Buying hardware to build a self-checkout system

During the recent supply shortage, I made a costly mistake when buying what was in stock just because it was quick and easy to get it. The parts I normally recommend had long lead times of several months.

So I ordered a couple computer systems in mid-2020, which were not what I wanted. The systems I wanted would take about three months or so to get. So the systems came in the usual nice packaging. They were 'top-of-the-line' newest tech. 

The system hardware was fine. But we had extreme instability with unexplainable memory and CPU usage problems which made the computer totally freeze up or crash at odd moments. So I went back and forth with the customer and supplier for several months. Finally, the system improved, which I think was due to better drivers and software updates catching up to the new hardware.

On-site trips cost a fortune though and we followed many false leads like seeing if increased memory would help. After it was done I had lost $7000 and my customer was not terribly satisfied, to put it mildly. So I learned some lessons:

Don't buy high-end newish hardware for self-checkout. Get tried-and-true older-generation stuff if at all possible. Some of my library customers have used refurbished older models with no problems and saved a fortune. Also, I have not had the best luck with AIO (all-in-one) systems. Rather a separate touch monitor seems like the way to go since it is cheaper to repair and replace components.

I do have recommended hardware suggestions. I may share them in the next blog. Feel free to e-mail me to talk about the hardware that you use and like. 



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