5 bin Automated returns system

4 Jun

Today I am going to talk about the automated returns system (ARS) we installed in our Eastern Resource Centre this year.

First up I have to say this is a small machine – only 5 bins.
It’s not the sexy 10 bin TechLogic sorter at Brisbane Public Library. I’m one of those sad types that cheers myself up by watching the UltraSort live on movie!

It’s not a robot retriever (that’s ASRS – Automated Storage and Retrieval System) like we hear about overseas (and may see soon at Macquarie).
It’s not even the flying monkeys that girlwithshoes teased me about and I secretly believe could still happen one day.

The 5 bin machine offers 4 bins for your sort choice (we have chosen different location codes), and 1 bin for any and ALL exceptions that do not fit those 4 sort categories. We purchased a hybrid system that can handle RFID or barcodes, and only have bins at present. However the QLS model we selected does have a trolley that can be purchased – just note that you have to buy a “docking station” [costs more than the trolley] as well for it to work. TechLogic is the only other model which offers a returns direct to trolley model at present. It’s trolley is far superior to the elongated QLS model (difficult to maneuver I think and only 1 shelf) but also more expensive …

We bought the QLS machine but there are also options from 3M, TechLogic, Bibliotecha and numerous others for every sec after this blog is posted!

The staff are happy with it so far, and we have these “learning experiences” to share with other libraries going down this track:

  • Students want to use these machines. Don’t let them put up the face plate untill you’re REALLY ready to take books. Students will break through paper signs, remove plastic signs and generally try and ram books into this enticing returns machine : – )
  • Whatever the machine itself can do remember that the SIP2 connection still limits what you can do as they only transmit certain data
    eg we currently can’t refuse items from other locations, or items from another floor
  • If you haven’t got RFID yet buy a hybrid system so you can migrate as technology develops. Our system is running books by barcode at present, alongside dvds by RDID tags. Eventually we can migrate books across to RFID from barcodes in our own time, with it appearing seamless to library borrowers.

I’m sure the Librarian of the ERC, much more disciplined than me, will eventually organise me to give a paper on this somewhere. I’ll co-operate as long as I’m allowed to name it the same as I did the working group – Automated Returns Sorter Experience. So the working group could get Kiss my ARSe coffee mugs!

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2 Responses to “5 bin Automated returns system”

  1. Penny June 4, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    *pants heavily with desire at the sight of such a system*

    • Ruth Baxter June 4, 2010 at 9:07 am #

      LOL! If nothing else this blog is going to introduce me to other circulation fetishists …

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