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Global company searches for NI businesses to trial contactless PPE vending machine

A global industrial supplies company which has developed a way to use their vending technology in a contactless manner to distribute pre-packaged personal protection equipment (PPE) is looking to test its product in Northern Ireland. Inspired by the idea from the team at its Ballymena site, Fastenal Europe has created a vending solution which can be stocked with safety equipment, helping provide organisations with an “immediate PPE answer,” according to district manager Jason Halberg.

He said that Fastenal’s Ballymena team noticed that the number of people using their standard machines was decreasing due to fears of catching or spreading the virus, but “quickly identified how to use the machine without the need to physically touch it”.

Fastenal Europe is now looking for firms across Northern Ireland to trial its latest technology.

The company has adapted its flagship vending model with an ID and QR code scanner, removed the drop door and provided customisable kit boxes of PPE for an individual’s use.

Each kit can provide one week’s worth of provisions, including hand sanitiser, nitrile gloves, face masks and alcohol surface wipes.

Mr Halberg explained: “COVID-19 has quickly become a key factor in our personal, community and work environments. As more organisations continue to prepare for a changed way of working life, employees need essential PPE items like face masks, alcohol wipes and hand sanitiser to be easily accessible.”

Providing customisable safety solutions as well as a generic PPE option, Mr Halberg said the machines are making use of contactless scanners as a further mechanism to allay people’s fears.

“An employee would scan an ID card and a QR code, triggering a fully compliant sealed box of PPE gear to drop into the bin. Removing the door from the bin is another way of helping to minimise physical contact between the machine and other people. It’s a concept that can truly add value to a company’s ‘new’ working environment in a safe and simple manner.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Peter Johnston, welcomed the firm’s latest development:

“A well-established and respected business within the local area and a key member of the Council’s Manufacturing Task Force, it is fantastic to see Fastenal’s Ballymena team continuing to innovate during this period of uncertainty. Like most companies, they were faced with a number of changes within their industry yet are continuing to meet customer demand in a safe and forward-thinking manner.”

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