Going “green” has become one of the strongest customer-driven demands for businesses in recent years. For vending operators, there are several aspects to providing a more environmentally friendly service, a key one being the use of energy efficient machines.
Adapting more energy efficient machines is not a simple proposition. Machines need to be retrofitted or replaced. In a challenging business climate such as the present, operators need good reason to invest in new machines and upgrades.
Vending operators are nonetheless finding it pays to use machines that consume less electricity. By offering such machines, operators meet the needs of customers who want their facilities to consume less energy. Government accounts in particular have required more energy efficient machines in recent years.
Because many accounts expect operators to compensate them for the electricity their machines use, machines that use less energy give operators a way to lower this cost.
Since 2004, vending operators have been able to meet this demand by offering Energy Star certified cold beverage machines.
The Energy Star program has become fairly well known to consumers since it applies to a variety of appliances.
The Energy Star sticker indicates an appliance meets energy use guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Energy Star certified cold drink machines incorporate more efficient compressors, fan motors and lighting, and better insulated compartments to keep beverages cold and the machine visible while using less energy.
Prof. Michael Kasavana, the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) endowed professor, wrote an extensive article on the Energy Star program in the March 2009 Automatic Merchandiser. The article can be accessed at www.vendingmarketwatch.com.
Energy Star standards evolve
While Energy Star gives the vending industry new tools to meet customer needs, evolving rules can create confusion for operators and customers alike.
The Energy Star program for cold drink machines began in 2004. A second set of standards known as “tier 2,” which further reduce energy consumption, took effect in 2007.
In August of 2012, newly-built cold drink machines will have to meet even more stringent DOE standards. The DOE rules will no longer be voluntary, and third party compliance verification will also be required.
Further complicating the issue is that the 2012 DOE rules for OEMs are not part of Energy Star. Meanwhile, a third tier Energy Star specification will be announced in 2012 or 2013 for remanufactured vending machines.
“They (DOE) will continue to raise the bar,” said Tom Edwards, vice president of global food and beverage innovation at Crane Merchandising Systems (CMS). He noted that all newly-built CMS machines meet and exceed government energy efficiency standards.
Operators have more choices
Fortunately, vending operators are not required to have new machines. But many find they are receiving more inquiries from customers who want to know they are conserving energy. Operators who offer the most efficient machines will have a competitive advantage in some situations.
Besides offering machines that meet current government standards, operators also have the option of using aftermarket products that manage energy use. “There are a lot of vending operators that don’t want to buy new equipment,” said Doug Parsons, president of Area Wide Inc., an equipment distributor in Waynesville, Ohio.
Aftermarket devices that regulate energy use have been used for more than a decade. While these products remain an option for operators looking to conserve energy, not all aftermarket products qualify a machine for Energy Star.
The DOE offers a list of remanufactured machines that meet Energy Star requirements on its Website at http://www.energystar.gov/ia/products/prod_lists/vending_machines_prod_list_rebuilt.pdf.