Over the last few years, we have seen a vast number of colleges experiencing the loss of laptops whilst operating a manual laptop loaning service to students. Using laptop charging cabinets or trolleys can help to manage the charging of the devices but they can be easily left unlocked and left unattended. This has resulted in laptops going missing or borrowed and not returned with no means to track who had them. Colleges are now looking for ways to improve their manual laptop loan service whilst saving time and reducing cost.
Hugh Baird College is one of the largest and leading education providers based in Liverpool and Merseyside.
John Billington has been with the college for over ten years. Whilst the IT provisions at the college have always been reasonable, John was tasked with the job of reducing the loss of college laptops whilst making it easy for students to still access a computer as required.
John explains the many challenges he faced when looking for the right solution.
“We have used large sturdy laptop charging trolleys for over ten years. You can purchase cheap metal or plastic trolleys to store laptops in for next to nothing these days. However, we have always invested in robust trolleys that could withstand the test of time. In the past we purchased LapSafe® Mentor™ trolleys, some of which are now ten years old! They were then and still are the strongest and most secure storage and charging trolleys on the market today and they still work really well; we have about 30 of them throughout the college.
The challenge we have with the trolleys is that although they are secure, sometimes the keys would go missing or get damaged. The trolleys would be left open whilst being used throughout the day and over time, laptops would go missing, be mislaid or just forgotten to be returned. We also had no means to track who had used them. Therefore, we started to look at self-issuing lockers to reduce the loss of the devices.”John Billington
A few months back we decided to look around for a solution. To be totally honest, there didn’t seem to be much else that came up to the quality and functionality of the LapSafe® Diplomat™ Self-Service Laptop Loan Lockers.
The sales process was pretty straightforward. As LapSafe® is a British manufacturer it gave us extra confidence especially with the difficulties experienced during the last year with the pandemic and Brexit.
Ben, our Account Manager kept us up-to-date throughout the project. My colleague Andy helped with the install and the LapSafe® installation team took him through the process calmly and thoroughly which was really helpful. We also knew that the support team was at the end of the phone if we need anything and that makes a huge difference.
Funnily enough, we found that the most difficult part for us in the process was picking the colours for the lockers. I guess many colleges find that a challenge as there are so many great colours to choose from. We chose blue and grey for our first set of lockers, and our latest units are bright pink!”John Billington
“When the first COVID lockdown hit in 2020, the college had been using their self-service lockers for a full academic year; feedback from staff and students was really positive. The staff felt a lot of responsibility had been taken out of their hands, and it was one aspect of their job that they now didn’t need to manage.”John Billington
Hugh Baird’s motivation to keep a check on the movement of laptops has proved highly successful as figures show that the bill for replacement laptops went right down in the first year, and they haven’t lost a single laptop from the HE department since the new self-service lockers have been installed.
"The Diplomat™ lockers are a substantial investment, but when you weigh-up the staff saving in time and £20,000 worth of laptops lost over the course of an academic year against no loss of laptops since installing, it’s a no brainer as to why we now love our Diplomat™ self-service laptop loan lockers.”John Billington
“Having the units on-site has definitely proved to us that we want to expand this service more and the library is the next project that we will work on. At the moment, the staff still manually loan laptops in there, so installing some new self-service units would free up staff time to spend more time helping and assisting students. My ambition for the library conversion is to create a really nice stop, drop and study space”.John Billington