A recent MDPI study found that cruising vehicles account for as much as 56% of road traffic at an average parking search time of six minutes. Sluggish speeds, acceleration frequency, and lane change times can all increase travel times significantly, but the impacts probably hurt you more directly than you think. Shoppers need parking in order to spend. Forty-three percent of shoppers say they’ll readily choose a competitor after just one negative shopping experience. In an era that lets you shop from your living room via a modem, every second counts. One tiny piece of technology can make all the difference to that: your car park management system.
The Role of Car Park Barrier Systems
When barrier systems are well-designed, they shorten the time every car spends in the streets surrounding your business. The earlier you start controlling flow, the more you’ll reduce through-traffic, so many integrated barrier systems start directing traffic streets ahead of the final boom. Integrated car park barrier systems can manage more than mere entry points. They can interface with security systems and link to your human resources department. Software connected to your barrier system can automate sign ins and exits so that your HR team doesn’t have to enter timesheets manually. They can also facilitate orientation so that your clients can easily find their way and are less likely to cause traffic jams beyond your barrier gate. Integrated lane signals don’t cost you a cent, but they can bring direct return on investment to retail spaces.
The Components of a Good Barrier System
No turnstile exists in an isolated system. Access software, security-related hardware, and a comprehensive flow strategy must support your parking barrier if it’s to achieve your highest goals. Interlocking blockers and anti-tamper guards can integrate with any digital access control tools. Think of your turnstile as the desktop computer of your parking lot, your choice of pin, card, or RFID autogate as your software, and your floor barrier as your antivirus. All three must work together seamlessly if your parking lot is to flow well. Your digital access tools are as important as your hardware.
Parking is expensive, so unwanted drivers are one of the biggest pain points of a paid lot. In buildings with tight security, unwelcome “visitors” can carry a much higher cost. This is the role your classic barrier system fulfills, but barriers aren’t all made alike. A quality turnstile or boom operates quickly and smoothly while resisting unpermitted access.
In high security areas, you can pair booms with spike barriers, flow plates, or single direction flow spikes. Hydraulic bollard blockers can combine with green light systems perfect for military installations, embassies, and cash handling departments. Choose anti-ram technology if you need to block access in an instant. If you’re fitting a standard lot, mall, or corporate block where traffic flow is your primary goal, gravity-controlled surface mount flow plates will operate without software or human involvement. Alternatively, you can easily bolt down a simple surface-mounted flow plate. It doesn’t get simpler or more economical than that.
With flow plates installed in a staggered double row, you can keep one-way traffic flowing in the right direction. HGV plates can be designed for extra height to deter larger vehicles. They need very little maintenance and are easy to replace. If you need something a little more robust, embedded options function silently while allowing you to disable them when necessary.
Building on a Basic Telescopic Arm
Your barrier system centres on one important point: your gate. The better your system, the better your flow. All traffic jams start and end at your barrier, so you need to build speed into the system. Goose neck readers are a popular access control mechanism, but unless you’re using a contactless card system, they require every car to come to a halt prior to entry. In recent years, lots have started adopting RFID autogate systems as a way to keep traffic flowing constantly. Every car receives a dashboard card, which can be slotted into the visor or laid on the dashboard. A tracking system reads the card and opens the boom automatically. No PIN numbers, no card taps, no stopping. Just a steady stream of moving traffic. Radio-frequency identification can even track stock and personal ID cards, so you always know precisely who and what is in your building at any given moment. Stock control just became a lot easier, so your warehouse staff can focus on more important tasks than counting.
What to Spend
Every car park management system has its price, and if you’re a tiny retail space, you won’t need to invest in the same expensive tools a consulate needs to keep unwanted visitors out. Don’t make the mistake of thinking cheaper is always more profitable, though. Your building functions as a part of your brand identity, whether you’re a white collar establishment or a retail space. The better it runs, the more visitors you’ll receive and the more profits you’ll turn out. This is less of an expense than an investment. You will get out, in returns, what you put in, in investment.
Provided you lack specific security concerns, you should focus your investment on speed, convenience, and reputation. A slick, architecturally-sound system speaks volumes about your brand. A quick, convenient access point that prevents bottlenecks attracts buyers, so you’ll need careful focus and a tight strategy. A good system protects, controls, and integrates into other arms of your business, and it’s your digital access tools that perform the latter task. For that reason, you must choose it according to the software your business uses for its administration, stock control, and bookkeeping.
It’s easy to ignore the importance of traffic flow when your car park is functioning as it should. It’s when Black Friday or Christmas Eve strikes that you find out just how costly that cheap access control system really was. Take time to save time by choosing your system carefully right from the start.