Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge was building a hygienic machine. "All of the parts come in contact with the elements," Torghele said. "We had to find technical solutions to guarantee" that the food would be safe.
The patented solutions include a dough mixer that prevents accumulation of material in its drum and in adjoining metering chambers. "He thought of everything," Rammers said. "If the machine doesn't sell a pizza for 24 hours, the timer tells it to mix the dough, and then the machine throws it away in a trash bin."
Like most current day vending machines, the Let's Pizza is Internet-enabled. Using a microcontroller and a multitude of specialized software algorithms, it can read information from its 40 onboard sensors and communicate with the outside world. "When it's almost empty, the machine sends a signal to your phone or your laptop that it needs to be refilled," Rammers said. Each machine holds enough ingredients for about 200 pizzas.
The machine has been available in Europe since 2009. A1 Concepts will set up its first US Let's Pizza in Atlanta in late August. The company is working on a plan for machines to be assembled by an American partner.
Competing machines have used microwaves to heat up frozen pizzas, but Rammers said he wouldn't be surprised if the Let's Pizza's success spawns imitators. "Other people are sure to try to build one after they see this. But right now, this is the only one of its kind."
Of course, the first thing I thought about was spoilage, insects and sanitation. Well, I guess that's a lot of things. But if the ingredients were in single serve containers, this could be mitigated.
I agree with Chris PE's comment about vending machines being in our blood! I remember a vending machine that would actually make a little blow-molded figure right in front of your eyes! Amazing! I still remember the aroma of the warm, waxy plastic they used.
Very interesting pizza vending machine and video. I was wondering if the pizza will be more like what we have in America vs Italy. My daughter said the pizza she had in Italy was different from the US.
Seems like I remember my wife telling me it took 7 minutes in their oven in a take it/bake it store. That was at 700 degrees. So 13 minutes might not be out of line for the whole process.
If you can flour the drum it doesn't stick anywhere near so much, so that may be how they resolve the stickiness issue.
If you heat anything for 7-10 minutes at 700 degrees, it may not be appealing, but there are going to be darn few germs left alive. Most restaurant food poisoning comes from uncooked food or dirty humans handling it.
Where else etc? My first thought was an Army barracks. I think your point about bugs is the key issue. The day after the pizza vendor is installed is the first day a lawsuit will be filed for food poisoning. Cleanliness will always trump anything when it comes to preparing and serving food.
Actually college students SHOULD be very good pizza judges since they probably consume more pizza per year than any other species. My guess is after a few beers they would tend to pick up a piece off the floor and eat it. After all the alcohol in the beer should kill the germs.
Somehow I don't think the denizens of college dorms are the most discerning consumers of pizza in the world. With the complexity, maintenance and hygenic issues I have to admire the engineering challenge, but I'll stick to my take-and-bake.
I was thinking it was a good idea until I got to #1 and #2 of your post, Warren. I would think that those things would be a maintenance nightmare. In addition, how do you contend with spoilage? It can mix the dough and toss it after 24 hours, but what about everything else. It's not like the toppings and all have a finite life that can be calculated.
Wow! What will the Italians come up with next? Painting on ceilings? Who knows? But pizza on demand sounds great, except...
1. Sticky things like this tend to clog up stuff. Just ask the guys who developed the glue machines for ICs.
2. Bugs! Always with the bugs! How do you keep the little critters out of the system without making them part of the protein package?
3. Where, other than college dorms, can you place these? Do you really want to get out of your easy chair, lug your overweight bottom down to the machine, wait 15 minutes and get your small pizza? Or do you just want to stay with your TV, call Jabba the Pizza Hutt, and have it delivered to your door!
4. The size must really be small to fit into this environment. Since size matters when it comes to cost, is it really worth it?
I bet on a Navy ship, it would sell like French fries! I would have camped out in front of it!
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