New technologies to expand vending capabilities

U.S. vending machine manufacturer Fastcorp is shaking things up with its robotic Evolution machines that, until recently, have been
confined to frozen vending. New technologies and product categories expand vending capabilities, and might create some novel business opportunities.

Topping the news is the launch of its Dual-Asset Evolution vender. This model maintains the vacuum robotic arm and base-mounted temperature-controlled chest design of Fastcorp’s signature frozen machine, but expands the temperature range to -20°F to 65°F. This gives operators the flexibility to vend products at frozen, refrigerated or ambient temperatures.

Dual-Asset Evolutions set to refrigerated temperatures for fresh food applications can accommodate sandwiches and salads of all shapes and sizes, in addition to beverages and chips. A simple adjustment to the digital controller transforms the vender into a frozen machine that can vend microwaveable convenience foods and ice cream. Products can be stocked and stored frozen, or slacked in machines set to refrigerated temperatures.

One way in which Fastcorp is harnessing this new flexibility is to accommodate the “soft-freeze” category in its machines, which spearheads
the sale of ready-to-drink milkshakes in vending. The company has teamed up with two suppliers of prepackaged shakes to deliver a turnkey program to operators.

One of these partners is Archibald Frozen Desserts whose Ready Shake ready-serve milkshakes are merchandised in a dedicated branded Evolution machine configured to a soft-freeze temperature of 5°F. The shakes dispense at a thicker consistency than the typical milkshake, which some consumers prefer.  They are also planning to add a smoothie line that will complement the vendible shakes.

Since the shakes require no special customer-operated blending equipment of the sort used to prepare many competing products, the Ready Shakes are well suited for transient high-traffic locations in the retail, hospitality, amusement and leisure sectors, as well as employee breakrooms.

On the engineering front, Fastcorp is wrapping up a beta test of a touchscreen application for Evolution machines that will become available on a limited scale early in the new year. The high-tech display serves as dynamic user interface, provides nutritional information, runs promotions, enables cross marketing and incorporates mobile payments. It also possesses social media capabilities that Fastcorp said it is keeping under wraps, since they include proprietary technology developed by a supplier outside the industry. The panel sizes available to operators will vary based on the application, ranging from small 7″ screens to full-front displays.

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