CHICAGO -- Making its debut at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's National Expo will be a new set of standards developed by a working group organized by the association's Technology Leadership Council.
The Vending Data Interchange Task Force, chaired by Chris Lilly of Best Vendors, set out to find ways to simplify the sharing of information among applications produced by many suppliers. The resulting VDI standard bundles machine-level data for efficient distribution throughout an operating company's information network.
"The task force's work is unprecedented in vending history," said Dr. Michael L. Kasavana of Michigan State University, who served as the group's coordinator. "In the past, technical specs have taken more than four years, but after only four months, we're ready to launch VDI," he observed. Dr. Kasavana is NAMA Endowed Professor in Hospitality Business at MSU (East Lansing).
"Seven providers -- Crane Merchandising Systems, MEI Group, Cantaloupe Systems, InOne Technology, USA Technologies, Validata Computer & Research, and CompuVend -- were asked to test the new set of standards, prior to release," Dr. Kasavana reported. He had hoped that at least two would offer to do so; "but all seven agreed to be early adopters, an indication to me that this is a very significant advancement."
The VDI standards set will be expanded with successive increments as additional messages and hardware configurations are delineated.
NAMA president and chief executive Richard M. Geerdes observed that the association works continually to find new tools to help its members run their businesses more efficiently. "This is one of the most promising advances in our industry's history," he said. "It literally could revolutionize the industry, and we look forward to presenting the details of the technology at the Expo."
The NAMA National Expo is set for Chicago's Navy Pier from September 23 through 25.