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Student mailboxes replaced with new high-efficiency system to reduce mailroom wait times

| By Nick Alexopulos
This brief video, produced by Ricoh, explains how students pick up mail and packages at Loyola University Maryland's new mail center.

In response to students’ waning reliance on traditional mail and a dramatic increase in package volume on campus, Loyola University Maryland has transformed its post office into a high-efficiency mail center that will reduce wait times for customers and bring additional benefits to the University.

The new, streamlined system will be up and running at the start of the fall 2014. The mail center will not be relocated, but all student mailboxes in the College Center have been removed and renovations are underway in that area of the building.

Developed by Ricoh, a global information and technology company, the Campus Mail Solution includes electronic notifications, a self-service kiosk, and high density shelving with barcoded mail slots for mail center employees to file and retrieve mail for students. Packages will be retrieved with the same system, and they will be stored and secured in part of the newly available space previously occupied by mailboxes.

"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, Loyola's 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."

Emerging mail center challenges and changes in student demand necessitated a rethinking of operations. The number of packages sent to students has increased 15% annually in recent years as the popularity of online shopping and textbook rentals continues to grow. As a result, Loyola was faced with insufficient package space, security issues, and unacceptable waiting times. Student mailboxes—accessed via tumbler lock—were woefully underused, with numerous mailboxes going unchecked for an entire academic year.

Enter Ricoh’s Campus Mail Solution. Here’s how it works:

Students receive an email notification when a package or piece of mail arrives for them at Loyola’s mailroom. Staff scan a barcode on a student’s mail slot inside the mailroom to generate the email. Students then visit the mail center at their convenience and swipe their Evergreen card at a self-service kiosk located in the College Center near the mail center window. That action sends an electronic alert to mail center staff along with the location and physical characteristics of students’ packages and/or mail. A worker retrieves the items and hands them to the students at the front desk. Peak hour wait time is projected to fall from 30 minutes to one minute or less.

The mail center kiosk also features photo upload/print services and a free shredder. Loyola’s partnership with Ricoh gives the university community access to lower shipping rates, which could save Loyola up to 20% on shipping costs.

“At Loyola, as with all of our clients, we make information work for people rather than make people work to obtain information,” said Tom Brown, vice president, government and higher education, Ricoh Americas Corporation. “This philosophy is never truer than in the new world of education, where electronic and paper-based information live together and frequently need to be captured, transformed and managed.”

The mail center also has a new name: Stamp It!

Students’ assigned mail stop numbers will not change and still need to be included in the shipping address when sending mail to campus. More information is available on Loyola’s post office webpage.

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