Vending Machines Reduce Expenses for High-Turnover Parts
To reduce expenses for high-turnover, consumable items, some organizations have installed point-of-use vending machines, which store and dispense the parts technicians use most frequently. Users must provide an identification login, and the machine tracks the user or department. This machine resolves the accountability problem by generating a report detailing excessive use of a particular part, and the manager or supervisor can address the issue.
The machine automatically tracks and reports part use, and storeroom personnel refill the vacant dispensing slots as needed. The approach eliminates stock-outs, allows managers to weed out low-turnover items, and greatly reduces the walk-and-wait time technicians otherwise can face in obtaining parts.
Managers can configure the vending machines to dispense a variety of parts, depending on the need and application. Using the machines this way can dramatically reduce the consumption of traditionally high-turnover items, such as gloves, safety glasses, drill bits, cutting tools, small tools, fasteners, and PPE. Since inventory stocking levels follow use, the result for inventory is lower on-hand quantities, which in turn leads to lower spending for that part and increased availability of dollars for the facility. Available dollars indicate managers have addressed the organization's goals related to cost control or spending cuts.
Finally, managers must carefully consider the most beneficial time to implement these and other inventory-management strategies. Often, the best time to take the first steps to obtain greater control over the entire MRO inventory operation — and, therefore, reduce costs — occur when relocating a storeroom during a facility renovation or expansion or during a new construction project.
Frank Murphy, Certified Plant Maintenance Manager (CPMM), is the founder and president of Inventory Management Services Inc. in Greenville, S.C. The company's consulting approach changes maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) parts storerooms from reactive operations to proactive operations.