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Introducing CanteenBuddy: Revolutionizing School Cafeteria Operations with IoT

May 31, 2024 by Jehovah Yii Zui Hon (Hovah)

CanteenBuddy is a smart food ordering system designed to streamline the process of managing food orders in school cafeterias. By using an open-source microcontroller like the ESP32, CanteenBuddy helps reduce wait times, minimize errors, and enhance the overall dining experience for students while making the workflow easier for cafeteria workers.

Hi MakerPro community! 🌟 I'm excited to share my latest project with you all: CanteenBuddy. This innovative solution was developed as part of the Train the Trainer programme by Sime Darby X Chumbaka. It's designed to streamline the food ordering process in school cafeterias, making it easier for both students and cafeteria workers.

Key Features

  • Student Order Page: A user-friendly web interface where students can view the menu and place their orders.
  • Cafeteria Worker Dashboard: A real-time dashboard for managing and updating food orders efficiently.
  • Real-Time Updates: The ESP32 microcontroller displays the status of orders on an LCD screen, ensuring students know when their food is ready.
  • Automated Notifications: Students receive notifications when their food is ready for pickup.

Technical Implementation

  1. Hardware: The project uses an ESP32 microcontroller and a 16x2 LCD screen to display real-time updates.
  2. Software: The web interface is built with PHP and MySQL, providing a robust backend for order management.
  3. Connectivity: The ESP32 connects to the Wi-Fi network, allowing it to communicate with the web server and update order statuses in real-time.


Figure 1 Methodology

Here's a step-by-step explanation of the methodology using the provided image:

ESP32 Microcontroller

At the heart of CanteenBuddy is the ESP32 microcontroller, which acts as the brain of the system. It connects to the Wi-Fi network and communicates with the web server to display order statuses on an LCD screen.

LCD Display:

The ESP32 is connected to a 16x2 LCD screen, which shows real-time updates on the status of food orders. The screen is crucial for both students and cafeteria workers to keep track of order progress. The image shows a typical 16x2 LCD, which is used to display messages received from the backend server.

Custom Web Interface

The project features a custom web interface built with PHP and MySQL. The web interface has three main dashboards:

  • User Dashboard: Students can view the menu, place their orders, and track their order status. The screenshot shows different food items available for selection, such as Spaghetti, Chicken Chop, Chicken Popcorn, Teh Tarik, and Milo Ais.
  • Cafeteria Worker Dashboard: Workers can manage incoming orders, update their status, and see the estimated preparation time. The dashboard provides a clear interface for updating order statuses, as shown in the image.
  • Order Status Dashboard: This dashboard displays the status of all orders in real-time, providing both students and cafeteria workers with up-to-date information on order progress.

Backend Server

The backend server, built with PHP and MySQL, handles all the data processing. It stores order information in a database and manages communication between the web interface and the ESP32. The provided code snippet in the image shows how the server sends order updates to the ESP32.

Real-Time Updates

The ESP32 microcontroller receives updates from the backend server and displays them on the LCD screen. This ensures that both students and cafeteria workers have real-time information on order statuses, reducing wait times and improving efficiency.

Development Environment

The project development was carried out using the Arduino IDE, as shown in the image. The IDE provides a platform for writing, compiling, and uploading code to the ESP32 microcontroller.


About CanteenBuddy: View Source Code here

Please consider starring 🌟 my GitHub project if you find it useful!

Thank you for reading about CanteenBuddy!

If you like this project, support me and buy me a coffee: Buy Me a Coffee


Special thanks to Sime Darby and Chumbaka for sponsoring the Arduino kits, which made this project possible. This project was developed under the Train the Trainer programme, aiming to enhance the knowledge and skills of mentors in IoT and programming.

#CanteenBuddy #IoT #Engineering #Teaching #SimeDarby #Chumbaka #Arduino #PHP #MySQL #Innovation #Education #TrainTheTrainer #YoungInnovatorsChallenge

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