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COMPANY NEWS


That was the question posed to Stuart Dodds of Merson signs 16 years ago by Sheila – one of his then new fl at mates. U


ntil that point, Sheila had not really put much thought into how and why signs are where they are. Maybe they were just knocked up in somebody’s garden hut before being thrown up on the wall by an odd-job-man?


I’ve never forgotten being asked this, because very often within our business I still experience similar questions. In the vast majority of situations, wayfi nding signs are bespoke – there are rarely two the same. So when asked, “Can you not just give me the sign I need off your shelf?’’ the answer is that un- fortunately we don’t have a shelf large enough to stock all the op- tions!


Both of these questions dem- onstrate that there can be a sig- nifi cant lack of signage under- standing; not only by those not connected to the industry (which is fi ne) but also those who are charged with the movement of people around some of the UK’s largest wayfi nding environments. Making clients understand the benefi ts of good wayfi nding plan- ning and well-made products can be a bit of a challenge at times.


Rail signage


In rail, the passenger charter does not have specifi c questions that relate to wayfi nding or signage. Maybe it should; the airports


Construction Design Team comes into play. Quite often, a bit of knowledge and experience detail- ing the materials and construction of the signage will save a TOC or Network Rail signifi cant sums in maintenance and add years of life to the product. Rail franchises last signifi cant periods of time, so it’s important to ensure that the sig- nage being installed is effi cient to maintain and the best that it can be for the budget available.


equivalent does. However, that’s a debate for another time. Nev- ertheless, there are a couple of categories which signage must infl uence, these being ‘overall en- vironment’ and ‘upkeep / repair of stations buildings’. How well will a customer rate the scores in these areas if they can’t locate the sta- tion toilets?


Not only is sign-making a full-time job, but wayfi nding planning and sign construction design are too. I wonder what Sheila would have thought of that?


We all understand that you need good signing to get around Blue- water Shopping Centre or Heath- row Airport so, considering that they handle the same number of customers, why would a rail sta- tion be any different? In many ways, rail station wayfi nding can be very complicated with retail, toilets, platforms, excess tick-


16 | rail technology magazine Jun/Jul 11


ets, alternative wheelchair ac- cess requirements, onward travel and much more all needing to be considered. This information can- not be assembled on a whim and all needs to be part of a cohesive wayfi nding strategy followed by planning and scheduling.


Station upgrades


At the moment a number of Net- work Rail stations are having signifi cant alterations carried out to their retailing to make positive benefi ts on the concourses.


When these new concourse spaces are realised it’s going to be very important that wayfi nding planning has been implemented correctly to ensure that the pas- senger experience is maximised.


What use is it installing new signs into a building if they are poorly specifi ed? This is where the Sign


We do our best to educate clients and help them understand what good passenger wayfi nding is, how the product can best be fab- ricated and how that pays back ten-fold with positive passenger experiences and reduced mainte- nance bills. We believe that those who take on board our comments are better off than those who maybe choose not to, but I guess you’d expect me to say that…


Yes Sheila, sign making IS a full- time job.


Stuart Dodds is the southern op- erations director for Merson signs and has been heavily involved in transportation signage for 16 years.


Visit www.merson-signs.com Stuart Dodds


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