Assessing Potential Kiosk Manufacturing Partners — Part One

Let’s talk about red flags.

A “red flag” is generally considered a symbol of warning. For instance, in racing, it means conditions are too dangerous to continue. In common parlance, a red flag is viewed as something that should not be overlooked; a harbinger of potential disaster or doom.

After one hundred years of being in business, we’ve come to the conclusion here at RedyRef that if we had a nickel for every time a customer had come to us with a kiosk manufacturing story filled with red flags, we would be able to give our products away.

Unfortunately, we don’t actually have said nickels. Fortunately, we do have these (sometimes almost-unbelievable) stories, and therefore, the knowledge, to be able to help companies who simply want to hire a reputable kiosk manufacturer that suits their needs without being taken for a ride. What we’ve found it really comes down to is due diligence — making the time to fully research the options, and taking nothing for granted.

For instance:
If a manufacturer has unpaid suppliers?  

Red flag!

The manufacturer a) is terrible with money or b) has cash flow issues.  Most of the time, it’s a combination of both, with heavy emphasis on the latter. Unless the company is just starting out, inconsistent cash flow generally means a lack of customers, and a lack of customers usually means a lack of quality product and/or service.  

If a manufacturer has been excessively late in the past or seems to require extended windows in order to complete projects?

Red flag!

More than once, we’ve had customers come to us who have paid all of their project costs up front, only to find themselves waiting six months to a year to receive their finished kiosks from their chosen manufacturer. If a manufacturer has a reputation for not hitting their promised delivery dates, buyer beware.

If a manufacturer requires 100% payment at project inception?

Red flag!

A common customer horror story we’ve heard concerns manufacturers taking money from one customer to buy materials for another that’s already running behind, creating a cycle that goes unbroken until they finally run out of companies who are willing to take a chance on them.  In that case, the last company in will be the first one out — of luck, that is. With no other accounts to dip into, it’s highly likely that eventually a company will not just be stuck with a late delivery, but rather, no delivery at all.

More about red flags in our next blog, as well as what to expect from a quality kiosk manufacturer; what questions to ask potential manufacturing candidates for your kiosk project; and the types (good, bad and ugly) of kiosk manufacturing resources out there.

Can’t wait for our next blog? Luckily, RedyRef can assist you today with your quality kiosk design and fabrication needs. Submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 for more information.

Choosing and Sourcing Quality Kiosk Components — Part Two

Last week, we discussed how to choose the right kiosk components for a project. This week, we conclude with the second stage of kiosk development and component selection: sourcing the actual components to be used in the final design, and the choices that will need to be made around these decisions. 

Let’s say there are two companies — Company X and Company Y.

Company X has worked with an engineering firm to design their latest product. Because this company does not handle fabrication and component sourcing, Company X is now basically on their own. 

They will likely need to:

  • Utilize the Internet to search for what they need, based on general component descriptions
  • Contact multiple companies to find out who produces the necessary components
  • Figure out if the (multiple) companies they will need to source product from provide quality parts

Once Company X has sourced the appropriate components, there are still obstacles to overcome, and questions that will need answers, including:

  • Acquiring samples of each component, requiring communication with several different resources and often a sizable financial investment
  • Sourcing the right software for the kiosk’s intended purpose in the marketplace
  • Deciding on an operating system, based on which OS the components are most easily able to “talk” to
  • Finding out if the chosen components include an existing SDK (Software Development Kit)
  • Assembling and testing the components together to be sure that they work not just in theory, but also in practice
  • Contracting with a fabricator who can integrate the component set and software into a metal enclosure that is suited for its ultimate purpose

Company Y chooses RedyRef at the start of their kiosk project. As an end-to-end, vertically-integrated kiosk manufacturer, we provide Company Y with a single, focused resource from kiosk design through installation — including component selection and sourcing. This allows them to focus on their business, instead of wasting days or even weeks researching and contacting different manufacturers for each kiosk requirement. 

RedyRef also produces or contracts for the software for the interactive kiosk application that is being designed — a factor equal in importance to component selection. Because we design the software ourselves, we are able to ensure that every component Company Y chooses will run on it.  Essentially, we take the guesswork out of the process by helping them choose components that we know will work the way they want them to, on the operating system of their choosing, be it Linux, Windows or iOS; whether or not they include an SDK; regardless of the type of configuration.

Additionally, we’re able to verify that all selected components work/function as expected by building a working set on a test bench (also in house) before the kiosk undergoes the final, critical stages of engineering and production.

So, which company’s process seems more appealing? We’re clearly biased, but we still think Company Y’s customer experience beats Company X’s by a mile.

From metal enclosures, to kiosk components and software, RedyRef ensures that every aspect of a kiosk’s design and production is in alignment.  By keeping most processes in house and under our strict controls, we know that each individual component is up to our standards of quality and performs the way in which it was intended, saving our clients time, money and unnecessary frustration.

Want to know how RedyRef can assist your company with component selection and enclosure fabrication?  Submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 today for more information.

Choosing and Sourcing Quality Kiosk Components — Part One

The decision to design and manufacture a new kiosk for your business isn’t generally one made lightly.  It’s an investment — of time, money and resources.  One that can pay incredible dividends when done right.  But with all of the different ways that a kiosk can be built, it is often difficult to know what components are most important, especially at the start of a project.

As an industry leader in interactive kiosk manufacturing, RedyRef’s design and engineering team has learned, over our 100+ year history, just what aspects of component selection and sourcing are most critical, and know how to best utilize this knowledge to make the process seamless and just as importantly, painless, for our clients. We view these aspects of kiosk development as two main tasks:

  • Identifying the components needed, based on the kiosk’s intended use
  • Selecting a company that manufacturers the required components — ones that actually do what is expected once integrated and assembled

Sounds simple, but the process can be one that is easier said than done if everyone isn’t on the same page, working toward a common goal.  

In order to simplify the first stage of kiosk development listed above, we use a process called storyboarding — yes, the same concept that’s often mentioned in relation to the development of Hollywood movies.  But instead of laying out movie scenes, RedyRef’s designers and engineers work with our clients to chart out the experience they hope to deliver to consumers when their new kiosk goes to market.  Essentially, we use this way of thinking to find out exactly what the client wants the kiosk to do in real-world situations.

Most of the time, we use a simple, bulleted format to get at the most important factors.  Here is an example based on creating a new type of self-service ticket kiosk for a Major League 
Baseball team:

1.       Kiosk screen plays “attract” video loop advertising Dodger baseball games
2.       Customer approaches kiosk
3.       Kiosk displays a “Start” button; customer taps it
4.       Kiosk displays calendar of dates with game tickets available
5.       Customer choses date by touching screen
6.       Customer is asked for number of seats needed
7.       Customer types in number of seats desired as the numeral “4” in queue
8.       Map of ticket locations with four adjacent seats is displayed on screen
9.       Customer choses location by touching screen
10.     Customer confirms choice of seating by selecting seats on screen and touching “Accept” button
11.     Screen updates to customer information screen
12.     Customer inputs information
13.     When completed, customer swipes credit card and types the word “accept”
14.     Transaction is processed
15.     Customer is asked to sign for transaction on signature capture pad
16.     Kiosk prints out tickets on thermal receipt paper or ticket stock
17.     Transaction is complete

From this storyboard we know that the following items must be included in the kiosk:

1.       Enclosure with touch screen
2.       Transactional software, including onscreen keyboard
3.       Credit card reader
4.       Signature capture pad
5.       Thermal receipt printer or ticket printer

(Other Items can later be added as required, i.e. if it is decided that the machine must accept cash as well as credit cards, which will require the addition of a cash validator, as well.)

And completes step one of component selection. Stay tuned — we’ll be explaining how to choose the best company from which to source your components in our next blog…

Want to know how RedyRef can assist your company with kiosk component selection and 
enclosure fabrication?  Submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 today for more information.

Benefits of Choosing a Vertical Kiosk Manufacturing Solution

There are many kiosk companies in the marketplace that are available to assist customers in manufacturing a new type of enclosure. However, the number of digital kiosk manufacturers that can provide complete, vertical solutions are few and far between. It’s both a point of pride to our team, and a competitive differentiation to our organization, that RedyRef is, in fact, one of the few companies that can offer a complete vertically integrated solution to our clients. With over 250,000 square feet of manufacturing space and more than 300 employees in four different states, our commitment to end-to-end self-service kiosk manufacturing virtually speaks for itself.

How does RedyRef’s use of vertical integration benefit customers?  

It comes down to the three C’s: cost, convenience and control.

Cost — RedyRef’s ability to manage costs by providing design, engineering, fabrication, finishing and even logistics solutions in-house significantly increases our opportunities to introduce cost savings throughout the manufacturing, delivery and installation processes. Traditionally, each of these stages would involve mark-ups if they were outsourced, which would then need to be passed on to the end customer. We eliminate these additional costs whenever possible by keeping most operations under one roof, allowing us to optimize resources, and avoid waste. 

Convenience —  Having a single point of contact for a project can save what often amounts to days, if not weeks, of man-hours. This is a considerable advantage to our customers, as it also makes us fully accountable for the entire process, from start to finish.

Control — Because RedyRef provides most end-to-end kiosk manufacturing solutions in-house, we are able to control every aspect of design, production and distribution that we touch.  For example, if the industrial designer, mechanical engineer and factory are all on the same, internal team, the more likely it is that the conceptual design will be buildable using the factory strengths and tooling. In this way, our team ensures that every enclosure we produce, and every installation we manage, reflects the quality and value that our customers have come to expect.

RedyRef vs. The Others

Let’s see how our company stacks up against a typical American kiosk manufacturer:

RedyRef Vertical (in-house) Kiosk Solutions

1.  Industrial Design
2.  Mechanical Engineering
3.  Electrical Engineering
4.  Metal Fabrication
5.  Powder Coating
6.  Physical Assembly of cabinet
7.  Supply Chain of components
8.  Integration of components into the enclosure
9.  Burn Testing
10. Depot Services
11. Field Installation (Local to Tri-State)
12. Field Maintenance (Local to Tri-State)
13. Warranty
14. Field Repair (Local to Tri-State)
Other Kiosk Manufacturers (generally provide 1-2 of the following)

1. Mechanical Engineering
2. Metal Fabrication
3. Integration Services
4. Warranty
5. Some Software

The above makes it easy to illustrate why RedyRef is the go-to interactive kiosk manufacturer for so many industry leaders; because of our deep vertical integration, we provide more, for less.
Want to know how RedyRef can put the three C’s to work for your company?  Submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 today for more information.