Intelligent Consumable and Tool Dispensers


A smart automatic vending machine has everything under control. Valuable tools or equipment are securely stored in separate drawer partitions. Electromechanically locked metal covers allow access only to authorised persons identified by an ID card or a PIN code.

The machine knows exactly who is allowed to receive a measuring device and when it must be calibrated. It logs the number of times when a milling cutter was taken out and knows when the stock is running out.

When the minimum stock level is reached, the system independently places a restocking order, notifies the accounting department about the upcoming cost, and sends the delivery service a barcode to assign the replacement item accurately and with minimum processing steps to the correct storage drawer.

Automotive and aerospace
The TSM (Tool Server Modular) described here is an intelligent system for storing and dispensing small consumables and tools developed and manufactured by workplace equipment specialist, Bedrunka + Hirth (B+H) in Bräunlingen, Germany.

Thanks to the progress of industrial automation, the system is enjoying growing popularity in the storage applications of medium-sized suppliers to the automotive industry as well as in larger aerospace companies. The benefits are clearly measurable.

“According to customers, the precise access control alone decreases consumption figures by 20 to 30 percent,” says Thomas Dicks, “which offers a product portfolio of around 150 000 items to roughly 13 000 customers across the globe.

All servers
A Windows user interface offers the most effective software solution thanks to many interfaces with external systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), materials management systems and SQL databases. TSM can work with servers, is upgradable and can also manage external storages.

“All the components of the system communicate with one another,” says Thomas. This means that the automatic vending machine controls the entire stock, not just the milling cutters in a drawer but also working gloves or washers located in the next room or in a more remote location. In such cases, the system can be configured to only give out the exact key required.

Customers can opt for a full-service e-commerce system. B+H installs the TSM systems and, during the initial walk-through with the customer, also hooks up the automatic vending machine with the customer’s ERP. The company provides training for the customer’s personnel as required.