions 62 to move away from one another to fit over the respective front and rear edges 21, 22 of the shelf 20. The end portions 62 of the reinforcing member 60 can subsequently spring back towards one another so that the second engagement portions 70 can engage within the recessed channels 32 of the first engagement portions 30.

As shown in Fig. 10, each of the second engagement portions 70 is formed by folded ends 66 of the end portions 62 inwardly, about a fold angle 0 greater than 90° and less than 180°. In this specific example, the fold angle 0 is about 160°. With reference to Figs. 10 and 11, the specific fold angle 0 can be chosen such that:

a) a height HE of the gap between a distal tip-edge 68 of the folded ends 66 and the adjacent non-folded section of the end portion 62 is greater than or equal to a height HL of a locking step 36 of locking portion 34 and less than or equal to a height He of the recessed channel 32; and b) a width WE of the folded end 66 of the end portion 62 is less than or equal to a width WL of the portion of the recessed channel excluding the overhang of the locking step 36 and is less that a width Wc of the recessed channel 32.

Since the folded ends 66 of the second engagement portions 70 are themselves resilient, further flexing and biasing of the reinforcing member 60 is provided, moreover a snapping-action of the ends 66 into the recessed channels 32 can be achieved, as described in more detail below.

The surfaces 65 of the engagement portions 70 comprise sliding, or gliding, surfaces capable of sliding or gliding over an outer surface of the shelf 20, in particular an outer lip 32a of the recessed channel and a sloped surface 35 of the locking step 36 of the locking portion 34 to facilitate mounting of the reinforcing members 60 over the front and rear edges 21, 22 of the shelf 20.

The mounting of a reinforcing member 60 to a shelf 20 will now be described. In operation, a reinforcing member 60 is aligned with a front edge 21 or a rear edge 21 of the shelf 20, such that the reinforcing member 60 is aligned with the recessed channels 32 of the first engagement portion 30 of the shelf 20, which are located at both the top and bottom surfaces 25, 26. The reinforcing member is pushed against the respective front or rear edge 21, 22, such that the sliding or gliding surfaces 65 are in sliding contact with sloped portions 21b, 22b of non-continuous side ribs 21a, 22a. The sliding action of the sliding surfaces 65 on the sloped portions 21b, 22b causes the end portions 62 of the reinforcing member 60 to move further apart as the reinforcing member 60 flexes about its neutral axis AN. Additionally, the folded ends 66 of the end portions 62 may themselves flex elastically so that fold angle 0 becomes temporarily larger. As the sliding surfaces 65 move apart, the reinforcing member 60 moves closer towards the respective front or rear edge 21, 22 of the shelf 20.

The sliding surfaces 65, and in particular, the portions of the sliding surfaces 65 adjacent the distal tip-edges 68 continue to slide over the outer lip 32a of the channel 32 and down along the sloped surfaces 35 of the locking steps 36 of the locking portions 34. As the sliding surfaces 65 move down along the sloped surfaces 35, the reinforcing member 60 is able to elastically flex to begin to return to its original shape. As the distal tip-edges 68 reach the end of the sloped surfaces 35 of the locking steps 36 of the locking portions 34, the end portions 62 suddenly snap inwardly towards one another, under the action of the elastic returning-force of the reinforcing member 60 returning to its original shape.

Since, in a relaxed or returned state of the reinforcing member 60 the height HE of the gap between a distal tip-edge 68 of the folded ends 66 and the adjacent non- folded section of the end portion 62 is greater than or equal to a height HL of a locking step 36 of locking portion 34 and less than or equal to a height He of the recessed channel 32, the distal tip-edge 68 is located within the recessed channel 32, locked below a lower surface 37 of the locking step 36. Therefore, any attempt to pull the reinforcing member 60 in a direction away from the respective edge 21, 22 of the shelf 20 will result in movement of the distal tip-edge 68 further into a locking recess 38 between the lower surface 37 of the locking step 36 and a base surface of the recessed channel 32, preventing separation of the second engagement portion 70 of the reinforcing member 60 from the first engagement portion 30. In some embodiments, there is pressing contact between the non-continuous side-ribs 21a, 22a and the reinforcing members 60, so as to effectively pull the reinforcing member 60 in a direction away from the respective edge 21, 22 of the shelf 20 and result in movement of the distal tip-edge 68 further into the locking recess 38.

Since the reinforcing member comprises two second engagement portions 70 which snap-fit into recessed channels 32 of the first engagement portions 30 which are located on the top and bottom side surfaces 25, 26 of the shelf 20, a secure arrangement is provided, whereby any accidental or deliberate attempt to lever one of the two second engagement portions 70 out of the recessed channel 32 will result in the other of the two second engagement portions 70 moving deeper into its respective recessed channel 32. Thus effectively the shelf 20 is securely clamped in an engaged and locking manner between the second engagement portions 70 of the reinforcing member 60. This ensures also that under heavy applied loads on the reinforced shelf 10, accidental disengagement of the reinforcing member 60 from the shelf 20 can be mitigated or even avoided. Further, the reinforcing member 60 is engaged with the shelf 20 along a majority of the length thereof, providing reinforcement along a majority of the shelf against bending deformation of the shelf 20 under load.

Although in the above-described embodiment the shelf 20 of the reinforced shelf 10 is described as comprising a recessed first engagement portion 30 and the reinforcing member 60 comprises a protruding second engagement portion 70, it is envisaged that the shelf may comprise protruding portions and the reinforcing member may comprise recesses, or both may comprises a combination of protruding and recessed portions as the first and second engagement portions 30, 70.

Figs. 13 and 14 show a compact arrangement for all of the components of the shelving unit 1. As shown in Fig. 13, the shelving unit 1 can be packed very compactly so that its total depth is no greater than the combination of depth of four reinforced shelves 10 and the thickness of the vertical support members 40. The exploded view of Fig. 14 depicts how the bottom side surfaces 26 of the reinforced shelves 10 can be utilized to store other components 80 in recesses between the stiffening ribs 29 and the connecting ribs 28. Such components 80 include feet 42, top rear connectors 44, top front end caps 46 and shelf connectors 48, as also shown assembled in place in Fig 1.

The location of the top and bottom reinforced shelves 10 of the shelving unit 1 of Fig. 1 is fixed, i.e. the top shelf 10 rests on the top rear connectors 44 and top front end caps 46 which fit over a top end of the uppermost vertical support members 40, while the bottom shelf 10 rests on the feet 42, into which bottom ends of the lowermost vertical support members 40 slot. An exploded arrangement of the top rear connectors 44, top front end caps 46, vertical support members 40, and the feet 42 is shown in Fig. 15, and it is clear how the narrower ends of the pieces can be slotted into the wider ends of the adjacent pieces.

An exemplary shelf connector 48 is shown in more detail in Fig. 16. Each shelf connector comprises a wide lower external lip 48a protruding outwards around the lower edge of the shelf connector 48, and two internal protrusions 48c protruding from an inner surface of the shelf connector 48. There are a plurality of wedged ribs 48d spaced from one another around the shelf connector 48 and extending along the external surface of the shelf connector 48 from a top edge of the shelf connector 48 to the lower external lip 48a. The shelf connector 48 further comprises a vertical gap 48b which allows the shelf connector 48 to be expanded or contracted as described below, since the shelf connector 48 is in the form of an incomplete annulus.

The intermediate reinforced shelves 10 of the shelving unit 1 of Fig. 1 may be placed at any fixing position between the top and bottom reinforced shelves 10, using the shelf connectors 48. As shown in Figs. 17A and 17B, Along each of the vertical support members 40 on opposite sides thereof are fixing positions 43, which may contain numbers or other markings as shown to indicate the extent of that fixing position 43 along the vertical member. The fixing positions 43 comprise recessed portions of the vertical members 40, with the surrounding non-recessed portions of the vertical members 40 forming a step 43a.

The shelf connectors 48 slot over and can be translated along the length of the joined vertical support members 40 to reach the desired fixing position 43 for the shelf 10, with the wide lower external lip 48a of the shelf connector 48 oriented downwards. For this purpose, the shelf connector 48 can be expanded by widening the gap 48b, simply by separating the edges of the shelf connector 48 on either side of the gap 48b. Once the shelf connector 48 reaches the desired fixing positions 43 on the opposite sides of the vertical member 40, the two internal protrusions 48c of the shelf connector 48 rest on the steps 43a of the desired fixing positions 43.

Subsequently, as shown in Fig. 18, a reinforced shelf 10 can then be slotted over the vertical support member 40 and further over the shelf connector 48 by passing the vertical support member 40 and the shelf connector 48 through one of the support portions 27 which are in the form of holes passing through the reinforced shelf 10. As the reinforced shelf 10 is slotted over the shelf connector 48, a tight fit is effected between the wedged ribs 48d and the support portions 27, so as to clamp the shelf connector 48 at the fixing positions 43 by reducing the size of the gap 48b to ensure that the two internal protrusions 48c of the shelf connector 48 remain in the recesses of the fixing positions 43. The reinforced shelf 10 rests on the wide lower external lip 48a of the shelf connector 48, which is of a size too large to fit through the support portion 27 of the reinforced shelf 10.

Although the above-described embodiment included movable (height adjustable) intermediate shelves with fixed top and bottom shelves, it is alternatively envisaged that the positions at which all of the shelves are to be placed may be predetermined and fixed, so that the spacing of the location or position of the height of any of the shelves is not adjustable by a user. In this case, the shelf connectors 48 may be fixable at only select locations along the vertical support members 40, or may be formed integrally with the respective support members 40 at select positions located along the support members 40.