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Project Description

Develop an unattended self serve drink machine for Welbilt to deliver to convenience stores all over the globe.

Our Solution

Bluesparq developed a proof of concept and the first functioning prototype of a complete IoT drink machine, called Fresh Blends. The Fresh Blends machine is capable of making smoothies, shakes, frappes, and refresher drinks. It has a 22in touch screen display as well as a capacitive touch keypad to comply with ADA regulations.

Hardware

At the core of this drink machine is a custom YOCTO linux computer that controls the refrigeration system, blender, dispenser motors, and a 22in touch screen display. A utility circuit board was added to actively monitor the ingredients and perform advanced sanitation using highly concentrated detergents. The machines clean themselves once a day and once a week, extending the time in between maintenance trips. Using the utility board the machine can detect if it has not been properly cleaned. If it has not been properly cleaned the machine will go into a force clean mode, requiring proper cleaning before reuse. The utility board can also monitor the levels of ingredients inside the machine and the expiration dates of each ingredient, further extending the time before it needs to be serviced. Another use of the utility board is monitoring the current of all power drawing parts inside of the machine. If the board detects an increase in current draw by a part inside of the machine, it can record it and signal to the operator that the part is going to need replacement soon. Fresh Blends also features a capacitive touch ADA keypad to control the display for those who cannot reach the touch screen. Since BlueSparq has the ability to manufacture everything it designs, we manufacture all of the circuit boards for the Fresh Blends machine. The parts manufactured by us are then sent to Welbilt for further assembly of the entire machine.

Software

The operating system that runs on this IoT device is a custom YOCTO linux image, that is maintained using mender. A QT Graphical User Interface and state machine boots directly on powerup. The backend connectivity of the device is hosted through AWS. The backend of the device allows for remote monitoring of all aspects of the machine. The backend of this device can generate reports to help store owners determine which stores are performing the best. It can also alert owners of issues such as failure or technical difficulty and when the last time the machine was cleaned. Reports on machine uptime can be generated to show how often a machine is in an uncleaned lock-out state. Ingredient status can also be monitored remotely alerting staff before ingredients run completely empty, saving time and money. BlueSparq has modified the GUI by changing icons, logos, functions, and features that are better suited to Welbilt’s different customers. This has allowed Welbilt to sell more of their machines as they are better suited to reach different markets. Development is continuous on this machine to strive to increase uptime and to transition this machine to become more suited for unattended applications such as inside of airports or hotel lobbies, cafes, and gyms. Due to this need for becoming fully unattended, we have added our own method of payment processing to allow the machine to become completely unattended.

Project Details