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Improving access to student residences

The situation

Salto door access locks are currently installed in 4 student residences – Bluebell, Sherbourne, Claycroft and Jack Martin, totalling some 3,580 installations in all. Although the Salto system is well regarded, a significant maintenance issue was identified in summer 2014 through ‘Simplify, Collaborate, Deliver’ shadowing of residential carpenters. The carpenters were spending significant time on routine tasks, specifically the replacement of AA and AAA batteries in the door handlesets. This basic maintenance was clearly incongruous with the proclaimed sophistication of the system.

Maintenance jobs involving Salto locks accounted for an average of 40% of all carpenters jobs and typically anywhere between 35% and 78% of all completed jobs by all carpenters, in any one week.

The root cause of this issue seems to relate to the fact that Warwick, as an early adopter of this system, had initial firmware (the software contained in the handlesets) that may not have been fully ‘road tested’, as well as the fact that Warwick, almost uniquely in the sector, opted for a specific wireless configuration. Whilst the decision on the specification was based on the best available information at that time, the system may now be regarded as being over-engineered.

The solution

A truly cross-institutional team was created with members from Estates, Accommodation Services, Residential Life, Security, IT Services, the Membership & Access Group, CCSG, Purchasing and the supplier, SALTO. The best solution agreed by the team was to reconfigure all doors to move away from the current wireless configuration to an offline version, which would eliminate the maintenance issue; would have no adverse effect on functionality or security; and would have no negative impact on the student experience.

In addition to the existing doors, there are budgets for retrofitting these door access systems to another 2,556 doors in a further 4 residences. With the new configuration, the cost of the equipment would be reduced by around 23%, resulting in a minimum saving of £168,000 along with increased levels of standardisation and reduced maintenance. In addition, CCSG are interested in rolling-out this access system to the doors in the Conference Centres – the new specification on 709 doors would save a further £65,000.


The outcome: Reduced maintenance issues

The Christmas vacation period was chosen as the time to reconfigure these existing door locks and, with the help of a team of SALTO technicians, over 3,600 door locks were reconfigured in just 4½ days, with no disturbance to students. Immediately, SALTO-related maintenance issues dropped by 95%, from an average of 55 jobs per week to just 3 jobs per week. The equivalent saving in staff time and materials is estimated to be a recurring £59,000 per annum. The team went on to win the award for the SCD Outstanding Team category in the 2016 Staff Awards.

With the successful implementation of this pilot project, it was decided to accelerate the roll-out of the installation of the newly-specified SALTO application to the remaining student residences and to the conference centres.
In partnership with the original equipment manufacturer and an appointed installer, the whole programme of installation will now be complete by the end of 2017. This approach will realise financial benefit to the University in the order of £1.3 million.