Mechanical Parking Systems: An alternative for the Future?
by Phil Harding
Parking has always been a major problem for building owners and managers, yet these problems haven't always involved the cost, but instead the availability of space. The "highest and best use" of land has left some property managers without parking.
Enough of the problem, what's the solution? The solution may be the utilization of airspace with mechanical parking structures. You've done it with buildings, now how about with your parking? How many one-story, 70 tenant buildings do you find?
Now, how many multi-story, 70 tenant buildings with cars sprawled out in two dimensions? too many. It's rather ironic to think that we will "stack" tenants in a building but leave the cars occupying acres of flat land. The article tells how to use air-space - up and down - to park cars. First, it explains airspace in existing buildings. Second, it shows how to use airspace in future buildings.
The DuoPark system originated in 1968 and is still in production because of demand it created the vertical parking industry and has given rise to the newer systems used in lower clearances.
The operation of all two-car above ground systems is actually quite simple. The car to be raised is driven onto a platform with wheel gullies to secure the top car. A key switch of foot pedal activators hydraulic components which raise this platform. when the car reaches the top position, mechanical locks automatically engage and prevent the top car from being lowered until retrieval. The bottom car is driven underneath the top car. Two cars now occupy the space where only one car was before.
Existing Building Operations
There are ways to double your existing parking capacity. since mechanical parking is new to many, here's an overview of the three different types of mechanical parking systems.
The only objection to the above ground systems is that the bottom car must first be removed to obtain the top car. In valet parking situations, this objection is removed. If tenants from the same office are using the system, equipped with a simple parking plan, the problem is minimized.
We have found that most tenants prefer having their cars elevated. The elevated car is protected. There are no more door dings, and no one steals an elevated car. Car dealership customers in crime-ridden neighborhoods place their most expensive cars on the top, and not even the hubcaps are stolen.
The remaining two parking systems are more adaptable and adjusted than the DuoPark when considering height restrictions. Each of these three parking systems will cost below $5,000 per additional parking space, turnkey.
There are more than 17,000 Car-Lift installations worldwide. this type of parking structure is made of hot-dipped galvanized steel to prevent rusting and ensure longevity.
Like the Duo-Park, the Car-Lift has only two sets of moving parts - the hydraulic cylinders and the guide wheels. the hydraulic cylinders are engaged only during the raising and lowering of cars. In the elevated position, mechanical locks engage and relieve pressure from the cylinders and power packs.
In commercial installations, the hydraulic components are used two to three times per business day, less than 14 hours per year, resulting in little wear and low maintenance.
Compared with our above-ground systems, where one car is moved to retrieve another, this ability to select a car independently offers advantages of convenience, security, and self-parking. Self-parking itself has many advantages including major savings on labor and insurance.
Our machine in this ST group is an environmentalist's dream. The ST-2/C is entirely underground. For landscape admirers, who dislike the sight of garages and cars, the ST-2/C hides everything but the grass. Retrieval of the cars is by remote control inside the office, house or elsewhere.
The ST-2/C is already a popular mechanical parking machine Europe where its usage and reliability are proven over four years of satisfactory operation. It recently won the Society of European Architects' Award as today's most advanced parking system. Several installations exist where cars are parked beneath courtyards during the day, as these courtyards are used by pedestrians. After work, the parked cars are elevated, and driven away. The top of the ST-2/C is sealed to prevent moisture from entering the parking chamber.
The final system is called the automated parking garage. An automated garage exists that rectifies the mistakes of the Bowser, Pigeon Hole, and Roto Park systems of 30 years ago. It consists of aisle stackers delivering pallets longitudinally and vertically at considerable speeds and unfailing accuracy, with technology and performance proven by continual use during the past 35 years. The former major obstacle to success (dependence upon one elevator) is eliminated by the interchangeability of elevators (aisle stackers) "on-site" through track switching. And the old "five-minute rule" can be met by adjusting the height and length of the aisles plus the number of cars parked per aisle. Adding supplemental ST-3s along longitudinal sides makes ingress and egress faster.
By the year 2010, mechanical parking systems will become the accepted way to "create more land" Parking machine specifications will be in the files of leading architects. Mechanical systems will be used to: 1) clean up the environment, 2) utilize costly land more efficiently, 3) solve aesthetic problems caused by parked cars, and 4) generate additional income, thus giving property owners higher yields and greater choices for land usage.
The Car-Lift (see figure 2) is unique in that two cars will fit in less clearance (between 9’0" and 9’6") than the height of both cars added together. This is done by backing the top car on the platform and pulling the bottom car underneath in a forward position. Since most cars have longer hoods than trunks, the two low parts of the cars are utilized like placing two shoes in a shoe box
The B-Box is for extremely low clearances. Two full-size cars will fir in a clearance of only 8’0". By tilting the top car, the bottom car is parked mostly beneath the top elevated car (see figure 3). The B-Box requires about 4 feet additional length since both cars are not placed directly above the other as with the Car-Lift and DuoPark.
OPERATION of the Systems
Two types of power packs are used to activate all of the parking systems. The first method has an individual power pack attached to each system. The power requirement is either 110V or 220V, single phase power. This situation is best when the parking systems are scattered throughout the parking area.
The second power pack configuration is through a centralized power pack. One central hydraulic power pack is used to run 10-20 systems. From the power packs to each individual systems is a hydraulic line and a low-voltage lead line that will activate the central power pack once the key at an individual unit is turned.
This tilting movement is similar to the B-Box and allows parking one car above the other in areas with low ceilings (tow full-sized cars in 9’6"). The required underground excavation is less than other subterranean units - only 4’11" of depth is needed.
Future Building Applications
Owners and managers can plan their building’s parking before the structure is built. The type of systems listed below require excavation of a pit and are more expensive, but they make self-parking practical. The finished cost per parking space with this systems range from $6,000-12,000, including the additional required excavation.
The first subterranean unit is the SC-2. The two-car platforms are kept equidistant from each other and move in parallel from a position tilted downward for the bottom car to a position tilted upward for the top car.
ST-2 and ST-3
The second subterranean unit allows selection of one car from either two or three cars parked on above the other. Any car chosen can egress without disturbing the other parked cars above or below it. Machines in this series are called ST-2 and ST-3 (see figures 6 and 7)
No tilting occurs on these units. Each platform (pan) remains horizontal throughout the accent / decent and maintains a fixed distance from the other pan. In a "dumb-waiter" fashion, each car parked on a pan moves up or down and is positioned at road-bed level for egress or ingress. The command signal for this positioning can be remote or near the unit, and is key-locked for security.