Our inspiration came from a local restaurant owner who told us that their biggest problems arose from inventory tracking and management. A lot of small businesses chose to support their local markets and stores, but this comes with the cost of additional work to send order requests to these markets/stores. Internally, there are many situations where customers order food but there are not enough ingredients to produce a certain item. Issues like these take away a lot of time and money from business owners, and we wanted to come up with a solution.
What it does
InvenTrack is an all in one solution to restaurant inventory management, order tracking, and automated resupplying. Owners can place orders on their phone or on the web app and InvenTrack automatically deducts the recipe ingredients from the inventory. If ingredients go under a certain threshold, menu items are given warnings and order notifications can be sent to local markets or grocery stores for delivery automatically. Integrated hardware is used to track spices and bar/beverage levels as well.
How we built it
Software: We used NCR's Catalog, Order, and Site APIs to store ingredients and recipe data for restaurants. We built a client facing admin dashboard which would allow restaurants to better track their inventory and reduce inefficiencies and wastage .
Hardware: An Arduino Uno was used to capture and send serial data to the NCR APIs regarding the weight of the spices and volume of liquid left for items (think restaurant bar taps). A weight sensor was used to find the weight of spices as they are used over time - this data is then sent to the app to be updated in inventory. The weight sensor is a quarter-bridge load cell, which we balanced with an even resistor network. For the volume of liquids, we used a flow rate sensor that we made out of a DC motor. As liquids flow out of a tap, the sensor detects how long the flow is and calculates the volume of liquid dispensed. Since we used a DC motor, we had to use a non-inverting Op-Amp amplifier circuit to get a larger analog signal that could be used to calculate this volume.
Challenges we ran into
Software stuff - orders/ delivery API
For the hardware, we tried to purchase a flow rate sensor but unfortunately, the order did not place and the sensor would not arrive in time. In order to adapt, we created our own makeshift flow sensor with a DC motor from a servo motor. This was a lot harder to work with and get a solid signal from, so we had to create circuits that would be able to provide us with a better signal.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Developed a full-stack application within 2 days.
Wee able to develop circuits to produce better hardware signal results.
What we learned
Using APIs in real world use cases. How to effectively create different parts of the stack and connect them all intuitively so they can interact efficiently.
What's next for InvenTrack
Automated email/text messages to grocery/markets. Suggested threshold for inventory restocking, smarter analytics.