Vending machines are becoming increasingly popular in factories, but the machines don't dispense snacks, they release tools and materials needed for the job.
Recently companies are looking to create more accountability for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) product inventory. By using the vending machines to stock and dispense equipment, companies can easily track items, Modern Materials Handling reports. A Peerless Research Group study found that the machines are used by 24 percent of companies, and an additional 38 percent of respondents plan to experiment with the machines within the next two years.
According to Modern Materials Handling, the machines can be set up to have access codes to obtain the materials, and can only restrict access to certain products that are only authorized for certain users. The growing interest in MRO vending machines is driven by the need for accountability within factories. Charles DeBerry, director of services for America at Kennametal tells MMH that the machine's software can generate reports and be reviewed by supervisors to ensure that materials are being issued to the right workers and for the right purposes.
Vending the tools as they are needed can help factories reduce inventory requirement as managers are able to gain direct visibility into their supply. Not having a tool available when needed can shut down an entire production line or more, so having control over when and where a tool gets used can save a company money and time, Modern Materials Handling reports.
Industrial vending machines have seen significant improvement over the last decade due to technology advancements. With upper management wanting to control their MRO inventory, visibility has become a necessity. The machine's software can generate a report, so if a product hits a minimum or maximum level the supervisor can address the issue without having to see the inventory, MMH reports.
By not having to go through a middleman to retrieve their tools, employees can focus on more important tasks, overall improving operational efficiencies.
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