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Contactless lockers on corporate campuses and health clubs

Contactless lockers on corporate campuses and health clubs deliver big

Higher education ramping up as new hot spot for smart storage

It’s not unusual for tech-driven companies like Amazon to add 50,000 employees seemingly overnight. But finding the office space to accommodate that many new hires is a much more difficult task.

That’s where contactless lockers on corporate campuses enter the picture, offering much needed storage when space and time are limited.

Higher education has been a significant new market for smart lockers – and despite being relatively untapped in North America, the concept is already strong in other parts of the world.

In both the U.S. and beyond, other markets such as corporate workplaces, health clubs and ski resorts are benefiting from smart locker technology in a major way.

Corporate workplaces in particular make up an attractive segment for contactless locker technology, says Gerhard Pichler, business development manager for Gantner Technologies, which provides a range of networked smart locker systems.

In both the U.S. and beyond, corporate workplaces, health clubs and ski resorts are benefiting from smart locker technology in a major way

Gantner has deployed networked locker systems for KPMG, BNP Paribas and other Fortune 100 companies to help them increase their capacity for additional employees in their corporate offices.

Exponential work force growth has created challenges for companies in rapidly expanding verticals like the tech industry. Pichler points out that if Amazon or similar tech company wanted to add thousands of employees to serve an immediate need, they would have one of two options to support them: Find an office big enough to fit the mass of new employees, or use existing resources.

The first option is not always feasible. An office of that size would need to be built, and a construction project of that scope would take years and require sizeable capital investment.

The second option would be for the company to use its existing office space and shift to a flexible work environment. Instead of having dedicated desks, the office could provide meeting rooms, lounges and other shared workspaces where employees could choose to work. A system of smart lockers could make that scenario possible.

“More and more companies are moving away from fixed, assigned desks to a more flexible working environment, which creates the need to provide secure private storage for employees to store work documents and personal equipment,” Pichler says. “Managing the ever-increasing number of employee lockers in an efficient way across multiple buildings and departments is the new challenge.”

Contactless lockers on corporate campuses transform major bank

Corporations both in the U.S. and abroad have been using contactless locker technology to help create that kind of flexible working environment. An example of this is Erste Bank in Vienna, Austria.

Gantner has deployed networked locker systems for KPMG, BNP Paribas and others to help increase capacity for employees in corporate offices

Erste Group is one of the largest financial services providers in Central and Eastern Europe, serving 16 million clients. For its new headquarters in Vienna, the bank needed to create a flexible office space for 4,500 employees, none of whom had an assigned desk. Instead, employees are free to choose from available workspaces ranging from freestanding desks to quiet work areas, telephone cabins or meeting rooms.

“Our goal was to create a working environment in which our employees can easily collaborate, regardless of organizational structure and develop ideas together,” says Andreas Treichl, CEO of Erste Group.

Given that employees work with sensitive financial information, the company required that every staff member have a place to lock away important documents every day.

Using Gantner’s contactless locker technology, the flexible office now is home to 7,000 networked lockers throughout its five building complexes. Employee ID cards function as locker keys, and employees can choose any available locker but cannot occupy multiple lockers at the same time. The lockers have alarms and the management system generates usage reports for system administrators.

In addition to the employee lockers, there are also personalized mailboxes in Erste Group’s mailroom that are secured by networked locks, as well as options for bicycle storage.

Pichler says the increasing demand for flexible workspaces continues to drive the demand for contactless locker technology. “Right now, this is a huge office trend, and there is a lot of investment in locking systems in the corporate market for that specific reason,” he says.

One credential for fitness clubs

Health and fitness clubs are another traditionally strong segment for contactless locker technology. Smart lockers provide a modern amenity at higher-end health club chains, but they also provide cost savings for budget clubs that want to be as automated as possible to minimize staffing and related expenses.

Contactless lockers also eliminate the need for a club member to carry around locker keys, credit cards and other credentials. “In the health and fitness market, it’s all about convenience and a frictionless user experience,” Pichler explains.

Contactless lockers have had a longtime presence at fitness clubs across Europe. New cardio equipment often has built-in RFID or contactless readers to pull up cloud-based records of members’ training programs. A contactless card or wristband acts as a single credential that members can scan to gain access into the club, as well as the use of lockers, cardio equipment, vending machines and massage beds.

In the United States, there is a growing demand for contactless lockers at fitness facilities. Leading the charge is Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago and Florida, which invested in Gantner’s networked locking system and contactless capabilities to set it apart from local competitors.

Smart lockers provide a modern amenity at higher-end health clubs, but they also provide cost savings for budget clubs that want to be as automated as possible.

Members wear an RFID wristband that they can scan to check in at the front desk and also to access lockers, activate certain fitness equipment and make cashless payments. The wristbands are made from hypoallergenic silicon and bear Midtown’s colors and branding.

After a member chooses and locks a locker, that locker number is stored securely on the wristband so that only that member’s band can open the corresponding locker. The technology prevents the possibility of a second locker being used and can prevent lockers from being claimed for extended periods.
Information terminals at the front desk can display the member’s chosen locker number in case the member forgets.

The system is designed to eliminate challenges such as key handling, lost keys and padlock cutting, while allowing the club’s reception staff to focus more intently on member services.

The contactless wristband provides other ROI benefits for the club by creating a cashless environment. User data shows that the technology can increase point-of-sale revenues by 30%, according to Gantner.

Smart lockers for ski slopes
Gantner’s smart lockers have been deployed for convenient equipment storage at ski resorts across Europe as well as in Lake Tahoe and Dubai

John Brady, chief operating officer of Midtown Athletic Clubs, said that the contactless system has helped encourage member check-in and improve access control. “The wristband’s ability to function with turnstiles, lockers and point of sale stations, in addition to our networked fitness equipment, creates a highly unique and frictionless member experience.”

From ski slopes to school yards

Other strong markets have emerged for contactless lockers in segments as diverse as ski resorts and educational campuses.

Gantner’s smart lockers have been deployed for convenient equipment storage at ski resorts across Europe as well as in Lake Tahoe and Dubai, explains Pichler.

Today, the push into the education market from primary schools through colleges and universities is growing. “We have deployed large scale contactless locker systems at a number of leading universities in Germany and other locations across Europe,” says Pichler. “We are excited to be taking this expertise to North America, and we recently deployed 1,200 networked lockers at Northeastern University in Boston.”

As with other new technologies, it seems the issue is less about the market segment and more about servicing an identified need.

“People are carrying more and more expensive electronics and other items on their person, and there is a growing need for secure, convenient storage,” says Pichler. “Whether it’s a health club, a corporate office or a college campus, contactless lockers provide a great service to both the users and the organization.”

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