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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
MODULAR PRODUCT VENDING SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/071527
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention pertains to an automated system for vending products for the customer. The system comprises of a number of modules (1) placed side by side or on top of each other, in which the products to be sold can be placed, the modules having a product box (2) in the front end, and a transfer device for transferring the product into the box. In addition, the system comprises of a payment instrument log-in device (16) and each module comprises of a reading device, with which a logged-in client can be identified, and when identified, the customer can take a product from the product box.

Application Number:
PCT/FI2014/000032
Publication Date:
May 21, 2015
Filing Date:
November 10, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RIVENDER OY (FI)
International Classes:
G07F7/08; G06Q20/18; G07F11/00; G07F11/42; G07F11/60
Foreign References:
US20120053725A12012-03-01
US20120080517A12012-04-05
GB1557196A1979-12-05
US5499707A1996-03-19
US20120053725A12012-03-01
US20120080517A12012-04-05
Other References:
See also references of EP 3069326A4
Download PDF:
Claims:
PATENT CLAIMS

1. Automatic system for vending products to the customer, comprising

- Multiple modules (1 ; 1.1) placed side by side or on top of each other in a frame, each module including a front end and multiple product positions in a row where the vendible products can be placed,

- A product box (2; 2.1) in the front end of the module, and

- A transfer device (6; 15), by using which the product in the first position can be transferred to the product box (2);

characterized in that

- The system includes a central unit (16) with a log in device for a payment instrument associated with a chargeable account, in which log in device the customer can log in, and that

- Each module has a reading device (13), where the logged-in customer is identified, whereafter he/she can take from the box (2; 2.1) the product transferred there by means of the transfer device and the account will be charged for the product price.

2. An automatic system according to claim 1 , wherein each module ( 1 ; 1.1 ) is separately replaceable.

3. An automatic system according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the module ( 1 ; 1.1 ) has a

mechanical closing device (4; 7.1) that prevents other than the first product to be taken from the module when the product box (2; 2.1) has been opened.

4. A module (1 ; 1.1 ) for use in an automatic system according to any one of claims 1 to 3 intended for vending products to the customer and where the system has a number of modules placed in a frame side by side or on top of each other, with each module having a front end, product positions where the vendible products can be placed in a row, in the front end of the module a product box (2; 2.1) that can be opened, and a transfer device (6; 15), by means of which the product can be transferred to the product box,

characterized in that the module (1; 1.1) has a mechanical closing device (4, 7.1) which closes the access into the module when the product box (2; 2.1) has been opened.

5. A module (1) according to claim 4, wherein the product box (2) can be pulled out and the closing device (4) closes the access to the module when the box has been pulled a certain distance out of the module and opened.

6. A module (1.1) according to claim 4, wherein the product box (2.1) can be turned open and in which the closing device (7.1) closes access to the module when the box has been turned open.

7. The use of a module according to any one of claims 4 - 6 in an automatic system intended for vending products to the customer.

8. Method for automated vending of products to the customer, the method comprising registration of the customer's payment instrument, associated with a chargeable account, with the central processing unit (16), allowing the customer to select and take a product from a module (1 ; 1.1 ), charging the price of the product from the payment instrument account, cfaaracterized in that the customer gets the product only when he/she has been identified through a reading device (13) in the module (1; 1.1).

Description:
MODULAR PRODUCT VENDING SYSTEM

State of the art

The invention pertains to a vending system, which is used for the retail of consumer products. The known product vending machines use elevator mechanisms and other robotics, which makes the machine very expensive for retail use. In the known product vending machines, elevators or other mechanisms bring the products one at a time to one customer at a time. In the known product vending machines product jamming, hardware failure or other interruption stops the entire system, and a service call by a competent repair technician is required. Known machines are also large in size, needing forklift or hoist for delivery One automatic vending machine is known from publication US 5 499 707.

The invention is intended to solve the problems of the prior art.

General description of the invention

An invention defined in the patent claims has now been made.

The first object of the invention is the automatic product vending system according to claim 1. The system allows simultaneous transactions by multiple logged-in customers. The system does not need expensive and malfunction-sensitive robotics. The machine can be simpler and more reliable in operation than the known systems. When the system does not deal with cash, the vulnerability to break-ins is reduced.

The system includes modules that are placed side by side or on top of each other, and attached together. The modules contain product places where the products are placed in a row. In the front end of each module there is a product box that can be opened and from which the purchased product can be taken. The system includes a central unit with a log in device for logging in with a payment instrument. Each module has a reader, allowing the product box to be opened after identifying the customer by reading the payment instrument. The modules are assembled in basic frames. Modules can be controlled by one or more central processing units. The number of modules is not limited. The module can be such that the reading of the identification instrument starts a transfer device which transfers the product to the product box. Alternatively, the product may be readily in the box, in which case reading allows the box to be opened. In this case, a new product is transferred to the box after the box is closed. The box is preferably automatically-closing, so that it cannot be accidentally left open, and it is always immediately ready for the next customer.

The product can be transferred to the product box without essentially dropping. Thus the risk of product damage during transmission is low.

The modules may be of different sizes. In particular, the modules may be of different sizes in cross-section, so that there is a basic module size, and the larger modules are multiples of this. Thus modules for different sizes of products can be flexibly placed in the same basic geometry.

A frame of modules may be located in a warm or refrigerated space enabling e.g. sales of a variety of foods.

The front wall of the module can include a display device. It may be used to display product information, especially the price of the product and for example the country of origin, packaging or expiration dates, etc., as well as information and advice on the progress of the purchase transaction. The identification media reader may be a module in the front wall.

The transfer device may be, for example, spiral or a pair of spirals, the products placed between the coils of the spirals. The module can include an electric motor of e.g. 12 - 48 V driving the transfer device. The modules can be linked together by interlocking rails, which contain power conductors forming automatically contacts to the adjacent modules and further to the basic frames. Each frame includes the required power supply. The operating voltage is supplied from the frame to the modules preferably through connectors in the interlocking rails. The number of frames in a system is unlimited. When a customer purchases a product, the product box is opened so that the customer can take the product. The box includes preferably a mechanical closing device to protect the other products in the module so that the client is unable to access them. The customer logs on to one of possibly several central units by means of a payment instrument. After this, he/she may, for example, for a certain period of time purchase products from a number of different modules. Each module has its own reading device, and the customer uses this for identification during each purchase transaction and is then allowed to take a single product from the box. The transactions are registered on the central unit. More than one customer can purchase products from the system at the same time.

Payment and identification method is preferably a payment card, such as a chip card.

The modules are preferably individually replaceable. In this way the system can be built on the location of use according to the size of the premises and range of products as required. Large vending systems can be built on site without the need for wider than normal doors and gangways.

Separately replaceable modules also provide more functional and service reliability. Failure of a single module does not cause a shutdown of the entire machine. The module can be constructed in such a way that it is easy to change quickly also by a non-professional. Thus the maintenance and repair may be carried out by a centralized service company without on-site service calls.

The modules are preferably attached to data transmission buses, which, similarly to the power rails are automatically coupled to the adjacent modules and further to the central unit.

The modules can preferably be filled from the back end by releasing the associated lock and pulling out the inner part of the module. The inner part preferably comprises of a product platform, the loading coils and the motor with the necessary support parts.

The central unit can be connected to a system that notifies the administrator if the product amount in a module is below a set limit. Similarly, the system can keep track of sales dates and notify if the product expires or is about to expire. Aged product sales can also be prevented or the product can be offered at a special rate. The central unit can be in connection with an external supervisory system.

The present invention further includes a module for the product vending system. The module has a product box and the mechanical closing device that closes access to the module from its front end, when the box is somewhat opened. The product box can be such that it can be pulled out and opened by turning the front door causing the bottom rear wall, which is attached to the front .

door through a lever mechanism, to close the rear end of the box when the box is pulled sufficiently and the front door is opened. Alternatively, the box may be integrally hinged to the front end of the module. According to one embodiment the front end of the box can be, for example, a cylindrical door that is open on one side and can be opened by turning. As a third independent subject of the invention is the use of the above-described module in a product automaton.

A fourth independent subject of the invention is a method for automated sale of products to the customer.

A detailed description of certain embodiments of the invention,

The description is associated with the accompanying drawings. In the drawings

- Figure 1 shows a machine in which the client is just taking the product

- Figure 2 shows the module product platform in front view

- Figure 3 shows one module of Fig. 1 in more detail

- Figure 4a shows a second module in the basic position ready for the purchase of the product, and

- Figure 4b shows the module of Figure 4a when the product is taken from the module.

When entering the shop the customer at first logs in using a bank or credit card on the central unit 16 that includes a card reading device, a numeric keypad and a big touch screen. The registration takes place by entering an identification code. After log-in, the system will create an authorization hold on the customer's bank or credit card account and allows the customer to make purchases within the authorization hold and a pre-set period of time (e.g. 20 minutes).

The system has in the frame a number of modules 1 side by side and on top of each other. Each module has a pull-out product box 2 with a front door 3 that can be opened, and a closing rear wall 4. The product box contains the product platform 5, where the vendable products are in a row. At the front end of the product box is a space in which the product can be transferred by a motor operated pair of spirals 6 (Figure 2). In addition, the front door includes a card reader.

The customer goes to the selected module 1 , inserts the card to the reader for identification, whereafter the motor rotates the spirals of the product platform 5, transferring the product into the product box 2. The customer pulls out the box far enough to open up. The box front door 3 and the rear wall 4 are attached to one another so that the front door can open only when the customer has pulled out the box far enough. When the front door opens, the rear wall will protect the other products from the customer. After removal of the product the box is closed to the initial state. When a customer has purchased the wanted products, he/she goes to the central unit, inserts the card to the card reader and sees on the screen a listing of all purchases. The CPU asks if the customer wants a receipt, which is written on a printer in the central unit. In addition, the central unit creates a purchase transaction to be debited on the customer's account.

The front door 3 of the product box 2 mechanism is hinged from its bottom edge to the front edge of the base 7, and the rear wall 4 is also hinged to the base. The front door and the rear wall are attached to each other by levers 8. The door has a window 1 1, which shows the product within the module. In addition, the door has a lid, which ensures that when the door opens, the product is not accessible before the rear wall has sufficiently risen. Each box contains tracks 12 that continue through the frame. The lower part of the box front wall includes the card reader 13.

The module 1.1 depicted in figures 4a and 4b includes an electric motor driven product platform 5.1 sliding on rails 14. Hinged to the front edge of the base is the product box 2.1, including a bottom 7.1 and a window 11 in the front wall. In standby mode, the product platform is in a forward position, the front end of the platform being above the bottom of the box and the first product located immediately behind the window visible to the purchaser. When a logged-in buyer inserts his/her card to the reader 13, the product platform moves backwards one product position length and at the same time the movement of the first product is prevented and the product falls a couple of millimeters, remaining on the bottom of the box. This can be done, for example, by a pusher 15 or a spiral. The product platform then moves backwards so that the front edge of the platform is behind the bottom of the box. Now, the buyer can open the box and take the product. When the box is closed, the product platform moves back to its forward position, and the module is ready for a new purchase.