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At the ASSIST FM Conference in Glasgow this month, West Lothian Council was awarded for Innovation in the Scottish National FM Awards in recognition of the Council's efforts to modernise its cashless catering system by upgrading to Fusion, CRB Cunningham's cloud-hosted cashless solution. 

We're sharing how West Lothian Council went from relying on manual processes to becoming an award-winning council by transforming how cashless catering data is processed and delivering a better catering experience to pupils.

Upgrading to Fusion Cashless

With a focus on providing the best possible services for their students and staff, West Lothian Council (WLC) upgraded their cashless catering system from Impact to CRB Cunningham's Fusion Cashless solution in all 12 secondary schools.

Fusion is a modern, streamlined system offering increased functionality, including the Fusion Online pre-order app and Facial Recognition for fast meal transactions. The project commenced in August 2021 and was completed in January 2022.

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The challenge: reducing the risk of system failures

The previous system, Impact, was installed on individual catering managers' PCs with daily manual backups to external devices or data copied to folders on the same hard disk. This was a potential weakness in terms of increased downtime in the event of a PC failure.

Impact data was copied to an on-premises server each night to allow management reporting via Crystal Reports. In addition, data from CRB Cunningham's iPayimpact online payment system was copied from CRBC servers to facilitate management reporting within WLC.

The solutions: Implementing Fusion Cashless & Azure data warehouse

The new Fusion system is a fully cloud-hosted solution with each piece of equipment, such as tills, PCs and revaluation units, connecting independently, dramatically reducing the risk of downtime or service failure.

WLC worked closely with the CRB Cunninghams team to ensure a successful Fusion implementation in all 12 secondary schools. When it was identified that the centralised reporting environment was unavailable, we were keen to develop a reporting solution for West Lothian Council and other schools in the UK.

In response, we collaborated with FM Services to develop a solution called 'Data Factory'. Our development team created an Azure data warehouse environment for reporting, populated with critical data tables and refreshed daily. We communicated the Azure server connection process, and WLC IT Services applied internal firewall changes within the Council's network to allow named devices access to the server.

FM Services worked closely with the CRBC team to agree on the data available in the Azure environment, including data from our online payment platform iPayimpact, formerly copied to WLC's central reporting server. This allowed WLC to remove their central reporting server, saving on server support and storage space.

Power BI reporting and dashboards

To make the most of the data available in the Azure environment, FM Services used Power BI, part of Microsoft 365, to develop reports and dashboards and distribute them to management users. The advantage of Power BI is the ability to bring data from various sources into one place, providing a comprehensive view of meal sales per high school and staff resource hours and allowing for better performance measurement.

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The results: Improved data management and reporting

The collaboration between FM services at West Lothian Council and CRB Cunninghams resulted in a solution that has improved data management and reporting capabilities while reducing the risk of system failure and cost savings.

CRB Cunninghams is proud to have been part of West Lothian Council's journey to becoming an award-winning council, offering a modernised cashless system and providing school staff across multiple sites with valuable data insights.