Vending machine controller test platform
The other day I had a particularly interesting call with someone about touchless vending machine flows. They had been reading my blog and came across the post I made about working with the MDB protocol and wanted to consult with me about the technical aspects of making a vending product. After getting over the surprise that someone actually read my blog post about vending machines I set up a call. Because this is a product in development I won't go into too many specifics but one thing this really reminded me of is that developing products for vending machines is a bit of a pain because of the lack of easy tooling out there. I'm fairly sure that this call saved the client a lot of time, because there are a number of bits of knowledge in vending that are important for the design of a successful product but aren't really documented anywhere accessible.
One thing I learned from working in this area is that when you are making a new product testing is absolutely crucial. You want to test your product in isolation and also explicitly test the integration with real vending machines. Integration testing with vending machines is a lot easier if you have a real Vending Machine Controller that you can hook up to your product that can simulate real-world conditions that will come up with vending. You'll want to test that a real vend can be made and also test various edge cases with failed vending (you probably want to test timeouts for example). By doing work on the test bench you can save a lot of hassles in production and every bug you avoid putting in your product is support calls you now no longer need to deal with.
As someone who worked professionally in this space for a few years a common request I from clients was is for these vending machine controller test benches. I remember making a standalone desktop app to help with the integration of certain vending flows and this saved the clients a huge amount of time and money. You could buy a full vending machine and hook your device into that to do the testing, but for the purposes of testing this might actually not be ideal since a real vending machine is designed to work properly and you might want to explicitly test the flows for when things don't work properly. As someone who's doing product development a purpose made test bed could be quite a large time saver and help you make your product more robust as a result of the ability to do better testing and QA. Such a test bed might have explicit buttons on it to trigger various vending conditions.
This is one of those somewhat niche items that a few people want but nobody really sells because there's not a huge market for them. If this is something you'd find useful and would like someone to make for you please feel free to get in contact with me1, I know how to make these and could create one on commission for you.
email me at consulting at lesinskis.com ↩