Zytronic touch sensors double vending machine capacity
10 August 2017
This article discusses how Amtek, a leading Italian manufacturer of self-service vending machines, has been able to double the capacity and increase the internal space in its range of condom vending machines, by switching to a user interface based on a Zytronic projected capacitive touch sensor. The new electronic vending machines can also hold a wider range of product, and deliver detailed sales reports in real time to allow stock to be tuned to local demand.
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Electronic Product Design & Test; to view the digital edition, click here – and to register to receive your own printed copy, click here.
Amtek has a range of units selling products including tobacco and condoms, with thousands of machines installed throughout Italy. Its condom machines are installed outside pharmacies, greatly increasing sales of these products, especially outside store opening hours. In traditional machine designs, the mechanical selection and dispensing mechanism is very bulky, increasing the size of the machine and reducing the amount of space available to store product. For this reason, Matteo Ruggieri, CEO at Amtek, decided to investigate the use of touchscreens, to save space as well as make the machines more attractive and user-friendly.
“A major challenge was security,” said Ruggieri. “Unsupervised vending machines are attractive targets to attack, to steal both money and product. A traditional all-metal machine can be made secure against attack – but we were concerned about the level of protection available in a machine with a glass front.”
Amtek turned to touchscreen specialist Patrice Romano of Camax for advice. He recommended the Zytronic 21.5” touch sensor, operating through an overlaying toughened 8mm-thick tamper-resistant cover glass – providing a considerable barrier to any would-be attacker.
As a result, Amtek was able to create a 1m high, small footprint vending machine that is also able to stock a range of 14 products. The digital user interface delivered other advantages too: the machine is now able to monitor sales and manage stock levels, reporting back in real time the demand for products in specific locations at specific times. Furthermore, the additional capacity of the new machines also mean that they need to be restocked less frequently. Camax worked with Zytronic to design the customised touch sensors and integrated them with industrial-grade monitors and anti-vandal protective cover glass before supplying to Amtek.
Ruggieri commented, “The new touchscreen vending machines can comfortably hold one or two months’ stock, reducing costly visits from a technician for replenishment. They also report when stock levels are getting low, virtually eliminating the risk of lost sales through lack of stock.”
Space savings are considerable, with over double the capacity for product, offering 14
different ranges versus 6 in the old mechanical design. Camax specified an ultra-bright LED HD monitor to attract attention and make the display easy to read in all light conditions (including strong sunlight), providing improved visibility at night-time (when the machines are most popular). The touch sensor is constructed from thermally tempered anti-glare etched glass, which reduces reflections and further improves readability. This also provides protection against year-round weather conditions.
Amtek is now standardising on electronic vending machines incorporating Zytronic
touchscreens. Ruggieri says, “Our customers like the detailed sales reports available, allowing them to see quickly in real time which products sell best in specific locations. They can then adjust the stock profile accordingly. It’s very easy to update the screens as the product mix in each individual machine changes. We are also identifying opportunities to market our innovative machines internationally. The digital user interface makes it easy to localise machines in terms of language, presentation and regulatory requirements.”
Patrice Romano of Camax added, “Zytronic touch sensors were the ideal solution for this application. They are high performance, and work reliably behind the protective glass overlay. Zytronic allows us to call off exactly the required number of touch sensors we need for each new deployment of vending machines. The complete, low volume design flexibility we have with Zytronic ZYBRID touch sensors frees us and our clients from the risk of specification changes, which are frequent in the display industry.”
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