VMS Parking Guidance for shopping centre

SWARCO Traffic has installed an innovative new parking guidance system at one of Northern Ireland’s premier shopping centres, Abbey Centre, Belfast. The investment is part of a major rebrand and redevelopment to attract new retailers and further enhance the customer experience.

A combination of seven Variable Message Signs (VMS) and seven car parking count sensors were commissioned and installed by SWARCO as part of the contract. The technologies combine to alert visitors to where spaces are available, helping to reduce congestion, improve convenience, and ease the customer journey. Abbey Centre attracts some 115,000 visitors every week, and provides 1,265 free car parking spaces.

The signs and sensors were strategically installed both outside and inside the car park to direct drivers appropriately and ensure they park safely and efficiently. The sensors also automatically report to the relevant VMS on how many spaces are available at each of the centre’s car parks, bringing greater convenience.

Mark Stewart, Centre Manager at Abbey Centre, says the installation was at a key retail period and therefore required the utmost efficiency: “SWARCO designed, installed and managed the process seamlessly with all works occurring out of hours to minimise inconvenience to shoppers, retailers and all stakeholders.

“The entire process was effortless – the company’s experience knowledge and enthusiasm for the project was apparent from the get go,” he adds.

Additionally, SWARCO implemented its PGS Management software that communicates directly to the centre’s management via GPRS. Key strategic information is made available to inform the client’s decision making, and ensuring they are aware of the centre’s peak times – so that the messages displayed can be amended accordingly.

Jeremy Cowling, Managing Director at SWARCO, says the installation ran very smoothly: “The team installed and commissioned all of the signage and detectors over four days, working overnight to complete the project ahead of schedule,” he says. “Now installed, Abbey Centre has been able to swiftly move on to undertake the rest of its upgrades as planned.”

Mobile Success at HAUC Show

Tony Logan, Sales Manager represented the company at the Anglian and London HAUC show on 24th May, he was there with our Smart City Messenger Trailer sign as well as our Moveable Vehicle Activated Sign (MVAS) providing a totally mobile solution. We showcased the capabilities of the new Trailer Sign which is capable of displaying full colour images and pictograms, even displaying how photo images looked on them. With the addition of the fuel cell energy source to recharge the batteries, this can run year round with completely unattended operation.


SWARCO Traffic Ltd. has launched Profectus – a new system that allows local authorities to monitor and control the performance of school signs, and improve safety.
From a simple web browser interface, users can ‘see’ when a sign is operating, check faults and change configuration for the master and slave signs. Fault notifications including failed LED displays can be sent via SMS or email, to reduce the possibility of a failed sign going unnoticed and potentially putting children at risk, Profectus also allows for energy consumption to be evaluated. Energy monitoring and control are key to Profectus providing a small footprint solar solution with the added communications and monitoring.

SMS secure message control provides control and monitoring facilities accessible from the local school to override normal operation.

Already successfully trialled at a primary school in Northern Ireland, a particular advantage is the ability to create bespoke timetables for when and how the signs are used, and the messaged displayed. Users can therefore accommodate ‘special days’, sending different messages or alerts at weekends and other off-peak times.

Profectus has a radio connection allowing multiple sites to be connected over 300m or extended range data connections of 6km, ‘dummy’ signs can also be used to target longer distances.

Andrew Walker, Business Development Manager says that considerable research and development investment has gone into making Profectus a success: “One Profectus sign is also able to create a network of eight signs, meaning a single sign has up to seven ‘slaves’, which report everything back into Profectus. This gives customers complete control of the area in and around their school, while helping to keep the traffic flowing as smoothly and safely as possible.”

David Cousins, Head of Engineering at SWARCO and main developer of Profectus, says Profectus gives users a level of control and reliability not previously possible: “Without Profectus, users might not be aware of an issue until a routine maintenance check is carried out,” he explains.

“Now they have total control, and visibility of data to further inform their traffic management decisions and further improve safety.”

  • SWARCO Traffic Ltd launches Profectus - School Sign Management

  • Mobile success at HAUC Show

  • SWARCO Traffic provides VMS and Parking Guidance to Major shopping centre in Northern Ireland

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