Apicbase helps us grow faster

Hans Simillion

CTO

Operation Size

10 locations & growing

Business type

Fresh smoothies & smart vending machines

Modules

Product development, Procurement, Inventory, Sales Analytics

Genius Vending Machines

Alberts® is on a mission. The company aims to market healthy food in an accessible and affordable way. Healthy food choices should also be easy choices.

That’s where the vending machines come in. The machines produce on the spot healthy and personalised smoothies with fresh ingredients — at work, at school or on the go. Everything is managed by food robotics and artificial intelligence.

Chief Technology Officer Hans Simillion:

“Cutting-edge technology allows us to automate processes such as recipe management, inventory management and procurement. Thanks to the easy integration options, choosing Apicbase was an easy choice. By linking to the Apicbase platform, we were able to integrate these applications out-of-the-box.”

"We automated recipe management, inventory management and procurement."

Five challenges

Alberts’ customers compose their own smoothies through an app. These are then prepared on the spot by the vending machine. A feat of technical ingenuity, lead by Alberts around the world. To get everything running smoothly, Hans and his team first had to solve some major challenges in the backend.

Hans Simillion: “We need to be able to monitor and automate the entire operational flow — sales, stock depletion and purchase orders.”

The following challenges had to be solved.

  1. Inventory monitoring & procurement: Alberts wanted to have real time access to the inventory level of each machine. This allows them to promptly restock with fresh ingredients.
  2. Central recipe management: Alberts continuously optimizes the assortment. New menus therefore had to be available in any vending machine at the touch of a button. Smoothie recipes needed to be stored in the cloud and linked to individual machines. “Reprogramming each machine individually every time we introduce a new smoothie, that just doesn’t work. This should be automatic,” CTO Hans says.
  3. Sales analytics: Alberts wanted to see the performance of each vending machine and gain insight into which recipes were popular. This way they can fine-tune the assortment and procure more efficiently. By offering the right ingredients and recipes in the right locations, they can better respond to the demand and boost sales.
  4. Nutritional values: customers can create their own smoothie. Just went for a workout and want extra banana? No problem. But even for these on-demand preparations, Alberts wishes to provide accurate nutritional values. It therefore needs to be calculated in real time.
  5. Invoice control: Alberts operates with multiple suppliers. Manually checking individual invoices for deliveries to multiple vending machines would take too much time. This had to be automated.

To solve these issues, Alberts initially developed the backend software themselves. This included the minimum to get the vending machines operational. Recipes could be managed, but ingredient procurement and inventory management were done manually. “Developing a platform is not our core business,” Hans explains. ” Besides, there are significant costs associated with each update.”

For Alberts, the emphasis lies on the vending machines and the app that allows customers to create their own smoothies. Simillion: “By integrating with existing systems, we can add value to our solution without additional (and expensive) software development.”

Everything we needed was included in Apicbase by default. No new software had to be developed, which allowed us to scale much faster.

Managing the logistical flow

Alberts manages the entire logistical flow in the Apicbase f&b management platform, as well as monitoring the sales of the individual vending machines.

Hans Simillion: “Apicbase offers a solution for every challenge. Everything we need is included in the system by default. This has allowed us to grow much faster. Nothing new had to be developed.”

Hans Simillion was introduced to Apicbase through a research project on healthy food at the KULeuven. “I immediately realized that Apicbase is a thoroughly developed system. For example, the recipe management interface has a very clever design. Later on, when I was looking for a backend solution for our vending machins, I tested similar systems, but none came close to Apicbase.”

Easy datasharing via API

An important reason for Alberts to choose Apicbase is the API. The vending machines will always require a software layer that is developed by the Alberts engineers themselves. Therefor it is important to sync the data between software solutions via solid APIs. Systems have to be able to communicate flawlessly. Simillion: “The integrations allow us to offer a consistent experience to our customers and end users.”

Support is great

“The support is awesome. Both for the very technical stuff, like the API connection, and the general follow-up”, Hans says. “Even very specific requests are taken up immediately. Even if it means they have to develop something new. The reasoning at Apicbase is: if an addition is makes sense, then it will makes the platform better for all customers. Such a customer-driven business attitude is wonderfull.”

How Alberts describes Apicbase

Hans Simillion: “It’s the platform where we keep track of all the recipes and manage the entire operational flow.”

Modules in use by Alberts

Alberts has automated the recipe development and supply chain loop by deploying four off-the-shelve Apicbase modules and the API.

Product Development

A central hub for recipes, menus & data. Accessible groupwide.

Inventory

Prevent waste & shortages. Monitor stock at every location.

APIs

Connect everything. Our API endpoints make it easy to share lots of data in a complex IT architecture.

Procurement

Order what you need, when you need it. Nothing more.

Sales Analytics

Identify stars and duds. Develop profitable & popular products.

Create a recipe,
Build an empire