Technology secures platinum standard caravan storage
More people than ever are interested in caravanning. In fact, according to Google, interest increased by over 50% in 2020. With this growing popularity, there’s more demand for secure storage facilities when families aren’t on the road. Insurance companies, concerned about thefts from driveways, encourage customers to seek the most secure storage facilities. In addition, storing caravans away from home avoids advertising that there’s nobody at home when the caravan is in use.
For almost 20 years family-run Border Caravans near Peterborough has operated a successful secure storage site alongside their popular touring caravan site and self-storage service.
This year they became the country’s first site to receive the Platinum grading from the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA), having spent three years developing a tailored security solution, working with a specialist software developer and BTT.
The site provides safe storage for 200 caravans and motor homes, each of which will be of significant value to their owners. This makes them a tempting target for thieves, so the Border Caravan Storage team needed reliable systems to keep track of all movements on and off the site.
Prior to the introduction of advanced security and monitoring systems, staff at the site manually booked each stored caravan in and out. This relied on staff and caravan owners completing paperwork and meant there was an inevitable delay while records were updated.
Although the site is open seven days a week, and the owners live on site, the office isn't staffed around the clock. Access to the compound is within defined hours. Monitoring and supervising access was of paramount importance but not straightforward. A flexible and reliable security solution, that wasn’t intrusive, was needed.
There were already physical barriers on site, and security beams to detect movement, triggering audible alarms and floodlights. There was also closed circuit television (CCTV) with remote access via mobile devices.
Business owners, Keith and Alison Rogers, and daughter Helen, had a five-year plan to modernise and streamline their business processes and to position themselves as a leader for secure caravan storage.
The team was already working with a well-known software developer for the sector, Mike Whitlock. Together they were creating a system that would reflect their existing processes and provide integration with other business systems.
The timing was ideal when they were reacquainted with BTT’s Paul Evans. His background in security and knowledge of the challenges of caravan security and storage were exactly what they needed to complete the picture.
The first step was to instal improved access control that would allow the team to automatically, and immediately, confirm which caravans had been taken off site or returned. This included upgraded CCTV with monitors overlaying the existing access control measures. The team would then be able to track movements on site and make sure they matched the customers’ security tag and fob details.
With the tailored software, their customers’ empty plots could be recorded in a simple way, allowing them to be monitored in a visual format using a dedicated IT system.
We started with a full site survey, so we knew exactly what was wanted and where.
Tamper-proof windscreen tags were tested which, along with scanners, worked effectively with the tailored software. For the first time the team could automatically confirm that vehicles moving on or off the site matched customers’ security details.
The programme has been implemented over three years, including upgraded CCTV. Cameras were also installed at the gates so that the team in the office can see who's coming in and leaving. Individual access rights can be easily changed and if a fob is lost it can be deleted on the system and replaced.
There are two gates at the entrance and the next stage is to create an automatic ‘air lock’ so that only one vehicle can enter or leave at a time, where it will be matched with the customer’s security tag and fob. If there’s tailgating or the tags and fobs don’t match, the gates will lock and a member of staff will be needed to re-set access.
The software also integrates with financial systems to streamline invoicing, so overall the family has made huge progress towards achieving its goal to have an integrated system to run their business.
Helen says: “We wanted to know that people are taking only their own caravans or motor homes off site. We looked at a tracking system when we first opened but it was colossally expensive.
“When we started reviewing our current arrangements, we already had a Paxton electronic access control system with two sets of gates. In 2018 we saw Mike Whitlock giving a presentation on his software and that was the start of the next stage.
“Now BTT has provided full CCTV coverage across the site linked to the Paxton system. Everything is done in real time, which we could never have achieved with the manual system.
“At any time, we know who’s on site, what’s gone in or out, and when; we just have to press a button. We still manually audit the site, but that’s just for peace of mind. The addition of our comprehensive IT system has allowed immediate and accurate recording of all vehicle movements and has developed the security of our compound to a new, and previously unobtainable level.
“The site is very secure. Customers just scan their fob to go through the first gate. There’s another scanner at the second gate, so both are never open at the same time. If the fob doesn’t tally with the records the gate won’t open. Any unauthorised vehicle movement will trigger an immediate alert which will allow us to investigate.
“We experienced a few issues during testing because we were the first site to develop the systems, but now everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
“We have been working with CaSSOA on the new Platinum grading. We've spent the last couple of years exploring the differences between the new grading and the existing Bronze to Gold gradings. We wanted to make sure that all Platinum sites would meet a similar standard with professional installation and effective tracking. We now have the know-how to do this, and with BTT’s experience, it’s all repeatable.
“We were very proud to be the first facility to receive the new grading, which will differentiate us from sites which are currently rated Gold. There are very few Platinum sites in the country.
“Our business has grown so much over the last three to four years. If we didn’t have this system, we'd need new staff members. We’re constantly thinking about what else we can do and we will certainly keep on making improvements.”
Your Security Partner
The BTT team is always happy to collaborate on new and innovative projects. We have a lot of experience across multiple sectors that we can use to help our clients optimise their business performance and create solutions tailored to their needs.
Contact Paul Evans to find out how BTT can develop site security and caravan storage solutions.
Call 0330 222 0330 or email Paul.Evans@bttcomms.com