Blog - Vending Help & Advice
April 6, 2017 – 4:13 pm
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.
Posted in: Customised Vending, Intelligent Vending, Intelligent Vending Ltd, Next Generation Vending Machines, PC Controlled Vending Machines, Product Help & Advice, Product News, SiriuS, VendHive, VendHook, Vending Help & Advice, Vending Machine News, VendMesh
January 26, 2017 – 12:22 pm
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:
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 email@example.com for confirmation.
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.
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.
October 29, 2013 – 1:15 pm
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…
Posted in: Customised Vending, Intelligent Vending Ltd, Product Help & Advice, Product News, Vending Help & Advice, Vending Machine News, Vending Service
Tags: card payments, Intelligent Vending, interactive vending machines, next generation vending machines, NFC, touch screen vending, touch screen vending machines, vending machine development
October 23, 2013 – 4:05 pm
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.
October 21, 2013 – 3:50 pm
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!
March 7, 2013 – 2:01 pm
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.
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.
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.
- Bean to Cup (B2C)
- 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
May 12, 2010 – 1:31 pm
The place of vending machines in schools can be a debate of some controversy. Yet, with strategic thinking and careful planning, vending machines can provide a positive and mutually-beneficial solution between students and schools.
In the USA there has recently been a lot of focus on snack vending machines in schools, following calls from the Obama administration as part of a campaign designed to promote healthier lifestyles amongst the younger population.
However, if stocked with appropriate products, vending machines in schools can sometimes actually encourage healthier eating habits – while also providing revenue for the school.
Aside from the obvious potential advantage of profit, there are other important factors which can be overlooked by schools, when deciding on the suitability of vending machines.
January 26, 2010 – 1:45 pm
Vending machines are fantastic products. Not only are they great for a business as they generate extra revenue, but they are also great from a customer’s perspective as they are convenient and easy to use.
There is a much wider range of goods available from vending machines today, than ever before. Not only are the products more diverse, there is a dramatic increase in vending machines stocked with higher quality items. A good vending company will advise on product choice and supplier and will guide you in the right direction for building your own vending machine success.
Industry experts know just how important it is for our customers to have flexibility in their vending and we aim to assist them in this wherever possible. Many of our customers have strong beliefs or preferences and these can be met in many different ways.
For example, many fair trade suppliers are now offering food and drink products for vending machines. Stocking fair trade products not only benefits the owner of the vending machine, but also the customers, as they are giving back a little from something which they would be purchasing anyway.
Many different types of products are now being stocked in vending machines, as the vending industry steers away from just offering food and drink. While this can be a great way to innovate and generate more profit, it is vitally important to ensure you research and comply with any health & safety or licensing requirements which may be applicable to the products, prior to making them available for sale from your vending machines.
At Intelligent Vending Ltd we have an expert team of customer service advisors to help you with all your vending needs, so no matter how weird or unusual your choice of product, there is a vending option for you.
January 21, 2010 – 12:32 pm
With the vast array of soft drinks available nowadays in our supermarkets, shops, cafes and bars, vending machines have had to up their game in terms of the types of products and product selection they offer.
As a reputable vending machine supplier, Intelligent Vending understand the need for customers to have a wide choice in terms of what products they can put in their vending machines. That is why we supply cold and hot drinks vending machines which can accommodate a multitude of drinks products for you to supply; some can even be customised to vend unusual products.
Hot drinks vending machines in particular have come a long way in the past few years, with people now demanding more than just your average instant coffee. The technology now available for providing various types of coffee and hot drinks is astounding, with advancements being so good they are strong enough to stand up against shop bought products. Check out our Flavia coffee machines and Flavia drinks for examples of such quality.
When deciding what type of drinks products to place in your vending machines it is important to think about your clientele. There is no point having a selection of herbal teas if the majority of your customer base will be drinking builder’s breakfast tea, for example.
Choice is there for a reason and that reason is to enable our customers to tailor their vending machines to their specific customer base. Just because the choice is there does not necessarily mean that you have to choose everything available. Consider your options carefully and look at trialling new products for a couple of months until you find the right mix that works for you.
January 8, 2010 – 4:15 pm
Vending machines for businesses are a great way of keeping staff happy, whilst also providing additional income. Not only can vending machines generate profit, but they can sometimes help save money in other areas as well. Consider the time your staff will spend chatting in the kitchen area while making a round of drinks, then work out their hourly rate and multiply by frequency – as I’m sure you can imagine, this can quickly work out to be a costly exercise.
A traditional self catering staff kitchen requires a constant supply of tea, coffee, biscuits, snacks etc. plus of course the cost of items such as kettles. By installing vending machines in your business premises, staff will be able to purchase their own goods, at their convenience, with little upkeep required from the employer. You can even install your hot drinks machine in the office area to avoid wasted time.
Whatever the size of your business, it is likely visitors and guests will attend for meetings or appointments. While the customary hot drink on arrival is always welcome, it is also nice to be able to offer a selection of snacks and food items – vending machines are probably the best way to achieve this.
Providing a selection of snack, food or drink items without a vending machine is typically impractical, and very costly. Vending machines can help to impress visitors, keep staff happy and all without costing you a fortune in on-going costs.
At Intelligent Vending Ltd we have an almost unsurpassed range of vending machines available, and have models suitable for almost every possible location.
Please give us a call or contact us for more information on vending machines for businesses.