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PPE vending machines help companies ‘plan the unplanned’

By COS staff

Vending machines for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, safety glasses and respirators, are becoming more and more common in companies across the country, according to executives at Acklands-Grainger’s “The Works,” Canada’s largest maintenance repair and operations (MRO) and safety show in Vancouver.


Vending machines for PPE help keep workers safe on the job because the products are available 24-7, 365 days per year.

“We never want to have our safety items locked up where employees can’t get them. We don’t want someone’s hand to get hurt because they couldn’t get a glove. That’s the beauty of the vending machine; they can get those things any time of the day or night,” said a supply chain executive at an oil and gas company, who did not want to be identified.

Workers have easier access to their PPE with vending machines, which can help them work safely and efficiently.

“When an employee needs a pair of gloves or a pair of safety glasses to start their shift, they don’t have to go around to find a supervisor or someone with a key to the cabinet; they swipe their card or they punch their number into they keypad and they have access to their safety equipment,” said Ken Chamberlin, vice-president and general manager, Eastern Canada, Acklands-Grainger.

Dispensing solutions can also helps companies “plan the unplanned,” said Sandro Verrelli, vice-president of integrations and operations at Acklands-Grainger. For example, if a worker suddenly needs new earplugs because he lost one, he can get new ones quickly and on his own at a vending machine.

In a tough economy, companies are always looking for ways to cut costs and vending solutions may help with that. One cost reduction is around employee consumption.

“We’ve had full-time employees that would just start handing out safety equipment and because this is unfortunately the kind of stuff that walks away, we needed to make sure we controlled it, so having these vending machines where we can hold our employees accountable has reduced usage and gives us better control,” said the supply chain executive from the oil and gas company.

Another area vending machines can shave off costs is by consolidating some of the processes that a company has to go through with its supplier. It reduces a “massive amount” of complexity and transactions, said Verrelli.

“Complexity and transactions are where all the cost in our business actually resides,” he said. “It’s not in the item that’s dropped in the machine. Relatively speaking, that’s pretty low-dollar stuff, considering these customers are buying fuel and travel and some other big-ticket items. The magic happens if you can get your arms wrapped around how you are managing the category.”

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