Your Guide to Smart Locker Technology

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Redefining desk-side IT Support

In today’s modern, digital-first world, all aspects of end-user services — from apps to storage — are now digital and cloud-based, but when it comes to the delivery, collection, management and tracking of IT equipment, it’s still overwhelmingly manual and time-consuming.

Over the last 20 years, this hasn’t changed. Year-on-year, companies lose millions of pounds/dollars to IT asset management, provision and maintenance. IT teams spend a great deal of their time manually approving equipment requests, slowing processes down, and delivering equipment by hand. 

The result? Operations are hindered. Costs escalate. Equipment can only be provisioned during office hours and — perhaps worst of all — the whole process is prone to human error. 

On average, IT teams spend 2.9 days to fulfill user requests for replacement equipment, and IT asset management equates to 20% of all the time spent on end-user computing support. 

Businesses can and should do more. And with smart locker solutions and technology, it’s entirely possible to achieve reliable, round-the-clock desk-side IT support

If you want to learn more about transforming your IT function from responsive to desk-side, check out our guide below.

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What is a Smart Locker?

Smart lockers are secure storage and distribution systems with integrated computers and sensor networks that allow them to automate package selection, notification, and delivery. In the case of IT equipment, for example, smart lockers enable IT Support Teams to quickly and easily secure, manage and distribute hardware.

Customers use Smart Lockers for higher value items, like projectors, laptops, tablets and mobile phones and multiple complex workflows and use cases including Break Fix, Lending (Borrow and Return), and IT Requests.

What is a Smart Vending Machine?

As well as smart lockers, you also have smart vending solutions. These devices are designed to facilitate the distribution of equipment on a planned or ad-hoc basis.

Customers deploy Smart Vending machines for "high volume - low value" "consume and not return" items such as printer cartridges, cables, mice, headphones. Each Smart Vending machine can hold hundreds of these items which uses can access whenever they need to.

The equipment is logged to the employee’s record and to a central system for the smart vending machine, and employees are expected to return the equipment at a specific date. 

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How does a Smart Locker work?

How VST works

 

Once a package is delivered to a smart locker, the recipient is automatically notified that their package is ready for pickup and provided with access instructions (usually in the form of a code, order number or barcode that can be scanned by the locker). 

Upon arrival at the locker, the user enters their access code or order number — or scans their barcode — to gain access to their package. 

But smart locker technology can do so much more than just store, distribute and manage items. 

For IT teams provisioning laptops for new starters, for instance, a smart locker can charge those laptops while they’re idle, allowing recruits to hit the ground running. IT managers can also restrict equipment access to certain times of the day (ensuring IT assets are promptly received and returned) and set up alerts for when equipment isn’t returned on time.

From a distribution perspective, IT assets can be equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and linked to the smart locker system, this allows IT managers to track assets in real time and ensure they reach the intended recipient. The lockers will also capture usage data over the course of their operation, giving IT managers granular insight into how the lockers are being used, including by whom, when and where. All of this information can then be used to create a robust asset management and delivery system (or make the case for outsourced support). 

Of course, achieving this kind of seamless capability requires the right software and implementation. In most organisations, it’s difficult to deploy smart locker functionality because there are often several other solutions and services that need to be consolidated and connected in the process. 

On top of this, many organisations have their own IT service management (ITSM) solution that needs to be integrated with the smart locker and/or smart vending machine for them to realise its true capabilities. 

Want to find out more about how smart lockers work?

Why should you use a Smart Locker?

Smart lockers can be used for a variety of purposes and across different industries, but ultimately their purpose is to create a safe and connected distribution centre where everyone can access the equipment and tools they need, when they need them. 

For example, with transaction logging (access and return of assets to the locker) automated, there’s no risk of human error. When a device is reported as returned, managers will always know which individual accessed the locker and at what time. This data can then be combined with real-time security feeds (i.e. CCTV) to verify whether the correct devices have been returned. 

So, why else should you use smart locker technology?

Other reasons to use a smart locker:

Improved operations:

Smart feedback and communication features that let businesses build whole new workflows when it comes to the distribution, management and provision of IT equipment.

Better insight into device usage

Return to the point about RFID and equipment tracking — where, when and how is equipment being used and by whom? (Could also talk about regulatory compliance, i.e. ensuring devices in the lockers are controlled and compliant with standards).

Around-the-clock operation

Provides a reliable and effective way for employees to get to equipment in emergency situations — smart lockers come with battery backups, allowing workers to charge equipment in the event of an electrical outage, for example. 

Reduced asset losses

No more human error. Receive, track, monitor and redistribute with complete confidence in where assets are, including when and why they were taken out. Track usage and see exactly when they’re returned. 

Reduced labour costs

Automation means no more of the time-consuming tasks that come with manual asset management. Transactions can be done by recipients — including logging assets in and out for use. Surveillance will ensure the right devices are returned. Alerts will also keep everyone apprised of the situation.

Employee/customer satisfaction

With instant access to the equipment and peripherals they need — all without having to wait days or weeks for IT to respond — your employees (or your customers if you are a MSP) will be happier, more productive and more appreciative of your IT team.

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Smart Locker applications and use cases for IT teams

Smart lockers are more than just “storage spaces” —  thanks to their robust array of features and connectivity, they are essentially central “points” for inventory management, maintenance, fulfillment and redistribution. 

From checking where assets are to requesting new devices in real time, smart lockers make it easier for IT teams and inventory managers to provide employees with the equipment they need, when they need it. Below are just a few applications and use cases for smart lockers. 

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Real-time device management

Many businesses rely on employees using expensive portable electronic devices in the office, field or home — whether they’re using laptops, mobile phones or otherwise. The challenge, however, is ensuring end-to-end visibility of those devices — and ensuring they are replaced and managed effectively.

With a central device management hub or ITSM platform, such as ServiceNow, businesses can automatically monitor and manage devices. They can also compile transaction logs — i.e. where devices have been and who has used them, record device status, issue collections or maintenance, set up alerts and device reports (i.e. performance), and much more.

Device fulfilment and collection

With smart locker technology, IT teams can easily manage device fulfillment and collection.

Think of smart lockers as connected inventories — as businesses can see what assets are available and who is using them, they can make informed decisions about what equipment they need more of. For example, IT may find that employees are taking out more headphones and keyboards, highlighting a need to replenish or scale up that inventory. 

Similarly, IT can also forecast asset requirements for new starters and employees; they can retire old equipment and put in a request with their IT equipment provider so that the new equipment is ready as soon as possible. That equipment is then delivered directly to the locker and employees are given specific instructions and authentication codes to access their smart lockers and/or equipment.

Repair and redistribution (Reverse logistics)

Smart lockers make asset collection and repair incredibly easy. Devices can be left in an authorised locker (that’s perhaps dedicated to asset repair, maintenance and replacement) to be picked up by a third-party IT service. 

Also, as IT can monitor the asset and the locker, they’ll know when it’s been picked up and can better plan their IT estate moving forward. 

Once devices are repaired or replaced, they can be left in a collection locker (or a locker dedicated to replacements or repairs) for employees to retrieve. It’s that simple.

The result? IT teams spend less time delivering and collecting assets themselves and can redefine desk-side IT support. The moment a problem arises, they can implement a plan to correct it.

Asset tracking and logging

As mentioned, smart lockers enable rapid tracking of devices on-site. This is because the lockers are connected, via the internet, to the business’ network, meaning they can be monitored by IT at any point. 

To improve asset tracking, the devices in the lockers can be fitted with RFID tags — a unique serial number that can be recorded against a piece of equipment and tracked using the appropriate asset tracking software. This technology can be combined with surveillance applications for machine-to-machine verification — in other words, a smart locker can verify the asset placed inside it. 

With this kind of visibility, it becomes incredibly easy to collect and track the right equipment and improve the security of devices across the enterprise.

Borrow and return

Another key benefit of smart lockers is the ability to “borrow” and “return” equipment as and when it’s needed.

For employees working in a new city or remotely — or even those that have forgotten their laptop charger, mouse or headphones, for example — smart lockers can act as a repository or temporary store for equipment in demand. 

Employees can simply use their smart locker application (provided by the business) to locate one of the business’ lockers that contains the equipment they need. From the app, they can see stock availability and business smart lockers in the vicinity.

On arrival, they submit a unique authentication code to access the locker and the equipment they need. The moment it’s retrieved, a record is updated to say that they took out the equipment on a certain date, with a set period in which it needs to be returned. 

With borrow and return capabilities, smart lockers or rather smart vending machines can act as always available dispensing machines.

Want to find out more reasons why you should have a Smart Locker in your business?

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However, while smart lockers can be used across a variety of business contexts, implementing them effectively (and choosing the right software to operate them) can be challenging.

Standard smart locker solutions, i.e. those without robust on-site or desk-side IT support, often require full integration and take IT support teams more time to deliver equipment, not less.

The issue is that some locker manufacturers claim to have application interfaces (APIs) that allow their lockers to connect to their customers’ ITSM platforms — but this can be costly and time-consuming. To make matters worse, the API alone often doesn’t provide the functionality the customer needs. 

But we can help. 

Why Velocity Smart Technology?

We live in a world that expects a rapid response to solving a problem. We live amongst an ‘on-demand generation’, and IT support is no different.

Remote and desk-side IT support is now the norm for many businesses, from start-ups to large multinational enterprises. If something isn’t working, employees can simply go to their IT support desk, log a ticket and get help within the hour.

This model has drastically reduced business downtime and improved operational efficiency, but — as mentioned before — the replacement, management and provision of IT equipment lags considerably behind. 

How to overcome the fear of digital transformation

At Velocity, we take a smart, efficiency-driven approach to the replacement, management and provision of IT equipment by implementing smart locker technology and desk-side support, providing our customers with fast, frictionless access to vital equipment, 24/7. 

The reason for this is simple: everything’s digital. 

Across the world, more and more of us are working in a hybrid fashion — at home, remotely or in the office. As such, we need round-the-clock access to equipment. We don’t want to waste time waiting for it. 

Through smart locker technology, it becomes possible to provide equipment and vital peripherals to employees at scale. 

And businesses are quickly realising the potential of smart locker technology: by 2025, the global smart locker market is expected to be worth $1.2 billion USD. 

As it stands, Velocity is the fastest-growing solution provider in the Global Smart Locker space and the only provider of the extensible ServiceNow application in conjunction with smart locker technology.  Find out more about us here.

ServiceNow can be integrated into a variety of ITSM platforms and apps and its light footprint means you don’t have to worry about altering your IT infrastructure. This makes us the most affordable and effective solution for large corporations (and the best smart locker service provider).

Velocity Smart Locker technology explained

We have developed the world’s only Smart Locker Solution that is built upon the market-leading ITSM, ServiceNow — the platform of choice for IT MSPs and Enterprise businesses. 

With a fast, automated “Amazon-Smart Locker style” 24/7 delivery and collection solution for IT equipment and peripherals, we help corporate IT and IT MSPs to drastically reduce IT fulfilment, management and repair costs — all while increasing productivity. Talk about proactive IT desk-side support.

Our smart locker technology uses ServiceNow in our world-first ServiceNow certified app Velocity Smart Collect™, enabling our lockers to integrate directly with your ITSM infrastructure and unlock the true value of smart lockers. 

Just check out the video below to find out more.

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The benefits of Velocity’s Smart Locker technology

At the heart of our smart locker technologies and solutions is Velocity Smart Collect™, the world’s first (and only) ServiceNow certified app which brings click-and-collect functionality to your business. 

Your employees (or your customers’ employees) can leverage this solution to request hardware and peripherals that can be collected (on approval by their IT team) from a Velocity Smart Locker. 

After the request is approved, they will receive a secure email with a collection bar-code. This process is 95% faster than traditional IT equipment delivery.

The app is always up to date with its ServiceNow version, is 100% secure and can be installed in just a matter of hours. It’s also the first-ever app to support domain separation, making it ideal for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) with multiple areas of operation. 

However, one of the most important benefits of Velocity’s smart locker technology is a lack of technical debt.

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What is technical debt?

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When we talk about technical debt, we refer to the different solutions that organisations need to consolidate and integrate to get simple functions working “seamlessly”. The problem is that if one of these solutions is updated or fails, the entire network is often at risk. This can be costly to maintain, secure and manage as each individual solution is different. 

Overall, a lot of organisations, particularly large enterprises, spend a lot of money on their existing IT stack because they have to update, replace and troubleshoot software and apps frequently. If an app or software sits outside the main user platform, additional time and resource is needed to maintain these apps/software because it isn’t native or seamlessly integrated. 

Over time, the amount of technical debt grows as organisations attempt to add more functionality to solve specific problems. The best case scenario is to have fully integrated apps that are native to an IT estate and service management system. 

This is why every Velocity Smart Locker and Vending solution is designed to work within the ServiceNow portal. The moment ServiceNow is updated, so too is the smart locker or vending machine. This means that you don’t have to troubleshoot or call in experts to “fix” something once an update breaks it. It’s far more cost-effective, flexible and robust. 

What is Service Now?

ServiceNow is an enterprise-grade cloud computing platform that helps companies to manage digital workflows for large-scale operations. Their ITSM platform uses best-in-class tools to consolidate disparate operations into a single cloud. 

The result? You can deliver resilient services that increase productivity and create amazing experiences wherever your employees work. 

You can find out more about ServiceNow’s ITSM platform here.

With ServiceNow installed, you can:

  • Order assets
  • Manage returns
  • Restock equipment
  • Set up borrow and return processes 
  • Raise requests on behalf of end-users 
  • Manage incidents, i.e. malfunctioning equipment 
  • Check asset registration and information, allowing you to track Velocity Smart Vending devices and transactions
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Features and functions of Velocity Smart Locker technology

Our Velocity Smart Locker and Velocity Smart Vending solutions work in conjunction with ServiceNow, giving you complete control over how your IT assets and peripherals are managed. 

Velocity Smart Locker solutions are…

Plug and go 

Featuring cloud-based, WiFi & 3G connectivity, Velocity Smart Locker and Vending solutions can be connected to your business’ network (or customer’s network) in no time at all.

Branded for your business (or customer)

Make the technology your own and wow your employees and/or customers with branded smart locker and vending solutions.

Encrypted using API-based HTTPS cloud integration

Worried about security? No need to be. Our solutions are 100% secure and capture no personal data whatsoever.

Remotely monitored

Check the status of assets in your smart lockers, who has accessed them, stock levels, requests, collections and much more.

Configurable

Easily manage and configure your smart lockers from a central portal — ServiceNow. Determine who can access them, including what information is captured.

Versatile

Suitable for any requirement, Velocity Smart Lockers and Vending solutions can be scaled up and down depending on what you need. We have a variety of sizes available.

Multi-input

Ensure your assets are secure by requesting multiple authentication methods, including RFID, barcode scanning and pin pad access.

Capable of being daisy-chained

Link multiple lockers together to get a clear and unified view of specific assets being requested, used and returned.

Multi-usage

Fix, borrow and return devices with ease. Employees can also use lockers for personal deliveries, while HR teams can use them for new starter equipment and/or device rollouts.

Combined with the Smart Collect app 

Provide seamless ordering and collection for both employees and IT teams — orders are managed and approved by authorised personnel, this includes stock tolerance and restocking.

Interested in finding out more? 

What else can we do for you?

Now, implementing smart locker and smart vending solutions isn’t easy — and that’s why we offer comprehensive support, from use-case design and localisation to enablement services. 

Business use-case optimisation

If you’re planning to implement smart locker technology and/or associated solutions for your customer, we can work together with you to build a compelling use case. This is based on our experience and your customer’s specific use cases and data. 

Service design 

Through site surveys, use case design and localisation, we can develop and deliver ITSM solutions and locker designs that meet your every need.

Implementation

From finding the optimum device location and managing the plan to secure installation and operational guidance, we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Technology integration

One of the major challenges with implementing smart lockers is getting them to work alongside your ITSM. We can integrate your ITSM and ITAM tools so that you can extract real value from your smart locker solutions. 

 

Enablement services

Engagement and training are the difference between success and failure. Through targeted campaigns and training, we’ll communicate the benefits of smart locker technologies and solutions to your stakeholders, driving adoption across your organisation (or your client’s organisation). 

Bespoke Training

When we carry out our training, we implement our application with the customer’s version of ServiceNow. What this means is that the customer gets to see how the locker and/or vending machine would operate in their current environment. Everything’s branded to their business and processes are designed to work based on how they (the business) operates.

Change Management & Adoption

For any technology implementation to be successful, businesses have to think about how users work, how they can drive adoption throughout and the best way to integrate the technology. 

Smart locker technology cannot be used as standalone solutions. For businesses to truly benefit from them and transform the way they operate, they have to be integrated into every aspect of activity. 

To achieve this, we work closely with our customers to help them develop change management approaches that ensure the smart locker and vending technology is onboarded seamlessly and successfully. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do Smart Lockers cost?

To answer this question, it’s important to think about the total cost of ownership

At Velocity, our smart lockers and vending machines are integrated directly with the customer’s ServiceNow. This means that when one is updated, so is the other.  We also encourage our customers to think of the lockers as integral parts of their overall operation, not standalone solutions designed to solve one or two problems. The result is that they change how they think and utilise the lockers, ensuring that they are incorporated into everything they do and employees are on board. 

Unfortunately, many organisations have a lot of technical debt (as mentioned earlier) which essentially means that their solutions and tools are managed in a disconnected fashion. What happens is that they purchase smart lockers with the aim of solving one or two problems, but treat them as standalone solutions and don’t integrate them correctly. 

They then have to configure each individual solution to work with the rest of their infrastructure, as changes to one means changes need to be made to the others. This takes time, expertise, and a great deal of money to manage — especially when you think about the security tests and updates that need to be installed. 

Overall, this approach ends up costing businesses far more than it needs to. We provide a simple, cost-effective and fully integrated solution that is always up-to-date.

How long/complex is the installation process?

The key thing to consider when planning a smart locker implementation project is whether or not you have an end-to-end approach. A smart locker isn’t just a point solution — it should be part of your entire ITSM infrastructure. What we mean by this is that it’s baked into your processes and your employees are bought into its use. 

Also, you want to consolidate your installation. This means using one partner to manage the planning, strategy, deployment, configuration, and ongoing maintenance, security, and training. Few are able to do that. 

With Velocity, you have one partner that can do all the above. Fewer touchpoints mean more security, less risk, and greater consistency. Our process is simple and straightforward; you’ll be up and running in no time.  

Typically our projects take 3 or 4 months from kick-off to full deployment, but depending on the customer needs we have achieved this in as little as 6 or 7 weeks.

What are the challenges with Smart Lockers?

Smart Locker and Smart Vending technology is inherently sound. Issues occur when businesses fail to appreciate the change management and digital transformation that needs to follow the implementation of the lockers.

You can’t just add a new solution and expect employees to use it. For it to work, it needs to be integrated into core processes and employees need to be taught how to use it effectively. That way you can drive adoption and streamline the provision of equipment to employees. 

You have to change the way you work to benefit from the smart lockers. For example, it has to have stock at all times (otherwise employees won’t bother visiting them), you have to have a global support model to ensure they’re always on, and — perhaps most importantly — the technology needs to be championed

How are Smart Lockers maintained?

At Velocity, we provide a global support model that allows our customers to have their smart lockers serviced wherever, whenever. Each model comes with full warranty and different levels of support can be purchased. 

Work With Us

With over 50 year’s experience working for both IT companies and businesses, we understand the challenges you face. 

We all experience wasted time, money and effort when it comes to collecting, delivering and/or dropping off items — either at home or in business. 

But with our smart locker and vending technology solutions we empower you, your employees and your entire business operation to streamline customer service, asset delivery and management, and collections through intelligent automation. 

See how it all works here.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can book a demo using the button below.