Point of difference in hardware options
A point of difference between the various electronic lock options is in the physical lock and key. Videx and Medeco locks replace only the barrel plug locks, and thus they utilize the machine's physical locking system. In the case of a soda machine, this is the t-handle threaded lock. In the case of a snack machine, this is the two-point "bar and hook" locking system.
"CyberLocks are quickly installed in the same amount of time it takes to replace the current barrel lock," said Hilverda of Videx. "Our new hockey-puck style padlock is very effective at preventing break-ins due to drilling the lock as we utilize a robust stainless steel housing."
Medeco also manufactures a hardened t-handle and incorporates hardened steel roll pins in its locks. "We have available to our customers a feature called a 'spinner' for our t-handles that prevents the thieves' drill bit from making contact with the lock itself," said Deutsch at Medeco. "The spinner sits in front of the plug face and turns with the drill bit, preventing penetration to the barrel lock itself."
Motorized door mechanism
The TriTeq locking system virtually replaces the entire locking mechanism of the machine. It includes both a motorized door mechanism as well as a cabinet receptacle mechanism that pulls and holds the door and the cabinet of the machine together.
The TriTeq locking system for snacks, food and beverage machines utilizes the same lock mechanism seen on the new Pepsi High Visibility Vendors (HVV) that many operators receive from their Pepsi bottler.
Rather than inserting a key into a lock, TriTeq's system consists of a noncontact infrared key fob similar to the one used to open car doors. "Our use of infrared key fobs eliminates any visible lock, creating a potential deterrent for the thief. This makes the machine an unlikely quick target, so no damage occurs to the machine itself," said Myers of TriTeq Lock.
"Another advantage of our system for refrigerated machines is that the seal is much tighter than the conventional t-handle threaded system found on most beverage machines. Since this tighter seal provides less cold air leakage from the machine, you will experience less wear and tear on the compressor and lower energy costs for your customer," said Myers.
Isochron LLC, a telemetry provider to the vending industry, has introduced a key tracking-based solution called the "Key Sentinel." The program consists of a safe located in the delivery or service vehicle that contains an electronic key tracking system connected to a battery power supply. Normal keys are connected to a secure cable that includes an electronic "key." The operator has the option of having the driver place his or her key in the docking station in the vehicle at the end of each service or at the end of each day, depending on the amount of detailed information he wishes to track. The date and time are recorded each time the key is placed in the docking station.
"We offer complete 24-hour accountability to ensure your keys are used during normal business hours," said Sean Howell, senior applications engineer at Isochron. "One benefit of our system is that your service person is able to take their service vehicle and keys home with them. You can ensure they are not accessing other machines during the night and you eliminate the drive time to the office to drop off the keys in the evening and pick up the keys in the morning. Finally, the supervisor can retrieve key audit logs at any time using our software on a standard Pocket PC."
External Security Kits
Some companies have taken security to another level by incorporating security kits to a variety of vending machines. No one knows the problems of external theft more than the bottlers. Since many of their machines are located outside — away from eyes during the night — they are particularly susceptible to break-in situations.
Public locations such as hotels seem to be the choice of thieves breaking into other full-line machines such as snack machines.
Mechanical security panels are available from companies like TriTeq Lock to bolster areas of the beverage vender that have presented themselves as an overall weakness. These panels can be used in conjunction with electronics or hardened designed versions of t-handle locks. Available panels are designed to secure the dollar bill validator from the front and rear of the unit.