Hand-cranked Japanese vending machine works when the power's out

Japanese vending-machine powerhouse Sanden has introduced a hand-cranked vending machine that operates when the power goes off. You just crank it 70 times and then insert your change.

Crank this vending machine 70 times in emergency


    1. You obviously don’t know how absolutely essential the uninterrupted availability of cold tea and hot coffee (from the same vending machine!) is in Japan. Except if the power goes out, both will be lukewarm…

      1. Unfortunately, their hand will be too worn out to do the repetitive behavior they need those panties FOR.

  1. I don’t care if it works like a Soviet flashlight, I’m for mechanical back-ups. Next up, 7-11 cash registers.

  2. If you are willing to crank that thing 70 times, you should just get the item you want for free.

    1. In areas where you can get a credit for power supplied back to the grid, this could be a pretty lucrative business.  Combine it somehow with a slot machine.  “You almost won!  Keep cranking!”

  3. This looks like a solution looking for a problem.

    1) If the machine doesn’t draw much power, I would consider adding a UPS inside the machine for the occasional (less than 1-4 hour) outage.  For a soda machine (with active cooling) I would not provide backup power to the compressor.  Perishable (chilled/frozen) products would require additional thought.

    2) Except for card or bill validation, is there a reason that the vending machine cannot be purely mechanical.

    1. ad 2) In train stations, you’d typically buy your beverage using your train fare card (IC), so that would need power. Also, the way vending machines count/validate coins is by their resistance/conductivity; again, doesn’t work without power.

      But this is quite clearly a toy ;-) And it works, free publicity for the manufacturer.

      Disclaimer: the above is true even if Antinous has never experienced it and/or cannot imagine it.

    2. I was kind of thinking about number 2 when I first saw the article. You could use coins mechanically and have the crank directly drive the vending action. You’d probably have to turn it a lot less than 70 times too.

    3. This is presumably due to power saving. However, an UPS wouldn’t save any power because it’d use more during the time the power grid is available to charge the battery.  If everybody got an UPS, Japan would be worse off overall, as then people can use the same amount of power they would have without outages, plus the inefficiency the UPS adds on top.

  4. Yeah, a backup battery for the money sorting system seems pretty easy to set up (it should be trivial to configure it to run nearly forever if you only have it turn on momentarily when someone inserts a coin or hits a “I’m about to swipe my card” button).  

    Then it’s just a matter of using mechanical action to move the dispensers.  This would be a complex machine though, and probably difficult to prevent jams or other malfunctions.  It’s easier to just have the user crank a generator for a minute or two to power the thing I guess.  That’s probably what the machine in the OP does, just power up a battery just enough to go through one full dispensing cycle. 

  5. Now you know what you need to switch off in Japan to shut down 54 nuclear power plants.
    I mean: well lighted, fully functional cold-and-hot-drinks machines at 3am in a sleeping neighborhood?

    1. Y’know, I could never quite figure out how that is even profitable in low-traffic neighborhoods; electricity isn’t exactly cheap in Japan (at least for households) and those things must consume oodles of electricity (piping hot AND ice-cold next to each other!), not to mention that they are brighter than street lights.

      Edit: come to think of it, maybe it isn’t and they just serve as bright and ubiquitous “BOSS” coffee ads in some neighborhoods…

  6. This is excellent. With a better model of generation (a bike, f’r instance, or treadmill) a vending machine could be off the grid entirely.

    Sure, it’s gimmicky and inefficient. I don’t think the first 30 years of television were all that spectacular, either.

    (okay, okay, so current programming doesn’t exactly trump the hardware advances.)

  7. Back when cash registers were electro-mechanical  many came with a hand-crank tucked underneath so you could pull it put plug it into a place on the side of the machine and continue to process transactions.  I never had to use that in the days when i worked that kind of job but it was a nice little touch.

  8. Aw man
    Someone should do a paper on the effect Fukushima had on corporate culture because this has to be the offspring of that disaster. Hell, I wonder how much of Japanese consumer culture and innovation is rooted in those tsunami drills they do.

  9. So what’s the big deal? I recall that pre 70’s most vending machines were mechanical and didn’t require electricity other than for refrigeration. 

    1. Can’t use bills, can’t use IC fare cards, run the risk of people using worthless foreign coins that are roughly the same size or other fake, non-coin material if you just go by size and not conductivity/resistance.

      Summary: you won’t sell anything to busy commuters in a Japanese train station. Not that spending minutes hand-cranking that thing helps there, this is just a publicity stunt.

  10. What Japanese manufacturers consider normal for hand cranks is usually considered, at best, bizarre by the rest of us.

    I work on photo equipment.  On the Japanese film developping machines I work on, there is a power-failure hand crank to feed the film through in case of power failure – this is a good idea. 

    The speed of the film’s feed has to be exact and steady, otherwise there will be variations in the film’s development. 

    The instructions for the cranking on the machine?  Make one turn take 15 seconds… 

    How are you supposed to time that accurately and steadily?  Why not gear it down, so that one turn takes four seconds?   You could count it out, 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, six o’clock…

    Oh, yeah: I agree, it’d make more sense to wind up a spring on the machine then let an escapment mechanism unwind the spring at the correct speed to charge up the circuit. You could even have a clear window on to the gears and such, so it would be fun to watch.

Comments are closed.