Brussels Airport Company has installed a new innovative parking management system (PMS) for its 5,000 non-public parking spaces. The new system makes it easy for administrators to control everything from a distance at the touch of a button, and allows for the automatic opening of the barriers once cameras have scanned a license plate, as well as automatic invoicing.
The old system had limited possibilities, says Rob Werkhoven, a consultant at parking consultancy firm Empaction who supervised the purchase of the new system. "The old system was actually an access system and not a parking system, so cars could get in and out, but the system did not keep track of how long someone was there." This meant that the manager of the airport, had little insight into who, where, and for how, long people were parking.
Bart van Hussen, advisor and director of Empaction added: "If you have 5,000 non-public parking spaces and 1,000 companies using them every day, it is very desirable to have a good, orderly parking management system."
Werkhoven also explained that with 25 parking lots spread over a very large geographical area, you have to be able to rely on your system.
Brussels Airport Company wanted one system that could hold and supply all of the information they needed, says project manager Stijn Dewulf. "It was very important that the system would be able to respond much more to the needs and schedules of our customers. We needed it to be much more flexible, state of the art system"
Unsure of which functionalities or requirements the new system should have the consulting firm called Empaction. Dewulf explains: "Our first question was: help us think about what we should ask ourselves. We knew we were outdated, but we did not know exactly what options we had and what we should consider before looking for suppliers."
Van Hussen often sees this in companies that come to him for assistance: "State of the art systems such as a PMS, can be quite complex, and with so many possibilities, it can be difficult for parties that are not doing this every day, to know exactly what is for sale."
The most important thing is that you first think carefully about what you actually want to achieve, and why, who your target groups are (both internally and externally), which stakeholders should be involved and what the opportunities and risks are.
Van Hussen said: "Before we published the program of requirements and the associated tender documents, we held a market consultation, to provide insight into the possibilities and how various things work in practice.”
Newest of the newest
The system is now installed and almost everything is connected and adjusted. The terminals at the parking lots now have a video connection and an intercom, and the entire control room has been redesigned, allowing administrators to control everything from a distance at the touch of a button.
The entire system is connected to a subscription database, holding data from employees of more than 1000 different companies. The barriers now open automatically after a license plate has been scanned and the system now automatically sends invoices, saving costs for the company.
The new system also allows Brussels Airport Company to deal with supply and demand very flexibly. By examining all rights and tariffs, all tools are available to steer in the field of mobility. Looking at different short and long-term developments around the airport, this is an important step.
"The crux is in the complexity of the project," says Werkhoven. "You have to connect many parking lots together on the PMS, which then connects to central computers, also connecting with things such as license plate cameras."
The complexity also has to do with the individuality and size of the airport, says Dewulf. "We have about 18,000 subscribers and we provide a valet service to other companies."
“With so many subscribers the system must be very precise”, says Bert Vanhorenbeeck, Manager of Landside Services at the airport. "The acquired rights of companies must be taken into account, on top of that companies work with many different shifts, for example, one of the logistics service providers at the airport has almost 100 different schedules."
It can take a lot of organizing to ensure that everyone has a parking space at the right time. "The 18,000 subscribers are entitled to approximately 5,000 places spread over more than 25 car parks. And with car parks offering anything from 20 to 1,100 spaces this requires good management."
Prototypes and cases
In order to choose the correct solution, the supplier has been extensively tested in the tendering procedure, says Van Hussen. "This is not an everyday project, so you want the winning supplier to be really good. This means that the supplier we chose had to demonstrate through case studies and prototypes that they could actually meet our demand."
Dewulf liked this way of working. "It pushed the suppliers who were in the running to put some time and effort into it, meaning that both we and the winner gained a lot of time during the implementation phase."
The first experiences of the new system are positive, says Vanhorenbeeck. "The subscriber can now drive in and out freely; they no longer need a badge and no longer need to press lots of buttons. And, visitors can be registered in advance so that the barrier will automatically open."
The benefits of the new system are great, says Van Hussen: "Previously, Brussels Airport had three different systems: a subscription system, an invoicing system and a system in which failures were kept. Now there is one PMS which can operate all the functionalities that are needed. This really increases efficiency and prevents mistakes. "
"The entire invoicing system is automated," says Werkhoven. "And now that there is one PMS which can view and operate all functionalities there is a whole new control room environment: everything that happens at a distance can be seen, heard and anticipated."
About IP Parking
IP Parking is a Dutch developer and manufacturer of web-based PARCS hardware, software and applications.
IP Parking's installed base currently consists of 700 installations in Western Europe, the Middle East, Australia and North America. Early 2017 IP Parking opened its US subsidiary in New York City.