A vending machine is an automated machine from where a consumer can get items such as snacks, beverages, cigarettes and lottery tickets after inserting cash, a credit card, or a specially designed card into the machine.
The first modern coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England in the early 1880s, dispensing postcards. The machine was invented by Percival Everitt in 1883 and soon became a widespread feature at railway stations and post offices, dispensing envelopes, postcards, and notepaper.
Internal communication in vending machines is based on the MDB standard, supported by National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) and European Vending & Coffee Service Association (EVA).
After payment has been tendered, a product may become available by:
- the machine releasing it, so that it falls in an open compartment at the bottom, or into a cup, either released first, or put in by the customer, or
- the unlocking of a door, drawer, or turning of a knob.
Some products need to be prepared to become available. For example, tickets are printed or magnetized on the spot, and coffee is freshly concocted. One of the most common form of vending machine, the snack machine, often uses a metal coil which when ordered rotates to release the product.
Types of Vending Machines:
A change machine is a vending machine that accepts large denominations of currency and returns an equal amount of currency in smaller bills or coins. Typically these machines are used to provide coins in exchange for paper currency. They are also often known as bill changers.
Food and snack vending machines:
Food vending machines that provide shelf-stable foods such as chips, cookies, cakes and other such snacks are common. Some food vending machines are refrigerated or frozen, such as for chilled soft drinks and ice cream treats, and some machines provide hot food.
Some examples of unique food vending machines that are specialized and less common are French fry vending machine and hot pizza vending machines.
A full-line vending company may set up several types of vending machines that sell a wide range of products. Products may include candy, cookies, chips, fresh fruit, milk, cold food, coffee and other hot drinks, bottles, cans of soda, and even frozen products like ice cream. These products can be sold from machines that include hot coffee, snack, cold food and glass-front bottle machines.
A ticket machine is a vending machine that produces tickets. For example, ticket machines dispense train tickets at railway stations, transit tickets at metro stations and tram tickets at some tram stops and in some trams.
The typical transaction consists of a user using the display interface to select the type and quantity of tickets and then choosing a payment method of either cash, credit/debit card or smartcard. The ticket or tickets are then printed and dispensed to the user.
Smart vending machines:
Smart vending machines enable a more interactive user experience, and reduce operating costs while improving the efficiency of the vending operations through remote manageability and intelligent back-end analytic. Newer technologies at a lower cost of adoption, such as the large digital touch display, internet connectivity, cameras and various types of sensors, more cost-effective embedded computing power, digital signage, various advanced payment systems, and a wide range of identification technology (NFC, RFID, etc) have contributed to this development. Integrated sensors and cameras also represent a source of such data as customer demographics, purchase trends, and other locality-specific information. It also enables better customer-engagement for the brands through interactive multimedia and social media connectivity.
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