News, On Campus, Top Story

Mailroom Increases Efficiency, Implements Amazon Lockers

At a University that distributes hundreds of thousands of packages to students every year, the efficiency of the mailroom is important to ensuring that every package is delivered quickly and accurately. As such, the Boston College mailroom, adjusting to the increased volume of received packages, has transitioned to a new system in hopes of improving productivity for staff and students alike.

The mailroom’s move over the summer from Arrival, the old system, to a cloud-based network called SCLogic has marked a significant change in its operations. With the old system, paper labels were placed on every package that entered the mailroom. Tracking numbers could be scanned from the paper labels inaccurately, leading to confusion among staff and delayed pick up for students.

Now without paper labels, the new system prevents such inaccuracies by scanning tracking numbers when new packages arrive and then scanning a section of one of the shelves. Mailroom staff can then more efficiently match the package to the student when they are presented with the student’s ID. The system also informs mailroom employees that students have multiple packages ready for pick up by identifying the shelf where a student may have them waiting, without the student having to present more than one email containing pickup notification.

The emails that students receive have also become more efficient. The layout of the emails produced by the system provides more clarity to students, generating a faster response once they receive news that they have a package ready for pickup. Though the mailroom continues to handle 20 percent more packages each academic year, storage has not yet been an issue since students are so quick to pick up their items.

“We’ve all been surprised at how much greater the student response has been to the email notifications of the new system,” said Al Travaglini, director of facilities services.

In addition to the new electronic system, the mailroom has also doubled the size their site in Walsh Hall by moving a resident director’s apartment to a different part of the building. They also created a new entrance specifically for the mailroom. Packages either sorted on Newton Campus or directly delivered by UPS on site were being entered into the mailroom less efficiently because of the shared entrance with other BC staff.

“We now have our own separate, singular entry point, so it’s helped out immeasurably,” Travaglini said.

Though the SCLogic system was just implemented this academic year, the mailroom continues to look to the future by considering an even newer, more efficient way of delivery: lockers. Currently, the mailroom has partnered with Amazon to have an Amazon locker on the Newton campus at Kenny Cottle Library.

The locker system makes picking up packages much more convenient for students. Instead of a package from Amazon being delivered to the mailroom, where it must be sorted and then picked up at the mailroom itself, students have the option of having their package delivered to the lockers on Newton. The lockers have been operational on Newton for three months, with about 200 deliveries there each month.

“It takes those 200 packages out of my waystream, meaning my employees don’t have to handle them, and it gives the recipient of that package greater flexibility in terms of the number of hours they can access the package,” Travaglini said.

Inspired by Amazon’s accessibility and success, Travaglini and his staff are looking at a similar system for the entire BC mailroom. With the locker system, staff would still have to sort which on-campus location the package is delivered to, and then again sort packages into their respective lockers. The capacity of the system would present another challenge, as approximately 2,000 people are served by each mailroom at Vouté Hall, Walsh, McElroy Commons, and Newton Campus.

“We’d like to take it to the next step and see if we can’t at least experiment with an installation of our own locker system,” he said. “The caveat is, those lockers are a benefit to the students, but they’re not necessarily a benefit to the staf.”

The lockers may come to BC sometime down the road, since the most recent cloud-based system was initiated during the summer of 2017. With both the number of received packages and efficiency increasing, the BC mailroom hopes to continue its efforts of running its processes as smoothly as possible.

“Given the number of packages that we handle, and the number of staff with which we do it, I think we do an incredible job,” Travaglini said.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

February 8, 2018