The U.S. parking industry is experiencing rapid change. Previously, most parking demand could be met by building surface lots and large conventional concrete parking garages because of an abundance of space in U.S. cities and suburbs. But as cities and suburbs have densified, these outdated facilities no longer meet the needs of U.S. car owners. The time has come for automated parking in the U.S., and the benefits are compelling. But how does it work? Is it safe? Will it actually save space? Will it cost an arm and a leg?
Welcome to the fifth installment of Westfalia’s “Envision APS” blog series – The How’s of Automated Parking! In this post, we will cover more common “How” questions that are asked in the context of automated parking systems (APS). Don’t forget to catch up on our previous posts that cover all of your questions regarding the who's, what's, when's, where's and why’s of automated parking. If you have a question we don’t cover, send them to us or use #envisionAPS on social media and a member of our team will personally reach out!
Q: How does automated parking work?
A: Automated parking garages are uniquely designed for mixed-use parking, residential parking and commercial parking. Regardless of what type of parking solution you are using, you will find it very simple to use and will eliminate the headaches of navigating a conventional parking garage.
After a driver arrives at the parking facility, they:
- Scan a fob or take a ticket from a machine, allowing them to enter the transfer area.
- The driver exits the car and transfer area, then scans their fob/ticket at a kiosk/pay station.
- After all questions are answered to ensure that the car is ready to be stored, the car is lowered or raised by a robotic lift to the storage level. Westfalia’s Satellite® Technology positions the vehicle onto a transfer car, which takes it to its parking spot.
- Once the driver returns to the garage, they scan their fob/ticket at the kiosk/pay station and wait for the robotic lift to retrieve their car and bring it back to the transfer area. They are then able to enter their car and drive out of the parking facility.
Pallet vs Non-Pallet
Automated parking is available in two systems: pallet and non-pallet. There are benefits to both systems; however, non-pallet parking is gaining popularity as the technology has matured over the years.
With pallet parking, the vehicle sits on a platform or pallet to be transported. It remains on the pallet for the duration of the parking process and while it is stored. When a vehicle leaves the transfer area on a pallet, an empty pallet takes its place.
Non-pallet, or palletless, parking uses Westfalia’s Satellite® technology to adjust to the wheelbase of the vehicle, allowing different sizes of cars to be accommodated. Once the vehicle is ready for parking inside the transfer area, the Satellite technology drives under the car and transfers it to a shuttle. The shuttle takes the car to the nearest parking spot, where the Satellite® removes the car from the shuttle and positions it on a concrete or steel deck. It is picked up by the Satellite® and shuttle when it is ready to be retrieved.
Q: How long does it take to store/retrieve a car?
A: Depending on the layout of a structure, storage of a vehicle can take approximately one minute. Regarding retrieving a vehicle, machine time takes anywhere from 90 seconds and upwards. The position of your car within the garage and your expected wait time for retrieval are noted on the kiosk screen or within your APS app, so you won’t be left wondering where your vehicle is located.
Q: How much space can I save by choosing automated parking?
A: Compared to a conventional parking garage, 30 to 60 percent more cars can fit in an automated garage of the same space. This is because conventional garages are designed with enough room for cars to safely navigate and park throughout the garage, and for people to walk to and from their cars. There is no need for these areas in an automated garage; space is only needed for the equipment to operate and the cars themselves. Overall, automated parking garages take up 60 percent less building volume and 40 percent less land than conventional garages, making them the perfect solution for locations with constraints on space.
Q: How can it be customized to fit within the space I have for my building?
A: All Westfalia automated parking garages are customizable to fit your unique needs. Our team first takes your parking area dimensions and then designs your compact parking system. We have various technology and equipment options, which are not limited to a specific size or design shape for your garage, so you are able to receive a system designed uniquely to you and your space.
Q: How safe and secure is automated parking?
A: Concerns about personal safety, theft, vehicle vandalism and vehicle damage are common with conventional parking garages. Without the need to navigate through a garage to find a parking spot, the risk of an accident is eliminated. The inside of these automated parking facilities is also inaccessible to the public, so your vehicle is safe and secure from outside dangers while it is unattended. Automated parking ensures safety not only for your vehicle, but for you as well. By eliminating the dangers associated with conventional parking garages, you can have a worry-free parking experience.
Q: How much does it cost, compared to conventional parking?
A: Compared to a conventional underground parking garage, an underground automated parking garage can potentially save developers about 25 percent of overall costs. In contrast, an above-ground automated parking garage likely cost more per space compared to a conventional above-ground garage. Although above-ground automated garages cost more upfront than their conventional counterparts, they offer more benefits in terms of safety, environmental impact, increased vehicle capacity and ROI.
Q: How often does it need maintenance?
A: It is recommended you perform preventative maintenance two to four times per year. This includes general inspection of the APS, safety and operational features review, major component examination, replacement of damaged or worn parts and system lubrication to keep it running at its best.
There are 3 packages one can choose for maintaining an APS:
- The most comprehensive and worry-free package – Westfalia fully maintains your system including corrective and preventative maintenance as well as software support, upgrades and spare parts replacement.
- Preventative maintenance is an annual agreement for planned preventative maintenance, labor and travel cost. This package is customized upon a user’s needs.
- Pay as you go. Only pay for the maintenance that you need, when you need it.
Q: How long will the system last?
A: If properly maintained, an automated parking system can have a lifespan from 20 to even 30 years. Performing quarterly maintenance checks on the system allows for maximum lifespan for your automated parking technology. Our Copenhagen systems, which house over 800 vehicles, are still running smoothly after 10 years; allowing the people of Copenhagen to park worry-free and enjoy more leisure space in their capital city.
Q: How long does the planning and implementation period take?
A: After determining the preferred parking system design, implementation is the next step, which takes between 12-18 months. Working with Westfalia for the design, construction and implementation of your automated parking system guarantees that the highest standards are met in regard to technology used, safety and system quality. Close integration between your company and Westfalia's parking team assures smooth project handling throughout manufacturing, installation and commissioning.
All parking systems equipment is tested at our manufacturing facility before delivery. This ensures that the equipment is manufactured and wired correctly which results in reduced commissioning time on-site. Savanna.NET® PCS Software testing is done with equipment simulators to validate the software functionality and correct responses in typical situations. After the in-house test is completed, computers and related equipment are shipped to the automated parking garage site where final on-site testing and training will be conducted.