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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.

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

Transparent Touch Screen Vending Machines

We would like to introduce a new concept – transparent touch screen display vending machines. Transparent touchscreen displays are an impressive and exciting new technology with thousands of potential applications. Combine a sleek transparent display with touchscreen interactivity and the result is technology so impressive it could have been pulled straight out of a science fiction film.

For vending machines, the integration of transparent touch displays offers numerous advantages. Not only can customers see the actual products in the machines – just as with traditional glass-fronted machines – all the enhancements a high definition digital display can provide are also at the operators disposal. This could include video promotions of products and services; providing highly detailed information about the products for sale; or perhaps even a novel game to help attract and entice passers-by to the machine.

Although still very much in its infancy, this is a technology you can expect to see a lot more of in the near future. A video of a transparent touchscreen vending machine in action can be seen on our website at the following link:

www.intelligentvending.co.uk/transparent-touchscreen-vending-machines.htm

If you have a few moments, we would very much like to hear your thoughts and opinions on this new technology. You can give us your feedback by submitting the form found at the bottom of the link provided above. There are only a few simple questions, and your answers may help us to learn of key ideas and features which would improve the functionality of these machines. It is entirely possible that your ideas could find their way in to the next incarnation of these machines!

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

DarenthMJS Vending Machines Now Available!

Eagle eyed followers of Intelligent Vending will have seen that our online product range has grown dramatically over the past week.  We’re thrilled that we can now offer the full DarenthMJS range of hot/cold drinks and snack machines on our site.  This is a great partnership for us.  Not only are DarenthMJS  one of Europe’s  most innovative and respected designers of vending equipment, they are British and, what’s more, based just up the road from us in north Derbyshire.

We called into their factory a few weeks ago and ended up spending the whole afternoon there.  They have a fantastic showroom and are complete enthusiasts about the equipment they sell – it was almost impossible to get away!  Perhaps best known for providing a large number of well-priced in-cup hot drinks machines to suit every vending, factory and retail requirement, they have recently branched out by developing a high quality, stunning to look at, range of bean to cup machines.

The Roma range not only looks great, with its matt black cabinet, stainless steel features, and choice of different coloured neon effect backlighting; the coffee it produces is equally special, and shows that automatic machines are increasingly a match for their barista operated counterparts at the local coffee shop. In line with their desire to provide innovative and practical solutions, the Roma Duo seamlessly enables two drinks to be made in unison and doubles capacity while reducing waiting times for consumers.

Available with a range of very useful accessories and payment systems, the Roma will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with in coffee vending. Why not take a look – the whole DarenthMJS range is now available from Intelligent Vending!

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

New Pants!

Well, just the thing to brighten up a Friday morning… Have you ever been stuck, away from home with no clean underwear? Extended delay in an airport, perhaps? Or, dare I say it, a one night stand! Well fear no more, an ingenious new machine has been launched selling just pants, socks and the occasional tee-shirt – never again will you be stranded with dirty knickers. The “Me Undies” machine has recently been installed in a Hollywood boutique with expansion planned in the USA. The company behind the machine plan to place these in gyms, hotels, airports and in retail stores, bringing total convenience to the user. This is just another example of traditional retail diversifying into the vending sphere, which is beginning to make waves… if these machines make it over the pond, would you rather queue for hours in a certain budget clothing store for your socks (don’t pretend that you don’t buy them there) or would you rather bounce up to the machine and make your selection without having to deal with people, or let them judge you on your underwear preferences?!

How do you feel about bricks and mortar retail moving towards innovative vending? Do you enjoy the face to face aspect of shopping or do you prefer self service checkouts, vending machines and not having to deal with other peoples bad days!? We love to hear your comments so please let us know what you think, or over on twitter or at our facebook page!

Picture

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Noodle Idol

Once again, we head over to Japan, to see what’s happening in the Vending world. This time though, it’s a little different to what we have come to expect.

The culture of celebrity is becoming a massive part of our lives, thanks to social media such as twitter and TV shows like the X factor people are now feeling closer to their favourite celebrities than ever with technology bringing them to an accessible level, but seeing them out and about in real, public life still excites most people. Scenes of pandemonium are seen when Justin Bieber or Rihanna walk down the street…

Now, a cafe in Japan has turned this around. Forget walking up to a noodle vending machine and being served your hot cup of noodles straight from the machine. Now you can pop along, buy your noodles and select your favourite ‘idol’ from a vending machine, walk over to the counter and have your Idol fill your cup with water and chat to you for 3 minutes about your day. The idol is actually there, behind the counter in the cafe waiting to serve you!All this, and a drink for just 800 JPY! Different Idols will appear in the cafe on different days to allow for variety and the chance for the customers to meet their favourite.

Personally, I find this slightly odd… I can’t imagine Cheryl Cole or Victoria Beckham working in a cafe, filling noodle pots with water and having a chat unless for charity. But, hey, if it works for the Japanese give it a few years and there might be a few ex-Big Brother stars willing to serve noodles over here in the UK as well!

How do you feel about this? Would you feel comfortable making small talk with a pop star as they make you noodles, or would you rather stick to the usual, anonymous vending machine which does everything for you? As ever, let us know in the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

 

 

Original article here.

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

Swiss Nano 9000 Push

Our ever expanding range of products has grown again… New on our website this morning I am pleased to announce Intelligent Vending now stock Valera Swiss Nano 9000 Push Hairdryers! This nifty 2000W hair dryer would be a great addition to any hotel, gym or leisure center washroom.

The neat spiral cable makes this handy hair dryer portable, yet the 6 speed and heat combinations along with 2 ultra narrow concentrator nozzles gives you and your customers the optimum choices of how to dry your hair! Despite the Nano’s size, no compromises have been made on the workings, nor the aesthetics of this piece of equipment! We are really impressed with Valera hairdryers and expect to see this model flying off our shelves!

To celebrate this hair dryer being added to our website, we are running a special promotion through twitter, facebook and google+. It couldn’t be more simple, just like, follow or add us to your circle, and leave a comment asking for a discount and I’ll give you 5% off any of the brilliant Valera hair dryers! If you dont already like or follow, or have us in your circle, what are you waiting for?! Here’s how to find us:

 

Facebook

Twitter – or tweet us @ivending

Google+

 

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd
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