We are sure that at least some of you reading this will have encountered a stock control vending machine at one point or another. They are not exactly widespread, but slowly but surely they are becoming a common sight in the workplace.
In fact, stock control vending machines are becoming more and more popular each and every year. Word is spreading about how they can provide organisations in the finishing industries (and many other industries) with almost instant straight forward efficiency improvements and cost reductions.
In our opinion the benefits they provide make them a stock management tool that is more than worthy of your consideration. Due to this, today we are going to take a look at exactly what stock control vending machines are, how they work, and what’s good (and not so good) about them.
Let’s get started.
What Are Stock Control Vending Machines?
To be totally honest stock control vending machines are not exactly rocket science to figure out. It’s pretty much what you would expect upon hearing the name. They are large, purpose-built vending machines for consumables.
They operate in a very similar manner to one of the fancy touchscreen vending machines you may have seen at train stations or airports. An employee simply selects the product they need from the screen, and it’s delivered in the drawer at the bottom, just like the machines you probably brought your cans of coke from in secondary school.
As we are sure you will agree, the general principle of how these machines work is pretty simple. But how on earth does having your stock in industrial vending machines help your business?
Let’s find out.
Just In Time
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term. Just in time stocking is a principle that attempts to minimise space used for storing inventory by ensuring that the stock you need is available only when you need it. Low amounts of stock are kept on hand, and frequent reorders replenish them as soon as they are used or sold.
When done properly a just in time system allows you to get the maximum amount of efficiency out of your available warehouse space. But this traditionally requires a significant amount of effort to be expended to keep track of stock levels.
Stock control vending machines are almost always directly connected to some kind of automated system that tracks usage and automates replenishment. This means you’ll never run out, and you can have an almost “hands-off” just in time system for the items stocked in the machine.
The great thing about vending machines is that they are reasonably small things (compared to a warehouse). This means that they can be placed in locations that are much closer to the areas where workers are performing their job.
When you have a stock control vending machine it’s usually optimal to place it in (or very near to) the work areas. This means workers no longer need to take a trip to the warehouse every time the need to grab something.
If your stock room is next door to the work area, then this is not really a huge benefit. But if your workers need to walk to the other side of the building to grab something, a conveniently placed stock control vending machine can provide noticeable efficiency improvements.
Additionally, efficiency improvements are also gained from the instant access nature of the vending machine delivery model. Instead of staff having to manually log down what has been taken from the warehouse in whatever system you currently use, it’s all taken care of automatically. Simply push a button and within a matter of seconds, the worker can get back to the task at hand.
Lower Administration Costs
Because all of the stock that is stored in one of these vending machines is automatically tracked, it means that the reordering process is taken care of for you entirely. You no longer need staff to manually check how much stock you have remaining.
As we mentioned earlier if you’re running a just in time system where regular stock takes are essential - this of particular benefit. But even if you’re running a more traditional system it’s one less job that needs to be done.
Workplace theft is a huge problem across the country. While we like to wrap it up in flowery terminology (stock shrinkage), it is what it is, theft.
We realise this is not going to be an issue that needs to be solved for everyone reading this article. There are luckily very few bad apples that like to help themselves to company property, and theft is becoming increasingly rare. But sooner or later a company will almost certainly experience “stock shrinkage” at some point or another.
If you are unlucky enough to have unscrupulous employees who are contributing to stock shrinkage – a stock control vending machine could be just what you are looking for.
Almost all vending machines require some form of identification before an item of stock can be withdrawn. This can be anything from a pin number to a key card, to even a fingerprint in some cases. This means you can tell exactly who took what from the machine (and when they took it).
While this information could be used to identify a bad apple worker who is helping themselves to company stock, in most cases, you won’t need to because the problem stops entirely almost instantly. The big new technologically advanced vending machine (that requires id to take things out of) makes the idea of “liberating” company property much less attractive to workplace thieves.
Even some of the best and most trustworthy workers in the world can be a little bit “liberal” with their use of consumable stock at times. In real-world terms, this means the stock is being used at a much greater level than needs be.
With the vending machine approach, however, workers tend to manage their usage a little more than they previously would. This is again due to the fact that it’s obvious that all the data on who orders what is being stored and analysed somewhere. If workers don’t automatically adjust their usage, simple reports can be generated for you to see who is potentially using too much stock which allows for corrective actions to be taken.
Either way, with or without the requirement for corrective action, workers using less consumable stock results in increased profit margins for your business.
Guaranteed Stock Levels
With a stock control vending machine you are almost guaranteed to never run out of stock. The days of projects being delayed because someone forgot to reorder something will be nothing but a distant memory thanks to the daily automatic reordering functionality most of these machines have.
Easy To Use
By this point in the article, we have made our entire case for why stock control vending machines are more than worthy of your consideration. However, we are sure some of you reading this will be thinking about how complicated (and expensive) these systems will be to set up.
It’s true that this technology and analytical data requires computing power and advanced software to work properly, but in the vast majority of cases, this is all handled off-site.
Most stock control vending machine manufacturers handle the analytical side of the operation themselves. Which means all you need is a Wi-Fi connection and a plug socket to get going. Most times you’ll have an online account where you can get instant access to real-time stock levels and the all-important usage reports.
You don’t need to modify or integrate anything with your existing systems and no large IT work will need to be carried out. Installation is incredibly quick, and once you have assigned all workers a swipe card or a pin number, the job is done.
Not That Expensive
The best about all this is that all these benefits can be obtained at a much lower cost than you would probably think. The machines are occasionally provided on a rental model, but in many cases, the machine can be free.
This is mainly going to be the case when you are renting the machine from the organization that provides the stock. They are getting a physical storefront inside your workplace by placing the vending machine there. In return for this, you are getting the efficiency and cost reduction benefits the technology brings.
So there you have it, a little introduction into the world of stock control vending machines. They are an incredibly innovative way of using reasonably old technology to provide modern day businesses in the finishing industries a convenient way of reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
We are sure they are not going to be right for every business, but based on their potential benefits alone, we feel that they are more than worthy of any organizations consideration.