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The Vending Machines Crossroads of Blog Articles

If you would like to write an article for us, then please send it to: blog@intelligentvending.co.uk. Once approved we will be happy to post it publically.

The SiriuS™ Website

Our new SiriuS™ platform has been designed in-house by Intelligent Vending to resolve inherent issues in standard vending technology.  Using SiriuS™ opens up a number of possibilities for our clients that all add value and increase ROI and efficiency, rather than the traditional approach which concentrates purely on the cash in, product out, retail ‘vend’ aspect.

SiriuS™, with its large 46″ HD touchscreen and powerful software platform VendHook™, create a dynamic and interactive retail platform with significant potential for advertising, marketing, and raising brand awareness.  The machine’s ability to interact both physically and virtually with customers via social media further enhances its commercial potential for operators. For many IV clients, the on-board vending function will be a secondary attraction behind other more commercially significant features.

The complete platform comprising VendHook™ (our core PC control software platform), VendHive™ (our bi-directional cloud control and communication system), and Vendmesh™ (our own design next generation PCB controller), allow connectivity with a wide range of external components and peripherals.  Together, these elements add impressive versatility to a machine while offering commercial add-on value in their own right. Equally, we are confident in the sophistication, robustness and technological advantages of our system compared with any others available in the market.  While some producers have pursued a retro-fit or workaround route (the way we historically supplied non-standard machines), we have consciously developed our system from first principles.  This approach has ensured maximum flexibility in operation and a significant degree of future-proofing.

We have also designed our SiriuS™ platform to be user friendly for third party development via the comprehensive API (Application Programming Interface) and SDK (Software Development Kit).  We want to give our clients scope to extend their own commercial horizons and innovate without the need to be reliant on Intelligent Vending software development services.

For more details, please click the following link to visit our Intelligent Vending SiriuS™ website.

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Updating Your Vending Machine for the New GBP 1 Coin

The new GBP £1 coin is nearly upon us and will be released in March 2017.  It’s now time for UK vending machine operators to start thinking about updating their coin changers to avoid last minute chaos and lost revenue.

In order to support our customers in re-configuring their machines we have three options available:


Option 1:

We can visit site and reconfigure your vending machine coin mech to accept the new £1 coin. This will involve an engineer coming to site to update the coin mechanism on your machine. The cost of doing this, is £260.00 + VAT and £165.00 + VAT for any additional machines on the same site (UK mainland only).

This applies to most models of coin changers including MEI.  If you have any queries if your coin changer model is supported, please email sales@intelligentvending.co.uk for confirmation.

 

Option 2:

We can supply a brand new C2 Currenza coin mechanism (Dual MDB/Exec) which can be configured to your set up (***) and accept the new £1 coin.  The price of these units are £268.00 + VAT each plus shipping. Please see the following link to the mechanism on our website:  www.intelligentvending.co.uk/C2BLUEMDBEXEC

Please note this is a direct replacement for your existing coin changer and will require you to re-float the new coin mech once fitted as per day to day operation, and as you were trained by the engineer when your machine was delivered.

 

Option 3:

For machines where a C2 Currenza Coin Mechanism is already in use (this is a blue and grey coin changer), we can supply a HENRI service module and an unlimited use SIM level 2 with datablock GBP_0_002_F02_12 for the new £1 coin. This option is extremely economical if you have a number of machines, but it only works with C2 Currenza coin changers (N.B. it will not work for other brands of coin mechs such as MEI).

The price of this package is £165.00 + VAT plus shipping and can be found on our website using the following link: www.intelligentvending.co.uk/C2UPDATEGBP1.  Please note that this option does not include an engineer call out and will be the responsibility of the client to update their Currenza C2 coin changer in house.  However, it’s a straightforward process that literally only takes a few seconds to complete.   A crib sheet is also available on request.

The HENRI module is a useful item and can also be used for updating your coin mechanisms in the future (only an updated SIM would be required).  If you have any doubts if your machine is fitted with a C2 Currenza coin mechanism, please send a photo of your coin changer in advance of ordering so we can confirm.  N.B. We will not be responsible for returns if clients order this kit in error.

 

(***) N.B. We will require your coin values for the tubes on your current cassette, or model number (i.e. GBP1, GBP22 etc), so that we can provide you with a direct replacement.  If a none standard cassette type is required, the lead time is currently 3 weeks as your device would be made to order.

 

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Intelligent Vending & SiriuS™ at AVEX 2015…

SiriuS™, the latest ‘all-in-one’ solution from Intelligent Vending Ltd, was given its first public outing in the vending arena at AVEX 2015, in Manchester. Partnering with Ingenico the international leader in provision of cashless payment systems, IV offered its new advanced SiriuS™ vending machine to show off their cashless hardware while providing attendees with a glimpse of what it believes is the future for the unattended automated retail market.

As an industry, vending has been stagnant or in decline throughout most of Europe for the past few years and it is desperate, Intelligent Vending believes, for a fresh impetus that will lead to reversal of this trend. While degrees of innovation are undoubtedly evident across the board in vending, this has been mostly small scale and incremental, and there has been no major development with the explosive energy to bring about the much needed revolution of the industry. Put simply, vending has made virtually little use of the advances in technology that are now standard across all sectors of retail, advertising, and social media. SiriuS™ incorporates the power and imagination to change all that!

The bespoke UI (User Interface) designed for Ingenico offered visitors of the show the ability to enter a competition to win prizes from triggering the vend process in three different ways:

1) Via the Ingenico card payment terminals (Contactless and NFC, plus Chip & PIN)
2) Via our in-house Twitter promo VendHook™ plugin
3) Via email address entry and a virtual keyboard

An Ingenico corporate video and other promotional information was also displayed on the machine’s different vend process screens, carrying a key underlying message to promote the new iUC280 payment terminals that are aimed primarily for the standard vending ‘mainstream’ market.

Also, on show was a premium vinyl wrap designed to showcase Intelligent Vending’s commitment to push visual branding boundaries. Using a newly unveiled printable and wrap conformable reflective material, all the visible panels of the machine were fully SiriuS™ branded. The three elements that define SiriuS™; VendHook™, VendHive™, and VendMesh™, were highlighted in the design. The revolutionary material used for the wrap gives an added, almost 3D effect, that is dramatically revealed across a range of different lighting conditions and changes based on the installation environment (see photos below).

No Direct Light (Black)

With Some Direct Light (Gold Elements & Binary Code In The Base Vinyl Design Showing)

As the first in a new generation of automated retail options by Intelligent Vending Ltd, this new self-service SiriuS™ solution offers a core software platform called VendHook™ designed from first principles, and eliminating the drawbacks experienced with traditional vending machine systems and protocols. The machines are fully modular and packed with functionality. Just a few of the features include large 46” touch screen and HD display, advanced product management, digital signage, social media integration, telemetry and the facility to remotely manage all machine functions & diagnostics in real time via Intelligent Vending’s fully bi-directional VendHive™ ‘Internet of Things’ cloud platform.

A key strategy underpinning the design process of Intelligent Vending’s new products was the need to provide a payment option that supported the high value transactions specified by many Intelligent Vending clients. While some card payment systems are available for the ‘mainstream’ sector, they have some limitations in terms of transaction value, and they do not provide VAT receipts, another feature often requested by customers. For its new system, Intelligent Vending has been able to incorporate a full Chip & PIN, Contactless and NFC solution into its machines, fully accredited to the latest Visa and Mastercard standards in the UK and with no cap on transaction values.  Our VendHook™ in-house receipt printer design suite also enables our clients’ to customise this ‘print-out’ experience for consumers with a few simple clicks (or touches!) including dynamic QR codes for cross selling or promotions where applicable.

Sam Roe, Managing Director at Intelligent Vending, said: “Projects such as this highlight the versatility of the SiriuS™ system, which is ideally suited to a range of challenging environments. We are looking forward to bringing our powerful Intelligent Vending technology to the widest range of clients, whether in high-end retail or the mainstream ‘plus’ market and increasing their ROI in the unattended space. Our vision is for all sectors to benefit from the sophisticated functionality we now provide as standard – Intelligent Vending by Intelligent Vending.”

More info available here (PDF): SiriuS Intelligent Vending Taster Flyer

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Intelligent Vending® Next Generation Automated Retail Solutions…

The vending industry has been in a state of inertia for many years, and while there has been a recognition of the need to change, vending technology remains largely based on that which existed in the 20th Century. The pace of development and the introduction of innovation compare very unfavourably to what has happened in the gaming and kiosk industries, where advances in technology are pounced upon quickly and incorporated into new machines.

A typical example is the recent introduction of credit/debit card & NFC mobile payment solutions which are just breaking though into our market, but are well established elsewhere. With only a very limited number of off-the-shelf solutions currently available for standard vending applications, it is extremely difficult to benchmark products and ensure hardware has the appropriate certification and approvals – even for the largest multi-nationals. Adverse factors (from a vending perspective!) such as the move towards healthy eating and the global recession have created massive financial pressures for traditional vending companies.

There is acceptance that vending needs to progress in order to meet the requirements of the times – in terms of interactivity with the customer and changing the vend activity from functional to rewarding. One of our corporate customers summed this up brilliantly by describing what was traditionally on offer from mainstream vending as ‘boring, dull & outdated’.

As a company, we have always innovated and looked into the future. In terms of products, we have regularly configured vending machines to dispense items that were not thought possible, and we have installed systems into machines that are way beyond what conventional machines were designed to do. On many occasions, however, the limitations of existing vending technology have proved a barrier to delivering exactly to the specification that our clients have required without significant R&D investment and major adaptation to current systems, protocols, and mechanical design. Our expert specialists in the field of software development, SolidWorks, high-end fabrication, electronics, and system architecture are here to help and can resolve many headaches, but they are still invariably frustrated by the inherent limitations of traditional vending platforms.

For example; the advanced hotel system such as Max-eBar® is already replacing traditional minibar provision in hotels, and saving our clients’ money while increasing revenue. This is a very creative solution to a thorny practical problem, but development of innovative systems such as this are often influenced by the inflexibility and limitations of existing vending machines and technology.

Significantly, and very positively, we are now moving to a position where the barriers described above are being overcome, with new system alternatives gradually entering the market, most commonly to date in the premium hot drinks vending arena.

Intelligent Vending intends to be a major contributor to this transformation, and together with our close technology and supply chain partners, we are looking forward to bringing new opportunities and revenue streams to our customers.

We’re sure to be communicating further information regarding this shortly…

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Max-eBar® Your Key to Smart 24/7 Hospitality!

Max-eBar... Your Key to Smart 24/7 Hospitality

The Max-eBar® system is designed to provide hotel guests 24/7 access to goods using their room key. Products are dispensed by the Max-eBar® automated retail centre and charged directly to the guests hotel room bill. This provides a convenient, streamlined, reliable, and easy to operate service.

The Max-eBar® automated retail centre is usually sited on the guest bedroom corridor or in a central location like the reception area allowing guests to simply swipe their room key, make a purchase and have it charged directly to their room account. No credit cards or cash are required. In effect, this is a ‘max’ version of the traditional ‘mini’ bar with one cabinet able to provide service to many rooms.

Max-eBar® provides many benefits including:

* Reduced stockholding
* Faster stock turnover
* 24/7 unmanned service
* An alternative to visiting the bar or restaurant for those in a hurry and particularly for those travelling alone
* Safe, secure delivery, no possibility of contamination
* Impulse purchases with ‘no money’ required
* Opportunity to provide unattended serving of alcohol
* Wide range of goods available
* Available in Hostel or Hotel mode
* Accurate billing avoids disputes at Reception

Also, for added impact, we can provide a fully branded machine by a leading design agency using high-end 3M materials. The Max-eBar® can be free standing or incorporated into a custom built enclosure, depending on the needs to of your organisation and/or budget requirements.

Working in collaboration with one of our close development partners Quintus Systems (the originator and inventor of the Max-eBar® system), this reliable & high-end solution now becomes reality and a standard offering for our global hotel clients.

Let us integrate the Max-eBar® seamlessly with your hotel PMS and door key system. This is a perfect addition to any hotel environment and we can tailor our solutions to meet your needs with minimal downtime to guest services.

Hospitality is just one sector where we can add value, so let us unlock the potential of cashless interfacing within your organisation, whatever your business focus.

Intelligent Vending and Quintus Systems have packages to suit small niche hotels to large international chains, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us on +44 (0) 1629 825555 or email: sales@intelligentvending.co.uk for more information.

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Promoting Sexual Health in Africa

Intelligent Vending followers will know that our company has always had an interest in promoting sexual health, and we’ve tried to make a contribution where we can across the world. It’s great therefore to hear from Christopher Wells regarding the work he’s undertaken in Southern Ethiopia. Chris has kindly provided a link to findings from the research work titled Prophylactic Procurement of University Students in Southern Ethiopia: Stigma and the Value of Condom Machines on Campus that he and colleagues have conducted. Some of it’s a bit technical, but the messages come through very strong. We’re really pleased to have to have provided the condom vending machines for this research (Twist2Vend – B5m and B5m2 models), and it’s good to know that such simple, low cost (and British made) machines could stand up so well to the rigours of a tropical environment, and make a positive contribution to improving sexual health in the African continent.

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Size Matters in Vending

One of the most common questions we are asked when customers want to purchase a vending machine is whether the unit will fit into their available space. Ideally, they want a machine with plenty of capacity, but often there is only restricted space in the office, corridor, or alcove to locate it. They then want to know the largest machine that will fit within the limitations described. If the amount of space in the final location is not a problem, they report that the corridors or doorways are quite narrow, and wonder whether it will be possible to even get a vending machine in the building.

Most vending machines are quite bulky and heavy, so their size can genuinely create problems, particularly in older buildings which were not designed to provide access for large pieces of equipment. On one occasion we even had to arrange for a crane to get a machine into the building –the canteen had been located on a higher floor and normal access up the stairs was impossible!
However, as in life, there is quite a bit of variation in vending, and it may be possible to identify a suitable machine that will fit into relatively small places.

Although our quick dimensions search tool (top left of our website) is a great reference, please don’t rely on it completely – if you have any doubts regarding the suitability of any machine for your requirements, please ring. One thing to always bear in mind with machines that incorporate a fridge unit is that additional space not shown on the machine dimensions is needed at the rear of the machine. Fridge units need airflow so they can operate efficiently, so it is always wise to allow an additional 4-5 inches (10 – 12 cm) to the machine depth dimension for this purpose. Refrigeration units that operate without sufficient ventilation have to consistently work harder, which can reduce their efficiency and overall lifespan.

A final thought on size and space. We always ask customers to complete a site survey when they purchase a large vending machine from us. This helps us anticipate any problems with access and the possibility of an abandoned delivery because the machine will not fit through doorways, or is too large to get into the lift. Sometimes these forms are not fully completed or the measurements given seem more based on guesswork than actual measurement. It can’t be stressed too greatly that taking care over this stage could really save your costs later.

Customers will unfortunately be charged if a delivery has to be aborted because of the inaccuracy of information provided in the site survey. We will incur costs with our transport providers because of this and we have to pass charges on. There will then be further costs if a second delivery is attempted e.g. with door frames removed, or crane accompaniment (very costly!). At worst, if the machine is just too large, with no solution, there is the possibility of even higher costs from cancelling an order. Much better to spend time getting the measurements correct in the first place!

If you do have any doubts regarding suitability and the size question, remember, we’re always pleased to assist!

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Refurbished Flavia C400 Machines

For the ultimate in cost effective hot drinks vending for your office or showroom, look no further than a refurbished Flavia Creation 400 machine!

This is just a quick note to let all of our clients know that we’ve managed to source a large quantity of second-hand Flavia Creation 400 machines. These are now available for clients to purchase at an unbelievable price of £245 + VAT each (excluding delivery). They are all fully tested & refurbished by our senior engineers.

Further information regarding our amazing Flavia offers can be seen here: Refurbished Flavia Creation 400 machines and Flavia Drinks Prices

The Flavia Creation 400 can be found in offices the world over – a testament to the high quality, reliability and freshness of drink. This is an industry leading hot drinks vending machine which offers unparalleled beverage flexibility. A wide range of great tasting coffee, tea, hot chocolate and indulgence drinks can be created quickly and with ease. The individually sealed Flavia sachets used to create different drinks provide unbeatable freshness and deliver the perfect drink every time. Different combinations of sachets can be used to create coffee shop quality indulgence drinks, including cappuccinos, mochaccinos, lattes and more.

flavia-c400-machine-drinks-vend-procedure

Key Features of the Flavia Creation 400 machines include:

  • Can either be self-filled (3 litre storage capacity) or plumbed-in directly to water source
  • Over 30 great coffee shop quality drink varieties to cater for all tastes
  • Superior energy efficiency
  • Sealed drink sachets provide outstanding levels of freshness and hygiene
  • Really easy cleaning

If you have any queries regarding this special Flavia promotion, please do not hesitate to drop us a line at sales@intelligentvending.co.uk.

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

A Note on Recycling Vending

… and doing our bit for the environment!

If you’ve travelled in mainland Europe you’re probably aware that many countries are much more advanced in respect of recycling than the UK. Not only are local authorities more geared up to providing effective recycling facilities for consumers, but attitudes of the general public are generally more ‘switched on’ to recycling than in this country and take more seriously their personal responsibility to the environment. The prevalence of litter in the UK on our streets and in other public places compared with many other countries illustrates the difference in this respect.

Vending machines are sometimes blamed for causing litter even though this is an unfair criticism given that they are mostly passive creatures (there hasn’t been a killer vending machine yet on Doctor Who!). However, it is fair to say that vending machines do provide products e.g. cans and bottles of soft drinks, whose containers contribute overall to the potential litter problem.
On the continent, it is normal for customers to be required to pay a charge (often as a result of ‘container-deposit legislation’ introduced by government authorities’) which is incorporated into the overall price for the drink. Incentive to dispose of the empty container is provided through a system of either full or partial reimbursement of the charge when it is returned to an authorised collection centre.

This used to be the system in the UK with glass ‘pop’ and beer bottles, but was discontinued way back when cheap, easily disposable, plastic and aluminium cans replaced their glass counterparts. As a child, I remember the excitement of collecting my reward from the local off licence after a bottle hunt with friends. It may only have been a few pence (‘d’ not ‘p’) but it was a brilliant route to a bag full of sweets!

Instead of dishing out cans and bottles, the machine takes them back through an opening in the front of the recycling vending machine. Empty cans and plastic bottles drop into a large container where they are held pending removal for recycling. Machines are able to differentiate between the types of empty container (the machine we sell uses a bar code reader for this) and ensure the used item drops into the correct storage section, therefore saving time for sorting at a later stage. The machine can also differentiate plastic cups if required, so long as the cups have a bar code stamped on the outside. This would not be a problem in a corporate environment where bulk buying of cups is likely. The machine can also be programmed, as required, to recognise any bar code likely to be encountered.

The real icing on the cake, however, is that the machine recognises the return and provides a receipt which may be used to reimburse the customer for the original deposit either in the form of cash or other type of reward e.g. shopping points, etc. Within an office environment, reimbursement can be used as part of a wider incentive scheme to promote staff involvement and engagement e.g. through offering prizes or other inducements, or to support a charity.

There are many different types of machines available on the market – from units that are suitable for small sites to others that can be built into walls and having a sophisticated disposal and sorting system out of sight.

The machine we sell, the Sielaff SiOne (PDF brochure) is ideal for the smaller location, and is designed to be banked alongside other vending machines. Having similar dimensions to traditional snacks and soft drinks vending machines, and with the same potential for exterior branding, the SiOne is ideal where appearance is as important as functionality. The machine also offers scope for creating the virtuous circle of recycling. Machines alongside may create the waste but the SiOne then provides the means to take it away, with an inbuilt incentive!

There is currently no requirement in the UK to charge consumers a deposit when they purchase drinks and similar containers, but strong arguments to do so have been put forward many times. This may happen at some stage in the future. In the absence of such legislation, however, it could be argued that the time is not right for the introduction of recycling vending. However, many retail environments already include many forms of incentivisation within their overall offer, e.g. to gain customer loyalty, and it is easy to see how the recycling vending approach could be built into such a scheme. Likewise, with companies who are keen to promote their ‘Green’ credentials.

Recycling vending machines, therefore, undoubtedly offers many benefits, whatever the motivation!

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Choosing a Hot Drinks Machine

The Intelligent Vending web site includes a wide range of hot drinks machines offering different drinks options and at different prices.  Knowing which machine best meets your needs is not always easy.  This guide is intended to help you understand the options and make a choice that best meets your or your company’s requirements.

There are a number of areas to consider:

  • Your budget
    We provide machines from about £1000 up to approximately £10,000, so you need to be clear how much you wish to spend.    High end systems will include options such as fresh milk coolers and more sophisticated design. However, you don’t always need to pay top prices to ensure good quality or a wide range of drinks options, although at the cheaper end of the range you may need to make some compromises.
  • Throughput and numbers of users
    Some of our machines are only suitable for small offices, while others have the capacity to be used constantly throughout the day.  Where heavy use is anticipated, always look at machines that are designed for this.  Buying a cheaper, unsuitable, machine will be false economy because of the increased likelihood of breakdown and a reduced working life.  It will also cause frustration because the actual drinks making process is likely to be slower than on a machine designed for heavy use.
  • Drink Options and Quality
    You may be fairly clear regarding what type of drinks you want to provide, but some further thought is needed to enable you to focus down to the most suitable machine for your requirements.   Many machines (possibly because they are often manufactured in Italy!) focus primarily on providing quality coffee, and while they do also tend to offer other drink options, these are often instant products and do not deliver to the same quality as the main coffee drink. If other types of drink are important to you, ensure you are clear what the machine can deliver.  Phrases to look out for are:

    • Bean to Cup (B2C)
      These machines tend to produce the best ‘coffee shop’ quality coffee because they produce drinks from beans which are ground inside the machine.  Please note, however, that other drinks options provided in the same machine may not be of the same quality.  As a result of the number of elements involved i.e. grinding the beans, producing the drink, and then potentially adding whipped milk topping for cappuccinos etc., these machines tend to be slowest to produce a drink e.g.  40 seconds or more.  If rapid throughput is the imperative, therefore, a B2C machine may not be the best solution for you.
    • Freshbrew
      You will see this for both coffee and tea options, and these machines represent a good compromise in terms of drinks quality.   In the case of coffee the drink is produced from real ground coffee (pre-ground by the manufacturer) which is brewed in the machine; tea is made from real tea leaf so is the closest you will get to tea you make yourself at home.  Please note, however, that apart from a couple of exceptions (see Flavia and Kenco Singles below) you will be required to pay several thousand pounds for a machine that provides both Freshbrew coffee (or B2C)  and Freshbrew tea.
    • Instant/In-Cup
      There are two types of machine in this category.  Instant machines mix powder from a canister inside the machine to produce the drink e.g. coffee, hot chocolate, tea, soup etc.  In-cup machines work on a similar principle but the powder is supplied already in the cup, and hot water is added to this (either in the machine or manually) to produce the drink.   Instant machines can provide good quality drinks e.g. chocolate, but generally the drinks are of lower quality than either  B2C or Freshbrew.  Instant tea, in particular, is typically of noticeably poorer quality (although this is getting better), and customers often provide normal tea bags at the side of the machine and just use the hot water facility on the machine to pour over the tea bag.   Instant machines tend to be good where there is high volume usage and a need for quick turnaround e.g. works canteens.
    • Flavia 400 and Kenco Singles Machines
      These options are included as machine specific additions to the list, because they offer an alternative approach to providing hot drinks, and they are very flexible in terms of the range of drinks offered.  The machines produce Freshbrew equivalent quality drinks (including tea) by forcing hot water through sealed sachets (Flavia) or capsules (Kenco).  They are ideal for small offices, waiting rooms or product showrooms where high quality and convenience are priorities.  Since individual drinks are self-contained in their own packaging, these machines are very easy to operate and maintain with a much lower cleaning requirement than conventional machines; the only waste being the spent sachets or capsules that need emptying from a bin.  The main downsides are the relatively expensive unit cost of drinks (see below) and the fact that they are not designed for heavy usage.
  • Cost of Drinks
    We are frequently asked to provide the cost of each drink by machine option.  Unfortunately this is difficult because so many factors are involved.  These include the type of machine (e.g. Instant, Freshbrew or B2C), the quality of the product/ingredient used), the purchase quantities involved, the drinks strength setting that has been used on the machine, whether the cost of adding milk is included, the size of cup (e.g. 7oz, 9oz, or 12oz), whether the cup cost (if disposable) has been included, and whether the machine uses sachets/capsules.  For coffee, instant drinks cost in the region of 9 – 15p per cup; Freshbrew and B2C from 7 – 12p per cup, and sachet/capsule  machines 25p or more per cup (over 30p if two-stage cappuccino/latte etc.).  So although B2C machines offer the best quanlity, there is not a price premium on this drink and the unit cost per drink compares very well with other options.
  • Manual/Automatic
    Some machines are fully automatic, i.e. you press a drinks selection button and the drink is delivered in a cup to the strength you have selected and with additional sugar already added.  In manual machines, you will need to place a cup under the delivery spout and add your own sugar and milk etc.  Manual machines may be more attractive for B2C because you can use your own china cups and saucers etc. to add to the impression of quality.  Fully automatic machines may be better in very busy environments and because they avoid the need for separate storage for cups and sugar etc.
  • Space Considerations
    The pictures online do not always provide an accurate impression of the size of hot drinks machines, and it is always a good idea to check the machine dimensions to ensure you have adequate space for your selected machine.  As a general rule, floor-standing machines are larger than their table-top equivalents though some floor-standing machines are simply a table-top machine with a matched base cabinet.  Capacity within floor-standing machines also tends to be greater, and there may be scope for storage within the machine.
  • Water Supply
    Most commercial machines are designed to link to the mains cold water supply, and therefore need to be located close to a suitable access point so they can be plumbed in.  This is the most efficient set-up in terms of convenience and probably essential if there is likely to be heavy usage of the machine.   Some machines do offer tank fill as an option, however, if mains water cannot be easily accessed.  You will need to check whether this is a standard option with the machine or has to be paid for as an option.  A separate water tank and pump setup may cost several hundred pounds.  Tank fill is best for floor-standing machines as the cabinet will probably accommodate the water tank and pump kit.  On smaller machines these may need to be located external to the machine which could be inconvenient and unsightly.
  • Payment systems
    These enable the operator to charge for the drinks provided through the machine.  Some, particularly the larger machines, provide for fitting of a change giving coin mechanism to the machine plus, if required, and to offer additional convenience, a note reader which works in conjunction with the coin mechanism.  A less sophisticated option is a coin acceptor which will take payment in coins but does not offer a change facility.  Particularly with smaller machines, a key question is whether a payment system is essential (e.g. in a small office environment), as this option can add £200 – £500 to the machine price.
  • Cleaning
    Commercial hot drinks machines are specialised pieces of machinery and technically quite sophisticated.  To ensure they remain in good working order the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations should be followed closely.  Following the recommended schedule both protects the machine and ensures that the quality of drinks produced remains consistently high. Dirty pipes can produce an aftertaste that severely detracts from the drinking experience!   Failure to keep machines clean and in good order is a frequent cause of breakdown, and would not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or any additional maintenance agreement.  Adding a water filter and scale control between the water supply and the machine is also essential for plumbed in hot drinks machines, as this improves drink quality and extends the life of the machine.  Some manufacturer warranties are made void if a filter has not been fitted.  For tank fill machines also, a filter and scale control system suitable for the machine should also be included.
  • Maintenance Cover
    Commercial hot drinks machines are generally provided with a manufacturer’s parts warranty for 12 months.  This does not include labour or any callouts that are required, even if the machine is new and has been installed for only a few days.  Our trade customers typically have the facilities to cover maintenance of their machines, but this resource is rarely available to end users.  We, therefore, strongly advise such customers to take out a maintenance agreement (covering parts and labour) when they purchase the machine.  Although these may seem expensive they are not when compared with the high cost of ad hoc callouts (typically £100 – £150 per time).  As well as offering good value overall, they also provide peace of mind to the customer.

The above information is intended to provide a general overview of issues to consider when you are looking to purchase a commercial hot drinks machine.  It does not provide detail of individual machines (except for Flavia and Kenco Singles machines – for the reasons stated). While the information provided should guide you in the right direction, you will also need to look at the details provided about each machine before you make a final purchasing decision.

The manufacturers brochure for most machines can be downloaded from the respective product page – look for this symbol to the right of the main product picture:

Should you still require further advice once you have narrowed the field down to a few options, please give us a ring on 01629825555 or email us at sales@intelligentvending.co.uk

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd
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