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With CLEA, machine learning algorithms are at the service of vending

Machine learning algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and IoT devices: the recipe for innovating the vending industry is a concentrate of hi-tech, data analysis and customer experience. It could not be otherwise for a market in which Italy is the European leader with over 3,000 companies currently in business, 30,000 workers and 820,000 machines installed [1]. In recent years, inevitably affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Italian vending industry has understood the importance of focusing on innovation and exploring new business opportunities. Not only apps for contactless payment, sanitation systems and smart keys, therefore, but also alternative uses in schools and offices. For example, vending machines installed in condominiums, increasingly seen as meeting places to be served directly, have increased, ranging from basic necessities to the supply of personal and home hygiene products.



Machine learning algorithms to innovate the Customer Experience


Inside an office, in the corner of an airport or along the platforms of a train station, vending machines have to be able to meet the needs of waiting customers or quickly satisfy the taste of those who pass by for only a few seconds. In order to improve the customer experience, variety of choice, delivery speed and ease of use of payment tools are essential characteristics.



On the other hand, manufacturing companies need to have constant and complete control over consumables, the correct functioning of machines and optimal support services. Here is where IoT and machine learning algorithms come into play, able not only to ensure the continuity of services on a 24/7 basis but also to transform the raw data gathered by the sensors installed in the vending machines into useful information to facilitate the development of new products and services.



With CLEA's machine learning, vending opens up to value-added services


CLEA, the AI-as-a-service platform developed by SECO, makes it possible to enhance installed machines, even those not recently produced, with IoT technologies, edge computing and big data analytics. This makes it possible to "pull" the vending machine industry towards smart connected products scenarios, radically shifting attention from the machines themselves to that of a service with a high added value given to the end customer. Hyper connection allows the connection of vending machines to each other, to monitor them more easily remotely and analyze the service status of each station in real time, promptly reporting any inefficiencies to the nearest maintenance technician.


However, CLEA's machine learning algorithms can do much more. Let's see this in more detail.


  • Fault detection and downtime reduction. In order to optimize performance, CLEA makes use of AI predictive maintenance models in real time, identifying any anomalies and thus reducing downtime. CLEA facilitates fault recognition and streamlines technical support procedures with a reduction in support costs of up to 37%.
  • AI for smart supply. Constant remote monitoring of the products on sale allows you to optimize replenishment times. Thanks to the AI ​​Refill Manager, the system identifies the vending machines that are running out of certain products and suggests optimized routes to the replenishment staff, thus reducing consumption and travel times. This translates into a reduction in machine management costs of up to 19% and an increase in revenue resulting from advanced replenishment management of 30%.
  • The app that develops new types of products. CLEA integrates an application for the analysis of sales trends and the identification of customer tastes and helps the development of new recipes by intercepting possible trends. Machine learning algorithms transform the data collected by vending machines into useful information, predicting which type of product is about to become trendy, with an analysis of customer sentiment. The analysis of primary consumption and customer routines allows the prediction of demand, suggesting any changes with a significant increase in revenue, quantifiable at around 30%
  • Smart payment with KarL4. CLEA is natively compatible with SECO's KarL4 contactless payment terminal. Once installed on a vending machine, KarL4 allows customers to make electronic payments for amounts of up to 50 Euros by touching with their card, without having to enter a PIN. In addition, it is compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay, to pay simply by bringing a smartphone or smartwatch close to the reader.



To summarize. Thanks to significant investments in the digital sector provided by PNRR, it is possible to accelerate, innovating and providing the vending sector with an even wider range of products and above all services, which are the real keystone of IoT projects. CLEA introduces high added value technology such as AI and machine learning into the vending machine industry, favoring data collection for remote diagnosis and updating of the systems, and predictive maintenance services with optimization of the support and replenishment phases with a consequent reduction in management costs. Thanks to CLEA's machine learning algorithms, vending machine manufacturers can renew their value proposition based on using new value-added services, opening up to the market with a new business model. With CLEA, the vending industry enters the 4.0 era of high value-added services.




[1] Data from European Vending Association referring to 2021.