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Mobile technology is infinitely changing and mobiles devices continue to shape our work place. Read about the technology and devices that shape LocknCharge solutions, and potentially your working and learning environment.

Smart Locker 101: Understanding the Basics

What is a Smart Locker?

A smart locker combines locker hardware with a powerful cloud-based software platform, together allowing organisations to control who can access the locker and at what time. A smart locker can automate the exchange of physical assets without the need for human interaction. Software allows administrators to remotely control access to individual locker bays and track all events happening at the physical smart locker.

What Types of Smart Lockers Are Out There?

There are a variety of smart lockers on the market that vary in size, shape, capacity and purpose. They are powered by software that differs in sophistication, depending on the use case.

The main types of smart lockers are: 

  • Smart charging lockers
  • Day-use lockers 
  • Vending lockers 
  • Food service pick-up lockers 
  • Parcel lockers 
  • Asset distribution and tracking lockers

What is a Smart Charging Locker Used For?

A smart charging locker is used primarily to automate distribution and/or collection of mobile devices such as phones, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets or iPads. Charging ports inside individually-lockable bays ensure devices are always charged and ready to go.

Organisations implement smart charging lockers for several reasons: to streamline broken device exchanges, to simplify daily device checkouts or to offer secure public charging on demand. Smart charging lockers ensure devices are always accessible, charged and ready for employees, students or customers who need devices to work or learn.

How Do Smart Lockers Work?

Smart lockers work by connecting hardware and cloud-based software to provide convenient access to assets inside the locker without meeting in person.

Here's how a smart locker works for broken or lost device exchanges:

Prep: Smart locker is stocked with loaner devices

  1. User breaks or loses their device
  2. User contacts appropriate party (typically the IT team) and waits for response
  3. IT checks locker stock remotely; contacts user with instructions to access the locker
  4. User goes to locker any time, opens specific door with admin-assigned PIN or RFID
  5. User takes loaner, leaves broken device; Cloud records transaction
  6. If device needs to be swapped once fixed, IT contacts user
  7. User collects fixed device any time at same location
  8. Cloud records transaction so the Admin can see activity happening at the locker

Here's how a smart locker works for check in/out or shared device programs:

Prep: IT team sets up users in the cloud portal and assigns users access to groups of lockers, individual lockers or even specific bays

  1. User selects assigned locker bay, opens door with assigned RFID/PIN
  2. User takes charged loaner device
  3. When finished, user returns device to same bay; if device is shared with another user, it's ready for next person
  4. Admin can see device has been returned via Cloud or via other ticketing system integration

Here's how a smart locker works for secure public charging on demand:

  1. User identifies an empty smart locker bay and enters bay number on the locker keypad
  2. User swipes RFID badge or creates a PIN to open selected door
  3. User places device inside bay and plugs in device
  4. User closes the door to lock it
  5. Device is securely charging
  6. User repeats process when ready to retrieve device
  7. Locker usage is recorded in the Cloud

What Industries Use Smart Lockers? 

Smart lockers are used by industries who need to remotely control access to physical assets like mobile devices while keeping devices charged, secured and ready to go. Some of the top verticals are: 

  • Education
  • Manufacturing 
  • Energy 
  • Airlines 
  • Transportation
  • Hospitality & Entertainment

Who Can Access a Smart Locker?

Smart lockers can be used in different modes to streamline user access:

Assigned Access

For assigned access, remote admins set up users in the cloud portal and designate who they want to access a specific locker or bay at any given time. Once the bay has been opened, the remote admin can view who accessed the bay via the cloud software portal.

Periodical (Daily/Weekly) Use

Employees such as shift workers, field crews or substitute teachers can easily access specific Towers or bays to check out assets needed on a regular (daily, weekly, etc.) basis.

One-Time Use

A smart locker can be used to swap assets, like mobile devices, through an automated process on an as-needed basis. This may include triaging broken, lost or stolen device issues that need to be addressed quickly.

Unassigned, On-Demand Access

For public, on-demand access, a smart locker is a secure and convenient place to store personal belongings such as mobile devices.

The user simply identifies an available bay and tucks their items inside. They can reserve the bay by following prompts on the locker display to create a user-defined PIN or by presenting an RFID card.

Once they close the door, their items are secure and charging until they retrieve their items using the same PIN or RFID.

Public usage is tracked in the cloud for remote admins to monitor as needed.

What Problems Does a Smart Locker Solve?  

Organisations install smart charging lockers to combat the following problems: 

  1. Wasted time of skilled staff doing entry-level tasks such as delivering, tracking and managing broken or lost devices. 
  2. Inability to work or learn while device users wait for a loaner device or wait to check out a device.
  3. Unorganised processes and delayed work caused by devices that are not readily accessible nor ready for use. 
  4. Lack of accountability for devices that are mistreated during use or are not properly returned after use. 
  5. Increased theft and data breaches for devices that are not physically secured after use.

Why Should You Use a Smart Locker?

A smart locker can be used to save an organisation significant time and money by automating cumbersome tasks that would normally require scheduled meetings between multiple people.

Why would an employee, teacher or student use a smart locker?

Smart charging lockers can minimise device downtime by ensuring convenient, around-the-clock access to mission-critical tech. 

Broken, lost or stolen devices can bring about serious working and learning disruptions, causing employees or students to fall behind.

Employees (such as shift workers, field crews or substitute teachers) who need access to a charged, ready-to-go device rely on an efficient check-out process to start their day.

Why would a department manager or tech professional use a smart locker?

A smart charging locker can automate the delivery and tracking of assets. Rather than being interrupted by broken, forgotten or lost mobile devices-managers or teachers can stay focused on more important work.

The cloud software that powers the locker can track locker usage for "who, what and when", adding a layer of accountability to ensure devices are cared for during use and returned after use. Accountability reduces breakage and device loss.

Smart lockers can mitigate theft of loss of devices, protecting organisations from costly data breaches.

With the influx of mobile devices in schools and businesses, tech teams are becoming overwhelmed with daily device management. It can be difficult to find adequate talent to fill necessary IT roles. Smart lockers can help bridge the IT labor market shortage by eliminating lower-level tasks that would otherwise be laborious to complete.

How Much Do Smart Lockers Cost?

Smart locker costs start as low as £800/€950 and go as high as £16,000/€19,000+. The cost depends on many factors including available hardware features, features of the cloud software, and possible customisation of hardware or software.

Organisations looking to facilitate broken device exchanges, manage loaner or daily device checkout programs or offer public charging on-demand often select a smart locker in the mid-range. These lockers typically offer a wide breadth of useful hardware and software features, open API to integrate with other external systems and provide regular cloud upgrades/updates.

When budgeting for a smart locker, consider the costs of your current process:

  • Lost time or wages of staff managing the program
  • Missed opportunities caused by device downtime

When comparing costs, narrow in on:

  • Features you really need
  • Longevity and long-term flexibility of the solution
  • Total cost of ownership
  • Quality and responsiveness of customer support

What Important Features Should You Consider When Evaluating a Smart Locker?

When evaluating a smart locker solution, here are some key features to consider.

Agile, In-House Software Development Team 

Internal resources dedicated to consistent Cloud feature releases and enhancements ensure smart locker software will pivot to meet your tech program needs well into the future. 

Security Features 

The cloud-based software should include features like Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Single Sign-On to protect your organisation's data. Quality locker construction will keep devices physically safe while stored inside a locker. 

Administrative Access 

It is important that smart locker administrators can remotely control locker access (who, what, when) via a cloud-based portal. It is also important that lockers can be accessed locally via the locker display, so on-site staff can manage day-to-day usage as needed. 

Wi-Fi Compatible 

Choosing a smart locker that can work over Wi-Fi gives your organisation flexibility to install the locker in the best possible location without investing in costly cabling infrastructure. 

External System Integrations 

Managing locker users and workflow with tools-such as external directory integrations, help desk software integrations, open API with no call limits, and web hooks-makes process automation endless.

Why Choose a LocknCharge Smart Locker?

Organizations choose LocknCharge as their smart charging lover for a varsety of reasons.

LocknCharge's FUYL Tower™ Smart locker is designed to solve pain points that organisations experience using and managing mobile device technology in day-to-day operations.

FUYL Tower can save valuable resources and time for staff and students. They maximise productivity by ensuring devices are accessible and ready-to-go when needed - and that they're secure when not in use.

Schools or businesses looking to facilitate broken device exchanges, manage loaner or daily device checkout programs or offer public charging on-demand select LocknCharge for the wide breadth of critical hardware and software features, open API able to integrate with other external systems, consistent customer-centric cloud enhancements, superior product quality and exceptional customer support.

We are dedicated to making life easier for our customers.

Want to Learn More About Smart Lockers?

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Charging Lockers
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