10 Ways to Reduce your Company’s Personal Protective Equipment Costs Without Compromising on Quality
1) Assess your volume and what types of PPE you are currently using
If you don’t know or haven’t kept track of volume or PPE types, you’re not alone. Often the solution is as easy as asking an employee how many PPE items he or she uses in a shift. Where there’s a starting point with the volume and the types of products, a beginning can be made.
2) Start a PPE Safety Audit to HOW & WHY employees are using their PPE
Many companies have quarterly and annual audits, why not have a regular PPE Safety Audit? The purpose of an audit is to gain clarity and insight. Often, we are not able to see problems or solutions in front of us because we are too near to them. Having a person, whether an employee or a Certified PPE Advisor conduct a PPE Safety Audit can illuminate unknown operational problems, increase efficiency, prevent foreign contamination, reveal dramatic cost savings.
3) Standardize and consolidate your categorical PPE protection to 1-3 PPE products (two types of head protection: one hard hat and one bouffant; three types of disposable gloves: 3mils, 6mils and 9mils disposable nitrile gloves; one type of ear protection: metal detectable earplugs; etc.)
Most companies use more PPE products than they need. I remember one time I visited a company looking to cut costs and I asked, “how many gloves do you use?” They didn’t know. Over a several week process, management analyzed their PPE spending. Shocked managers realized they used over 40 different types of gloves in their facilities for no apparent reason other than “employee preference”. They discovered that they used over 40 types of gloves because no one ever asked, “what is the ideal product for hand protection, head protection, eye protection, etc.?” The key to cost savings is being able to understand what product is essential for the task at hand and which products are simply preferential. When those two pieces of information are known for each product then a cost analysis can begin to find the best product for each type of barrier protection. Often consolidating your PPE will result in greater purchasing parity.
4) Assess the distribution method(s) of your PPE
On average there are five potential methods of distribution for PPE in a facility. Specifically, shipping and receiving, stock room, dispensers/vending machines, carts/racks, supervisors. Each facility has its own method of distributing PPE. Sometimes certain methods of distribution can be more costly than others. For instance, companies that pay vendors to hand deliver to their stockrooms are paying a premium than companies that use Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipments to their dock. Also, installed vending machines and dispensers are convenient, but require time to service, often are more expensive on piece price basis, and can lock a company into a specific brand or company because of the time and cost to change the machines -the more convenience involved -the higher the overall costs a customer will pay.
5) Consolidate orders as much as possible [Parcel to
We all love convenience, but many of us don’t realize the premium we pay for it. There is a huge difference in the cost of freight when shipping small lot orders (one box of gloves or a few cases of PPE) as opposed to shipping pallets. While the freight cost associated with a pallet is more than the cost of parcel shipments. The freight cost per unit is dramatically lower when shipping LTL, Full Truckload (FTL), Full Container load (FCL). Yes, it requires more planning, but in the long run you save time and money consolidating your shipments into larger orders.
6) Analyze PPE budget category individually instead of as a segment within the MRO/indirect (maintenance, repair, operations) category budget
Sometimes companies or purchasing departments lump PPE as a subsection within other budget categories such as Maintenance, Repair, Operations (MRO) supplies, or as Safety, or indirect purchases. There are a lot of different ways to categorize PPE expenditures. However, it is important to not only look at large budget items, but also to break up smaller budget categories to see if cost savings can be achieved. While you may have one vendor for all your MRO, indirect, or safety purchases, sometimes great opportunities can be realized when you break-up purchases for specific sub-categories like PPE, replacement parts, etc.
7) Negotiate better payment terms
Assuming you have good credit, most vendors will work with you to provide favorable credit terms. Obviously, the larger you are, the more likely you are to have favorable credit terms, but you should always ask.
8) Initiate a bi-annual review of PPE volumes and costs
Like a PPE Safety Audit, it’s always good to assess PPE volumes and costs on an annual or semi-annual basis. Businesses aren’t static, things change. So does a company’s PPE needs. There’s no point in spending more money on PPE because when your company’s sales or production are slow. Yet, running out of PPE is often a nightmare for a business that can put a real strain on operations -you need to prepare PPE needs for business cycles.
9) If you’re in a contract…get out of it.
Yes, contracts can be good, but they all come with risks too. Many companies I interact with, don’t like the complexity, the time, and dealing with all the attorneys. Contracts can and often provide protection for both parties, but they can also hinder cost savings and create unnecessary risk. We believe that as a customer, if you find a better product or a better price, you should always be free to switch vendors, and not have to worry about the complexity of your contact -unless you want a contract.
10) Create a PPE training program for your employees
Many issues that people face regarding PPE, have little to do with the product and more to do with HOW and why employees use their PPE. While it might seem simple, companies waste huge amounts of time and money by not educating their employees about how and why they're using these specific PPE products. There are different resources online about PPE training programs, you could also use a Certified PPE Advisor to create a program for your company. When employees know and care about how to use PPE, they are more likely to create a corporate culture of safety while saving time and money for the company.