AstroSystems – “A thoroughly pleasant business”
In today’s fast-moving business world, continuity is becoming a scarce phenomenon. This is especially true in in the technology sector, where the relentless pursuit of growth is invariably characterised by regular restructures, mergers and acquisitions.
An often ill-considered consequence of such change is the extra burden it can place on the customer; new contacts may have to be forged, new procedures adopted and entire product ranges rationalised. For the supermarket shopper, attempting in vain to track down a favourite brand that has been repackaged and renamed this may be irritating enough, but in the B2B context the situation can be far more disruptive, particularly when the product occupies a role that is integral to the customer’s business.
Astrosys International Ltd is based in Hong Kong and is a global manufacturer and supplier of cashhandling equipment to many sectors, including vending, car parking, launderettes and kiosks. The amusements and gaming industries represent a very significant part of Astrosys International’s business.
AstroSystems Ltd has responsibility for selling and supporting the Group’s own coin validators and bill acceptors, marketed under the Microcoin and GBA (Global Bill Acceptors) brands, through a network of sales and support facilities located Asia, Australia, Europe, the Far East and the USA.
AstroSystems Ltd, General Manager for EMEA, Debbie Malin, has built a successful career in the cash handling industry and is happy to reveal some of the reasons for the company’s continued success: “Essentially we keep things very simple, focusing on the quality of our products and on the relationships with our customers. Our products are developed in-house and manufactured in our own ISO9001 certified plants in China. This gives the business total control, plus the ability to directly feedback comments and suggestions from our customers, “explains Debbie.
Debbie is passionate about the level of service experienced by AstroSystems’ customers: “We’ve been around a very long time and offer a highly personalised service. Our Group has well over 2,000 employees but we’re flattered that many of our customers say we come across as if we are a local, home grown business.
Our structure and culture enable us to oversee what’s happening and ensure standards are being met, and in a sector that’s extremely corporate, our customers say they find this refreshing.
“The nature of coin and bill handling is such that many clients like to have a back-up option so even those with established relationships with other suppliers will still come to us because of our products’ reliability, competitive pricing and the level of support we offer. Our total control of the product from design, through to manufacturing and service support, places us well to deal with any integration issues the customer may have,” reveals Debbie.
The focus on core product is serving AstroSystems’ customers well. In the GBA ST2 stackerless note validator, the company has delivered a cost-effective and reliable solution. Interestingly, the ST2 is the only compact device of its type to incorporate a built-in barcode reader, an opportunity not lost on a number of operators making the move to TITO.
Microcoin’s QL coin acceptor may be specifically configured as a single coin or multi-coin acceptor, delivering the speed and security demanded by today’s gaming industry.
The Microcoin SP coin acceptor has been designed to incorporate features, such as an anti-strimming gate and built in price accumulator, essential for today’s amusements operator.
The AstroSystems formula of uncompromising product and service excellence has earned the company many loyal followers in the amusements and gaming world. Speaking about the AstroSystems, Ian Eason, Company Director of Instance Automatics had this to say: “We have tested the Microcoin SP & QL over the last 2 years. This year we changed all our vending and crane machines to use the SP, and our photo booth developments to the QL. This is due to its easy price of play change on the SP.
“Both coin mechs have a brilliant accept rate, and are easy to update to any new coinage or any foreign coin requirements. AstroSystems are a great company for us to be associated with; looking forward to a long and successful business relationship.”
Trevor Hinton, General Manager, Radical Shock commented, “We have been a distributor for AstroSystems since 2000. The service and personal attention they provide is excellent. Where timing and quality is a must, they have always met our expectations and information is communicated in a professional and timely manner,” revealed Trevor.
Debbie’s perspective on customer service is that it needs to be part of the business’ DNA, and should go way beyond effective product support. “We have a fantastic team and a culture of openness where nothing is allowed to stand in the way of our customer relationships. We’ve been looking after many of our clients for a very long time and we’re constantly aware of the level of trust they have placed in us,” she assured.
Currency handling is a highly dynamic field and part of the trust placed by customers is that AstroSystems will be prepared for the latest changes and innovations adopted by the producers of banknotes and coins. Much of the work that AstroSystems carries out in this respect may not be readily visible but is none the less crucial. Debbie meets regularly with the National Central Banks, and the global Mint community, and is a member of The European Vending Association’s Coin Group, established as a link between the industry and the authorities in charge of designing, issuing and controlling coins.
To use UK as an example of the AstroSytems’ preparedness, UK customers can relax in the knowledge that software for the new £5 polymer banknote is in place, and that configuration updates are being prepared and will be ready in a timely manner for the new £1 coin.
AstroSystems also stays in close contact with equipment manufacturers. Debbie explains: “Every market has slightly differing requirements, for example, changes to face plates and the way in which our products are mounted within the machine. Through working with manufacturers we can iron-out potential problems at the design stage,” she revealed.
With in-house product design and manufacturing, a global reach and local service support, plus Debbie’s insistence that dealing with AstroSystems is always a thoroughly pleasant experience, it’s not surprising that AstroSystems is the currency handling partner of choice for many of the world’s leading gaming and amusements operators.