As vending machines are increasingly growing in popularity worldwide, businesses are looking for cost and time-effective smart vending solutions for vending machine automation, providing a seamless shopping experience of billions of items per year. To ensure that they run fault-free and can be easily maintained, stable and secure internet connectivity is crucial. This case study explores how the ROCK single board computers (SBC) can provide reliable connectivity for smart vending machines using IoT.


As life becomes faster and busier, consumers’ behaviour changes quickly, too. People try to keep up with the fast pace of life and save time by buying drinks, food, smartphone accessories, tickets and other products from vending machines, as it’s much simpler and faster than shopping at a large store.

We’re all used to vending machines that we see at train stations, shops, offices, and all other kinds of public spaces. A vending machine has a simple purpose, to give out items from its stock in exchange for money or tokens.

But what is a smart vending machine?

Apart from its main function, a smart vending machine aims to engage customers in an interactive buying experience through its extraordinary touch-screen controls, video, audio, gesture-based interaction, and cashless payment.

MarketWatch predicted that the global intelligent vending machine market will grow to $51,441.4 million by 2030 by registering a compound annual growth rate of 11.1% during the forecast period (2022-2030). With the increasing demand for fast shopping and vending machines becoming more and more popular, businesses are looking for industrial vending solutions to help them optimise their operation and maintenance.

Resource and cost-heavy maintenance

As the vending machine market continues to grow, many companies nowadays offer installation and maintenance services for vending machines. These services usually require high costs and multiple employees, including engineers who will program the vending machine and staff who will refill the machine with stock when it runs out.

Source: Inveda

Tech optimisation as a cost-saving solution

Businesses that run vending machines try to reduce those costs and increase profits by finding new ways to optimise the maintenance of their vending machines, opting for industrial automation and control for IoT connected vending machines. 

To help tackle this challenge, companies benefit from industrial vending machine solutions, such as fitting smart sensors into vending machines to monitor stock levels, card terminals for cashless payment and digital screens that open up possibilities to display ads and, ultimately, increase income.

All of these innovative measures have one thing in common – reliable and secure internet connectivity, which allows all smart devices used for operating and maintaining vending machines to stay connected.

Internet connectivity – the crucial factor for automating a vending machine

Different elements that facilitate the normal activity of the vending machine, such as Bluetooth sensors for temperature, humidity and stock levels control, digital screens for advertising, a contactless terminal for electronic payments, and the controller responsible for the overall operation of the vending machine, all require reliable and continuous internet connectivity. If the machine lost connectivity to the Internet, most of these solution components would stop functioning. 

ROCK, your ideal smart vending machine solution

Stable and secure internet connectivity is crucial for running a vending machine efficiently. The main elements of the machine are all connected and powered by a single device, a so-called “brain”, a tiny, low-power, high-performing single board computer, such as the ROCK 4 SE and ROCK 4C+.

Installing a professional internet router powered by ROCK, a robust, high-performing and multifunctional single board computer developed by OKdo & Radxa, will allow connecting all key elements of the machine to a single device and have an internet backup. Vending machine automation based on ROCK is a powerful and high-performing alternative for a Raspberry Pi vending machine controller or an Arduino-controlled vending machine.

Remote monitoring for faults and stock management

The solution can be monitored remotely, enabling notifications and alerts about any unexpected breakdown or fault. What’s more, the router also performs as a gateway to the service centre, allowing it to monitor stock levels inside the vending machine and inform decisions for refilling the machine.

Apart from its powerful Rockchip processor, extensive storage capacity, integrated real-time-clock, and advanced multimedia capabilities, all supporting the vending machine to run seamlessly, ROCK provides multiple connectivity capabilities, including Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, antenna, USB and HDMI ports, allowing you to incorporate ROCK into your machine and optimise its performance and maintenance. 

How are vending machines connected?

What benefits does the integration of the ROCK platform into the vending machine bring to the business?

  • Connection reliability for the overall operation of the smart vending machine – the ROCK boards benefit from extensive connectivity capabilities, including Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, USB and HDMI ports, and an antenna.
  • Accurate temperature and humidity control – the onboard 40P GPIO extension header makes the ROCK SBC widely compatible with a wide range of devices, including sensors that will facilitate measuring and controlling the temperature and humidity levels to ensure the required storage conditions are met.
  • Real-time inventory management – the onboard real-time clock, camera and extensive storage capacity, including 4GB RAM and a high-speed eMMC socket for eMMC modules that can be used for OS and data storage, stock management can be performed remotely, in real-time.
  • High-quality video and audio streaming – the ROCK is fitted with Arm Mali™ – T860MP4 quad-core graphics processing unit (GPU), camera and display interfaces, dual-display support of up to 4Kp60 resolution and high-quality stereo audio output.

Let’s invent the future together

If you’re looking for the best industrial vending machine solution, let’s talk! We can help solve your problem and identify new optimisation and development opportunities. Get in touch today.


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