High Chelmer shopping centre secured by Salto

Chelmsford, UK

Chelmsford has long been the shopping centre of mid-Essex and High Chelmer, the town's largest shopping centre, is being transformed to keep pace with retail expectations via a GBP 2 million 3 year refurbishment programme.

Now one of the lightest, brightest and most cheerful shopping centres in the county, High Chelmer Shopping Centre welcomes over 10 million shoppers per annum to its 80 shops and stores counted electronically by infra-red beams strategically located at each of the three mall entrances, and provides a convenient, modern under-cover shopping experience close to the town's car parks.

As part of the refurbishment programme, the centre owners decided to upgrade the on-site security equipment in the service and office areas and undertook an evaluation and tender process to identify the best technology and a preferred supplier to carry out the installation.

The existing security system on the doors in these areas had been in place for some time and was in need of modernisation. They principally consisted of keyed mechanical mortise locks that were now suffering from age related wear and tear. Although there had been no specific key control issues necessitating the unwanted inconvenience and cost replacing locks and cutting new keys, the centre management knew there was a high probability this could happen. This, together with the changing security situation, need for greater vigilance and the call for more control over staff and visitor access rights, meant an upgrade was urgently required.

To replace the locks a modern integrated access control solution was needed enabling the centre management team to centrally manage access rights in all the pre-arranged areas, creating a more efficient and secure system for access to all authorised doors.

Electronic security service and installation specialists Leigh Visual, with offices in London and Bristol, were identified as the preferred provider and they met with centre management and the owners LaSalle Investment Management to discuss how current security arrangements worked, what was required of the new system, installation timelines and budgets.

Following an in-depth evaluation of the centre and access traffic within the designated areas to be controlled, Leigh Visual recommended equipment from SALTO Systems as its electronic locks and complimentary SALTO Virtual Network Technology offered the best solution to the shopping centre's requirements. The system fitted consists of Mifare controlled XS4 escutcheons for access control, with WRM 9000 IP 46 compliant 13.56Mhz RFID Contactless Smart Card wall readers and CU50EN on-line controllers.

Sales director at Leigh Visual, Ken Bickers, comments: "Doors in a shopping centre are typically spread over too great an area to justify a fully hard wired access control system so a versatile stand alone system with a mix of mostly off-line doors, together with a few key on-line doors, is usually the preferred option. This is because not only are there huge cost savings but given budgets in the present difficult retailing environment, they can also be gradually added to the system as time and funding allows."

SALTO area sales manager, Steve Rossiter, says: "Having had a mechanical key based system in place for so long, we wanted to ensure that we future proofed High Chelmer's access upgrade. The best way to achieve this was to introduce a networked multifunction card system that would enable them to enjoy the benefits of electronic access control now but have the in-built versatility to simultaneously operate as their ID badge, time and attendance and cashless vending card if required in the future.

As Ken says, the XS4 system was the perfect solution as it is smart, secure and innovative. It supports up to 64,000 users and is designed for use in wire free stand-alone situations in a wide range of environments. The system can be easily retro-fitted to almost any existing door, with versions available for use with European, Scandinavian or American ANSI modular mortise locks, enabling them to be turned into fully featured access control doors without compromising comfort, convenience, security or control.

It also allows High Chelmer to benefit from the many advantages of the SALTO Virtual Network (SVN), enabling access profiles to be changed rapidly and locks and key cards to be updated, restricted or deleted remotely, adding real value to the access management of the shopping centre."

Whilst the primary purpose of the refurbishment programme is to upgrade the facilities of the shopping centre used by the public, back of house and operational areas have been given equal consideration. For its security needs, High Chelmer's requirement was to have a reliable, state-of-the-art electronic access control system that would eliminate any instances of unauthorised door access. Installing hardware and software from SALTO Systems has achieved this.

Mick McDonagh, centre manager for High Chelmer Shopping Centre, says: "Our mission is to maintain our position as the retail heart of the town centre. To achieve this we continually need to adapt to changing regional, national and indeed global retail trends. As part of this change we now have a cost-effective and user-friendly security solution that gives me more control over the movement of my staff. It is flexible and expandable to meet our future needs, and the fact that it was easy to install and no hard wiring was required was also a real boon."

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