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Modular refrigerated merchandise display system

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20130002099 patent thumbnailZoom

Modular refrigerated merchandise display system


A merchandise display system including one or more display units. The merchandise display system may include a base unit having a refrigeration unit that cools one or more display units. The refrigeration unit may be removable from the base unit. The one or more display units may attach to another display unit or a base unit. The display units may be stackable on top of one another or may abut the back side of another display unit. The display units may also be configured to attach to the base unit. The one or more display units may include a plurality of shelves and one or more doors, which allow access to display units.
Related Terms: Doors Refrigerated Merchandise Display Refrigeration Unit

Inventors: Emad Jafa, Antonio Jose Fernandes Ribeiro, José Roberto Montero, Jose Miguel Gutierrez, José Merced Alvarado González, Daniel Fredievich Yrigoyen Tokareva, Orlando José Guevara Hernández, Moisés Lavoignet Garcia, Julio Héctor Valenzuela Hernández
USPTO Applicaton #: #20130002099 - Class: 312109 (USPTO) - 01/03/13 - Class 312 


Inventors:

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130002099, Modular refrigerated merchandise display system.

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FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to a modular refrigerated display system for storing and dispensing merchandise.

BACKGROUND

Commercial refrigerators have had the same design and construction for many years.

Commercial refrigerators are typically large heavy boxes that have failed to keep up with design trends and consumer expectations. Because of the large size, commercial refrigerators are often under-utilized and only partially filled. The walls of commercial refrigerators are generally formed from two thin steel plates with insulating polyurethane foam injected between them. This construction makes the commercial refrigerators heavy, time-consuming to build, and difficult to recycle. Additionally, many of the commercial refrigerators have negative impacts to the environment because of the type of refrigerant and compressor used.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

An object of this invention described herein is to provide a light weight modular refrigerated merchandise display system that may be customized depending on the amount of space required. Another object of the invention is to provide visual access of the merchandise within the display system to a customer from one or more angles. Another object of the invention is to provide an easily accessible and replaceable refrigeration unit.

In one aspect of the invention, a merchandise display system includes one or more display units. The one or more display units may include at least one shelf and at least one door for accessing the display unit. The merchandise display system may include a base unit. The base unit may be removable from the merchandise display system. The base unit may also include a cooling system configured to cool the one or more display units and a sensor system configured to sense environmental parameters within the one or more display units. The one or more display units may be attached to the top of the base unit. In at least one embodiment, the merchandise display system includes a plurality of display units attached one on top of each other with the lowermost display unit attached to the top of a base unit.

In another aspect of the invention, a merchandise display system includes one or more display units. In at least one embodiment of the invention, the merchandise display system includes a plurality of display units positioned back to back. In this embodiment, each of the display units includes a plurality of top doors and a plurality of bottom doors. Each display unit may further include a plurality of shelves. The plurality of shelves may be movable within the merchandise display system. Each of the display units may also include a refrigeration unit, which may be removable from the display unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a merchandise display system in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2a is a perspective view of a base unit and a display unit in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2b is a perspective view of a base unit;

FIG. 3 is an alternative embodiment of the merchandise display system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the merchandise display system in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective front view of the merchandise display system of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6a is an exploded perspective view of the shelving system in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6b is a perspective view of the shelving system of FIG. 6a; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective partial side view of the merchandise display system of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, the merchandise display system according to one embodiment of the present invention is indicated generally at 10. The merchandise display system 10 may be of a modular construction and include a plurality of display units 100 and a base unit 200. The display units 100 and base unit 200 may be made of any suitable material, such as plastic or metal. In one embodiment, the display units 100 are hollow structures filled with a foam-based insulation material, which may reduce the weight of the merchandise display system 10. In one embodiment, the base unit 200 is also a hollow structure filled with a foam-based insulation material, which may reduce the weight of the merchandise display system 10.

The display units 100 and base unit 200 may be any suitable size or shape. In one example, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the display units 100 and base unit 200 are generally cube shaped. Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the display units 100 and base unit 200 may be generally trapezoidal. Any suitable shape is contemplated within the scope of this invention, such as a rectangle, circular, or oval shape. The display units 100 and base unit may be the same shape or different shapes.

Referring back to FIG. 1, each of the plurality of display units 100 includes a top wall 120, two side walls 140, a bottom wall 130, a door 150, and a back wall 160. The door 150 may be made of any suitable material, such as glass or plastic. In at least one embodiment, the door 150 is transparent to allow visual access to the product stored and displayed within the display unit 100. The door 150 may open in any suitable manner. For example, in at least one embodiment, one side of the door 150 is hingedly attached to the display unit 100 and the door 150 swings open to allow access to the display unit 100. In at least one embodiment, the door 150 includes a handle for opening the door 150.

Each of the display units 100 may include one or more shelves 170. The shelves 170 may be movable within the display units 100 to accommodate different types or heights of products. Any number of shelves 170 is contemplated within the scope of this invention. The number of shelves 170 may be dependent on the size of the merchandise displayed in the display unit 100, may be dependent on the size of the display unit 100, or a combination of both.

Each display unit 100 may have a lighting system controlled by an electrical module in the base unit 200. In at least one embodiment, the lighting system includes eight light emitting diodes (“LEDs”) 180 installed on the inner surface of each of side walls 140 of the display units 100, as illustrated in FIG. 1. The lighting system may also include exterior lights to attract customers to the merchandise display system 10.

Referring to FIGS. 2a and 2b, the base unit 200 has a top wall 220, a bottom wall 230, two side walls 240, a back wall 260 and a front wall 250. In at least one embodiment, the front wall 250 may be a door. The door may open in any suitable manner. For example, the door may be hinged on one side and swing open to allow access into the base unit 200. In another embodiment, the front wall 250 may be a front portion of a drawer housed within the base unit 200. In this embodiment, the drawer may slide out of the base unit 200. The front wall 250 may be a solid construction or may contain apertures to allow air to flow into and out of the base unit 200.

The base unit 200 may include a cooling system and sensor system. The sensor system may be configured to sense the environment within the display units 100. For example, the sensor system may be configured to detect the temperature or humidity in the interior of the display units 100. In at least one embodiment, the sensor system is in communication with the cooling system in the base unit 200.

As illustrated in FIG. 2b, the cooling system may include a refrigeration unit 210 that is configured to cool the interior of the plurality of display units 100. The refrigeration unit 210 may cool any number of display units 100. For example, the refrigeration unit 210 may cool one display unit 100 or four display units 100. In at least one embodiment, the refrigeration unit 210 is configured to cool three display units 100. In at least one embodiment, the refrigeration unit 210 is removable from the base unit 200. The refrigeration unit 210 may cool each display unit 100 is any suitable way. In one embodiment, a hose is connected from the refrigeration unit 210 to each of the display units 100. In this embodiment, the hose transports air from the base module and sends it to the display units 100.

The refrigeration unit 210 may include typical refrigeration components such as a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, a fan, etc. The refrigeration unit 210 may use any suitable type of refrigerant to cool the merchandise display system 10. For example, R134A (tetraflouroethane), CO2 (carbon dioxide), or hydrocarbons may be used. The refrigeration components may be placed within the same enclosure in the refrigeration unit 210 and separated as necessary by insulating material. Alternatively, some of the refrigeration components may be placed in separate enclosures within the refrigeration unit 210.

The merchandise display system 10 may utilize any applicable insulation. In one embodiment, the merchandise display system 10 incorporates Aerogel insulation material. Specifically, the merchandise display system may incorporate Spaceloft insulation. The use of Spaceloft insulation may decrease the required thickness of the walls of the display system 10. Insulation may also be used in the refrigeration unit 210 to separate the condenser and evaporator within the same refrigeration unit 210.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration unit 210 may be a hybrid convection-conduction refrigeration system. In this embodiment, the refrigeration unit 210 may include a traditional vapor-compression system, which forces cool air from the refrigeration unit 100 through the display units 100 in the merchandise system 10. The merchandise displayed in the merchandise display system 10 may be cooled through a conduction process where thermal energy is passed from the shelves 170 to the merchandise to cool the merchandise. In this embodiment, heat generated during the cooling process is transferred out of the refrigeration unit 210 and display units 100.

Each display unit 100 may be configured to attach to the base unit 200 or another display unit 100. In this embodiment, each display unit 100 is configured to engage with or attach to the top wall 220 of a base unit 200. Each display unit 100 may also be configured to engage with a top wall 120 of another display unit 100. In at least one embodiment, as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 3, the merchandise display system 10 includes a single base unit 200 and three display units 100a-c. In this embodiment, the base unit 200 is located at the bottom. A first display unit 100a is attached to the top wall 220 of the base unit 200. A second display unit 100b is attached to the top wall 120 of the first display unit 100a and a third display unit 100c is attached to the top wall 120 of the second display unit 100b. In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2a, the base unit 200 may be of unitary construction with one of the display units 100.

The display units 100 may be attached to the base unit 200 and other display units 100 in any suitable manner. In at least one embodiment, the display units 100 and the base unit 200 are attached together through the use of corresponding rails. In this embodiment, the base unit 200 may include one or more rails on the top wall 220 of the base unit 200, which engages with one or more corresponding rails on the bottom wall 130 of a base unit 100. The display units 100 may attach to each other display units 100 in a similar manner. For example, each of the display units 100 may include one or more rails on each of the top walls 120, which may attach to one or more corresponding rails on the bottom walls 130 of another display unit 100. In this embodiment, the rails keep the display units 100 and base unit 200 aligned to give the appearance of a single refrigerator. However, display units 100 may be added or removed depending on the amount of space required.

The merchandise display system 10 may include logos or signs to further promote the brand or type of merchandise within the merchandise display system 10. The logos and signs may be place on any suitable surface of the merchandise display system 10. For example, a sign may be placed on the top wall 120 of the top display unit 100 or logos may be attached to the doors 150 or side walls 140 of the display units 100.

In another aspect of the invention, as illustrated in FIG. 4, a plurality of display units 500 combine together to form a 360 degree merchandise display system 10. The merchandise display system 10 may include any number of display units 500. In at least one embodiment, the display system 10 includes two display units 500, positioned back to back. The display units 500 may be made of any suitable material, such as metal or plastic. In one embodiment, the display units 500 are hollow structures filled with a foam-based insulation material, which may reduce the weight of the merchandise display system 10.

The display units 500 may include a top wall 520, a bottom wall 530, a back wall 540, and a front wall 510. The front wall 510 may include a plurality of upper doors 560 and a plurality of lower doors 550. The display units 500 may contain any suitable number of upper doors 560 and lower doors 550. In at least one embodiment, each of the display units includes at least three upper doors 560 and three lower doors 550. The upper doors 560 and lower doors 550 may be made of any suitable material such as glass or plastic. In at least one embodiment, the upper doors 560 and lower doors 550 are transparent to allow visual access of the merchandise within the display unit 500. The display units 500 may be any suitable shape and size. For example, the display units may be square, rectangular, circular, semi-circular, or polygonal.

The upper doors 560 and lower doors 550 may open in any suitable manner. For example, one side of the upper doors 560 may be hingedly attached to the front wall 510 and swing outwardly to allow access to the display unit 500. In at least one embodiment, the bottom edge of the lower doors 550 is hingedly attached to the display unit 500 to allow the bottom door 550 to open outwardly from the top edge of the door 550. In at least one embodiment, the upper doors 560 and the lower doors 550 include a handle to aid in opening the upper doors 560 and lower doors 550.

The merchandise display system 10 may include a plurality of shelves 570. The plurality of shelves 570 may be made of any suitable material, such as plastic or metal. In at least one embodiment, the plurality of shelves 570 are wire structures. In at least one embodiment, the plurality of shelves 570 may be tilted or angled. The plurality of shelves 570 may be angled such that the front of the shelves 570 is lower than the back of the shelves 570. In this embodiment, gravity forces the merchandise displayed on the plurality of shelves 570 forward towards the front of the shelves 570. Alternatively, the plurality of shelves 570 may be in a horizontal position within the merchandise display system 10. The plurality of shelves may be any suitable shape. For example, the plurality of shelves 570 may be a triangular or rectangular shape.

As illustrated in FIGS. 6a and 6b, the plurality of shelves 570 may further include a basket 575 for the merchandise to be placed in. The basket 575 may rest on top of the plurality of shelves 570 or the shelves 570 may form a frame around the basket 575 and support the basket 575. In one embodiment, the plurality of shelves 570 are triangular frames that support a triangular plastic basket within the frame. In at least one embodiment, the plurality of shelves 570 are movable to different heights within the display unit 500 to accommodate merchandise of different heights. In at least one embodiment, the baskets 575 and the shelves 570 are removable from the merchandise display system 10. Any number of shelves 570 are contemplated within the scope of this invention. The number of shelves 570 may depend on many factors, such as the size of the display unit 500 and the size of the product being merchandised.

As illustrated in FIG. 7, the merchandise display system 10 may include a base unit 700. In one embodiment, the base unit 700 is removable from the merchandise display system 10. In an alternative embodiment, the base unit 700 is attached to or integral to the merchandise display system 10. The base unit 700 includes a refrigeration unit 710 and a housing 720. The housing 720 may be made of any suitable material and may be of solid construction or may include a plurality of apertures to allow air to flow into and out of the base unit 700.

In at least one embodiment, the refrigeration unit 710 may be removable from the base unit 700. The removable refrigeration unit 710 allows for easy installation and maintenance of the refrigeration unit 710. For example, a technician may chose to replace the removable refrigeration unit 710 rather than repair it while it is connected to the merchandise display system 10.

The refrigeration unit 710 may include typical refrigeration components such as a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, a fan, etc. The refrigeration unit 710 may use any suitable type of refrigerant to cool the merchandise display system 10. For example, R134A (tetraflouroethane), CO2 (carbon dioxide), or hydrocarbons may be used. The refrigeration components may be placed within the same enclosure in the refrigeration unit 710 and separated as necessary by insulating material. Alternatively, some of the refrigeration components may be placed in separate enclosures within the refrigeration unit 710.

The merchandise display system 10 may utilize any applicable insulation. In one embodiment, the merchandise display system 10 incorporates Aerogel insulation material. Specifically, the merchandise display system may incorporate Spaceloft insulation. The use of Spaceloft insulation may decrease the required thickness of the walls of the display system 10. Insulation may also be used in the refrigeration unit 710 to separate the condenser and evaporator within the same refrigeration unit 710.

In one embodiment, the refrigeration unit 710 may be a hybrid convection-conduction refrigeration system. In this embodiment, the refrigeration unit 710 may include a traditional vapor-compression system, which forces cool air from the refrigeration unit 710 through the display units 500 in the merchandise system 10. The merchandise displayed in the merchandise display system 10 may be cooled through a conduction process where thermal energy is passed from the shelves 570 to the merchandise to cool the merchandise. In this embodiment, heat generated during the cooling process is transferred out of the refrigeration unit 710 and display units 500.

The merchandise display system may further include a lighting system. The lighting system may include interior and exterior lighting. In at least one embodiment, the display units 500 include a plurality of exterior lights 580. The exterior lights 580 may be any suitable type of lighting, such as LEDs. The exterior lights 580 may extend vertically on the front wall 510 of the display unit 500. The exterior lights 580 may extend from the top wall 520 to the bottom wall 530 or may extend along only a portion of the front wall 510.

The display units 500 may further include a sensor system. The sensor system may be configured to sense the environment within the display unit 500. For example, the sensor system may be configured to detect the temperature or humidity in the interior of the display units 500. In at least one embodiment, the sensor system is in communication with the cooling system in the base unit 700.

The merchandise display system 10 may include logos or signs to further promote the brand or type of merchandise within the merchandise display system 10. The logos and signs may be place on any suitable surface of the merchandise display system 10. For example, a sign may be placed on the top wall 520 of the display unit 500 or logos may be attached to the upper doors 560 and lower doors 550.

While the invention has been described with respect to certain preferred embodiments, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, it is to be understood that the invention is capable of numerous changes, modifications and rearrangements and such changes, modifications and rearrangements are intended to be covered by the following claims.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20130002099 A1
Publish Date
01/03/2013
Document #
13173351
File Date
06/30/2011
USPTO Class
312109
Other USPTO Classes
312116
International Class
/
Drawings
8


Doors
Refrigerated
Merchandise Display
Refrigeration Unit


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