28 Mar Three key trends driving smart locker adoption in 2022
There are many benefits for businesses in gaining greater visibility and control over IT peripherals and logistics and warehousing assets. Lisa Cooper, Sales Director – Smart Lockers at Ricoh, explains how Smart Lockers fit into the digital transformation and hybrid workforce challenges that forward-thinking enterprises are experiencing.
IT, Operations and Logistics managers don’t need to be told that the workplace is changing fast: they have been at the forefront of that change. They have researched new technologies to meet the growing demand for workplace digitisation; they have had to find solutions that enable their businesses to maximise the productivity of employees in an increasingly disbursed workforce; and they have usually had to achieve all these things within tight cost and time constraints.
Retail, corporate and logistics businesses are always on the lookout for smart solutions that improve employee efficiency and end user experience, and at Ricoh we are seeing more and more interest in our Smart Locker technology to deliver exactly those benefits.
Whether viewed from an IT or a warehousing/logistics perspective, Smart Lockers give businesses greater visibility and control over inventory items such as computer peripherals, handheld devices and headsets. They help improve productivity and reduce costs. Being secure and contactless, they allow the provision of a 24-hour self-service process for employees to collect or deposit these kinds of assets when they need to, with no waiting, and no need for additional IT or warehousing staff to be on duty to accept or distribute the items. Unlike with some storage solutions, there are no constraints on who the stored assets are manufactured by.
One of Ricoh’s customers using the Smart Locker solution is industrial technology company Trimble, which installed Smart Lockers to gain better control over the handheld scanners used by employees at its distribution centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Previously the collection and return of these scanners was unsupervised, and scanners were frequently being damaged or lost.
Distribution Manager Enzio Hermkens said of the Smart Lockers: “This has saved us a lot of time and money. The scanners are no longer getting lost either. If one is, the right person will be notified, so we can look to see what has happened. With real-time reporting, we have a constant overview of the status of the scanners.”
Another customer – Coventry City Council – has been impressed by the amount of information the Smart Locker and its cloud-based software makes available regarding the self-service distribution of IT peripherals, including new starter kits for new employees. ICT Engagement Lead Gary Griffiths said: “I think it is a very powerful thing to have that granular level of detail about how, where and what volume of peripherals have been consumed.”
These organisations, and others, are grappling with three significant trends in the 21st Century workplace, and with each of those trends – as we see below – Smart Lockers can provide very real benefits:
Digital and cloud-based technology is helping businesses to realise process improvements through automation and real-time traceability and control, resulting in enhanced efficiency and productivity. A by-product of this is an increased capability to track and control a wide range of physical or electronic business assets, and their utilisation rates, without labour-intensive or time-bound manual distribution and collection processes.
Smart Lockers fit precisely into such a scenario, specifically in terms of tracking and controlling IT and warehousing assets. They facilitate self-service, thereby unleashing employee productivity. They can also be integrated with existing software widely used among businesses, such as Service Now, making the transformation simple for everyone to engage with. Issues with equipment and peripherals can also be dealt with in a timely manner, through the Smart Locker system sending automatic emails to the relevant people or departments to initiate corrective action.
Consider these scenarios: staff members have to queue up to get their devices or equipment when they get to work, and queue up again to give it back at home time. They might spend time searching through several devices, looking for the one they like to use best. Having picked up their device, they find the battery is low and their work is soon disrupted as a fully charged device is sought. They might damage a device – accidentally or otherwise – and fail to hand it back in.
These are all scenarios where the business is accruing extra costs and losing productive time from the workforce. Smart Lockers remove the queues, ensure full usage of all equipment, not just the favourites, and enable tracking of a device to a staff member, instilling a sense of personal responsibility, and giving the business full accountability. Smart Lockers can also be supplied with charging points, so that devices will be fully charged when collected. Few businesses know how much these kinds of delays and interruptions are costing them – Smart Lockers simply remove the cost at a stroke.
It is well established that the modern workforce is no longer one that checks in every weekday at its place of employment at 9 am and leaves at 5 pm. People work remotely, they split their working time between home and office. Their hours are irregular, and meetings are very often conducted via cloud-based video conferencing applications.
This fundamentally changes the nature of their need for IT support. They don’t necessarily need face-to-face support during “normal” working hours, which means the IT department must itself be more flexible. Smart Lockers provide many aspects of that flexibility. Lockers can be pre-stocked with equipment that employees can pick up when convenient for them, with no need for IT staff to be present. IT accessories and peripherals can be tracked to specific employees, preventing abuse, and enabling better management of inventory and utilisation rates. IT department service hours can be extended to 24/7 self-service, without the ongoing expense of human resources at all times of day.
The workplace is changing in fundamental ways. Employees and workforces are being organised and equipped in different ways. Digital and cloud-based technology is capable of delivering real-time control and efficiency. Ricoh’s vision, articulated through its Leading Change at Work campaign, is to create a seamless digital workspace experience. Smart Lockers are a part of that unified digital workspace solution – one that, as the examples above illustrate, is already delivering smart value for business enterprises.
Click here to learn more about smart storage lockers, how they work and their potential applications.