Category Delivery, Services
Engineers industrial

Industrial vending machines have come a long way since the creaky helix coil based snack machine in the factory cafeteria. They've come a long way since. And many manufacturers have been slow to see the benefits of modern industrial vending machines for state-of-the-art MRO and PPE supply perhaps due to this legacy vision.

As an OEM dealing with a manufacturing process that requires complex assembly, you'll be no stranger to wrangling procurement and supply of a panoply of precision parts and components that need to be at-hand on the production floor for fitting with the right tools in a timely manner. Industrial vending machines act as local 'pocket stockrooms' and can bring another dimension to efficient production line supply and factory floor assembly capability.

The larger inventory of supplies and tools that you need to keep track of, the greater the viability and usefulness of the industrial vending machine (and locker system). These units can offer 24/7 availability of supplies compared to the traditional storeroom, with easier access, greater tracking and transparent real-time data on inventory levels and usage patterns.

Let's take a look at how you can leverage industrial vending machines as an OEM.

Advantages of Industrial Vending Machines

Reduce retrieval time, save energy, space with supply in easy reach. The advantages of vending machines for manufacturing are compelling. Let's dig into some of the core advantages:


Seamless Monitoring and Mitigation of Material Overuse

Industrial vending systems can serve as an effective antidote to wastage, offering the opportunity to regulate the amount of materials consumed. This includes setting limitations based on quantity, operational shifts, and total expenditure.

Optimised Inventory Storage Footprint

Access to real-time data enables a deeper understanding of usage trends, demand fluctuations, and restocking patterns. Combined with customisable reporting and automated purchasing features, this ensures a seamless and optimised supply experience, so concurrently reducing the physical space required for inventory storage.

Prevention of Stock-Outs

Industrial vending machines store, supply, and take automatic inventory of tools and components used in the manufacturing process. This functionality aids in the prevention of unexpected stock-outs which can hold up the production line and are one of the deadliest of manufacturing sins.

Mitigating the Risk of Item Shrinkage

By utilising vending machines specifically designed for equipment, a heightened level of accountability can be instilled across all stages of production. This proves particularly beneficial when managing high-value tools and components at an individual employee level.

Augmenting Productivity by Minimising Walk-Time

Industrial vending systems grant production line personnel with nearer at-hand access to necessary supplies and tools. This not only enables more efficient work processes but also encourages smarter working methods. As a result, 'wander-time' is substantially reduced, leading to increased productivity.

Secure Storage Solutions for Sensitive Supplies

Industrial vending machines are versatile enough to accommodate the safe storage of hazardous chemical materials and sensitive electrical components. With lockable, controlled-access cabinets, they ensure adherence to OSHA and workplace safety standards.

Restricted Access to Specialist Items

Industrial vending machines can be programmed to limit access to sensitive materials to specific personnel only. Such access can be provided to those who possess the required training or understanding, ensuring the safe handling of these materials.

Applications for OEM Vending Machines

Industrial vending systems are versatile and can provide cover for a wide spectrum of applications across various industry sectors. Applications of are far-ranging and include managing MRO and cutting tools, PPE and safety supplies, hardware and gauges, and common components.

MRO and Cutting Tools

Industrial vending machines are particularly adept at handling MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) and cutting tools. They can dispense a wide array of cutting tools — items such as drill bits, end mills, and saw blades — along with typical MRO supplies like lubricants, adhesives, and fasteners. Usage tracking means automatic reordering and re-supply of unit stock when necessary.

PPE and Safety Supplies

These machines are instrumental in managing that all important category of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety supplies. They are capable of dispensing safety essentials such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, and other protective gear. In addition, they allow for usage tracking and monitoring to ensure employees have access to the necessary equipment, and are in compliance with safe working conditions and protocols.

Hardware and Gauges

These vending machines are effective at managing hardware and gauges. Hardware items like screws, nuts, bolts and self-fasteners may be dispensed, alongside gauges and measuring equipment.

Other Common Components

These machines also cater to the management of common components such as bearings, seals, and filters. They are equipped to dispense these components on demand to fit in with your particular assembly needs.

Types of Industrial Vending Systems

These systems can now handle a broad range of c-parts, tools and components, making them effective 24/7 'pocket stockrooms' perfect for customised dispensing to particular assembly cells and production lines. They break down into these broad types:

Coil Unit

These machines use a helix coil system to dispense smaller items such as gloves, safety glasses, earplugs, masks, lubricants, bags of fixings and fasteners, batteries, et al.

Carousel Machines

These units use rotating shelves to store and dispense items such as tools, fasteners, and other small parts. They are particularly suited to delicate items that you wouldn't want dropping.

Locker Machines

These machines use individual lockers to store and dispense larger items such as power tools and welding equipment that provide in/out checking and usage monitoring, where they can be attached to personnel. Say goodbye to high value item shrinkage!

Combination Units

These machines combine two or more of the above types to provide a comprehensive solution for managing inventory.

Manufacturing Vending Machine Features

As OEMs are looking to automate and make production lines more efficient, and optimise use of space, industrial vending machines are becoming an increasingly valuable and visible solution. They are easy to plug into the factory floor and assembly line process and provide unique features:

Bespoke Customisation Options

Industrial vending machines offer a plethora of customisation possibilities to align with your OEM's unique inventory management requirements. The best machine style can be selected - be it a locker, carousel, or coil machine - that best fits your operational structure. Moreover, alongside unique inventory, these machines offer the flexibility to customise their size and arrangement, making them compatible with your workspace constraints.

Comprehensive Inventory Oversight

Industrial vending machines equip you with robust inventory control and monitoring capabilities. This allows for consistent stock level tracking, accompanied by alert setups for low-stock situations. Usage patterns can be scrutinised to identify trends and optimise inventory levels proactively.

Point-of-Use Access

Vending can significantly enhance productivity and minimise downtime by providing point-of-use access to essential tools and supplies. With these resources readily available near workspaces, the overall work efficiency of employees is amplified, mitigating any delays associated with the search for the right tool or supply.

Inventory Management Software Integration

These units can be seamlessly integrated with inventory management software, offering real-time insights into your stock levels. With the ability to track usage patterns and discern trends, you can formulate data-driven strategies to optimise your inventory management approach.

Managed inventory solution

Using a trusted supply chain partner like Acorn to manage, re-stock and supply an industrial vending system as part of a wider VMI or 3PL solution, or as a gateway into such a service, removes the maintenance and administrative overhead of on-boarding, configuration, monitoring and ongoing supply and support.

PPE- and MRO-stocked vending systems can be a real ally for an OEM Manufacturer's shop floor capabilities. They offer a suite of benefits that significantly streamline your inventory management processes while boosting productivity.

Acorn Repono is our managed industrial vending machine system. Easily deployed and plugged into existing production lines, while also being highly complementary to wider services such as vendor managed inventory and 3PL (third party logistics).


Easy install — managed by an expert team.

Easy restock — automated replenishment.

Easy savings — efficient stock control.


Repono industrial vending machine


What are Industrial Vending Machines?

Industrial vending machines are autonomous inventory systems that supply employees, engaged in manufacturing processes, with the necessary tools and materials. These aid in the successful and efficient execution of their tasks in a timely manner. These are customised and engineered with the primary aim of managing inventory and dispensing specific items (and are distinct from the more common units used for consumer food and beverage applications). Items they dispense include PPE and safety supplies, MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operations) tools, and other c-part consumable items.

What equipment can industrial vending machines hold?

Categories include: MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) supplies, C-parts and industrial consumables, industrial equipment and plant upkeep supplies, including batteries, lubricants, tape, disposable gloves, glues, et al; PPE equipment (to ensure COSSH 'safe practice at work' requirements are met), protective gloves, glasses, etc; other custom needs, including high value tools and assembly cell specific items.

Industrial vending machines — transcending their traditional image as glorified snack dispensers — now offer OEMs a transformative solution for complex assembly operations. They optimise inventory management, prevent wastage, optimise storage, and help avert stock-outs. By controlling item shrinkage and reducing employee walk-time, they enhance productivity while also ensuring safe storage and controlled access to sensitive items.

These versatile systems find diverse applications in managing MRO and cutting tools, PPE and safety supplies, and other common components. Their customisability, point-of-use access, and integration with inventory management software make them an invaluable asset for manufacturers.

Is it time for you to explore the business case for this automated approach to a more efficient, productive, and cost-effective production line?

Learn about our MRO/PPE industrial vending service

Wish to implement and integrate an industrial vending solution into your manufacturing facility? Explore Acorn's managed industrial vending service for automated 24/7 distribution of tools and parts.

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