Management of PPE allocation made simple

Issue 7 2020 Editor's Choice

Of all the roadblocks and challenges COVID‐19 has introduced us to over the past few months, one of the tasks organisations have to manage is the issuing of PPE (personal protective equipment) to its staff. The new rules say that companies can have people returning to work, but those companies must ensure a safe workplace, which means making the appropriate PPE available to staff.

Some of these rules would require companies to have hand sanitiser available all over the workplace, and to ensure that masks are worn – and issued. The problem often arises that staff may be issued with PPE, a mask, coveralls, eye protection and gloves for example, and then forget to bring it with them the next day.

They will then ask for another set of PPE to be issued – or possibly just stock up on PPE for other reasons.

While one or two extra masks are not a big issue, where specialised PPE is issued regularly or when hundreds or thousands of people have to use PPE, such as at a university, the costs can quickly soar.

While the costs will vary depending on the supplier and quantities purchased, an indication of the costs per week per employee or contractor are:

• Cloth mask: R25 per mask.

• Coveralls: R286,20 per coverall.

• Mask respirator: R37,80 per mask.

• Eye protection: R100,44 each.

• Gowns: R113,40 each.

This is a problem the University of the Western Cape experienced and it turned to Powell Tronics, the company that provides the university’s access control solutions, to see if they could come up with a solution. Powell Tronics developed its Personal Protective Equipment Manager (PPEM) that runs on mobile devices and is integrated into the university’s access control system. Now that it is running successfully at the university, Powell Tronics is offering the same solution to anyone that requires it, and it does not need to be integrated into an access control system.

How it works

The PPEM solution is available in Basic and Advanced versions. The Basic version is integrated with Impro access control solutions. When somebody comes to collect their appropriate PPE, their employee number is typed into the mobile app (running on an Android device). If they are a registered member of staff or a student, their image appears on the screen as an additional security check.

The person is then issued the PPE and the time, date and location is noted in the database. If the same individual tries to obtain another set of PPE before the appropriate time for a new set – which the organisation can set – or at a different location, the app will notify the user that stock has been issued to that person and they are not eligible to receive more yet.


Different employees might require more or less PPE depending on their jobs. This can also be set in the system, allowing people to receive their equipment at different times. Reports can also be generated when required to show how many PPEs were issued, where they were issued and to whom they were issued. This useful data can also be used by the institution as verification that PPE was indeed issued to all staff and contractors, for example.

The advanced version

The advanced version has been expanded to allow for more use‐cases. It will work with Impro’s Access Portal, but is also integrated with Microsoft’s Active Directory – which means that you don’t necessarily need an access control system. In this instance it will check with the organisation’s Active Directory database to check if the person is registered.

Additionally, it allows the issuer to capture an image of the person if no picture exists in the database. It can also scan the person’s ID barcode, eliminating the requirement to input the employee number. Naturally, the employee number can be used instead of the ID barcode.

Additionally, the PPEM can operate as a stand‐alone application, keeping its own database to record the issuance of PPE. Companies can also add custom logos on the Android app and the web‐based management pages.

An additional report will also be available to management that highlights who was supposed to collect their PPE, but has not done so. This can be enhanced by sending an SMS to people who have not collected their kit.

The Android app can be installed on the devices Powell Tronics supplies for PT-PPE or issues for its visitor management and other solutions, or on any Android phone the customer chooses.


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