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Loyola Students Lose Mailboxes, Gain Mail Alerts

The daily visit to the mailbox could be going the way of cassette tapes and Jell-O Pudding Pops on campus. Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore recently revamped its mail delivery operations and is now reclaiming enough room to add additional student seating in its College Center.

Ricoh has updated the workflow and technology in the university post office with its Campus Mail Solutions for Universities to eliminate the traditional mailboxes set aside for the university's 4,000 undergraduate students. Now, when a piece of mail or a package arrives, students receive a notification. They visit the mail center and swipe their student ID at a self-service kiosk. That notifies mail center workers and lets them know where the students' deliveries are stored and what form it takes. The goal is that by the time a student has stepped up to the pickup counter, a staff person has also arrived with the mail to hand over.

Behind the scenes, when mail arrives, rather than being sorted into personal mailboxes, it's added to a high-density rolling rack system. Mail workers use scanners worn on their fingers to scan barcodes on each slot as the piece of mail is deposited. That scan generates the alert the student receives that something has arrived.

Although United States mail volume has dropped "substantially" at Loyola U, package delivery is up by 30 percent over the same period because of online shopping and textbook rentals.

The new system includes a revamped method for storing packages that is so efficient, the campus has gained 10,000 square feet of space that can be used for other purposes.

"Through our partnership with Ricoh, we've identified a valuable opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to pursuing innovative strategies to improve the college experience for students at Loyola," said Jennifer Wood, director of campus services. "Loyola students will benefit from an exponentially more efficient system for mail and packages, and our campus community will also benefit from additional seating for dining installed after the mail center renovation frees up much-needed space in Loyola's College Center."

The mailing overhaul also came with recommendations for revamping the commercial shipping services to include all carriers and reconfiguring the stock of mailing supplies offered in the post office. According to a company statement, that's expected to generate new revenue streams for the institution.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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