One of the trickiest decisions facing a start-up business is who to select as a technology partner. For ice-vending company Akoona, this was a particularly crucial choice, as it would have an ongoing impact on the continued success of their business.
Akoona’s requirement was complex: they needed an ice vending machine controller with real-time capabilities for online transactions and status updates.
The networks would connect to a central database over the cellular data network, to allow centralised reporting and transaction execution for machines all over the world.
Choosing the right partner for this project would mean the difference between business success and failure. Reliable, ongoing support was a must and the wrong decisions might drive pricing far too high.
Fortunately, an existing relationship with Molo Innovation was the beginning of a solution to Akoona’s challenge.
Putting the competition on ice
After surveying the market for ready-made, generic controllers, Molo realised that Akoona could save at least 50% if Molo developed one themselves. By speaking to various hardware developers, Molo formed an impression of what best-of-breed microcontrollers and cellular network interface modules incorporated. Selecting the most cost-effective, reliable components, Molo then subcontracted the hardware design to an experienced designer, while Molo’s own team wrote a low-level software scheduler, which aimed to meet cost and performance objectives.
Focusing on reliability and robustness, Molo adopted a unique approach to the challenge. A key factor was the importance of always-on-line operation. Because the machines would be widely distributed throughout the world, site visits by technicians would be potentially very expensive, and potentially long service disruptions had to be avoided. All of these considerations had to be taken into account within tight unit cost constraints.
Red hot results
Development costs were significantly reduced because no proprietary tools were used. This, combined with the robust functioning of the rollout on three continents, left Akoona highly satisfied .
Molo’s solution was easily maintainable, allowing several improvements and added functionality to be added to the operations system. Molo continues to be involved in the ongoing development and maintenance of Akoona’s vending infrastructure, which shows how well the system works.
Michael Jennison, President of Akoona USA says: “Molo is always fair and balanced in business negotiations – they understand our business objectives and often propose creative solutions to them. I would recommend them to anyone.”
For more information about the work Molo does with Akoona or to find out how we can help the logistics of your business, please contact Charl Barnard.