Schools in “Survival Mode” Find Staffing Relief Through Smart Locker Automation

PRESS RELEASE: US News | September 1, 2022

The US education system is enduring a teacher shortage crisis.

stressed school teacher

Post-pandemic burnout, comparatively low pay, and difficulty managing the educational and emotional needs of students are some reasons teachers are leaving the profession.

The teacher shortage is forcing full-time teachers to surrender prep time to cover classes, and principals are being pulled from their responsibilities to teach. However, pooling existing resources doesn’t even scratch the surface. Many states are granting emergency substitute teaching licenses to fill the void. One school district in Illinois employs 100 daily substitute teachers in a school system of 450 full-time teachers.

One of the unsung heroes within a school are the substitute coordinators. They are responsible for providing incoming subs with the information and tools they need. With 1:1 device programs as the new norm, substitute teachers are often required to use a tablet or laptop for student communication and to access lesson plans. Managing this technology has placed an additional burden on sub coordinators and IT teams alike. Due to the influx of daily subs, sub coordinators are under stress when checking in teachers for the day, and substitute teachers are frazzled before they even step foot in a classroom.

One innovative way schools are improving conditions is by using a smart locker to automate the substitute teacher check in/check out processes. Here’s how it works: a FUYL TowerTM Smart Locker, powered by LocknCharge Cloud, stores fully-charged devices and other teaching materials in individually-lockable bays. The substitute teacher is assigned a bay and a PIN number, allowing them to quickly access items inside without assistance.

Because sub coordinators start early in the morning and are typically gone before the end of the school day, a smart locker provides a secure location for teachers to return and charge devices without oversight.

This approach also benefits IT teams who spend less time locating and replacing missing devices. Tower activity is logged in the LocknCharge Cloud portal to show when and by who a bay was accessed.

With droves of new full-time teachers entering the district mid-year, smart lockers are also being used to automate new teacher onboarding. The result is a reduction in stress and less wasted time throughout the school system.

To learn more, contact LocknCharge – the experts in device management solutions for schools.

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Why Airline Technology Should Include Mobile Device Smart Charging Lockers

Airline Pilot on Tablet Device in Cockpit

The Current State of the Airline Industry

The airline industry has always been an early adopter of technology to drive efficiency, enhance customer experience and increase margins. As costs surrounding the business of flying increase, and the focus on sustainability becomes ever more prevalent, so this dependency on technology has increased.

However, there are vulnerabilities that threaten to outweigh the advantages to tech investments, and some are beginning to have the opposite effect. One such airline technology vulnerability is that mobile devices, critical to operations, are often costing airlines money, just when they can least afford it.

The airline industry is in a phase of recovery following the unprecedented closure of international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced and voluntary redundancies of pilots, cabin crew, customer service agents and ground staff are proving a challenge to replace, while the industry simultaneously battles increased fuel costs and stretched supply chains.

Airline Staff Shortage Challenges

According to Airlines for America, there is a shortfall of around 13,000 aviation jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is a particular issue in the US market but is also having far-reaching effects across the European and Asian aviation landscape.

“The staff shortages mean that we are struggling to operate our planned schedule with the quality and punctuality we promise,” Jens Ritter, the CEO of Lufthansa’s main German airline, said in a recent LinkedIn post, apologizing for cancelled flights in Munich and Frankfurt. “Many people have left the aviation sector during the pandemic and found work elsewhere. Now, our system partners such as airports and caterers are experiencing an acute staff shortage and are struggling to hire new staff.” 

The issue with delays and cancellations in the US, due in part to staff shortages, led Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to announce that the US Government may take action to protect consumers by fining airlines that are in breach of their obligations. 

“No market is immune to the manpower issues so any window to address these can be seen as beneficial,” Brendan Sobie, Sobie Aviation.

This perfect storm has backed airlines into a corner, and as so often happens when change is reactive, the infrastructure is not always in place to ensure a successful integration of airline technology solutions.

The Value of Device Management for Airlines

Looking at the key scenarios and roles airline technology plays, it is easy to see why the business has developed such a dependency on mobile devices. Airlines run to a schedule, and their success depends on meeting the demands of that schedule. Devices may not be able to fly or land the planes, but their value in offering seamless communication between all the moving parts is critical to keeping allocated airport slots, meeting customer expectation and maximizing commercial opportunities. Time is money.

It has been estimated that c.25% of all delays on US flights are the responsibility of the airlines (the remainder being a combination of factors such as weather or national airspace issues) – and without getting weighed down in the complicated math, the cost to airlines is estimated at $74.20 per minute. Over the course of a year, delays cost an airline the equivalent of a brand new Boeing 777-300ER – or c. $442 million.

If a pilot mislays a flight schedule, a smartphone loses charge when needed to communicate with ground crew or a customer service team member can’t offer a potential customer a ticket, the cost implications compound to be seriously detrimental to the business’ bottom line.

This doesn’t even take into account lost potential revenue if a handheld POS device fails in-flight so crew members can’t maximize food and beverage sales. Effective device management has the potential to increase efficiency, contribute to reducing delays and add to the bottom line.

IT Department Stress is Compounding Labor Shortages

There are not just airline staff shortages in flight staff. Shortages in qualified IT engineers is a problem affecting a multitude of sectors – including aviation. In the US it is estimated that by 2026 there will be a shortfall of 1.2 million skilled IT workers. The challenge facing business managers is to retain staff and keep them in rewarding roles both in terms of salary and engagement.

Consider that each time a pilot, ground crew member or customer service representative requires a replacement device, someone from the IT department has to manually source, prepare and deliver the replacement. This time-heavy approach not only has a hard cost in lost technical hours to the business, but it also erodes the employee’s job satisfaction, increasing the threat of losing skilled labor.

Reduce Stress, Maintain the Schedule with Improved Device Management Processes

In a recent survey, LocknCharge examined the changing roles within IT, and we have used this insight to help understand how our suite of products can make a difference. Our extensive experience in providing solutions to fast-paced, time-critical work environments leaves us well placed to deliver 360° physical device management solutions.

The approach is to automate device management workflow to save time for both the tech team and the device user. This allows skilled IT technicians to prioritize their time more effectively across all important IT initiatives–not just device management. The key product to deliver this solution: The FUYL Tower Smart Locker powered by LocknCharge Cloud.

FUYL Tower Smart Charging Lockers for the Aviation Industry

The FUYL Tower Smart Locker provides a single point of storage and charging for the airline’s replacement devices, and makes devices available 24/7/365 - should a crew member need access to one.

The Tower fits seamlessly into busy workspaces such as the employee lounge or similar shared space. Each device securely stored inside the Tower is loaded with relevant software and content, ready to be checked out by the assigned airline staff member.

Should any updates or new apps be required, an optional Tower network kit can allow updates to be pushed from a remote location to devices inside the Tower. The same is true if a team member loses or breaks a device. A replacement device inside a Tower can be allocated remotely by an IT support person via the LocknCharge Cloud platform.

The FUYL Tower Smart Locker is a proven solution to improve working efficiencies for airlines and to save man hours from the IT side. IT can spend their time proactively managing airline technology to allow it to realize its potential, rather than fighting fires. It is simple, cost effective and a perfect fit for the aviation industry.

Pilots keep their essential flight manuals, flight attendants their price lists and card readers, and ground crew their mission-critical communication with customer service. The result – flights that run to schedule, sales goals that are met and happy customers who are delivered to their destinations on time.

When the schedule is critical to business viability, and there are challenges surrounding workforce numbers, LocknCharge’s practical, cost-effective device management solutions can help keep airlines flying.

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What is Industry 4.0?

man in smart manufacturing facility on tablet device

The world of manufacturing is changing – and changing fast. Tablets and smartphones are becoming factory floor essentials – much like the coal-fired steam engine during the 1st industrial revolution, the implementation of the assembly line in the 2nd revolution and computers in the 3rd revolution. 21st century technology and digital transformation have enabled the shift into Industry 4.0.

When did industry 4.0 start?

Industry 4.0 has been talked about since the start of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and began to gain traction around 2018. Put simply, Industry 4.0 is automated communication between machines and computers over a Cloud-connected network.

There are a number of facets to the concept – M2M Learning, AI, additive manufacturing such as 3D Printing, autonomous robotics and data management to name a few – but at the heart of the concept is tech-driven efficiency and productivity. In a nutshell, working smarter in every area of production to reduce waste, save time and increase margins.

What are the benefits of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing?

  • Increased productivity. Identifying bottlenecks in production can decrease production times, and predicting maintenance with smart machines can mitigate production issues before requiring shut-down.
  • Greater profitability. Automating order processing, materials handling, repetitive assembly tasks and supply chain tasks will speed up production times and improve the consistency and quality of the product. Less wasted time and materials, coupled with lower margins for error, mean greater profit.
  • Better data. As communication between machines improves, so does big data collection. The ability for computers and people to turn data into insight can improve operations – with the net result of hitting sustainability and efficiency targets.
  • Increased competitiveness. The US, Western European and Australian markets can benefit from Industry 4.0 technology investments that lower the costs of domestic production. This competitive edge allows a more manageable supply chain – keeping the manufacturing facility in closer proximity to consumer demand while also supporting the local economy.
  • Future proofing. In a post-pandemic McKinsey & Co survey of global industry (of which c.20% were US based), 94% of businesses surveyed stated that digital technologies allowed them to continue to function effectively during the COVID crisis. Conversely, those who had been slow to adopt technology – or even those who were still pondering the benefits of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing – fared significantly less well.

What is data management in manufacturing?

One way manufacturing facilities are working smarter is by utilizing digital management systems that ensure each industrial component is working at maximum efficiency. It is like individual components taking responsibility for their own health. To embrace this process, industry is undertaking a rapid transition to what is known as CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Software) and more recently EAM (Enterprise Asset Management).

The smart machines, enabled with CMMS and EAM, require two other vital components to complete the successful implementation of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing. The first of these is The Cloud – the centralized storage hub for data that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. This centralization integrates each part of the product journey from manufacture through to customer delivery – all stored safely and securely. The final piece of the puzzle are the handheld devices that provide the link between man and machine.

The value of mobile devices for Industry 4.0 in manufacturing.

From as early as 2015, CEOs of manufacturing businesses recognized the importance of mobile technology in improving industrial processes. In a PWC survey of manufacturing CEOs, mobility was considered the top tech priority. Since that time, as devices have become more accessible, more robust, and more powerful, they have become essential for facilitating Industry 4.0.

Mobile devices in manufacturing provide:

  • Portable and cost-effective tech to connect the component parts of the manufacturing process.
  • Real-time interaction between managers, maintenance teams and machines.
  • Powerful operating systems that enable complex applications such as augmented reality to facilitate problem solving and output planning.
  • Familiarity which reduces training time and increases adoption rates.

How are smart charging lockers being used in smart manufacturing?

Mobile device hardware provides the interface that delivers the information into the hands of human decision makers, and it is this part of the process that is vulnerable to loss, theft, breakage and mismanagement.

Traditional approaches to sharing hardware between shift workers can result in devices going missing, not being charged or not being updated regularly. With a simple adjustment toward providing centralized device management and storage, these issues can be overcome.

Real world application of smart lockers in manufacturing.

Blédina, an infant food brand owned by Danone France, has been working with LocknCharge on managing mobile device on their factory floor. Devices are being used by engineers to report issues on a production line to a remote manager. The engineer can receive a solution on the device and troubleshoot immediately. 

Mobile devices are critical to this process so devices must be accessible, charged, and secure when needed. In tandem with the Poka web and mobile app, Blédina uses FUYL Tower Smart Lockers powered by LocknCharge Cloud to improve employee efficiencies and deliver an effective device management program.

Factory workers and engineers can easily check out a device from a FUYL Tower at the beginning of their shift, without manager oversight. Tower access is tracked via the LocknCharge Cloud portal so managers know when a device was taken and if it has been returned. Device accountability for employees can deter device loss, theft and mismanagement.

The time saving benefits of intuitive, simple-to-use hardware and straightforward processes have led to eager adoption and tangible efficiency benefits. As one of the world’s leading B Corporations, going paperless and 100% digital was a critical pillar of Danone’s business strategy that has been enabled with LocknCharge’s Smart Locker solution.

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How Mobile Devices Help Field Reps Provide Better Service

Mobile workforce using mobile technology to improve communication and data entry accuracy

You may think of a Field Rep as someone who works for a utility company and comes to your house to service your cable box. However, Field Reps are common in many other industries; think mechanics, roadside vehicle service providers, public transportation agents, logistics operations and quality control/maintenance teams.

When Field Reps carry mobile devices, their lines of information and communication drastically open up in many ways. Mobile devices such as tablets and phones are now affording mobile employees a variety of benefits.

Benefits of Mobile Devices for Field Services

Instant Research and Information

Mobile devices give Field Reps access to a world’s worth of research on the go. They can gain insight into their customers and future leads, reflecting better on their company. Additionally, Field Reps working for organizations like energy companies and cable companies will be able to pull up important customer account information at the drop of a hat. Inventory, warranties, and numerous other documents can be at their fingertips. They won’t need to contact their call center, and their customers won’t need to dredge up paperwork.

Information Gathering

With a mobile device, Field Reps can quickly input or update a customers email address, phone number and other data. This also allows for fast follow-ups. Mobile employees such as roadside vehicle service providers can send a quick email or make a call from a mobile device. As companies grow and start to become more data savvy, Field Reps are gathering more data on their customers every time they meet, which allows companies to provide even better customer service.

Real-time data collection is extremely useful to companies because it provides up-to-date information that can be shared throughout an entire organization in seconds. Energy and utility company reps, for example, are able to record meter readings, upload photos of the assessed damage, etc. effortlessly and seamlessly. Real-time data entry ensures that information is recorded more efficiently and more accurately.

GPS

When mobile devices are equipped with location services, customers can know almost exactly when their Field Rep will show up. The mobile device can send a ping to the customer when the Field Rep is on their way, so they will always feel prepared and have a more accurate time estimate. On the other side, Field Reps will be able to more quickly and accurately find the place they’re going with simple GPS capabilities. Imagine if all quality control and maintenance teams used this method.

Instant, Real-Time Communication

Customers and mobile employees can communicate seamlessly–imagine customers never having to phone into a call center to be connected to their rep. If customers can connect directly with their field rep through text, chat or another messaging service, they will be impressed with their reps’ fast response times.

Tips for Efficiently Managing Mobile Devices for Field Service Reps

When you equip your Field Reps with mobile devices, it’s crucial to keep them secure and charged up. Businesses use LocknCharge charging stations or smart charging lockers to save time and money. Here are some quick tips to optimize efficiency for your field service reps:

Store and charge laptop, tablet or cell phone devices in a centralized location.

Centralized device charging sets your reps up for success by ensuring devices are charged, easy to access and ready for use at all times.

Secure devices when not in use.

Would it surprise you to learn that 41% of data breaches are due to lost or stolen devices? Because critical company and customer data is often stored on employee devices, it's important to keep them physically secure after use. Securing devices also helps reduce device breakage to save organizations money on replacement hardware.

Automate your daily device check in/out process.

Field Reps can check out a charged device at the beginning of a shift, spend the day on service calls using a device, and return the device at the end of the shift. With a Cloud-Connected Smart Locker, all of this can be facilitated without manager oversight.

Hold device users accountable.

A FUYL Tower Charging Locker powered by LocknCharge Cloud helps to ensure devices are cared for during use and properly returned after use. By tracking who accessed a bay and when it was accessed, device users are held to account. Remote visibility into the Cloud portal allows department managers or tech teams to see who took a device, when it was taken and when it was returned.

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5 Best iPad Charging Stations and Carts for Classrooms & Businesses

If your organization owns iPads for students or staff to complete their work, then you need a simple (and secure) way to store, charge, and distribute the devices. A high-quality storage system like an iPad classroom charging station or an iPad charging cart can solve this need.

Nothing hinders learning like grabbing an iPad, only to find that it isn’t fully charged. A high-quality iPad classroom charging station or cart lets your school safely store and charge iPads and transport them from one classroom to another.

When it comes to productivity in a business setting, an uncharged iPad device can have serious downstream consequences. Consider cost of the employee's downtime as well as a potential a lost sale due to a device that isn't working when needed.

Choosing the best iPad cart or best iPad charging station for your school or business depends on many factors, such as how many iPads you need to store at once and if device portability is important to your workflow.

At LocknCharge, we make iPad charging carts for schools and businesses as well as iPad classroom charging stations or office charging stations to meet a wide variety of needs.

5 Best iPad Charging Station Solutions for Schools and Businesses

1. iQ 10 Charging Station

  • Compatibility: iPad and tablet devices
  • Capacity: 10 devices

The iQ 10 Charging Station lets you charge, store, and secure up to 10 iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, or other tablet devices in a compact unit that can be mounted on a desk or wall.

A feature that is unique to LocknCharge iPad carts and charging stations is that the devices are stored in baskets of five devices each, making device distribution easy for teachers and students.

Welded steel construction and a hardened steel padlock protect your iPad devices while they’re not in use, and the product comes with a lifetime warranty.

2. Putnam Charging Station

  • Compatibility: iPad, tablet or cell phone devices
  • Capacity: 8 or 16 devices

Designed to charge, store, and secure up to 8 or 16 iPads or tablets, the Putnam Charging Station is a wall-mounted or stackable charging locker that features color-coded LED displays so you know when your devices are charged.

The Putnam Charging Station comes equipped with 8 or 16 MFi-approved Lightning cables, supplying 2.4 amp charging at each port. The cables are the perfect length for quickly plugging in devices after use. Cables are also integrated into the station so they don't sprout legs and wander off.

Welded steel construction makes the unit ultra secure, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. A built-in mechanical combination lock means there are no keys to worry about, and a master override key is included in case the combination is forgotten.

3. Joey Charging Cart

  • Compatibility: iPad, tablet, MacBook or laptop devices
  • Capacity: 30 devices

The Joey 30 or 40 Carts is one of our most popular universal charging cart solutions for tablets and laptops. The open concept design can accommodate a wide variety of devices, including iPad, iPad Pro or MacBook devices. The Joey Charging Cart features access to up to 30 devices from the top, with a "tool box" tray that lifts out so cables are accessible when needed. It also comes with Large baskets by LocknCharge for easy device distribution.

4. Carrier Charging Stations

  • Compatibility: iPad, tablet, MacBook or laptop devices
  • Capacity: 10 or 15 devices

Carrier Charging Stations lets you charge, store and secure 10 or 15 of almost any device including iPads, iPad Pros, and MacBooks. Removable baskets can be swapped with wire racks to accommodate devices up to 17″. The steel construction and heavy-duty lock make this charging station ultra secure.

The Carrier iPad Charging Station can easily be mounted to the wall, taking up minimal space. And since the cables and bricks are stored in a separate compartment, you’ll never need to worry about missing or tangled cords.

5. CarryOn Portable Charging Station

  • Compatibility: iPad and tablet devices
  • Capacity: 5 devices

The first iPad cart or charging station designed to be ultra-portable, the CarryOn allows you to charge, store, and transport up to five iPad or tablet devices using a sleek carrier the size of a briefcase.

The CarryOn can store tablets with screen sizes up to 10 inches, with or without cases. Its aluminum outer shell makes it both lightweight (5.5 pounds) and durable, protecting the devices inside. The transparent acrylic door lets you quickly see that all devices are there, while the impact-resistant alloy edging gives it a classy look. The CarryOn’s door includes a keyed lock to keep devices safe, and a wall mount kit lets you use it as a cabinet as well.

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