FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the loading of banknotes into a banknote validator and dispenser or banknote transaction device.
A number of systems have been proposed where a banknote validator is associated with at least one banknote accumulator and a dispensing arrangement. The systems provide effective money exchange and are often used in association with gaming machines, vending machines or other banknote transaction applications. The systems are particularly advantageous where the banknote transaction device recirculates at least some of the banknotes that are inserted therein. For example, a user inserts certain bills into the system for payment or credit and the validator confirms the bills are authentic. Any change including banknote change can be provided to him. The received banknotes can be considered for accumulation in banknote accumulators to allow for subsequent use of the banknotes if required to provide change for other transactions or payout in the case of gaming machines.
Many of these systems have at least two banknote accumulators for accumulating currency of different denominations. For example, one of the accumulators can accumulate five dollar bills and another accumulator can accumulate ten dollar bills. Typically, the denominations being accumulated can be set.
Depending upon the particular application, the number of banknotes which are received by the device during normal transactions and made available in one of the accumulators for change will not be sufficient. For this reason, it may be necessary from time to time to load banknotes into the accumulator for later dispensing. The banknote transaction device is typically mounted interior to a vending or gaming machine cabinet with various ports in the cabinet panel to allow the insertion of bills and to allow the return of bills to a user. Locking arrangements are provided to prevent unauthorized access to the cabinet as well as to the operating components of the banknote transaction device. In a casino gaming environment, many of these devices are present and require ongoing service including loading of banknotes. Actual access to the banknotes by the service technician is not desirable. Furthermore, rapid loading of banknotes to the accumulators is desirable to reduce the service time, however, the validating head associated with the transaction device is often the limiting factor.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention seeks to provide an effective solution for loading of banknotes to a validator accepting and dispensing arrangement.
A method of loading a banknote accumulator according to the present invention utilizes the structure of the banknote accepting and dispensing device which the accumulator forms part thereof. The banknote accepting and dispensing device includes a banknote validator. The method comprises removing the banknote validator, inserting a banknote loader into the space left by the banknote validator and forming an electrical connection with the banknote accepting and dispensing device. The banknote loader includes a stack of banknotes to be loaded and an associated banknote validator. The method further comprises operating the banknote loader to feed banknotes from the stack through the associated banknote validator transporting the received banknotes in a serial manner to the banknote accumulator and receiving the banknotes in the banknote accumulator.
According to an aspect of the invention, the banknote accepting and dispensing device includes at least two banknote accumulators with each banknote accumulator being selectively connected to a banknote transport path of the banknote accepting and dispensing device by a switching device. The method includes moving the switching device to selectively connect at least one of the banknote accumulators with the banknote transport path to thereby receive banknotes in the selected accumulator.
In a further aspect of the invention, the associated validator determines denominations of the banknotes as the banknotes pass therethrough and the validator controls the switching device to direct the banknotes to the accumulator in accordance with the determined denominations.
The present invention is also directed to a banknote loader and validator which are insertable within a banknote accepting and dispensing device in place of a removable banknote validator of the banknote dispensing and accepting device. The loader includes a locked housing having a stack of banknotes therein, a feed arrangement for feeding of the banknotes to the validating head and a validating head for processing the banknotes and feeding the banknotes to the accepting and dispensing device in the conventional manner. In this way, a stack of banknotes can be loaded into the banknote loader and validator in a secure environment, the housing locked and the locked loader and validator taken to a banknote dispensing and accepting device and loaded into the device to charge a banknote accumulator.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In a preferred aspect of the invention, the validator of the loader is of a banknote processing speed greater than the banknote processing speed of the removed validator such that the stack of banknotes can be fed to the accepting and dispensing device at a higher rate of feed.
Preferred embodiments of the invention are shown in the drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational of a banknote accepting and dispensing device installed in a vending or gaming machine;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view showing removal of the validating head of the device of FIG. 1;
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 3 shows a banknote loader about to be inserted into the banknote accepting and dispensing device.
The banknote accepting and dispensing device 10 is typically installed in a vending or gaming machine and is located interior to the cabinet thereof. The accepting and dispensing device is used in any application requiring the validation and storage of paper currency as part of a financial transaction.
FIG. 1 shows a front panel 12 of a device such as a vending machine, gaming machine or banking station with the banknote accepting and dispensing device 10 located behind the panel 12 with ports for allowing user access to the validating head as well as a cash dispensing outlet. The banknote accepting and dispensing device 10 includes a removable validator head 22 which is received and supported by the frame chassis 24. Once the banknotes have been received by the validator and processed to confirm the authenticity, the banknotes are routed to any of the banknote accumulators 26 or if the banknote has been determined to be questionable, it is returned to the user through the banknote stacker and dispenser 28.
An authenticated banknote can also be transported to the banknote cassette 30 provided at the base of the device. Banknotes which are received by any of the banknote accumulator/dispensers 26 are available to provide change to the user or as part of a machine payout or as part of a financial transaction. The banknotes are stored in a serial manner in the accumulators 26 and are dispensed one-by-one from the accumulators to the banknote stacker and dispenser 28 for return to the user. In addition, the banknote accumulators can be used to temporarily store banknotes inserted by users prior to the approval of the purchase. In this way, the banknote accumulators can return the original banknotes to the user in the event a decision to cancel the transaction is received.
During a normal vending operation the user insert banknotes into the validator to receive credit for certain purchases and upon successful completion of a transaction, the received banknotes are appropriately processed by the validator and dispenser. This processing can include routing of the banknotes within the device to allow them to be used for future transactions typically to allow later dispensing of banknotes for any overpayment or for a payout in the event that the device is installed in a gaming machine or for dispensing as part of a banking transaction. Each of the accumulators 26 is designed to typically receive in excess of 50 banknotes. Inevitably during the normal use of the device, the accumulators will not be or remain fully loaded and it is desirable to provide a simple arrangement for allowing the owner of the device to load the accumulators for future transactions. Such loading of accumulators extends the time duration between service requirements. This time between service calls can be extended by increasing the capacity of the accumulators and/or the number of accumulators. The frequency of the loading operation will vary depending upon the particular application and may occur on a daily, weekly, or other schedule basis. The loading of accumulators has particular application in environments where there is a series of these validator and dispensers such as a casino environment.
It is possible to manually feed banknotes into the validator 22 for receipt in the appropriate accumulators 26. Unfortunately, this arrangement requires a technician or service personnel to manually feed banknotes into the validator 22 and presents a security risk and unnecessary downtime necessary for manually feeding the banknotes to the validator and dispenser.
FIG. 2 shows the banknote accepting and dispensing device with the validating head 22 being removed from the chassis 24. The modular design of the device allows this to occur and is typically accomplished by accessing the device once of the cabinet panel has been unlocked. The standard validating head 22 is designed to provide efficient scanning of banknotes as a user feeds them into the device but there is some acceptable time period for the processing of each banknote. Thus the validator is designed to meet this requirement but it is not cost effective to significantly exceed this requirement. Once the validating head 22 is removed, the loader 36 shown in FIG. 3 can be inserted.
This loader includes a stack of banknotes 40 located within the housing 41 with the housing including a lock 42 to restrict access to the housing. The validating head 38 is of a high speed design to scan and authenticate the banknotes quickly due to a high speed processor. This higher banknote processing speed is cost effective in that the loader is used for many banknote accepting and dispensing devices and will allow the rapid processing of the stacked banknotes 40. The validating head 38 communicates with the accepting and dispensing device 10 in the conventional manner, however it places the device in a loading sequence. Typically the stack of banknotes 40 will be of a predetermined denomination for loading into one of the accumulators 26. These stacked banknotes can be placed in the loader in a secure environment and typically the banknotes will have previously been authenticated. Thus, the probability of rejecting a banknote is relatively low.
Once the loader is fully inserted into the chassis 24 it connects with the power supply of the device and operates in the conventional manner. The stacked banknotes are quickly fed in a serial manner through the validating head 38 and are routed to the particular accumulator. With this arrangement, the stack of banknotes 40 may be quickly transferred to one of the accumulators and stored in a serial manner as opposed to being stacked on a drum. Once the banknotes 40 have been transferred to the accepting and dispensing device 10, the loader 36 may be removed and the original validating head 22 reinserted. The front panel of the device can then be closed and the accepting and dispensing device is now ready for normal use. The loader may then be returned to the secure environment for receiving a fresh stack of banknotes to be loaded into a different banknote accepting and dispensing device.
It is also possible to include as part of the loader 36 a memory device which stores details of the loading of the banknotes to the device 10. In this way, when it is returned to the secure environment the memory may be checked and recorded for future reference. Similarly the banknote accepting and dispensing apparatus can provide a signal which is stored in the loader confirming the details of the number of banknotes received therein and other transaction information. With this arrangement, the technician does not have direct access to the banknotes in the accepting and dispensing device nor does he have direct access to the stack of banknotes in the loader.
The loading operation has been described with respect to a single denomination stacked banknotes but it is not limited to this application. For example, it maybe desired to load two accumulators and a first portion of the stack could be fed to one accumulator and a second portion could be fed to a second accumulator. The validator, based on the scanned denomination can direct the banknote to the appropriate accumulator but higher loading speeds are obtained by having the banknotes sorted.
This loading system has proven particularly effective for applications where there are a number of accepting and dispensing devices which require loading of banknotes on a regular basis. The actual loading operation can be completed in a shorter time as the processor of the validator has a higher processing capacity. It can also be appreciated that there can be a number of different models or processing speeds of the accepting and dispensing devices and the loading operation is not contingent on the validator head of those particular devices. The addition of a high speed validating head as part of the loader also enables the transfer of security information regarding the loading process. The loader can also recognize and appropriately communicate with different models.
Although various preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described herein in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that variations may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the appended claims.