Blog - 2013 October

Intelligent Vending Ltd >> Blog

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summed this up brilliantly by describing what was traditionally on offer from mainstream vending as ‘boring, dull & outdated’.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…

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.

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.

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!

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