A new addition

Cambridge Consultants works with Smart Drawer on novel retail technologyCoins on an abacus

New intelligent cash drawer technology is set to help reduce retail fraud and streamline cash counting – at a fraction of the price of existing systems.  At the heart of the new Smart Drawer™ product from UK company Smart Drawer are advanced algorithms created by product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants, which transform the way the device operates compared with similar products.

According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer 2014-2015, retail ‘shrinkage’ is estimated at $123.4 billion worldwide – with employee theft responsible for more than a third of that figure, mostly at the point of sale. On top of that, manual cash counting is time consuming and prone to errors – and mistakes can creep in during cash transactions.

Intelligent cash drawers are one answer to these kinds of problems. But existing solutions are hardware based and use up to eight individual, expensive load cells to detect money being placed in the various sections of a cash drawer. They need regular calibration and tend to be quite bulky and expensive – costing several hundred pounds.

The Smart Drawer is different. It uses just three low-cost load cells to sense the addition or removal of coins – singly or in multiples – and can determine in which section of the drawer coins are deposited. The ‘secret ingredient’ is the algorithms, which continually analyse the output from the load cells and provide information on the contents of the cash drawer in real time. As well as combating theft and mistakes, this can also help avoid having large volumes of cash on the shop floor.

“The world-class algorithm and sensing expertise of Cambridge Consultants has helped make our vision of a state-of-the-art, low-cost, counting cash drawer a reality,” said Peter Charij, director of Smart Drawer. “We now have a product that offers retailers high counting accuracy, a small size and a fast return on investment. And, with our integrated software LiveStore™, we can offer a complete end-to-end solution with a large number of features wrapped in a secure software package.”

The smart system can differentiate between two 5p coins and one 10p coin being dropped into their respective sections, even though they are the same weight – the system calculates both the change in weight and the position of the weight addition. The complex mathematics underpinning the innovation enables the drawer to be more compact than existing solutions – and a fraction of the cost.

“Our wide-ranging skills in sensing and algorithm development – coupled with our long history of complex systems engineering projects – has enabled us to help Smart Drawer create a truly novel product,” said Nathan Wrench, head of the industrial and energy business at Cambridge Consultants. “The combination of advanced technology and reduced cost also means intelligent cash drawer technology is now within reach of even more retailers.”

Cambridge Consultants (stand 1018) and Smart Drawer (stand 1002) are launching the new product at the Retail Business Technology Expo, March 9-10, at Olympia, London. Cambridge Consultants is also demonstrating its innovative fruit-picking robot technology and its ZipLine queue monitoring system.

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