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There are multiple ways to park a car. More importantly, there are plenty of ways to park multiple cars in a smaller area. Two popular methods are mechanical car stacking and automated parking. On the face of it, they sound a lot alike. But while they share similarities, they work in diverse ways. So, mechanical car stacking and automated parking—what are the differences?

Stack ‘Em Up

Mechanical parking is what it sounds like: the use of mechanics to park cars, most often in stacks of two or more. Mechanical car stacking involves a steel grid device that permits you to park one car atop another, obviously without any contact between the two. Car stackers permit the first car to drive up or be lifted to a top stack, leaving room for another car underneath. Some stackers are set up on the floor level and have as much room as the garage or other area it occupies can offer. Other stackers go below, letting one car park in the lower section while another car parks above. Most often, stackers work on hydraulics or electricity, operated by remote control or with one or more individuals manning the controls. Finally, they stay fixed in place and hold vehicles in immobile positions to prevent them from rolling off or falling.

Automated Parking

When considering mechanical car stacking and automated parking and the differences between them, it’s measured in complexity and available parking spaces. Automated mechanical parking involves many moving parts. Automated parking requires little to no action from the driver or valets or other personnel to park cars. When a driver arrives at the facility, they pull the car onto a platform, exit the vehicle, and retrieve a ticket or similar token. The automated parking system takes over, toting the car to a space within the facility, where it remains safe, secure, and free from the threat of theft, vandalism, or the like. When the driver returns, they show or scan their ticket, and their car is automatically retrieved and brought back to them.

Which Is Best?

That’s not the correct question! What you should be asking is, which system is best for the space where the parking lot, garage, or facility is located, and what is the available budget for the project? If a site owner has the means, a fully automated garage is a huge convenience for clients, residents, and anyone else driving to the area where the facility is stationed. Mechanical car stackers, on the other hand, can make more immediate use of a space without excessive digging and engineering. When deciding, calculate the costs and benefits of the process and consult with an engineer to see if the space and physics will accommodate your parking vision.

This post was originally published on Harding Steel