Coin machines are built tough, with an average lifespan of 10 years. Years of use however, can take its toll on the machines, but that doesn’t mean they need to be replaced. “After several years of use, the bill acceptors and coin hoppers may need to be sent to the manufacturer for repairs. Depending on the problem, the cost could range from $75 and up,” Wayne Snihur, vice president of American Changer Corporation, explained.
Machines are designed based on modular components to best suit their customers’ needs. When an order is placed with the manufacturer, the customer’s needs are first determined before the machine is assembled. While customer needs vary, the same basic set of elements is present.
- Bill or coin input. The first consideration is to determine what the machine will be required to accept. Because sensors can be programmed to accept any denomination, carwash coin machines can be built to accept a range of one to twenty dollar bills.
- Payout. This term is used to describe the coins dispensed by the machine. Most carwash owners and operators request machines that dispense quarters or coins specific to the location.
- Location. Due to the varying sizes and shapes of machines, it is important to consider the placement of the machine. Larger units are designed as free standing floor models while smaller units can be mounted on the wall. Wall-mounted units offer the convenience of installation flush with the surface. They can be front or rear load models and provide added security by being anchored in the walls. The wall-mounted units can hold up to 11,000 coins, while some larger, free standing units can hold up to 20,000 coins.
- Security. Because change machines store large amounts of money, security is a major design consideration. Machines must be built solidly to deter mechanical break and must be secured properly in the walls or floors. The bill acceptors must be able to detect and reject fake or tampered bills.
The most popular machines sold to the carwash industry are those featuring single or double bill acceptors and 2-hoppers. Because traffic is high, it is important to clean the validators once a week with a cloth or cleaning pad supplied by the manufacturer. It is also vital to the machine’s health to empty the hoppers once a month and clean the hopper contacts with a scouring pad to remove any dirt or grime in order to keep the coin contacts clean.
“If tokens are used, we recommend washing the tokens once every six months, depending on their condition,” said Snihur. Cleanliness will keep dirt and grime from building up in the machine hoppers.
Keeping machines clean shouldn’t be the only thing on the to do list. News reports identify a high crime rate to carwash machines. These reports include robberies where the machine is broken into or tampered with — even cases where the machine is ripped right out of the wall. To counteract crime and stop robbers in their tracks, it is important to include video surveillance covering the coin machines. While video surveillance is not a guaranteed solution to the problem, it can act as a deterrent to would-be robbers.
Different types of change machines are available options to prevent crime. “Rear load models are more secure and can only be opened from the back in an office or back room that should have an alarm system installed. Stainless steel cabinet models are very strong and offer the most security for bill changers,” said Snihur.
Future technological advancements will enhance the coin machines of the future. “New changer designs, bill acceptors, boards and hoppers to improve performance are always being reviewed and evaluated,” said Snihur.