Multilevel Car Parking Systems

Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta, Bengaluru
The growing population of India has created many problems - one of the challenging ones being car parking which we confront almost every day. Besides the problem of space for cars moving on the road, greater is the problem of space for a parked vehicle considering that private vehicles remain parked for most of their time. Roads are being built for cars to ply but are we also giving the vehicles enough space to park? While residential projects still escape with designated parking, the real problem lie with commercial spaces - many a time which is overcome by taking extra open spaces to park.

Multi-level Parking systems for sometime have provided relief since they come with a number of advantages - optimal utilisation of space, lower maintenance and operational cost, lower construction cost (owing to the prefabrication), secure and environment-friendly nature (the underground implementation renders the outdoor space free for landscaping), comfortable for the drivers, cost saving for builders by saving height or depth. It might be interesting to note here that the earliest known multi-storey parking was built in 1918 in Chicago.

Multilevel Car Parking Systems

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
Bengaluru based architect Indraneel Dutta, principal architect of DKA - an award winning practice in India believes that we do not yet have an evolved public parking system or MLCP (Multi-Level Car Parking System). He feels that the Government should encourage and float public private partnerships to open parking lots. Ditto for Sanjeev Vermani, the Sales Manager of the Car Parking Division of Dantal Hydraulics Pvt Limited headquartered in New Delhi - a leading manufacturer of multi-level car parking systems who feels that at this stage the parking technology is new to India. He maintains, "It will take sometime for people to absorb the technology and understand the benefits. There are various types of parking systems & potential customers are going through a learning process to find out the best possible systems."

Automated Multilevel Car Parking Systems

Automated Car Parking Systems are much in vogue - a method of automatically parking and retrieving cars that typically use a system of pallets and lifts and signalling devices for retrieval. They serve advantages like safety, saving of space, time and fuel (since one does not have to drive around for locating space) but also need to have an extra and a very detailed assessment of the parking required, space availability and traffic flow. These can be further categorised into fully automatic or semi-automatic systems.

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
Architect Jitendra Puri, Partner of Delhi based well-known architectural firm Design & Development (D&D) says, "With less land available, parking is a growing concern in the Indian context. However, off late there are various technological options and knowledge base available - (automated parking systems, stack parking systems), among these, the semi-automated car parking systems (having varied options of stack parking, puzzle parking etc.) are rapidly catching demand, as there are considerable technology providers for these for the past few years. These seem to be getting absorbed in the Indian context as these are easy to install, and operate, capital costs are relatively cheaper than fully automatic parking systems, and involve lesser consumption of electrical energy."

Multilevel Car Parking Systems

In India, the concept of automated parking is still restricted to large cities. Some of the problems in this system as felt by the industry is the absence of a regular body for monitoring the quality of such systems, lack of skilled labour to assemble them or factors like poor after-sales services and technical snags that limit market growth.

Types of Automated MLCP's

Dependent/Stack System

This allows two passenger cars to be parked one above the other. Its single post saves space and offers flexibility. Besides a platform (curved at the ends to allow the car to roll on/roll off conveniently) there is an operating control pendant that can be located anywhere in the garage, basement, and outdoor structure for operation from a safe distance. RR Parkon by Ram Ratna Group headquartered in Mumbai, the largest single entity in India in terms of designing and execution of parking systems have a Twin Parking System (stacking the cars in two levels) which is easy to maintain, has lower power consumption, is simple in operation and is ideal for bungalows and apartment owners.

Dantal Hydraulics Pvt. Limited provides Dependent Car Parking System based on Hydraulics. On their systems Sanjeev feels, "There is saving in space, construction cost, lighting, fire fighting, etc; the systems allow very fast parking-in and parking-out time, safety and security of the cars, reduced air pollution, and need little maintenance. The life cycles of our parking systems are 15-20 years but they may be extended to 30 years with good maintenance."

At Pune based PARI (Precision Automation & Robotics India Ltd) the parking systems have a life cycle of 20 years and need minimal maintenance and operational cost. The two step stacker Type Parking System (a semi-automatic system) features a pallet that is lifted up after the car is loaded making additional parking space below the loaded pallet. Possible in both outdoor and indoor spaces, these electromechanically or hydraulically operated systems are preferably valet parking systems.

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
Pune based Tal Manufacturing Solutions Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of TATA Motors Ltd; pioneer in providing turnkey manufacturing solutions has a stack parking system working on hydraulics. Though advantages are many but speaking of the disadvantages of stack systems, Naveen Das, Deputy General Manager of the firm maintains that there is dependency of the top car on the bottom car and the system is not suitable for commercial complexes, hotels etc.

Horizontal Circulation Type Car Parking System

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
Operating on the principal of a conveyor, this system is used for parking cars in two to four levels in tight basements without any driveways. The cars are driven on to or off steel platforms at one entrance at ground level and parked cars circulate in the basement at different levels. At RR Parkon, the horizontal circulation system (upto 4 levels) is operated by a motor chain and the parking space required per car is one third of the parking space required in conventional manual parking.

Puzzle Car Parking Systems

Here the cars move vertically and horizontally like a puzzle, till the car required comes to the lower level where it is driven out. Installed in basements, rooftops, under stilts, open grounds, terraces, driveways etc the system is designed in the form of a matrix of rows and columns such as 2 x 2 or 2 x 3 etc in which out of the total number of available spots, a certain number of spots are kept vacant to enable horizontal and vertical movement of remaining spots. Available in the range of two to six levels, all the cars are independent of each other and the system can be installed in a phased manner.

Multilevel Car Parking Systems

The system has its disadvantages like Das adds, "Generally only 2 or 3 cars can be parked in the space for one therefore there is no space saving really. Since this system works on a one slot empty basis, hence to retrieve or park one car multiple cars have to be shifted, thus increasing the time taken. Due to the number of pallets (cars) that have to be moved for parking or retrieving a single car the number of moving parts increase and hence the operation and maintenance expenses increase. The system is also noisy."

Indraneel who has designed a lot of software parks, hotels, institutions has used Robotic Puzzle parking system, a fully automated system. About this system, he adds, "The entire super structure is like an automatic machine placing and retrieving cars. The user just has to drive in to the designated space, leave the car and collect a smartcard and on his way back scan it and retrieve his car."

At Dantal, the semi-automated Puzzle Parking System is a series of lateral and vertical movement of pallets which are self-supporting steel structures (with corrosion resistant paint) and operated through programmable logic Controls (PLC‘s). The advantages are easy and low cost installation, minimal operational cost, easy to drive-in and drive-out, multiple entry/exit & a time less than 180 seconds for parking/retrieving a car.

PARI has a specially designed PIT type Puzzle parking system.

Tower Parking System

A fully automatic system, this involves an automatic storage system and a car elevator which moves vertically with the cars in upward and downward direction and a transfer device (a shuttle) for horizontal movement.

Comaparision of Car Parking Systems (Courtesy : Tal Manufacturing Solutions Ltd)
SI. No Criteria Stack Park Puzzle Pallet TAL Vertipark
1) Space Optimization Poor Poor Max space optimization Max space optimization
2) Capital Investment Low as compared to others Low as compared to others Very High Reasonable
3) Operating and Maintenance Expenses Low Very high Very high Low
4) Ease of Installation Simple Simple Complex Simple
5) Construction Time Low Low High Low
6) Retrieval Time High Very high High Low
7) Technology Simple Outdated Better than Puzzle Superior
8) Noise Low Very high Very high Low
9) Manual Override Not there Facility available Not there Facility is there
10) Reliability Medium Poor Reasonable Good
11) Security Less secure Reasonable Secured Highly Secured Highly Secured
12) Centering device Not there Not there Not there Available
13) Life cycle 10-15 yrs 10-15 yrs 15-20 yrs 20-25 yrs
14) Maintenance cost 3-4% of capital cost 3-4% of capital cost 2-3% of capital cost 2-3% of capital cost
15) Operational Cost < Rs.0.5/- per operation < Rs.0.5/- per operation Approx Rs.5/- per opn. Approx Rs.5/- per opn.
Note:- All the details given above are indicative and subject to change.

TAL Manufacturing Solutions Ltd has introduced state-of-the-art Fork type design tower parking system - the TAL Vertipark tower (with an impressive stand-alone steel structure) with an average retrieval time corresponding to 1min for 20 cars and 90 seconds for 40 cars. Dwelling on the advantages Das says, "The retrieval time is less, cost is reachable to a common man and environment-friendly since it occupies the space of only three cars on ground and can accommodate upto 40 cars. All the cars can be stored using access cards or password which reduces mischief and theft of cars." Other advantages include a shorter construction time; no costly concrete repairs / maintenance and lower liability insurance. The driving of vehicles at only one level make it preferable to be used in the automobile industry too. The entire system can be manually operated with individual controls. Parked vehicles can be retrieved during repair also which as Das points out is not the case with pallet systems in which parked vehicles can be manually retrieved only after the completion of the repair of the system.

PARI's Tower Square Type Parking System (designed with pallets or without pallets) preferable for 30 to 40 cars features a lift which is electromechanically operated. At the loading point, the lift receives the car and then travels to the respective location of the parking slot. Their Tower- Rotary Type Parking System preferable for 8 to 12 cars features a rotary mechanism that allows the system and all the cars to travel in rotary motion at the space of 2 cars.

Chess Type Parking System

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
Govind Oza, Director, PARI counts fully automatic Chess Parking system as a futuristic parking system. Talking about this system which is provided by PARI, he adds, "This system ensures maximum utilization of the floor space without the need of drive ways, and space for movement of mechanisms. This has floor mounted roller bed system which can allow the crisscross movement of the pallet and the car. It has separate lifts which act as entry & exit points." Preferably installed on RCC floors, it can be designed for 800 to 1000 cars or even more and can be used in longitudinal & square areas.

Rotary Car Parking System

This system is like a mini merry go round in which 12 cars can be accommodated in a vertical height of 14 m and area of 30sqm. Operating like a merry-go-round, an empty pallet to park a car, or a loaded pallet with a parked car, is brought down to the ground level at the touch of a button; the average time taken after the button being pressed is 2-2.5 minutes.

RR Parkon has Mini rotator car parking systems in which multiple installations are possible and a total of 6 to 12 cars can be there in one module.

Turn Table System

RR Parkon's turn table system allows the car's direction to be easily changed by any angle to drive out as required. The system helps a car turn 360 degree and requires a space of just 5 meters to turn the car. It is available in either stand alone types or built in types.

Cart Type Parking System

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
Preferably used in longitudinal parking areas, this fully automatic system available at PARI has multiple entry and exits and has a inbuilt mechanism called Cart which moves every parking floor. It can be designed with or without pallets and can be designed for 50 to 100 cars or even more.

Car Lift

At RR Parkon, Car Lifts are available - both hydraulic as well as traction type. All the functions are fully computerised and capacities of 2, 2.5 and 3 tonnes are available.

Stacker Type Parking System

Available at PARI, this fully automatic system features a typical storage system and has a unique mechanism called Stacker. It moves centrally and has parking slots on either sides. It has inbuilt robotic mechanism that pulls and pushes the car to and from the lift/parking bay. Preferably used in longitudinal parking areas, this can be designed for 100 to 300 cars or even more.

Pit Lifting Parking System

Available at RR Parkon, this system consists of three spaces - top, middle and bottom which are united and lifted together. While the middle and bottom spaces are underground in the pit, the top level is in the same line with the ground floor parking. Advantages include saving land area, low noise, easy maintenance and protection of the middle and bottom level from dust, rain and theft.

After Sales Service

Tal Manufacturing Solutions Ltd provides free warranty service for one year. Post warranty, there is an annual Maintenance contract (AMC) entered with the customer for providing round the clock service. Their service personnel attend to emergencies immediately after registering the service complaint. At PARI, Govind affirms, "There are regionally located service centres in all metro cities of India. Engineers are available on call basis and PARI takes even AMC for the projects which are installed by PARI." At Dantal as Sanjeev adds, AMC (comprehensive and non- comprehensive) is provided and sometimes O&M contracts are also taken.

The Future

With the rising population and the number of cars, more intelligent ways need to be devised to combat the present problems. Indraneel strongly feels that we need to ban parking in all central area roads and old areas of cities where there is no ample road width. Simultaneously, we have to provide for public parking lots and MLCP's at competitive prices. Sanjeev is of the view that inspite of uncertainties in the market place, simple 2 levels Stack/Dependent parking will be ideal in most cases. Das foresees tower parking systems as the best solution in the present day scenario for multi-storied buildings due to their unique feature of increasing the parking space by 17 times. He adds, "Since the towers can be built-in the buildings, no extra space is required. The towers have user-friendly HMI (Human Machine Interface) systems which guide the user while storing and parking the cars. Since there is no dependency of cars, this solution is becoming more acceptable to the customers." Looking towards the future, Puri feels that though in immediate context the automatic car parking systems would help ease of congestion traffic, however future interventions need to be explored to minimize the involvement of human element for loading and unloading during parking process, involved in semi-automated car parking systems.

Deck Coatings

Multilevel Car Parking Systems

Multilevel Car Parking Systems

Multilevel Car Parking Systems
To protect car parking areas from extreme temperature, UV exposure, heavy rains and high humidity, high performance deck coatings are used. Flowcrete India Pvt Ltd, fully owned subsidiary of Flowcrete UK Ltd, a leading specialist Flooring company has the Deckshield system. Deckshield ED (for external decks) consists of a flexible polyurethane car park deck coating system which is hardwearing, waterproof, reduces noise and has crack bridging properties. The only system of its kind that adheres to the stringent American standing testing specification ASTM C957, Deckshield comes in a number of colours and finishes and its light reflective property helps in creating a brighter ambience. It has added advantages like fast installation (vehicular traffic-24 hours), easy maintenance (general mopping and hosing), excellent anti slip profile, highly accredited fire rating and can be over coated with same material with full intercoat adhesion. Deckshield ID (for interior decks) is a Green Label certified, Low VOC, flexible polyurethane car park deck coating system providing a colourful, watertight, hard wearing material for intermediate decks of multi-storey, basement and other trafficable suspended floors. Srinivasan V, National Sales Manager (India) of the firm adds, "In our after sales, we submit a warrantee for 5 to 10 years depending on the project against de-bonding, and fading of colours. Our system has elongation property of 60% hence to ease traffic congestion in India the system we specify should be able to cater the loads and flexibility in MLCP".
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