A Tool For Alerts/Alarms
Situations such as product delivery failure, empty facings, and related problems can be resolved through an external notification mechanism contained in the product recognition application. A text message sent to a service manager may result in the manager correcting the error through remote camera/machine interface.
The vending machine camera can be directly positioned over a non-vended product, for example, and the machine then instructed to rotate the spiral in an attempt to dispense the product in question (assured delivery). This feature is capable of replacing guaranteed delivery or delivery sensor technologies available in the marketplace (e.g. surevend, ivend, golden eye, etc.).
Field Testing Begins
Vendors Exchange has started live field testing of its product recognition software and soon will be able to evaluate the accuracy, speed, and integrity of system components. The percent of correct product identifications, proper linkage to stock keeping unit, and correlation of price and nutrient data all will have a profound impact on the potential of the technology.
Product Recognition Solutions: Vending Operator Perspective
Following are benefits from an operator perspective:
Product Assurance – more accurate individual product sales data and confidence that a product was in fact where it was intended to be will increase revenue. The ability to instantly return a "live" product map from the machine will assure the vending operator of the product mix available now in the machine. The camera can be remotely controlled, if desired, and can actually vend a product if need be. This can be especially beneficial if an operator is relayed an automated alarm that a column is suspected of being out of service (for example, an item is hung up or if no sales from a specific spiral are noticed after analyzing a machine's sales data).
Monitored Facings – the number of facings in a machine can be controlled through product recognition designed to alert the operator when a desired number of facings is exceeded. For example, perhaps management desires that no more than two facings of any item is desirable. When this number is exceeded, the machine can issue a notification to the operator to correct the discrepancy. In essence the camera provides a real time plan-o-gram.
Fill Confirmation – when a vending machine is restocked and the door closed, the product recognition camera is capable of performing a comprehensive photo collage of all machine spirals. This view can be used to confirm adherence to a pre-determined planogram and sets the starting position for the ensuing sequence of transactions.
Digital Pricing – as a product is dispensed and the next item in the column is moved to the front, the product recognition software is used to identify the product, and where appropriate ensure that its correct price is displayed on the optional new digital price label. This enables a wider variety of price points to be offered for sale and will not force all products of the same price to be contained to a select set of spirals.
Pre-Kitting Integrity– using remote machine monitoring data to determine which products require replenishment can be significantly enhanced when product recognition is used to explicitly identify product velocity in a vending machine.
Consumer Goodwill – information on the correct product can be displayed with confidence as manufacturer nutritional information is displayed based on an accurate recognition of each product in each spiral. It should be noted that selling products at a fair price (as an alternative to line pricing or over-pricing) will likely contribute to consumer goodwill.
Diagnostic Tool – camera can be used to review operations as well as to remotely direct in the case of a non-vend or machine malfunction. Also, the product recognition camera can double as a drop sensor capable of confirming product delivery by the machine and act as a trigger to send an alarm if a specific column fails to vend.