Entering and exiting car parks can be a frustrating part of the shopping trip, but car park owners and operators are working with suppliers to enhance the shopper’s first and last point of contact.
t would be judicious to assume that the book is closed on seemingly simple operational devices such as car park barriers, but where there is technology, there is always scope for improved innovation. Expert parking barrier manufacturer, APT Skidata, has proven the fact with the launch of its three new parking systems to help further enhance operators manage and control their car parks. Land Securities has shown its confidence in the technology by awarding the company two significant contracts to upgrade the parking systems at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and at Lewisham shopping centre in South London. Central to the new solution specified at both sites is the first of APT Skidata’s new offerings: Power.Gate control columns, which control entry and exit to the car park. The Power.Gate system incorporates high-resolution displays, subsequently creating an opportunity to communicate and market to the customer. The display boasts high readability under any light conditions, and can support both static advertising and live video streaming. “Power.Gate offers a number of options for advertising,” Steve Penn, sales manager at APT Skidata, explains. “Traditionally this would be static advertising panels located on the plinth and column head and the areas are ideal for giving drivers information on approaching the car park, like tariff rates, opening times or even general advertising from local businesses. “The inclusion of a 7.5 inch TFT colour screen for static notices, personalised entry, or general site information adds another dynamic, and the ability to stream video gives owners the ability to generate extra revenue by promoting their own marketing campaigns, or they can be used to present direction videos and even music videos. Alternatively, the touchscreen version provides additional functionality, for example, it can offer more entry options or pay-by-plate on exit.” In issuing tickets, Power.Gate uses APT Skidata’s Coder Unlimited and Coder Basic technology, which both have thermal print heads, for flexible ticket processing. Thermal print heads ensures a crisp durable print transfer under applied heat. The process provides the ability to print onto wax-coated products such as parking tickets, follow up tickets, and vouchers. Flexible ticket processing allows for different variations of tickets to be generated. This can be beneficial when multiple parking options are offered, and where in-store validations and vouchers are accepted. www.shopping-centre.co.uk
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The Coder Unlimited produces both cross and length-wise barcode ticketing; while the Coder Basic produces only crosswise ticketing. Cross-wise ticketing enables additional space on the ticket for personalised details, marketing and secondary QR code printing. In addition to this, an RFID module is also provided and a Print@Home scanner with an optical reader for paper and paperless tickets can be displayed on smartphones. “RFID (radio frequency identification) is a technology that can be integrated into the parking application,” Penn explains. “Using electromagnetic fields, the technology enables automatic identification on entry, pay machines and exit columns. This process is enabled when an RFID card or chip is placed within range of the reader. “The RFID chip, which is located on various types of key cards or tags, can hold personalised and non-personalised information. Personal details can include user specific credentials and pre-loaded cash values, whereas non-personalised can provide general parking access and is not associated to a specific user. Multiple variations of personalised and non-personalised options can be setup through the APT Skidata parking application and third party systems utilising APT Skidata’s external interfaces.” The control columns at both sites are to be fitted with optic scanners, which will read e-tickets on smartphones or 1D or QR barcodes issued as validations, discounts or promotional vouchers on smartphones. “Validations and promotional vouchers can be used as an incentive to parkers with products such as early bird fixed rate promotions, validations linked to specific retail promotions, and money off parking promotions specific to time and date parameters,” says Penn. “APT Skidata’s system can provide a secondary voucher based on a number of various parameters such as 100th parker, repeat parkers, or in conjunction with retail promotions. ANPR may be required for certain promotions, such as repeat parkers.” The operators at Lewisham will also have a dedicated parking zone used by retail staff that will be accessed by APT Skidata’s new Lite.Gate barrier. Lite.Gate is a slimmed down version of Power.Gate with an option to add further modules as required, including a PIN pad or credit card reader. Similarly to its counterpart, Lite.Gate has sophisticated display modes supporting various applications. For additional parking column controls, the bright, high-resolution graphics display acts as a touch screen and it can also be used for commercials and videos. The third of the new systems, Barrier.Gate, offers a distinctive boundary gate with a barrier boom that can be up to 4.5m long. The barrier boom can be internally illuminated, either with a yellow contour strip or cycling through red, amber and green as the barrier moves from being closed to fully open. The Barrier.Gate’s has an optional magnetic lock to prevent any misuse and, adding to its aesthetics, features an integrated MARCH 2017 SHOPPING CENTRE