When employees approach vending machines peering in the window to make their selection, most end up with something to satisfy their hunger.
For a growing number of businesses those same machines are being used to improve production and ensure the inventory their employees need is available when they have to have it.
Fastenal is offering a line of vending machines that can store everything from bolts to brushes, and according to Trevor Miller of the Redwood Falls Fastenal store companies are seeing the value in bringing these machines on the floor.
“Any business can use these machines,” Miller said, adding there are a couple of companies in the area who have opted to utilize the vending machines.
The vision of being able to dispense the inventory employees need on the job was the vision of Bob Kierlen the founder of Fastenal. He then took existing vending machines and customized them to create the start of a line of vending machine products Fastenal offers.
That line includes what one would consider the traditional vending machine style, as well as other locker-style machines that can hold larger items.
“A company might put power tools in the lockers to allow them to be checked out as they are needed,” said Nate Wold, one of several vending machine sales specialists for Fastenal.
For the employer, the vending machine is also a great way to keep track of inventory, said Miller, as it allows them to keep records of what is being used, how much of it is being used and who is using it.
Those kinds of records can then help business owners better prepare inventory plans based on how much is being used, and it can help to prevent potential waste.
“Customers who have installed our vending machines have seen up to 30 percent in savings,” Wold said, adding knowing when an item needs to be replaced in advance also means less down time.
In addition to the machines, Fastenal offers the software technology to keep track of the items as they are being used, and Wold said there are ways one can ensure just the employees who need the items are the ones who have access to them.
Wold also said the technology offered through the Fastenal line of vending machines also provides information for employees about the condition of items.
For example, if an employee is utilizing a circular saw and it gets broken, the employee is able to report that when he or she returns it to the vending machine at the end of the day.
The machines are also able to keep track of injuries on the job, as employers can use them as first aid kits, and when an employee goes to get anything from a band-aid to an aspirin that information can be tracked.
Page 2 of 2 - Miller said when a company requests a vending machine Fastenal delivers it, installs it and provides the maintenance for it. It also provides the inventory companies need to stock the machines and to ensure productivity is maintained.
When stock is low, information is sent to the employer who then can order more, or the technology can be set up to alert Fastenal providers, such as Miller, who then can come and replenish the inventory based on direction from the company.
“The interest in our vending machines is steadily growing,” said Miller, adding he thinks the convenience of the product and services provided by Fastenal is attractive to companies. “The machines can be configurated any way the customer wants.”
Wold said any kind of business from a hospital to a manufacturing plant could utilize the vending machine line from Fastenal, adding he has even worked with a farming operation which has a vending machine on site.
Installation is simple and can be done pretty quickly, said Miller.
To learn more about the Fastenal Automated Supply Technology (FAST) line of products, contact Miller at the Redwood Falls store at (507) 644-2134 or visit www.fastenal.com.