Implementing Labeling Solutions in Educational Institutions: A Comprehensive Overview

Any educational institution such as schools, colleges and universities have ongoing demands to identify people and items to track for their daily transactions. Here is an exhaustive list of possibilities:

  • Document cabinets, folders and files
  • Archived document boxes
  • CDs and backup tapes
  • Assets (electronic equipment, furniture, etc)
  • Student lockers and shelf labels
  • Room door numbers
  • Warning signs: “No smoking”, “Warning: hot water”,
  • Trash bins
  • Cables, pipes and tubes
  • Security guard checking points
  • Maintenance team inspection points
  • Bus numbers
  • Temporary visitor badges (using cardboard tags)
  • Envelope labels of of a mailing list
  • Educational labels (as posters on walls)
  • Lab equipment, tools, test tubes
  • Essential medicine
  • Student clothing (using sewed carelabels)
  • Activity wristbands (trip, sports event)
  • Warehouse spare parts
  • Bookstore and stationery items
  • Library books
  • Canteen food, snacks and beverages

There must be at least one label printer that uses different label material, or multiple printers at different rooms each dedicated to certain label forms and relevant labels. But in either case, there must be a labeling software that is accessed from different PCs to the single networked label printer or multiple label printers. Additionally, the label software should have access to database of the college’s application software to reach fresh and up-to-date data rather than reentering data manually.

There must be also a professional consideration for the right consumables for each application (ribbons and labels). Labels of assets are different than labels of POS, as an example. Furthermore, buying a color printer (with a labeling application software supporting color) can enhance label output and makes it more informative and attractive.

A portable printer (using a handheld PDA and a printing app) helps to print labels in any specific area within the college. This is more practical than printing in office and then taking labels to items.

A college that never had a label printer is advised to start with one unit that is

  • At least 4in wide with thermal transfer ribbon use option
  • Having a networkable labeling software
  • Reliable and durable consumables for each application
  • Excellent staff training so as to be capable of meeting all labeling requirements.
  • Optional: Portable printer, RFID labels, color printer and printing widths larger than 4in.

Finally, what applies to a college for labels can apply to any company.

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Applying IoT Solutions in Educational Institutions: AIDC & Mobility in Perspective

Educational institutions, such as schools & universities, have intensive daily transactions regarding its people, books, documents assets, vehicles among many. Achieving efficiency in all transactions and being secure require tracking all in real time and automatically. Here is a quick summary of the “things” to monitor:

People: Objects: Events: Control/ feedback:
students books guard regular tour Building control sensors
teachers documents cleaning man tour lockers
workers goods maintenance check points elevators
visitors Assets & devices people flow & behavior vending machines
contractors food & beverages buses tour locations turnstile

Being like any business building, a college requires common systems such as fire alarm systems, air conditioning, building management system, etc which are not much within the scope of this article. This article focuses on what the technologies of automatic identification, data capture, and mobility can achieve for a college. The number of applicable solutions are almost limitless.

Click to view/download the infographic at better printing resolution

Click to see the full explanation table of all college departments and technologies

The above infographic and the full explanation table bring up an example of an educational institution implementing some of these technologies. It has been assumed that the ID badge is a multi-purpose card for access control, general user identification and a prepaid wallet for college purposes. Additionally, many solutions of labeling can be either simple barcodes, RFID or both.

Granting identification tags is the first essential step:

Looking at the table above, there are two main technologies for granting identity tags to whatever is tracked:

  1. Paper Labels (barcode and/or RFID)
  2. ID card badges (using different options: barcode, mag strip and RFID), And some minor applications can use:
  3. RFID tags (passive and active) to tag clothes and some assets
  4. Biometric identification (fingerprint or face recognition)
  5. Optical technologies: OMR (Optical Mark Readers) and OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

Application Software:

An educational institution requires several applications to run various departments or one single dedicated package with comprehensive different modules These can run on college server, cloud SAAS or both. However, since most identification tagging is done using labels and ID cards, both require relevant professional software packages that deal with their label and card hardware printers respectively. Usually both the labeling software and the badge printing software have professional printing features especially connecting to the application software so as to source the databases of printed data (student names, book names, list of assets, etc.)

 

Overall Benefits:

  1. Automating all face-to-face transactions (POS, lending, etc) with students and teachers
  2. When applicable, having self-service points such as vending machines and information kiosks
  3. Using the ID card in all locations in the college to get identified and to use the card as a payment method
  4. Turning all data into analytic tools to extract valuable statistics that leads to better decisions for more efficiency
  5. Enhancing security of people, properties, material and vehicles
  6. Continuous monitoring of all events to solve conflicts and quarrels among people
  7. Finally, all common benefits of reducing paper work, reducing labor, and eliminating human writing and data entry errors.

Whether you are a solution provider of such systems or the customer of them, the above is a checklist to follow and apply gradually. When students realize during their education period the amount of automation in their institution, they will have learned indirectly a course in IoT.

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Digital Transformation Middle East 2017

Beirut, Sept. 8-9, 2017:
Appreciation and thanks to KPI (www.knowledgePractices.ca, Mr. Cesar Jabr, & Mr. Anas Tawileh) for having the opportunity to my display digital infographics and digital disruption cartoons in the annual event of Digital Transformation Middle East 2017 held at the American University of Beirut. What a wonderful feeling getting back to my college after 30 years! To view infographics and cartoons, visit my blog https://goo.gl/51AvNz