Automated Parking


Before the re-development of two buildings in Wichita, Kansas could move forward; there is a significant obstacle that needs to overcome. Where would residents of the apartment facility park? Because of the limited facility footprint, restrictions, as well as steep costs of subterranean excavation, there is no way to get the required parking space counts within the budget of this project.

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The good news is, this common challenge has different solutions if we are talking about parking in terms of sheer volume instead of traditional spaces. To solve this problem, the company that is responsible for the project implemented the first semi-automated facility or valet and self-parking kiosks in the city.

Mechanical lifts load cars in the available space with overhead parking, maximizing the volume of parked vehicles instead if utilizing space to provide maximum spots in a limited footprint. Automated systems offer an innovative approach in most urban or densely populated areas where providing affordable parking is starting to become tougher and tougher by the minute.

Knowing when it can be operational, knowledge of the system or what are available for the public, as well as how people can benefit from these projects, are the keys to successful parking problems. Automated methods can pave the way for adaptive reuse in the near future, aside from providing solutions to these problems.

A new economic landscape

The system is already used in Asia and Europe, but the United States has been too slow to catch on with other countries. The United States needs to adapt to the changes, especially to cities or states with less population and car owners are firmly attached to their vehicles.

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But the situation is starting to change. As property and building cost increases, urban core density and buildings or properties are beginning to grow taller, as well as building footprints beginning to shrink, traditional or conventional parking design is starting to be more cost-prohibitive and even impossible.

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Private contractors or developers are not the only ones who are deeply affected by these issues. College campuses, cities, airports and hospitals are starting to face parking problems, as well as minimal land resources to allocate to this problem.

As a result, private companies are beginning to explore different options like stackers, mechanical lifts, and automated systems to fit their need for more parking with less space. In 2016, Hollywood, California, started to use a robotic structure and saved more or less 7,000 square feet of space that are needed for traditional or conventional parking structures.

The area was instead used to make a public area that enhanced the community. The incoming Museum Place that is in development in San Jose, California, will use mechanical lifts to maximize their parking capacity while decreasing their footprint. The big question is, what makes automated systems an efficient solution?

It can be a collection of different factors like the condition of the soil that is not favorable for adding more subterranean levels, the excavation costs, as well as the shoring for sub-terrarium levels, the floor area ratio limit, the height limit or a combination of these conditions. Building developers are starting to use automated solutions to make better use of vehicle volume; by capturing more vehicles in the same area without adding more levels, more space can be used to revenue-driven projects.

User Experience and efficiency

There are at least 50 different kinds of systems that are available in the United States. From car elevators and mechanical stackers to fully-automated robotic mechanisms. The number of establishments using this technology is increasing by the numbers as months or days go by.

Some systems like mechanical lifts that don’t have horizontal movement capabilities, solely rely on valet attendants to operate the lifts and place vehicles to achieve optimum efficiency. Systems that use transfer bays or sliding pallets to store vehicles like the one that is installed in the garage in West Hollywood can be operated directly by the car owner or driver.

Each system has its own disadvantages and advantages, which differ depending on where and how it needs to be used or implemented, as well as their target user groups. Since most hotels and residential developments being designed and built-in most densely populated cities or areas, incorporating a mechanical parking system will help avoid a very expensive subterranean excavation in their property.

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One of the methods that are being considered is a lift and slide that uses a sliding pallet that can be operated independently by people who are trained to do it. It will meet the need of residents who will use the system regularly. But the same method can’t provide a level of service for hotel guests.

That is why valet-operated lifts are a better option. By incorporating the two options in the design, the developer can create a better experience for the intended users while also being cost-efficient. Since there is a lot of options to choose from, the ability to customize and adapt the systems to fit the need for a specific project is extensive.

It will require a team of people who are experts in this subject matter, to integrate the best parking design with the right system that suits the needs of the project. A lot of experts believe that the key to solving parking problems lies in collaboration.

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What makes some system successful was bringing the consultants, architects, construction companies and the vendors on the project from the very start. With every person working together, parking management companies can provide the best solution for the problem in a timeframe that is compatible with the structure’s goals.

To find the best solution to the issue, a lot of options are carefully studied by parking planning teams and the distributor of the automated system. Working closely with the developer will let you explore the viability and availability of the necessary thinks, from the AGV or automatic guided vehicle or puzzle system to shuttle or pallet-basedones.