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Digital Task Management




18 June 2012

‘Walk-in locker streamlines tool and equipment hire for Speedy

You’ve probably encountered electronic locker banks, where delivery drivers can leave goods for retrieval by people such as service engineers, providing they are equipped with correct authorisation codes.

Now mobile technology specialist Codegate has taken the concept a stage further, developing what amounts to a sophisticated "walk-in locker".

The system has been developed for Speedy Services, a tool and equipment hire company, which wanted to provide unstaffed pick-up and drop-off points to improve customer service.

It is known as the Speedy ePod, and is described as an unmanned, on-site, self service portal. The term "portal" is used here in its physical sense, not (as often these days) to describe a computer access point.

The key to the system is the use of RFID tags, which are fitted to all the tools and equipment to identify them. The hirer also has a unique tag, which is embedded in a keyfob.

Specialist manufacturer Omni-ID developed the RFID tags, and Motorola supplied the RFID scanner inside the portal, while Codegate did the integration and developed and built the custom control module. This integrates all the main electronic components, including the RFID scanner, GPRS router, computer and digital input/output board.

The hirer goes through various scanning stages to gain access to the portal and to check in any returned tools and hire more tools. The data is transmitted automatically to Speedy, which records the equipment movements and invoices the customer accordingly. There’s also provision for dealing with damaged items.

The portal was originally designed to fit into a standard transport container, but has since been developed for mounting at the entrance of any suitable building.

Apart from offering 24-hour access and reducing the need for delivery journeys, the system is expected to improve item tracking. According to senior IT project manager Glyn Matthews, other benefits should include a marked reduction in administration arising from customer queries, accurate tracking of tools, and improved inventory accounting.


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