101 Guide to Industrial Vending Machines

It is no secret that inventory theft can hurt businesses — even Amazon isn’t safe from such losses.

This issue emphasizes the importance of secure storage systems and advanced inventory management systems across all businesses, regardless of their size or reputation.

If your warehouse requires a solution to overcome this challenge, industrial vending machines might just be the answer.

We’ll share all you need to know about industrial vending machines, including how they work, and introduce you to our innovative industrial vending machines at Modula.

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What Are Automated Industrial Vending Machines?

Automated industrial vending machines are computer-controlled modules that dispense a variety of supplies and equipment in industrial environments.

These specialized dispensers are designed for heavy-duty use and can dispense a wide range of items, including:

  • Tools and equipment: to dispense drills, saws, wrenches, and other commonly used tools.
  • Protective Equipment: to dispense personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, gloves, and respirators.
  • Parts and consumables: to dispense a variety of parts and consumables, such as fasteners, welding supplies, and cutting tools.
  • MRO supplies: to dispense a variety of MRO supplies, such as cleaning supplies, lubricants, and batteries.

These machines are designed to provide your employees with easy access to goods, keep track of inventory levels and reduce the possibility of theft, thanks to user authentication methods.

Moreover, by providing employees with 24/7 access to the supplies they need, industrial vending machines can help to increase productivity.

A standard look of an industrial vending machine​
Industrial vending machines provide easy access to inventory, such as tools and equipment​

How Does an Industrial Vending Machine Work?

Here’s a step-by-step overview of how an industrial vending machine works:

  • The employee selects inventory: Employees select the required item from the industrial vending machine using a touch screen, which is usually mounted on the front of the unit.
  • The industrial vending machine authenticates users: Before retrieving the item, the machine identifies if the user can access its contents. The verification process includes scanning biometrics, an employee tag or smart card.
  • The industrial vending machine dispenses inventory: After the user is authenticated, the machine dispenses the selected inventory. The dispensing mechanism varies depending on the machine and the items it stores. For example, in advanced systems, a robotic arm retrieves the selected item from its location and delivers it directly to the employee.
  • The industrial vending machine manages inventory: The machine automatically records the transaction, including the time of the transaction, the quantity of inventory dispensed and the employee who retrieved the item. In addition, the warehouse management system (WMS) integrated with the vending machine keeps track of inventory levels in real-time. When stock levels are low, the system can automatically notify warehouse managers to replenish inventory.
  • The industrial vending machine creates reports: The WMS generates reports and analytics based on the collected data. These insights can help optimize inventory levels and highlight potential issues, such as recurrent equipment failures or misuse.
  • The employee restocks the industrial vending machine: Whenever stock levels are running low, the machine is restocked. The data collected by the machine makes restocking more efficient, as it provides exact information on the quantity and inventory that needs to be replenished.
An image of Modula Next together with other modules​
Common types of industrial vending machines include inventory and tool vending machines​

Types of Industrial Vending Machines

Depending on your facility’s needs, there are various industrial vending machines you can choose from.

The most common types include:

Inventory Vending Machines

Inventory vending machines automate the distribution and management of goods and supplies in a warehouse.

They operate by securely storing inventory items around-the-clock, including small and large items, within a self-contained unit. They are often used in manufacturing facilities to dispense items like drill bits, safety glasses, and cutting tools.

Tool Vending Machines

Tool vending machines provide controlled access to tools and equipment in manufacturing plants, workshops or maintenance facilities.

They store a wide range of tools, from small hand tools to larger power tools, and dispense them to authorized employees.

They typically operate with user authentication methods, such as ID cards, PIN codes and biometric recognition to ensure that only qualified personnel can access the tools.

Parts Vending Machines

Parts vending machines dispense parts and consumables, such as fasteners, welding supplies, and electronic components.

They are often used in assembly lines and repair shops.

MRO Vending Machines

Maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) machines dispense a variety of MRO supplies, such as cleaning supplies, lubricants, and batteries.

They are often used in facilities that need to keep these supplies on hand for routine maintenance and repairs.

PPE Vending Machines

PPE Vending Machines dispense personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, gloves, and respirators.

They are often used in workplaces where employees must wear PPE to protect themselves from hazards.

PPE Vending Machines dispense personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, gloves, and respirators.
PPE Vending Machines dispense personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, gloves, and respirators.

Industries That Use Industrial Vending Machines

Industrial vending machines are widely used across different businesses that store high-value items and require accurate inventory control, including:

  • Construction: Industrial vending machines in the construction industry dispense tools, equipment and small parts, such as nuts and bolts. These machines track item movement and help reduce potential theft by setting employee permissions and access levels.
  • Aerospace: Industrial vending machines in the aerospace industry manage high-value items and tools, such as rivet guns. These machines help optimize inventory management and ensure easy access to key components.
  • Healthcare: Industrial vending machines in the healthcare industry dispense pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, including gloves and syringes. These machines can help streamline operational efficiency and manage infection control by minimizing the handling of supplies.
  • Maintenance, repair and operations (MRO): Industrial vending machines in the MRO industry distribute tools, safety equipment and repair parts. These machines can help reduce downtime by providing quick access to items and making sure that there is an adequate supply of key repair parts in real-time.
  • Transportation and automotive: Industrial vending machines in the transportation and automotive industries distribute and manage tools, parts and safety equipment. These machines help reduce downtime by ensuring that goods are always available.
  • Manufacturing: Industrial vending machines in the manufacturing industry help manage tools, parts and safety equipment, such as personal protective equipment (PPE). These machines track usage and automatically replenish inventory, reducing the risk of production delays due to stockouts.
  • Retail: Industrial vending machines in the retail industry optimize back-end storage by managing the distribution of essential supplies to staff, such as electronic devices or custom retail tools. They provide timely access to necessary tools for employees, facilitating smoother operations during peak hours and seasonal demands.

A warehouse employee scanning inventory​
The construction industry utilizes industry vending machines to dispense small parts and equipment​

Meet the Ideal Alternative to Industrial Vending Machines: Modula Next

Modula Next is the ideal choice compared to traditional industrial vending machines, as it combines the space-saving benefits of Modula Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) with the precision and control found in industrial vending machines.

Ultimately, Modula Next offers a flexible and efficient solution for material handling and storage.

Here is how Modula Next stands out:

Maximize Space Use

Modula Next combines the precision and control of industrial vending machines with the space-saving and efficiency-enhancing features of VLMs.

It is an automated warehouse storage solution that makes the most of your ceiling height, as it only occupies 115.59” of your floor space.

Maximizing your existing floor area can also help you cut costs, since warehouse space costs $16 to $20 per square foot in the United States.

Customize Compartments

Modula Next stands out with its customizable compartments, allowing it to accommodate products of different shapes and sizes. This feature is uncommon in traditional vending machines, which typically have fixed compartment sizes.

Its adaptability makes it ideal for a wide range of industries and items, from small parts to larger tools and components.

Achieve Operational Versatility

Modula Next works both as a traditional vending machine, dispensing items individually, and as a VLM, providing access to a whole drawer or tray when needed.

This versatility allows it to meet different needs, from strict inventory management to quick bulk access, all in one system.

Integrate with Other Local ERP Systems

Modula Next includes software that easily connects with any local ERP system, making it a key feature of modern industrial solutions.

This compatibility allows Modula Next to integrate into advanced warehouse systems, providing businesses with a scalable and flexible storage option.

Additional Benefits of Modula Next: Our Automated Industrial Vending Machine

From securing your personal protective equipment to optimizing kit management, here are five ways Modula’s automated industrial vending machine can help improve your warehouse operations.

Store Personal Protective Equipment Safely

Modula Next is the ideal solution for managing PPE, such as hard hats, protective hearing devices and gloves.

It consolidates all PPE into a single compartment and delivers goods one product at a time, ensuring that safety gear is stored properly and is readily available.

Modula Next also allows you to:

  • Extend the lifespan of your equipment by protecting it from damage and contamination
  • Keep track of PPE stock levels in real-time to ensure timely replenishment
  • Limit single-item access and secure PPE using user authentication measures

Distribute Kitted Components Efficiently

Modula Next optimizes kit management. Unlike VLMs, it adds an extra layer of security by allowing access to only one compartment at a time.

This feature ensures the accurate selection of kits, which is key to preventing operational delays and costly downtime.

Modula Next also allows you to:

  • Store and dispense pre-assembled kits with the necessary parts and tools
  • House different sizes of kits or items
  • Eliminate the need for employees to gather individual goods
  • Reduce misplacement risks and prevent inventory shortage

Keep Inventory Safe

Modula Next offers secure storage for valuable or fragile inventory. Its controlled access can help track usage and minimize losing or misplacing items.

Our automated industrial vending machine is equipped with advanced inventory management software that accurately monitors each item’s quantity, location and usage history.

Every module is password protected, allowing access only to authorized employees with a badge or access code. It monitors each picking operation and log-in even down to the specific tray.

Track Inventory in Real-Time

Restricting access to your inventory can reduce the likelihood of items being misplaced or stolen.

In addition, Modula Next can be integrated with advanced inventory management systems, enabling accurate monitoring of each item’s movement.

This type of comprehensive tracking ensures that all necessary parts are always available.

Gain complete visibility into your stock levels.
Modula WMS

Boost Employee Safety

Modula Next can help reduce — or even eliminate — warehousing hazards that operators can experience in their daily activities, such as slips, falls or other musculoskeletal conditions.

Our automated industrial vending machine delivers inventory directly to employees, boosting ergonomics.

The additional safety features, such as security light curtains and an emergency stop button, can further protect your employees against injuries from moving parts.

A Quick Recap on Industrial Vending Machines

The bottom line is, automated industrial vending machines are modules that automatically dispense tools, equipment and supplies directly to warehouse operators.

These machines operate similarly to traditional vending machines and provide controlled access to inventory, ensuring that only authorized personnel can retrieve them.

They are particularly useful in environments, such as healthcare and MRO facilities, where precision and timely access to equipment and materials are crucial.

From optimizing inventory management to improving employee safety, automated industrial vending machines offer a wide range of benefits.

At Modula, we provide innovative and advanced warehouse technology to streamline your warehouse processes and boost warehouse efficiency.

Get in touch with us to discover how our technology can be customized for your specific requirements. Our team is here for you – we can offer tailored solutions and guidance for your warehouse.

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