The registration of cars worldwide shows an uninterrupted growth resulting in a higher demand for more parking space. In search of space-efficient solutions, automated parking facilities are going to play a key role in the future. With automation on the rise, property developers and architects are facing numerous questions regarding the automated parking sector.
Welcome to Westfalia's “Envision APS” blog series – your knowledge source around everything automated parking! In the coming months, we will address common questions that we are asked in the context of automated parking systems (APS). The questions will be categorized into who, what, when, where, why and how. Stay tuned for the entire series and 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!
Who sells Automated Parking Systems (APS)?
Automated parking is still a very young market in the Unites States, but it’s a rapidly expanding one. This is why you may find numerous companies entering this field. To help in your research for a capable APS vendor, it may be advisable to look for companies with decades of experience in the field of logistics automation. Storing and retrieving a vehicle poses little challenge to providers who have a wealth of experience in reliably handling boxes, pallets, paper rolls and other goods weighing several tons. These companies have enhanced their product portfolio by adapting their tried-and-tested technologies in handling goods and applying them to automated parking.
Who should I talk to about automated parking?
No two projects are the same. To help you find the right vendor, look for a company with the following characteristics:
- Technical expertise. You don´t just buy a piece of equipment when you purchase an APS, but a whole logistics solution. An APS design requires a closer look at various parameters and customer-specific requirements, such as the required number of parking spaces, user type and corresponding throughput times, vehicle types, and building layout/restrictions. Ideally you should be dealing with an experienced technical expert rather than a salesperson.
- Proximity. A parking solution forms an integral part of a building design. Your provider’s APS expert will accompany you throughout the entire planning and construction process, facilitating discussion and cooperation to ensure a project’s success. Proximity to the provider also brings advantages for after-sales and service - be it for the supply of spare parts, system maintenance or a quick technician deployment - should the need arise.
- Frankness. Not all projects are suitable for an automated system. A trustworthy vendor does not shy away from talking you out of automation when it comes at an unreasonable price or the preconditions are not suited for an automated solution. The aim is to always look for the best solution for your specific project and situation – automated or not. Look for a vendor who strives to build a partnership with you, not just sell you a product.
Who should I look for when considering APS for my new project?
Reliable factors to look for when selecting an APS vendor in this still young market should include:
- Automation experience. Look for a vendor that has a proven track record of automation projects. The more time-critical the stored product is, the more reliable the automation has to be. It is better to trust a vendor with years of experience in logistics automation than a specialized car park automation provider with limited experience and new projects that have not been running for long and have no proven reliability record.
- Quality. When it comes to technical equipment, it is essential to focus on quality. Your APS vendor should be able to discuss not only the standard wear and tear of the equipment, but also the manufacturing and extensive quality testing of parts prior to delivery. The seemingly higher upfront costs will pay off over the life cycle of the system.
- System reliability. Industrial standards call for a certain availability level, typically more than 98%. When selecting a vendor, ask for a track record of their systems’ reliability and for reference visits with existing customers.
- Customization. Your specific project needs might not work within a standardized solution. Look for a vendor that offers you the best consultancy and data analysis - outlining the optimum solution accompanied by a budgetary quote for your individual project.
- Holistic solutions. Automation is a complex technological field. The engineering of the hardware and software parts should work seamlessly together. Also look for vendors offering maintenance programs for their systems. Not only is it better to work with a team who knows the system by heart, but it also helps to lower the service costs.
- Low maintenance. Have the vendor explain to you how the maintenance of the system will be done. In many cases, system interruptions can be dealt with remotely. Ask the vendor for an overview of remote vs. on-site labor. Condition based maintenance also helps to lower life cycle costs.
- Cost transparency. A reputable vendor will provide you with a transparent overview of costs regarding all elements of the automated system, including costs for spare parts and the services included in the support services agreement.
Who do you need to operate the system?
Using an APS is as easy as entering a car wash; the system will guide you to the correct parking position within the transfer cabin. Easy to follow instructions on the kiosk screen simplify the storing and retrieving process. The remaining actions to store and retrieve vehicles are done by the system itself.
So, the simple answer is you would not need anyone on site to operate the system; however, you might consider a valet or concierge for the following reasons:
- You want to offer extra service. Valets can offer a level of comfort. But that's not the only benefit - automated parking systems are still a very new technology so some users might feel insecure handling over their car to a robot until they have done it a few times. Having a dedicated person guide you when using the automated parking system for the first time helps the users get used to and gain trust in this new parking technology.
- You don´t want to put too much emphasis on the transfer cabin. In most APSs, the transfer cabin is the only visible part for the user. Although a transfer cabin can become a unique architectural and design component, if you choose to forego well-lit and architecturally designed transfer cabins to save on construction costs, a valet service is an option.