Shopping Centre

Telford upgrades

Published:  05 January, 2012

Parking technology specialist APT Skidata has implemented a substantial software
and hardware upgrade to the parking systems at Telford shopping centre in the West Midlands

The upgrade enables car park customers to benefit from current and future payment technologies and the car park managers to benefit from enhanced management information and reporting.

APT Skidata is part of the APT Controls Group and supplies both car and pedestrian access control equipment. To date, it has made over 500 installations throughout the UK that include locations such as shopping centres, airports, theme parks and city centre car parks.

The retail development in Telford is one of the largest in the country, with a floor area of more than a million sq ft and over 175 stores. It has seven large car parks, providing approximately 4,000 parking spaces, and it is estimated that more than 90 per cent of shoppers to the centre arrive by car.

However, as Nigel Young, sales director at APT Skidata explains, its APT Skidata parking technology had not been updated since 2003.

“The system at Telford shopping centre was approximately eight years old and in need of a technology upgrade since it could not support any new additional equipment, such as chip and pin paystations,” he says. “The old system architecture was effectively a ‘closed system’ and prevented the introduction of modern technologies that are now available, but Telford shopping centre wanted to move forward.”

Consequently APT Skidata delivered a comprehensive upgrade programme to support the latest and future products. “We replaced the communications infrastructure, took out the old cabling that didn’t support the data of newer systems, and replaced it with fibre technology and Ethernet,” he says.

“We also upgraded much of the system hardware, including the server and all system-operating PCs.We replaced a further 21 paystation PCs, and upgraded the system software from version 11 to version 21.”

The system now runs the very latest version of software available, and it was this software that helped APT Skidata secure the upgrade contract.

Glynn Morrow, business manager at Telford shopping centre, explains: “After investigating a number of other companies on the market who provided parking equipment, we selected APT Skidata because of the ease of use of its front-end software for the operators who will actually be using the system day in, day out. Since then, the parking system has proved to be really reliable but in terms of moving forward, we needed to introduce more depth on the system reporting and we wanted to facilitate chip and pin payments.”

Since it was impossible to close the site during installation, APT Skidata worked around opening hours and made it a priority to cause the least interruption to business at the shopping centre car parks. According to Morrow, the upgrade implementation went very smoothly. “APT did much of the preparation work in its offices before embarking upon installation. It completed the upgrade over the course of three weeks and the new system went live overnight with no hiccups whatsoever.”

The upgrade is likely to be the first of many for Telford shopping centre, and Glynn is looking forward to continuing the relationship with APT Skidata. “This has been phase one of a long-term upgrade process. We needed to begin by bringing the software up to date, but there will be a lot of development taking place over the next five years at Telford shopping centre, so hopefully we can then start to look at upgrading the parking system hardware.”