CHICAGO — When you think of ancillary equipment in a Laundromat setting, bill changers and breakers are near the top of the list in terms of visibility and utility. But you can’t just place them anywhere in a store, and you can’t just set them up once and leave them be.
Unit placement is important for both customer and owner access, and regularly scheduled maintenance can keep them running day after day.
Ken Brinks is national sales manager for American Changer Corp., which makes a vast line of money-handling products, including bill-to-bill breakers and bill-to-coin/token dispensers, sold under the American Changer, Rowe and Triad trademarks.
“The most logical place for a bill breaker or bill changer is in a location that is easily noticed by customers,” he says. “You want to be sure it is very visible to customers so they have easy access to change or tokens.
“For self-serve laundry locations, we recommend rear-load machines, which have a door in the back and are mounted inside a wall, so store personnel can have access from the back. This maximizes space in your laundry location and helps provide security.”
Kris Kious is national service manager for Standard Change-Makers Inc., which also manufactures a full line of bill and coin changers used in Laundromats.
Distributors and contractors know the finest details of their store projects and take issues such as access into consideration when developing installation blueprints, Kious says, so his company doesn’t make placement recommendations. However, it often answers questions about bill acceptor height and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines when installing changer units.
“You want to have ample access to the changer so that someone in a wheelchair could get in there sideways,” he says.
As far as how the unit is powered, Kious says it’s Standard’s desire “to have a dedicated electrical line back to the panel” and “three-wire connection with good ground.”
“Once we have good power, the equipment is pretty simple,” he adds.
If you’re building a new store or retooling an existing one and you install a new changer during the course of construction, be sure to cover the bill acceptor until all work is finished, Kious advises: “Drywall will find its way in and cover those sensors.”
Manufacturers (and their distributors) routinely supply instructions for maintaining their money-handling equipment; manuals often can be found online on company websites.
“Like anything, bill breakers/bill changers require proper and consistent maintenance to help with optimal performance and long life,” Brinks says. “We recommend a qualified professional install, inspect the machines on an annual basis, and the machines be used as recommended” by the manufacturer.
When it comes to maintenance, bill acceptors—including the rollers or rubber belts that transport bills—deserve attention, Kious says. He recommends that a changer be cleaned and maintained twice a year, or “when it starts rejecting a higher amount of bills.”
After gaining access to a changer’s inner workings, use an air compressor (or even “canned air” will work) to blow out dust and lint, he says. Then use a clean, damp rag with a mild detergent such as Simple Green® to wipe off sensor lenses. Use an air blast again to make sure the areas are dry when finished.
When cleaning belts, make sure they remain tacky enough to pull bills through, Kious adds.
Plastic rollers sometimes grow “clumpy” from collecting dirt and ink from bills. Use a small, straight-edge screwdriver to gently scrape them off, then clean with a rag and detergent.
As for gravity-fed coin hoppers, blow out the front of the hopper and the chute area, Kious says. Take the hoppers out occasionally and remove any foreign objects like paper clips, string from a coin bag or a bent coin that can hamper dispensing.
American Changer recommends monthly cleaning of components (depending on store traffic) and a more in-depth maintenance/safety check annually.
“It is recommended that you have a spare validator and hopper parts (especially belts) on hand for quick service,” Brinks says.
Kious says if a store has only one bill acceptor, he’d recommend keeping an extra on hand.
“Customers will never stop using cash, and it is important that your location makes it as easy as possible for them to do business with you!” Brinks says.
“We’ll see bill acceptors come back that are 3 or 4 years old and have never been touched,” Kious says. “At least look at an annual cleaning and maintenance routine. They won’t get better by themselves.”