Cool-down time depends on how much ambient product is being filled, he said, what temperature the product is transported at, and what the temperature is at the location.
A key benefit is also the speed by which the machine can be serviced, thanks to the slide-out trays and rear dispensing. The rear dispensing mechanism also rotates the shelves automatically.
Dual zone offers new benefits
Dual zone temperature machines address both the cool-down issue and the need to keep ambient products ambient. Wurlitzer USA has its Smart Waiter system. National Vendors has the Refreshment Center 1. GPL has the 480. U-Select-It Corp. plans to introduce a dual zone machine soon, and other manufacturers are studying the concept.
"It (the dual zone machine) expands your offerings and you don't have to get into another refrigerated machine," said Mike Lawlor, president of Apex Vending Services in Paoli, Pa., near Philadelphia. A one-route operation, Lawler doesn't plan to have any traditional refrigerated food machines. He will only be using dual zone machines for food.
Service issues noted
Lawlor doesn't discount the operational challenges that combo machines present. "You're going to have some operational issues keeping your beverages in stock," he said.
Craig Kushner, owner of Monumental Vending Inc., Beltsville, Md., sees the Refreshment Center 1 with dual temperature zones as a big improvement in glassfront combination machines.
No more resetting the timer twice
The biggest benefit for Kushner is the simplicity and time savings this machine offers. His previous combo glassfront required the driver to first open the combo machine, reset the health timer, then fill the other machines at the bank, then close and reopen and reset the health timer again. The double resetting was needed in order to give the machine extra time to cool down.
The dual zone machine eliminates the double opening and timer resetting completely, Kushner said.
In most of his locations, the combo machine serves food and alternative beverages, such as noncarbonated drinks. "It allows us to broaden our beverage selection," he said. The combo is an add-on in all locations.
New concepts meet today's market
"The whole machine doesn't have to be 41 degrees," said Jerry Horan, sales manager for vending at Atlas Distributing International, an equipment distributor in Wood Dale, Ill. "If you don't want your snacks getting that cold, the GPL 480 machine can be an answer for you."
"It allows you to configure a single machine into multiple types of machines," said Roy Taylor, director of GPL. "It could be a food machine, and if you lose that location, it could be a snack machine in another location. It's four or five machines in one."
Taylor said this flexibility is important given the prevalence of small locations in today's vending market. "The market is growing as locations continually downsize. In many locations, operators can't afford to put in multiple machines."
In addition to this, he said, operators should consider the benefit of adding small locations to existing routes. This improves "route density," allowing for greater route profitability.
New concepts are more versatile
Kurk Johnson, vending sales manager at Viking Vending Inc., the Minneapolis, Minn.-based equipment distributor, said the new combo glassfronts, including the GPL 480, are all more versatile than the earlier generation of combination machines, most of which had separate openings for different types of products.
In U-Select-It Corp.'s upcoming dual zone machine, the lower two rows are separated by insulating air curtains, and there is a health timer in the circuit board. A rotary blower system and an adjustable air flow damper allow the operator to modify the temperature. The machine can also be converted to single zone.
"The big, blue collar factories just aren't there any more," said Mike Frye, national sales manager at U-Select-It Corp.