As an engineer working to manufacture complex heavy equipment, there’s nothing more annoying than getting part-way through a job and having to halt everything for the sake of one component or tool. In the mining industry, many of these sites are located away from town hubs and the convenience of a supply stores, so when something is missing or unavailable it can bring operations to a standstill.
Russell Sheehan, State Manager for Motion Australia in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, knows all too well how frustrating a poorly managed stocking system can be. That’s why he’s working alongside miners and site operators to implement innovative vending machines and storage units, driven by a smart tracking software called CribMaster.
“These solutions are based on key pillars of managing stock efferently: transactional cost, operational savings, and reducing downtime,” he explains. “Paired with our units of varying sizes and designs, the CribMaster software provides a singular invoice at the end of every cycle. This means that the customer can look at every line on a purchase order and know the accurate cost of transaction.”
Additionally, he says, that data can be categorised to have full visibility on where tools, safety wear, and consumables are going. This provides a clear reading on how long things are used for, how much product is used up for a specific task, and whether or not it gets returned into storage.
“Downtime comes into play because it cuts out time searching for items or travelling off-site for stock,” he furthers. “If someone needs a particular pair of boots, for example, they are available in the workshop and they’re not having to drive to the store in the middle of a job.”
One particular earthmoving equipment manufacturer has seen a significant bolster to their operational and cost efficiencies, thanks to a growing number of smart inventory solutions at their engineering workshop.
“About two and a half years ago, we installed the first vending machine on their site, and it was an immediate hit,” says Russell. “The workers there found it so much more convenient than having to trawl through storage rooms or leave the workshop to go and buy something when it was needed urgently. They could just walk up, punch in the item number, scan their ID card and take the item.”
“Since then, we have increased the number of units on that site to 14, and there are plans to roll it out to their other locations within the state. One of the primary solutions used in their main workshop now is the RFID Storeroom, which we replenish for them on a weekly basis.”
The RFID Storeroom is a secure gated entryway, which can be fitted to stock rooms of varying sizes to monitor what comes in and out. This provides total control and accountability of spare parts, tools, consumables, safety wear and other critical items 24/7 365 days of the year.
The customer has been using this technology in tandem with Motion Australia’s FlexSense – an auto-weighing implementation for stock shelves that mitigates the need for manual counting and the occurrence of stock-outs.
“It’s sort of like a pop-up shop within the building that stores everything employees might need – it is extremely convenient,” enthuses Russell. “Being able track who is taking what item, when, and for what job is an additional bonus that can give users much greater visibility on their consumption rates and costs.”
“This type of offering is a game-changer for Australian industry, where so many of our operations are fast-paced and remote,” he concludes. “With the help of Motion Australia’s team, it can have considerable impacts on mining organisations in terms of traceability and accountability of stock.