A specialist for passenger counting in buses, trains, trams and even ships, HELLA Aglaia has made a name for itself in the industry over the past 10 years. With high-precision counting results, reliable sensors and a dedicated team, the People Sensing division serves a renowned customer base on every continent.
Ensuring innovation, quality and reliability
Prior to the establishment of the People Sensing division, HELLA Aglaia is known for its computer-aided image processing for driver assistance systems. However, the creation of safety and comfort is a high priority for virtually every area of life. Thus, the concept of using a camera to monitor a certain area and evaluating the obtained images with intelligent algorithms is eventually transferred to the field of people counting. Application options are narrowed down to public transport as well as retail and event spaces.
Founded in 2008, the People Sensing division is initially managed by HELLA GmbH & Co. KGaA in Lippstadt, the parent company of HELLA Aglaia. The Berlin-based software specialists themselves manage development and production. Just one year later, HELLA Aglaia lays the foundation for its mobile product portfolio: the APC, developed for Swedish transport company Arriva, becomes the first people counter specifically designed for public transport needs.
Cooperative partnerships for global success
Right from the start, the People Sensing sales activities target system integrators who install and maintain the counting devices in the respective deployment location. At the same time, the team approaches train manufacturers directly and, through cooperations with the railway divisions of Bombardier and Siemens, earns a lasting reputation in the market.
At the end of 2013, HELLA Aglaia takes commercial responsibility for the people counting division to advance the business from Berlin and further establish the People Sensing brand as one of the industry’s key players. By that time, almost all renowned train manufacturers and public transport companies worldwide rely on the expertise of HELLA Aglaia. In addition, the People Sensing products monitor the utilization of ferries – both for commercial assignments and as part of a UN research project.
Fritz Lembke, Head of Sales at HELLA Aglaia, believes there’s many reasons for the broad acceptance of the devices: “Customers like our products because they are easy to use and offer flexible application options for virtually any environment. But most of all, our customer base appreciates the fact that they can fully rely on the counting data we provide while they continue to focus on the core of their business.”
From the very beginning, the data verification option proves to be a major selling point. The feature allows to verify the counting accuracy of a People Sensing device at any time through integrated video recording – free of errors and without additional staff expenses. In addition, especially working with the railway industry is a long-term engagement: “The availability of products and spare parts has to be guaranteed for decades,” explains Lembke. “We feel nostalgic ourselves when we spot one of our very old devices somewhere which has been doing its job for almost a decade.”
Matthias Hoffmeier, a Senior Sales Manager for the Public Transport business, is used to extensive operating times as one of the industry’s characteristics. Sometimes it takes years from initial contact to the actual installation of the equipment. Nevertheless, Hoffmeier is still enthusiastic about his profession: “My everyday life is all about the human factor – personal engagement and exchange with our customers – and that’s what makes this job so special to me.”
Hoffmeier appreciates being able to keep up the close relationships even as business grows: “Our support team and application engineers work hand in hand and provide our customers with comprehensive assistance in all phases of a project – from technical integration to acceptance of the entire system. Seeing our customers satisfied with this commitment and the project outcome is our top priority and the best reward.”
Outlook: Standardization and simplicity
Despite the individual project business, the Berlin company keeps an ear on the ground for new trends and developments: “Standardization is key in terms of both communication interfaces and system integration,” says Lembke. “The customer wants to buy something and expects a hassle-free installation.” This made possible by protocols such as ITxPT and VDV-301, which are natively supported by the People Sensing devices. As a member of the standardization committees, HELLA Aglaia is also directly involved in the design of the protocols: “Over the years we have learned how to deal with the complex requirements of the market. Now we can apply this knowledge to help simplify these processes.”