Tony Goodwin of Propeller, provider of advanced stock control systems and inventory management solutions explores how semi-automated, ­lineside parts vending will substantially reduce operating costs and boost productivity

Inventory, stock, parts or MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) consumables can represent up to 20 per cent of total enterprise spend and account for more than half of all indirect purchasing transactions. Yet many organisations do not have the systems in place to restrict access to inventory and monitor the usage of spares and consumables. Too often, storerooms are free-for-all facilities, where users take parts on autopilot, squirrelling stock away in lockers or worse still, pilfering company property. As a result, inventory costs run out of control, storeroom data is inaccurate and the stockouts of critical spares lead to downtime, lost production and cancelled orders.

Industrial vending equipment dispenses MRO consumables, PPE, tooling which are accessed normally by means of time and attendance swipe cards, biometrics or personal identification codes. Known as point-of-use or lineside vending machines, they are advanced inventory management systems, enabling strict control of stock access, monitoring of usage and automatic reordering of out-of-stock items.

The latest generation of industrial vending technology, such as the British-made Pro-Vyda equipment, is configured to be usable by a range of industries, from aviation, automotive and energy, to food processing and pharmaceuticals, and to accommodate all manner, shapes and sizes of stock.

Semi-automated parts vending offers a secure environment in which to store and dispose of a range of items and an effective way of driving down inventory spend. Here are 10 ways point-of-use vending will help you cut costs, by as much as 30-40 per cent:

Reduces inventory holding – As much as 70 per cent of inventory items are never used or obsolete, so an initial data cleansing exercise will bring about immediate stock reductions.

Frees up valuable floorspace – By utilising vertical space and high density storage technology, modern vending machines are designed to hold a vast array of products within a highly compact footprint, freeing up floorspace.

Improves staff productivity – Point-of-use vending machines serve the location where they’re installed, cutting the times taken to travel, locate and retrieve parts, while touch-screen interfaces with ‘shopping basket’ functions speed transaction times.

Drives down inventory spend – A full audit trail and subsequent monitoring of usage down to user level will identify wasteful employees or departments and indicate excessive maintenance activities, in turn highlighting issues of asset reliability.

Optimises costly parts usage – Machines like Pro-Vyda can allocate a unique status to each compartment, so reconditioned parts can be dispensed instead of new items, saving on routine costs; the machine will also deliver the exact number of parts required.

Eliminates staff pilfering – Locking down access and making staff accountable for what they are consuming, has a remedial impact on such behaviour.

Reduces employer liability – As all transactions are logged against a user, an employer can identify precisely what an individual has received, providing vital evidence of access to essential personal protective equipment in the event of a health and safety incident.

Provides 24/7 parts availability – Vending machines provide 24/7 controlled access and monitoring, while a feature like Pro-Vyda’s reservation facility enables off-site staff to pre-book parts for planned maintenance whenever they arrive.

Minimises costly downtime – Vending machines ensure accurate data and user-defined depth of stock on parts, as well as incorporating expiration and calibration dates against any part .

Improves budget control – Vending machines like Pro-Vyda can allocate budget ceilings to individuals, cells and departments, ensuring budget compliance.

Contrary to the view that workers might object to the point-of-use vending machines, we find that hardworking staff respond positively to having the right parts in the right place at the right time.