Often the focus of profitable business ventures, ice cream vending machines can be found in supermarkets and many commercial venues such as shopping malls and train stations. There are several different kinds which can be fitted with various functional and decorative components. Some store only ice cream, but others sometimes contain other frozen foods as well. Other machines are capable of making ice cream from ingredients which are stored separately, depending on desired flavor, and based on recipes contained in computer memory.
Many ice cream vending machines include pre-packaged ice cream snacks. These typically have a temperature control system in addition to mechanisms that handle dollar bills and coins. Coin changers are usually integrated as well, so a customer can receive change once he or she purchases a product. There are also ice cream vending machines that can store the ingredients to various recipes separately. These sometimes have a robotic arm that can accurately pick from the ingredients inside the machine; some robotics include suction devices to hold items.
More sophisticated ice cream vending machines include robotic systems with high accuracy and which can move in different directions with the aid of motors. Some machines have freezers that can keep temperatures cold enough so that the products inside will remain cold for long periods of time, even if the power is cut. Extras that are sometimes included are touch screens, internal cutoff switches in case temperatures become unsafe, as well as card readers. On some machines, customers can choose their ingredients from the instructions provided by the onscreen interface.
Ice cream vending machines are generally the most important part of an ice cream business. They can be quite expensive, while inventory and maintenance can add significant expenses as well. Selling ice cream can be lucrative, given the size of the market behind it, while the sale of fat-free products is often profitable as well.
A business can be built around one of the many types of ice cream vending machines. Storage freezers and delivery trucks are often a part of such businesses as well. Start up companies can sometimes choose where they want to add their machines, such as college recreational centers, cafeterias, and high schools. Logos, covers, and other accessories are often added to give the machine a certain look, so to get the attention of a targeted group of people such as students, shoppers, or commuters.