By Grainger Editorial Staff 2/17/22
When your job requires PPE, the closer at hand it is, the better. Personal protective equipment plays an essential role in workplace safety, and industrial vending machines can bring PPE directly within reach. Industrial vending machines can help improve safety and compliance by offering consistent organization, storage, tracking and documentation of critical PPE supplies.
According to business intelligence research firm Grand View Research, new vending technology enabling real-time inventory tracking is leading to wider adoption among small and medium-sized businesses. Better inventory control can help prevent restocking delays caused by supply chain disruptions, boosting productivity and helping prevent unnecessary downtime.
Inventory vending machines are available in several varieties. Most release products when employees enter personal ID codes or swipe an employee pass. Coil machines are probably the most familiar, using the same mechanism as snack vending machines. Lockers and cabinets also provide vending options with shelves or bins to hold supplies. Specialty machines feature counting scales or controlled flip top access for more advanced needs.
Any of these vending options can hold PPE, such as eye and ear protection, respiratory products like disposable face masks or first-aid supplies. Industrial vending machines can distribute more than PPE, too. They may be used as tool vending machines to dispense work tools, batteries and charging cords or maintenance products like abrasive pads and tape. Vending solutions can also be customized as your inventory needs change. Lockers, coil and combination units can be adjusted to distribute various disposable inventory items in different sizes.
According to OSHA, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Work Injury Reports (WIR) on eye, face, foot, head and hand injuries, two major factors are often present when workers are injured: personal protective equipment was either not being worn the majority of the time or, when PPE was worn, it did not fully protect the worker.
Industrial vending machines move PPE and other safety equipment closer to the point of use for workers by giving workers convenient access to the PPE they need to do their job safely. According to EHS Daily Advisor, staffing patterns can often make it difficult for second- and third-shift workers to obtain safety gear. Industrial vending machines allow critical safety items like gloves, hearing protection, safety glasses and hard hats to be readily available on all shifts in a workplace without adding on to a supervisor’s duties. More automated and timely distribution of PPE may also free the time of safety managers who can focus on bigger-picture issues, contributing to an overall safer workplace.
Vending machines can be part of a strategic approach to inventory control. For example, one billion-dollar company used industrial vending machines and inventory analysis to decrease product consumption by 42 percent.
Industrial vending machines combined with inventory control software offer several key benefits, including:
Improved inventory control: By having to enter an employee code or swipe an ID card, vending machines can help track inventory usage by specific employees and departments. Excessive use can be flagged and investigated, helping to reduce stockpiling and lost or stolen items. Better inventory tracking helps companies stay compliant with safety rules and regulations.
Increased productivity: Convenient access to PPE helps employees spend less time searching for PPE and safety supplies or tracking down out-of-stock items. Better, faster access to needed equipment can help reduce worker injuries and illness. Vending machines placed close to workspaces improve worker productivity by cutting down on the wasted time from walking to a centralized equipment location and waiting to be handed PPE.
Greater compliance: Workers have 24/7 access to the PPE and supplies they need to work. Tracking and reporting information provided by industrial vending machines can reveal noncompliance with safety measures by showing who rarely or never uses PPE, allowing safety managers to address and educate on the proper use of the equipment.
Lower costs: Ineffective inventory control can result in companies overspending thousands every year on supply costs. Increased visibility of inventory items helps reduce unnecessary supplies and unused items.
Automated replenishment: Vending machines can be programmed to customizable minimums to automatically replenish safety supplies without the need to manually count inventory or create a new purchase order. This automation saves time spent ordering frequently used items, can aid in just-in-time stock replenishment and eliminate over or under-purchasing, helping to control costs.
Learn more about how Grainger’s KeepStock inventory management solutions can help make it faster and easier to manage your critical inventory.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.