Says Ficep service manager Richard Clark: “The tooling vending machine is a game-changer. All of the tooling is managed by us, we get automatic reports sent of what the operator needs and when. While we are responsible for the tooling and replenishing of stock, the tools can be provided for any steel processing machines in use by the client.”

Kennametal, a long-time Ficep UK partner, has supported Ficep UK throughout the whole process. The first-ever Ficep UK vending machine was installed in early May during the Covid-19 lockdown. Adhering to social distance guidelines and restrictions, its tooling sales engineer, installed the machines solo, despite normally having a team to support him.

Says Ficep UK: “We entered talks with the customer on their requirements and made recommendations for the tool management system. Then Kennametal offered the solution for a machine set-up, which was bespoke for the customer.

“We arranged a day on site with Supply Point, who carried out the hardware install. All stock was loaded onto the machine and we trained the customer operators how to use it. It took around a day and a half to install and build the reporting system for both Ficep and the customer, but the machine was running on the same day as delivery.

“Our previous experience helped overcome challenges caused by lockdown but overall everything ran smoothly and the installation was issue-free. Two weeks after installation, we visited the site again to check over the system and that everything was in working order, but all other support was dealt with remotely.”

Clark adds: “ We send an engineer out once a month to advise on what they can be doing to speed up the process and offer support on any questions they have on the tools they are using.”

All tooling is managed by Ficep UK through automation technology, streamlining the process and cutting out admin time for both Ficep and the customer. Stock levels are automatically detected by the software, which sends weekly and monthly reports directly to Ficep UK, meaning the exact amount of tooling stock is replenished, as and when required, without customer personnel having to do anything.