Aiming to “free people from mediocre food at work,” Switzerland’s FELFEL has developed a complete, innovative solution that enables everyone at the office to eat delicious, sustainable, and fresh food all day long at affordable prices. A Digi ConnectCore® single-board computer (SBC) using a 4G LTE connection powers an Android application that controls everything from refrigerator locks to token-based POS transactions.
In many companies fresh, tasty, and affordable meals are becoming the ultimate perk. Thanks to FELFEL, an innovative Swiss company, firms can now change the way their employees eat at work. Instead of boring, repetitive, non-nutritious lunches, employees can savor a carefully curated, inspiring, and tempting menu that changes every week.
Just as important, employees can access this high-quality food on-demand by simply waving a badge that unlocks the refrigerator, selecting their lunch, and scanning the item. The cost is automatically charged to each employee’s account that he can manage from a web application. “Many companies in Switzerland are in isolated office parks or remote areas, and the options are limited to vending machines,” said Fah Yik Yong, tech developer at FELFEL. “It all starts with great food choices, of course. But we also wanted to create a custom solution that delivers fresh food with a unique user experience.”
The heart of the FELFEL solution is a large glass refrigerator covered in a wooden shell that displays delicious meal options like “Pollo alla Siciliana,” “Satay Chicken Noodles,” or “Chicken Barley Salad” along with healthy beverages like HeyLife coconut water. By waving a small keyring RFID medallion, the employee unlocks the refrigerator, opens the door, and makes a selection. The employee scans his chosen items on the barcode scanner and uses a touchscreen to complete his order. “You can literally choose your lunch and walk away in 10 seconds,” Yong said.
FELFEL handles all payment transactions and manages replenishments with detailed planograms to display the products in a precise fashion.
To design its solution, FELFEL consulted with Miromico, a systems integrator, and Ineltro AG, a Digi distributor. Previous iterations had used Microsoft Surface tablets to drive the system, but problems arose and FELFEL was looking to expand the features and capabilities of its system. Stefan Rehm, development engineer for hardware/software from Miromico, helped lead the systems integration and selected the Digi ConnectCore 6 single-board computer. This ultra-compact, versatile off-the-shelf single board computer (SBC) significantly reduces time to market by virtually eliminating the traditional risk, effort and complexity of custom board designs without sacrificing flexibility or capabilities. Built on the ConnectCore 6 module, it provides a common platform with scalable NXP i.MX6 performance, pre-certified Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi integration, Digi XBee RF module and cellular connectivity options, Gigabit Ethernet support, multi display, and reliability in harsh environments.
“We knew we needed a platform that supports an Android application and could respond to our need for graphics, speed, and performance,” said Rehm. “With its quad-core option, Digi ConnectCore 6 was ideal for us. And we wanted an SBC solution to speed our time to market – it has all the display interfaces, cabling, and connectivity we needed. It was a good match between our requirements and Digi ConnectCore’s capabilities. And we really liked that Digi has a very long product lifecycle – we knew Digi ConnectCore 6 will be around a long time.”
Walter Weber, manager of embedded computing at Ineltro Electronics GmbH, explained that connectivity was a key to the application’s success. “Using a cellular module that transmits data to a central location at its headquarters, FELFEL can plan inventory replenishment based on real-time data,” he said. “Ineltro supported key elements, such as the Digi ConnectCore single board computer, the cellular modem, and the touch display solution.”
Already, FELFEL has installed its foodservice solution at more than 80 locations across Switzerland and Liechtenstein – with plans to expand further. “Digi has been the right choice for us – they are always ready to help us,” said Yong. “We recently had an issue where the system was breaking down every couple of days. We were unable to locate the source of the problem for the longest time. Digi sat down with us and helped us find the problem – which, I must add, wasn’t related to Digi ConnectCore 6. Digi’s people and technology have been instrumental in our success.”