(Post authored by Yerwa Dheeraj Reddy)
The Machine Shop at the Thayer School of Engineering caters to students and users for a variety of needs, be it an academic course such as ENGS 21 or projects that students undertake across a variety of disciplines and subjects. The constant flow of people has led to a heavy density of students at the machine shop looking for a variety of tools and accessories for their respective project.
The Machine shop has been organized in an excellent manner to cater to standard run of the mill components required such as (nuts, bolts, tools etc.) and machines. However the smaller consumable items such as epoxy, adhesives, batteries, gloves are the most frequently required. Even though they are stored in the machine shop, it was found that only experienced users of the Mshop knew how to find them. This means that a lot of students end up asking the personnel and the TA’s in the Mshop regarding the location of the consumable items.
The MEM TA’s had a solution for this. Why not set up a vending machine with the most frequently used items? The vending machines could be placed at the entrance to the Machine shop and near the instrument room. It would greatly reduce the dependence on the TA’s and personnel to answer questions regarding item placement. The students would be able to use the items that they need, and they could source it any time 24/7, 365 days a year.
The 5S Vending machine Team at the machine shop led by Srivatsan Vasudevan and supported by Amogh Poudyal and Dheeraj Reddy have been working on the project for a few months now. 33 of the most frequently used consumables were identified and placed into the machine. The items have been tagged and priced with a unique identifiable price that closely reflects the actual price. The Vending machine has been connected to the DASH system. Therefore students will be able to use their DASH cards to swipe and procure the items that they require. After the students use the items, some items can be reused. A recycle bin would be placed next to the vending machine. The students can drop off the items into the machine and the TA’s will inspect the items and restock the vending machine if they items can be reused. A separate plan would be created for the students who are approved to use the vending machine facilities. The approval list comes from the professors who feel that their students require access to the vending machine for their course project requirements.
Srivatsan and his team have worked on process flows to track inventory, manage student’s approvals and access to the vending machine and well as fraud management checks. They hope to get the system up and running for the Spring 2013 term. It is expected that the system will perform well and make working in the machine shop an even more convenient experience for all the users.