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Hot Lockers Save Space

24 June 2008

With ‘hot desking’ an accepted strategy for space saving in the office environment, the concept can have the same positive impact in facilities employing large numbers of people needing individual storage and where assigned lockers can take up a valuable space

NISA-TODAY’S IS THE UK’S LEADING MEMBER-OWNED organisation that supplies high quality products at the most competitive prices to its large and varied retail membership across the UK, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. It negotiates the same trading terms enjoyed by the major retail multiples, allowing even the smallest retailers to benefit from consolidated buying power.

Nisa-Today’s distribution service delivers 85m cases per year to delivery points across the UK. The group has three inbound stock regional distribution centres – one 625,000 sq ft ambient warehouse at its Central Office site in Scunthorpe and two frozen and chilled warehouses in Stoke-on-Trent and Harlow, Essex. The group also has a national six-day-aweek delivery service on chilled products – a major factor in helping independents compete with the multiples by providing them with the freshest possible product on their shelves.

A key element of the company's strategy is to negotiate the best purchasing deal for its members and then use the most cost-effective delivery process to deliver the goods to over 5,000 retail stores and over 320 wholesale outlets. A key element in this delivery process is its food distribution centre in Scunthorpe.

Some 1,000 staff at this warehouse require locker space to keep their personal belongings in while they work their shifts. Previously all staff had their own locker, which meant a significant loss of space within the building. In 2006, Clear Image, an approved regional distributor for Borer Data Systems, recommended to Nisa-Today's management that a better solution could be found. Now as well as providing secure access control to 80 doors, Borer’s manages a 'hot-locker' system.

Borer Data Systems design and manufacture market-leading access control, attendance management and alarm monitoring systems and software. It has committed to a 'Clean Design' policy which ensures that its products are highly energy-efficient; have low environmental impact during manufacture, and consume the minimum amount of materials.

Borer security solutions feature its powerful, web-enabled facilities control software which enables organisations of virtually any size to run and manage all their facilities and building information applications for the entire enterprise through a single system. Applications include Access Control, Attendance Recording, ID Badge, Production, Visitor Management and Alarm Monitoring, as well as Locker Management

Borer TCP/IP systems are configured to run over the LAN Cat5 Cable Network bringing significant advantages including much reduced installation time, elimination of mains cabling to access doors and simpler maintenance.

Locker 'pool'
When an employee enters the Scunthorpe site (below left), a locker from the pool of available lockers is allocated to him/her, depending on their personal, pre-programmed requirements. For example, wheelchair users would be allocated only low-level lockers, while wide lockers can be provided for staff with motor cycle crash helmets, and permanent ones for diabetics who need to keep insulin and other emergency supplies on site.

As they present their access card at the locker room, a display shows the number of the assigned locker and that locker is automatically unlocked (right). It is then reserved until the user exits the site, when it is put back into the available locker pool. The lockers are controlled by a web-based software application that displays the username against an allocated locker. The software allows a supervisor to remotely open a locker if required and also provided a full usage history.

The Borer system is particularly suited to this challenge as it can set up a 'one to many' relationship which means one card reader can control many locks. Most other systems would require each locker to have its own card reader, adding considerably to costs. Using this system has reduced the need for locker space considerably, with only half of the lockers being needed than would have been the case with other solutions. The Nisa-Today's site uses a single card per employee to provide roll call mustering, cashless vending, time recording, photo ID and locker control.

Clear Image said: “From an installer's perspective Borer systems are easy to install compared to most others and we recommend them wherever possible. This installation was achieved using the site's existing cabling and power supplies reducing any disruption to the warehouse operations. We also know that ongoing maintenance will be simple and speedy which benefits both us and the user.”

Russell Atherton, Operations Manager at Nisa-Today's added: “We wanted to minimise the complexity and cabling requirements for our new access system and the Borer system appeared ideal as it doesn't require a mains supply to each door. The 'hot locker' system was an unexpected and very welcome bonus which has released floor space for other uses and reduced wear and tear on the lockers themselves. After 18 months of operation we can confidently say that the system has proved itself to be very reliable and highly costeffective.”

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