Streamlining Equipment Checkouts with the University of Twente BMS Lab

Managing equipment is no easy task on any scale, but it is even more difficult for universities. Joris van Gend discovered this a couple of years into working in the University of...

UTwente BMS Lab

Founded

2016

Industry

Research

Location

Enschede, Netherlands

Key features used

  • Inventory Management

  • Online Bookings

  • Availability Calendar

Managing equipment is no easy task on any scale, but it is even more difficult for universities. Joris van Gend discovered this a couple of years into working in the University of Twente Behavioral Management and Social Sciences Lab. He realized that its inventory was getting too complex to work with spreadsheets and forms, so he used Booqable to streamline the entire process.

Labs in universities have a lot of equipment that students and researchers use to complete their projects. This equipment needs to be managed, and there needs to be a system to access it. In this way, these labs operate very similarly to rental businesses, and it makes sense that rental software can be the perfect solution to both manage and accept equipment bookings.

University of Twente BMS Lab

The University of Twente’s Behavioural Management and Social Science Lab is the lab for the faculty that focuses on human behavior. Students and researchers investigate treatments of fair use, interaction with technology, usability research, and user experience. It was established six years ago and is managed by the lab director, while the facilities are managed lab facilities director.

Students and researchers in the faculty need to register both their projects and the equipment they want to use with the lab. The lab facilities director processes these requests, makes sure all approvals are granted, and approves the equipment they want to use for their project. They can then proceed with their research and go into the lab to pick up the equipment they require to complete it.

The BMS lab offers a wide range of equipment to help students and researchers achieve their goals. This includes laptops, phones, tablets, PCs, smartwatches, monitoring equipment, drones, VR equipment, cameras, TVs, eye-tracking glasses, and more. By using a mix of this equipment, they are able to do research into how people interact with technology and its usability.

Complex spreadsheets

This became an issue because researchers doing related projects would end up buying different brands of the same equipment, which led to existing equipment being underutilized. This made it difficult to keep track of what equipment was available, who had the equipment, and what the value of the equipment was for insurance and replacement purposes.

In the early days, the University of Twente’s BMS Lab managed its inventory with Excel spreadsheets, but this became too complex to manage. As is the case with many universities, students and researchers would buy equipment, use it for their research, and then it would disappear into someone’s office or be added to the general inventory without being registered prior to the lab’s foundation.

A few years in, this system became highly impractical to maintain and meant that both the lab and its end-users had a terrible experience. Especially when the pandemic hit and there were various degrees of operation throughout the changing rules. So, Joris needed to find a system that would allow the lab to be more flexible and operate more efficiently.

A better experience

Joris and his colleagues found the solution to the lab’s issues laid within rental software and he chose Booqable as it met these requirements the best. It has allowed them to manage inventory in a centralized system where new items can be registered, end-users can book their own equipment, and the usage of the lab’s facilities can be optimized through concurrent processes.

Now, students and researchers can register their projects and submit them for approval and while they wait, they can register the equipment they require through the Booqable webshop. Joris says that this process is true for about 90% of end-users, while the remaining 10% will send email requests and he will manually enter their bookings in the backend of Booqable.

The lab has also been able to improve asset tracking with Booqable’s built-in barcode system and now labels each new piece of equipment. The combination of all these features has allowed them to optimize equipment management and streamline the process for students and researchers. It also meant they could manage the operating capacity in the face of COVID restrictions.

Integrating workflows

Since starting to use Booqable three years ago, Joris has noticed that the efficiency of the system has saved his colleagues a few hours per week. Not only has it made it easier for inventory to be tracked and managed, but it has also helped to optimize usage of the lab’s facilities and buying strategies. While maintaining near full operation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the future, the BMS lab plans on using Booqable’s API to integrate rental software further into the project registration process. This will give end-users a more streamlined equipment booking process and allow the approval process to be much more efficient. In addition, he is helping other universities to develop a similar process for their own labs.

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