Industry Insight

High-tech logistics behind snacks to go

An end-to-end solution: setting up vending machines

Regardless of whether people need a cold drink, a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar: rest breaks with a small snack are normally part and parcel of any fairly long journey. Self-service and vending machines provide convenient enjoyment to go. But complex logistics solutions are required before people can use them. Full-service logistics specialists handle the transportation, the assembly work and machine replacement – and comply with an important requirement: health and safety at petrol stations.

Petrol stations are a hot spot: these facilities on the roadside offer more and more varied services in addition to just supplying vehicles with fuel. They include a broad range of catering facilities, including numerous vending machines, which supply vehicle drivers & co. with snacks and drinks when they are on the road. Reverse vending systems and cash machines are often part of the local infrastructure, too. However, complex high-tech logistics operations are needed so that final consumers can use the machines without any problems.

Transportation and assembly requirements

The supply chain not only involves the delivery process, but also positioning the unit at its final point of use and the assembly work at the site. The sensitive machines initially have to be transported to the various sites in a manner which ensures they are not damaged in any way. Special equipment and trained employees are necessary to secure them on the trucks. Once the machines arrive at the petrol station, there may be obstacles like steps to overcome before the machines arrive at their installation location. The front panel of the machines can be removed so that they can be transported on a pallet truck. The logistics professionals can align the machines using adjustable feet to ensure that they are absolutely level. Another key challenge involves the preparation work for installation and positioning the unit at its final place of use. This is because the safety requirements in highly sensitive areas in the proximity of fuel pumps are particularly stringent.

Setting up vending machines at petrol stations

Any work at petrol stations is always associated with risks, as the latter can affect operations. Setting up vending machines at a site normally takes place during opening hours, too. In addition to having an in-depth knowledge of how to handle vending machines, the issue of occupational health and safety for work at petrol stations is vitally important. In order to keep the public at a distance and protect them from noise, sparks, fragments flying through the air and dust, the areas are usually secured by means of traffic cones, posts with chains or mobile barrier systems. Electric shocks and explosions are other possible risk scenarios, and protective measures such as locking and tagging as well as taking measurements to ensure that there is no gas in the air (no verifiable concentration of inflammable gases) must also be implemented. Safety shoes, a compulsory helmet and long-sleeved workwear are also mandatory.

How can a vending machine be installed safely and successfully?

Having personnel with the relevant training and meeting extensive documentation requirements are absolutely vital when operating in this field. In addition, work at petrol stations may only be carried out with the knowledge of the persons responsible. Transparent communication is particularly important: who is performing which kind of work at what time and which risk is involved? And how is this knowledge being used to work safely? First, a job hazard analysis (JHA) needs to be performed. This constitutes the basis for systematic and successful health and safety management.

„A job hazard analysis covers all the risks that could occur during transportation and at the petrol station site. Typical examples are the risk resulting from an unsecured load, the risk of fire when working or the risk of tripping if materials are left lying around. We evaluate possible risks in advance and can therefore adopt suitable protective measures.“
Dirk Heisel | Head of Account Management at Rhenus High Tech

The scheduled team of employees have to be registered for their assignment in advance. They must have completed behaviour-based safety / health safety environment (BBS/HSE) training courses about how to behave properly at a petrol station. One employee must be a ‘permit holder’, i.e. have the overall responsibility for the various tradespeople or the service. This person serves as the overseer and coordinator. Another stipulation involves having a certified first-aider in every team. Once all the required measures have been met, so-called work clearance forms (WCFs) must be submitted.

A logistics specialist offers end-to-end solutions

Overall, installing vending machines at a petrol station involves complying with numerous stipulations. So-called high-tech logistics specialists handle these requirements at the sites so that they do not become challenges for the machine provider or the petrol station operator. They are responsible for the roll-out and project management, transportation and assembly work as well as possibly dismantling existing machines as part of an overall logistical solution. If necessary, the sales personnel can receive instruction about the products, too. Even after the machines have been set up, end-to-end solutions also include aftersales services such as maintenance, unit replacement, retrieval and customising. The ordering party has a real benefit here: it does not have to coordinate matters between the various trades and service providers. The overall responsibility is passed on to the logistics specialist and this specialist guarantees that all the tasks are performed properly.

Technical services: What competent partners should be able to do

When selecting a suitable service provider, companies should ensure that this provider has the industry-specific knowledge and has completed the necessary training on health and safety for any work performed at petrol stations. If the provider is a logistics specialist operating across the country with several business sites and with its own network structures, the user benefits from numerous time savings. This can mean significantly shorter travel times and guarantee minimised replacement times.

‘An experienced service provider draws up job hazard analyses in advance and therefore guarantees that it can safely transport and install the vending machines at the site. The trained employees are familiar with the far-reaching documentation requirements for any work performed at petrol stations. For example, they conduct leak checks when connecting water pipes, document the completed installation work by taking photos and record the serial numbers of the old machines,’ says André Pietzsch, Head of Training and Instruction at Rhenus High Tech. Even if a common set of rules applies, individual oil companies have introduced individual adjustments to support their own standards. Thanks to their many years of cooperation, high-tech logistics specialists have enormous levels of expertise in this field and use this extra knowledge for their customers’ benefit.

How it all works

Rhenus High Tech has supplied 400 coffee vending machines to Tank & Rast companies across Germany on behalf of Coffema. Discover more in our case study.

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From innovative technology to enjoying coffee on the road: Find out more about the Coffema project in this video.

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This is how Rhenus High Tech handles logistics solutions for customers from the beginning to the end of the product life cycle – from petrol stations to railway stations and even supermarkets.

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