How Do Drink-vending Machines Work?
Drink-Vending Machines are operated electronically when coins are inserted and a button pressed to select the beverage required. They have four basic units, or modules. On the inside of the cabinet door is the electrical unit where the dispensing of a drink is programmed through the other three—the cup dispenser, the recirculation of water system and the ingredient-container units.
When the coins are put into the slot, they are checked by an electronic scanning unit. If they are the wrong coins they are rejected. If, accepted, they set off the programme. The release mechanism of the dispenser allows a cup to fall down a chute to the service position. While this is happening, a portion of the selected ingredient in powder form is released from its container into a large mixing bowl that looks like a big flattish funnel. Here hot water is added to dissolve the powder and the resulting beverage is poured into the waiting cup. Finally more water enters the mixing bowl, which is then automatically cleaned in readiness for the next customer.
The first modern coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England in the early 1880s, dispensing postcards. The machine was invented by Percival Everitt in 1883 and soon became a widespread feature at railway stations and post offices, dispensing envelopes, postcards, and notepaper. The Sweetmeat Automatic Delivery Company was founded in 1887 in England as the first company to deal primarily with the installation and maintenance of vending machines.
In 1893, Stollwerck, a German chocolate manufacturer, was selling its chocolate in 15,000 vending machines. It set up separate companies in various territories to manufacture vending machines to sell not just chocolate, but cigarettes, matches, chewing gum and soap products. The first vending machine in the U.S. was built in 1888 by the Thomas Adams Gum Company, selling gum on New York City train platforms.
The idea of adding games to these machines as a further incentive to buy came in 1897 when the Pulver Manufacturing Company added small figures, which would move around whenever somebody bought some gum from their machines. This idea spawned a whole new type of mechanical device known as the “trade stimulators”.
After payment has been tendered, a product may become available by:
the machine releasing it, so that it falls in an open compartment at the bottom, or into a cup, either released first, or put in by the customer, or
the unlocking of a door, drawer, or turning of a knob.
Some products need to be prepared to become available. For example, tickets are printed or magnetized on the spot, and coffee is freshly concocted. One of the most common form of vending machine, the snack machine, often uses a metal coil which when ordered rotates to release the product.
The main example of a vending machine giving access to all merchandise after paying for one item is a newspaper vending machine (also called vending box) found mainly in the U.S. and Canada. It contains a pile of identical newspapers. After a sale the door automatically returns to a locked position.
A customer could open the box and take all of the newspapers or, for the benefit of other customers, leave all of the newspapers outside of the box, slowly return the door to an unlatched position, or block the door from fully closing, each of which are frequently discouraged, sometimes by a security clamp. The success of such machines is predicated on the assumption that the customer will be honest (hence the nickname “honor box”), and need only one copy.