When it comes to change, it’s almost impossible not to find an example of it almost daily. I’ve been working a very tight schedule at the Empire State Building in the heart of New York City for the past two weeks. Early in the second week, I found myself with only a half hour between two training sessions and was in dire need of at least a cold drink to sooth my throat. I grabbed an elevator to the street level and ran across the street to McDonalds to grab a soda to take back to my next session.
That’s when I discovered still another change. I guess it was only a matter of time before touch-screen technology made an impact in the fast food industry. There, lined up along a side wall, were three giant touch-screen soda fountains. Each machine looked as though it had just landed from outer space. These giant units offer more than 125 different Coca-Cola drink products and custom flavors! The machine allows users to select from mixtures of flavors of Coca-Cola branded products which are then individually dispensed. The flavor possibilities are almost endless.
Coca-Cola actually introduced this technology in 2009 but has just recently increased its distribution efforts as part of an ongoing deployment.
Technologies involved include micro dispensing technology and proprietary PurePour technology. Both technologies were originally developed to deliver precise doses of drugs. One Freestyle unit with a similar footprint to a current vending machine can dispense 126 kinds of carbonated and non-carbonated beverages from one freestanding unit. Micro-dosing blends one or more concentrated ingredients in 46 US fluid ounces packets with water and sweetener at the point where the beverage is dispensed, thus avoiding the use of traditional 5 US gallon boxes of syrup (also known as a bag-in-a-box). Cartridges store concentrated ingredients in the dispenser cabinet and are RFID enabled. The machine uses RFID chips to detect its supplies and to radio re-supplying needs to other units. The traditional ice cube dispenser remains. The maximum rate of output is 95 drinks per hour.
There is all of this progress despite New York City’s mayor’s campaign to reduce the size of soda glasses to that of a thimble. Change marches on!