West Cheshire College

West Cheshire College uses asset tracking to optimise staff and occupancy capacity

As one of the most progressive vocational training colleges in the UK, West Cheshire College offers hands on training for 20,000 students in a highly advanced learning environment.

The state-of-the art college buildings contain free flowing public zones and cutting edge learning areas which recreate real life working environments. With such large student numbers the college must accurately track course attendance and room occupancy to ensure staffing capacities meet the demands of its vocational training classes.

The college now uses Zebra Dart II Hardware for all sensor types and hubs and Dart II Badge Tags to accurately track, analyse and manage student movements around the building and report real-time data in a manner that delivers real benefit to the college and its management team.

The Challenge

Over 60% of West Cheshire College’s income is spent on direct staffing costs. Staffing resources must therefore be optimised and deployed in the most effective way possible.

The college must demonstrate a specific level of student recruitment in order to maintain its funding. To achieve this, it must verify the existence and eligibility of all attending students.

The college needed a system to offer staff and students secure access to campus areas whilst accurately tracking and reporting on their activity. It also needed to allow the college to follow up with staff and students whose planned and actual activities did not reconcile.

The data provided by these systems could then be used to improve the operating efficiency of other systems, through class room occupancy management via the Building Management System for example.

The Solution

zebra-techZebra was briefed to develop a solution that would track the location of students throughout the building at any given time. This needed the ability to provide data that could be used to accommodate the needs of specific learning areas and optimise staffing levels.

Zebra’s solution now offers a range of detailed information which allows West Cheshire College to increase the efficiency of the deployment of resources. The wealth of information provided by the solution means the college no longer has to perform time consuming data gathering and manual registry work across differing timeframes, as information is created directly from the movement of students and staff throughout the day.

The Zebra Location Solutions package offers an array of occupancy data to optimise the utilisation of specific learning areas and identify trends across different student types, as well as corresponding room and staff resourcing patterns. This allows the college to act on certain student behaviours within the building to efficiently allocate resources and capacity.

The Benefits

  • 95% ‘first-time accurate’ locating of all teachers and students to within three metres across both campus facilities
  • Allocation of Student ID Badges: Improved process, doubled throughput and production time for college badges
  • Location of First Aiders: This process has halved the time taken to locate a staff member for First Aid purposes
  • Tracking of Staff: Reduced the accurate location of staff to a simple query. Potential time efficiency savings projected to be 3%
  • Tracking and Analysis of Occupancy: Saving of 148 hours of staff time annually – A 3.8% efficiency gain in staff hours while providing more accurate and useable MI
  • Live ‘from the source’ and provided in ‘real time’, data allows significant savings in administration time for the college registration process and planning room / resource availability.

West Cheshire College’s ability to track the movement, location and occupation density now allows a complete real time and historic analysis to identify hot spots and bottlenecks, whilst optimising the utilisation of specific learning areas. It can also quickly balance supply and demand and offer ‘learning on demand,’ ensuring college occupancy and service are kept at optimum levels.

The college is the first vocational institution deploying RFID in this manner. The innovations demonstrated are a first in the educational sector in the UK, and show that RFID technologies can be clearly and positively used to improve on the deployment and management of staff.

The implementation is an innovative example of the possible uses of RTLS technology for non-traditional applications. Showcasing the benefits of RFID technology for the education and other industries, it demonstrates the versatility and process improvements that RFID solutions can offer.

 “Zebra’s ultra-wideband capabilities plus the accuracy and level of detail of the asset tracking information is ideal for this environment.  As an organisation increasingly forced to achieve more with less budget, the solution is a great help in optimising our learning resources.”
Kevin Francis,
West Cheshire College

Other Recent Work