Tool Dispensing Machines
What does your warehouse’s inventory management system look like? Can your employees quickly and easily retrieve the tools and PPE supplies they need? Are all of your tools accounted for at all times? How much money are you losing from stock-outs, shrinkage, and hoarding? Is everyone accountable for what tools and supplies they use? And are you able to easily adjust your inventory based on real-time data? Among many others, these questions are crucial for an efficient and lean warehouse. And though this may seem stressful, you can address all of these concerns with an all-in-one industrial vending machine with inventory management software for dispensing PPE supplies, MRO tools, and much more. Keep reading to learn how. (See videos )
How Industrial Vending Machines Work
The industrial vending machines are intuitive and can store virtually any type of item for asset control in any industry. Employees first use the machine’s identification system for access via barcode scanners, proximity cards, biometrics, smart cards, mag-stripe IDs, or other method; you can configure the machines with whatever works for you. Then, the user selects the item or tool they need from the touchscreen. The machine dispenses the tool in a matter of seconds, but that’s not all—after a retrieval or return, the built-in computer system’s inventory management software automatically logs transactions and adjusts inventory levels accordingly. It will even track how the machine is being used and provide actionable inventory data that allows you to continuously improve efficiency and identify areas for cost reduction. Click here to see more industrial storage solutions.
Vending Machine Advantages at A Glance
- Reduce inventory spending by 20%-50%
- Automate ordering, receiving, stocking, and maintaining inventory
- 24/7 availability with audit tracking for transactions
- 100% inventory visibility
- Reduce stock-outs and obsolete inventory
- Reduce consumption, hoarding, and theft
- Control employee and department spending
- Turn inventory data into actionable information
- Improve demand planning
- Reduce travel time and wait time
- Complete inventory control with access by item, department, employee, job, machine, etc.
- Increase use of re-grinds and reconditioned items
- Reclaim floor space
- Manage gauge calibration
- Lot control and FOD control
- Optional wheels allow easy management in large areas like airline hangers, shipyards and large manufacturing plants
With its automated tracking, the industrial vending machines help enforce accountability by monitoring personal usage depending on the shift, machine, or operator. This helps users be more conscious of their tool and PPE supply usage and encourages timely returns.
When access and accountability are limited, employees may feel that they need to take more and keep supplies for a longer period of time than they need. This leads to shortages from repurchasing inventory that is frequently hoarded. To prevent this, the industrial vending machines limit the number of items that a single person can take at a specific period of time. Additionally, the machines prevent employees from feeling the need to hoard supplies since it offers 24/7 access and automatically replenished inventory.
Dispense Correct Quantities
Even if an employee doesn’t intend to hoard PPE supplies, it’s still easy to take more items than necessary since many items (like drills and gloves) are pre-packaged. The vending machines dispense exactly the right amount of an item needed for specific tasks to reduce overall consumption.
The vending machines can be configured to limit or prohibit usage of certain PPE supplies and items based on specific parameters such as job title and task.
Increase Use of Reconditioned Items
When given the choice, most employees would rather use new over reconditioned items—but new items can cost much more than regrinds that are still perfectly usable. The industrial vending machines enforce the use of reconditioned items by issuing them first before allowing access to new items, allowing controlled access to new items, reporting spikes and excesses, and automatically tracking how many times a tool is returned and reused. This also makes it easy to keep track of which items need recalibration, cleaning, repair, or lubrication after a certain number of uses. This single feature can allow operations to reduce tool costs by 80%.
Reduce Obsolete Inventory
Keeping unnecessary or excess inventory costs time and money—and you probably have more of it than you think, even if you use a basic min/max system. However, the vending machines use a demand-based ordering system that continuously reevaluates your inventory based on real-time usage, lead time, expiration dates, days of supply, and more. This can typically reduce inventory levels by 25-30% and prevents dead on arrival inventory.
Warehouses often have two competing goals: reducing stock-outs and carrying just enough inventory—no more, no less. With its advanced inventory algorithms, the industrial vending machines allow you to do both at the same time by balancing inventory based on service levels and consumption (aka demand-side data vs. supply-side data). The demand-based ordering system automatically adjusts inventory levels based on how your employees use PPE supplies and other items in real-time, preventing stock-outs from occurring before you can reorder.
Reduce Retrieval Time
On average, it takes an employee about 15 minutes to travel from his or her work station to the tool crib, request needed items, and return to work. Instead of one large tool crib, industrial vending machines allow you to have more access points with several point-of-use vending machines. This means that lines aren’t as long, and your employees don’t need to walk across the entire warehouse every time they need a new tool. Now, what usually takes 15 minutes only takes 4 minutes. Additionally, employees can retrieve PPE supplies without relying on a crib attendant who has to manually search for requested items.
While the industrial vending machines are great for virtually any application, these are a few of the most common industries where they're used. Many of them have the same type of issues across the board, and the vending machines have proven to be a flexible solution that addresses everyone's needs.
Foreign Object Debris (FOD) costs the aerospace industry billions of dollars per year in damaged equipment, delays, reduced efficiency, litigation, and other costs. In military applications, FOD can even compromise national security. Keeping track of all items is crucial for preventing damage from FOD, and the industrial vending machines provide RFID-based object recognition and serial tracking for every individual item of any size to ensure they are properly returned to storage in a timely manner.
Construction is a fast-growing industry that averages 40% in tool shrinkage, which is why so many managers are switching to smart inventory management systems to track tool use and manage consumption. And since time is money, the right tools need to be in the right place at the right time without time-consuming trips to retrieve or buy high-cost items. The industrial vending machines not only provide centralized tool storage and retrieval, but also has software that reports real-time data for every item in your inventory so you can keep track of where items are, who has checked it out, and what job it has been assigned to.
Military & Government
Industrial vending machines are great for applications that have high-security standards and specific tool management requirements. These machines have undergone rigorous government testing and are approved for use in U.S government agencies and military branches, including the Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force.
Manufacturing & Machining
With wireless connectivity, customizable configurations, operational reports, and mobility, the industrial vending machines provide actionable data that allow managers to make daily decisions and plan for long-term strategic initiatives to keep operations running at full efficiency. It also provides gauge calibration management and detailed audit trail information for accurate quality control and recall operations.
Oil & Gas
The combination of industrial vending machines with inventory management software helps keep product flowing efficiently and ensures that employees can always equipment and supplies at a moment’s notice. The system also provides full accountability with controlled access and reduces time spent managing purchase orders and supplies.
Safety Gear & PPE Supplies
Industrial vending machines and inventory control systems allow 24/7 access to safety gear and PPE supplies at the point of use. Employees have immediate access to these crucial materials, while the inventory management software automatically maintains inventory quantities and purchase orders to prevent stock-outs. Calibration monitoring capabilities also restrict the use of tools that are in need of service.
Transportation & Automotive
In applications that require continuous improvement, industrial vending machines are a great addition to Six Sigma initiatives, lean and cellular manufacturing, and Kaizen events. Employees have immediate access to tools, spare parts, gauges, MRO, and PPE supplies to keep production lines efficient while managers and decision-makers have instant access to usage data for these items.
Energy & Utilities
There are no delays with retrieving supplies with the industrial vending machines, which ensure that utility companies operate within strict uptime and compliance regulations. Inventory acquisitions are faster and easier than ever with accurate tracking of supplies across cost centers.
With its advanced flexibility, the vending machines can be configured to store virtually anything. They have been used to store all types of unique items, including:
- Valves and fitting
- Precision gauges and calibration equipment
- Medical and surgical components
- Safety gear and supplies storage
- Calibration equipment
- Rain suits
- Thread locks
- Regulators and hoses
- Torque wrenches
- Carbide inserts
- Tool holders
- Light tubes
- Hard hats
- Keyboards and mouses
- Scuba tanks
- End mill tools
- Circuit breakers
We have a variety of types of industrial vending machines to choose from, and we would be happy to help you decide which configuration is right for you.
Available in a variety of sizes and styles, the industrial vending machines are designed for high density supply storage in a small footprint. The vending machines can even dispense square or rectangular boxes and packages, eliminating the need for repackaging. Its dual-tambour system greatly reduces the number of moving parts within the machine, which makes it nearly maintenance-free. Its high-resolution touchscreen display also makes the system easy for anyone to use.
RFID Tool Portals
Automate your tool crib’s inventory management process without adding additional staff. Issue, return, and automatically track items without the need for a tool crib attendant or use the system to secure your existing stores area. With advanced gauge calibration software, the system also physically stops users from leaving with gauges that are out of calibration.
This modular system stores and tracks items like laptops, iPads, power tools, gauges, and more. Its rack-mounted design allows you to purchase exactly what you need depending on your specifications and available floor space. Charging capabilities are also available for keeping electronics ready to go with virus definitions and operating system updates.
Remote Dispensing Stations (RDS)
Ideal for smaller, high-demand items like gloves, cutting tools, and safety equipment, the RDS vending machines can reduce your inventory consumption by 20% or more with up to 16.7% more product capacity than other machines. The scalable, enterprise-ready design allows you to upgrade and expand the system at any time.
Contact Us for Industrial Vending Machines
Southwest Solutions Group provides design and installation services for industrial vending machines. We will also provide you with a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before you commit to buying anything. For more information or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.