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CBC’s Vending Machine Solution Solves Multiple Problems for TRW

Creative industrial Inventory Management Keeps TRW Rack and Steering Operations Lean

"On many occasions, in the automotive industry, a sense of urgency is expected and CBC rises to that challenge each time to meet our needs." – Judy Raupp, Senior Buyer, MRO – TRW

Customer: TRW

Key Goals

  • Reduce MRO inventory investment
  • Make parts available around the clock
  • Minimize equipment outages and operational down time
  • Create Lean solution for replenishment time
  • Reduce number of suppliers
  • Improve inventory reporting
  • Lower shipping charges


CBC partnered with Turck to provide a Vending Machine Solution that gave TRW facility maintenance engineers and electricians 24x7 access to the parts they need.


  • Just-in-time (JIT) inventory lets engineers and maintenance crew members get needed parts immediately at any time of the day.
  • CBC handles reports on usage and needed replenishments reducing the time buyers spend on inventory counts.
  • Cycle time improves substantially since stock has set refill points and replacement product arrives before the machine runs out of parts.
  • Many components can be consolidated in shipping, reducing freight charges.
  • TRW had all of their sensors and cable crossed to Turck, minimizing questions and confusion on key part replacements.

TRW is a global leader in automotive safety that manufactures rack and pinion steering systems for automobile companies throughout the world. Recently, the TRW steering product center plant in Atkins, Virginia, was faced with several challenges: they needed better management of inventory while keeping assembly lines running; they wanted easier access to automotive electronic components; and they also wanted to simplify operations by purchasing automotive electronic components from fewer suppliers.

TRW turned to the Carlton-Bates team that had been working with its buying and manufacturing teams on several projects.

"We have worked with Carlton-Bates for several years," said Judy Raupp, TRW Senior Buyer, MRO. “Their continued support in Field Sales and Inside Sales has brought success to many projects for us. We rely on CBC for sensors, relays, proximity switches, safety guarding, cylinders and many other items. On many occasions, in the automotive industry, a sense of urgency is expected and CBC rises to that challenge each time to meet our needs.”

After listening to the TRW team explain their challenges, CBC called on their experience with creative industrial inventory management and proposed the installation of a specialized vending machine that would contain and dispense rack and pinion steering components. CBC also introduced Turck, a key supplier, who was able to offer all the parts TRW needed, including sensors and cables. CBC worked with Turck to install the new machine, which not only made rack and pinion steering components immediately available as needed, but all the parts were provided by a single supplier. Today, the Turck vending machine provides multiple parts to TRW.

Creative Industrial Inventory Management

The vending machine allows TRW engineers and maintenance personnel to hand-pick exactly what they need when working on assembly machinery. The vending machine is conveniently located in the tool bin area, making parts easily accessible, alleviating time spent searching for the right part. The engineer or maintenance worker swipes a card in the machine and Turck keeps track of all the parts used and what automotive electronic components are needed for restocking. All parts are consigned and paid for as they are used. The Carlton-Bates Inside Sales Rep handles all of the ordering.

Automotive electronic components are ordered together and shipped together, saving TRW multiple freight charges. TRW has long been known for its Lean philosophy, and through savings of time and money, the vending machine program fits squarely into the company’s Lean culture.

According to Raupp, the transition was trouble-free. “Implementing the vending project was smooth and flawless for us. It has already proven to be a cost savings program for our company. CBC took care of everything.”

Carlton-Bates Company is a trusted supplier of automotive electronic components with experience in rack and pinion steering components. Browse our online catalog of automotive electronic components and products.

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