It’s amazing how many high-usage consumables Columbia Tech, the engineering, contract manufacturing and global fulfillment division of Coghlin Companies, can go through each day. Previously, our company would have to manage the inventory of these very commonly used items manually and try to ensure easy access to those who needed them. With guesstimates in our hands, our purchasing team would order supplies and hope the orders would accommodate the demand for that week or month, and try to find an efficient way to offer access to these supplies across various assembly teams in multiple facilities so that deliveries to our customers were never compromised.

We found a better way.

Coghlin Companies recently entered into an agreement with Winona, MN-based Fastenal. This agreement facilitates the placement of Fastenal’s unique vending machines in Columbia Tech’s production locations, dramatically streamlining the consumable supply chain management procurement process and increasing manufacturing productivity.

With this innovative material management concept for consumable items, production associates needing a commonly used drill bit, permanent markers, Loctite, ESD straps, batteries, or other common supplies, can simply take a few short steps to the vending machine in their work area (where the machine is custom stocked to meet the needs of the work cells around it), swipe their ID badge through the reader, and remove the item from the machine. No more running out of an item, scrambling to find a replacement or rushing to a hardware store. It’s right there when it’s needed!

Although these machines are located in Columbia Tech’s facilities, they are stocked and maintained by Fastenal. Inventory costs are also carried by Fastenal until the item is removed from the machine, thereby freeing up our capital for other important uses. The machines are also provided by Fastenal, with no charge to Columbia Tech, and have the capability of flexible web reporting to view real-time inventory and usage data. This is an enormous time-saving convenience for our company.

Having supplies readily available eliminates potential downtime, thus purposing skilled technicians’ time properly and aligning neatly with our “Time to Market at WARP SPEED™” mission.

This is just another example of how Coghlin Companies is leveraging innovation to increase productivity and deliver the most cost effective, highest quality capital equipment solutions to global innovation leaders!