Cummins-Allison – Andy Crowson speaks exclusively to The Grocery Trader

Cummins-Allison’s dedication to innovation and excellence in currency handling solutions has led to it being recognised as designing, engineering, manufacturing and servicing the fastest, most reliable and accurate solutions of this kind in the world.

Here in Britain, its UK operation Cummins-Allison Ltd provides industry-proven currency scanners, note counters, coin sorters and coin counters to a variety of business sectors. In the retail arena, Tesco have used Cummins-Allison’s JetSort 1000 Coin Sorters to count coins from their self service checkouts since their inception in 2003. Cummins-Allison’s other market-leading cash handling products for retail organisations include its JetWeigh Cash Till Settlement Systems, JetCount Note Counters and JetScan Note Sorters/Scanners.

With increasing emphasis placed on improving efficiency throughout retail operations, counting cash is an area where procedures can be improved at a stroke by automating the process. Using either a complete system of Cummins-Allison cash handling equipment or individual machines significantly simplifies and speeds retail money handling processes. Their ease of use keeps staff training and supervision to a minimum: employees like the simplicity and speed of this hard working kit, and managers appreciate its accuracy and accountability.

Cummins-Allison is continually enhancing its product range to suit evolving markets, and in March the company exhibited at the Retail Business Technology Expo at London’s Earls Court. Andy Crowson, Managing Director of Cummins-Allison Ltd, spoke to The Grocery Trader.

The Grocery Trader – First of all, Andy, as MD of Cummins-Allison Ltd, what does your job involve day to day?

As Managing Director I’m responsible for the UK and Irish operations, which includes overseeing the Sales and Service sides of the company on a day to day basis.

GT – Do you offer customers advice, to help them find the best solution for their business?

Yes, we do. With our extensive experience providing cash counting solutions to a number of different and varied industries, we are able to offer advice to individual organisations as to how best to improve their procedures and security. Our machines are very versatile, and can be set up to suit all different requirements.

GT – When and where was Cummins-Allison founded? When did you set up in the UK?

Cummins-Allison was founded in the US in 1887. The UK office was set up in 1988 as our first territory outside the US.

GT – Which other countries besides the UK do you operate in?

We have offices in the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Ireland, and have 80 independent distributors around the world. The UK is one of our most successful markets.

GT – Where are you based in the UK?

We’re based in Coventry near Junction 3 of the M6 and are ideally placed in the centre of the country to enable us to service all of our customers’ requirements.

GT – Where do you design and manufacture the currency handling systems you sell here?

All Cummins-Allison products are designed and manufactured at our factory in Chicago. The Cummins Headquarters incorporates five separate manufacturing and design facilities.

GT – What proportion of your UK business comes from the retail sector? Which other industry sectors beside retail do you supply with cash handling equipment?

I’d say 60% is from retail, and rising. We sell to everybody who needs to count cash: retail, banking, security companies, vending, car parking, councils, amusement arcades, hospitals and charities.

GT – Are there fewer coins and notes in circulation in retail now than a few years back, because of increased use of payment cards, contactless payment etc?

Yes, there is less cash now because of credit and debit cards, but cash will not go out of use. There are still plenty of people who prefer to use cash or don’t have bank accounts and people who take cash in their businesses.

GT – How do your machines compare with other cash handling systems? Why buy a cash handling system from Cummins-Allison?

Our machines are much more flexible than our competitors, and have the necessary software built in to output to a printer or PC, and all our machines have the ability to manually enter other information as well, such as the value of vouchers.  Cummins Allison equipment is built to last and we have a proven track record for durability and reliability.

GT – Focusing on the multiple grocers, how are you set up to service their needs for coin and note handling systems? Do you have dedicated national account teams and technical development people looking after these customers?

We have dedicated sales people dealing with the large retailers, and a nationwide team of factory-trained service engineers who cover all our products.

GT – What items of equipment would come in a typical solution that you would provide for a multiple retailer?

In a typical retailer’s cash office, the Cummins-Allison equipment you would find would include a JetSort 1000 table top coin sorter, usually one per store; some form of note counter, either a JetCount or JetScan, which counts notes into bundles and sorts them out into different denominations; and a JetWeigh, which combines scales and a note counter. This is a recent introduction to our product portfolio and is in the process of being taken up by more and more customers.

GT – Do you offer counterfeit detection systems with your machines?

We have various different models of machine, and counterfeit detection is one option customers can choose. Self service tills in retail outlets these days have very sophisticated counterfeit detection, so it is not always required on our machines. For cash through manned tills, we offer a counterfeit detection system as an option.

GT – As the case study below details, Tesco has used your JetSort 1000 coin sorters in conjunction with its selfservice checkouts since their inception in 2003. Can you name any other UK supermarkets now using JetSort as part of their self service checkouts?

ASDA are now also using JetSort 1000 in all their stores which have self scanning checkouts.

GT – Roughly how many outlets are there now in the UK using JetSort 1000 units as part of their self service option?

There are well over 2,000 outlets using JetSort 1000 in the UK, and the numbers are growing year on year. Tesco started self service checkouts in 2003: companies taking on self service tills need to handle increased amounts of cash, and self service and JetSort 1000 go hand in hand.

GT – How does the JetSort 1000 unit work?

Our JetSort 1000 machines sort and count the large quantities of mixed coins generated in selfservice checkouts, making significant time savings for the cash office team.

GT – What are the dimensions of a JetSort 1000 machine? How many JetSort machines would a typical superstore with self-checkouts need to have?

The Jetsort 1000 measures 27cm wide by 24com high and 43cm deep. You would typically just need one per store.

GT – How quickly can the JetSort handle money? How accurate is it?

The JetSort 1000 can handle 1600 mixed coins per minute, and is 99.995% accurate. The machine is designed to count perfectly sized UK coins, but damaged coins, forgeries and foreign coins can affect accuracy.

GT – What kinds of savings in time and effort do they achieve?

The JetSort 1000 dramatically reduces the time it takes to count coin and can save up to two thirds of the time it takes to count coins from a till. In an average store with 30 tills emptied twice a day, working seven days a week, that’s a major saving. A lot of retail staff who count cash are also in positions of responsibility within the store, so you are saving the time of higher paid staff by using this equipment. It comes down to hard cash; retailers base their rationale for purchasing our machines on the time and money they save.

GT – How do the sorted coins come out?

The JetSort 1000 can be set to count the coins in the way the retailer requires. That can be in the small sachet amounts, i.e. £20 in £1 coins, or in the large ‘shot’ bag quantities.

GT – How long does money stay in the JetSort 1000 unit? How secure is it?

The JetSort 1000 is purely a coin counter and sorter. As soon as the coin is counted it would be removed from the machine. It is a machine that would be used primarily by cash office staff.

GT – Can you talk us through your other leading products in the UK retail space, the JetWeigh Cash Till Settlement Systems, JetCount Note Counters and JetScan Note Sorters/Scanners?

All three machines are used for counting money. JetCount is a single denomination note counter, JetScan is for mixed denominations and JetWeigh is a combination of note counter and a set of scales.

GT – Again, what kinds of speeds do they work at, and what kinds of efficiencies do they give?

JetWeigh is as fast as the operator who is putting the money in; JetCount processes 1600 notes a minute; and JetScan counts 1,000 notes per minute.

GT – How much maintenance, how often, do your systems need?

Our machines are incredibly reliable and are supplied with a 12 month warranty. After this period we are able to offer a maintenance contract, which includes scheduled maintenance checks. If a maintenance contract is taken out with us the equipment will last for years. We have customers who are still using equipment they purchased over 15 years ago!

GT – You exhibited at the Retail Business Technology Expo in March. How was the show for you?

It was definitely worth doing, and we got some promising leads. We showed our four UK retail products, the JetSort 1000 coin sorters, the JetWeigh cash till settlement systems, JetCount note counters and JetScan note sorters/scanners.

GT – As coins and notes change, how easily can your machines be updated?

All our machines made in the last ten years can be easily updated by a service person coming in to reconfigure the machine as appropriate. With the note counters it’s a software upgrade, and for the coin sorters it involves a hardware change.

GT – What industry standards are your cash handling systems made to?

All our machines in use here are CE-approved.

GT – How quickly can your machines be installed? How much training is involved?

Our machines can be installed very quickly. They are put in place by a sales person, who trains the store staff at the same time. Training generally takes 30-45 minutes. We train all the back office and cash office staff who reconcile the tills, or in smaller stores, the owner or manager.

GT – Do you work with the cash transporting companies and banks to make your cash handling machines safer, more efficient and so on?

Yes, we do. We work with G4S, Loomis, Royal Mint, the banks and so on. We supply them with larger and faster machines than we provide to retail, but the underlying technology is much the same. Security companies and banks are much more reliant on forgery detection, as you would expect. We work with these customers at corporate level to include their feedback in the design of our new equipment. Similarly, when the Bank of England releases a new note or coin, they brief us well in advance so we can carry out reconfigurations of all our machines in good time before the new currency goes into circulation.

GT – What effect, if any, has the recession had on demand for your equipment?

To be honest, we’ve had a great couple of years in terms of sales: our machines save retailers time and money and increase efficiency all round, the ultimate benefit when cost reductions are in the spotlight.

GT – Finally, where do you see Cummins-Allison UK going from here?

Onwards and upwards! We’re looking at extending our range of products and hope to bring out the next generation of machines for use at the front of house rather than the back office, for customers to use for cash deposits. We’re also looking to further extend our relationships with the major UK retailers as their currency handling partners.

Cummins-Allison Ltd

Tel : 02476 339810

www.cumminsallison.co.uk