Apex Supply Chain Technologies Celebrates 25 Years Of Industrial Vending, Cites Expansion Into New Applications And Industries

Posted On: 5/11/2018

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MASON, OH -- After a quarter century of development, industrial vending is a well-established best practice across the globe. And while the industry’s past and present show its significant growth, ongoing technological innovations also point to significant future growth potential.

According to Apex Supply Chain Technologies, the origin of self-serve automation technology and its surrounding industry can be traced to a single patent issued 25 years ago on Apr. 27, 1993. United States patent number 5,205,436 was granted to Kent Savage for his “Machine Tool Dispensing Device and System.” Savage is founder and chief executive of Apex Supply Chain Technologies.

The technology was created to automatically dispense cutting tools and other items at a Ford Motor Co. manufacturing plant. This pre-Internet solution included a dispensing device hardwired to a controller physically located on site. A DOS-based computer-controlled device access, it operated the system’s controls and it processed data to track inventory levels and to help ensure items would be refilled in a timely manner.

The industrial vending industry quickly took shape, with several competitors either incorporating or deploying their first installations of industrial vending technology within five years of Savage’s patent.

Companies including Apex have built on this technology, expanding beyond devices that dispense cutting tools to include personal protective equipment, consumables and a wide variety of other items.

Savage said Apex’s automated solutions reduce operational costs and increases employee productivity for companies ranging from small, independent businesses to the ranks of global manufacturing giants and forward-thinking distribution organizations.

Apex’s industrial vending machines are used in a variety of applications, improving everything from inventory replenishment to the management of enterprise mobile devices and other valuable equipment.

“Eliminating the need for a physical handoff with employees gives every consumer the ultimate in convenience -- giving them what they want, when and where they want it,” the Apex Supply Chain Technologies chief said.

Savage sees parallels in the long-term growth of self-serve automation technology and the evolution of the PC.

“With billions of PCs sold, it’s a ubiquitous consumer technology,” he noted. “But initial demand for the PC was vastly underestimated. Similarly, self-serve automation’s ongoing evolution makes the technology easier to use, to implement and to afford. We’ll see tens of millions of devices deployed in the next decade or two, fueled by innovations across industries and applications.”

By automating in-store retail tasks like buying online, picking up in store and returns, as well as restaurant tasks like order pick-up, consumers save time by skipping the lines and frustration associated with these tasks. And research shows retailers and restaurants see increased sales and productivity by increasing their offline convenience factor, according to Savage.

“Reducing the friction in the consumer’s busy, time-starved life is critical,” Savage said. “The urgency created by their increasing expectations and the rapid pace of change inspires our ongoing research and development. Apex is already looking at how the data we collect for our customers can help us anticipate customer need and shape our offerings.”

Apex Supply Chain Technologies is based in Mason, OH, with offices in Australia, Germany, Poland, the UK and Latin America.