Focus on Automatic/Mechanical Parking – A Few Notes on Automated Parking in Korea and Japan


Focus on Automatic/Mechanical Parking – A Few Notes on Automated Parking in Korea and Japan

Don Monahan of Walker Parking Consultants has been studying the automated and mechanical parking industry and recently toured Korea and Japan, hotbeds of automated parking. The following system descriptions were taken from his notes. — Editor

While touring Korea, I observed four projects of Metro Parking Systems’ 26 locations in Seoul with automated/mechanical parking. I observed two different designs. One used a rack carrier or “comb” design as opposed to a pallet system, and the other used a dolly to lift the front wheels of the vehicle and roll the vehicle into the parking stall on the back wheels. The rack carrier consists of a series of steel forks that support the wheels of the vehicle
There are forks positioned at each wheel location on the dolly that slide under the vehicle and lift up between the forks in the entry chamber to raise the vehicle and slide it out onto the transport device. The transport device then moves laterally to an empty slot and the dolly then slides the vehicle into the stall over the forked racks and drops the vehicle down onto the forked rack in the storage slot. Pallet systems have the disadvantage of excess weight resulting in additional wear and tear on the transport devices in addition to the issues of storage and handling of pallets.
Lifts and shuttles
One of the rack systems consisted of separate lifts and horizontal shuttles, similar to the Hoboken design except that Hoboken uses a pallet system. A lift raises (or lowers in an underground garage) the vehicle to a particular floor, where a horizontal shuttle picks the car off of the lift and carries the vehicle laterally to the storage slot. The horizontal shuttle operates in a travel lane on rails supported on a concrete floor between the rows of parking stalls. The storage cubes were constructed entirely of concrete walls for every two parking spaces with concrete floors in the travel lane and parking spaces at every level.
Seoul has a similar, if not somewhat colder, climate than Denver, so sometimes the facilities have to deal with snow and slush issues. The concrete floors prevent drippings on other vehicles and can be flushed if necessary (see photo). The other system used a transport device that travels on tracks at the ground floor with a full height atrium over the travel lane.
The device has both vertical and horizontal movement capability in one transport machine. When both movements are made simultaneously, the vehicle is transported diagonally up to the storage cube. Both systems worked reliably with less than a 0.5% failure rate (percent of total in and out movements). Both systems use a dolly to transport the car off of the lift or shuttle and into the parking space. All of the equipment is controlled automatically by computer. All devices are belt-, cable- or gear-driven by electric motors without the use of any hydraulic devices. Most facilities have a practical limit of approximately five levels. The stalls are typically 7 feet, 6 inches wide by 16 ? to 18 feet deep and 5 to 6 feet high.
The largest facility I visited was the Doosan Tower in Seoul. It was built in 1997 and has two levels of underground ramp-access parking with an additional five levels of automated mechanical parking below the ramp-access garage with a capacity of 600 stalls for the ramp-access parking and a capacity of 412 stalls for the mechanical-access parking. The entry/exit chambers for the mechanical parking were located on the first underground parking level. The mechanical access parking had four lifts. The parking layout consisted of two parking modules (a parking module consists of two rows of parking stalls with a shuttle travel lane between). Each parking module contained a horizontal shuttle at each level (10 total horizontal shuttles).
Seoul has a population of approximately 13 million people. I was surprised by the relatively large number of upper mid-size vehicles used in Seoul. There are many larger models made in Korea and Japan that are not exported to the U.S.
I also traveled to Yokohama, Japan, where Walker is providing parking consulting services for a mixed-use development with two levels of underground parking. I saw many mechanical lift parking facilities, most of which were not automated. However, I also saw double-stacker bicycle parking. Bicycle usage is very high in Japan and consequently bicycle parking at large developments can be a problem. There are parking lots designed just for bicycles. The owners of bicycles are charged 300 yen per day (about $2.30) for bicycle parking.
Typical parking dimensions for cars in Japan consist of 2.3-meter wide stalls (about 7 ? feet) by 5 meters long (about 16 ? feet) with a 2.3 meter clear height in drive aisles (about 7 ? feet), and 2.1 meter clear height at parking stalls (almost 7 feet).

Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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