Six years ago, two Johannesburg-based entrepreneurs opened a small business with a big vision of stopping mobile phone store robberies in their tracks. Their solution, CellVault was a world-first that combined stunning simplicity with a dash of technology: secure lockers with a built-in time-delay that would deter robbers who don’t have time to wait around.
Today, Vault group has grown into a 40+ person business that is changing the face of the local storage security industry by providing high-tech solutions to the local market, offering custom-built secure storage to customers in two specific verticals.
CellVault is an ultra-secure time lock mechanism designed primarily for high-value, low-volume assets, and PackVault is a convenience product offering solutions for the so-called BOPIS (Buy Online & Pick up In-Store) market, click ‘n collect and residential complexes. The technology underpinning both solutions is developed in-house, and features custom-designed hardware and software, purpose-built to address customer needs, says VaultGroup COO Lance Baum.
CellVault is an expandable, time-based locker system, designed to prevent the theft of valuable assets. The lockers are time-delayed, and programmable to function within customer-specified requirements. Each unit features an automated lockdown facility that effectively disables use outside of work hours.
From a hardware perspective, a huge focus is placed on extensibility and simplicity. Each unit features a basic numeric keypad and a simple four-line screen. This master interface is attached to several slave units, with a minimum of one and a maximum of 16 slaves allowed in a single configuration. Each slave consists of between one and six individually accessible lockers, allowing for up to 96 individually accessible storage units capable of handling item sizes ranging from jewellery to laptops.
Once configured, user interaction with the system is minimal, with people following the same procedure for each interaction with the device. Training of new staff is typically accomplished in minutes. This function-over-form design allows for fewer on-the-ground errors by staff, making the product particularly suitable for back-office solutions.
On the software front, units integrate with a cloud-based enterprise backend platform, easily scalable to handle any workload. A configurable security platform allows for granular management of unit settings, installations, users, accounts, and a variety of additional features. VaultGroup monitors every unit, remotely analysing system health and unit usage. This allows for the identification of certain hardware faults and user errors from a remote location.
PackVault allows consumers to pick up packages from secure lockers by scanning a barcode, without ever needing to touch a screen. This is proving to be a boon for businesses like courier companies, retailers and residential complexes, who can facilitate parcel drop-offs and collections at times that are convenient to the end user.
The PackVault platform features user-friendly customer interfaces, each purpose-built for the environment it is placed in. A combination of barcodes and touchscreen input allows for lockers to be reserved, allocated, freed, or cancelled, as per customer requirements,” says Baum.
For Baum, it’s all about the power of using technology to drive real innovation and real-world solutions for the problems facing businesses and consumers alike – and the sky’s the limit, with numerous potential applications for secure storage across a range of industry verticals.
“How do banks get new debit and credit cards to their customers without forcing them to come into a branch? How do couriers ensure valuable deliveries end up in the right hands, without the headache of wrong addresses and multiple delivery attempts? How do jewellers operate in a world where armed gangs break display cases and flee with their loot? These are the pain points facing South African businesses today – and we’re helping them solve their problems, using fully home-grown technology,” says Baum.