Fastenal industrial vending machines reach milestone

Published
August 12,2015 - 07:00pm

WINONA, Minn., (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Earlier this summer Fastenal installed an additional FAST Solutions industrial vending machine within the Terex Mixer manufacturing plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Given how many vending devices (machines and lockers) Fastenal installs during a typical business day, it was a commonplace event — except in one regard: that particular machine represented the 50,000th FAST Solutions device concurrently installed at Fastenal customer sites worldwide. 

This milestone would have seemed unthinkable in 2008 when Fastenal displayed two prototype machines at its annual customer expo, signaling the debut of its vending program. At the time, industrial vending (dispensing high-demand shop consumables at the point of use) was still very much a niche technology, mainly due to the high cost of the machines and the labor required to manage them. The breakthrough was Fastenal's ability to provide machines and lockers as part of a low-cost, full-service inventory management solution, leveraging its network of 2,600-plus stores to keep the devices continually filled with the right supplies to meet customers' changing needs. 

"From the beginning, we saw vending as an investment in our customers -- a way to solidify relationships and earn opportunities by providing tremendous value in terms of time and cost savings," said Lee Hein, Fastenal's chief operating officer. "It's been a perfect fit for our local service model, bringing our store teams and products even closer to our customers." 

The concept took some time to gain traction, but over the past few years the cumulative number of FAST Solutions devices in place at customer sites has skyrocketed - from just over 7,000 at the close of 2011, to more than 46,000 by year-end 2014. Meanwhile, Fastenal's vending technology offering has expanded and evolved to support a spectrum of product shapes and sizes - from tiny cutting tool inserts to bulky items like boxes and aerosol cans. 

It's fitting that the 50,000th installation took place within a Terex facility. Currently 23 Fastenal stores service 228 FAST Solutions devices implemented at multiple Terex sites nationwide. 

"We're proud to partner with Fastenal for our vending services," said Jared Widenhoefer, strategic sourcing buyer for the Terex Mixer factory. "Our people love the easy-to-use and reliable nature of the machines, and I like the automated ordering and tracking. We never have to worry — product is always available right where our workers need it." 

"We need trusted suppliers like Fastenal," added John Leech, the facility's general manager. "Our Fastenal vending solution enables us to better satisfy our customers, and that's what's most important to us." 

To put Fastenal's milestone in perspective versus a more publicly visible vending offering, there are now significantly more FAST Solutions devices in operation than Redbox movie and game rental locations. And despite sluggish demand overall in the industrial supply market so far this year, Fastenal stores have signed and installed more devices year to date than the same period in 2014, with the pace accelerating in recent months. 

"Vending has quickly become a core part of Fastenal's business and one of our most important growth drivers," added Hein. "If we can continue to lead our industry in terms of technology and service, 50,000 should be just one of many milestones to come." 

Fastenal sells different types of industrial and construction supplies in the following product categories: threaded fasteners and miscellaneous supplies; tools; metal cutting tool blades and abrasives; fluid transfer components and accessories for hydraulic and pneumatic power; material handling; storage and packaging products; janitorial, chemical and paint products; electrical supplies; welding supplies; safety supplies; metals, alloys and materials; and office supplies. 

Fastenal operates approximately 2,700 stores located primarily in North America with additional locations in Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and Africa. The Company operates 14 distribution centers in North America; eleven in the United States - Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Washington, California, Utah, North Carolina, Kansas, and three outside the United States — Ontario, Canada; Alberta, Canada; and Nuevo Leon, Mexico. 

Additional information regarding Fastenal is available on the Fastenal Company website at www.fastenal.com

Related Glossary Terms

  • alloys

    alloys

    Substances having metallic properties and being composed of two or more chemical elements of which at least one is a metal.

  • centers

    centers

    Cone-shaped pins that support a workpiece by one or two ends during machining. The centers fit into holes drilled in the workpiece ends. Centers that turn with the workpiece are called “live” centers; those that do not are called “dead” centers.

  • sawing machine ( saw)

    sawing machine ( saw)

    Machine designed to use a serrated-tooth blade to cut metal or other material. Comes in a wide variety of styles but takes one of four basic forms: hacksaw (a simple, rugged machine that uses a reciprocating motion to part metal or other material); cold or circular saw (powers a circular blade that cuts structural materials); bandsaw (runs an endless band; the two basic types are cutoff and contour band machines, which cut intricate contours and shapes); and abrasive cutoff saw (similar in appearance to the cold saw, but uses an abrasive disc that rotates at high speeds rather than a blade with serrated teeth).