LapSafe case study: Birmingham City University

BCU tops the tables for self-service laptop loans

Birmingham City University (BCU) is the largest university user of LapSafe®’s Diplomat™ Self-Service Laptop Loan lockers in the world.

With almost 700 locker bays available to students across 18 installations throughout the campus, BCU make the most of agile and flexible working.

A diverse and increasingly popular place for students to study, BCU has around 25,000 students and 4,000 members of staff. Over the last ten years, BCU has invested heavily in new buildings and facilities. They are currently undertaking a £340 million investment programme, which includes expansion of their Birmingham City Centre campus and are moving the campus in the north into the centre in line with their mission to be the university for Birmingham.

Paul Davis, IT quality manager at BCU said: “The big driving force for us using LapSafe® has been to optimise learning space for students.
“In order to increase the study space available, we decided to loan out laptops to students and reduce the PC workstations across the campus. This has allowed us to increase study space available and, by installing the LapSafe® Diplomat™, we’ve allowed students to borrow a laptop whenever they want.”

The Diplomat™ is a sophisticated and intelligent self-service locker system which loans devices or lockers 24/7. Fully-charged devices such as laptops, Chromebooks and tablets can be automatically loaned to borrowers without staff interaction.

BCU is a long-standing customer of LapSafe®, previously using their mobile storage and charging trolleys. They started down the road of self-service laptop loans with an initial pilot of a 48-bay Diplomat™ back in 2014. BCU have added to that every year since, growing the estate to 636 bays for students and another 48 bays for staff across the campus.

“Integration with the library management system has been really important to save us having to duplicate all of the student records and avoid maintaining separate systems. It also lessens staff training as they already knew how to use the library management software. A real key thing is for students to have access to a device whenever they need to use it,” Paul told Denise Crouch, head of sales and marketing at LapSafe®.

BCU’s home-grown PC Finder service enables students to find a computer that’s available anywhere on the campus. BCU’s development team worked closely with the LapSafe® team to link to the LapSafe® ‘Availability Dashboard’. The introduction of the LapSafe® Availability Dashboard enables BCU to publish real time stats for their students so that they can find a Diplomat™ that has laptops available to borrow across the site. This saves students from having to queue or wander around the university looking for availability.

“It gives me great tools and reports to see how the Diplomat™ units are functioning across our considerable estate,” said Paul. “We can see which ones are being used when and where, what the peaks are and the patterns of activity are; thus, telling us when to expand the service.

“The students really love the self-service laptop loans and there has been such a high demand for it across the campus, we have grown the service, year on year.”
It’s not just students who can borrow laptops. Installed in the staff room in the Joseph Priestley Building is a 48-bay Diplomat. Loaning laptops to the staff has enabled a reduction in the number of desk top PCs, making better use of the space available.

In terms of growth, Paul said BCU had “big ambitions to grow the estate and the size of the student population. LapSafe® is going to be a key part of growing the service and enabling us to offer that transformational service to students. Besides maintaining our market-leading position as the world’s largest university user of the Diplomat™ self-service loan lockers, we will start using the flexibility that USB-C charging offers us so that we can mix and match the devices we use across the estate.”

During 2020, LapSafe® have worked hard to ensure that users are kept ‘Covid-safe’ whilst using self-service lockers. This includes using antimicrobial coating to stop the spread of bacteria, and holding back devices from loaning to allow for cleaning or bacteria to naturally die. LapSafe® have also introduced a new locker tower that can sanitise a laptop or tablet in 15-20 seconds.



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