Fastenal hits 100,000-plus industrial vending milestone

Fastener giant Fastenal has just passed a major milestone with over 100,000 active industrial vending devices now active at customer sites worldwide.

Adding three additional devices at the Pierce Manufacturing facility in Appleton, Wisconsin, took the firm over the big number.

Vending is a relatively recent development at Fastenal, although it has its roots in the firm's early days when founder Bob Kierlin set out to start the company in 1967 to dispense fasteners out of franchised vending machines lining the walls of unmanned retail stores. Machines designs of the time could not handle the sizes and volumes required.

40 years later Fastenal revisited the idea and in 2011-2012 Fastenal's active device count increased from 9,000 to nearly 27,000 and since then has seen a steady trajectory of growth, hitting 55,000 active devices by close of 2015 and 96,000 as of 31 December 2018. During that time, Fastenal's tech has expanded to 23 specialised devices.

“Thanks to the willingness of our customers to try a new idea, the last ten years have seen vending become an important element within industrial and construction supply chains,” said Dan Florness, president and CEO of Fastenal. “We’re pleased to recognise this milestone with Pierce Manufacturing (an Oshkosh Corporation company) because they were one of our first vending partners nearly a decade ago.”

According to Fastenal, the vending machines result in a meaningful reduction in consumption, often in the range of 20 to 30%. With roughly $4 billion in vended sales since 2008, that’s an estimated $1.0 to $1.7 billion in consumption savings alone for Fastenal’s vending customers, the firm said.

Pierce Manufacturing installed its first Fastenal vending device back in 2011 and has gradually implemented an additional 38 units throughout the plant, including, as it turned out, the milestone 100,000th device. “Fastenal vending services are extremely helpful in streamlining our business strategies,” said Lorien Hegner, operations manager at Pierce Manufacturing. “Benefits realized from these solutions include increased efficiencies, more inclusive product availability, and improved visibility and traceability of our expenses. Fastenal vending has truly changed the way we do business in the 21st century.”