How does vending machine work

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How does vending machine work

vending machine is working now?

Vending machines are the perfect tool for dispensing snacks on-the-go and providing businesses with an extra source of income.

Generally, the vending machine provider will purchase the food they want to offer at a wholesale price from a distributor and sell them to the consumer at a retail price. It is an easy way to provide the public with convenient snacks while the company is able to profit off of the margins.

So, how does vending machine work exactly?

The machines are controlled by a central computer that can be located in the device’s keypad where users make their selections. This computer is in charge of communicating with all the different technological components to ensure the customer ends up with the correct product.

vending machine mainboard

First, the computer receives data from the machine’s bill validator: the device located on the front of the vending machines that accepts customer payment.

vending machine with bill validator

When you insert a bill into a vending machine, it is accepted through this bill validator onto a small conveyor belt inside the machine where it is then photographed.

The photograph is sent to the main computer where it is analyzed to determine what kind of bill the customer is using and to ensure the currency is authentic.

When coins are inserted into the coin slot, they pass through a series of electromagnets that are able to differentiate between different types of metal and thickness to communicate with the machine what type of coins are being inserted.

coin mechanism in vending machine

This information is also communicated to the main computer and tells the vending machine what the customer’s available balance is.

From here, the user may make their selection on the keypad located on the front of the machine. Each item in a vending machine is assigned a value depending on which row and column it occupies inside the machine.

These operate on a grid-like system where usually an alphabetical value is assigned to a row and a numerical value is assigned to a column.

This way, when a customer presses “B4” or “A11” for example, the computer is able to communicate with the motor system that is in charge of dispensing the proper product in the grid.

Once the main computer knows the vending machine has received correct payment and knows the customer’s selection from the keypad, it tells the motors which product to release.

Each product is held in place inside the machine by some sort of mechanism; the most commonly used are coils. When the computer communicates which product was selected on the motor’s grid system, the motor in charge of that particular spot knows to turn and release the product.

Once selected, the machine will turn the coil until it detects that an object has fallen into the area where the customer may retrieve it, typically located towards the bottom of the vending machine.

Traditional vending machines use a line of laser beams above the retrieval area to communicate if the transaction was successful with the main computer.

The computer will know if a product has dropped into the retrieval area if the line produced by the laser beams is broken or interrupted because that means something fell and passed through it. If, for some reason, the machine detects that nothing fell from the coils to break the line then that information is communicated to the main computer and it will send another signal to the motor for the customer’s selection and another product will be dispensed. That is why sometimes, a vending machine will accidentally dispense two products for the price of one.

Vending machines today are sometimes equipped with more advanced technology as customer needs evolve and change.

Many machines now utilize card readers that allow customers to use their debit, credit, or even smartphones to pay for their desired product.

vending machine with debit credit card reader

Some now even have touchscreens so it is even easier to customers to view the available products and make their selections seamlessly.

Even more advanced vending machine suppliers are beginning to use robotic arms to select the products for customers.

This helps reduce the risk of products becoming jammed in the machine and also dispenses carbonated products like soda in a way that allows customers to open and enjoy them right away instead of crudely letting them fall to the bottom where they become shaken up.

No matter how advanced or simple these vending machines are, they will remain a worldwide trend as long as there are customers in search of on-the-go convenience.


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