Supply chains: Vendor led supply

Posted on 8 Nov 2012 by Tim Brown

Hayley Group has 36 years experience providing a fast and efficient supply of what it terms ‘engineering essentials’ to its customers. But, as Tim Brown found out, its latest partnership with Apex Supply Chain Technologies is bringing that heritage into a new, leaner era.

Hayley Group was formed in 1976 by Lee Willitts and Bernie Noakes. Since then, it has grown to achieve a turnover of £96m and employ 543 staff. The company supplies a large range of engineering focused products including bearings, seals, transmissions, electrical items, tools, fastenings, work wear and protective equipment from eyewear to boots.

Offering same day delivery via its network of 31 national branches and using its own transport, the company carries in excess of £20m worth of stock to ensure it is always able to provide for its customers’ needs. “The national average for stock in a branch would probably be around £30,000- £40,000,” says Lee Willitts, managing director at Hayley Group. “Our branches hold in excess of £300,000. We’ve got the stock at the point of use, at the coal face if you will, so we can offer a same day service.”

Expanding beyond this service-focused offering, SmartVend by Hayley Group offers the latest intelligent vending machine solutions with real time, cloud based reporting and control. These solutions help companies reduce stock wastage, time taken up by walking to and waiting at the stores and make the distribution of Hayley Group products even more efficient. Utilising the latest range of intelligent industrial vending machines from Apex Supply Chain Technologies, the full range of Hayley products from nuts and bolts to safety boots and helmets will be available through this innovative new technology.

SmartVend is a connect and go solution. There is no software to install and no computers on the machines to go wrong, it connects to the cloud via firmware in the machines. This means that installation is a matter of a couple of hours, not days.

The two offerings which will initially be available through Hayley Group, SmartVend 5000 and SmartVend Megastore, can be calibrated quickly and easily and can house a huge range of products in many different sizes.

“We believe that the Apex models are far superior to other similar offerings and we believe they have the potential to dramatically change the market’s view of stock vending,” says Hayley Group’s co-founder and managing director, Bernie Noakes. “We want to offer the same level of service that we have currently but guarantee a reduction in the amount customers spend on stock items.“SmartVend machines offer a fantastic opportunity for Hayley Group but also a fantastic opportunity for our customers,” states Mr Noakes. “The use of SmartVend can greatly reduce the quantities [of stock items] used as well as provide complete traceability and is great from a health and safety point of view.”

Justifying spending on vending is easy

Hayley Group says that so long as a customer is spending a total of at least £2,500 per month, the return on investment in a SmartVend is very good. This, it says, is irrespective of the value of the individual products.

According to Hayley Group, customers can expect a 25% decrease in demand for products when they are vended rather than just held in stock. Some companies reduce consumption by as much as 50%. “From our customers’ point of view, it is all about a reduction in cost,” says Noakes. “Because staff will know that vending clearly identifies what they are using, they will be a lot more careful about overuse. For example, you might expect staff to use one pair of gloves a day but if they go to the canteen they might lose them and then get another pair. If it is monitored, they will be more likely to take care with their equipment.”

The vending machines are operated by employees who can use their ID card or enter a pin number which registers the request, and provided that user has been allocated the right to those products, their order will be released up to a pre-determined level. This can be limited to any given period by individual and user group. Not only is the customer able to view statistics on the usage of materials in total and by individual staff member but Hayley Group is also able to follow the stock usage in real time and replenish stock as soon as it is needed, eliminating stock outs.

As Willitts points out, a SmartVend is only as good as the suppliers that are keeping it topped up. “We can provide a state-of-the-art machine and as we are supplying the product you will always be able to get product from that machine 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“The brilliant thing about these machines is that we don’t have to go to a factory to complete a stock take in the factory and then deliver the stock,” continues Noakes. “When we go into the factory we are taking the items that are needed to put the stock back to its maximum. The machines are also intelligent and will not only tell us when we need to increase the quantities. They will aslo indicate when a product is not commonly vended so we can reduce the quantity in the machine.”

The other issue you rectify with vending is what Mr Willitts refers to as “squirrel storing” where employees put equipment in their locker for use later. If this occurs on a large scale, demand can unnecessarily increase. Using SmartVend to issue parts and products not only removes the concern amongst the staff that their equipment might run out but also discourages ‘squirreling’ behaviours. In addition, the vending machines will protect the stock from damage prior to use which is particularly relevant in dirty or heavy engineering environments.

The vending machines can also be used to ensure staff are following correct health and safety protocol and are using the correct safety equipment. “Not only do you have an accurate log of who has had what,” says Noakes, “but possibly more importantly, you can see if someone is failing to correctly protect themselves.”

For more information visit

Or contact John Holden
National Accounts Director,
Hayley Group
P: 0121 550 2233
E: [email protected]