Little Friends Plans for a Safe Return to In-Person Schooling

February 15, 2021  |  Warrenville, IL

Background

Since 1965, the Little Friends® nonprofit agency has been fulfilling lives regardless of challenge. Their groundbreaking programs empower people of all ages experiencing autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities to live, learn, work and thrive in their communities.

Not long ago, Little Friends moved to a new facility and can now provide more programming to the growing needs of those they serve. As school closures caused by the pandemic started to lift, Little Friends began preparing for students to safely return to full-time, in-person learning.

Challenge

Health and Safety Concerns

Before coming back to in-person learning, staff and students’ health and safety were top priorities. Plexiglass partitions were installed, social distancing and mask protocols were adopted, and a nightly cleaning schedule was implemented. In addition to these mitigation measures, Little Friends sought a way to give parents peace of mind that shared iPad devices would also be routinely sanitized.

Variety of Devices Needs

The organization prides itself on providing programs for people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors–so it’s no surprise that device needs vary. Staff use mobile devices for record keeping, while teachers have laptops. iPads are available in Pre-K to 3rd-grade classrooms, and 4th graders and up are assigned Chromebooks. Various technology needs resulted in the need for a flexible solution to store, charge and lock many device types.

Smaller Class Sizes

Because class sizes are small with a max of 8 students per classroom, selecting compact charging and disinfection solutions was key. Products that are easily accessible and fit well in the daily routine for both staff and students were an essential requirement.

Solution

Like the comprehensive plan Little Friends creates for each child, they also needed a comprehensive strategy for charging, storing, securing and sanitizing shared iPad devices. Having worked with LocknCharge before, Mike Briggs, President & CEO of Little Friends, was very familiar with LocknCharge solutions. He made what he referred to as an “easy decision” to purchase 25 Carrier™ 10 Charging Stations and 25 UVone™ UV-C Disinfection Stations. 

Because the UVone units are mounted right next to Carrier 10 Charging Stations in classrooms, devices can be quickly sanitized before storing and charging overnight. The ability to select the proper charging station and pair it with a disinfection station ensured that the complete solution was tailored to their needs. Here are some other benefits these two solutions offer:

Rapid UV-C Technology with UVone

Fits into Any Environment

The UVone Station fits nicely in their overall in-person learning plans, and teachers are excited to have this technology in their classrooms.

Peace of Mind

Because iPad devices are shared by several students, UVone gives parents peace of mind that added precautions are being taken for mobile device disinfection.

Touchless

With touchless sensors, UVone reduces cross-contamination and is simple for kids to operate.

Funded

Like many schools across the U.S. that have tapped into the funding set aside in the CARES Act, Little Friends was able to leverage allocations through the allowable use for sanitization and cleaning to purchase UVone devices.

"UVone provides parents the confidence that shared devices are disinfected."

- Mike Briggs, President & CEO of Little Friends

Wall-Mountable Carrier Charging Stations

Compact

These compact charging stations look great and don’t occupy floor or counter space when mounted to a wall.

Reliable

Carrier 10 easily does the job it’s supposed to do–charging, storing and securing devices. Cables and charging supplies stay organized in a separate compartment, allowing for quick plug-in after each use.

Flexible

With eight students max per class, a smaller charging station with a lower capacity met the needs of their 1:1 program.

Compatible

Carrier Stations are universal, meaning they work with most devices–including iPads, Chromebooks, laptops and tablets–which can be deployed with ease using Baskets.

What’s Next?

With grants, Little Friends will continue to invest in state-of-the-art technology, including robots to assist children with speech therapy. They’re committed to creating tech champions who explore innovative digital technology. The leadership team at Little Friends understands that these investments bring an incredible opportunity to incorporate new methods of teaching and learning.

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Webinar: How to Integrate Break/Fix Workflow with FUYL Tower API

Originally Aired: 1/28/21

In this webinar, Jon Harrer, Technical Sales Rep at LocknCharge, covers how to integrate our FUYL Tower Smart Locker and LocknCharge Cloud software into an existing IT infrastructure.

Get a 60-Day Trial

Reach out to Jon directly or "Contact Us" for a 60-day trial of FUYL Tower and the LocknCharge Cloud software.

Jon Harrer, Technical Sales Rep at LocknCharge
jon.h@lockncharge.com  |  (920) 342-4258

Want to Learn More?

For more information, check out this article about streamlining and simplifying device exchange.

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Reflections on 2020: Striving to Strengthen the Communities We Serve

Every year, LocknCharge partners with nonprofits and donates resources while promoting volunteer time off for our employees. While those partnerships and volunteer opportunities looked a little different this year, they were no less meaningful. Here are just a few of the ways we were able to work together with our community in 2020 through innovative programs that strengthen the communities that have supported us.

From Lightning Cables to Unicorn Post-Its, Clearing Lists across the U.S.

When it’s time to go back-to-school, the majority of teachers find themselves scrambling for much-needed school supplies, often spending their own money. In 2020, educators still looked for help to fulfill their school wish lists, regardless of whether students were learning face-to-face, remotely or a hybrid of the two.

Understanding what a challenging year it was on educators, students and schools, LocknCharge launched a #ClearTheList drawing in September to make a tough situation just a little bit better. We donated $500 to two lucky schools, but the giving didn’t stop there. From lightning cables to unicorn post-its, LocknCharge is proud to have also helped #CleartheList of more than 20 educators in schools all over the country.

As always, we were overwhelmed by the response, especially when we received this heartfelt message from Ms. Garrett, a 4th-grade teacher at Newton County Schools in Covington, Georgia.

“I received my box of goodies today—it was like Christmas! The pencils are my favorite, and the headphones are much needed. My students just started an independent research project, so we will be using those first thing tomorrow morning! Seriously, thank you so much!”

Virtually Running for Her

The Aruna Project, which works tirelessly to fight for enslaved women’s freedom and dignity, made the difficult choice to go virtual in 2020. Thankfully, after several years of sponsoring the in-person Madison Aruna Run, LocknCharge still had the privilege of supporting this noble cause. Sponsoring the Aruna Virtual Run helped continue the project’s mission of freeing, employing, and empowering sexually enslaved women in India.

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Helping Healthcare Heroes

Early on in the pandemic, when we learned of the need to get personal protective equipment into the hands of medical staff, 10k surgical masks and 300 goggles were donated to our local LocknCharge communities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Speaking of healthcare heroes, our entire LocknCharge Europe, the Middle East and Africa team went the distance to support the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. They ran 5km, donated £5 and nominated five partners to join the challenge. All donations went to NHS Charities Together, with proceeds to help buy wellbeing packs for staff and volunteers, as well as things like travel, parking, accommodation and food costs.

NHS

You Better Watch Out!

After making a list and checking it twice, Santa came early to five lucky schools this year. Santa’s elf and Customer Success Manager Courtney White generously donated LocknCharge products and delivered them to educators in Florida and Georgia. Pictured below in her sparkly green cap is Courtney, along with the recipients from Crooms Academy for Technology, Forsyth County Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Lee County Pre K, Newton County Schools.

One school was so excited, they had their Joey Cart cabled, loaded with devices, and moved into the pre-K classroom before Santa’s elf even left the building! The I.T. tech said it was, “The easiest cart I’ve ever wired.”

As we reflect upon 2020 and embark upon 2021, we want to thank our entire LocknCharge family for your continued support. We truly couldn’t have gotten through the year without you!

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How to Improve the Retail Customer Experience with Mobile Solutions

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“Technology is rewriting operating models across every sector of the economy, but nowhere do we feel this more in our day-to-day lives than in retail.”
– McKinsey & Company

New technologies, such as iPad POS systems, have changed the way businesses operate, enhancing efficiency and productivity as well as reducing costs and boosting profits. You may not think of your local grocery store or nearby outlet mall as hubs for innovation, but the retail industry is on the cutting edge of the emerging tech explosion, especially when it comes to mobile solutions that enhance customer shopping experiences. As McKinsey & Company states, “Technology is rewriting operating models across every sector of the economy, but nowhere do we feel this more in our day-to-day lives than in retail.”

The Retail Shift to Mobile

Retailers see customers with a mobile devices as opportunities to push location-based notifications with offers and coupons, give information on where to find items in a brick-and-mortar stores, and create additional purchase options if an item is out of stock. Technology for retailers is also simplifying the checkout process by offering mobile payment or scan-and-go, which bypasses the checkout line completely. 

These days, many retailers are shifting their focus by offering mobile solutions for associates too. According to the BRP POS/Customer Engagement Survey, mobile devices and tablets are growing faster than other technology in stores, with some retailers phasing out kiosks and traditional POS terminals.

Mobile devices in the hands of customer-facing associates enhance the customer experience by facilitating faster checkouts, collecting customer data and viewing accurate inventory status in real-time. Behind the scenes, these tools improve efficiency when used by employees for processing buy online/pickup in store (BOPIS) orders and in conjunction with “smart shelves” for restocking.

 “Many retailers are scrambling to adjust to the ‘Amazon Effect’ and are exploring order fulfillment automation to try to increase the speed and flexibility of operations in order to compete with Amazon.”
- Forbes

Mobility Solutions for Seamless Warehousing

The pandemic has accelerated the e-commerce trend, with online order volumes exploding at historic levels. 2020 online shopping growth in the U.S. jumped more than 30% year-over-year. The sudden shift to online shopping from physical locations have accelerated omnichannel retail trends, such as BOPIS, curbside-pickup, and home delivery. “Many retailers are scrambling to adjust to the ‘Amazon Effect’ and are exploring order fulfillment automation to try to increase the speed and flexibility of operations in order to compete with Amazon,” explains Forbes.

Three mobility automation solutions in warehouse technology that are helping retailers meet new challenges.

  • Tablet-enabled Robots: Retailers use autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) such as the Locus Robotics 3PLs for fulfillment warehouses to cost-effectively keep up with huge demand, customer expectations, and limited labor availability.
  • Zebra Printers: Bluetooth-enabled mobile thermal printers generate high-quality receipts for BOPIS customers who enjoy online-quality convenience at a physical store.
  • Handheld Scanners: Barcodes make it possible to track inventory more accurately while scanning devices allow warehouse workers to quickly locate, pick, ship, and deliver products seamlessly to customers. Smart shelving can also be connected to handheld devices, so employees know when goods are received, placed on a shelf, or leave the warehouse.
Devices like tablets and smartphones make it easier for employees to work anywhere, increasing productivity and responsiveness.
Why Mobilize?

To better understand the drivers behind workforce mobilization and best practices of those deployments, we surveyed over 15,000 organizations for a data-driven look at the current state of workforce mobilization. Our survey found that 86% of organizations are now in the research or pilot phase of deploying devices. Respondents embrace workplace mobilization for three key reasons:

1. Improve Communications

Mobilization helps employees and customers connect more easily and generates speedier response times. Facilitating faster checkout with a mobile POS in a retail environment can also positively influence revenue. Not to mention, “Mobile POS lowers the overall cost of ownership by eliminating or minimizing the need for ‘big iron’ (a thick-client cash register) at store level and virtually eliminating annual hardware maintenance fees,” explains BRP

2. Faster Transaction Processing

Faster transaction processing is a major contributor to the push toward mobilization. Devices like tablets and smartphones make it a breeze for employees to work anywhere, increasing productivity and responsiveness.

3. Eliminating Manual/Paper Processes

What 66% of organizations seek to impact most by eliminating manual processes is reduced operating overhead and increased revenue. A sales associate in a retail environment armed with a mobile POS can check out customers on the spot, increasing customer store sales, inventory turnover, and upsell opportunities.

Think Beyond Rollout for Successful Mobile Deployment

Because so many organizations are still in the early stages of mobile deployment, their goal may be to simply get devices in employees’ hands. But it’s essential to think beyond rollout. The sustainability of mobile deployment also depends on answering questions like, “What happens when the devices aren’t in use? How can we secure and disinfect them? Where will they be stored?” Fortunately LocknCharge solutions hold the key successful mobilization projects with the answers to these questions.

Automate Time-Wasting Manual Processes and Minimize Device Downtime with FUYL Towers

While many devices are shared, only 27% of organizations have considered centralized storing or charging as part of their deployment. This is often because organizations are most concerned with selecting the device itself and the apps or content for the device. They aren’t thinking about how the devices will be deployed, charged, stored and secured when not in use. Because devices are prevalent in our daily lives, organizations tend to overestimate employees’ abilities to safely charge, store, and maintain their business devices. The LocknCharge FUYL Tower offers a complete hardware and software solution. Efficiently charge, store, secure and manage workflow for phones, tablets, handheld scanners and other mobile devices in individually-lockable compartments. FUYL Towers work seamlessly in the following situations:

  • Check in/out: Designate who can access the FUYL charging tower in advance or on the fly. Towers track who has taken a specific device and when it has been returned.
  • Shared Devices: Employees can easily share the same set of devices, no problem. Pre-set access to a specific locker to limit who can access each device. Employees can also charge, store and secure personal mobile devices during their shift. Like a school locker, but way better.
  • Break/Fix: Reduce device downtime and minimize the burden on your IT team by automating your break/fix workflow. Employees can quickly drop off a broken device in the FUYL Tower and retrieve a loaner device while theirs is being repaired.
Easily Integrate Mobile Devices into Your Workflow with Putnam Charging Stations

If ensuring device apps and data are up-to-date can be considered software maintenance, then storing, securing, and charging the device could be considered hardware maintenance. Multi-device charging stations such as Putnam™ 18 Tower or Putnam 8 and 16 Charging Stations save time by seamlessly integrating mobile devices into your workflow. They also contribute to reducing other mobilization pains, such as theft and loss, and offer these benefits:

  • A centralized point of charging with numbered slots ensures that devices are put back where they came from—and that they’re always charged and ready to go.
  • Only takes up as much desk space as a sheet of scrapbook paper. Now that’s compact!
  • Putnam 18 Tower slot dimensions are optimized to work with many different devices.
  • Putnam 8 and 16 Charging Stations feature an external LED lights show deivce charging status so users alays know which devices are charged and ready to go.
Increase Hygiene Compliance with UVone UV Disinfection for Mobile Devices

Most stores and warehouses are now focusing on strict CDC recommended disinfection regimes, including cleaning objects and surfaces that are frequently touched, such as conveyor rollers, packaging equipment, tablets, phones and keyboards. As mobile device usage becomes more widespread in retail, sanitization of these often-used tools is even more critical. UVone UV-C disinfection for mobile devices helps mitigate the spread of viral bacteria anywhere devices are being used or shared and includes these features:

  • Compatible with almost any device.
  • Works in just 30 seconds, making it six times quicker than traditional wipes.
  • With touchless sensors, users never physically touch the station, reducing cross-contamination.
  • Reduces SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by 99.99%*—which is 10x more effective than leading disinfecting wipes.

Schedule a Live Product Demo

Mobile deployments within retail are exploding. Luckily LocknCharge has solutions that retailers like Tiffany, Hugo Boss, Clarins and more have found perfect for storing, charging and securing devices when not in use. Learn more about our ideal solutions for the deployment of mobile devices in your store or warehouse.

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*LocknCharge's kill rate claims are based on data conducted by accredited, BSL-compliant laboratories. For more information about our testing data, please visit www.lockncharge.com/uvone-testing-data.

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How Much Does Your Device Repair and Replacement Process Really Cost?

As more employees shift to working partly in person and partly remote, technology mishaps are bound to happen. At home, kids spill drinks on laptops, pets step on keyboards and food crumbs damage circuitry. Then there’s the accidental damage that goes along with lugging your devices to and from the office, not to mention the increase in forgotten charging cords, power supplies and other vital equipment. Word to the wise, don’t set your laptop and coffee on top of your car while fumbling to open the door. Those are essential tools to getting work done that shouldn’t be left on the road behind you!

One of the top complaints by IT staff is that they don’t have enough time to complete their current workload. Despite that, when nearly 20% of mobile devices break or go missing each year, the burden usually falls on them. Not only is this a drain on your tech team’s time, but it also adds a significant amount of downtime for employees who are unable to work. When devices are lost or damaged, all productivity and communication come to a screeching halt.

Have you ever asked yourself just how much time your IT department wastes physically running around gathering and replacing broken devices or supplying cables? Consider this:

  • The average fully-burdened labor cost for IT technical work ranges between $75 and $150 per hour  
  • When working in an office, it takes about an hour to exchange a device manually
  • The average number of laptop and devices exchanges per week per location is around 5

That’s over 250 hours and nearly $25k spent annually by your IT Team just exchanging devices! While it may not be possible to eradicate all system and equipment issues, there’s a better solution to decrease device downtime and reduce workloads. One that doesn’t include hiring more people, creating more manual workarounds or spending even more money outsourcing the issue altogether.

Streamline and Simplify Laptop Exchange Workflow

By deploying a cloud-based smart locker such as a FUYL Tower 5 or 15, you can eliminate many of the manual workflow processes of break/fix programs and simplify replacing damaged, lost or forgotten devices, tools, accessories and more.

Automate Your Break/Fix Program

Centralize and automate your time-wasting manual break/fix program more easily than you think with a smart charging locker. A FUYL Tower 5 or 15 allows you to keep several devices charged, secure and connected in a location in your building that can be accessed by onsite workers or nearby remote workers.

With FUYL Towers, a manual process that once took an hour to complete now takes less than a minute.

When a staff member breaks a device, simply send them to the locker to get a replacement. Not only does this solution save time and money, but it can also make your team’s lives easier. Employees can simply swap their broken device for a new one and be on their way with a new device for the day. With FUYL Towers, a manual process that once took an hour to complete now takes less than a minute!

To automate this process even further, FUYL Towers can be integrated with your current IT ticketing system, such as ServiceNow, Remedy or another ITSM platform with API integration, to automatically find a Tower bay that is suitable for the user and notify the user with directions to collect their device.

Simplify Replacement of Devices, Tools and More

FUYL Towers accommodate and charge almost any device, with or without cases. But what happens when your employee needs a different piece of equipment, such as a lost cable? Or when HR has paperwork to be signed? We recognize that employees often need more than just a laptop to perform their jobs. With a FUYL Tower, simplify the distribution of any item that fits a 14” (W) x 17” (L) x 3” (H) slot. Grant specific users access to individual bays by using their RFID badge or assigned PIN code. Employees can then easily access supplies, and you can view a detailed event log to know who accessed bays and when.

Read more tips to better manage remote workers, including the steps to deploy a zero-touch model for maintaining devices and equipment.

Automate the Check-in/Check-out Process Ready-to-go Devices

With a FUYL Tower filled with ready-to-go devices, you’ll reduce in-person interactions and speed up the check-in/check-out process. Just ask the IT team of one of the largest energy companies in the U.S. who recently automated their device check-in/check-out process. They deployed a fleet of mobile devices for their customer-facing departments to achieve greater operating efficiencies, adapt to evolving regulatory requirements, provide complete and accurate information to field employees and better communicate with the field. With the addition of mobile devices, they needed to implement a system to help manage this technology. The solution was to utilize FUYL Towers to help manage their devices. With the FUYL Tower, the IT team can assign specific lockers and devices to employees and restrict and monitor access to these devices. This process added another layer of accountability for employee devices and streamlined IT’s ability to manage thousands of devices remotely. The FUYL Towers have helped automate a manual process of managing devices and ensure that field technicians have the information they need to do their jobs effectively.  

Top 5 Benefits of a Secure Charging Tower for Business

By automating the clunky manual device replacement process, LocknCharge FUYL Tower 5 or 15 charging lockers allow organizations to save a considerable amount of time, not to mention reduce staff frustration caused by frequent interruptions.

Get a return on investment between 10 to 16 weeks.
  1. Get a return on investment between 10 to 16 weeks. Whether your associates are checking out devices daily or you’re seeking to automate your loaner program, the average ROI is no more than four months.
  2. Leverage in device check-in and check-out environments. Easily store fully-charged, ready-to-use devices inside the locker bay until the administrator provides access to a user. Administrators can also assign a specific compartment to a single user.
  3. Address safety concerns and reduce risk. The system offers self-service with the swipe of an RFID badge, eliminating the need for human intervention to check out a device or pick up a loaner.
  4. Easily scale as your business grows. The LocknCharge Cloud allows you to manage thousands of users and shave time off tasks you once had to do manually. These minutes gained by everyone involved help to increase ROI.
  5. Rely on us for peace of mind. Our customer support has a world-class Net Promoter Score (NPS), and our products come with a lifetime warranty to ensure peace of mind.

Schedule a Live Product Demo

If you’re curious how FUYL Tower could integrate into your operational workflow, we’re here to help. LocknCharge exists to make life easier for mobile technology users by creating solutions that ensure accessibility and usability of devices at all times. Get in touch with LocknCharge today!

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