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Brief

To manage a fleet of vending machines isn't easy and the major issue is the optimization of maintenance and refilling.

Business case

The higher costs for a company in the vending business are people and logistics. Vending machines must be always functional and perfectly refilled. Refilling doesn't simply mean to place products inside the machine, but most of all means to organize the products in order to maximize sales.
Plus, one of the biggest tech challenges in this market is that machines are provided with a simple serial RS232 connectivity, but with a proprietary protocol.

Hardware Setup

The first step is to connect the machine in order to get remote control of it. It has been done easily using an Iomote X400 gateway with 3G connectivity.
Then the proprietary protocol over RS232 had to be implemented on the X400. This App took only 2 days using the easy-to-use Arduino IDE and finding some libraries on the Arduino community.
Another feature of App has been to filter unnecessary information to save data traffic over the 3G connectivity (for ex.counters with unchanged values). Dare are packed in a simple Json format and sent, with a timestap, to the Cloud.

Cloud & Application

Different kind of users are getting benefits from data from machines. First group of users is the Marketing team that analize those data using Microsoft PowerPI in order to find correlation between sales and product/position inside the machine.
A second group of users is the Maintenance team that receive an alert in case of failure or when a product is near to finish. Plus, using the geolocalization, a mobile app provided to each technician is optimize the routes to avoid time and fuel wastage.

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