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Title:
STEERING DEVICE FOR MACHINES FOR CLEANING SURFACES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/184648
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces, comprising at least a handle connected by means of a central block to a tubular lever linked to the machine by means of a fixed or articulated joint, said device being adapted to drive and steer said machine on a surface and to be raised or lowered unlocking from said machine. In particular, said handle has a multiple grip function and comprises a main peripheral body and a central cross member, wherein said central cross member may be grasped with one hand in a single grip mode, while said main body may be grasped with the hands on both sides in a double grip mode.

Inventors:
ODOLI, Andrea (Via Vigna Vecchia 11, Corteolona, I-27014, IT)
Application Number:
IB2014/000749
Publication Date:
November 20, 2014
Filing Date:
May 09, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GHIBLI S.P.A. (Via Circonvallazione 5, Dorno, I-27020, IT)
International Classes:
A47L11/40
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005032735A2
Foreign References:
EP1529900A1
US6216313B1
US5993109A
EP1529900A1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICCARDI, Sergio (Via Macedonio Melloni 32, Milano, I-20129, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces, comprising at least a handle (100) connected by means of a central block ( 105) to a tubular lever (107) linked to the machine by means of a fixed or articulated joint (1 10), said device being adapted to drive and steer said machine on a surface and to be raised or lowered unlocking from said machine, characterized in that said handle (100) has a multiple grip function and comprises a main peripheral body (103) and a central cross member (109), wherein said central cross member (109) may be grasped with one hand in a single grip mode, while said main body (103) may be grasped with the hands on both sides in a double grip mode.

2. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1, wherein annexed to said central cross member (109), a control lever (108) for blocking and unblocking in every position of said handle and the activation/deactivation of at least a function in each blocked position is connected.

3. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 2, wherein said control lever (108) is operated with the same steering hand of said machine.

4. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 2, wherein said control lever (108) has an ergonomic shape and has the function of releasing the joint (1 10) of the assembly (102) comprising the handle (100) and the tubular lever (107) with respect to the machine.

5. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1, wherein on said main body (103) push buttons (104) are provided, arranged on opposite sides relative to the cross member (109), adapted to be actuated when the main body (103) is grasped with the hands on both sides, said push buttons being adapted to actuate at least one functional operation of the machine.

6. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1, wherein push buttons actuating at least some functions of the machine, are arranged on the central block (105) of the device.

7. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1 , wherein said multiple grip handle (100) is particularly adapted for electrical machines for cleaning surfaces fed by lithium batteries having a low weight.

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 29 September 2014 (29.09.2014)

1. A steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces, comprising at least a handle (100) connected by means of a central block ( 105) to a tubular lever (107) linked to the machine by means of a fixed or articulated joint ( 1 10), said device being adapted to drive and steer said machine on a surface and to be raised or lowered unlocking from said machine, characterized in that said handle (100) has a multiple grip function and comprises a main peripheral body ( 103) and a central cross member ( 109), wherein said central cross member (109) is designed to be grasped with one hand in a single grip mode, while said main body (103) is designed to be grasped with the hands on both sides in a double grip mode.

2. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1 , wherein annexed to said central cross member ( 109), a control lever (108) for blocking and unblocking in every position of said handle and the activation/deactivation of at least a function in each blocked position is connected.

3. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 2, wherein said control lever ( 108) is operated with the same steering hand of said machine.

4. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 2, wherein said control lever ( 108) has an ergonomic shape and has the function of releasing the joint (1 10) of the assembly ( 102) comprising the handle (100) and the tubular lever ( 107) with respect to the machine.

5. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1 , wherein on said main body (103) push buttons ( 104) are provided, arranged on opposite sides relative to the cross member (109), adapted to be actuated when the main body (103) is grasped with the hands on both sides, said push buttons being adapted to actuate at least one functional operation of the machine.

6. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1 , wherein push buttons actuating at least some functions of the machine, are arranged on the central block ( 105) of the device.

7. The steering device for machines for cleaning surfaces according to claim 1 , wherein said multiple grip handle ( 100) is particularly adapted for electrical machines for cleaning surfaces fed by lithium batteries having a low weight.

Description:
"STEERING DEVICE FOR MACHINES FOR CLEANING SURFACES"

Description

The present invention relates to a steering device in particular for the field of machines for cleaning surfaces, such as floor washer-dryers or sweepers machines that, in order to be easily directed through the environments, require a comfortable gripping handle, that allows to push or drag the machines in movement, and that preferably, allows to tilt the gripping device, in order to pass under certain structures, for example tables, or similar. Here and below said gripping device will be defined a handle, said term being in common use and indicative of the shape and mode of use of the device object of the present invention.

In particular, it is described an example of a particularly preferred embodiment of the present invention, namely a handle useful in the field of machines for the cleaning of surfaces.

It is well known that the machines for cleaning surfaces, for example floors, are provided with a handle or a gripping handle in order to move them and steer them on the surface to be cleaned. Normally these machines are used by a single person that advances and retreats along with the machine, and steers it in order to clean the entire area concerned. If on the surface to be cleaned are present objects, such as furniture, it is necessary to tilt said handle, with respect to the standard position of use, (which is illustrated in the attached figures) to facilitate the operations of cleaning and to pass under said furniture, while maintaining at the same time the machine turned on and operational. It may be also necessary to lift partially or completely the machine for cleaning to cross doors, for example, or to climb up or down the stairs, and this makes it necessary to have a good grip on said handle and have convenient controls in order to turn off or turn on the machine or to tilt the handle in the way that is most convenient for the operator .

It is therefore particularly convenient for a user if on said handle it is present, for example, the activation mechanism of the machine or a mechanism that allows said handle to tilt relatively to the body of the machine. And also said machines which, as said, must often be transported from one room to another, must be equipped with handles adapted to drive or drag the machine conveniently, for example on steps, allowing the operator to keep a firm grip. The handle must also be able to support the weight of the machine in case it is raised, and must therefore be structurally durable and comfortable to grip so that it does not slip from the hands of the operator.

An example of a handle or gripping handle in the prior art is, for example, the single hand handle, which is the well-known handle that for example vacuum cleaners and/or floor cleaners for domestic use are equipped with. In the case of a single hand handle or for the so-called "one hand" grip, as evidenced by the term, it is possible to grasp said handle with one hand. The handle is usually always released from the machine during use and is blocked with respect to the machine when it is placed vertically. In more advanced models a lever is usually provided on the handle that is used to turn on or turn off the brush and/or the vacuum, depending on whether it is a floor cleaning machine or an aspiration or similar machine. In any case, it is not possible to use two hands to operate the machine and it appears difficult to lift and move a machine of this type by easily grabbing it with one hand, said machines being usually quite bulky and quite heavy.

Moreover in the prior art larger sized handles are described, such as double-grip handles, namely provided with a grip type adapted to be grasped with both hands, thus for maneuvering a machine with both hands.

These double-grip handles are typical for example of floor cleaning machines for industrial use, or of large machines that are usually useful for cleaning large areas. (In the figures below the details will be discussed). Usually on these double-grip handles, the stem of the handle can be detached from the machine body via a small lever directly placed on the hub or by giving the input on the handle. Said handles may be comfortable for lifting the machine, even though it is common that, due to their rounded shape similar to a circle, they tend to slip out of grip, thus not allowing a particularly firm grip especially since they don't have any holding point. Furthermore, a handle of this type, in case of lifting of the machine is not structurally particularly resistant to stresses, since it has no structural support.

It is to be noted that in the prior art there are many types of machines for finishing surfaces, equipped with various types of handles, for example EP1529900A1 describes a type of handle suitable for industrial machines for finishing surfaces, such as trowels, that are particularly heavy to move, since the must have the weight suitable, for example, for finishing or smoothing a surface; said machines must necessarily be steered with two hands, because of the effort required by the user to move them, and it is described that such machines are equipped with a central bar spacing the two grip handles, suitable to be used by the operator as a support for the body to help push the machine, and that said bar is also stabilizing the structure of the handle as a whole. In any case, it appears evident that such machines have a very different purpose and application area compared to that of the present invention, and that the central bar inserted here has supporting function for the body of the operator while pushing, and also it is impossible that said machines be properly handled and raised with one hand.

For the field useful in the present invention, the machines for cleaning surfaces are specially designed to be operated, as far as possible, with a certain facility, since the use and the structure of the machine have features and functions quite different between them, the constituent elements are hardly comparable, as well as the purpose of application: in particular, during the use of the machine for cleaning surfaces, the steering handle, usually is always locked in position. A release lever allows to adjust the position of the post of the handle with respect to the machine and to the vertical, but in any case said lever does not give the signal to activate the brush. To give the signal to activate or deactivate the brush a different lever or a dedicated button is needed, suitable only give the activation signal to the brush. In this case, the operator is facilitated by the fact of being able to maneuver the machine with two hands, but it is also bound by it: in fact in case the operator would wish to drive the machine with one hand, for example when needing to have a free hand, he would be forced into non-natural and non- ergonomic uncomfortable postures.

The applicant has developed a new type of handle for machines for cleaning of surfaces, called multiple grip, which will be described below in a preferred embodiment according to the present invention. Said multiple grip handle comprises a main body structure adapted to be gripped with two hands, and symmetrical with respect to a central cross member, said cross member being in turn adapted to be gripped with one hand, in order to be used to steer the machine, in alternative to steering with two hands, which are instead placed on the main body of the handle.

Connected to said cross member, in a position suitable to be gripped with the same hand grip, for example in a preferred embodiment below said cross member, an economically shaped lever is placed, particularly comfortable to be engaged for prolonged times which, advantageously, allows the user, to grasp the handle centrally in an easy manner, and to activate the brush simultaneously with the release of the assembly handle/lever, for example to direct the machine to clean under furniture or the like, and maneuvering it with precision and comfort and maintaining a comfortable posture. Also, as mentioned, the multiple grip handle here described can also be grasped with two hands on the symmetrical structure with respect to the cross member, to steer the machine with ease in long and/or straight paths, saving effort to the operator and allowing to have, also in this case, a correct posture.

Said two-handed grip is also equipped with activation elements such as levers, one in correspondence of each hand, to give the consent to the activation of the brush without having to move the hands.

Even more advantageously, the central crosspiece, or central handle for use with a single hand, as mentioned above has at least one lever that performs multiple functions, for example: when pressed partially it unlocks the handle in order to easily adjust the position, and also when it is pressed fully it allows to unlock the handle and activate the brush. By virtue of the present invention, it is thus also possible to adjust the position of the handle and turn the brush on using a single hand and a single lever. It appears obvious that this is absolutely convenient in order to direct the machine under low furniture or objects, such as tables or chairs, with ease of the user, thus allowing him to maintain an ergonomically convenient position, and that both in case it is desired to maneuver the machine with one, or with two hands, allowing in addition, also a considerable time saving.

Moreover, in a particularly advantageous manner, the structure of the multiple grip handle strip for machines for cleaning of surfaces, equipped with a symmetrical structure with respect to the central cross member, is provided with three points of connection between the part intended for contact with the two hands and the body of the handle, compared instead to only two points of connection of a known solution, such as the common handle with two-handed grip. As it is apparent this added link increases the structural rigidity to the advantage of the resistance of the handle, in particular when it is necessary to lift the machine to overcome thresholds and/or climb stairs, a condition in which all the weight of the machine rests precisely on the handle.

These and other advantages of the present invention will be described in more detail below in the description of the figures depicting a preferred embodiment of the present invention, in which:

in fig. la double-grip handle according to the prior art is represented;

in fig. lb a single grip handle according to the prior art is represented;

in fig.2 two views are represented, one frontal and one lateral, of the multiple grip handle according to the present invention;

in fig.3 other views of the handle as a whole according to the present invention are represented connected to the tubular lever that connects to the machine;

in figure 4a, b and c a different embodiment of the handle is represented viewed laterally, frontally and in profile, and

in fig. 5 a further variant of the embodiment of fig.3 with an economically advantageous profile of the handle is represented.

In figure la a common double-grip handle of the type used for example for cleaning large environments and/or for industrial use is represented, in which on the body 3a of the handle l a two activation signal buttons 4a for the cleaning brush are placed and on the central block 5a two command switches 6a for the machine functions are placed. The central block 5 joins the handle la with the tubular lever 7.

The same is similarly true for the single grip handle lb, particularly suitable for cleaning machines for household use, for spaces not having large dimensions for which it is preferred the maneuverability afforded by a single grip to the comfort of the double grip in order to cover large areas. Machines for cleaning floors and surfaces with a single grip steering handle lb are usually small machines and having a low weight, because obviously, in case of having to support the weight of the machine with only one arm, the weight must not be excessive. This type of handle lb is used for example for carpet cleaners, small scrubbing machines, electric brooms etc. As it appears obvious, a professional machine of large dimensions may not be controlled by a single grip handle lb due to the weight and excessive dimensions. The single grip handle l b is usually equipped with a lever button 8b for the activating the brush. When gripping the cylindrical body 3b of the handle lb, in order to activate the brush it is necessary to grasp and press against the cylindrical body 3b of the handle l b also said lever 8. In this way the machine can be steered with one hand keeping the brush turned on. It appears evident that, after a certain lapse of time, it is not convenient for the user to keep his hand close continuously with force against the body 3b of the handle lb, due to fatigue of the grip for the continuous pressure.

Moreover on the central block 5b of said handle 1 b, a switch 6b is provided to adjust the functions of the cleaning machine. In this case, to activate these functions, it is necessary to release the grip on the body 3b of the handle lb, press the switch 6b, and then resume the handling of the body 3b of the handle lb, an operation which implies the interruption of the activities, and which makes necessary the use also of the other hand to hold the tubular lever 7b, or the body 3b of the handle l b, while with the other hand the functions switch 6b is pressed.

It appears particularly evident that both the double-grip handle la and the single handle lb present drawbacks, as previously described.

In the prior art it has been necessary to introduce the double-grip handle due to the considerable weight of the machines for cleaning large surfaces, but nowadays also said machines have evolved, and lighter models are present, for example with lithium batteries that are less heavy (that, having the same performance, weigh about 5kg unlike traditional batteries that weigh about 25 kg), and therefore it would be possible to perform certain operations with these more innovative machines steering them with one hand, for greater maneuverability, and for example, as mentioned, clean under tables and chairs in a more comfortable way, etc..

The problem of combining the convenience of the steering of the single grip handle with the convenience of use for cleaning "back and forth" of large surfaces (a typical characteristic of the double-grip handle) has been solved by the present invention, wherein, said multiple grip handle is functional for machines from fairly light weight and small size compared to common machines on the market that are lighter to maneuver but equally efficient. In particular, in figures 2 and 3 the multiple grip handle according to the present invention is represented, which has a main body 103, which can be of various shapes and here is represented according to a preferred embodiment, and that, in this particular embodiment, is symmetrical with respect to a central cross member 109. Said main body 103 is suitable to be gripped with two hands, and on said main body 103 are two brush activation buttons 104, "double-grip", namely that are also placed symmetrically on the body of the multiple grip handle 100 with respect to the central cross member 109, and that therefore are each operable with one hand when grasping the multiple grip handle 100 in correspondence of the main body 103. The central cross member 109 is connected with the central block 105 of the handle 100, which in turn is connected with the tubular lever 107, which connects the assembly 102 handle 100/tubular lever 107, that allows to operate the machine. Said tubular lever 107 is rotatably connected to the machine body through a joint 1 10, which can be locked in various positions. Depending on the position of the block of the joint 1 10, the tubular lever 107, and therefore the handle 100 will have a different inclination relative to the floor.

Said central cross member 109 can be grasped with one hand, and in a preferred embodiment, under said cross member 109, there is an ergonomic control lever 108, which when pressed outputs the activation signal for the brush, and unlocks the assembly 102 handle 100/tubular lever 107, from a fixed position relative to the machine (as mentioned above through the release of the joint 1 10). To activate the ergonomic control lever 108, it is necessary to press the lever with one hand towards the cross member 109, until it is possible to grasp both the lever 108 and the cross member 109 with the same hand.

In this way, as also for the traditional single grip handle, it is possible to activate the brush and drive the machine with one hand in a comfortable way, but in addition the ergonomic grip of the control lever 108, gives a much greater comfort to the user. And also, said button lever allows to lock and unlock the handle with any possible inclination, and in any position, all to the advantage of considerably less effort exerted by the user to steer the machine for the cleaning of surfaces, which gives the benefit of a great convenience of use.

Furthermore, the steering multiple grip handle 100 is equipped with a central block 105 provided with controls at least for the adjustment of the various functions of the machine (not shown here) for example; on/off, quantity of water supplied, power and speed of rotation of the brushes etc.

In fig. 4a, b, c, another embodiment of the present invention is represented where in this case the handle strip has the central cross member 109 cantilevered with respect to the plane of the central body 103, and the central body 103 is non-symmetric with respect to the central cross member 109.

Also in figure 5 it is represented an economically advantageous further variant, wherein the cantilevered shape of the central body 103 allows an easier grip both in case of grabbing said central body 103, from the top or from the bottom, in addition to being more convenient for supporting the hands without slipping, and when it is necessary to grasp said central body 103 to lower the handle 100 to pass for example under tables etc, and in addition, since the terminal part of the central body lowered with respect to the areas of the cross central member 109, it is not likely to bump the hands against the surface below which said machine for cleaning is used.

The handle 100, according to the present invention, therefore allows to use the machine in a double mode; with the double hand grip for straight paths or anyhow free from obstacles, and with a single hand grip, with release of the joint and activation of the brush at the same time, in such way that the machine can be easily maneuvered to clean under furniture, tables, chairs etc.. The operator can then always work in economically favorable conditions, as he can change the grip depending on the operation to be performed in a convenient and quick way. Moreover, the central grip, which can be defined as having the form of a "T", stiffens the handle, thus increasing the structural strength of the handle itself, with considerable advantage for the wear resistance of the same. Furthermore, the rigid structure thus realized, allows a considerable saving on the thicknesses of the other particulars of the handle: a saving that results in a lower consumption of raw materials, because the structural rigidity is already ensured by the structure of the handle according to the present invention and needs not to be increased by increasing the thickness of the structures. This results, therefore, also in a favorable impact from the environmental point of view, because of the lower consumption and production of plastics in the construction phase of the machines.

The increased strength of the handle also allows, as mentioned, to comfortably lift the machine, maintaining a firm grip on the handle, with either one or with two hands.

Again, by way of example, a handle made according to the present invention allows the use of a machine in an appropriate manner depending on its size. In fact, the modern machines for cleaning, which are characterized by higher performance, but by reduced volume and weight compared to the known art, require the construction of guide elements ad hoc, in order to better manage the operations of movement, steering and simultaneously of cleaning. The versatility of use, which guaranteed by the multiple grip handle according to the present invention is the ideal solution.

Additionally, it is possible to realize a handle 100 according to the present invention wherein said central cross member 109 and said main body 103 are provided with one or more control levers 108 and/or one or more buttons 104, having different functions depending on the needs, or even no button 104 and/or control lever 108. Also, it is possible to realize the present handle with the central cross member 109 connected only to the central block 105, or with the main body 103 open on one or more sides, without departing from the main purpose of the present invention. Lastly, it appears evident that the type of connection between joint 1 10 that connects the assembly 102 and the machine does not influence the present invention: said joint 1 10 can also be free, namely free of constraints locking etc.

It is to be noted that those represented here are just some examples of preferred embodiments of the present invention, any multiple grip handle that is equipped with central cross member and gripping elements and/or levers at least in part symmetrically arranged with respect to said cross member is to be considered as an object of the present invention.