Every initial meeting we have hosted with a perspective developer/architect generally centers around 2 fundamental questions: How many cars can you park on my site? How much will this system cost?
These are preceded by either a site visit and/or discussion of how the system works and how we got here. Both are foundation questions and worthy of discussion but another question that is normally NOT asked remains critical to the overall design is:
What is your peak demand?
Peak Demand is the number of cars you want to park or retrieve in a given time period. Usually that time period is 1 hour. Each real estate category has different peak demand requirements. For example Office has two peak demand periods, residential similar to office but not as steep, mixed use varies depending on the site makeup, industrial is defined by industry (e.g. shift change over, delivery schedule), long term parking – no real peak just a trickle in and trickle out, event (sporting events, theater, movies etc.) have a wider time period for parking and a sharp peak for retrieval.
A general rule of thumb is that peak demand has to accommodate about 30% of the available parking.
Peak Demand = (Number of minutes in an hour/Retrieve Time)*Number of Load Bays
Therefore if a parking structure had 200 stalls and 2 load bays and the average retrieval time was 2 minutes then the peak demand for retrieval would be
(60/2)*2 = 60 Vehicles per Hour
Peak Demand % = Vehicles per Hour/ Total Number of Stalls
30% = 60/200
If we follow this example and we remove a load bay as the overall system costs reduce so does my peak demand.
(60/2)*1 = 30 vehicles per hour
15% = 30/200
Conversely if we add a load bay and my system cost increase so does my peak demand.
(60/2)*3 = 90 vehicles per hour
45% = 90/200
Shaving the Peak:
There are a few techniques for shaving the peak demand. (1) Add Load Bays. (2) Another is separating load bays into park or retrieval. (3) Configuring the Load Bay to be directional based on time-of-day. For example in the morning 3 of the 4 load bays are used for parking. During the day they are both park/retrieve, in the evenings 3 of the 4 load bays are retrieval only and at night they are both. (4) Provide for remote queuing and allow for a manual park request. This technique was offered to a large casino to allow for a huge influx of vehicles. (5) Pioneered by AutoParkit is called multi-level simultaneous queuing (ML/SQ). An AutoParkit System can run simultaneously transactions and allow the system to queue vehicles at multiple levels to improve system efficiency by minimizing a common resource.
Okay back to the first question.
How many cars can you park on my site?
A few parameters we work with size of the site, above grade, subterranean, or combination. The dimensions of the site have a tremendous impact on density of vehicles that can be parked.
Orientation is the way vehicles are parked. There are two parking orientations adopted by API: parallel or perpendicular. With parallel orientation pallets are conveyed via side-load. While perpendicular orientation are conveyed via end-load. Big words but in reality simple concept. See the picture below to see the two methods.
Perpendicular Orientation Parallel Orientation
End-Load Side Load
Generally speaking either orientation works. What drives the orientation is the dimensions of the space.
When a site is longer than it is wide, higher density is achieved using the parallel orientation. Conversely if the site is more square a perpendicular orientation provides superior results.
Parking irregular sites is not impossible as with traditional parking since we can rotate vehicles, stager cells and mix subterranean with above grade.
If we are able to go above grade we need to know what are the height restrictions. Next post is parking volumetrically
Side Article: How We Got Here
In 2008, after nearly 18 months of searching for an automated parking solution for a project in Southern California, AutoParkit founder Christopher Alan realized that if he wanted an automated parking solution he would have to come up with it himself. “The companies that were out there had no idea how to integrate their system into a structural building or how it would interface with a residential user versus a retail user or an office user. And forget about getting municipal approvals – they had no idea. To further complicate this issue, they all had proprietary technology. I knew what I needed, but it didn’t exist.” Alan formed a partnership with Omron Automation & Safety along with other industry leaders. Omron is a global leader in automation and safety controls with $7.5 billion in annual sales.
I have heard Christopher Alan re-tell the preceding story of how Auto Parkit started several times in front of developers/architects/bankers/partners/municipalities and one would guess that I have heard it all. Unfortunately that is not the truth since with every re-telling I pick up a few more nuggets or antidotal information not conveyed from earlier versions.
The short answer is that Christopher wanted to buy a system. After all he reasoned there should be plenty of options. He spent over a year and half to travel the globe in search of a solution that would fit his needs. Neither of which is an exaggeration. His quest took him to New Zeeland to Germany. He had virtually the same set of questions to everyone hawking an automated parking solution:
Have you built in LA?
Do you know how to get construction permits using current building codes?
Will your system fit in a column grid I need for mixed use or office?
Does your system account for setback requirements?
Does your system need concrete floors?
Is your system robotic?
Does your system use hydraulics?
Has your system accounted for Fire and Life Safety requirements?
Is your technology available worldwide?
So with more “hand-waving” than answers, Christopher asked one last question to himself, “How hard could this really be”? This changed the direction from buy to make and the quest now took on a goal of who and not what. The what was easy [well at the very least easier]. Christopher knew what he wanted but he did not know who could help him build it. He was quite certain his expertise in construction would be an integral part of what was to become AutoParkit.
By February 21, 2013 Christopher and AutoParkit had realized their dream. The key ingredient was repurposing tried and true automotive technology and adapting it for a commercial user. Along the way help re-write the LA Building Codes so that future systems follow a solid standard for structural integrity, public safety and efficient “green” operation.