Will trucks soon park in high-bay warehouses?

Reading time: approx. 2 minutes
Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: www.trucktower.de

According to the German Haulage, Logistics and Waste Disposal Federation (abbreviated BGL in German), German motorways lack 35,000 to 40,000 parking spaces for trucks. What can be done about this? A software company has developed an innovative system that creates three to four times as many parking spaces in a given area, thus solving several problems at the same time – the ‘TruckTower’ is an environmentally friendly truck parking facility and an inexpensive hotel for truck drivers in one.

When truck drivers have to spend a long time looking for a parking space when they’re on the road, they not only risk failing to comply with mandatory driving times and breaks. It can also be quite dangerous if their vehicles block entrances and exits or emergency lay-bys, for example. With its TruckTower, the software company ABONA from the German state of Baden-Württemberg has developed a concept that could significantly reduce this problem – the compact, multistorey parking facility for trucks can turn two existing spaces into up to seven, and it doesn’t even need any additional space to do so, because it completely eliminates space-consuming lanes in the facility.

Intelligently parked – via hydraulics

A high-bay warehouse was the inspiration for the invention of the TruckTower, which uses a hydraulic system to place the vehicles on top of and next to each other. To this end, the trucks are first weighed before entering, and then allocated a parking space at ground level. If another vehicle enters, the system compares the weight of the two and then takes action: the lighter truck is transported with hydraulic assistance to one of the upper or adjacent levels, the heavier to the bottom – and the ‘ground level’ is once again available for the next truck.

Drivers must indicate how long they expect to park before entering the facility. They can also do this in advance via app, website or hotline. Intelligent software determines the ideal parking space on the basis of the specified parking time and ensures that the vehicles are automatically returned to ground level at the end of the parking period and are thus ready to leave. The drivers do not remain in the vehicle while it is parked – they can book an affordable place to sleep in a hotel built from converted shipping containers that is directly adjacent to the parking facility.

How the TruckTower works.

A patented system

Leonid Kuhn and Michael Alber, the managing directors of Albona, came up with the idea for the TruckTower. ‘We had a high-bay warehouse in mind and asked ourselves why we couldn’t transport trucks to higher levels in order to park them,’ says Alber. So the two brought partners on board. The project planning phase, including a feasibility study, has been completed and the system has even been patented. ‘We now need the support of the authorities in order to bring the concept to life. After all, this innovative system must obtain the necessary permits,’ reports Michael Alber. ‘We presented the TruckTower to the state government and were met with extremely positive feedback. Now we have the opportunity to present the concept at the federal level at the end of 2019 and hope that we will be able to implement it quickly.’

An environmentally friendly concept

The inventors emphasise how environmentally friendly the system is: ‘Since the vehicles are moved using the power generated by the excess weight, the TruckTower requires very little electricity,’ explains Leonid Kuhn. The buildings can be equipped with solar panels that generate most of the power required – and the facility also eliminates time-consuming searches for a parking space that produce CO2 emissions. In addition, the TruckTower offers greater security for the driver, the vehicles and the cargo because it is permanently monitored by video and access is controlled.

The concept could even have an impact on the vehicles themselves. ‘If you take the idea one step further, drivers would no longer need a berth inside the vehicle to sleep in because they could always spend the night in the TruckTower hotels,’ says Michael Alber. ‘The manufacturers could design the tractor units to be smaller, and thus create more cargo space. That would benefit hauliers and also be good for the environment.’

In the TruckTower, three heavy trucks can park on top of each other. The drivers find a place to rest and sleep in an adjacent hotel built from converted shipping containers.

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