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In any type of secured facility – a warehouse, factory, government installation or corporate offices – systems and protocols are necessary to ensure that only authorized personnel and vehicles can enter or exit. Vehicle access control systems (VAC) are one way that many organizations perform this vital function.

If you care to go all the way back, the first VAC “technology” was introduced in the early 20th century: a guard who would manually lift a gate to allow entrance to a factory after verifying the driver’s identity. Magnetic cards and barcode scanning systems came along in the 1970s, followed by RFID tags in the 1990s and digital cameras to capture license plate numbers in the 2000s.

Fast forward to the present, and we have the use of biometrics and AI-powered surveillance, creating more secure, efficient, and automated VAC systems. In the past decade or so, more advanced AI-powered VACs use optical character recognition (OCR) to capture vehicle and driver information for security and verification purposes.

AI-based VAC systems with OCR pull in vehicle and driver ID information via real-time data feeds from security cameras. They have the advantage of being a fully contactless access solution that enables an efficient, secure, and reliable process. They can also be integrated with broader security networks for comprehensive surveillance and control capabilities. This type of integration provides enhanced monitoring and an immediate response to security breaches throughout the controlled premises.

Understanding Contactless VAC Systems

In simple terms, a contactless VAC does not rely on a person-to-person exchange of information such as handing over paperwork or displaying a badge to a gate agent. Contactless technology is familiar to anyone who has made a checkout payment by waving their microchip-based credit card over a reader.

Another application is driving under an array of highway sensors that capture license plate numbers and automatically bill vehicle owners for tolls – making solutions like EasyPass unnecessary. Ease, convenience, and speed are the primary benefits of any contactless system.

Types of Contactless VAC Systems

Contactless VAC comes in a variety of flavors:

Biometrics: For higher security areas, fingerprint or facial recognition scanners provide access to authenticated individuals, including those in a vehicle. Last fall, a biometric VAC system from Idemia-National Security Solutions using facial recognition was tested at a Redstone rocket facility in Huntsville, Ala.

While biometrics for access security is on the rise, it’s not practical in a busy warehouse, for example, with drivers from multiple carriers entering and exiting the facility each day.

Mobile access control: credentials are stored on a smartphone app, and vehicles and personnel are granted access through a signal that communicates with the VAC. This can either be via Bluetooth, with the system automatically detecting and authenticating the phone within range, or near-field communication (NFC) in close proximity to a reader via a mobile WiFi signal.

RFID: tags placed in vehicles are read by a reader/sensor from a prescribed distance, enabling automatic gate operation.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR): Cameras equipped with OCR capture and read license plates, granting access based on a pre-approved list of names and/or vehicles.

Advanced AI systems: AI combined with OCR goes well beyond the capabilities of ANPR. It captures and analyzes many more unique identifiers in real time, including ID numbers for trucks, trailers, containers, and chassis, as well as US DOT numbers.

An AI-powered VAC integrates seamlessly with an existing YMS, providing a holistic view of vehicle and asset management. This approach enhances security and operational efficiency, easily processing complex, multi-source data.

Intercom systems: Voice communication can be used to verify visitors without physical contact, adding an additional layer of verification to data-driven solutions or in cases where a system alert is generated.

Key Components and Benefits of Contactless VAC

Other than an old-school intercom system, any contactless VAC will generally include some combination of sensors and readers, cameras, and software that controls the technology.

Contactless VAC offers enhanced security, streamlined traffic flow, and greater convenience compared to traditional gate access systems. By minimizing or even eliminating physical contact through automation, they greatly reduce congestion at a security gate, enhancing operational efficiency and personnel safety.

The Role of AI in VAC Systems

AI significantly enhances VAC systems by integrating advanced pattern recognition and predictive analytics. These AI-driven features are crucial in identifying and responding to security threats and making yard operations more efficient.

AI’s pattern recognition allows VAC systems to quickly and accurately identify vehicles and drivers through real-time capture of various identifiers. It also aids in biometric identification, if that technology is in use. AI can differentiate between authorized and unauthorized drivers, even under poor conditions such as poor lighting or inclement weather. It also enhances a VAC system’s ability to learn from past data, recognizing patterns that may indicate the potential for security breaches, such as repeated attempts at unauthorized access.

The predictive analytics aspect of AI also plays a key role. By analyzing historical data from gate activity, it can predict peak times and potential security vulnerabilities. This enables organizations to proactively manage resources, such as scheduling additional security during projected high-traffic periods or reinforcing surveillance in areas more susceptible to breach attempts.

The integration of AI into VAC systems not only bolsters security by preventing unauthorized access and quickly responding to potential threats but also improves operational efficiency. It minimizes manual checks, reduces traffic bottlenecks, and optimizes staffing, making operations run smoother while enhancing security. To sum up, AI has the potential to transform traditional VAC systems into dynamic, responsive security tools offering superior protection and efficiency.

The Benefits of OCR in AI-Based VAC Systems

OCR technology powered by AI provides a natural complement to VAC by providing a steady stream of real-time data from cameras throughout a facility.

As vehicles approach an access point, the VOC captures images of identifiers, and OCR converts characters into digital text. Authorized vehicles are then verified against a database. The speed of OCR not only reduces wait times and potential bottlenecks – which cuts down on vehicle emissions from idling trucks – but it also ensures traffic flows smoothly throughout the facility while reducing manual checks.

OCR reduces the risk of human error associated with manually entering vehicle details, enhancing security and reliability. Traditional methods that rely on security personnel to visually confirm vehicles are prone to mistakes, especially in poor lighting or heavy traffic volume. By automating this process, OCR minimizes the risk of unauthorized access, ensuring only vehicles cleared for entry can access a restricted area.

Overall, the advantages of integrating OCR into VAC systems are manifold, offering enhanced speed, accuracy, and reliability. This is essential for maintaining secure, efficient operations in any controlled environment.

Other Benefits of OCR Beyond VAC

OCR technology provides a natural complement to a VAC system by providing a steady stream of real-time data from security cameras. If cameras are positioned throughout a facility’s lot or yard, the benefits extend beyond the gate.

In a warehouse or manufacturing facility, for instance, analytics on vehicle capacity, delivery schedules, and capacity constraints enhance load planning and shipment sequencing. Improved visibility into shipping schedules and routes enables a better sync of yard operations with inbound/outbound logistics.

Predictive Analytics Powers Inbound Scheduling

AI systems drive an overall improvement in “yard vision,” analyzing historical data to predict peak times and optimize scheduling and routing. This reduces yard congestion and helps both fulfillment and transportation teams stay on plan.

Automated Dock Assignments

Enhanced visibility into dock availability, inbound flow, and yard traffic means dock assignments can be updated and revised on the fly, based on shipment priorities, product dimensions, and other special requirements.

Real-Time Tracking and Visibility

By accessing data feeds from cameras, AI-based systems with OCR provide precise updates on the location of vehicles, trailers, and containers, and the status and timing of inbound cargo for inventory purposes.

Future Trends in Contactless VAC Systems

Advances in machine learning, deep learning, and blockchain will further refine the efficiency and security of VAC systems.

Machine learning will enable smarter, adaptive access controls that learn from entry patterns, identifying irregular behaviors or unauthorized access attempts. Deep learning will improve the accuracy of systems like biometrics and vehicle and driver identifiers under varied conditions.

Blockchain introduces an additional layer of security and integrity to VAC systems. By decentralizing the database of registered vehicles and access logs, blockchain ensures that data cannot be altered or hacked, providing a robust audit trail.

These technologies will not only enhance security protocols but also reduce false alarms and streamline entry processes in a secure, contactless manner.

Contactless VAC: Streamlining and Optimizing Gate Access

Vehicle access control technology has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a lift gate at the dawn of the motor vehicle era. Increasingly, AI-powered contactless capabilities are streamlining access control, enabling analytics-based decisions. It also provides a number of ancillary benefits throughout yard operations.

EAIGLE is a pioneer in applying AI to logistics. Its innovative OCR technology captures data from security cameras to optimize vehicle flow and manage yard assets. Importantly, EAIGLE’s platform augments rather than replaces a legacy YMS.

EAIGLE’s systems for gate management (AVAC™ – Automated Vehicle Access Control) and yard operations (YardSight™) improve operations by enabling optimized gate access and making dock scheduling and queueing more efficient. To find out more, request a demo today.