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

A need for pre-ordering

West Lothian council 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. WLC wanted to avoid as many touchpoints as possible from the typical dining hall routine to safely re-open schools.

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 reduced queuing time for pupils, with increased speed of service and a reduction in food wastage for schools.

Meal pre-ordering appeals to pupils and enables schools to compete with out-of-the-gate spending, increasing school meal uptake. Jamie Fisher, Facilities and Support Services Manager at West Lothian Council, view Fusion Online 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 pick up from a designated collection point at lunchtime. With all pre-ordered meals pre-paid, 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 said: “I can foresee a stepped change in pre-order becoming the most popular way of obtaining meals. 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 Fusion Online collection feature, which allows schools to control traffic flow by setting up multiple collection points throughout the school, WLC successfully adhered 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 Fusion Online uptake, schools in West Lothian issued onboarding instructions in the days before returning. The council gave parent communications media teasers instructions 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 safety measures.


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. 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 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 maintain better stock control.

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 “friendly and professional, with all departments pulling together and working effectively to deliver within timescales”.

In closing, Jamie said:

“Many thanks to CRB Cunninghams for 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 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.”