Metro Security - Romford Security Services

M.A.R.S – Forecourt Features

unmanned forecourt security services | Metro Security - Romford Security Services

What is M.A.R.S?

M.A.R.S stands for Metro Analytic Retail Solution, a 2019 Queens-Award winning system that works in conjunction with third-party pump dispensing hardware (e.g. Gilbarco, Tokheim etc)

Who developed it?

M.A.R.S has been developed entirely in-house by Metro Security (GB) PLC and site monitoring of the system can be provided using Metro Security’s dedicated 24/7 manned response centre

What does it comprise?

M.A.R.S consists of integrated forecourt site and shop surveillance that’s combined with sophisticated analytical software. The system links megapixel cameras with ANPR, Epos till data and pump dispensing equipment

What can it do for me?

M.A.R.S has three main, complementary, aims: a) to identify and prevent forecourt bottom-line losses including ‘bilking’ drive-offs; b) to remotely improve safety at both manned and unmanned sites; and c) use a range of added-value functionality to boost site turnover, profitability and operational efficiency – thereby paying for itself

Is anyone already using it?

M.A.R.S was initially trialled in 2012 by forecourt operators including Ron Perry & Co and George Hammond plc. Current users include Certas Energy, Harvest Energy (Prax Group), Shell, and Great Gas Petroleum (for unmanned sites in Ireland)

M.A.R.S’ operational advantages – in detail

Remote 24/7 safe site fuel dispensing

M.A.R.S helps forecourt operators to ensure that motorists safely access fuel purchases both at manned sites whilst closed overnight, as well as other unmanned sites. The system additionally enables compliance with all relevant fire/health & safety, age limit and other legislation, as well as insurance requirements and company-specific operational guidelines.

Trained staff (such as those based at Metro Security’s manned response centre) can remotely use the system to visually safeguard fuel dispensing procedures and intervene where necessary to either speak with the customer using two-way audio facilities or summon assistance if an incident escalates.

Practical examples include verifying over-16 minimum customer age and on-site motorist behaviours such as non-smoking, eating, drinking and mobile phone usage. Remote monitoring staff can additionally check that vehicle doors/bonnets are shut, vehicle engines switched off, the fuel nozzle is correctly located and replaced post-dispense, and that refilling into portable fuel canisters complies with EU regulations. Response centre staff can also react to alarm triggers including the use of on-site emergency phones, to assist motorists and minimise the potential impact of any incidents.

M.A.R.S’ high definition surveillance cameras also assist in ensuring that children do not enter the site, while spotting vandals and potential thieves – who can be verbally warned that they are being observed/recorded for potential prosecution purposes.

Loss Prevention

M.A.R.S helps forecourt operators to tackle non-payment drive-offs, fraudulent transactions, spurious refunds and a range of other shrinkage losses. Additionally, the system’s ability to interface with inputs from fire safety and security equipment enables it to be integrated with protective measures including building intruder alarms, perimeter movement detection and heat/smoke alerts.

M.A.R.S’ use of megapixel surveillance cameras in conjunction with static and dynamic ANPR software provides a valuable opportunity to flag-up motorist drive-off ‘bilking’ incidents, identify both the vehicle and driver involved (using facial recognition technology) for subsequent civil/police prosecution, and circulate this data to schemes such as BOSS’ ‘Forecourt Watch’ crime reduction partnership initiative. These details can also be used to compile a blacklist directory, enabling automatic warnings to be generated to alert an operator if the same vehicle returns to site. ‘Bilking’ is now a £30 million + annual drain, according to the Petrol Retailers Association.

M.A.R.S’ use of IP-enabled cameras allows forecourt surveillance to adapt to evolving circumstances such as site configuration changes, without the cost and disruption associated with re-routing hard-wired equipment.

Analytical Solutions

The multi-functional M.A.R.S system comprises a software analytics ‘engine’ that interfaces with a wide variety of on-site equipment. Besides its loss prevention capabilities, M.A.R.S also offers exciting site management and operational benefits through the provision of real-time and post-event data to forecourt fuel retailers.

For instance, by supplying details on the filling number, receipt, staff member involved, date, time and other useful transactional inputs, and interfacing all these with the images concerned, the system can check on aspects including footfall levels and patterns inside the retail shop. Staffing levels and related behaviour can also be monitored, with relevant shift patterns and training implications for identifying any deficiencies observed and identified by the system. For example, changes to shift patterns and training enhancements.

Other tangible benefits include remotely monitoring stock deliveries into stores whenever they are booked in. Forecourt operators and managers can use their smartphones, tablets and laptops to remotely ‘dial-in’ to one or more sites and monitor activity without the need for time consuming visits.

Remote connection to a site also assists with equipment fault diagnosis – for example in validating a night-time alarm, using the system’s monitoring capabilities to judge if it is false or genuine.

Added-value benefits

Besides its loss prevention, operational and site management capabilities, M.A.R.S’ sophisticated analytic software offers a range of powerful added-value sales and marketing opportunities. The system can harness customer relationship management (CRM) functionality to monitor/analyse customers’ buying habits and combine this with target advertising – enabling retailers to tailor their selection of goods.

This also allows optimisation of store configuration, improves stock management, and allows retailers to train their staff appropriately to generate increased profit from faster selling and higher margin items. Examples of this potential include using forecourts’ automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera software, providing the ability to alert the system to a vehicle returning to the site and prompting retrieval of the driver’s previous purchases.

This in turn offers further CRM functionality – e.g. in welcoming the motorist back and tempting them with suggestions of similar items on-sale in the shop en-route to the cash desk. Similarly, ANPR data can automatically use customer profile data based on their purchase history to select appropriately targeted pump screen marketing material for associated upselling.

M.A.R.S’ analytics can additionally be deployed to provide equipment fault monitoring, or used as a motivational tool – such as a member of staff being singled out for praise after selling the most gift cards in a pre-defined period.

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