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.