What Is Automated Supply Vending?

Vending machines can do more than dispense candy and snacks. In fact, they can save your company up to 50% on supply costs and countless man hours due to improved efficiency. If you can imagine it, it can probably be vended in some way. Some common applications for supply vending are PPE (personal protection equipment), MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations), and IT peripherals (chargers, keyboards, computer mice, etc).

A key feature to look for is 24/7 real-time reporting. This feature will allow you to see exactly who is getting what supplies and when they are being vended. The information should be recorded in real-time allowing managers to have a complete view of the supply situation. Once the information is recorded it can be manipulated into a variety of reports that will allow managers to see who is using the machine, catch cases of overuse and abuse, as well as see what exactly needs to be taken to the machine to fill it.

You might be wondering what keeps employees from taking too many supplies. First, employee behaviors will change because the machine recognizes them by name after their ID is input. This creates a sense of responsibility because they know the activity is being tracked. Second, managers are able to set restrictions to individual products based on job duties or other factors. The restrictions can allow access to specific products for an employee and also restrict the quantity dispensed in a certain time period. Therefore, your highest paid employees are not babysitting supplies any longer.

It’s important to make sure you know who is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of any supply vending machine you may be considering. Ideally you will have 24/7 monitoring by your vendor and a customer service representative to watch for any potential problems as well as be a point of contact for any concerns. Look for a vendor that provides a 100% warranty for normal wear and tear issues that may arise. The last thing you want to do is have to search for someone qualified to repair your machine and has parts at the ready.

It is much more practical and efficient to have a worry-free supply vending solution that can dispense products from any of your vendors and have all the information easily accessible. Stop hand keying information into your system and dealing with spreadsheets, word documents and various print outs to manage your supply inventory.

I have included some questions to ask when considering a supply vending solution:

  • Does the company offer a lease option to allow quick implementation?
  • What kind of history does the company have and can they provide references?
  • Can the reporting software be customized for your company’s needs?
  • Are they willing to do a Cost Savings Analysis based on your numbers to show potential savings?
  • Is the vendor going to complete the installation, train your employees and insure proper functioning?
  • What kind of maintenance and warranty program does the vendor provide?
  • Will you have a specific point of contact for questions or concerns?
  • Is it possible for the vendor to integrate the reporting system with our current supply chain technology and software?
  • Are you able to collaborate with vendors and suppliers through the web-based reporting system?
  • Will the vendor work with samples of your current supplies to ensure a complete customization of the supply vending machine?

Choosing an automated supply vending solution is one of the most important business decisions that you can make. Take the time to ask a lot of questions, do your homework and work with a reputable company that has a long history in the market.

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