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As business automation starts to take hold, more and more facility managers are waking up to the fact that parking premises should evolve to provide a smooth, touchless parking experience throughout.

So, what is the best solution that will enable parking managers to provide a touchless user experience?

Enter long-range vehicle identification – a fast and reliable system for automatically identifying both drivers and vehicles as they approach the building.

When it comes to specific solutions, RFID and ANPR tend to be the most popular technologies in the vehicle identification market. But which one would be best for YOU? 

In this Nortech post, you'll learn: 

  • How ANPR works and the technology that underpins it 
  • When to choose ANPR for vehicle access control
  • How long-range RFID readers work 
  • How to choose between RFID readers (transit vs target vs reach) 

 

What is ANPR and how does it work?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is a technology that uses optical character recognition to read vehicle registration plates. 

The infrared camera purpose built to read license plates soon entered the security market as more and more providers saw the benefits of utilising this solution for applications such as electronic toll collection, parking management and smart parking. Its technology was created to help end queuing at barriers and is an ideal standalone solution for busy sites which require secure automated vehicle identification.

Read Our Report: Key Technologies Shaping Vehicle Access Control (2021 Update)

ANPR is a type of camera that automatically reads vehicle number plates as they approach, allowing these details to be compared against database records.

 

When to choose ANPR for vehicle access?

ANPR is often chosen over long-range RFID for the following reasons: 

  • Visitor Access. In applications where there is a high number of visitors, ANPR is a more convenient solution. It's easier to add and remove a visitors number plate credentials via a central database than manually applying RFID tags to visitors vehicles. 
  • Cost effectiveness. As touched on already, ANPR removes the need to apply tags to vehicles, which in turn saves businesses the cost of having to repurchase tags every few years for new vehicles or lost tags. 

ANPR-enabled access control solutions tend to be popular in the following environments: airports/ports, car parks, business sites both industrial or office-based, hospitals, sports complexes, historical sites, schools, logistic hubs, gated flats and communities where it can increase security without the need for tags or proximity cards in vehicles.

The Nedap Lumo ANPR has become a popular solution due to its ease of installation and ability to integrate with a wide range of other ‘add-on’ applications. It has a purpose-built, embedded license plate recognition engine for vehicle access and integration into access control systems. 

It's important to note, however, that ANPR is commonly seen as a solution that is ideal for less secure parking environments.

RFID VS ANPR

 

What are Long-Range RFID readers and how do they work?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) utilises electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track various objects. Most RFID systems include a microchip with an antenna (tag), a reader with an antenna and an access control server.

An RFID system cross-references the data stored on the tag with its own database. If it matches, the access is then granted.

RFID technology incorporates various frequency levels that determine the solution’s reading range. The lower the frequency, the shorter the reader’s range. In vehicle identification, the most common frequencies used are UHF (860 – 980 MHz) and microwave (2.45 GHz and higher) frequencies.

UHF technology offers a higher read range and has predominantly been used in logistics to track and trace parcels and products within the production and distribution processes. It is a robust solution for long-range identification of vehicles. It is ideal both for access control to gated sites and for close monitoring of traffic flow activities at industrial sites and logistic depots.

In situations where both high-security applications and demanding vehicular access control applications are required, more robust frequency bandwidth is needed that will also perform in harsh environments. That is where a microwave-based system comes in. If your premises are dealing with buses, taxis, trucks or other vehicles that are of the utmost importance to ensure operational business continuity, then choosing the microwave system will be your best bet.

 

Transit vs. Target vs. Reach

Nortech offers 3 main long-range RFID readers; uPASS Reach, uPASS Target and the Transit. The most important difference between them is the technology that underpins them; UHF (Reach and Target) and Microwave (Transit). 

Taking a look at the diagram below, we can see the main differences between each: 

Long-Range RFID Comparison Chart

Perhaps the most important difference between these readers when installing them is their relationship to metal, as if the site has metal near the installation point, then the uPASS Target and Reach can be ruled out. 

Beyond that, it often becomes a question of ideal range, tag requirements and security level to decide between each RFID reader. 

 

RFID TAGS

RFID vehicle identification systems utilise tags to verify and identify approaching vehicles. RFID tags consist of three key elements: a microchip, antenna and a substrate. The microchip within the tag is what stores and processes information, modulates and demodulates radio-frequency signals. And antenna enables the tag to receive and transmit the signal.

RFID tags are often placed on vehicles like buses, taxis, or employees’ cars to automatically identify them and grant secure access to the premises. As the vehicle approaches the premises, the reader captures the signal coming from the tag, identifies the visitor and matches the code with an access control database. When a certain vehicle is identified and verified, the reader will send a signal to open the access barrier or gates.

The applications for this technology are infinite, and it has a lot to offer in various scenarios. For example, parking management applications can use RFID tags to automatically read the parking permits and provide an alert if an expired permit was detected. It simplifies the workflow, whilst also enhances the safety and security of the premises.

 

Summary

As you can see both of these technologies offer some great benefits, but which one is going to be the best solution for you is going to depend on the following factors – your budget, detection rate needed and environment.

  • ANPR tends to be a better option for applications where budget is tight, as it doesn’t involve costs associated with manufacturing tags – it just scans the vehicle’s number plate and checks it against the database.
  • Detection rate is another factor to keep in mind. ANPR solutions can detect vehicles at around one per second on cars travelling up to 100 mph (100 miles per hour). On the other hand, UHF RFID technology can identify cars passing at very high speeds (150 miles per hour or more) without even slowing down.
  • Environment factors. As ANPR is an optical technology, it might be affected by harsher environmental conditions such as heavy snow or dirt that can obscure a portion of a license plate number. In this case, RFID technology is the best way to go as it is immune to these external factors. An RFID tag can be read through fog, snow, paint and other harsh environmental conditions at high speeds.
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