Automated Car Parking Systems

Automated Car Parking Sytems (APS)

There is a growing international trend for city centre and premium parking locations to opt for a fully automated car park due to the logistics of space utilisation for the developer and secure and rapid retrieval parking for the motorist.  The cumbersome mechanical transit systems of old, plagued by breakdowns and high maintenance costs, have been replaced by new technologies and sophisticated software controls.  The advances in materials handling with high bay warehouses offers swift and reliable means of automated storage and retrieval and moving a vehicle can be considered in the same way albeit someone’s prize possession the system needs to handle the vehicle with ‘kid gloves’.

There are two main drivers for considering APS:

1.      High value land with a tight footprint.

A conventional multi-storey car park requires space to park and manoeuvre so the need for bays and drive aisles, it also requires some mode of ramping to travel between levels.  The car park is an occupied space and so has to be a people safe environment and have adequate lifts and stairs.  For an efficient car park certain minimum dimensional parameters are required such as being two bins wide >32m and a minimum length of say, 40m, with a typical built area equivalent to around 25m2/space.

An APS is a self supporting structure within a shell enclosure with public access to lobbies only and without the need for drive aisles, ramps, access cores etc., it can fit into tight sites and even have the vertical transporter bypass levels to clear a lot of the footprint for other possibly more valuable uses such that the range of suitable sites becomes greater.  The APS can return figures up to 15m2/space and by selecting vehicles for specific locations complete levels can be set to lower floor to floor heights so lowering the building or adding levels of parking.  Thus the cost differential may be found to be preferential for APS.

2.      Enhanced service levels for users.

A conventional car park requires the user to search for a space, park and leave; repeating the process on their return.  For multi-level car parks the time taken at both ends can be 5 to 10 minutes, longer if the parking space location was not remembered.  The car is left in a public space and is not immune to theft or damage.  An APS is dealt with from street level and once clear of the lobby the driver can depart and on his return pays and can have the vehicle back to an exit lobby within 60 seconds.   The vehicle has been transported in a secure means to an environment where no contact with people or other cars is possible.  For premium parking APS offers a high service level where an enhanced charge rate is applicable and justifiable.

As parking consultants we have made a study of APS and are now able to offer an alternative if appropriate, in our design studies to ensure that our clients have the optimum parking solution for their needs and best suited to the site under consideration.

APS Ilustrations courtesy of Skyline Parking AG