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Smart phones revolutionize campus laundry rooms

Payments, notifications make a mundane task mobile

Laundry is an aspect of campus life that is often, and understandably, overlooked. It’s rarely glamorous and often tedious, but it’s a necessary component of the student experience nonetheless.

But a partnership between Heartland Payment Solutions and ASI Campus Laundry Solutions is breathing a bit of life into laundry services with a new implementation at the University of Kentucky. The Smart Start Laundry solution is enabling students to pay at washers and dryers with their smart phones.

ASI rolled out the smart phone-operated student laundry operation to eliminate the need for coins and payment cards in University of Kentucky residence halls and student apartment complexes.

As an additional convenience, the system notifies students via SMS text message or email about the availability of machines as well as when their wash cycle is complete.

To begin, users download the Heartland WaveRider app and then fund the account via a credit or debit card. At wash time, the student uses the phone to scan the QR code on the machine to initiate payment and begin the cycle.

The University of Kentucky marks ASI’s first foray into mobile payments at the washer and dryer, says Dave Drake, executive vice president of ASI Campus Laundry Solutions. “We’ve been talking about its potential with college partners, but we’re taking its one step at a time right now,” he explains.

ASI supplies some 400 student housing locations with laundry systems across the country, and is keen to get the word out about Smart Start. In the meantime, the progress at Kentucky is encouraging. “Specifically to the smart phones, we did not expect an overwhelming initial use of the solution because it is so new,” says Drake. “But it has been overwhelmingly more popular than we expected and students just love using their smart phones.”

Drake feels that Smart Start will continue to gain popularity as more students gain access to the solution. “I think that it has been a hit, and I expect it to continue to grow in percentage of use,” says Drake.

ASI Campus Laundry Solutions is part of CSC ServiceWorks, one of the largest operators of commercial washers and dryers in North America. CSC provides washers and dryers to a variety of locations including apartment complexes, residence halls and student housing locations.

Spare change

Convenience is the name of the game for CSC, a principle that is particularly vital for the company’s campus arm. Understandably, coins have become less popular amongst the larger student population, no doubt a result of student ID cards that have been in circulation for some 20 years.

ASI and its Smart Start solution are committed to the elimination of coins for laundry services. In addition to being a burden on the user, coins present service issues as they can jam machines and encourage vandalism. Moving away from coins not only streamlines the process, but also bolsters reliability, says Drake.

“The implementation at the University of Kentucky relies exclusively on credit and debit cards, not campus ID cards,” explains Drake. “Now students can transfer funds to their smart phone and conduct payments that way.”

Underlying ASI’s washers and dryers is Heartland’s WaveRider Laundry System. Similar to a card reader at a gas pump, Heartland’s WaveRider readers attach directly to washers and dryers to provide secure payment using any major credit or debit card.

For campuses, managing a card system can be a tedious process, so giving students the ability to use their personal accounts and mobile device to pay for laundry services alleviates the burden on campus personnel.

Mobile payment in the laundry is still in its early phase, but feedback from University of Kentucky has been extremely positive. The payment challenge in campus laundries may soon be a thing of the past. Now about folding  …

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