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ToddWebb

Enclosing cold drink machine inside a crate

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I'm not a vendor, but a job site manager.  I move materials and crew to job sites.  I want to deliver a stocked (and affordably priced) cold drink machine to job sites for our workers.  The idea is to build a drink machine inside a crate, where we just open the crate door, plug in the machine, and leave it.  At end of job we'll close the crate doors, and ship it back home.

I realize drink machines are fridges and need proper ventilation to expel hot air created by the unit.  I realize, depending on the machine, I may need to include a back door on the crate to load drinks.

My question is - do you guys know of any other issues I'll face when building a machine into a custom fitted crate?  Is there more than one area that must be vented?  Do bottle machines fail often due to transporting, shaking, vibrations?  This machine would live on-the-road all the time, so if jostling is an issue I may need to scrap the idea.  Any recommendations for bottle machine that would stand up better to this lifestyle?

Edited by ToddWebb

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I don't know what you mean by "build" a vending machine.  If you mean build one from scratch, forget it.  You would be making a mistake.  If you mean you want to just put one in a crate, you would be creating unnecessary hassle.  You should get a working dixie narco 501e, set it up, sit it down, and load it on site.  There is about no benefit that i know of, for typical applications, to put it in a crate.  Yes, ventilation is an issue.  You can solve that by cutting some holes.  You also need to access the front of the machine as the machine is loaded always from the front and never the back.  You need to be able to open the machine wide enough to load, but also wide enough to take the refrigeration deck out should it ever have problems.  ALL of these issues can be eliminated by not having it in a crate.  Unless you are worried about simply transporting it on gravel or something, or delivering it by a crane perhaps, there's no reason to put it in a crate.

I will tell you this - machines are notorious for messing up after being moved a few times and also notorious for working almost flawlessly when they sit in the same place for a long time.  So you would be putting some wear and tear on them, but it's not necessarily big problems.  It's just that the machine should be level and bouncing around on trucks can cause things to get a little misaligned over time.  A plug or wire could come loose, a coin mech could get jammed up, the machine might not vend flawlessly if it isn't level or on a completely flat and stable surface, and you can develop leaks in the refrigeration lines.  All of these problems can happen even just from regular operation in one place but they tend to occur much more often when moved.  It's not a big deal if you know how to fix them and you profit enough to cover all expenses, but it is a factor.

I get the impression that you want to make some money by bringing a soda machine to job sites.  There's nothing wrong with that, but don't expect to roll in the dough.  It can take 30+ people AT a job site or more to make it worth it.  It can take less too, but your chances are slim.  If you want to sell 20 oz bottles, you should be prepared to sell for at least $1.75.  For 16.9 oz, $1.25.  You can try cheaper but you might not make enough.

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I meant "build a crate around a drink machine."  Thanks for offering insight beyond my typo.  Great all-around info.  The crate idea is more for added security and privacy, as many places we work have their own $3+ machines and would probably be unhappy with us bringing in our own.  Also, this is for my staff, not everyone else who might be in the area.  I'm trying to satisfy my crew not undercut existing machines on location by stealing all their business.  So the crate is for secrecy and safe transport when loaded into a truck full of other crates.  Personally I'm also fed up with only soda and water options at these places, or no options at all and the nearest machine or convenience store is a mile away.  Thank you for the dixie narco 501e tip.

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I wasn't trying to imply that you are stealing business from anyone else.  I wouldn't care if a construction crew brought their own machine to their own job site because I would likely never put a vending machine at a construction site but that's beside the point.  What I was trying to get at was that you might be spending way more money than it's worth if it's for a small group of people.  Since you say it's just for your crew and you want to do this "in secrecy" (lol), I suggest you save a ton of money and just get a big cooler, fill it with ice, and sell whatever you want out of there to at least get an idea of how much your crew will actually buy.  In the vending world, we are plagued by customers who do a lot of talking about what they want (ie. put pepsi in the machine, put this, put that, if we only had more options, etc..) and then they barely buy anything.  Why do they barely buy anything? Because they either go to a nearby store and get it there or bring in their own.  A working 501e could probably be had for way under $1,000 and not be refurbished but I doubt you would care about how pretty it looks as long as it works, so obviously don't buy a refurbished one for too much.  Starting with a cooler is way better because you get to really see whether you'll end up wasting your money or not.  How many people are in your crew?

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11 hours ago, ToddWebb said:

I want to deliver a stocked ... cold drink machine to job sites

To be honest this is a bad idea. Moving a machine with stock in it is fraught with problems.

A loaded machine is  quite top heavy and prone to falling over when moved (experience speaking - they can't be stopped once they start to tip) Remember you should move the machines standing up..

Any stock in the machine will cause loads on the delivery system that can easily distort and cause misvends/jams when redeployed. Additionally stock has a tendency to bounce out of position if the machine is subject to vertical travel (such as potholes in roads or heavy handed forklift operators). One additional thing is when moving a machine either empty the coin mech first, or make sure that the mech is secured fully - I know I don't usually tighten the mounting screws and the mech can bounce off them when badly jostled if they are not tightened

If you want to do this you should consider a machine crate to contain the empty machine and a locking stock crate to fill/refill on site.

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You can probably make something like that work, you are aware of the need for ventilation, which can be provided with expanded metal screens in the proper locations (lower half of the back and several smaller inlets front and sides for cross flow).  The biggest problem I see was also noted by someone else, building the container so that you can open the machine door fully enough for restocking or repair.  Outer doors on drink machines are several inches thick to provide the space for the non-chilled operating components; the door needs to be able to open well past 90 degrees for access.  If the open crate sticks out beyond the machine door hinge that becomes a problem, so your crate would need to be designed accordingly.   Make brackets to hold the machine firmly inside the crate.   You probably have fork lifts on the job sites so moving the unit will be pretty easy, and you won't move it often so you can take the time to level it and set it up properly.   Let the machine sell well down before a move and remove any remaining product to reduce weight and potential damage.  Also be aware that bottled drinks have a much shorter shelf life than cans.

You might also be able to use a small enclosed trailer that would contain the machine bolted down in a position where the door has room to open, and can be set up with leveling jacks for stability.  But that would also be more expensive and require more space on site.  You will probably find in the end that the effort to run and stock a single machine and keep it repaired is greater than the benefit, and that an honor system cooler may be a whole lot easier and better for your purpose...

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15 hours ago, ToddWebb said:

I'm not a vendor, but a job site manager.  I move materials and crew to job sites.  I want to deliver a stocked (and affordably priced) cold drink machine to job sites for our workers.  The idea is to build a drink machine inside a crate, where we just open the crate door, plug in the machine, and leave it.  At end of job we'll close the crate doors, and ship it back home.

I realize drink machines are fridges and need proper ventilation to expel hot air created by the unit.  I realize, depending on the machine, I may need to include a back door on the crate to load drinks.

My question is - do you guys know of any other issues I'll face when building a machine into a custom fitted crate?  Is there more than one area that must be vented?  Do bottle machines fail often due to transporting, shaking, vibrations?  This machine would live on-the-road all the time, so if jostling is an issue I may need to scrap the idea.  Any recommendations for bottle machine that would stand up better to this lifestyle? 

Just build a heavy duty pallet that will hold 1,200 lbs (machine plus drinks)  I'd go with a stacker style machine as the bottle machines can be quite tempermental.  A Royal 660 would be a good choice for your needs.  Bolt the machine to the pallet and you can move it easily with a forklift.  Just remember that's it's hard on the compressor should you lay the machine down flat.

Another thing to consider is that bottles usually only have a three month shelf life compared to ten months for cans, so unless you expect a hell of a lot of guys using the machine, then cans are the way to go.

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Why not just call a Roach Coach out? Most of their pricing is no higher than vending machines plus they bring food

 

Problem solved

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Thanks for the input everyone, very much.  I'll let you know how the project ends up.

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