Automation & telemetry, Schaerer, Technology

Schaerer Prisma API creates a pathway for digital connection to the coffee machine

schaerer prisma

Schaerer’s Prisma API provides the same level of software customisation the Swiss manufacturer offers with its automatic equipment.

Customisation is crucial to coffee automation, whether it’s when the customer orders their drink or how the owner operates the machine.

Swiss manufacturer Schaerer embraces flexibility when it comes to manufacturing its automatic coffee machines, and that extends beyond the hardware to the software it provides. Schaerer Prisma is an application programming interface (API), which allows a coffee business or operator to connect the coffee machine to their own apps, software, and systems, reflecting limitless possibilities.

“Digitalisation follows the same story in every industry. The customer wants more information and to be able to monitor data, then once they have it, a way to action on it. This can range from creating entirely new business models based on data to supporting existing daily businesses, optimising areas like downtime by monitoring the reasons for it,” says Sandro Bianchi, Product Manager at Schaerer.

“Schaerer has responded to this trend with several products and solutions, such as integrated payment solutions and a platform with about 90,000 connected machines online. This platform has a front end with analytics which a customer can use to monitor their business and we can use to create tailormade reports for them. Most importantly, we have built interfaces where customers can work with their own data, or like with Prisma, start controlling the coffee machine.”

While many manufacturers and automatic coffee machines offer cloud-based API solutions – including Schaerer – Bianchi says part of what makes Prisma unique is that it is a local connection, providing a faster communication of data. 

“With a local connection you don’t need to worry about the latency you see with a cloud API, where it takes extra time for data to be sent to and from the coffee machine,” he says.

“Faster communication with the coffee machine means, for instance, you can register and confirm payment at the coffee machine in an unmanned store even before the customer has left.”

Schaerer’s APIs have been in use for several years, and Bianchi says Schaerer’s customers are growing creative in how they interact with their coffee machines.

“Prisma came out of the need for the specific requirements of customers. Changing the base software to match a customer’s specific requirements takes a significant investment of time and resources,” he says. “Creating an API interface allows for that kind of interaction with the machine that is secure without any impact on performance.”

One of the most innovative uses of Schaerer Prisma has been a collaboration between Schaerer, a renowned Swiss customer, and two other collaboration partners. 

Their vision is of a modular store concept for food, drinks, and coffee, which could be setup in offices and run 24/7 without staff. The concept uses facial recognition to identify the customer and automatically process payment of their food and coffee. Schaerer’s coffee machine had to be connected to the facial recognition technology, as well to their own software, to facilitate this exchange. 

“The pandemic has changed society and the type of business models that are needed. It has pushed the need to embrace digitalisation and made automatic or unmanned transaction more appealing to people.”

“It has also completely changed the way we work. People are heading back into the office, but it’s much more flexible than it used to be. They are starting earlier, later, or coming in after hours. For example, an IT person may need to come in at 10pm or 11pm to fix a problem and in the past, their only option for food or coffee was to bring it with them. This concept means their needs are met. Personally, it’s a solution I’d like access to some mornings and evenings.” Bianchi says. 

“We had a call on Monday where they asked if we could make this vision possible, and later that week we delivered the machines. Within two weeks, we had integrated their interface through Prisma and the machine was pouring coffee using their controls,” Bianchi says.

“Every partner had their own task to accomplish, which could impact the others. The design affected the IT infrastructure, which influenced what was possible with Schaerer Prisma, and so on. Throughout the project, we also had to keep the customer involved. Despite this, it was quite an agile project with not a lot of meetings. After kick-off, we only required two alignments through the entire project, which wouldn’t have been possible without the huge amount of trust we all had in each other.”

The unmanned store concept is set to be rolled out in 2022, after which Schaerer will continue to provide ongoing support and collaboration. Bianchi says the support will go beyond traditional maintenance and servicing and will include new ways to improve the user experience.

“We and our customer are already discussing how we can greater utilise the coffee machine’s screen to improve customer interactions and meet any other needs they might have,” he says.

“Because the Prisma interface exists to integrate their own systems, the possibilities it enables are endless.”

Another example Bianchi gives of how coffee businesses have integrated with the API is the use of loyalty programs, tracking customer orders and information, and providing incentives like a free coffee at a certain number of orders. Others allow customers to customise their coffee through an app before even arriving at the store, which produces a QR code the machine can scan to produce the beverage.

“We are working with another customer to integrate their digital signage and media files into the display on the coffee machine’s screen. While producing a coffee, the machine holds the full attention of the customer for about 20 seconds, which creates a perfect opportunity for promotion or advertising,” Bianchi says.

With the use of digitalisation only growing in the future, Bianchi says building on Prisma will be the key to Schaerer’s continued customisation.

“We have several projects in the works that could be interesting for the market, but often, our developments are driven by customer requests. The ability to integrate their systems through our API will only be beneficial for their business,” Bianchi says.

“Rather than generating static platforms, our focus is on developing not only Prisma but our cloud-based API to guarantee those interfaces will grow with those customers’ needs.”

However, he adds best-in-cup coffee quality will always be Schaerer’s first priority.

“More and more we need to handle the customers’ specific demands, and that is now possible with the Prisma API,” Bianchi says. “But this digitalisation is useless if our machines aren’t producing a coffee quality people don’t want to drink. Quality is the core of what we do and everything else rests on that offering.”

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This article was first published in the November/December 2021 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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