The NAMA VDI standard incorporates cooperative agreements among competing vending technology suppliers so that interchanged data will be more meaningfully consumed and effectively applied. Cooperative agreements, often referred to as trading partner agreements, involve written documentation that informs both the sender (producer) and receiver (consumer) of NAMA VDI messages about the specifics of the message(s) being shared. Descriptive elements include such items as: company profile, security authorization, machine identification, location identification, and type of connectivity (server, Web-service, email, etc.).
For example, if provider X is to pass a NAMA VDI data message to provider Y, then the cooperating parties must have transaction information to successfully distribute and utilize the desired data messages. User names, passwords, and Web-based encryption also can be used to help ensure data transfers are secure and accessible by authorized entities.
Seven vending technology providers have volunteered to serve as early adopters of NAMA VDI standards: Cantaloupe Systems, CompuVend, Crane Merchandising Systems, InOne Technology, MEI Group, USA Technologies and Validata.
Early adopters are actively engaged in NAMA VDI standard development and may be directly involved in field testing technical specifications prior to finalization and release of NAMA VDI standards.
Since vending technology historically involves proprietary, company specific data, system integration required expensive and intricate custom programming.
NAMA VDI standards are designed to replace the custom linkages between competing proprietary supplier products, thereby rendering the connectivity as non-proprietary. This is similar to the replacement of specialized train car connectors with non-specialized couplers that enable assembly of the cars in any order of sequence.
STANDARDS TO BE RELEASED IN STAGES
The new NAMA VDI standards are being released in stages based on data messaging developments beginning with 2009 NAMA National Expo in Chicago. Version 1.0 addresses the most critical area among the several data messages identified by the NAMA VDI Task Force: DEX data messaging. It is anticipated that as the remaining data messages are developed, they will be released and labeled in ascending numerical order.
The NAMA VDI standards afford several direct benefits to operators and bottlers, especially those embarking on technology decisions. When purchasing vending technology from a company adhering to NAMA VDI standards, the buyer can be assured that:
- Investment in the compliant technology will be compatible across major suppliers.
- There is no longer a need to rely on the success of a single supplier.
- Multiple telemetry devices will work with a variety of VMS providers.
- Selling or acquiring VDI compatible components simplifies continued operations.
Technology providers have created a tipping point for accelerating the implementation of vending technology. Interest in addressing operator concerns has resulted in unprecedented cooperation among vending technology suppliers to enable harmonic data interchange.
NAMA VDI ensures that operators can feel confident in technology investment, choice of suppliers, and be assured that hardware and software will work together now and in the future.
There has never been a better or safer time to invest in cashless vending, remote machine monitoring, or VMS technology.
NAMA VDI Task Force
Chris Lilly, Best Vendors, chairman
Mike Kasavana, MSU, coordinator
Mary Rampe, MEI, NAMA liaison
Louis Beaudoin, Cantaloupe Systems
Bud Nixon, Canteen Technology Group
Tom Howell, Coca Cola Co.
Ron Hoorman, Coin Acceptors Inc.
Mark Kronenberg, CompuVend
Glenn Butler, Crane Merchandising Systems
Craig Lewis, Crane Merchandising Systems
Gene Ostendorf, InOne Technology
John Cassacia, Masterwork Electronics
Don Finley, MEI
Dan Mathews, NAMA
Don Merchant, Seaga Manufacturing
Cary Sagady, USA Technologies
Billy Irvin, Validata
Warren Philips, Validata
Jeff Mayoras, Wittern Group
About the Authors
Michael Kasavana, Ph.D. is the NAMA endowed professor in hospitality management at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. He has been researching vending technology for several years.
Glenn Butler is vice president and chief technology officer at Crane Merchandising Systems. He can be reached at 781-248-3122 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.