In a recent post on Lean Debate, a senior operations manager echoed the plaintive cry of many a PPE budget holder. “Does genuinely caring about the welfare of our engineers and meeting our legal responsibilities, have to mean a completely open door policy as far as PPE stocks are concerned.”
Another manager joined the discussion and shared the frustration; in his case it was “Finding barely used gloves in the car park, ear plugs and goggles all over the shop and that’s not even counting the stuff that just seems to walk!”
It seems that engineering companies face two real dilemmas as far as PPE is concerned; the age old problem of getting the people it’s designed to protect to actually use it; and trying to control the distribution and inventory cost of providing it.
The first dilemma is down to training, PPE design and good management; but the second is a matter of looking at all the options available. Not every engineering company can afford a fully manned stock release facility, and certainly not 24/7, so more and more companies are turning to the solution of innovative vending.
Dave Berman of PPE vending champions, VendEase, thinks all companies should have a good look at the benefits. “The sort of technology we build into our vending machines means that you not only get a secure, robust and reliable distribution around the clock, but you get full management reporting included. These machines can be card or code operated by existing staff cards or dedicated fobs, and either way you get the full record of who’s using what, where and when.”
VendEase machines can be linked wirelessly to a central hub, not only transferring the management data but also warning of any faults or stock outs. Remote locations can benefit from machines fitted with mobile telephony, meaning that VendEase are often the first to know if there’s any problem and can get it sorted quickly.
Companies such as Arla, the dairy products giant, relied on VendEase to manage the introduction of their vending machines; which have been a major thumbs up by both employees and management. Diageo, the spirits producer, are planning to introduce VendEase solutions in their new Scottish plant and DHL are equipping their logistics centres. With Norland planning to source from VendEase to service key clients, the future in this area is looking very positive.
Dave Berman expanded on the VendEase success factors. “Our PPE vending machines are manufactured in Germany to very high specs; which is why we get the excellent reliability. The other benefit is that we can find bespoke and customised solutions for almost any vending requirement; anyone who’s seen their Mars bar teeter on the edge of the shelf but not drop into the box will appreciate the challenge of making sure that doesn’t happen, whether we’re dispensing bulky freezer gloves or an almost weightless pair of ear plugs. So we test, test and test again until we’re sure the product vends perfectly.”