Students use their campus ID cards as their locker key, and they rent the lockers on a per-semester basis. Gantner’s locker management software automates the sign-up process. It also provides locker usage reports and remote locker control, so no staff interaction is necessary.
But Northeastern is not alone. Around the globe, lockers are becoming more commonplace in university cafeterias, libraries and testing centers, where backpacks are not allowed as a theft or cheating precaution.
Many campuses recoup costs by renting out lockers on either a per-term or per-use basis. Offering more intelligent locking systems can make a case for raising rental rates and expediting the return on investment
Pichler says smart lockers can be a particularly good investment for that kind of environment. He points to the example of a campus testing center that had been using combination locks.
When students arrived at the center, they had to program a four-digit combination into their locker to store their backpacks and other belongings during testing. Given that students were about to take an exam, both nerves and adrenaline run high. When they finished the test two or three hours later, some 70% of students would emerge exhausted and with no memory of their locker combination.
Because of this problem, the university had to man the testing center with two employees outfitted with master keys to assist students. “This is where locker management becomes a big portion of the maintenance work,” Pichler explains.
Recouping costs: Smart lockers ROI
Most networked locking systems are wired, although battery locks are available as a cheaper alternative. Installation costs vary depending on locker layout and efficiency in planning.
Many campuses recoup these costs by renting out lockers on either a per-term or per-use basis. According to Pichler, institutions have historically charged rental fees of $25 or $30 per term. Offering more intelligent locking systems with an alarm function and digital features, however, should make a case for raising this cost and expediting the return on investment.
Additionally, organizations can pay for a locker deployment over time through either a financing plan or an income-share model. If an institution doesn’t have the operational capital needed for a locking system, a finance company can set up a plan to pay off the entire investment. Through the income-share plan, Gantner takes a percentage of the revenue an institution makes from locker rentals to offset installation costs.