Vending machinesstocked with gloves, lanyards and safety glasses are popping up at several of the Utilities Service Alliance (USA) fleet members as part of an initiative to help drive down the cost of supplies.

At Columbia Generating Station, ten Fastenal vending machines were installed last month, each stocked with commonly used personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees in their maintenance department are piloting the initiative before it potentially expands to the rest of the site, said Daniel Dale, supply chain services manager at Columbia.

This initiative, Dale said, was brought forward through USA and several fleet members including Cooper, Cook and PSEG Nuclear who have implemented the grab and go technology and have seen major cost savings. Cook also worked with Fastenal, a USA supplier, and documented more than a million dollars in savings during an outage when the demand for safety supplies is typically at its highest.

PSEG Nuclear began using the technology in January and currently has 12 machines onsite. To date, PSEG Nuclear has saved more than $98,000. They recently installed three more dispensing machines in their refuel staffing training and in-processing area for the fall refueling outage at Hope Creek. These three machines will dispense basic PPE kits for refuel staffing. The machines will shut down once refuel in-processing concludes but will be used again for the next refueling outage in spring 2014 at Salem.

Paul Sampson, the power generation sales manager at Fastenal, said the primary intent of the vending machines is to make high-turn industrial and personal protection supplies more accessible to the site workers. The process of installing industrial vending machines reduces or eliminates the time required to manage consumable items including the procurement, materials management and disbursement of these industrial and PPE supplies, he said. The vending program utilizes secure access by employee badge or PIN and provides reporting to the customer detailing specific usage by site employees.

“The accountability these vending machines bring can be very effective,” Dale said.

And restocking supplies is easier than ever. The software program installed in the Fastenal machines monitors the stock levels for each item and sends an electronic signal to the servicing store when replenishment is required, Sampson said. The Fastenal employees deliver the supplies to the site and restock the machines on a regular basis.