Tell me about the corporate structure of IDS?
Intelligent Dispensing Solutions is part of an organization called the Wittern Group. There are several additional companies that are under the umbrella of the Wittern group of such companies called VendNet, National Vending, and Modern Leasing. IDS software management service is through VendNovation.
Who do you consider to be your competition? What differentiates you from your competitors in terms of benefits and features?
IDS is one of the only, if not the only, controlled dispensing solution provider that manufactures its equipment. Plus, unlike other controlled dispensing solutions provides, IDS is a one-stop-shop and offers customers a holistic program. Beyond the equipment itself, IDS offers:
- Integrated backend software
- In-house financing and leasing programs
- Shipping and logistics support
- Engineering and R&D expertise
- Equipment branding services
- Vending management and fulfillment programs
- Service and technical support
Where is your equipment manufactured?
IDS is the world’s largest manufacturer of integrated point-of-sale (POS) automated dispensing solutions. Using lessons learned from over 85 years in vending, we build our machines in our 500,000 square foot facility located in Des Moines, Iowa. Our sophisticated fabrication techniques and advanced machining ensures our equipment is made with quality and durability. Plus, we have a robust engineering and R&D team that works in the same facility where our equipment is manufactured. This gives us total control over the entire process, and ensures you get your machine on time.
Who is using this technology now? What kinds of organizations and facilities are using your solution?
IDS’ roots are in traditional vending, however over the past 86 years, we have grown dramatically and expanded our offerings to adjacent markets. IDS delivers value across many types of enterprises and therefore our breadth of customer base is quite expansive from companies. We have customers across numerous industry segments including consumer products, defense and aerospace, education, health care, information technology, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing and construction, and professional and financial services.
Where are your customers located geographically?
Most of IDS machines are in North America, but can be found globally.
Are there any customers that I can speak to or that are close to me where I can go look at a machine?
We take pride in keeping our customer information confidential – exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
What makes IDS’ controlled dispensing equipment different from traditional snack and drink vending machines?
IDS controlled dispensing machines are different from snack, candy or drink vending machines in many ways. For example, IDS’ equipment:
- Is purpose-built for specific applications and environments
- Utilizes powerful inventory management software – i.e. IQ Technology
- Does not operate on cash transactions. Employees login with their existing badge.
- Has a user interface designed for making complex inventory transactions easy
- Is flexible to dispense a wide-variety of item types
- Doesn’t require repackaging or items
- Allows the return of items with our Supply Lockers
We want to dispense fragile products. Will they break when being dispensed?
The tray is padded. We have successfully dispensed Nitro Glycerin bottles from the top row without breakage. We suggest that small vials and syringes be placed in clear padded envelopes. We have termed these parrots and have a parrot return as an option on the machine so that these can be reused. We also suggest that you consider the order of items dispensed. It is better to dispense heavier items before small or fragile items.
What happens if products hang up and don’t fall into the dispensing tray?
Our Supply Dispensers and TM System utilizes iVend technology. There are light beams crisscrossing the tray. If the light beam is not broken by a falling product the coil will continue to inch forward until the product falls then immediately stop before dispensing a second product.
Are IDS’ machines purchased, leased, or rented?
IDS offers both purchase and leasing programs through our in-house leasing partner, Modern Leasing. Our leasing programs have three to five year term length flexibility depending upon the customer need. IDS does not offer equipment for rent.
A three year lease is too long – do you offer shorter lease terms?
IDS does not offer lease terms of less than 36 months, however customers can always elect to purchase the equipment outright rather than leasing the equipment.
Can equipment purchases be financed?
Yes, IDS offers competitive, flexible financing programs though our in-house financing company, Inland Financing.
What is the difference between financing and leasing IDS’ equipment?
Our operating lease programs allow for the use of an asset, but do not convey rights of ownership of the asset. An operating lease is not capitalized, therefore, it is accounted for as a rental expense in what is known as “off balance sheet financing.” For the lessor, the asset being leased is accounted for as an asset and is depreciated as such. Operating leases have potential tax incentives and do not result in assets or liabilities being recorded on the lessee’s balance sheet, which can improve the lessee’s financial ratios. Conversely, our financing programs convey rights of ownership.
Does IDS offer short-term trials for point-of-concepts (POCs)?
IDS does not offer short-term trials of equipment for POCs. Because our machines are configured per customer requirements and specifications, it is not feasible for us to offer equipment on a short-term trial basis. Plus, due to the size and weight of our equipment, it is not cost efficient to transport the equipment frequently. IDS offers proven solutions that have been implemented globally in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. Customers are welcome to purchase or lease equipment for their POC initiatives.
Why do you require full payment up front?
Because our solutions are build to be customer specific, IDS requires full payment up front. Project components such as machine specifications and options such as custom graphic wraps, machine configuration, type of badge reader cannot be changed or repurposed without significant time and expense.
Are there any countries that you cannot ship equipment to?
There are several countries including North Korea and Brazil that IDS currently does not ship directly to. In the case of countries such as Brazil, it is possible for IDS to work with a third party importer for an additional cost in order to accommodate customers with locations within restrictive countries.
What sizes do your machines come in?
IDS offers three categories of machine types: Glass Fronts, Lockers, and a Textile System. The external dimensions of our glass fronts range from 72” H x 29 5/16” W x 34 1/8” D for our smallest model to 72” H x 41” W x 34 1/8” D for our largest model. We have several locker models with varying compartment sizes for items that are too large to fit into the glass front machines. All locker models have dimensions of 72” H x 30” W x 24” D. The dimensions of the Textile System is 78” H x 121” W x 23 1/4” D for the full three unit set.
How many different items will fit in the machine / what is the capacity of your machines?
The machine capacity or number of items that will fit in a machine will ultimately depend upon the size of the item, and the quantity of each item required to avoid stock outs. During the manufacturing process, we configure our equipment to accommodate the needs of our customers and strive to configure your machine to maximize the space within.
Will IDS make a custom machine based upon my specifications?
While IDS has robust engineering and manufacturing capabilities, we do not offer design or R&D services for custom projects. IDS offers a full-line of dispensing equipment that can be tailored per customer requirements. Plus, with our custom equipment branding, we can brand your equipment to complement your existing company branding or an end location’s décor.
What types of machines does IDS NOT offer?
IDS has an established line of dispensing equipment that can be tailored to vend a variety of products across numerous industries and applications. IDS does not offer:
- Machines that make pizza, protein shakes, hot food, soup, popcorn, or salads
- Kiosks that dispense lottery tickets or other types of tickets or cards
- Machines that dispense marijuana or alcohol
- ATM-style or in-wall cupcake vending machines
- Machines that dispense bags of ice
- Customized automated retail machines such as the Best Buy, Sephora, and proactiv machines found in airports and malls
Does your equipment have any certifications and/or approvals?
Most of our equipment is cULus, CE, and FCC approved.
What type of products can your machines dispense?
Almost anything can be vending from our dispensing equipment including, but not limited to, office supplies, IT peripherals, make-up, snacks and drinks, pharmaceuticals, surgical scrubs, emergency medical supplies, hardware, and tools.
What type of power is required?
Domestically an 110VAC outlet is required, while internationally a 220VAC outlet is required. We strongly recommend that a dedicated outlet is used.
What is the difference between host machines verses a satellite machines?
Host machines are machines that has a controller that the customer interacts with. The satellite is a machine that runs off the host machine.
What happens if products hang up and don’t fall into the dispensing tray?
Our dispensers utilize iVend infrared guaranteed vend technology. iVend uses light beam sensors that crisscross the tray. If the light beam is not broken by a falling product, the coil will continue to move forward until the product falls. Once detected by iVend, the coil immediately stops before vending a second product.
We have fragile products, won’t they break?
The tray is padded. We have successfully dispensed Nitro Glycerin bottles from the top row without breakage. In the EMS + Pharmaceuticals application, we suggest that small vials and syringes be placed in clear bubble bags or padded envelopes. We have a bubble bag return slot as an option on the machine so that they can be reused. We also suggest that you consider the order of items dispensed. It is better to dispense heavier items before small or fragile items.
How long does the implementation process take?
Working with IDS is a collaborative effort between our staff and our customers as we tailor each order to fit our customers’ needs, and therefore require input from the customer along the way. The input from the customer may range from identifying product mix, to sending IDS sample products, to providing employee information files, to external graphic files for equipment branding. Typically, from purchase order to ship is about 5-7 weeks, along with additional week to receive and install the equipment. Internationally, because of varying customs clearance times, the typical time from purchase order to the equipment arriving on-site at the customer location is 8-12 weeks.
How do you manage your projects?
IDS prides itself in the level of project assistance we provide to our customers every step of the way. For each customer project, we will provide a knowledgeable and extremely qualified Solutions Manager that will support all aspects of the management of the project, including but not limited to, the service level agreement, technical training and support, equipment ordering, and project reporting, and will ensure the overall success of the project. In addition, your assigned Solutions Manager shall be the single point of contact (SPOC) ensuring implementation success and customer satisfaction.
What is the most common issue you experience with deployments?
This is a very mature system with tens of thousands of machines deployed. We seldom experience issues in implementation. Typical issues during implementation arise around network connections. Generally this has to do with Network Administrators not understanding requirements or not having been brought into the planning process by the Client. We take a hands on approach to work through any issues with Clients and required Clients agents to determine the issues and provide a timely resolution. Once the system is operational, unless something changes on the Client network we generally do not have issues.
Is equipment training available during installation?
As much or as little as you would like. We have clients that are more hands off, and we have clients that are more hands on. We have a team in place in Des Moines, Iowa to help and assist with any issues or enhancements you would like to make to the machine, as well as, local support in all 50 states across the country in the event that an issue requires too much involvement.
Why do you need us to send in a badge?
There are different readers and each badge scans differently. To identify the reader the fits your badge the best we need to have a badge sent.
Can I send in my own Credit Card Reader? Or Badge Reader?
IDS can receive and install your credit card or badge readers. We would need to have them delivered early in order to insure they fit into the location already stamped in the door, determine if our current masks will work, or if any special hardware is required.
Can I add custom graphics to the machine?
Yes, we can either design it for you, or provide you with the graphic layout for you to produce your own… It would be advisable to use the assistance of our own In House Graphic Artist, since we do use textured paint on our cabinets, and they require a specific adhesion make up, as opposed to a smooth paint.
How do I get the machine off of the pallet?
We ship either White Glove Carrier, where the unit is brought into your location, set into place, and all the packaging and skid boards are removed. Or, we can ship with a lift gate, which lowers the machine to the ground, where you would then have to move it inside, and remove all the packaging. The skid boards are easily removed with a screwdriver and a hammer. They ship with the legs incased in the skid board that has a split already started, and by using the screwdriver and hammer, you can split the skid all the way through, and pull them apart.
I have international locations, can IDS support them?
Of course we can! IDS currently has equipment placed across the world including in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. While certain countries have specific licenses and approvals, we are not restricted to any location, nor have we been told we cannot supply our program to any country. For international installations, we utilize third party, partner service tech entities in some cases dependent upon geographic location of the customer sites.
How do you change parts within the machines?
IDS performs what we call “reconfigurations” or modifications to our machines based on customer need, product packaging changes, dead/expired inventory, or other cases in which a customer would like to refresh their offering. We can also handle service needs both from a remote and physical standpoint and are happy to assist in any aspect of the program that will increase the effectiveness for our customer.
What if my product packaging changes?
If packaging changes or you would like to replace items within the machine with different items, the machine configuration can be changed on-site and without the use of tools. The motors pop in and out, the dividers are moveable, and helixes can be swapped out for larger or smaller items.
Who will I contact if I have any issues? Are these machines under warranty?
Our service and support truly separates us from others in the industry. Through our service partner, VendNet, IDS provides 24/7 technical support and has a robust global network of service entities to perform on-site repair and preventative maintenance services. Our machines run at a 99% effectiveness and our VendNet team is responsible for that. Our equipment has a three-year limited parts warranty.
Why does your parts warranty not match the lease and financing terms?
The warranty is a factory warranty, and may not match the length of your finance terms, which is a separate division of our company. Additional, extended warranty options through our service group, VendNet, are available, please check with your sales person.
What does IDS’ limited parts warranty cover?
The parts warranty covers all the parts installed on the machine. The refrigeration system does have a pro-rated warranty. These are factory warranties, which is why there is a limited warranty on the parts.
What does IDS’ limited parts warranty NOT cover?
The limited parts warranty does not cover freight or the service tech, if one is required. Should you need a new part, you will be charged for the part initially, and upon its return, a credit will be issued, minus the freight charge.
What is the difference between the Limited Parts Warranty and the Service Programs?
The limited parts warranty is strictly for part replacement. The service programs can cover a possible need to reconfigure the machine within the first 90 days of ownership, to an annual checkup program where you can setup for your machine to be reviewed by a service entity to make sure there are no issues with the machine. If they were to find something wrong, and the machine is still under the parts warranty time frame, they would work with you to obtain the parts and fix the unit.
Do you accept returns?
In our 85+ years of doing business, we have only had a handful of equipment returns. Our equipment is extremely efficient and other than an occasional motor or control board, the units have a very long life expectancy. Should the machine not suit the needs of you or their location, we do have a return policy, but it would require payment up front of the return freight cost and a restocking fee of 30%. We would hope that we could work together to resolve any issues you might have, before it would come to this type situation.
Once my order is placed, can it be cancelled?
Most of the equipment we ship out to customers are customer specific, and as such, once an order is placed and depending on the current status of the machine, you may be charged a cancellation fee.
Who do we buy our supplies from?
IDS’ offers the equipment and ‘brains’ behind the equipment in terms of the software, which allows you to continue buying your product from whomever you feel is the most well-equipped to manage your business. We don’t force you to consolidate vendors, eliminate your sourcing department, or compromise on the products that you need to do your business the right way. IDS is simply providing you the vehicle to distribute those products in the most efficient way possible.
How do my machines get replenished?
Product replenishment can be handled a couple of different ways, but the majority of our customers replenish their machines with in-house resources. This allows you total control of reordering, restocking and product/employee restrictions. Some customers prefer a total hands-off approach and through our in-house vending management and fulfillment partner, National Vending, we can manage the replenishment process for you (for a fee). Alternatively, some customers utilize the product suppliers themselves to provide the replenishment services.
Can IDS provide total solution (i.e. fulfillment / vending management and product procurement services)?
Based on services requested, Intelligent Dispensing Solutions can work with you on the best method for your fulfillment services.
Can I view inventory in real-time?
Absolutely. IDS iQ Technology web-based operating system and inventory control provides management with real-time inventory and warehouse control. Our iQ Technology software is designed so that you don’t have to be standing in front of the machine to know what’s in it. This web-based software gives customers an unprecedented level of control and customization, allowing managers to track inventory remotely. The complete dispensing history and real-time inventory of all your vending machines is always available. But iQ does more than that. Used in combination with support software, you can also track the inventory in your stock room or in your delivery vehicles. That means your complete product chain can be tracked for reordering and — in the case of perishable product — expiration status.
What kind of reporting will I have access to?
iQ Technology software is the brain of the IDS system that puts managers back in control of what is often a confusing and frustrating situation. You can even tailor usage restrictions on an individual basis. A very robust set of reports is integral to our backend system. The reports are dynamically created and provide more granular information as you “drill down” into different levels. You will have access to all different types of data and information depending upon what you’re looking for. iQ Technology includes powerful reporting capabilities to assist managers in optimizing their dispensing system. Example reports that be generated include, but are but not limited to:
- Usage Summary Report – provides summary of dispense activity at the Organization level, the Account level, the Site level or and individual Machine level
- Transaction Report – provides detailed transaction data at each level
- Inventory Consumption Report – details the number of each item consumed at each level over a time period
- Employee Rollup – shows consumption by each employee over a time period
How do our employees access the machines?
Machines are accessed through PinPad, Proximity card swipe, barcode swipe, or credit card. It will generally come down to what you have already have in place and what’s the best and most preferred method from the employee base.
How is the equipment connected to the internet?
IDS’ equipment connects to the internet via LAN, Wi-Fi, or cellular. IDS provides multiple options allowing our customers to choose what best works for their infrastructure. LAN is the most reliable, while cellular is very easy to setup and wifi is typically a middle ground. We are flexible in our offering and prefer for the customer to choose what best suits their needs.
How secure is IDS’ solution?
Not only are IDS intelligent dispensing solutions physically secured with steel construction and high-security glass, but the machine can be configured to dispense items based solely upon access code. That access can vary based upon authority level, and can be tied to a pin pad, a barcode reader or scanner, a prox reader, a fingerprint scanner or even a combination of these. All transactions are 100% encrypted. All numbers and data are protected, and no credit card data is stored at machine level or on the servers, ensuring your customers’ private data cannot be compromised.
Can I restrict the amount of product and/or the type of product a specific employee can dispense?
The Vending Management system can restrict products based on employee, or by department. Additional requirements can be setup to require multiple employee’s to get product from the machine.
Does IDS’ iQ Technology software integrate into other systems?
There are a range of integrations that IDS does provide based on your requirements.
Does IDS provide training on the iQ Technology software?
Training is provided on the Web Portal when the first machine is installed. This is typically a 1 hour walk through the administrative tasks and an overview of the reporting. There are tutorials imbedded in the portal that can be referenced for specific tasks and the VendNovation support desk is always willing to assist customers who may need additional help.
How are Employees Authenticated?
Employees who are dispensing from the machines can be authenticated against a static list of valid users stored in the Administrative Portal. This is an easy way to get up and running quickly however larger organization often prefer using the Authorization Endpoint method which allows the machine to call a service that the customer provides which can authenticate against their Active Directory
What are the connectivity requirements?
We require a TCP/IP connection to the dispenser with port 80 access to the internet.
Can we have this hosted on our local server?
No. This is a cloud based system and is entirely based on internet technology. Administration is done securely through any modern browser and the dispensers can be placed anywhere in your organizations facilities that have internet capabilities. This provides a flexible structure for growing and relieves your organization of the cost and bother of hosting.
Is your system secure?
Yes. All data is encrypted before it is transmitted to/from the servers or dispensers. Administrative access is granted on an as needed basis via a secure web portal. iQ solutions encrypt data using a combination of RSA-2048 and AES-128, and transmit that data over HTTP (TCP 80). Included in the payload is a digital signature (using RSA-2048) to prove that the client is a valid device. All data sent to or from the device is encrypted in this manner.
Where is the system data housed/stored?
Data and servers are hosted with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Who all has access to my company data?
Your data can be accessed by anyone in your organization to whom you grant rights. Different levels of access can be granted as needed (Reports, adding users, changing products, etc.) Access is not granted to anyone outside your organization.
What are the IT requirements for the system?
Access to the internet via http port 80 and 443. Administration with a current web browser such as MS Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox.
How does the system interact with our local network at the facility mainly focusing on any security issues and what type of information will be moving thru the network?
A typical transaction with the server will send a total of about 2 kilobytes of data. When downloading an update from the server, the data size can hit about 50 kilobytes. iQ solutions check for firmware updates once a day, sometime between 3am and 4am, to minimize the impact of the increased network usage. iQ solutions will only establish connections with VendNovation’s back end server (www.vendnovation.com), whose IP address is 184.108.40.206 (hosted in the Amazon cloud). Network administrators are free to restrict the device’s communications to this address.