If you are in the vending business, then chances are you sell chocolate. With a melting point of 86 to 90 degrees and non-climate controlled warehouses, it’s easy to find yourself with a sticky mess. The last thing a vending operator wants is customer complaints of Snickers bars being melted in a vending machine.
Operators in the south must deal with temperature issues year-round, but even those who are north of the Mason-Dixon line still have 3-4 months of summer heat and must deal with melting chocolate. When faced with the prospect of cooling a large warehouse and seeing electric bills quadruple, what’s the best way to keep chocolate in a quality state until it’s purchased by the customer from your machine?
If you’re not prekitting and still using old school vending by picking off the back of the truck, then this isn’t new. You keep cases of chocolate stored in a climate controlled area until loaded in the truck – commonly called “The Candy Room”. Driver loads the cases onto the truck in a refrigerated portion of the truck or in a cooler.
But if you are prekitting then this poses a more difficult challenge. Most snacks and chips are not temperature sensitive and do not require special treatment. The prekit line is in the warehouse – preferable close to where the trucks are loaded – and the air temperature is too hot to store and pick chocolate. When you move the chocolate to the candy room, you now must prekit in 2 different areas.
What are some best practices to pick chocolate and keep looking good all the way through delivery to the vending machine?
With LightSpeed, you can create a separate zone for chocolate and pick and pack in the candy room. A tote ticket is printed for each order matching it up with the items from other zones that are part of that service order. LightSpeed allows you to pick up to 6 orders at once which helps make for a very efficient process given that chocolate is small and easy to pick.
Acme Vending in St. Joseph, Missouri found a creative way to keep their candy on the pick line and keep it from melting. They enclosed the candy section of the pick line with plywood on one side and a plastic curtain in front. This allows the candy to be picked with the order, not from a separate zone and doesn’t cost a fortune to cool the entire warehouse.
You have multiple tote options for chocolate. Here are some of the most common:
This small 15” x 12” x 5” tote is stackable and holds enough chocolate for a vending machine. It’s durable and has a flat surface on the side to attach the tote ticket. You can fit these into large Igloo coolers or they fit nicely in the refrigerated portion of a truck. Retail price is about $10.00 and you can find them for less in quantity.
LightSpeed’s candy bags hold 30-35 candy bars. It’s about the size of a bank deposit bag and has a clear window on the side for the tote ticket. These bags are not insulated but do help keep the chocolate somewhat cooler than a tote. You can fit an entire route into an Igloo Cooler. These sell for $6.50 from LightSpeed.
Zip Lock Bags
There are many operators who use standard gallon zip lock bags for picking candy. This functions much like the LightSpeed candy bags, but don’t last as long. Because they are transparent, the driver can easily see the tote ticket. They can be purchased at Sam’s Club or Costco very inexpensively.