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Brand new to UK schools! Find out more about our new, contactless recognition method.

“To offer a safe, modern service that attracts young tech-savvy customers”

A need for pre-ordering

West Lothian council previously utilised a CRB Cunninghams cashless system and online payment platform iPay across their 67 primary schools and 11 secondary schools, but wanted to extend their solution to include contactless meal pre-ordering and collection. When they learned that they could do both with the CRB Cunninghams pre-order app Fusion Online, West Lothian Council decided to implement the software ahead of the 2020/2021 academic school year. 

A truly contactless solution

Before COVID-19 related school closures, schools in West Lothian were operating on CRB Cunninghams cashless and online payment solutions and utilised pin-pads and biometrics at the point of sale. To safely re-open schools, WLC wanted to avoid as many touchpoints as they could from the typical dining hall routine. They opted for CRBC contactless cards and launched the pre-order app, Fusion Online, removing transactions from the dining hall to offer a truly contactless identification method.

Implementing a ‘Grab & Go’ style pre-ordering service

A grab & go style of service promises a simple pre-order and reduction in time spent queuing for pupils, with increased speed of service and a reduction in food wastage for schools.

Appealing to pupils and helping schools to compete against out of the-gate spending and increasing uptake of school meals, Jamie Fisher, Facilities and Support Services Manager at West Lothian Council views the Fusion Online app as the next natural progression to “offer a modern service that attracts our young tech-savvy customers.”


With Fusion Online, secondary school pupils can browse school catering menus and pre-order their favourite lunches straight from their mobile device to simply pick up from a designated collection point at lunchtime.  All pre-ordered meals are also pre-paid, and pupils can view their live cashless balance anytime, anywhere. WLC’s combination of Fusion Online and iPayimpact meant their schools could remove any physical transaction from the dining hall.


After successfully implementing a grab & go style food offering, Jamie had this to say. “I can foresee a stepped change in pre-order becoming the most popular way of obtaining meals and children now want a grab and go service to avoid queuing.”


Control over traffic flow

As part of adapting their kitchens and lunch service to safely re-open their schools, WLC schools implemented numerous collection points to control traffic flow throughout dining areas. With the collection feature of Fusion Online which allows schools to control traffic flow by setting up numerous collection points throughout the school, WLC was able to successfully adhere to social distancing guidelines, without compromising on speed or quality of service.

quote“The service enhancements we have implemented have been key in us being able to facilitate the return to school as safely as we could. The system also allowed us to be able to offer school children and staff access to the government Eat Out Help Out initiative.” Jamie Fisher, Facilities and Support Services Manager, West Lothian Council. 

Launching the app

To encourage uptake of Fusion Online, schools in West Lothian issued onboarding instructions in the days before schools returning through; parental communications, media teasers to alert pupils that the app would be available soon, and included Fusion Online as part of their mitigating actions to assist children returning to school with additional measures of safety.


Encouraging pupil uptake

In addition to their launch plan, Jamie noted that word of mouth had been instrumental in generating requests from pupils that never received their onboarding codes looking to sign up.

quoteJamie Fisher recorded that “from the 14,000 emails issued, within 24 hours 26% have already signed up and the requests keep coming. It should be noted that an average weekly uptake is usually only around 55%, so this is a massive achievement.” 

The results

Fusion Online is now a vital part of the lunch service for West Lothian Council, with benefits for each stakeholder. For staff who “received full comprehensive training” find the software “easy-to-use and find production reports and order tickets easy to pick up. Alongside new changes to their service and preparation, Fusion Online gives staff another level of safety that allows them to maintain social distancing during the pandemic.”

Reduction in food waste

Fusion Online sends pre-ordered meal choices to the kitchen ahead of time, which means the catering staff can prepare meals in advance for pupils to collect at lunchtime, offering schools an increased speed of service and a reduction in food wastage. Historical data is also available for catering teams to help predict trends, plan, and keep better control of stock.

quote“The ability to pre-order benefits our catering service as it limits production to only what is ordered and has reduced our food waste considerably.” Jamie Fisher


Closing remarks

Throughout the implementation process, Jamie found CRB Cunninghams to be “friendly and professional, with all departments pulling together and working effectively to deliver within timescales”.

In closing, Jamie had this to say:

“Many thanks to CRB Cunninghams in getting us up and running with the contactless cards and pre-order app. It was an excellent project and a pleasure to work with you all! I’ve had excellent feedback and expressions of thanks from senior officers, and more importantly, I have been inundated with requests from pupils that never received their onboarding codes wanting to sign up. I would highly recommend Fusion Online to other schools. In fact, I’m already advising other councils to implement the software.”