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What is DEX?

I can recall back toward the end of the 1980’s when the first vending machines started to appear with the DEX feature. We owned and operated a vending company and already had our full-service vending division set up and operating on vending management software. We were also one of the first companies to use vending software to help us run a tight vending operation with controls, accountability and all the positive business management tools that it provided. When we first applied vending management software to our vending division, handhelds were not available to us as it was not yet developed for use with our specific vending software system.

Later as Vending Machines (mainly beverage machines) began to first appear with DEX, which is a technology that provides digital exchange of important machine information such as money in the cash box, money in the bill validator, total sales, individual selection sales and other machine activity we realized that it was a major breakthrough for vending machines. However, other industries already had handheld devices to work in conjunction with this technology such as the bottlers and grocery stores to name a few. This enabled them to conduct audits for example at each service in the case of servicing a vending machine, inventory control and accountability. Back then, to retrieve the information from the vending machine, the handheld device would be connected to the DEX socket in the machine via a connecting cable. The sockets looked like the ones you would see on an electric guitar. The data would be downloaded to the handheld. The information on the handhelds would in turn be downloaded by placing them into a docking port connected to a computer, the information was then transferred into the main computer system where it was transformed into management reports of all sorts.

Today, this information is retrieved in real time via remote monitoring devices installed in the vending machines. Therefore, in a nutshell, DEX allows for very detailed machine information and data to be transferred from the machines to computer software in real time. This data is too numerous to mention and provides tremendous information and management tools to enables a company to have stringent controls.


What is MDB?

MDB which is the acronym for (Multi Drop Bus) is basically a technology that was developed in the 1990’s and led by the National Automatic Merchandising Association and the European Vending Association in a joint effort. This joint effort resulted in a badly needed solution that would standardize the way Vending Machine Controllers (VMC) detected the various peripherals installed in a vending machine. These peripherals are vital components such as coin changers, dollar bill acceptors and credit card readers to name a few. These payment system products, once connected to a chain of uniformed MDB connecting plug-ins are detected by the Vending Machine Controller and are recognized and automatically set up to basically function in the machine as they are intended to do. This was one of the very best breakthroughs in the history of vending machines.

You may ask why this was such a big deal, and the reason is this. Before MDB was developed and introduced to the world of vending, there were a multitude of makes and models of coin changers, dollar bill validators, vending machine controllers and lack thereof whereby the coin mechanisms may have been the main vending machine controllers as was the case in beverage vending machines. There were also more types of connecting harnesses to interface and enable a multitude of technologies and mixing different makes and models of devices than we have hair on our heads. This does not include conversion kits to update older machines of numerous types and systems to perform in new ways than originally intended. We had single price coin changers, four price coin changers, 10 price coin changers, multi price coin changer, dummy coin changers and the list of these as well as conversions kits and all the various voltages etc. go on, and on and on.

And now you know why the MDB became an international standard and was the biggest breakthrough in the vending industry. It put an end to a terrible payment system nightmare. I know it only too well as I have lived it in full color since entering the vending industry back in 1976.

Although the above explanation of DEX and MDB is basically very brief and to the point, it will help many new comers considering the vending industry as a business, better understand what these two separate technologies are and how they have brought us to where we are today. For decades now, customers would always ask us what these things meant. They would see these acronyms (DEX) & (MDB) listed in product features and specifications but with no explanations.

Now you know the story of these two distinct vending industry technologies which has revolutionized the world of vending forever.

Michael Hanna