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Hardware Thread, Cashless Catering - In the event of server failure... in Technical; Hi All, We are currently in the middle of trialling various Cashless systems, but we are being told mixed things ...
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    Cashless Catering - In the event of server failure...

    Hi All,

    We are currently in the middle of trialling various Cashless systems, but we are being told mixed things about the level of operability at the tills, should the server fail/connectivity be lost.

    In simple, I am wondering if any of you guys with cashless systems already installed have been in this situation yet?

    If so, do you have the ability for the tills to still operate in terms of students lookups, chargeability etc? Some claim to have a local database at the till end which then syncs back to the main server db once everything is back online, giving some functionality when you need it the most. (I appreciate that with the live link being down would potentially cause students to be overdrawn, spend what they don't have etc, but is in our opinion a better option than students not getting served due to chaos/a paper based system being used for upto 1000 transactions...).

    I have been told by other competitors that this isn't the case, and whilst it's claimed, it's nonsense. Would be great to hear some real life experiences!

    Many Thanks

    Paul

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    we have cashless vending, if the server or network fails then the fall back is cash, having said that we have never had all vending machines "off line" in the 2 years we have had them operating. Our support is great, phone up first thing and they are out the same day. We also look after and check them on a "first line" basis after being shown how to by the support firm.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    We have cashless catering at our place - a custom system written by myself. Now, I haven't yet written local caching of data into the system, but it is on my todo list - and it isn't *that* hard to do.

    Obviously, some systems will have local caching, and some won't. Look at your local supermarket - if the central servers go down which run the tills, the tills go down full-stop. (I've seen this happen multiple times). Sometimes it just isn't possible to have a 100% foolproof system.

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    Yes, our cashless tills work as you describe; work locally in the event of server unavailability, then syncs transactions when next online.

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    Thanks for your responses so far. We have been debating ways of creating some sort of failover to the master database ourselves if we need to.

    Our concerns were that some suppliers claimed that they did cache transactions whilst offline, and left the till functional to a degree, but in real life terms this didn't work - according to the salesman of a system which co-incidentally doesn't cache transactions...

    Meastaugh, can I ask what system you use please? Have you ever tested the offline side of things?

    Many Thanks

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    meastaugh1's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm relatively sure that we have had to use it offline for one session (was a while ago), but can't remember why. I recall one of the tills having problems synching back, but managed it in the end with the help of the support company. The system is called Synpos and we were supplied it by Seltrax.

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    Hi

    thought it would be best to resurrect this thread rather than create a new one!

    What does everyone do if there is no Till caching? Or even worse, if the power fails? Do you go back to pen and paper? Make note of the student names and how much they spend for charging later on? Extend lunch time to allow for the additional time it will take to get everyone through? Export accounts and balances each morning into an excel so that at least there is some infromation at the till? Or does the school just foot the bill and offer a basic lunch to everyone?

    To be honest, I am really looking for what others do to confirm my own thoughts - it's just that trying to get agreement between the academy and the catering provider is proving very difficult because in the event of failure, neither want to lose out financially, and neither want the added work it will cause if sales had to be recorded manually and charged later on.

    If you do know of a 'plan-b' that your school / academy have put into place, it would be great to hear about it.

    Thanks

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    Each till had a list of students names, space to write the cost of food and indicated if they were FSM or not to incidcate that to the staff. Other than that we didn't have anything else and we had to use it a couple of times and it worked.

    We did however talk about UPS's on 1 till in the main room to keep it going and work it though to the core, so that was a UPS for the till and then one for a switch cab that was in-between them so not too bad.
    Last edited by john; 10th February 2014 at 09:42 AM.

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