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Single-point latch system secures one of the largest food vending machines in the world

Fresh vegetables from the vending machine – and on a grand scale. This was the task facing the French system manufacturer BERTHOLON SA. From scratch, the family-owned company designed and built one of the biggest food vending machines in the world with 160 compartments. However, in order to guarantee the reliable opening and closing of these compartments even at low temperatures of 4ºC, the engineers relied on the locking solution of the industry expert EMKA France.

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The family-owned company BERTHOLON SA has been a major player in the French machine market since 1957. Its portfolio includes customised highly developed systems for a wide range of industries. The French family-owned company has specialised above all in the development and manufacture of special machines for the food industry.

From the initial system’s concept to assembly and employee training – BERTHOLON SA accompanies its customers all the way to the ready-to-operate machine. It is the implementation of customer-specific orders that has distinguished the machine builder over the years. 

Due to this customer focus, CHEZ CHAMBE approached the French machine builder when searching for a partner to develop a new food vending machine. The focus was on two main requirements: in addition to 160 individual compartments, some of which were of different sizes, the machine also had to be designed for use in a cold storage room. The locking systems for the individual compartments posed a particular challenge. On the one hand, these had to function electronically, but on the other hand, they had to withstand the outside temperatures. Therefore, the design engineers decided to bring an external expert on board.

EMKA lives up to its good reputation

In order to develop and deliver the electronic locking system, BERTHOLON turned to two well-established companies. After the first drafts had been presented by both sides, the responsible engineers finally decided in favour of EMKA France, from whom BERTHOLON had already purchased hinges in the past. Additionally, EMKA‘s good reputation in the field of locking systems played a significant role in its selection.

According to Pierre Bertholon, Managing Director of BERTHOLON SA, another point played a significant role: “Both bidders had presented us with very good products at a comparable price. In addition to the quality of the solution, however, we also attach great importance to good support, and this is where the commitment of Mr Jean Louis Vellot from EMKA France ultimately made the difference”.

Electronic single-point latch in every compartment

BERTHOLON SA had several requirements for the locking solution provided by EMKA France. The vending machine must not only be cold-resistant and electronically operated, but it must also be capable of managing it on its own. In order for the vending machine to determine whether a compartment is open or closed, there must be feedback from the locking system to the machine. Using this method, the vending machine can recognise whether a compartment has been emptied and subsequently initiate a settlement by bank card through the secure banking system. To meet these requirements, BERTHOLON has opted for the electronic single-point latch system with an emergency opening feature (3000-U301-02).

EMKA offers the system in four different versions. For the food vending machine, the variant “Basic delayed Re-Lock” is recommended. In this scenario, the locking system opens when the energy is supplied and remains in the “Open” position as long as the system stays energised. To supply the locking system with power, EMKA continues to supply the necessary adapter cable. Since the entire system had to be designed from scratch, BERTHOLON was able to adapt the individual stainless steel compartments to comply with EMKA‘s single-point latch system with an emergency opening. Therefore, the connection to the vending machine via cable and the connection to the payment system were both successful.

New development quickly reaps the fruit of the labour

The project was a premiere for both Bertholon and EMKA France. From the first study to the implementation to the last adjustments, the completion took about a year. “The development was a complete success. This is the only well-engineered food vending machine of this size available on the market today”, says Jean Louis Vellot.

This statement is also confirmed by the end customer, who has subsequently ordered more vending machines. Until that time, however, BERTHOLON wants to adapt the machine even further in order to optimise the production costs as well. For this purpose, the French family-owned company continues to rely on the locking systems from EMKA France.