Many industrial vending systems on the market today for MRO-related items are based on pie-like trays divided into wedges. An operator calls up a tool or other expendable, and round carousels rotate until the appropriate wedge faces out. The operator can then open the door and remove the item.
The system has its advantages, but according to Stephen Pixley, founder of AutoCrib, the wedge-shaped spaces also pose a dilemma. “Some MRO items come in rectangular boxes,” he points out, which means that in stocking the wedges, companies must waste either time (unpacking the boxes) or space (storing a square or rectangular box in a wedge-shaped hole).
Rather than pie-shaped trays system, AutoCrib’s TX750 vending system uses a carousel with slots more accommodating to box-shaped contents. The vending system features columns with adjustable shelving to accommodate boxes—as well as other objects of varying shapes and sizes. The slots can be adjusted to hold everything from a tiny cutting tool insert to a 2-foot-plus fluorescent light bulb. The customizability of the slots reduces vertical bin height waste and increases the capacity that can be stored within a compact footprint. As many as 900 bins can be packed into the unit, which occupies 9.8 square feet of floor space.
Mr. Pixley says the TX750 has another advantage that enables it to provide just the right product at the right time: rolling dual-tambour doors. When an operator calls for a product in a particular slot, the two doors rotate to the appropriate shelf and open only that slot. The doors can open to anywhere from 2 to 60 inches in half-inch increments.
The vending system is controlled by AutoCrib’s user interface with 19-inch touchscreen, and a native bin assignment process simplifies stocking the unit on the fly. Operators can identify themselves with an ID card or a fingerprint and search the system to retrieve items.