Why opt for a vendor managed service?

By Brammer, Buck & Hickman’s Vendor Managed Services Director - UK, Ian Hall…

The process of buying, restocking and managing fast-moving consumables can take up valuable time and money for any industrial or manufacturing business.

Purchasing from multiple suppliers is time-consuming, creates many invoices to process, increases delivery costs and can lead to cash being tied up in inventory with the risk of making stock obsolete if demand isn’t closely aligned to supply.

However, with a vendor managed service solution, these issues can be resolved.

What is industrial vending?

The main purpose of industrial vending machines is to dispense consumable items that are used most frequently by employees at the point where they are needed. This might include personal protective equipment, cutting tools, abrasives, hand tools, cleaning items, lubricants and greases – and much more. You decide which staff have access to which machines and you can even restrict access to certain items. Access to the items are gained by a touch screen or barcode scanner followed by the entry of a PIN number unique to that person.

A vendor managed service is a time and cost saving solution designed to give greater control over budgets for consumable items, whilst taking care of your supplies so your team has more time to focus on areas that add real value to your organisation.

The service works by using stock management expertise. A quick analysis of your processes can streamline your supplier base to consolidate your invoicing as well as analysing stock holding, and design optimum ordering processes ultimately creating improved efficiencies.

Furthermore, you can track data from the inventory management system and gain valuable intelligence about the supplies being used and by whom.

If you’re thinking about introducing a vendor managed service solution into your business, you’re bound to be looking for a product/service that comes with both great service and great value. With a lot of options out there, navigating the way could seem difficult.

What should you expect from the Vendor Managed Service process?

The process should start with a full analysis of your parts usage and stock holding data by a specialist supply chain expert who will identify optimum inventory for your specific needs. An expert should assess critical parts, consignment stock, obsolete stock and stock not fit for purpose. They should then continue to analyse your stock control and identify all issues and examine your labelling and location processes.

Next, further analysis will determine the critical stock to hold, identify parts alternatives, review stock obsolescence and order frequency on items, establish optimum levels and make recommendations on quantities versus reduced orders. Based on a previously conducted audit you should then be presented with an appropriate inventory management strategy that can be seamlessly integrated into your business. The results should provide clear and tangible benefits to your organisation.

Lastly, any results of any recommendations your vendor managed service experts suggest should be fully quantifiable by value over time, with cost savings and benefits set against agreed parameters.

What to look for in a service provider

Making sure you’re investing in a service that works for everyone involved can often be difficult. So first, take the time to consider all vending and inventory related company challenges that you’re currently facing. By doing this, you’ll have a better understanding of the help you need as well as what you should expect from a vendor managed service.


When investing in any service or product, quality is key. Expect a good company to be engaging, attentive and quick to respond to queries and questions. However, although a good indicator of the quality of the company is through their communications, you also need to take the time to look at the actual quality of the product and service, from the range of products available, through to the vending machines themselves and to the all important service behind the vending (often an area where suppliers fall down). If you’re able, try and see the service or product in action and ask to speak to existing customers.


From a good vendor managed service provider, along with quality it’s also important to have knowledge. Knowledge can come in two halves: knowledge from the company and knowledge from you, the service receiver. Naturally, you should expect a good vendor managed service provider to have an in-depth understanding of the products and the issues you face when it comes to consumables, but don’t assume they do. Ask some searching questions and if they’re hesitant about answering or cannot direct you to someone who can, they may not be as knowledgeable as you might think. On the other hand, a part of the knowledge comes from you. As mentioned earlier, it helps to have an idea of what you want to achieve with this service. Ultimately, this will make the process quicker and more successful. Take the time to consider your exact needs and how you need the supply to work.


Similar to knowledge, understanding refers more to the service and, more importantly, how well a service provider can help with your current situation. A good vendor managed service provider should be able to provide an understanding of your situation and should not only suggest how they can help but should also give extra support past the initial service. For a provider to show understanding of your unique situation, it often means they have both in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience, which is invaluable.

By managing all your general maintenance consumables, Brammer Buck & Hickman’s Vendor Managed Services can help generate cost savings, productivity and efficiency improvements.

For more information or to request a demonstration of any of the Vendor Managed Services through Brammer Buck and Hickman contact 0870 240 2100 or email at