By Joe Law | Apr 27, 2012
Changer maintenance is extremely important for today’s self-service laundries. Unfortunately, many laundry owners simply dump in the quarters, pull out the bills and never give a second thought to any routine maintenance of these valuable pieces of equipment.
A coin laundry can be a hazardous place for a change machine. There is lint everywhere, along with wet bills, torn bills, and “tissue paper” bills from the customers. What’s more, there are children running around with soda, chewing gum, lollipops and all kinds of other stuff that they love to shove into your changers.
Hence, in this column, we’re going to cover the basic cleaning and maintenance procedures required to keep your change machines dispensing quarters worry-free.
The Bill Acceptor
Let’s start with the bill acceptor. It is important to keep the bill path clean on the acceptor. To do this, remove the bill stacker and the lower housing. Use a can of compressed air to blow all of the lint and dust out of the bill acceptor. Keep in mind that anywhere there is an opening in the acceptor lint and dust can – and will – collect there.
Next, be sure that all of the optics are clean by using either a citrus swab or pen to clean them.
You can use alcohol, but be careful not to get the alcohol on the rubber belts, as this will lessen the life of the belts and can cause problems with the acceptor. There are optic sensors on the lower unit and on the lower unit housing, from which the lower unit was removed. Be sure to clean all of those sensors.
In addition, bill acceptor cleaning cards are good for removing dirt and lint from the belts and bill path.
These cards should be used on a monthly or bimonthly basis to keep the belts and plastic clean. Be sure to use soap and water cleaning cards, not alcohol cards.
To use the cleaning card, simply insert it into the acceptor as you would a bill – the acceptor will take the card in and reject it. The card will have lines of dirt on it from the belts. Repeat this several times until the lines do not get any darker.
Follow these procedures and your bill acceptor should last for several years.
Coin Hopper Maintenance
Coin hopper maintenance is also very important if you want your change machines to reach their optimum operating potential. There are several different types of coin hoppers on the market; however, for this column, I will discuss strictly belt-fed universal coin hoppers.
Lint and dirt can accumulate inside the coin hopper, thus causing it to not payout at the worst times (think Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. when you’re out to dinner). Compressed air will be your most valuable tool when it comes to changer maintenance, and you will be using it once again to keep your hoppers clean and functioning at their highest level.
Let’s begin by cleaning the exit window that the coins pass through when leaving the hopper. When this gets dirty, you will receive an error message that the hopper is jammed. To clean the exit window, simply use compressed air to blow into the slot where the coins come out.
The next areas that tend to get very dirty are the low coin contact plates inside the hopper. These are the brass plates in the hopper where the coins are loaded. To clean them, use a Scotch-Brite pad to remove the dirt from these plates; they should be clean and shiny when you are done.
Over time, these plates will become too dirty to detect the coins, and you will tend to get a “Low Coin” error, despite the fact that there are coins in the hopper. After you clean the plates with a Scotch-Brite pad, use compressed air to blow out the inside of the hopper.
Also, after cleaning the plates, you need to lubricate the track belt. You can lubricate this belt while it is still in the hopper by using a silicone spray lubricant. There is an access hole on the end plate of the hopper – simply place the nozzle of the silicone lubricant into that opening and spray in a small amount of lubricant.
Run the hopper for a few seconds and then repeat. This should ensure that entire track belt is fully lubricated.
If you perform these simply procedures on a regular basis, your change machines should remain up and running – and serving your customers – for a long time to come.