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February 4, 2023

PPE Inventory Control in Bad Times and Good


It’s not news that the Coronavirus has taken a toll on businesses and individuals worldwide. Small businesses are closing, unable to pivot to accommodate the rapidly changing and evolving world around them. The companies that are hanging on are all scrambling for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their employees. So it’s especially disheartening to read articles like that of the thefts at the makeshift hospital at the New Orleans Convention Center and other news of people taking advantage of much-needed PPE and other medical supplies.

At Optimal Station, we are combining our many years of experience in the vending industry with our passion for helping people in order to develop some solutions to the issue of PPE inventory control.  We have designed PPE dispensing vending machines that provide inventory control, including the ability to set individual, department, and other restrictions and limitations. Our PPE inventory control stations make it possible to have the necessary supplies in stock and ready for use when and where needed.  Furthermore, robust reports are available in real time, enabling companies to have a clear picture of when and where and by whom the items are being used.

It’s not just about face masks

Nowadays when one hears the term, “PPE,” they think medical, but in reality, PPE applies to assets used in all industries focused on workplace health & safety where it’s often referred to as “safety gear.” We have had the privilege of working with large factories and other facilities to help reduce or eliminate shrinkage while ensuring the right equipment is being dispensed to the right individuals. The items being controlled have ranged from safety glasses, gloves, reflective vests, face shields, and first aid items, to name a few. Business owners know that when employees have unlimited access to these items, they often get left in the car, home or even just thrown away. In fact, when initially walking through the parking lot of some of these facilities, we could easily see dozens of vehicles with 2-3 pairs of safety glasses hanging from rearview mirrors or on dashboards; backseats with multiple reflective vests; and even valuable specialty tools being hoarded by the employees, at the employer’s expense.

The companies we have worked with have seen a 20-45% decrease in shrinkage over a single year’s time after adding these controlled dispensing machines. The goal is not to deny access, but to manage inventory and hold people accountable for the items being used. These machines can be activated using an employee’s existing ID card, pin, or fingerprint reader. The included inventory reporting not only tracks the usage of the items but can also trigger low-inventory alerts as well as other notifications.

Working with the right partners

At Optimal Station, we have worked with a wide variety of inventory control hardware and software manufacturers and providers and have found that they differ significantly in quality,  effectiveness, and available features. For example, our Australian partners at cc2GO have integrated digital signage and touch interactions into their VisualVend platform, enabling digital content to display item-related instructions and brief targeted tutorials. The VisualVend system is designed to prevent the dispensing of certain equipment to employees until they have viewed product-specific content demonstrating proper equipment use, thereby ensuring safe usage and limiting injuries.  There is also an option to deliver complete instructions and/or video links directly to the employee in advance based on their individual authorizations, thereby expediting the delivery of items from the inventory control machine.

How Optimal Station can help

The need for these types of systems is growing rapidly. Here at Optimal Station, we work closely with our clients to determine the best systems and equipment based on their needs, adding enhancements and making adjustments as needed to arrive at the best-suited solution.  If you would like more information on our solutions, please email us at

Stay safe, stay healthy and always be Optimal!

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