How to buy a vending machine
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN YOU ARE ABOUT TO RENT OR PURCHASE VENDING MACHINES?
Why do I need an industrial vending machine?
Have a look how it works:
What kind of products can I put into a vending machine?
You can effectively use vending solutions for many items:
- that are required over a large work area
- that are heavily used by employees
- whose allocation is hard to oversee
- that are expensive to keep in stock.
Buy or Rent?
You need to decide whether you want to rent or buy vending machines. Some manufacturers offer only buy-options, while others can rent or lease vending machines to you. A big advantage of renting is that you don’t have to pay a huge sum at once, but can pay monthly instalments instead, which goes easier on your cash-flow. Another advantage is that you’ll get support with your contract (or you should!), plus upgrading and scaling will be easier with re-placing than re-buying. A deciding factor could also be that you’re contract cover issues, when the machine break for reasons not caused by you. Also, you by renting, you can return your machines, while after you purchased them you won’t have this option. Some companies offer vending machines for sale only, but they usually target distributors and not end-users.
When is it worth to rent or buy vending machines?
While price is important when you decide about a vending machine purchase – obviously you need to know whether you can afford it – you should also think of the price in relative terms: will it be profitable for you or not? On one hand it is simple math: Do you save more with the reduced consumption than what the machine(s) costs? On the other hand, consider other factors too: how much manpower and time do you save by automating the tool-distribution? How much time do you save by not interrupting the workflow (that machines work 24/7 and getting an item form them takes about 10 seconds)? How much time and energy do you save for yourself with the reduced administration? Don’t forget: time is MONEY. Consider all these factors and NOT ONLY the price of vending machines purchase.
How to buy a vending machine risk-free?
The best option is to ask for a trial period. Some companies offer a trial period as a basic set-up, during which they help you figure out the best configuration of the installed vending machines. The length of this period may vary, but it is a good option to see whether it is worth – or how it is worth – to purchase vending machines. You might have to pay the installation fee, since the vending companies need to cover their costs (manufacturing, installing, support…), but it gives you the opportunity to try a solution and see whether it works for you at low risk.
How can I calculate KPI (key performance indicator) and ROI (return of investment) of a vending machine purchase
The savings achieved by using the machines are important. Most vending solutions offer to save up to 50% on your spendings, but it greatly varies by companies. At one company the manager, who introduced the machines achieved a 50,6% savings and was nominated for employee of the year. As written earlier, when calculating KPI and ROI, you need to consider non-monetary factors as well – how much time, administration and manpower do the machine save (see part “When is it worth to rent or purchase vending machines?” above).
How to integrate a vending machine into your system: plug-and-play solutions
You want to look for the most convenient solution, so integration is a key issue. Most players offer plug-and-play solutions, but do not take it for granted: ask what does it really mean? You ALWAYS have to have the system set up, try out several configurations to find the most effective one (that’s what the trial period is for), enter restrictions linked to employee groups or even individuals and set up reporting routes. These are the minimum requirements, even in case of a plug-and-play solution.
Language: It seems a minor issue at first glance, but the language abilities of the display are pretty important. Just think about that most blue-collar employees don’t speak multiple languages besides their mother-tounge, so handling the machine on their language is important for THEM. Thus it is important to you too, since no one wants frustrated employees. So always ask about the display capabilities: what languages can it handle and what characters (are your national characters among them)?
Reporting: Most machines will send you consumption reports periodically. Depending on the sophistication of the software you can set when and how do you want these reports, but the most basic – and usually enough – feature – should be a weekly email. Also you should be able to set the depletion and reordering features: you need to be able to set a minimum level for your stock, so when your stock level hits this bottom, the machine will send you an alert. Moreover, the better ones offer an automatic re-ordering function, so you can automate the re-order of the most crucial items in time, so you’ll never have to deal with out-of-stock issues and thus the stop of the work-flow. It is usually an option, but a good-to-have option.
Restriction: You want to enter restriction-levels connected to your employee-groups or even individuals. This means, that you can render the kind and number of items an employee can take during a certain period of time. Doing so, you will know who took what and when, thus illegal item-retrievals won’t be possible and you fully control the consumption.
How can I transfer the vending data on my computer
There are several ways. Depending on the customer needs vending machine manufacturers offer wired and wireless (wifi, 3/4 G) connection. You might want to consider security issues, internet availability in you manufacturing area and required speed.
How can I integrate the vending machine into my ERP system
ERP Integration is becoming a rather fundamental question that the customers ask for. Some vending companies offer extra software, that directly integrates the vending data into your ERP system, so you don’t have to copy-paste the information.
Who will upload the vending machine with the products
Depending on the vending company, there are various ways. The most flexible ones offer 3 ways:
- you can upload the products. This gives you the freedom, to buy the products from anyone you want, but you have deal with the uploading process also.
- your ppe/mro supplier uploads them for you. It saves you time and energy, but it means you are tied to your supplier. At the same time, most companies work with the same supplier for years, so if you have a good partner, it might be the most convenient option for you.
- a third party uploads the products for you. While you deal with purchasing the products to the vending machine, you can delegate the uploading-task to a third party. This gives you the flexibility to buy the items from whomever you want, but saves the time and energy of the uploading. At the same time, it means extra costs, since you have to pay for the third party’s services.
You want to best and fastest support possible
When you consider to buy vending machines, it is important to have the best and fastest support available. Why? Because you want partner in the installation-cycle and also in the daily operation. No matter how smoothly the machine operates, you will always have questions, which you want to get answered ASAP without interruption of the workflow, so you need close support. Consider where the machines and after-ordered parts are coming from: is the country close to your workplace? How long does it take to get the ordered parts for maintenance? Is there an office/representative near your area? Can you communicate alright with them? You can get a taste of the speed and quality of their support during the negotiating process and the test period.
How can I control the consumption
Simply by checking the reports. Industrial vending machines work 24/7, the bests do during power outage as well. The generate reports automatically, indicating which employee took, which item, at what time from the machine. It shows you the exact consumption of the various items given you control over the consumption.
Is there a minimum consumption of items worthy of a vending machine purchase
Generally speaking you need to consider vending machines purchase, if you have items with huge consumption or very expensive items with low consumption. The minimum consumption varies by companies, but as a minimum, you should be able to fill at least one machine. For example a spiral vending machine average capacity is 1000-1200 pcs., but it really depends on how big the items are. Companies, that are customer-focused do profitability analysis for you to show to find out what minimum consumption you need to buy vending machines.
How many machines do I need
There are many variables that come into play when deciding the number of machines. It is a process, that is done jointly by the vending machine manufacturer and the customer. Customers tend to decide the type of software the buy based on its price and not functionality, which very probably won’t provide you with the most efficient operation, thus you won’t reach the maximum level of KPI. For the best result ou need to consider the best configuration and decide accordingly.
Workflow: where to place the machines
You need to take into consideration how big is the area you want the machine to serve, how many workers and what is the floorpan. The best places are easily accessible from all directions. There is enough free space around for easy uploading and there should be enough machines to serve your crew – you don’t want either queue, or empty automats.
When you have to innovate...
Lot of companies pursue continuous innovation and each area of work has to come up with their own. If you have this ‘innovation pressure’ a vending machine purchase might be your answer. Consider this: a professional vending solution is not only a ‘consumption guard’, but can strengthen the image of a modern, innovative and sophisticated company.
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