From the Aug/Sep issue of Kiosk Solutions magazine
By Frank Olea with Olea Kiosks
By Olea Kiosks Inc – www.olea.com
One question many potential kiosk deployers ask is whether they should invest in a custom unit uniquely designed and manufactured for them, or start with a modular kiosk? A modular kiosk is a standard, module-based product out of
the manufacturer’s catalogue that can be tweaked based on the options list.
The appeal of custom
The appeal of custom is understandably strong for many companies. By working with a kiosk provider’s design and
engineering staff, executives can request and receive virtually any look and feel. Moreover, they can order from a range of options for functionality without concern as to whether a standard cabinet can accommodate them. Biometrics? No problem. Height adjustment? Can
do. Want to include special sanitising technology? Again, this too is possible. That kind of approach may be exactly
what some projects require, and those projects are among the favourites for designers and engineers in any kind
of manufacturing firm. In reality only a minority of projects truly require a custom approach. Most can succeed well when a deployer talks to a representative, describes the needs and makes decisions on how best to configure the
Essence of modular
We’re surrounded by modular products – that is, single products that comprise distinct, pre-assembled components.
The vehicle you drive may have rolled off one assembly line, but preceding it were dozens more where each of the vehicle’s modular components were built. The seats may have been constructed in one city, dashboards and transmissions in another. At the climactic event, all of them
are ready in the right place at the right time to be bolted onto the car exactly where they need to be. Henry Ford gets
credit for mass assembly, but there could be no mass assembly without modularity. And chances are, it wouldn’t be because there was anything wrong with the kiosk,
it would be because they brought a Ferrari to a monster truck rally. It can take up to 12 weeks in a typical custom project to meet with the client stakeholders, develop concept drawings, refine them, create engineering
It can take up to 12 weeks in a typical custom project to meet with the client stakeholders, develop concept drawings, refine them, create engineering
drawings and build a prototype. Then, the prototype must be tested and undergo any necessary modifications before the
unit is ready for mass production. With modular kiosks, a manufacturer needs only the time it takes, if any, to acquire
any out of stock components before it can begin building. That state of readiness
That state of readiness potentially takes lead time down to a
couple of weeks.
Keep maintenance in mind
Although a kiosk manufacturer typically tries to consider every circumstance that may occur, some things just can’t be
predicted. Still, designing a kiosk with an eye to modularity can help to avoid costly surprises. Modular design also includes planning for any maintenance that may be needed.
Consider a case for example, where a monitor fails on a seven-year-old kiosk that is otherwise functioning perfectly.
Chances are that particular model of monitor will no longer be available, but a flexible design will allow for quick replacement with a current model. So rather than having to scrap an otherwise perfectly good kiosk with a new one, you
simply replace it with an equivalent model (module).
Sometimes working with a client to help them get the best return on their investment includes telling that client their ideas for a kiosk won’t accomplish their goals and they’d be better off with a simpler, more realistic design. Those are
the times where it may be best for a kiosk manufacturer to be honest with a client, even if it works against their own short-term interests.
Even if a kiosk deployer chooses to go with a custom design instead of a vendor’s standard offerings, it pays to keep modularity in mind to accommodate changing needs. For example, a deployer might want to design a kiosk to accept bill payments but will omit a receipt printer to save money.
A modular design would allow for the easy addition of a printer with a minimum of effort if they change their
mind at a later date. Alternatively, regulatory changes might call for changes in peripherals by a certain date, but the
deployer wants to get their network deployed now and make those additional changes later.
Many kiosk manufacturers offer brackets and add-on kits to accommodate these types of changes. And sometimes
the peripheral that needs to be added doesn’t fit with the existing kiosk design, but the deployer wants to avoid having to replace the entire unit. That’s where the talent of a manufacturer’s design team can shine.
In the case of a thin kiosk for example, replacing a flat access door with a ‘bubble’ door may allow for the incorporation of
an additional component without having to replace the enclosure. Designing that door with a lift-off hinge allows for a quick swap. Or suppose a deployer wants to add a second digital screen to a project at a minimum of cost. A freestanding mount to support that can be added to the
project with a minimum of disruption.