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University Smart Lockers: Colleges Reaping Rewards & Results

Higher education institutions around the globe are earning stellar marks for implementing smart parcel lockers that improve employee efficiency, boost student and staff satisfaction, ensure personal safety, and increase package security. Here’s how universities are leveraging this intelligent solution for success on their college campus:

University College Oxford: A Case Study in Efficiency

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, University College Oxford faced a series of 21st century problems: an influx of packages, a storage room that was being eliminated, and intensive labor required for tracking, emailing, and delivering student packages. One employee task, for example, was manually writing emails alerting students that they had a package!

Now, University College Oxford has over 90 smart lockers installed outdoors for convenient student package pickup. Parcel Pending’s smart locker system automatically alerts recipients that they have a package along with a barcode or PIN code allowing for secure retrieval. This means parcels can be picked up safely and securely 24/7 without face-to-face interaction. Further, managing “stale packages” has virtually been eliminated as more than 90% of parcels are picked up within three days of delivery.

As Michael Park, Head Porter, summarizes: “Now, we have an audit trail from the time items are placed in lockers to when they are retrieved.”

Safe & Secure Parcel Delivery at Lehigh University

Lehigh University faced a different issue: a safe and manageable solution to the avalanche of student packages flowing into three new residential dorms. Housing 406 upper-class students, the Singleton, Hitch & Maida Houses were designed with amenities to foster a superior student experience, including air-conditioned suites, a coffee house, and a soon-to-be-built fitness center. Smart lockers were a logical next step.

“Creating a safe environment for students – especially in light of COVID-19 – and providing overall exceptional customer service is our priority, and we’re always seeking new innovations to enhance the student experience,” explains Mark Ironside, Assistant Vice President of Business Services at Lehigh University.

The visible chain of custody showing where packages are at all times was a key consideration in the university’s decision to add smart parcel lockers to these residence halls.

Ohio University: Blending Efficiency with Safety

By installing smart lockers at all three campus mailrooms, Ohio University conquered safety concerns to provide contactless delivery of mail and packages while also boosting efficiency for staff and students.

“These new smart lockers are saving time, increasing efficiency, and adding convenience,” explains Blaine Gabriel, Director of Campus and Student Mail, Printing Services, Campus Signage and logistics. “For example, faculty no longer have to be sitting in their office to receive their deliveries. Instead, they can retrieve their mail anytime they want. Additionally, we now only have to deliver student mail and packages to our three student mail locations. This saves tremendous time for all involved. And, although we didn’t foresee this, smart lockers are making delivering and receiving mail safer during the pandemic.”

Prior to installing the smart lockers, Ohio University’s mailroom staff hand-delivered mail or other items to faculty at various campus locations. Many items, such as certified mail and library materials, required the recipient’s signature. Often, more than one delivery attempt was required to obtain the signature. With Parcel Pending by Quadient’s integrated tracking system, drop-offs and pick-ups are automatically logged. By eliminating extra delivery trips and the need for human-to-human contact, the Parcel Pending by Quadient smart locker system has supported safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reduced delivery time by up to an hour per day. 

University of Florida: Synergy Between Security & Student Satisfaction

With a whopping 4,000 packages delivered in one peak day, the University of Florida Housing Department realized they had a significant logistical problem. Not only did employees have to manage the package onslaught, but students could only pick up packages during specific hours resulting in lost packages, delays, and complaints.

By installing Parcel Pending’s smart lockers and integrating its reporting system, the University could view the chain of custody for each delivery, speeding up the delivery process and increasing student satisfaction. The switch also saved mailroom staff a startling 20 hours per week.

The lockers were originally planned as a test case, but after only two weeks of seeing efficiencies for both parcel pick up and deliveries, the University adopted smart lockers for all 26 residence halls and 8,100 on-campus residents. Today, the University of Florida views Parcel Pending’s lockers as a key amenity, highlighting them in its marketing material and even creating a video touting the benefits. 

Beyond the Package: Smart Lockers as a Campus Hub

With students returning to campus, there’s an emerging need to create a central distribution center for library books and textbooks, documents, and more. Savvy administrators at Rollins College, Mount San Jacinto College, Scripps College, University of Colorado Springs, and Indian River State College have all embraced using smart lockers not just for parcels, but as a Campus Hub.

Rob Zinsky, National Director of Higher Education at Parcel Pending of Quadient, predicts parcel lockers will provide the solution for distributing most assets on campus, giving users the ability to avoid lines and face-to-face contact. He refers to this transformation as a Campus Hub, “an exchange point for different items, outside of mail and packages.”

Innovative uses of Parcel Pending’s smart lockers include:

  • Sporting Events – Prohibited items brought to a game are simply locked and secured until the game’s end.
  • Event Tickets: Tickets for sporting events and other student activities are distributed via smart lockers to minimize lines and contact with ticket agents.
  • Bookstore Merchandise: Clothing, books, electronics, gifts, and more are retrieved with zero face-to-face interaction.
  • Electronics: Student laptops, tablets, and other school-owned devices are safely distributed.
  • Class Equipment: Items distributed in classrooms are safely returned through the smart locker.
  • On-Campus Dining: A student can place a meal order online via the university’s dining software and then pick it up at the locker.
  • Move-in/Move-out Materials: Items such as keys, ID cards, welcome packets and other important school materials are easily shared with students via smart lockers.

Smart lockers have proven themselves to be a key weapon in the ongoing push for packing management efficiency and safety across college campuses. However, the truly “smart” opportunity awaits in leveraging smart lockers as distribution hubs for key items.

To start the conversation about how smart lockers can benefit your campus mailroom operations, contact a Parcel Pending by Quadient representative today!