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Title:
FENCING SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/241840
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to an interlocking fence panel comprising a body section having a first end and a second end; said first end comprising a male member comprising an elongate portion extending from said first end to a semispherical portion; said second end comprising a female member comprising a channel portion extending from said second end towards said first end, said channel portion opening into a semispherical cavity; wherein said male member able to slidably engage said female member of an adjacent panel.

Inventors:
MACKINLAY ALISTAIR (AU)
Application Number:
AU2019/050630
Publication Date:
December 26, 2019
Filing Date:
June 19, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
UBERRIMAE PTY LTD (AU)
International Classes:
E04H17/14; E04H17/16
Foreign References:
US2877600A1959-03-17
US20070181865A12007-08-09
DE19609152A11997-09-11
GB2425317A2006-10-25
US3902703A1975-09-02
US9725873B22017-08-08
US6637728B22003-10-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WATERMARK INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PTY LTD (AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
1 . An interlocking fence panel including a body section having a first end and a second end, said first end further including a male member protruding from said first end, and said second end including a female member, wherein said male member is configured to be received by the female member of an adjacent panel.

2. An interlocking fence panel comprising a body section having a first end and a second end; said first end comprising a male member comprising an elongate portion extending from said first end to a semispherical portion; said second end comprising a female member comprising a channel portion extending from said second end towards said first end, said channel portion opening into a semispherical cavity; wherein said male member able to slidably engage said female member of an adjacent panel.

3. A panel as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein said body section includes a series of castellations.

4. A panel as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein said castellations include an internal void able to accommodate a reinforcing member.

5. A fence comprising a plurality of fence panels as claimed in any preceding claim, each said plurality of fence panels slidably interlocked to adjacent panels, further comprising at least one end post, said end post comprising at least one said female member to slidably receive said male member of one of said plurality of fence panels.

Description:
FENCING SYSTEM

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[001] The present invention relates to a fencing system and in particularly a fence using interlocking panels.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

[002] Fences remain commonplace and continue to be an important asset for owners. In most cases, the fence is used as a barrier - either to keep unwanted intruders outside of a property, or to keep young children and pets safe inside a property. Generally, there is also an aesthetic element to a fence, particularly those erected on a residential property.

[003] There are three main types of fences used. Steel fencing such as the Colorbond® steel fence provided by BlueScope Steel, and fibre reinforced cement (FRC) supplied by James Flardie and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fencing supplied by Seven Trust

[004] While steel fencing has enjoyed prolonged success, and FRC fencing is increasingly being adopted, both fence systems have a number of similarities and limitations.

[005] Generally, steel fences are constructed from a series of long panels between 1200 mm and 1800mm of a standard height fixed between support posts to provide the necessary strength and rigidity. The support posts are highly visible and while effort is made to design the post to blend in, they are still visible to the eye and detracting from clean lines.

[006] The steel fence must be erected clear of the ground, and utilises a bottom rail between each support post, which the steel panel sits in. This clearance has the disadvantage of allowing vermin, small pets or other objects to slide under the fence. This need for a clearance and bottom rail is also problematic when installed on sloping surfaces. The support posts are erected perpendicular to level ground, and the bottom rail is then fixed at 90° to each post, or parallel to level ground. This can result in gaps under the fence as the fence effectively steps down the slope. The greater the degree of slope the greater the gap.

[007] Unlike the steel fence, the FRC fence does not require ground clearance, rather it has to buried into the ground. Thus the FRC fence does not have the disadvantage of gaps under the fence, however, slopes still present a problem in terms of high wastage in adjusting for the slope of the contour because of the width of the panels. That is, as the panel has to be stepped in larger sections the loss of material when cut to a slope can be significant.

[008] While the steel fence is coated for corrosion protection the colour is not permanent and recoating/replacement can be required in as little as 5 years. Both the steel fence posts and panels are susceptible to corrosion and rust, particularly in coastal or other rust inducing environments or where the steel comes into contact with damp soil. The FRC fence does not present with a rust problem, however the owner will need to repaint the fence at regular intervals.

[009] Installation of steel, PVC and FRC fences can be slow and labour intensive. Steel fences require each post to be precisely located, and then bottom rails need to be fixed in place before the panels can be added. FRC fences require the digging of a trench before installation of the fence proper can be commenced.

[0010] These fences are simple barrier fences. Their design and engineering was to support the fence weight and account for some external stresses such as children climbing etc. They have not been designed to handle extra external stresses. For example, neither the steel fence or the FRC fence has been designed to retain soil. If a retaining wall is required the owner should be considering a brick and mortar wall and one preferably with a suitable foundation engineered for the purpose.

[0011] These existing fences also present difficulties in locations of high wind, including difficulty with the design process prior to erection to counter high wind loads. Both the steel and FRC fence tend to have a one size fits all approach. To withstand higher winds requires significant revision to the standard design prior to erection, and planning for using either stronger sections of steel or FRC or providing additional bracing. These modifications have to be designed, planned and purchased prior to installation.

[0012] While steel, PVC and FRC fences have performed well to date, there is a need for an improved fencing system which is able to take advantages of both steel and FRC fencing without being encumbered with the all the disadvantages. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] In a broad form, there is provided an interlocking fence panel.

[0014] In a first aspect, there is provided an interlocking fence panel including a body section having a first end and a second end, said first end further including a male member protruding from said first end, and said second end including a female member, wherein said male member is configured to be received by the female member of an adjacent panel.

[0015] In a second aspect there is provided an interlocking fence panel comprising a body section having a first end and a second end; said first end comprising a male member comprising an elongate portion extending from said first end to a semispherical portion; said second end comprising a female member comprising a channel portion extending from said second end towards said first end, said channel portion opening into a semispherical cavity; wherein said male member able to slidably engage said female member of an adjacent panel.

[0016] Preferably the body section includes a series of castellations.

[0017] The, or at least one, castellation may include an internal void running from the top of the panel to the bottom.

[0018] The female member or male member of the panel may be received in a post configured to receive the female or male member.

[0019] In a third aspect there is a provided a fence comprising a plurality of fence panels as described above, each said plurality of fence panels slidably interlocked to adjacent panels, further comprising at least one end post, said end post comprising at least one said female member to slidably receive said male member of one of said plurality of fence panels.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] An illustrative embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures. Further features and advantages of the invention will also become apparent from the accompanying description.

[0021] Figure 1 is a plan view of a fence panel of one embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] Figure 2 is an isometric view of the fence panel of Fig 1 . [0023] Figure 3 exemplifies the interlocking of adjacent panels in accordance with the present invention.

[0024] Figure 4 is a plan view of an end post of one embodiment of the present invention.

[0025] Figure 5 is an isometric view of the end post of Fig 4.

[0026] Figure 6 is a plan view of a corner post of one embodiment of the present invention.

[0027] Figure 7 is an isometric view of the corner post of Fig 6.

[0028] Figure 8 is a plan view of a converter post of one embodiment of the present invention.

[0029] Figure 9 is an isometric view of the converter post of Fig 1 .

[0030] Figures 10a-d show possible dimensions for one embodiment of the present invention.

[0031] Figure 1 1 is a plan view of an intermediate post of a further embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0032] The following description is presented to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and is provided in the context of a particular application and its requirements. Various modifications to the disclosed embodiments will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the general principles defined herein may be applied to other embodiments and applications without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and features disclosed herein.

[0033] The present invention provides a fencing including a series of interlocking panels. Referring to Figs 1 and 2, there is shown one possible embodiment for a fence panel in accordance with the present invention. The panel 1 , includes a male member 2 located at one end of the panel 1 , which is configured to fit into a female member 3 of an adjacent panel (refer Fig 3). It is preferred that the male and female members 2,3 should complement each other for a more secure fit, although in some applications, for example temporary fencing, a less secure fit may be preferred and the void in the female member may be larger, or of a different shape, than that necessary to accommodate the male member. However, in most cases it is expected that both ends will complement each other to provide a secure or snug fit as can be seen in Fig 3, which shows the male member 2 of one panel 1 fitting into the female member 3 of an adjacent panel 6.

[0034] In alternative embodiments the male member may be a simple linear rod shape. Alternatively, the end portion of the male member may take the shape of a square, triangle or other shape. The preferred embodiment, as shown in fig 1 has a mushroom shape arrangement with the end point having a curved surface. It is anticipated that the curved surface will assist the sliding action during erection of the fence.

[0035] The body of the panel 1 is ideally made up of a series of castellations. Preferably the peak 4 of each castellation will fit into the trough 6 of another panel for better storage and transport. The preference is to include castellations on both sides of the fence panel 1 effectively creating a mirror image along the length of the panel. The opposing peaks 4 can have the effect of creating a hollow void 5 between each of the reflected peaks. This arrangement can be seen in Fig 1 and could alternatively be described as being like two castellated segments being joined together such that a crenel of one segment was aligned with a merlon of the other segment. The space between the crenel and merlon creating the void.

[0036] In some cases the panel 1 could be moulded with solid peaks filling the void, however such embodiments will be more costly to manufacture in terms of materials, heavier to lift and would not allow flexibility in the installation of steel RHS reinforcing sections to respond to increased wind loads if required.

[0037] The voids 5 also provides the added advantage of allowing extra strengthening members or bars, such as for example a star picket, to provide greater strength as discussed further below.

[0038] In the preferred embodiments and as shown in the figures, the castellations will be substantially square. However, alternative arrangements may be used providing a different aesthetic. For example, the castellations may be rectangular Further variations could include triangular, circular, or polygonal castellations, or alternatively a wave shape or corrugations could be employed with the peaks of mirror image crests forming the voids. [0039] A series of panels can be interlocked together to create the required length of fence. If necessary, the last panel could then be trimmed to the desired length to allow connection to an end post. The connection could be facilitated by a female to male converter (or male to female converter depending on the implementation), so that when fixed to the female to male converter the male portion of the converter fixes to an end post (refer Fig 4 and 5). The end post includes a further female member 8 to receive the male member 2. The female members 3 and 8 may be identical in shape and configuration. The U-shaped end post as shown in Figs 4 and 5, is also capable of receiving the female end of the panel 1 . In this way the end post 7 could be used at both ends of the fence.

[0040] Alternatively, two end posts could be utilised, with both respective ends being configured specifically to receive either the female or male end of the panel. This is a feasible option, however, it would also require separate moulds and for installers to carry stock of both end posts. Thus it is considered that a dual end post is more practical.

[0041] For a corner, two end posts could be used abutted against each other. However, it is preferred that a corner post as shown in Fig 6 and 7 be used. As can be seen the corner post 10 includes two female members 9 to receive male members 2 from respective panels 1 . Again the female members 9 may be configured the same as female member 3. The configuration of the corner post is considered to provide greater stability to the fence, and also only requiring a single post to be installed leading to time efficiencies.

[0042] The two way posts could be further configured to make a three or four way connection if required by adding one of two one way posts to the blank sides of the two way post

[0043] In use it is expected that the installer will first install the end and/or corner posts. These form both an anchor and initial support for the fence. Panels will then be slid into place starting at one end or corner post, and then progressively adding panels to reach the opposite end or corner post. Alternatively, one end post could first be installed, then each of the panels could be added progressively until the end of the fence, before installing the end post installed. This method would avoid needing to perfectly measure the location of both posts, although where precise boundaries are to be adhered to it may be more appropriate to first install both end posts.

[0044] It will be appreciated that a plurality of the panels may not always exactly match the length of fence required. In these circumstances it is expected that the final panel installed will be cut to fit. As a result, it is a possibility that the panel will not engage sufficiently with the end post to provide a secure attachment. To address this the female to male converter of Fig 8 can be used. The cut of portion of panel would be inserted into the female portion of Fig 8. The walls of the female section are extended to ensure there is length to engage and be fixed to the cut off portion of the panel. The male portion of the converter can then engage the post.

[0045] For particularly long spans, or during high winds, a picket or similar instrument may be inserted down one or more voids and then driven into the ground, as panels are added. Alternatively, or in combination with, once the span of panels have been put in place RFIS sections (rectangular hollow structural section) may be used at intervals to ensure the fence will remain in situ. It will be understood that in high wind areas, or when the fence will be under stress a greater number of pickets and/or RFIS sections may be used.

[0046] An advantage of the voids of the present invention is the ability to insert steel RFIS sections within the castellation to provide extra strength and rigidity if required. An advantage of the RFIS sections is that they can be part or full height of the fence. Their placement in the castellation also provides some protection from the weather - particularly if a top channel is used to cap the fence.

[0047] The RFIS sections can also be inserted after erection of the fence in increasing frequency to respond to either increased wind loads or to allow the fence to act as a retaining wall and can be attached to the castellation by screw fixing for yet more strength.

[0048] The use of pickets in the voids can significantly strengthen the fence such that the fence could be used to hold back some soil. The use of RFIS sections also means that regular support posts are not required to be installed at regular intervals along the fence span. From an exterior perspective the fence therefore has the appearance of only having two end posts with a single span therebetween, thus providing aesthetically pleasing clean lines absent of posts. [0049] As can be seen in Figs 5 and 7, the end posts, corner posts, and also male to female converter includes internal voids. The use of voids is particularly to reduce the cost of materials required in the constructions of the posts. However, they also provide the additional option of again using a picket to strengthen the post.

[0050] The inclusion of voids in the panels and posts also enables the fence to be strengthened at any time after the original installation with relative ease. For example, at installation the fence may have been in a protected location. If after installation the removal of various objects or buildings means the fence is no longer in a protected location but rather open to strong winds, it is a relatively simply process to add pickets in a number of the voids to provide the additional strength required. Strengthening conventional fences is not so straight forward.

[0051] The panels may be made from various forms of plastic suitable for pultrusion or extrusion including but not limited to FRP, WPC and PVC, and aluminium They could also be printed by a 3d printer. Posts may be made of extruded or pultruded aluminium alloy, FRP or Steel.

[0052] It will be appreciated that the relative sizes of the panels and posts may vary depending on the implementation. However, for a residential fence it is expected that the dimensions as shown in Figs 10a-d for a panel of 1800mm to 2000mm height and 200 mm length will be appropriate. The panel length may in particular be increased if preferred, however, it is felt that a 200 mm span will ease installation of the panels and allow the greatest flexibility in production

[0053] The fence panels of the present invention provides a number of advantages over alternative fencing options, and in particular steel, PVC and FRC fences. A key distinction is that the individual panels interlock with each other. This assists with ease of installation and helps with rigidity. By using interlocking panels there is no need for an installer to fix each panel together providing a significant time saving. Further, due to the installation method as a result of the interlocking members the fence is largely self levelling.

[0054] The present invention also does not require the careful and painstaking requirement to accurately measure and install a post every 1800 mm, or to add bottom rails between each post before panels can be installed. Similarly, there is no need to dig a trench the length of the fence again saving significant time. However, it will be appreciated that if the fence is to be used in a high wind load environment or used as a retaining wall partly burying the fence in soil or concrete is an available option.

[0055] A further alternative in areas of very high wind intensity is to include an intermediate post as shown in Fig 1 1 . The design of the intermediate post is such that once installed the presence of the intermediate post is not immediately obvious. In most applications, the intermediate post will not be required. RHS posts as noted above can provide any extra strengthening that may be required. Nevertheless, for areas above normal wind intensity the intermediate post is an option.

[0056] With conventional fences whether the fence is buried in the ground or raised above is determined by the style of fence selected. The present invention now provides the fence owner with a choice. The easiest option is to have the fence flush or at least substantially flush to the ground. However, if preferred the fence could be installed in ground or raised above the ground by using a top rail section as a bottom rail.

[0057] With the panels and post being constructed from plastic they are not susceptible to rust. However, additionally there is no need for the panels or posts to be repainted at regular intervals resulting in less maintenance over the life of the fence.

[0058] The present invention has an advantage where the fence is likely to be under stress. The ability to add pickets to strengthen the fence make it particularly attractive for areas of strong wind, or if some soil is to be retained. This ability to strengthen the fence can be done simply either prospectively or retrospectively as the need arises. The castellations are readily available to receive the pickets or RHS sections allowing the fence to be strengthened without altering the appearance of the fence.

[0059] In addition the interlocking panels are particularly advantageous for negating or limiting the need for many fixings, allowing easy adjustment over contours of the land, relatively easy to transport to site, and can be erected by a single person. [0060] The present invention relates primarily to a fencing system, however, it could also be adapted for other uses. For example, panels could be used to form the supporting walls of a garden shed.

[0061] Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment” or“an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearance of the phrases“in one embodiment” or “in an embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment.

[0062] Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more combinations. It will be appreciated that persons skilled in the art could implement the present invention in different ways to the one described above, and variations may be produced without departing from its spirit and scope.

[0063] Any discussion of documents, devices, acts or knowledge in this specification is included to explain the context of the invention. It should not be taken as an admission that any of the material forms part of the prior art base or the common general knowledge in the relevant art, in any country, on or before the filing date of the patent application to which the present specification pertains.