October 17, 2018

Intelligent vending machines track inventory and maintenance, Jabil says

New platform turns traditional vending machines into "smart" retail platforms packed with sensors, according to firm.

By DC Velocity Staff

Many companies struggle with the last-mile segment of their supply chain processes, but how about the last six inches? Electronics design and product management company Jabil Circuit Inc. said today it has launched a vending platform designed to expedite the process of adding advanced digital technologies to retail vending machines.

These upgrade solutions integrate the vending machine's hardware, software, user interface, payment system, wireless communications, and remote management into a single, connected platform, Jabil said.

Through cloud-based services, the platform helps vending machine operators to collect vast amounts of data from sensors that capture each machine's inventory, customer buying patterns and preferences, as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) regarding temperature and other variables. Together, that data helps companies gain visibility into inventory levels to automate restocking, expedite repairs, and reduce maintenance costs, according to Jabil.

These "smart" vending machines can also improve the customer experience, turning traditional vending machines into connected machines that take advantage of touchscreen controls, video, audio, scent, gesture-based interaction, and cashless payment, the firm said. The machines can also use near-field communications (NFC) to enable wireless services such as mobile orders and cashless payment.

Jabil has partnered with Intel Corp. to supply the chip-maker's reference design for intelligent vending, which includes a processor-based design and application programming interface (API) for accessing machine peripherals. In turn, Jabil supplies its global footprint and partner ecosystem, as well as optimizing hardware and configurable software, and integrating user interface (UI) and control software, sensors, and other components in a consolidated, connected platform.

"Making vending machines smarter requires cross-domain technology expertise, real-time data visibility and actionable insights into customers' purchasing patterns," Frederic McCoy, senior vice president at Jabil Retail, said in a statement. "Our smart upgrades create unprecedented value for vending machine owners and operators, as well as product distributors and property owners."

The launch is the latest addition by Jabil to its family of supply chain products that include the firm's 2017 platform that allows users to collect logistics data in a single, cloud-based hub and then apply different algorithms to improve their efficiency.

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