The Readers Ask…

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The Readers Ask…

I’m getting articles back from our copy editor for the October Issue. This one caught my eye. I thought you might like a sample…

 

Parking Today reached out to more than 7,000 of our readers by e-mail and asked what they would like to know from revenue control manufacturers. We then edited those questions and sent them out to 25 different companies. The 12 companies below responded to our request.

We discovered that our readers wanted to know a lot, and that our respondents wanted to say a lot. So we have divided this response into a number of parts. What follows is Part I, with Part 2 — including questions about parking meters, the cost of parking equipment, delivery time, service agreements, lane counting systems, and cash vs. credit — in future issues.

Note that we have edited some of the responses for length; however, we did not change the answer or the tone. If a company is not listed as a responder, they either elected not to respond or felt the question not appropriate for their product line. Editor.

 


1) How does your company approach obsolesce? I have a system that is going to cost me a lot to replace because I’m told that it will not be supported in two years. I certainly won’t replace it with the manufacturer I have now.

 

Digital Payment Technologies — Our company attempts to make products “backward compatible” as long as possible. However, when discontinuation is inevitable, we attempt to present a long-term plan to clients so they can continue to receive support for as long as possible and then have a migration path to a newer technology. 

Federal APD — We design our hardware and software components to be backward compatible with our existing technologies so to maximize our clients’ investment. As facility and operational requirements change, our solutions provide a migration path that allows for system upgrades without having to “forklift” the entire existing parking control system.

Hamilton — We currently support the majority of our equipment, even products 15 years or older.

Integra Park — Telling someone that you just won’t support an old version anymore is a non-starter. They need to at least have the option of purchasing a stock of spare parts. Or, as in our case, so long as they pay the annual maintenance fee, we support them regardless

Mackay Meters — We use modular technology wherever possible, allowing for the integration of new technology. Where upgrade is not possible, we often offer trade-in value on old meters.

Metric Parking — We notify the customer in writing when we project a two-year life on parts available and guarantee that for two years they will be available. And after that, it will be first-come, first served on the parts left. We also offer a trade in on our new models of equipment in an attempt to keep that customer.
POM
Over the past six years, we have gravitated to off-the-shelf handheld devices and Microsoft Access-based software to make them more easily upgradeable.  We work to make our software backward compatible with previous versions of POM meters, and our current and future meters more easily integrated with that system.   We support more than one handheld device in case one is discontinued, such as was the case with the Dell PDA.  Electronic components, however, often become obsolete in five to- eight years. And that is totally out of our control, so we recommend that our customers purchase a good supply of spares.

Scheidt & Bachmann — The design of our software is backward and forward compatible, but to be completely open, much of the software component is a derivative of the operating platform and database configuration available on the market. A good example of this was the last transition from NT-platformed systems to XP-platformed systems. The migration from NT to XP had an impact not only on the PARCS software component but the CPU hardware as well. Depending on where you fall in an equipment age perspective, there could have been a substantial additional investment on a system less than three to four years old. Hardware, especially CPUs, is in constant flux. Our recommendation is to consider not only the price of a new system, but to anticipate a dollar amount necessary to cover the system life cycle. It is not unusual for a system to have an overall site life of 10 to 15 years with proper planning and engineering, but this will require a level of system updates throughout the 15-year time span.

Skidata — We try to protect the investment a customer makes when purchasing a Skidata revenue control system with annual software releases, which introduce new features and functionality demanded by the market. When new hardware is introduced, the older hardware compatibility is maintained in the new software releases. This allows customers to add new hardware to their existing system whenever their budget allows, while at the same time taking advantage of the latest software features.

Standard Parking Systems — We will try to work through the obsolescence with direct replacement parts or offer a discounted/credit-back price for the discontinued equipment.

T2 Systems — (We) provide our software T2 Flex to customers on a subscription basis. The subscription includes access to all additional features within the software pack that the customer originally subscribed to for the duration of the contract. It also keeps us on our toes and providing good customer care. After all, at the end of the subscription contract, if they are not happy, the customers could walk away.

WPS — Our system has had upward compatibility since 1991 … therefore eliminating this problem. It has made new system releases more complicated and expensive, while also risking certain “complete” technological advances.. The only expense was the software application and very inexpensive costs for hardware upgrades. In addition, the complexity already faced by most owners and operators using PC-style applications and terminals adds some operational challenges.

Zeag — We understand the importance of maintaining the best possible technology on a site and the balance of acquiring updated equipment and the site’s profitability. At Zeag, the production life cycle of new equipment is seven years, and we continue to make parts available for eight years following the end of production. If, therefore, you purchased equipment at the end of its production cycle, that equipment would be supported for an additional eight years. Our equipment is also designed to be backward compatible, meaning that major components of new equipment are designed to function in existing equipment with little or no modification to the system.

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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