Latin American Shopping Chain Centralizes Security And Emergency Operations
Mall Plaza is one of the main shopping center chains in Latin America, and a member of the Falabella group. Mall Plaza currently operates 21 shopping centers in the region: 15 located in Chile, five in Peru, and one in Colombia. Of special note among them are Mall Plaza Egaña, Chile’s first sustainable shopping center, located in the city of Santiago, and Mall Plaza Copiapó, the first shopping center in the Atacama Region, and the first built with sustainability standards located outside the country’s capital. In addition, Mall Plaza is developing five projects which will open during the next few years.
In 2009, Mall Plaza came up with the idea of centralizing the security systems and standardizing the subsystems of the central control area of all the shopping centers in operation in Chile, mainly due to the difficulty of having access to reliable and timely information that would allow real-time decision making, in particular under a disaster scenario.
The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that affected the central-southern region of Chile on February 27, 2010, emphasized Mall Plaza’s need for a command center capable of remotely running and centralizing the management of an emergency, and real time decision making.
“Our Mall Plaza executive team outlined their objectives before organizing a team of internal and external resources,” said Mario Inostroza, head of Operations Center for Mall Plaza. “They were: increasing the operational efficiency of our shopping centers; making a responsible and efficient use of energy; optimizing operating costs of shopping centers; and increasing the security levels of each Mall Plaza shopping center,” he said.
“Mall Plaza defines as a strategic objective the need to improve both the experience of guests who visit the shopping center, and the experience of lessees in terms of security and operation of the shopping center,” Inostroza said.
These objectives included improving the operational efficiency, security, quality of information and emergency communications with emergency services such as police, fire department and ambulances, Inostroza added.
Before the earthquake, Schneider Electric, which served as the lead designer and integrator, had contacted Mall Plaza to work on a BMS solution that would meet the aforementioned requirements. They visited several countries worldwide looking for a similar solution to be used as a basis, but were unable to find anything similar.
Mall Plaza decided to call for tenders for a solution and invited different world-renowned manufacturers to participate, Schneider Electric among them.
In the end, the offer from Schneider Electric, supported by Vingtor-Stentofon, was the only one which met the standards required by the client.
“Mall Plaza realized that, in order for a project with these characteristics to be successful, it must include direct backing from the technology manufacturers, Schneider Electric and Vingtor-Stentofon,” Inostroza said.
Jorge Martinez, Schneider Electric BMS manager, was in charge of the assessment and the BMS design effort. Given the requirements collected from the Schneider assessment and the collective feedback from the team, a solution was advanced that consisted of the use of the BMS platform from Schneider Electric called SmartStruxure.
“This would be the platform to integrate the different shopping center systems, create an integrated sustainable energy and security plan and optimize the shopping experience of the customer,” Martinez said.
In the command center, each operation station is flexible enough to be configured to operate one, two or three shopping centers. In this way, the operator on duty can take control of up to three shopping centers in a single station. In the event that the operator is absent from his or her workplace when an event takes place, it can move to another previously defined operator station.
The implementation of the solution required a team comprised of Mall Plaza Operations personnel, Mall Plaza brand representatives, systems integration companies specializing in the systems, and third-party consultants.
As a result, Schneider Electric designed the initial solution, with the support of the technical department of Vingtor-Stentofon in the United States and Norway. EcoXpert (the systems integrator certified by both companies) was in charge of the implementation and launch of the solution.
In the end, Mall Plaza has a standardized solution for all future shopping centers, which will allow savings in design and engineering.
Since the first project was finished, 14 other shopping centers have been migrated to the new platform, and 12 have been centralized in a Central Operations Center. In Peru and Colombia, Mall Plaza is in the process of data collection and technical feasibility analysis in order to be able to migrate and centralize at the local level (in each country), monitoring the security and control systems from Chile.