March 27, 2018

By Ian Todd, director of automated parking systems, Westfalia Technologies, Inc.

According to the Wall Street Journal, global automotive sales reached a record-breaking 90 million in 2017, a 2.7 percent growth since 2016. The increase in sales numbers are being driven by several factors, including rising populations, lower unemployment numbers and a wider array of car options that suit every budget.

Although this increase is significantly benefiting the automotive industry, it is causing a dilemma for building developers: even with the advent of autonomous vehicles and recent parking zoning changes. With more cars on the road, developers now need to provide ample parking to accommodate them on top of tight budget constraints and already limited building footprints, particularly in congested cities. Firms who are struggling with parking in their developments might want to begin to consider a smarter, more innovative solution – automation. Automated parking garages offer developers several benefits over traditional garages, including improved space utilization, reduced costs, lessened environmental impact and a luxurious user experience.

Save Space and Money

A typical parking garage is constructed to allow cars enough room to safely circulate in both directions and back out of parking spaces. In an automated garage this circulation space is not required and neither is space to open car doors This helps developers better utilize the space that would normally be used for cars and people to move around, and allows more storage space for vehicles in that space using single-deep or double-deep storage configurations. An automated parking garage is especially beneficial for projects with a limited construction area since they generally require 60 percent less building volume and 40 percent less area than traditional garages. This advantage allows companies to increase the projects ROI by using the extra real estate for more profitable purposes, like retail stores or additional apartments.

Lower Operational, Construction and Finishing Costs

Palletless automated garages allow developers to save on construction costs through reduced excavation, reduced construction time and lower land costs. A large potential operation saving is in valets or operator salaries, insurance, HR, hiring and benefits costs since they are typically not required in an automated garage. Lower ventilation costs are achievable due to the reduced requirement of only two air changes per hour for automated parking systems. Since there are no, or very few, lights required during normal system operation, lighting costs are insignificant which can also provide significant cost savings. Reduced insurance premiums are also achievable due to cars being stored within a locked garage with no access to users or unauthorized personnel, making it virtually impossible to vandalize or steal from the cars stored within the garage.

Decrease Environmental Impact

Anyone who has driven through a public parking garage knows how time consuming and difficult it can be to find an open parking space. Driving up floor after floor seeking a vacant spot or the sight of someone pulling out of a space – we have all been there. But, have you considered the negative impact this can have on the environment? This environmental impact comes in the form of continuous exhaust emissions. With an automated parking garage, cars are turned off before they enter the system so the engines aren’t running while the car is being stored and retrieved, reducing the amount of pollutants by 60 to 80 percent.

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Users of automated garages always park and retrieve their cars in well-lit, comfortable transfer areas. Since these are the only areas that users interact with an automated garage, it is relatively inexpensive for developers to create a luxurious experience for users. Implementing slick touch screens and user-friendly mobile apps for the quick retrieval of vehicles can make for a comfortable and memorable user experience that they will be willing to pay for.

With the United States anticipating at least 293.6 million motor vehicles on the road by 2021, parking will continue to be a challenge. With automation, developers across all industries can confidently handle any volume of cars within a given space and drivers will not need to spend time looking for parking and rest assured their car is safely stored within a reliable system.

About the Author:
Ian Todd serves as director of automated parking systems at Westfalia Technologies. In his role, he leverages his 15 years of experience in the automated parking industry to guide business development activities, as well as product design.