MERA Systemy, a leading Polish manufacturer of intelligent self-service solutions for public transport, has won a tender for the delivery, installation and operational service of 33 ticket vending machines in Trondheim, Norway, for AtB, a company which unites more than 20 bus, tram and ferry operators in central Norway. The contract included the design of brand new machines, which would meet strict Norwegian standards and allow both the scanning of smart cards and the validation of paper tickets. The entire project was carried out in cooperation with the Norwegian company FARA SA.
It only took 3.5 months to design, prototype, test, make necessary corrections, and put into commercial production a brand new device, while the market average for such demanding projects is one to even two years.
Scope of responsibilities:
MERA Systemy has entered the tender together with its Norwegian partner FARA, a provider of IT solutions for public transport. FARA was responsible for providing the stop validators, which allow using the electronic cards, instead of paper tickets. MERA Systemy specialists were responsible for providing ticket machines selling paper tickets as part of the payment by credit card or in cash. The project was developed also for people with reduced mobility and visual impairments, as the company has developed a proprietary “gesture” system for the project.
Additionally, MERA Systemy was also responsible for providing a system to monitor and manage the machines, i.e. tariffs, screens enabling generation of sales and technical reports. The company had to integrate on the system level in the context of fiscalization of sales data coming from the machines with their tax office counterpart.
This is an example of another MERA Systemy contract that was carried out on the European market. So far, the company was also responsible for projects in Germany, Austria, and France.
Both parties had relatively little time to complete the entire project. The order had to be finalised in just 3.5 months – September 1st is the start of the school year in Norway, which means more passengers. And given the additional challenges, this was a very demanding requirement. Above all, the project called for exceptional flexibility, as it became apparent during the course of the process that it would be necessary to integrate with the existing payment system so that the machines would accept the Norwegian bus card. Mera Systemy uses open source software. In the case of a project in Norway, it turned out that a local agent was providing ready-made libraries for a Microsoft-based platform. As a result, Mera System wrote its own low-level drivers for the payment set in just two weeks. Normally it takes between 6 months and a year to develop such software.
Design of ticket vending machines step by step:
- Starting from scratch
MERA Systemy was assigned the task of designing a completely new ticket machine, with specific dimensions and a suitable layout, which would comply with European and Norwegian standards. All these requirements were first consulted with MERA Systemy’s R&D department, which carried out a thorough analysis. Its findings formed the basis for the entire project.
- Making it happen
MERA Systemy then moved on to design the device. In this process, they took care of the correct positioning of the pin pads, the screen, and implemented infrared gesture recognition technology. The company also took care of facilities for the visually impaired users, i.e. gesture recognition, placement of Braille signage in standard places on the machine, a jack socket to listen to all the needed information, and a full UX to provide comfort and support.
Mera Systemy is able to achieve these results thanks to its comprehensive team, which includes experts from R&D, engineers, agile developers, mechanics, electronics, consultants, and sales specialists. Coordination, supervision, and contact with the customer is provided by a dedicated PM.
- Stress test
MERA Systemy’s equipment was tested for many aspects: safety, electrical standards, comfort in the area of user experience or shock resistance.
This comprehensive approach was appreciated by the customer, who expressed appreciation that the project was delivered on time despite challenges and a few design missteps. The vending machines have been in operation in Norway since mid-2019 and so far no problems with their performance have been reported.
The maintenance of the vending machines itself is handled by FARA, whose employees are on site. MERA Systemy is responsible for the software maintenance, as the company hosts the central system and rents servers in Norway. As a result, they have had to cooperate with the Norwegian financial authority regarding the fiscalisation of the machines and transaction processing.
MERA provides and integrates intelligent solutions, especially in the field of public transport. We design and create modern automatic systems of collecting fees, including ticket machines in public vehicles and places. We provide intelligent systems and tools for monitoring and managing the sales network in terms of comprehensive, automatic service of tickets distribution.
MERA is also one of the domestic leaders in implementing self-service solutions to support the work of administration, offices, e-commerce and entities providing banking, posting, health, advertising and entertainment services, which have become a part of the friendly city infrastructure.
More information: www.mera-systemy.pl/en/