Local start-up tackling store robberies head on with high-tech storage solutions

Approximately seven years ago it was reported that cellphone store robberies were becoming a regular feature and seemingly increasing. In what is a proudly South African story, two Jozi-based entrepreneurs opened a small business aimed at addressing this apparent crisis.

This came in shape of CellVault™, a world-first that combines simplicity with a dash of technology through the use of secure lockers that come complete with a built-in time-delay that would deter robbers who don’t have time to wait around.

Today the small business has transformed to become VaultGroup™, a 40+ people 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.

From a hardware perspective, each unit features a basic numeric keypad and a simple four-line screen placing huge emphases on extensibility and simplicity. 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.

While on the software front, units integrate with a cloud-based enterprise backend platform, easily scalable to handle any workload. Also key to note that the VaultGroup monitors every unit, remotely analysing system health and unit usage. This easily allows the company to identify certain hardware faults and user errors from a remote location.

PackVault™ on the hand conveniently allows consumers to pick up packages from secure lockers by scanning a barcode, without ever needing to touch a screen:

“As with CellVault, the PackVault solution involves no keys. The PackVault platform offers the same hardware scalability and enterprise solution but 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.

“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,” concluded Baum.