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MA4001 - E N G I N E E R I N G


Semester 1 2015 -16

Design of a Mechanical Car Stacker

Ng Heong Wah, John Heng, Zhou Kun & Ang Hock Eng

School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

50, Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Tel:65 790 5488 Fax:65 792 4062

1. Background:
The worldwide population of cars is increasing at an accelerating rate.

Expressways are

becoming increasingly choked at peak commuting periods and parking has become an increasing
problem at residences and workplaces. In many cities, high population density, scarcity and high
cost of land resulted in innovative automated car parking systems. These can range from small 2
to 3 cars stacking systems to warehouse sized systems storing hundreds of cars in a space
efficient manner. The largest systems are completely automated using warehouse storage and
retrieval technologies and reliant on software controlling the system.

Extensive use of

computerised tracking and sensors allows the driver to deposit a car at the apron, swipe a
magnetic card and the system will remove the car and park it deep within the warehouse. On his
return, he simply swipes the card again and the car is returned to him undamaged and in less than
a minute. See an example in figure 1.

Figure 1. Automated Parking system.

Picture credit: http://www.woehr.de/engl/source/frameset.htm

This design project also expects you to solve the problem of car parking. The objective of is to
design a simple system capable of parking 2 to 3 cars on a footprint of single parking lot based
on a mechanical system. The mechanical system is unlike the completely automated system
described above. The mechanical system car park is a method of parking that involves a person
such as a car park attendant or driver to initiate the mechanical movements via electrical push
buttons/switches etc.

The mechanical movements are generated by electric motors driving

machine elements such as power screws, rack and pinions, chains, wire ropes, pulleys and
hydraulic actuators.

Software is not needed as in a mechanical system. Although small and simple, the mechanical
system can be replicated or multiplied over and over to cover a large parking lot in a
conventional car park ramp below a office building, condo or open air car park, i.e. it has to be
modular. Therefore you need to design just the modular unit and not the entire car park.

You can start with the premise that the development is starting from scratch, so you have a free
hand in designing a high density parking system in:
(a) a new office development,
(b) a open air car park,
(c) a residential condominium pr
(d) an industrial estate
Depending on each, the constraints are different and have to be included in the design of the car
park. So choose one of the above.

1.1 What are the design requirements?

The first stage of design involves writing down the design requirements. These are concise
statements specifying what the designed product has to achieve and to what degree that
achievement must be attained (i.e. its importance level) for the product to be successful. The
statements should state quantifiable parameters if possibly (i.e. the constraints). Here are some

For the car stacker to be a success, it should be able to hold as many types of cars as possible,
from small cars of 1 litre engine capacity to the largest Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) or Multi
Purpose Vehicles (MPV) or even transit vans. The latter are typically heavier, much taller and
longer. However it might not be necessary to cater for transit vans in a condo development, in
fact, they can be barred by specifying a volumetric and weight limitation. This gives rise to 2
(a) The maximum capacity for storage for standard cars shall be 2.2m wide and 6m long
with a minimum clear height of 1.8m.

(note that MPV require a min. height of 2.0m).

(b) The machinery shall be capable of handling a maximum weight of 20 000 N. per vehicle.

Other design requirements you should consider are safety, aesthetics, delay times etc and many
more. In the design requirements, one should not specify how i.e the technology needed to
satisfy the requirements. As such statement like; A hydraulic actuator capable of lifting

20 000N is to be used is not a design requirement since other types of machines (examples
being winches, hoists) are as capable of this task.

Some Basic design considerations.

A Note to Design Stream students doing this project.

Nowhere is aesthetics and human factors design more important than in the car stacker. Much
effort is needed to put an acceptable face to the machinery so it does not look dirty, rusty and
overly functional without form.

1.2 Hydraulic or mechanical methods?

Although, the hydraulic process seems to be the more popular, mechanical methods such as by
kinematic mechanisms, rack and pinion or power screw drives are equally suitable. The prime
energy source will be an electric motor as the initial drive, further converted by a hydraulic pump
to pressurize oil for actuating the hydraulic cylinders in the case of hydraulic process. Electric
motors are suited to drive gear trains to transmit power to the machine elements in the
mechanical process. Use the knowledge of machine elements from your MA3001 courses and
engineering graphics from your MA2005 courses to innovate ways of moving the car.

1.3 The movement

The design project requires an exploration of the alternatives to the conventional. A better
solution to the design is to be sought rather than fine tuning the conventional design. Think in 3
dimensions, there are a total of six degrees of freedom to move a car, i.e. linearly in 3 directions
X,Y and Z and rotates about the Z, Y and Z axes. The systems may consist of the following
primary components to assist in the movement:

(a) Carrier or pallet or shuttle is the base transporting the car horizontally in two dimensions
X and Y.
(b) A lift is the transport device used for vertical Z movements.
(c) A turntable is for rotating the car around the horizontal plane.
(d) Rack or framework is the supporting structure for the parking system, providing for
storage, machinery for transport and safety for the user.

The following figures shows some interesting movement used in commercial systems. Use these
as a means to generate ideas. However the machinery are not shown, it needs to be designed in
detail in your project.

Concept A

Concept B

Concept C

Concept D, Read from left to right .

Figure 2. Commercial systems.
Picture credits: Concepts A to C: Wohr Auto
Concept D: www.totalparkingsoltutions.co.uk

1.4 Type of car park

The modular unit must consider the layout of the car park lots shown in figure 3. Each modular
unit should park 2 or 3 cars over the footprint of one car slot.

They affect turning

maneuverability and positioning of the car.

Figure 3: Typical car park lot layout.

1.5 Structural framework of the car stacker

The structural frame supporting the cars, hydraulic or mechanical systems need to be
strong and stiff in order to function reliably. Moving parts need well lubricated guides or
rollers. The supporting frame must also ensure all the moving part of the machine
elements remain in alignment and large deformation (even elastic) does not affect the
functioning of the device.

Strength of materials calculations are required to confirm the strength of the frame

You need to carry out design calculations to ensure that your structural

supports are within the design stresses as well as the deflections are within tolerances.

It is advisable to apply embodiment principles to the design of the structural frames to

improve on the efficiency and reliability of the frame. Reinforcement and strengthening
enables reduction in weight and economy in use of material. Flat steel plates used
without reinforcement will be excessively thick in order to resist bending deformation or
buckling failure. With stiffeners and corrugations, thinner plates can be used. Beam to
beam connections are strengthened against bending modes by web reinforcement.

2. Project Objectives:

The objectives are:

To design a car stacker for parking and storing multiple cars (2 to 3) on the footprint of a
typical car park slot utilizing either the aboveground and/or underground space.

To conduct a literature survey of the available mechanical car stacker system in the market
and patents disclosed of related inventions in the field.

Discuss the available design and write a critique ( for example discussing the pros and cons
of the concept as shown in fig 2.)

To develop the design requirements.

To generate a number of concepts (3) to perform the functions required. Innovative and
creative design is expected.

To select the best of the 3 design concepts using concept selection methods.

For the best design, to design in detail the mechanisms to transport the car from parking
position into the stacker, and in reverse return the car to the same parking position.

Design may use either mechanical or hydraulic power transmission. For hydraulic process,
the hydraulic pump, control valves and relevant accessories must be specified and included
in the design. The source of power will either be an electric motor/s. The car stacker use the
machine elements/components where-ever it is appropriate to the design; namely:

(a) Bearings
(b) Belts and pulleys
(c) Brakes and clutches
(d) Cables and wire ropes
(e) Chains and sprockets
(f) Hydraulic cylinders
(g) Gears and shafts
(h) Kinematic mechanisms
(i) Rollers and wheels
(j) Springs, pins, keyways, couplings and keys
(k) All the above supported by structural framework of steel beams and plates construction
shown to be capable of withstanding all anticipated loadings.

2.1 Learning objectives

In carrying out this project, students working as a team will use the tools learnt from the lectures
to undertake the following;


Perform product definition and generate needs assessment and product requirements.


Understand that the needs assessment will be used to create a set of criteria and weighting
factors to evaluate design concepts.


Build up a number of uniquely different design concepts using brainstorming and other
appropriate creative processes.


Use the structured matrix method for evaluating the design concepts with respect to the
selection criteria to finally select the most suitable concept.


Be able to develop the concept further by appropriate layout and embodiment procedure.


Become familiar and can apply machine elements to create suitable actions of the crusher
and select the most suitable noting its advantages over other elements


Become familiar with the loading analysis and strength of materials calculations and the
selection of approximate dimensions of machine elements to adequately sustain the
applied loads within the factor of safety.


Become familiar with the selection procedures for some off-the-shelf machine elements
and use of parts catalogues in the product.


Be able to draw conceptual sketches and part drawings to drafting standards using CAD
programs or by manual drawings.


Carry out detailed stress analysis and material selection process.


Conduct a cost estimation of the mechanical car stacker system.


Demonstrate a high level of confidence and enthusiasm in the stacker and sal ability in
the market place.


Be able to present a competent, professionally presented technical report starting from the
product definition, conceptual design and the development of the embodiment to the final
design calculations with good quality drawings.


3. Project Marks

This project is worth 50% of the course marks for MA4001. The other 50% is from the course
examination paper. The project team will comprise of four members and individual marks will
be allocated according to:

(1) Individually kept logbook will be inspected by the tutors on a regular basis and queried. All
students are required to fill the log book with details of work done whether it be sketches,
design calculations, internet search and any other work that they personally conducted for the
project relevant to the design development. Phone calls, faxes of product or part data from
suppliers can be stapled to pages in the log book. Therefore, no two log books should
contain the same information.

(2) Each logbook will have the student's name written on the cover in ink. An exercise book or
notebook at least A5 size is suitable. They will be submitted with the group project report at
the end of the project.

3.1 Formal Presentation and Interview

The presentation and interview are important milestones in the project.

Every team member will have to present to the lab group at the middle semester and be
interviewed at the end of semester.

For the presentation, each team will prepare a short oral discussion of the project

The interview will be between the tutor and the team and will consist of questions to
individual team members concerning their individual involvement in the project.

Their log books will be shown to the tutor as support material.

Interview will be spread over the two to three lab sessions, with tutors deciding on
interview timings, generally at each week sessions, he will interview two to three teams.


3.2 Marking Scheme: The total mark of 100% is distributed as follows:

Team level 80%
1. Report-70% based on:

Design process {appreciation of task, design specification}.

Range, quality and number of solutions {number, feasibility, simplicity, practicability

of solutions}.

Use of matrix selection method and range of criteria}.

Development of layout and embodiment.

Detail design of machine elements.

Quality and effectiveness of sketches and drawings.

Appropriate selection of engineering materials and stress analysis .

Selection of electromechanical sensing & actuation components, Programmable logic


Performance and cost estimation

2. Presentation-10% based on:

Clarity of design concepts and explanations.

Quality sketches.

Individual level 20%

3. Logbook-10%

Regular, thorough and clearly documented record of design work and organization
throughout project.

4. Interview-10%

Knowledgeable technical response to queries.

Overall coherence between team members.

4. Systematic Design Approach

Important steps of the process, make sure the team follows the structured approach,

Analyze and redefine the project idea, learn as much as possible by discussion and
information search about the problems and redefine in teams own terms .

Define the project brief in abstract terms.


Determine the customer needs and potential markets.

Create good product specifications or requirements.

Generate many concepts solutions, use techniques such as brain storming to generate large
number of solutions.

Use the segmentation techniques where possible (Function Analysis Diagram) to break up
problem into smaller easy to handle parts.

Analyze proposed solutions and use relatively rapid means (solution screening), first order
analysis to reduce the number of solutions.

Make sure there are some good (minimum of 3) solution concepts.

Generate specification specific to the solution concepts and make use of the product
specifications as selection criteria of the decision matrix selection method.

Select one solution using decision matrix method. Create a simple layout of main functions
using embodiment principles.

Generate detailed layouts of the main functions and other auxiliary functions.

Generate detailed designs of the parts.

Modify designs as necessary.

5. Design Report.
Written report should be according to following format.

Title page:

Title of project, authors and group number

-(Have a pictorial view of your own car stacker on the front like in this document)

Chapter 1:

Give reasons for the designing this product, research and survey on existing car
park systems, design requirements list, quantifiable parameters.

Chapter 2:

Conceptual Design
- Contains the function analysis chart, morphological chart and many hand drawn
sketches of alternative conceptual designs. Selection of best design using matrix
selection method.


Chapter 3:

Embodiment (Layout) Design

- Contains alternative layout or embodiment of critical components so that more
robust and effective design are obtained.

Chapter 4:

Electrical System Design ( if any)

- selection of electro-mechanical sensing and actuation components. Use of
programmable logic controllers in sequencing the operation of actuation system.

Chapter 5:

Detailed Design and material selection

Mainly contains calculations and detailed assembly and part drawings.
Calculations on selection of main machine elements and strength of materials
sizing of major parts only . Although CAD drawings are preferred, hand drawn
part drawings are accepted provided the relevant manufacturing and dimensional
information are shown.

Must provide an assembly drawing showing how the parts are put together.

Chapter 6:

Cost Estimation
-Estimate the total cost of one prototype using part explosion diagram. Discuss
and include the direct and indirect cost.

Chapter 7:

- Give a short account of major achievements of the design and problems


-Books, references, data sources and URLs of internet websites

Appendices: - Relevant tables or catalogues pages where the off the shelf machines element
parts were selected.