Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
LIVESTOCK EQUIPMENT FLOOR PANEL WITH RIMMED APERTURES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/077199
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A floor panel for livestock equipment features a sheet having a topside for traversal of animals thereover, and an underside lying in opposed relation to said underside. The sheet has a plurality of rimmed apertures penetrating the thickness thereof so that each aperture opens through both the topside and underside of the sheet. The apertures are distributed in spaced apart fashion from one another over a surface area of said sheet, and are each surrounded by a respective non-planar rim of raised elevation relative to a surrounding planar region of the sheet's topside. The rimmed apertures enable drainage through the floor panel while providing foot traction for the animals during traversal thereof over the floor panel.

Inventors:
FIRTH PHILIP MALCOLM (CA)
LANGRELL STEPHEN ARTHUR (CA)
Application Number:
PCT/CA2019/051508
Publication Date:
April 29, 2021
Filing Date:
October 24, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
NORTHQUIP INC (CA)
International Classes:
A01K1/015; B21B31/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADE & COMPANY INC. (CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A floor panel for livestock equipment, said floor panel comprising a sheet having a topside for traversal of animals thereover in an installed position of said floor panel and an underside lying in opposed relation to said topside, wherein said sheet comprises a plurality of rimmed apertures penetrating a thickness of the sheet so that each rimmed aperture opens through both the topside and underside thereof, said rimmed apertures being distributed in spaced apart fashion from one another over a surface area of said sheet, and each rimmed aperture being surrounded at the topside of the sheet by a respective non-planar rim, a top surface of which resides in raised elevation relative to a surrounding planar region of the topside of the sheet, whereby the rimmed apertures enable drainage through the floor panel while providing foot traction for the animals during traversal thereof over the floor panel.

2. The floor panel of claim 1 wherein a bottom surface of each respective non-planar rim resides in elevated relation to a surrounding planar region of the underside of the sheet.

3. The floor panel of any preceding claim wherein the sheet has a length dimension that exceeds a width dimension measured perpendicularly thereof, the sheet further comprises a raised rib that spans along the length dimension and resides in upwardly protruding relation from a reference plane occupied by the planar regions of the topside of the sheet, and the apertures include first and second sets of said apertures situated on opposing sides of said rib in the width dimension of the sheet.

4. The floor panel of claim 3 wherein said raised rib is free of any apertures therein.

5. The floor panel of claim 3 or 4 wherein the sheet comprises downturned flanges at lengthwise side edges thereof that lie opposite one another in the width dimension of the sheet.

6. The floor panel of claim 1 or 2 wherein the sheet comprises a pair downturned flanges situated at, and spanning along, opposite sides of said sheet.

7. The floor panel of claim 5 or 6 wherein the downturned flanges each span a less than full length of the sheet.

8. The floor panel of any one of claims 3 to 5 in combination with a floor assembly frame of said livestock equipment, said floor assembly frame comprising longitudinal frame members spanning a longitudinal direction and spaced apart from one another in a lateral direction transverse thereto, wherein the floor panel spans lengthwise between said longitudinal frame members.

9. The floor panel of clam 6 or 7 in combination with a floor assembly frame of said livestock equipment, said floor assembly frame comprising longitudinal frame members spanning a longitudinal direction and spaced apart from one another in a lateral direction transverse thereto, wherein the downturned flanges lie transversely of said longitudinal frame members.

10. The floor panel of any one of claims 1 to 9 wherein the sheet comprises mounting portions residing in coplanar relation to the planar regions of the topside of the sheet, and configured for fastening of the floor panel to the livestock equipment at said mounting portions. 11. The floor panel of any one of claims 3 to 5 wherein the sheet comprises mounting portions that reside in coplanar relation to the planar regions of the topside of the sheet, are situated at lengthwise-opposing ends of the sheet, and are configured for fastening of the floor panel to the livestock equipment at said mounting portions. 12. The floor panel of claim 8 or 9 wherein the sheet comprises mounting portions that reside in coplanar relation to the planar regions of the topside of the sheet and rest atop the longitudinal frame members of the floor assembly frame.

13. A method of producing the floor panel of any preceding claim comprising, obtaining a sheet of material having first and second opposing faces intended to respectively form the resulting topside and underside of the floor panel, and forming each non-planar rim by forced application of a male forming tool against the second face of the sheet of material to bulge said non-planar rim outwardly at the opposing first face of said sheet.

Description:
LIVESTOCK EQUIPMENT FLOOR PANEL WITH RIMMED APERTURES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to livestock handling equipment, and more specifically to floor assemblies for same. BACKGROUND

In the field of livestock handling equipment, it is common to employ diamond plate as the animal traversed floor surface of a squeeze chute, whereby the embossed pattern of diamond-shaped protrusions on the topside of the plate provide foot traction for the animals traversing through the chute. It is also known to weld a set of bars to the floor assembly in positions spanning across the floor at spaced intervals therealong to provide additional foot traction.

Applicant’s prior published PCT Application WO2018/129606 disclosed a novel floor assembly employing removable rubber mats placed atop a series of support trays to provide improved footing and comfort, and allowing thorough cleanout. In construction of livestock stalls for pig farming, it is known to use perforated grates as flooring elements, as illustrated by GB2039978, in which a perforated metal sheet is coated with plastic, and DE2526322, in which metal grates are provided with apertures and stiffening ribs.

However, there remains room for improvements and alternative options for use in floor assemblies of squeeze chutes and other livestock handling equipment. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention there is provided a floor panel for livestock equipment, said floor panel comprising a sheet having a topside for traversal of animals thereover in an installed position of said floor panel and an underside lying in opposed relation to said topside, wherein said sheet comprises a plurality of rimmed apertures penetrating a thickness of the sheet so that each rimmed aperture opens through both the topside and underside thereof, said apertures being distributed in spaced apart fashion from one another over a surface area of said sheet, and each rimmed aperture being surrounded at the topside of the sheet by a respective non-planar rim, a top surface of which resides in raised elevation relative to a surrounding planar region of the topside of the sheet, whereby the rimmed apertures enable drainage through the floor panel while providing foot traction for the animals during traversal thereof over the floor panel.

Preferably a bottom surface of each respective non-planar rim resides in elevated relation to a surrounding planar region of the underside of the sheet.

Preferably the sheet has a length dimension that exceeds a width dimension measured perpendicularly thereof, the sheet further comprises a raised rib that spans along the length dimension and resides in upwardly protruding relation from a reference plane occupied by the planar regions of the topside of the sheet, and the apertures include first and second sets of said apertures situated on opposing sides of said rib in the width dimension of the sheet.

Preferably said raised rib is free of any apertures therein.

Preferably the sheet comprises a pair downturned flanges situated at, and spanning along, opposite sides of said sheet.

Preferably the downturned flanges are at lengthwise side edges of the sheet that lie opposite one another in the width dimension thereof.

Preferably the downturned flanges each span a less than full length of the sheet.

When installed in a floor assembly frame comprising longitudinal frame members spanning a longitudinal direction and spaced apart from one another in a lateral direction transverse thereto, the floor panel preferably spans lengthwise between said longitudinal frame members, and the optional downturned flanges preferably lie transversely of said longitudinal frame members.

The sheet preferably comprises mounting portions residing in coplanar relation to the planar regions of the topside of the sheet, and configured for fastening of the floor panel to the livestock equipment at said mounting portions.

The mounting portions are preferably are situated at lengthwise-opposing ends of the sheet.

When installed in the floor assembly, the mounting portions preferably rest atop the longitudinal frame members of the floor assembly frame.

According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of producing the forgoing floor panel, said method comprising obtaining a sheet of material having first and second opposing faces intended to respectively form the resulting topside and underside of the floor panel, and forming each non-planar rim by forced application of a male forming tool against the second face of the sheet of material to bulge said non-planar rim outwardly at the opposing first face of said sheet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

One embodiment of the invention will now be described in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is an assembled overhead perspective view of a squeeze chute floor assembly employing novel floor panels of the present invention.

Figure 2 is an isolated perspective view of one of the floor panels of Figure

1.

Figure 3 is a partial closeup view of the floor panel of Figure 2. Figure 4 is an overhead plan view of the floor panel of Figure 2. Figure 5 is an end elevational view of the floor panel of Figure 4.

Figure 6 is an elevational cross-section of the floor panel of Figure 4, as viewed along line A - A thereof.

In the drawings like characters of reference indicate corresponding parts in the different figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Figure 1 shows a fully assembled floor assembly 10 for a livestock squeeze chute. The floor assembly features two longitudinal frame members 12 running horizontally parallel to one another in a longitudinal direction of the squeeze chute from an entrance end 14 at which the livestock enter the chute to an opposing exit end 16. At the exit end 16, the squeeze chute will typically feature an openable/closable head gate for temporarily holding the head of the animal prior to exit thereof from the chute. A first cross-member 18 spans perpendicularly between the longitudinal frame members 12 at the entrance end 14, and a second cross-member 20 likewise spans perpendicularly between the longitudinal frame members 12 at the exit end 16. Collectively, the longitudinal frame members and cross-members form a rectangular base frame or chassis of the squeeze chute, the remainder of which is omitted for ease of illustration, and may be of conventional construction. As illustrated, the longitudinal frame members 12 and cross-members 18, 20 may be formed by respective lengths of rectangular metal tubing, though use of other constructions are also within the scope of the present invention.

The floor assembly further includes of a series of floor panels 22a - 22i attached to the longitudinal frame members 12 in the longitudinal space delimited between the two cross members 18, 20. Of these floor panels, a first end panel 22a at one end of the series resides adjacent the first cross-member 18 at the entrance end 14 of the floor assembly, and a second end panel 22i resides at the opposing end of the series adjacent the second cross-member 20 at the exit end 16 of the floor assembly. A set of intermediate panels 22b-22h reside between the two end panels. The illustrated embodiment features a total nine panels in the overall series, but it will be appreciated that this number may vary. In the illustrated embodiment, the floor panels are or identical or nearly identical to one another in construction, and are evenly distributed in the longitudinal direction of the floor assembly. While the illustrated embodiment is described in relation to a squeeze chute, it will be appreciated a floor assembly featuring the inventive floor panels of the present invention may be used in the context of other various types of livestock handling equipment.

Figures 2 to 6 illustrate a representative one of the floor panels 22 composed of common features that are also embodied by all of the other floor panels, of which in the illustrated example, only the first end panel 22a differs from any of the other panels, specifically by having a pair of additional mounting flanges at opposing ends thereof to cooperate in the mounting of other chute components to the longitudinal frame members. It will be appreciated that in other embodiments, all of the floor panels may be identical, or there may a larger variety of floor panels that differ somewhat from one another, while retaining common inventive features among them.

The floor panel 22 features a main rectangular span 26 whose topside denotes a flooring area over which animals traverse during their passage through the chute. The main rectangular span 26 has a length dimension L that is measured between two opposing ends 28a, 28b thereof, and exceeds a width dimension W of the main span measured perpendicularly of the length dimension between opposing lengthwise side edges 30a, 30bthereof. In the installed position of the floor panel 22, the length dimension of the floor panel lies parallel to the transverse direction of the floor assembly, while the shorter width dimension W of the floor panel 22 lies in the longitudinal direction of the overall floor assembly 10. However, the sizing and relative width and length of each floor panel 22 may vary from those of illustrated embodiment.

The length dimension L of the floor panel’s main span 26 exceeds an inner lateral dimension of the of the floor assembly measured transversely across an inner frame space thereof delimited between the inner sides of the two longitudinal frame members 12. The length dimension L of the floor panel, however, does not exceed an outer lateral dimension of the floor assembly measured transversely between the outer sides of the two longitudinal frame members. Accordingly, the two opposing ends of the floor panel’s main span 26 rest atop the longitudinal frame members 12 when the floor panel is placed and fastened in an installed position spanning therebetween. Near each opposing end, the main span 26 features a set of mounting holes 32 therein by which the floor panel is fastenable to the topside of the respective longitudinal frame member, for example by rivets or other fasteners, to secure the floor panel in its installed position.

In one preferred embodiment featuring removable installation of the floor panels, each longitudinal frame member includes a set of mounting apertures in the topside 12a thereof at spaced locations along the longitudinal direction of the flooring assembly, and each of these mounting apertures 36 aligns with a respective one of the mounting holes 32 in the floor panels. Each floor panel is fastened to the longitudinal frame members 12 by rivets 38 that are fastened through the aligned mounting holes and apertures at the ends of the floor panel. The riveted installation of the floor panels is preferable over welded attachment, as it provides semi-permanent yet removal attachment of the floor panels to the frame. In the event that the floor panels become rusted or otherwise damaged, the rivets can be removed, for example by shearing off the heads of the rivets and punching or drilling out the pins of the rivets, and new floor panels then installed by riveting in a replacement set of panels. No specialized welding skills or equipment are required.

At the opposing lengthwise side edges 30a, 30b of the main span 26, the panel 22 of the illustrated embodiment features a pair of respective downturned flanges 34 that hang perpendicularly downward from the main span 26 over a near entirety of the length dimension L thereof. Each downturned flange 34 stops slightly short of the two opposing ends 28a, 28b of the main span 26, whereby the two downturned flanges 34 spans less than the full inner lateral dimension of the floor assembly, and thus fit between the two longitudinal frame members 12 in the floor panel’s installed position. The main span 26 and downturned flanges 34 are seamlessly integral parts of a singular unitary sheet of metal, bent at ninety degrees at the opposing lengthwise edges 30a, 30b of the rectangular main span 26 to create the perpendicularly downturned flanges 34. The downturned flanges 34 serve multiple purposes. The hanging position of the flanges 34 between the longitudinal frame member 12 of the floor assembly block the floor panel from shifting in the transverse direction of the floor assembly should the fastened mounting of the floor panel fail. Additionally, they impart rigidity and strength to the floor panel, eliminating the need for separate underlying cross members in the floor assembly to prevent deflection of the planks under the weight of traversing animals.

The main span 26 of the panel 22 features a plurality of apertures 36 opening therethrough in an arrayed pattern distributed over the surface area thereof. Each aperture penetrates through the full thickness of the main span 26 from the topside thereof over which animals traverse, to the opposing underside thereof that faces downwardly toward the underlying ground surface atop which the floor assembly 10 resides. Each aperture 36 is surrounded by a respective non-planar rim 38 spanning a full 360-degrees around the aperture 36. The rims 38 all bulge upwardly from surrounding planar regions 39 of the panel’s topside, over which the rimmed apertures are uniformly arrayed to protrude upwardly from a shared reference plane occupied by all of the planar regions. In the illustrated example, with the exception of the rims 38 and one or more ribs (described in more detail below), an entire remainder of the panel’s topside consists of said planar regions and thus resides entirely in said shared reference plane. Accordingly, the end-adjacent areas of the panel’s main span through which the mounting holes 32 penetrate define integral mounting portions of the panel residing in coplanar relation to the planar regions 39 of the panel’s topside.

The combination of a penetrating aperture 36 and surrounding non-planar rim 38 of elevated relation to the surrounding planar regions of the floor panel 22 is believed to provide greater tractional benefit to the animals traversing the chute, compared to the more conventional aperture-free embossments of diamond plate, as both the raised outer perimeter of the non-planar rim 38 and the boundary of the aperture 36 delimited at the inner perimeter of the non-planar rim 38 create frictional edges for the animal’s footing to achieve traction relative to the smooth surface of the surrounding planar regions 39, whereas the embossments of diamond plating provide frictional edges only at the outer perimeter thereof. At the same time, the apertures penetrating through the floor panel enable passage of moisture and muck downwardly therethrough. For example, rainwater collecting on the panel to depths exceeding the rim elevation will drain through the apertures, and accumulated muck that may form over the rim-bounded aperture is forced down through the aperture under weight of an animal stepping thereover, whereupon the animal achieves more direct footing on the panel thereby reducing the slip hazard presented by such accumulated muck. To also allow drainage of liquid and muck from the floor assembly during use and/or cleaning, the floor panels 22a - 22i are installed at spaced apart positions in the longitudinal direction of the frame to leave open gap spaces G between the adjacent floor panels as best shown in Figure 7. In the illustrated example, the topside of the main span 26 features a raised rib 40 that also resides in upwardly protruding relation to the planar regions 39 of the panel, and reaches a greater elevation than that reached by the non-planar rims 38 of the apertures. The rib 40 spans lengthwise of the floor panel, preferably over the full length thereof from one end 28a, 28b of the panel to the other. The rib 40 lacks any of the rimmed apertures thereon, and divides the rimmed apertures 36 into distinct sets of apertures on opposite sides of the rib 40. The illustrated embodiment features only a singular, generally central rib 40 and two sets of rimmed apertures disposed on respective halves of the panel, but it will be appreciated that the number of ribs and aperture sets may be increased. The ribs of the floor panels serve to create additional tractional elements lying cross-wise to the longitudinal travel direction of the chute, thereby supplementing the rimmed apertures, but without the installation of separate bars of the type referenced in the background above.

In the non-limiting example shown in the drawings, each aperture set features three rows of rimmed apertures 36, each row running lengthwise of the floor panel. Each row has equal inter-aperture spacing to the other rows, but with the middle row offset relative to the two other rows by half of this inter-aperture distance such that each aperture in the middle row is situated half way between two adjacent apertures in each of the other two rows. However, the particular pattern in which the rimmed apertures are arrayed may be varied. The rib 40 of the illustrated embodiment is triangular in cross-section, thus corning to a peak or apex 40a at its uppermost elevation, through other shapes may be employed, for example including semi-circular or other arcuately curved shapes, or rectangular shapes, square or otherwise. Preferably, as reflected by the illustrated embodiment, the rib and is an integrally formed component of the same metal sheet that forms the rest of the floor panel, having been formed therein with suitable bending equipment. Likewise, in the illustrated embodiment, the non-planar rims 38 of raised elevation at the topside of the floor panel are integrally formed components of the same singular metal sheet forming the main span 26, downturned flanges 34 and lengthwise rib 40. This is best shown in the cross-sectional view of Figure 6, where it can be seen that the bottom surface of each non-planar rim 38 angles upwardly in elevated relation from surrounding planar regions of the panel’s underside, just as the top surface of each non-planar rim angles upwardly in elevated relation from the surrounding planar regions of the panel’s topside. The rimmed apertures of this type may be formed, in one example, by pre-drilling each aperture into the sheet, and then forcing a male dimple die into the sheet from the underside thereof to bulge the annular area around the pre-drilled aperture outwardly at the opposing topside of the sheet. Alternatively, the aperture and respective rim may be simultaneously formed in a single operation using a punch and flare tool whose male flare die is likewise pressed into the sheet from the underside thereof to create the bulged rim at the topside of the sheet, while the aperture is simultaneously punched through the sheet.

It will be appreciated that the terms “topside” and “underside” are used in relation to the installed position of the finished floor panel in the final floor assembly, and not to a particular orientation in which the metal sheet resides during the actual manufacturing process. Accordingly, if a first face of the metal sheet refers to the side thereof that forms the topside of the installed floor panel, and an opposing second face thus forms the opposing underside of the installed floor panel, then the male tools are forced into shape-forming engagement with the second face of the metal sheet to bulge the sheet outwardly at the opposing first face thereof, thereby creating the non-planar rim 38 at the topside of the floor panel. The elevation of the aperture-surrounding rims 38 from the planar regions of the floor panel preferably doesn’t exceed a maximum if 8mm, and for example may be in the range of 2-7mm, more preferably between 4-6mm, and optimally 5-6mm, to prevent risk of potential injury to the animals if protruded to greater heights. In addition to the tractional benefits mentioned above, the formation of the bulged rims in the sheet may also imparts extra rigidity thereto to improve the durability of the floor panel.

While the illustrated embodiment reflects an embodiment produced by forced application of male dimple or flare tools from the underside of a metal sheet to create the bulged aperture rim at the opposing topside, floor panels of similar physical structure produced by different manufacturing methods using different materials are also within the scope of the present invention. In the bent metal sheet embodiments, a variety of different metals may be used, including stainless steel embodiments for corrosion resistance, or use of other metals optionally coated with an anti-corrosive finish to achieve such corrosion resistance. While the illustrated embodiment is shown in the context of a squeeze chute floor assembly, the same floor planks may be used in a variety of livestock equipment to form an animal traversable floor surface thereof. One such example of an alternative application is livestock loading ramps.

Since various modifications can be made in my invention as herein above described, and many apparently widely different embodiments of same made, it is intended that all matter contained in the accompanying specification shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not in a limiting sense.