Using a custom router to protect 6,000 drinks machines from expensive malfunctions

The challenge

With limited time before the Christmas retail rush, our partner had to set up predictive maintenance and supply monitoring for 6,000 drinks machines in stores around the UK.

If a drinks machine breaks down, replacing the parts can cost thousands; and of course, while a machine is down for maintenance, it can’t serve any customers.

So they needed a way to prevent repair costs and detect problems before they did damage. They also needed to know when syrups are running low and need replacing.

We were called in to help with IoT and mobile data. But the drinks machines were full of complex equipment, so whatever solution we built had to be small enough to fit into very limited space without disrupting the machines; while also staying within a very strict budget.

The solution

A cost-effective 3-in-1 custom router that solved all their problems at once.

Combining our unsteered Multi-network SIMs, IoT sensors, and router hardware, we created a custom-built device that would fit into the confined drinks machine space, and connect securely to the company’s logistics platform.

The router: 

  • Worked as a gateway to receive data from the sensors like temperature and vibration for maintenance purposes
  • Monitored syrup levels so the retailers could optimise their supply chain around the favoured flavours, while knowing exactly when to restock the syrups and by how much
  • Came equipped with its own sensors and capabilities, such as interfacing with the CAN bus which allowed the machines to communicate with the company’s software.

The result

By combining the three solutions into one, we kept the project well within the company’s budget and timeframe, deploying the machines in time for the Christmas crowds.

And as a result, our partner walked away with £1.3m in revenue, plus the opportunity to connect more drinks machines down the line.


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