The pros and cons of PPE vending machines

The pros and cons of PPE vending machines

Are you wondering whether PPE vending would help to solve the safety requirements of your organisation?

In a constantly changing world which relies more and more on automation and labour-saving devices, being able to provide PPE via vending machines is a reasonable consideration. But is it a viable option for you?

There are many stories from organisations showing the savings to be had from PPE vending by cutting wastage and controlling usage. However, before making a decision on PPE vending for your organisation, the following factors should be carefully considered:

  • The cost of implementing and maintaining a vending solution
  • The maintenance and repair services for when the vending machine breaks down and staff are not able to access PPE

Potential pitfalls of PPE vending

There are a number of potential pitfalls when it comes to PPE vending machines and all need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether this a viable option for your workforce.

  • The size and shape of the PPE items your workforce requires – many PPE items are comparatively large and may simply be too big for vending machines to handle. This may mean that only a few pieces can be dispensed this way and/or a small quantity can be loaded at any one time. In turn this presents a logistical challenge to ensure adequate stock is present in the vending machine at all times. If a vending machine clears a stock line during a busy period it could cause further lost time while the stock is being replenished.
  • Stock control – as mentioned above, your vending machine may need frequent replenishment of items and this will need to be factored into someone’s working day.
  • Queuing for PPE – when staff arrive on shift at the same time it’s reasonable to expect them to need vending at the same time, which means factoring in the time and therefore the cost of staff waiting in a line for their turn to get their PPE items. Take for example, a staff shift of 100 workers and each vend taking 10 seconds. Person one in the queue spends ten seconds, person two then spends 20 seconds and so on, until person 100 in the queue spends 1000 seconds (nearly 17 minutes). The total sum of this time for that shift becomes an astounding 51,000 seconds every day (over 14 hours). That’s almost two people being paid to stand in a queue every day.
  • The number of vending machines you will need to ensure speedy access for PPE – to eliminate wasted time spent queuing you may need several vending machines. Should you provide ten machines and assume the same criteria as above, your total vend time would reduce to 5,500 seconds (over 1.5 hours). However, this would involve the cost of ten vending machines, contracts, space and maintenance.
  • Vending machines suffer malfunctions and breakdowns – although good vending supply partners will have a rapid maintenance call-out service, there will inevitably be a delay before an engineer can get to your site and fix the issue. During this time, access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is still required, which means you will need to have a manual contingency solution in place.

Alternatives to PPE vending

An alternative solution to PPE vending is to select a professional PPE partner with an online shopping website and a dedicated account customer portal allowing you to manage stock usage and download reports for any number of locations across the entire country.

A good system will enable you to control and place orders for individual departments or persons, create reports so that you can view your exact purchase history and therefore manage and monitor your total usage effectively, both cost and time-wise.

Contego Safety Solutions offers a comprehensive range of safety and workwear products and is constantly innovating to provide for the evolving needs of the ground service teams.

Find out more about Contego Safety Solutions’ extensive range of products – download the Contego Catalogue now, visit our website or contact our friendly team on 0800 122 3323 or

Published on 22 May 2018


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