Benefits of RFID for Parking Facilities

By Alexander Chirita
In recent years, RFID technology has become more cost effective and has been applied to a wide variety of industries – especially parking lots. Parking lots are an important component of many businesses so it’s important for them to be well-managed and efficient for the operators, while being accessible and convenient for their customers. After its implementation in many parking facilities, it’s clear that a parking lot equipped with RFID technology will have lower operating expenses, a minimized chance for human or machine error, enhanced safety and security, and a vastly improved customer experience. In this posting, all of these benefits of applying RFID technology to a parking lot environment will be discussed. Reduced Operating Expenses Parking lot RFID solutions can be called different interchangeable names including: parking management systems, RFID parking systems, and parking lot gate systems. Parking lots that implement a parking management system to control access will be able to reduce the usage of parking meters and payment machines or remove them altogether. Manual record keeping can be reduced as the system will automate the vehicle inventory aspect of the business. These benefits will lower the recurring maintenance and record keeping costs and decrease the number of hours employees need to work. By automating the operations of the parking facility, labor can be focused on more important tasks or can be eliminated altogether. Minimize Labor Costs and Human Error A RFID parking management system will reduce the need for parking facility employees and managers to physically examine the parking lot due to the ability to receive instant occupancy data such as how many cars are in the lot in real time. Over time, this information can be used to determine peak periods of parking lot use and help management make key staffing decisions to match demand needs. Parking lot staff will have more time to perform other tasks such as assisting customers and reduces the possibility of repetitive strain injury (RSI) as attendants are no longer need to attach stickers to vehicles, issue permits, perform manual record keeping, or scan tickets with error-prone barcodes. All of this is made possible by the introduction of RFID technology in the parking control system. In addition, the RFID parking control system can record all lot entries and exits for billing purposes and reduces the possibility of theft or human error caused by working with cash and giving change. In some cases, an RFID system will eliminate the need for any attendants and greatly reduce labor costs in the form of an automated unmanned parking lot. Enhanced Facility Safety and Security A RFID parking system will maintain a log of which cars have entered, left, and are presently in the lot. This allows any untagged or suspicious vehicles to be identified and monitored. Surveillance cameras can be integrated with the system and triggered to record under different circumstances providing valuable evidence for fines or criminal prosecution, if necessary. Various operating hours and holidays can be entered in the system for further customization of access control. For larger parking lots, the system can manage multiple groups or zones simultaneously, thereby enhancing the safety and security of the entire parking facility. Elevated Customer Experience Depending on the configuration of the entry and exit gates, vehicles with a RFID tag or RFID strip on the windshield may be able to drive directly into and out of a parking lot without stopping. During colder weather, drivers that don’t need to roll their window down to scan a parking pass or put money into a machine will be especially grateful for the RFID system. An electronic product code (EPC) Gen 2 passive windshield tag which operates at an ultra-high frequency (UHF) (860 – 960 MHz) would be ideal for this RFID parking system scenario. For more temporary uses, a passive RFID vehicle hang tag that also operates from 860 – 960 MHz but that can hang from the vehicle’s rear-view mirror for easy removal is a more suitable choice. Not having to worry about payments and passes will lead to an improved customer experience by saving the customer time as they enter and exit the facility, and reduces traffic congestion from lineups. In other parking lot gate system configurations, RFID enabled vehicles are only required to spend a small fraction of time at the gate compared to what they would normally spend paying for parking or getting a parking ticket to be paid later. For added convenience, vehicles can be up to five meters away to be identified. An UHF fixed RFID reader and writer supporting EPC Gen 2 with two antenna ports would be able to support this requirement. Thanks to the longer range of some RFID products, there’s no need for drivers to carefully position their vehicle so they can reach a scanner or attendant booth. The shorter the wait to enter and exit the parking lot, the happier customers will be. If the parking area is within a secure facility, customers can quickly tap an access card on a reader near the door to enter the parking area. This would require a high frequency (HF) card that operates at 13.56 MHz instead of an ultra-high frequency card because of the closer range between the card and the reader. If the more powerful, higher 860 – 960 MHz frequency is used then customers will be able to open the door from further away. The downside to this is customers may be standing near the door or in the same hallway having a conversation and repeatedly unlocking the door unintentionally; this is why high frequency readers are typically chosen for this scenario. To really heighten the experience of customers, RFID parking lot gate systems also support real-time vacancy information that can be shared with customers to quickly find a vacant parking spot. Real-time vacancy information is particularly useful for lots divided into different zones, lots divided by floors, and for lots that have peak hours of usage. Return on Investment Using the power of ultra-high frequency tags, readers, and windshield strips, the benefits of a RFID parking control system solution can deliver a return on investment in a highly reasonable time frame. The lower maintenance costs and the reduction or elimination of manual record keeping will reduce operating expenses. An elevated customer experience results in customers preferring certain parking lots over those that haven’t adopted technology, which potentially leads to more repeat customers. Overall, a safer and more secure parking lot will be appreciated by employees, customers, and managers alike.  Ultimately, a RFID parking management system will be necessary to compete in the business landscape as parking lot owners and operators strive to make parking a faster and more enjoyable customer experience while also seeking to reduce expenses.   alex-bio]]>

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