Need Something from the Vending Machine - Saw Blade, Drill Bit, Wrench?
By: Business Week July 30, 2014
There's an episode of The Office TV show involving a prank on a hapless colleague in which the victim's desk contents - his stapler, pencil cup, plate, even his wallet-are stashed inside the office vending machine. It does not occur to any of the sitcom's characters to turn these hijinks into a business model, but now someone has.
MSC Industrial Supply is one of the country’s largest suppliers of what are called “indirect supplies,” manufacturing tools and materials that don’t end up in the final products: drill bits, safety helmets, wrenches, clamps, saw blades, and the like. MSC will sell you a stapler, but most of its clients aren’t Dunder Mifflin-style cubicle farms—they’re manufacturing plants that cut steel or process foods or produce paper.
Over the past few years, MSC has started offering those clients the option of installing special vending machines on their shop floors. Some look like tool chests with touchscreens; others look a lot like snack machines. Workers who need supplies can skip the stockroom and go to the MSC machine, swipe an ID card, and choose whatever they need.