With a volatile market, rising inflation, persistent labour pressures and ongoing challenges in the marketplace, every company is looking to slash operational costs and institute cost-saving measures. A common contributor to high operational costs is managing the supplies your employees use every day. Vendor-managed inventory (VMI) and vending have become popular methods to find greater operational efficiencies. Outsourcing the management and stock of everyday supplies frees up resources for more business-critical tasks. 

So, how can new VMI strategies help your company reduce supply consumption, manage your inventory better, decrease costs and increase productivity in your workplace?

Two simple solutions and how they interconnect

Although they are often mentioned together, VMI and vending are two separate elements that can be combined to create a comprehensive and holistic inventory tracking system.

VMI is the primary element of any inventory tracking system and begins with a vendor-led review of the supplies used within your facility. An analysis will identify a list of preferred products recommended to establish a VMI that best serves your needs. Once established, the product list and inventory is made accessible across a variety of platforms, including mobile tablets, and can be managed by your sales representative. To replenish stock, you can input product amounts, submit, and receive the order to your warehouse within days.

Vending is the next element in an efficient inventory tracking system. Just like snack vending machines and order pick-up lockers, facilities can opt into adding vending machines on their floors. In these cases, the machines are stocked with the most used products, like a pair of gloves, that employees need to do their jobs safely. Low stock on these items can easily be topped up with a simple inventory check-in on the tablet VMI system.

How they help

Once a VMI and/or vending machine system is introduced, employers, employees and even their customers can reap the benefits including reduced product usage, an uptick in productivity, and operational savings. 

When given unrestricted access to everyday supplies, team members are likely to use more product than they need. In response, a vending machine can be programmed to dispense a certain amount of product per team member within a particular period of time, allowing for tighter control of supplies. About 25% of costs can be saved on the reduction of overconsumption; less product used daily will help stock last longer and decrease the frequency that supplies need to be replenished. 

The higher visibility a vending machine provides, compared to keeping inventory in a supply closet or storage space, helps eliminate downtime caused by employees searching for necessary supplies. It also helps reduce pressures on your VMI system by eliminating surprise shortages and the need for emergency orders of necessary supplies.

A VMI also saves on the management of supply inventory. Where, traditionally, someone would count inventory, submit a purchase order and manage the distribution of supplies, the VMI system allows for a simplified process. The labour dedicated to these processes can be saved with an automated system and reallocated to more productive tasks, contributing to greater efficiency and lower operational costs. 

Things to look for

Consider these factors to decide if a VMI and/or vending system is right for your facility: 

  • Product throughput: Asses the volume of product used in a week and how often they need replenishment to justify the cost of the machines. Slow-moving product is impractical for this kind of solution. 
  • Types of products: Not all products will fit in a vending machine or pick-up locker. Smaller supplies, items packaged in bags or bundled into the coils of the machine are ideal. Some larger products may fit in the lockers, so if the most common items in your facility are too large for these machines, your facility may not warrant a vending system.
  • Reasonable location: Ensure that the facility has enough space to place a vending machine. Avoid places that already have a lot of foot traffic to avoid crowding.
  • Size of facility: Small and large facilities will need different solutions. If the throughput in a small facility is high, one vending machine should suffice. In a larger facility, if enough product is being used, implementing one to four vending machines in different locations can yield better results.  

Start your new process

Bunzl Industrial offers VMI and vending solutions to help you get on track to a more efficient facility! From going to customer locations, determining the best mix of VMI and machines, and automating your inventory management system, our Industrial team will guide you through a smarter, cost-effective plan. Reach out to your Bunzl sales rep or contact us to learn more and to start your journey today!