Q-Free enters UK parking market with major deployment for Amazon


Best known for its tolling systems, Norwegian traffic technology supplier Q-Free has arrived in the UK parking market in a big way, following the commissioning of a sophisticated guidance system for Amazon.

Q-Free UK has completed the installation of its technology at the three-story, 2,400-space parking facility that will serve Amazon’s operations from its fulfillment center in Tilbury in Essex. The site is one of the largest logistics and distribution centers in Europe, and Q-Free UK was approached by McLaren Construction Ltd to provide the facility with a modern parking guidance system (PGS). The company’s in-house smart PGS solution included ceiling mounted ultrasonic directional sensors (USDS) for counting and monitoring spaces, and variable message signs (VMS) for on-site guidance. The USDS units are designed to replace inductive loops and provide accurate vehicle counts while eliminating the need for saw-cutting groundwork.

“The new PGS will operate 24 hours a day, and will provide ‘associates’, Amazon’s term for its employees, with parking guidance based on zones, vehicle facility and level counting,” explained David Caplin, business development manager for parking within Q-Free UK. “Rather than being given the number of spaces available on any individual level within the facility, as may happen at a shopping center, for example, those arriving are guided to zones according to the shifts they will be working. Guidance is provided by two ‘totems’, which give level and lane instructions, and four external and two internal VMS. Vehicle presence and counting information is provided by our ceiling-mounted USDS that detect vehicle entry/exit by ultrasonic directional measurements within the facility and, on the third story where there is no ceiling, inductive loops.”

Caplin continued, “Our wireless communication solution takes advantage of wireless ‘mesh’ technology, allowing the sensors and signs to communicate through multiple pathways. It reduces the cost of cabling and installation associated with traditional hard-wired parking guidance systems. Each device, or group of devices, is wired locally to a modem. This modem wirelessly transfers the device information to the PGS gateway. The gateway is connected through a network to the PGS server, where our Visual Control Center software manages the whole system and provides a graphical user interface.”

Caplin concluded, “It’s a great first project to land and commission in the UK parking market for us. We’ve gained two prestigious clients, in the form of McLaren Construction and Amazon, and a major new facility that can act as a springboard and reference for future business.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).