From parks to malls, schools to offices, gas stations to apartment buildings – you see vending machines all around you.

We all have used these machines multiple times in our lives. But have you ever wondered how does a vending machine work?

We are here to address your curiosity and answer all your queries about what goes inside a vending machine.

In fact, if you are a new entrepreneur who wants to explore vending machine solutions as a potential investment area or, want to start vending machine business, this is the question you begin with. Your primary task is to find out the functioning of a vending machine. 

How does the different component work? What are the probable areas that are more vulnerable to malfunctioning? What are the safety measures to increase the lifespan of your vending machine?

Read through the article to completely familiarise yourself with everything you need to know about working a vending machine. 

How Does a Vending Machine Work?

Peeping Inside A Vending Machine

The interface of a vending machine might look supremely convenient and easy. But a complex network of components inside vending machines works together to build this smooth experience for customers according to their needs.

1. Brain Of Vending Machine

This keypad is actually like a vending machine’s brain where the central computer is located.

  • On the one hand, it acts as an input device for taking information about the code of your chosen product.
  • On the other hand, it directs the computer of the machine to take action accordingly.

For instance, once you feed the code in the keypad, multiple directions are circulated from the computer of the vending machine.

This includes checking if the payment process is successfully completed or not, starting elevator belts to dispatch the desired good in the dispensing box, opening the shutter of dispensing box, etc.


2. The Money Collecting Process

In the case of cash payment, you have two options- either currency notes or coins.

  • In case you insert a currency note, a treadmill-like structure collects the money and places it under an optical scanner.
  • This scanner or the camera device determines the valuation of the note as well as its authenticity.
  •  This scanning and authenticity check is driven by the programming fed in the minicomputer of the machine, ‘The Brain’ as we discussed.
  • In case you are feeding coins to the machines, an intricate set of electromagnets come into action.
  •  Different values of coins have different metals as well as different thicknesses.
  • So these electromagnets check for the size, thickness, and type of metal used to decide the value of inserted coins.

In the case of cashless transactions, the process is much easier as the intermediaries (scanners or electromagnets) between the money and the mini-computer are removed.

You scan the QR code or swipe your card to directly feed data into the computer of the vending machine.

3. Dispensing of Items

As visible through the glass door of a vending machine, items are mostly arranged in columns and rows of spirals or loops. These spirals are mostly metal-based.

  • The mini-computer runs through all the programs to ensure that the product code is inserted and money collection is successful.
  • Then it sends a command to the motor that is connected to the metal spirals.
  •  All the metal spirals are connected with individual motors.
  • Once a specific motor receives a command from a central computer, it unlocks the spiral loop or coil and the item gets dropped downwards, into the dispensing box.

In the case of full-fledged snacks or beverages like tea and coffee, the mechanism of dispensing items, is different. For instance, in the case of a coffee vending machine, snacks vending machine, items like hot water, coffee-milk mix, etc. are kept in plastic containers.

4. The Drop-Box Functioning

The bottom of the vending machine contains the drop-box from where you can collect your chosen items.

  • To ensure that the item is successfully dropped in the box, there is a laser-beam mechanism. 
  • The drop-box has a constant path of laser beam filled with electronic sensors. 
  • Once your item falls down, it breaks through the path of these beams.
  • The sensors get activated and signal to the computer that the item has been successfully dropped.
  •  As a result, the shutter of the drop-box opens and allows you to take your item.
  •  In case the item is not dropped and the beam is not obstructed, no signal is received by the computer.
  • This is followed by the next chain of commands for refunding the money received earlier.

Now that you are equipped with the inside functioning of a vending machine, the bigger task is to buy one.

How to Buy a Vending Machine

Vending machines do not require much investment in terms of workforce or maintenance. So, the most crucial investment in this business is to buy a premium quality, long-lasting vending machine.

You can consider the following aspects while buying a vending machine.

  •  Brainstorm all the vending solution options ranging from snacks and beverages to sanitary pads and organic products.
  • Cross-check these product options with your available location. Identify which product will suit the best for your available space. 
  • Identify a trustworthy manufacturer which can preferably provide you with high-quality maintenance service as well.
  • Make your investment and go for the machine of your choice. Check the ROI of a vending machine before purchasing it.
  • After the purchase, the manufacturer/distributor will mostly ensure the safe delivery and establishment of your machine.

At Wendor, we provide customized vending machines based on the most technologically advanced features and robust, long-lasting hardware. We are also at your doorstep to upgrade your vending machines if you do not want to buy a new one.


Today, the Vending Machine business is peeking across India. There can be no better time to try your luck in this field than now. 

If you decide to venture into the field of vending machine business, wendor. in can be your trustworthy partner at every step. 

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