Sponsored Content

Browse a library of sponsored content from manufacturing partners.


Commercial Beverage Machine Trends: What Should Service Companies Brace For?

Beverage machines are used in various foodservice applications in both the front and back of the house. From coffee and espresso to soda and frozen drinks, these units are starting to take on a modern twist like other equipment in the space. 

As we discussed with fryers in the March issue of Service Insights, commercial beverage equipment is also starting to embrace new technology and sustainable features meant to improve efficiency, enhance operation and reduce downtime.

Like any piece of equipment that changes over time, it begs the question: What should service companies and technicians be prepared to tackle?

Customers call on local service companies to help with critical repairs or even some planned preventative maintenance. That way their beverage equipment can stay at peak performance for years to come. However, some of the newest advancements will impact the way operators use the machines and how technicians service them.

We'll look at two of the biggest commercial beverage machine trends and break down the impact on service companies going forward.

Touchless Operation

Partstown - Touchless Coffee DispenserTouchless coffee and beverage machines are becoming more prominent in many commercial applications.

While you might still see some old models with a spigot or push-button operation, more restaurants and commercial applications have embraced machines with touchless capability. This trend has been growing over the last decade with sensory water fountains. It was prominently on display for brewers and soda fountains at the last National Restaurant Association Show in 2019. However, like many foodservice trends over the last couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic helped accelerate this one quicker than initially anticipated. 

Some new beverage machines use sensor-powered spigots that fill a cup with just the wave of a hand. Coca-Cola took this one step further in 2020 by releasing a no-touch machine that dispenses beverages by scanning a QR code. While those features will continue to crop up, other manufacturers are taking a simpler and more cost-effective approach that should stick around as well. 

Some brands have modified the design of their existing equipment by swapping out a traditional spigot or button with a manual lever like the one used on the water and ice dispenser of a home refrigerator. While this isn't brand new in the commercial space, it's starting to make a comeback on select tea and coffee brewers and new lemonade and juice dispensers. 

What does this mean for service companies? Most of the machines will have the same footprint and parts you're used to. However, there are two minor impacts you'll have to consider. For models with a sensor, you might want to get familiar with this technology so you're better prepared to conduct proper diagnostics or repairs. For older equipment, some operators might feel eager to retrofit their equipment by swapping out an old spigot with a sensor version or manual lever. Of course, you'll want to check if that would void the manufacturer warranty. Also, in some cases, this might not be possible to do based on the dispenser assembly.

Smart Capability

Partstown - Barista looking at smartphoneSmart beverage machines can send performance stats and alert you when to conduct key tasks.

Smart operation is nothing new to food and beverage equipment, but some of the latest trends make units easier to both use and monitor. With the emergence of Internet of Thing (IoT) and cloud-based software, operators can track useful stats on water consumption and average pour amounts to ensure both water and product aren't being wasted.

This technology also can send alerts to a user's smartphone when a task needs to be performed. For example, a smart soda machine can notify an operator when syrup is low and needs to be added. Also, it can trigger alerts when the operator needs to replace a water filter or clean the unit. That way, the equipment can continue to perform in peak condition. 

What does this mean for service companies? Like other smart equipment, beverage machines should become more accurate at predicting when a part is reaching critical failure. This is good for service companies, especially those who are part of a network of authorized service agents for the manufacturer. By having some access to your customer's machine, a service agent can be alerted of impending part failure and properly assess the issue. This helps the customer by reducing downtime and helps the technician by improving the quality and accuracy of the service call.

For more articles and videos about industry trends, make sure you visit the Parts Town blog