Eu'Vend + coffeena in Cologne

At this year's Eu'Vend - International Trade Fair for the Vending Industry, trade visitors will be able to inspect the latest solutions and ideas in Cologne from 8th to 10th September 2011. This year's event also marks the first time Eu'Vend will take place in conjunction with coffeena - The International Coffee Fair.

What do surgeons, autoworkers and warehouse employees do if they get hungry or thirsty at night? They go to a vending machine. That's because the automated provision of food and beverages in vending machines is now essential wherever people have to work around the clock. For the first time ever, the turnover from snacks has risen faster (12.4%) at Germany's largest in-house caterers than the turnover for the traditional main meal of the day at lunchtime (9.9%). The vending machine sector, which has been the main provider of snacks for many years, has developed devices and systems that provide healthy and appropriate nutrition around the clock especially for employees with flexible working times.

At industrial firms, hospitals and other companies where the employees work in shifts, the need for snacks does not end after the buffet lunch is over. Automatic snack and meal providers (e.g. machines for the combined selection of hot or cold beverages, baguettes, sandwiches and hot meals) are particularly in demand at night and on weekends. These machines fill a supply gap in a way that not only avoids the personnel costs of conventional cafeterias and kiosks but is also unaffected by staff-related opening times.

Vending machines supply shift workers with food and beverages
This fact is also explicitly pointed out by Regenbogen Arbeit gGmbH, which, among other things, manages the postal canteen at the Munich mail centre. On its website, the company states, "We operate machines on the premises especially for shift workers, filling the machines with hot and cold beverages as well as with various types of snacks." So can vending machines serve as a marketing tool? Most definitely, and they can do a lot more too - namely, they can contribute to preventive healthcare. A brochure created for works councils at companies where workers operate in shifts states that "shift-specific catering" must be provided in a way that takes the aspect of preventive healthcare into account. The ideal piece of equipment for this is the vending machine.

Occupational medicine specialist Ulrike Roth from TÜV Rheinland, for example, recommends that shift workers should get used to eating at fixed times. That's because people who work night shifts are forced to fight against their natural rhythm. As a result, they often don't have any appetite and thus get ill. The best way to counteract this is to eat at regular intervals and fixed times. On the basis of many years of research, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has also come to the conclusion that workers will feel best if they eat a light dinner between about 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. before they begin work, as well as two meals during their night shifts (a hot meal around midnight and a snack two hours before the shift ends). After work is finished, employees can eat a light breakfast as long as it does not interfere with their sleep. An interesting finding is that eating only cold meals at night is less effective than also consuming a hot meal, which helps to heat up the body and makes people feel more alert, particularly at night.

Meal machines also "cook" at night
To make the serving of hot meals possible, the vending machine sector has developed a variety of meal machines whose technology and quality has been steadily refined through the years. The vending machine segment was particularly given a boost by the "indulgence vending machines" from the Heroldstatt-based operator Stüwer, who won the Vending Star in 2009, and by the Freshly Island Stations from DBS Projektsteuerung in Hanover. The Freshly Island Stations operate in accordance with the cook & chill principle, which is a tried and tested method for hospitals and clinics because it decouples processes. Meeting the catering needs of doctors and nurses is a particularly serious challenge for many hospitals, because cafeterias and canteens are often only open until sometime in the afternoon due to personnel constraints. In the late evening and at night, medical personnel are therefore mostly dependent on the food they bring from home. Surgeons, who cannot take regular breaks anyway, are very thankful for flexible and diverse vending machine solutions located near the OP recreation rooms and offering sandwiches, meals and other items.

Vending machines also offer freshly washed work clothes
German hospitals have recently also increasingly begun to recognize the benefits of automated dispensing systems for non-food items. For example, clothing machines help staff members change their work clothes at Munich Municipal Hospital, Protestant Hospital in Rotenburg and (beginning next year) Northwest Hospital in Frankfurt. The approximately 1, 000 employees at Protestant Hospital in Rotenburg (ranging from students to head physicians) bring their dirty clothing to a machine in the basement, where an Italian-made clothing machine immediately hands out freshly washed attire of the correct size. Every day, trucks transport the clothing from Rotenburg to Minden, where a company centrally washes the work clothing and prepares it for the next users. Such "tool concepts" make non-food vending machines usable for logistics purposes at hospitals during times when few staff members are available. For everything from scrubs and bandages to the central pharmacy service and the supply of medication, personalized chip cards and access keys ensure that only authorized staff members can use the systems.

Eu'Vend + coffeena will take place from Thursday, 8th September to Saturday, 10th September 2011, and is open only to trade visitors.

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