Wyeth Reduces Costs through Industrial Vending

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals's adoption of industrial vending in just two of the company’s production facilities is reportedly saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. This vending machine dispenses everything from personal protection equipment to mission-critical changeover and replacement machine parts. The results include decreased downtime, lower labor costs, increased production, and increased inventory control and management.

“They’ve been great,” Wyeth Manager of Process Engineering Michael Collorafi said of Wyeth’s first five industrial vending machines and accompanying tracking software at Wyeth’s 2.9 million square-foot Pearl River, NY, plant. “They keep production up and save time and money. We’ve gained much more than we thought we would at the beginning.”

Collorafi is referring to industrial distributor Fastenal’s Fast 5000 vending machines and Auto SmartStore locker systems at the plant, which employs 4,000 workers. The systems incorporate Apex Industrial Technologies’ Connect n’ Go software into Fastenal’s SmartStore program, which provides technology and stocking services at the point-of-work.
 
Collorafi explained that having needed items at the point-of-work saves up to an hour-and-a-half of down time per transaction. Employees no longer have to degown, walk to a tool crib, try to locate a common inventory items, return to their work stations, and regown. Now, a worker simply swipes his or her badge, dispenses the part, and within minutes that employee – and production line –  is up and running. And items are no longer “disappearing” because the automatic tracking capabilities include real-time transaction reports showing who dispensed what items and when. Managers can put restrictions on what items are vended to whom.

Wyeth only pays only for what the workers use. Items are consigned by Fastenal, and Fastenal benefits by strengthening its relationship with Wyeth and ensuring that the items are purchased through Fastenal.
 
The Fast 5000 machines at Wyeth stock smaller, mostly repair parts, while the larger Auto SmartStore lockers hold larger items. The C3i Hub alerts managers when stock levels are low, orders are late, or usage patterns change.
 
Collorafi cited how small, inexpensive parts that often wear or break can costs thousands of dollars in downtime. But placing those parts at the point-of-use brings great reduction of downtime. Prior to the machines, Collorafi estimates that, in his manufacturing area of about 100,000 square feet, retrieving needed parts was costing up to $6,000 per month just in labor; that doesn’t include the cost of production.
 
After installing the machines, in the most recent month reported, Wyeth saved an estimated $13,000 in labor costs alone.
 
Wyeth had previously tried another supplier’s industrial vending machines, which proved unreliable and would crash. The next-generation Fast 5000s are Internet-based (no MS Windows).

Collorafi noted that Wyeth in Pearl River is exploring adding even more machines, due to the demonstrated cost savings there as well as Wyeth’s plant in Puerto Rico.
 
Wyeth’s Guayama facility –  which employs about 900 people –  uses the machines to stock and dispense personal protection equipment, as well as spare parts for machines and electrical items, from cover plates to tape.
 
The plant is already documenting savings of more than $25,000 per month. Previously, there was little inventory tracking and workers had to walk up to 10 minutes away to retrieve a needed item. The machines also eliminate the tradition “standing and handing” of items at tool cribs. Wyeth has estimated the cost of each such transaction – in inventory, loss of production, and downtime – at $42 per transaction. Now Wyeth credits Fastenal with that per-transaction savings.
 
In a recent three-month period, there were 1,781 transactions made at the Fast 5000 machines – a Wyeth-documented savings of $74,802.
 

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