Every few years an innovation in Vending comes along that has the potential to revolutionise the way operators run their business. The latest of such innovations is the CashFlow® 8000 from MEI.
Building on the success of the CF7000, which is now installed in over 1,000,000 vending machines around the world, the CF8000 redefines the function of the payment system from being a device to manage change to playing a pivotal role at the centre of Vending operation management.
Richard Gibson, MEI European Marketing Director, explains, “We are constantly talking to operators to see how we might improve our products. Feedback on the CF7000 was interesting. Operators are very happy with the reliability and change management features and are not asking for any significant changes to coin handling. Instead they asked for help in other areas:
1. Simplifying audit, particularly audit collection
2. Providing a comprehensive solution for cash control within the operation
3. Reducing the cost of adding a cashless option to machines.
We have responded by developing the CF8000, the complete payment solution”.
When compared to the innovations in other areas of business software, audit collection in the vending industry seems a little outdated. Despite the fact that the industry standard format EVA/DTS was established some years ago, its implementation has been patchy and the information received from different machines is typically inconsistent.
Audit practices vary form one operator to the next but in general terms they all follow several steps, a lot of which are manual. It is hardly surprising that information is often ‘lost’ making it impossible to get a complete and secure snapshot of sales and cash in the operation. It becomes even more complicated when the process varies from one machine to the next.
“During the research we heard from operators who experience 10-15% failed audits per day that it contributes to up to 5% shrinkage of product and cash from their machines. It is obviously a huge problem,” Richard commented.
Even if the process is followed correctly the information is often incomplete. For example, some machines do not report cash information and some payment systems cannot record, which selections were sold.
The CF8000 takes away all this complexity. The new Data Merge™ functionality pulls together all the information from the machine and condenses it into one file. For the first time one can collect all the sales information from the VMC, together with all the payment information whether its coins or cashless or even banknotes in one download. The file is created is an industry standard format and will there fore be recognisable to any software system currently in use. And for those new to audit, MEI can provide a simple starter software package.
Collecting the information from the CF8000 could not be simpler either. There are various options including a standard USB, the cheapest audit collection device in the market, IrDA and for the first time Bluetooth.
“We chose USB and Bluetooth,” Richard explained, “because many operators expressed concerns about using proprietary tools. MEI offer open standard options to give operators more freedom.”
Elimination of shrinkage requires complete control and management of Cash both in the change tubes and in the cash box. CF8000 uses sonar to constantly monitor the cash in the tubes and has an accurate real time clock fitted as standard to record time and date of any discrepancies in the amount of cash in the machine. This clock also means an accurate record of when the machine was visited.
Reducing the cost
Operators recognise that consumers are looking for a wider choice of payment options. And although fitting Cashless contributes to more sales and offers more pricing flexibility, there is a concern that additional hardware will increase the cost of a machine. MEI has addressed this by integrating a Cashless reader in the CF8000, reducing the duplication in electronic components and providing the lowest cost coin and cashless solution.
Richard concludes, “We are extremely grateful for the support from our customers, which has enabled us to hit the 1,000,000 milestone with the CF7000. This support has allowed us to invest in the CF8000, which we believe will deliver the complete payment solution with the tools to drive operators’ profitability.”