Smart automatic vending machines are becoming increasingly widely used in industrial settings, according to Bedrunka+Hirth.
The German company supplies what it calls “intelligent consumable and tool dispensers” which have hi-tech features such as ID card and PIN code verification access management.
B+H says the machine knows exactly who is allowed to receive a measuring device and when it must be calibrated. It logs the number of times when a milling cutter was taken out and knows when the stock is running out.
When the minimum stock level is reached, the system independently places a restocking order, notifies the accounting department about the upcoming cost and sends the delivery service a bar code to assign the replacement item accurately and with minimum processing steps to the correct storage drawer.
One of the effects of this level of intelligence is efficiency, says an executive at factory equipment and tools supplier Lerbs, a customer of B+H which uses the machine.
“According to customer testimonies, the precise access control alone decreases the consumption figures by 20 to 30 per cent,” says Thomas Dicks, head of e-business and marketing at Lerbs. “All the components of the system communicate with one another.”
Dicks says this means that the automatic vending machine controls the entire storage, not just the milling cutters in a drawer but also working gloves or washers located in the next room or in a more remote storage. For such cases, the system can be configured to only give out the exact key required.