Japan is a very crowded and yet small country so at some point the Japanese started stretching out to above and beyond ground level to find new spaces to fulfil their needs. This can be seen in massive skyscrapers as well as in parking systems which in Japan tend to be as automated and space saving as possible. From underground bike parking to towers rotating your car up to their highest point, Japanese parking systems are definitely not only interesting for countries with small space.
The Japan Parking System Manufacturers Association Incorporated
, which has been founded in 1965, is one of the biggest contributors to the propagation of mechanical parking equipment in Japan that would allow effective use of our small amount of land. They also care about safety of the parking systems doing regular screenings on the different systems around. The Car Elevator
The "Car Elevator" is a part of the car passageway and is used to hoist and convey the cars to the level at which they will be parked. Often those elevators use platforms on which the car is stored and transported to its lot in the system. It has diverse applications in the parking systems below.
The Vertical Circulation System
The "Vertical Circulation System" involves connecting and rotating platforms for parking cars linked in a circle or oval shape in the vertical plane. The platforms are hung from a large endless chain equipped with special attachments and rotated. Horizontal movement by the platform is prevented using a guide roller attached to the platform that contacts a guide rail on the side.
There are three types depending on the position at which the cars enters the system: top loading, middle loading and bottom loading. The top loading and the middle loading systems are systems that give consideration to the effective use of the underground.
The Multi-Level Circulation System
In the "Multi-level Circulation System" there are two types, the circular rotating system and the box rotation system. With the circular rotation system, the continuity of the rotation allows processing cars that are entering and exiting smoothly and is appropriate for applications where smooth operations is desired. On the other hand, the box rotation system is appropriate for applications in which emphasis is on optimum utilization of space even with the loss of a certain degree of smoothness.
Entry is either direct or using an elevator which then is installed at either ends of the equipment or somewhere midpoint along the system. In recent years systems equipped with turntables are also increasingly common.
The Horizontal Circularion System
In contrast to the top loading vertical rotation system that for the most part utilizes vertical underground space, the "Horizontal Circulation System" takes this a step further to utilize the underground space below the building on the horizontal plane.
The system was developed with the intent of reducing the space required for parking by eliminating car passageway and thus increasing the number of cars that may be parked within a given area. It involves installing numerous parking conveyors on the horizontal plane and in two or more rows and depending on the system of rotation, may be categorized into the circular rotation system and the box rotation system.
In this system, underground parking space is most often used and systems actually in operation are the box rotation type for the most part and through combination with an elevator, the entry to the parking is installed on the ground floor. There may be 1-4 floors in such parking systems.
The Elevator System
The "Elevator System" combines a car elevator with parking space in three dimensions. There are three types depending on the position of the parking spaces relative to the elevator.
The vertical type involves parking space positioned on both sides of the elevator in the lengthwise axis, the horizontal type involves parking space positioned on both sides of the elevator in the width axis and the radial type involves parking space radiating from the elevator. Movement from the elevator into the parking space is achieved by an automatic conveyor.
The Elevator Slide System
The mechanism of the "Elevator Slide System" involves the addition of the horizontal movement function to the elevator type hoist and has the same functions as the stacker crane in an automated warehouse.
The System can be categorized into two types: one in which the parking space is positioned on both sides of the elevator in the lengthwise axis and the other in which the parking space is positioned on both sides of the elevator in the width axis. Movement from the elevator to the parking space may be selfpropelled or by automatic conveyance with the latter system being most commonly used.
The Plane Surface Slide System
The "Plane Surface Slide System" is a system of storing cars on a plane surface by moving them into spaces that cannot be accessed by people. It moves the cars to the foreground or parks them in multiple layers. This supplementary system is highly effective as new mechanical parking equipment that enhances the parking efficiency of surface facilities
Also high performance and large-scale equipment for use in underground parking facilities installed below roads have been developed. Various companies have added diverse functions and such systems may make large-scale underground parking a possibility for the future.
The Two-storied or Multi-storied System
The "Two-storied System" involves parking of cars either above or below other cards in order to increase parking efficiency with either a rope type, chain type or hydraulic type lift used to hoist them. In the two-storied system, there are those that incorporate only an elevator for hoisting the cars and those with also a shift conveyor to move them to the lower tier and to the left or right so that cars may enter or exit randomly.
As an adaptation of the elevator type, there are also those equipped with a pit to store cars below the ground which are used in collective housing where the upper and lower tiers are used separately. Expanded applications of this two storied horizontal shift type are the "Multi-storied System" with three or four stories. These range from those using only the ground surface to those having pits with type allowing multiple parking on the vertical axis that have been put to practical use of late.
Another very practical function of the automation of Japanese parking systems is a laser barrier that scans your car and licence tag. It then generates a specific number on your parking card which allows you to leave the parking lot without waiting for any barriers to open, after you paid your bill. Thus Japanese parking systems do not only provide space saving function but also save a lot of time due to automatic applications almost everywhere.
The same practical thinking was introduced to bike parking slots. Since in crowded and expensive Japan many people also go by bike it would consume lots of space parking them anywhere else then underground. One safe, eco-friendly and robotic solution has been found with a system of automated kiosks that park the bikes in an underground rotating storage wheel. The system uses membership cards that cost ¥2600 (about $29 or €21) a month.