Now that you have an Understanding of the Hardware…

Your next step is application, and how reporting ties it all together, let’s look to knowing what good hardware looks like.

A Beverage Control System is one you will use every day, for many years, so choosing good hardware is critical.  The first thing to consider is the working environment is a dimly lit bar station cluttered with technology and bottles. When looking at systems at a trade show,  a brochure page, or on your monitor, consider the fact that you are looking at it in an ideal situation and not that dimly lit bar station.

Are critical things such as portion keys, size keys, and displays all easily visible?  Are they easy to trigger?

Q : have you noticed the buttons on home electronics are often small, the same color as the case with a small icon showing its purpose?  Have you ever cursed them?  Have you ever wonder why they do that?A: Cheap and easy to do!

The next thing to consider is durability. Does the case look like it could stand taking a beating, because it will.  Imagine rapping the front of the units with a plastic mallet and seeing what happens.  Is the Console a plastic box with an aluminum faceplate or a stainless steel case?

What is the switching like?  Are they plastic done switches or laminated synthetic?   How long do they last?  Can you replace one or change the whole panel?  What is the replacement cost?

Serviceability is another issue, especially if you are out of an urban area.  What and who are your service options?  How quickly do they respond?  How far do they have to travel to get there?  How long does it take to get parts?  Do I need to bring in a technician to do everything or can I do it myself?

With liquor guns the same considerations come into play, as it takes more abuse than an All Bottle Console.

Some specific issues to consider:

  • Is the gun itself ergonomically efficient?  Can you reach the most commonly used buttons across a single thumb span?  Can you easily trigger buttons all night long?
  • Is the liquor flow quick but gentle so it doesn’t splash back off the ice?  Speed is good, but neatness and presentation count more.
  • Do the pumps allow for continuous use or do they need to recharge after so many shots? This goes to speed, if pumps need to recharge after three shots you have an immediate delay to deal with.
  • What prevents stuff getting into the system and jamming a valve open?  Any liquor gun is vulnerable to crud getting in the valve, causing a small leak. While it isn’t difficult to fix, it never happens at the best time and is easily overlooked.
  • Draft Monitoring Systems have their own issues. Any Draft Turbine must be connected to a controller, each  turbine needs 6 wire connections.  If you have 24 taps, you have 144 connections and potential points of failure.
  • Is wiring secured so an arm or moving a box won’t catch it?  How do you know where to look if you do lose a connection?  How much time does it take to make all those connections and secure it properly?
  • Another concern is field serviceability. Bartenders can jam couplers directly onto kegs and get remnants into the lines and jamming the turbines.  Can it be cleaned out or does it have to be replaced?
  • Ease of calibration is important! Different beers and different systems have different properties, not all flow rates are the same.  Can you easily confirm calibration settings?  How easy is to tune calibrations?
  • Most durability and user friendly issues are a matter of common sense. Visualize the unit in a dark, cluttered bar and see yourself using it.

The next step is to decide…

  • who you to do business with over the long haul. You are committing to a long term investment so you need a reliable vendor and factory support access.
  • Does the system manufacturer have tenure in the industry?  Are they Beverage oriented or Technology oriented, with more comfort with computers than coolers?  Is hardware supported, and by whom?  How long has the software been in service?  Is code handled in house or by contractors?

A chain is only as strong as the weakest link so you are best served to consider where that chain may break and how it would affect you.

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