We sat down with Ian Todd, Director of Automated Parking at Westfalia, to discuss trends in the future of parking technology.
Describe what your company does (in 250 characters or less)
Ian Todd: “We are one of the world’s leading warehouse automation companies and excel at designing and delivering customized systems to enable companies to organize inventory, optimize space, and increase efficiency in their warehousing or parking operations.”
How did you get involved in this industry? What interests you about automated parking?
Ian Todd: “In 2001, I took a year off and bought a “Round the World” ticket. After traveling solo around the globe for that year, I wanted a change from naval architecture and on my return, I was introduced to an automated parking company through a friend. I was instantly hooked.”
“What interests me about automated parking is the challenging mix of state-of-the-art automation technology, architecture, and engineering to build the best solution for our clients—from solving unique parking challenges, to providing the best parking experience possible, to delivering ROI and a sustainable solution.”
What inspired Westfalia to create this app?
Ian Todd: “Our parking solutions completely automate the parking experience, increasing capacity by using less square footage than a conventional garage. Traditionally, even advanced automated parking facilities need drivers to be present to retrieve their vehicle with a key fob, barcode, or credit card to call their vehicle to the transfer area.”
“We felt there was a more efficient, safe, and, most importantly, more convenient solution for both drivers and building owners. Some of our clients’ most frequently asked questions were: “How do I know when my car will be delivered?”, “What is my position in the queue?” and “Where will my car be delivered?”, so we sought to provide a convenient solution to those questions. That’s how the Westfalia Parking App was born. The app also creates a completely contactless experience, which means drivers need to spend less time in a parking garage.”
How is this going to benefit society and the parking industry?
Ian Todd: “As urban populations continue to grow, the need for space-efficient, sustainable parking is skyrocketing. With a growing number of cars on the road and not enough space to accommodate them efficiently, today’s builders and developers will need to create better parking solutions for their customers. Our automated parking systems can typically store twice as many vehicles in the same amount of space. It is an ideal solution to today’s parking issues.”
“Plus, not only do automated parking facilities eliminate the frustration of finding a parking spot in a large city, or at their residence, workplace, or hotel, it will cut down on wasted driving time and, as a result, wasted emissions. By connecting our automated parking technology with a customizable app, we hope to create a safer, more convenient, and sustainable future for parking.”
What’s innovative about your company’s app and parking technology?
Ian Todd: “For our app, we made sure that it would be built and managed by Westfalia’s in–house software engineers. Each customer has unique needs, so our in-house team can customize the app experience based on those distinct challenges and requirements. Our software engineers can also make sure our customers receive timely and accurate app updates, which seamlessly integrate with their Westfalia automated parking system.”
“Our long history in designing, manufacturing, installing, and maintaining reliable automated warehousing systems here in the U.S. has enabled us to transfer that knowledge into our automated parking systems. Our palletless automated parking system is capable of driving underneath vehicles to collect or deposit them, which removes the need for costly, time-consuming pallets or costly, space-consuming car stands. We have also spent the last 20 years developing and implementing our unique warehousing software solution, Savanna.NET®, which is comprised of a tightly integrated Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Warehouse Control System (WCS).”
How has COVID affected your company and industry? Does your solution assist with the pandemic?
Ian Todd: “If you’re looking for a great tool for social distancing, this is it. The app is contactless, meaning drivers no longer need to ride in elevators or communicate with other drivers or attendants. They can call their vehicle from their home, office, or hotel room and receive a notification when it’s on its way to the transfer area. It typically takes 2.5 minutes or less from clicking “Retrieve my vehicle” on the app to opening your car door, and the app has a live countdown to tell you when it’s getting close. This reduces the time needed for drivers to wait and gather in the lobby or transfer area.”
What does the future hold for your industry?
Ian Todd: “I think the next exciting challenges for our industry is integrating autonomous vehicles and charging electric vehicles (EVs) within automated parking systems. We’re in a fortunate position in that we have highly skilled mechanical, electrical, controls, and software engineers that have extensive experience integrating our automated solutions with third-party software and automation systems. In fact, Savanna.NET® utilizes the latest Microsoft C# and .NET technologies at its core to offer a broad spectrum of interfaces to ERP and host systems as well as nearly any type of automated equipment or API.”
“Our engineers have also been busy developing our patent-pending EV charging solution that utilizes a universal adaptor and is capable of both AC and DC charging of any vehicle within an automated parking system. We expect to release more news about this solution in the near future.”
Ian Todd has over 20 years’ experience in Automated Parking Systems in both Europe and the US. During this time, Ian has held a variety of roles such as product development, project management, marketing, business development, and sales. He holds a BE in Naval Architecture and an MS in Engineering Project Management. Throughout his career, Ian has overseen subcontracted specialist integrated engineering companies, OEMs and in-house mechanical, electrical/controls and software engineers to develop automated parking systems in Europe & the US. Outside of work, Ian is busy being a father of four children, but whenever he can find the time, he enjoys a good round of golf.