If you have made the investment in an automated drive-through truck wash system, at least three key factors were likely true when you pulled the trigger:
- The importance of your brand's reputation and image on the road
- The desire to maintain your trucks and trailers and extending their lifespan
- A clear ROI that justified the frequent use of the wash system
You went through the effort, both time and resources to dedicate the space, possibly build a new bay, and installed a sophisticated system to clean millions of dollars worth of trucks and trailers. But did you also put a plan in place that will ensure the system will continue to work as well for many years to come, not just at first startup?
Unfortunately, we see many automated systems and equipment that initially performed well but end up underperforming over time, often resulting in minimal usage or being completely abandoned. We have successfully helped companies with existing and aging systems, restoring their functionality and use. However, the better path is to keep your system working well from the beginning and onward, with no lapse in performance. How do you make that happen?
Here are four key things to keep in mind and put into practice.
1. Selecting the Right Soap
Just as a razor handle isn't effective without a quality blade, a wash system relies heavily the chemicals it uses. Are your soaps the correct choice for your fleet type, the type of grime you encounter, and other environmental factors? Different chemicals might be needed based on your conditions - what works well for polished tankers driving through cities in the south is likely different when than a painted long-haul fleet in the north.
And while picking the right type of soap is important, the quality matters as well. A mediocre, one-size-fits-all soap might work fine, but it doesn’t allow you to use your equipment to its full potential.
We regularly hear stories about systems that aren’t working well and find that with a little troubleshooting, adjusting the type of soaps and/or improving the quality of soaps that are used through it, the cleaning results improve drastically.
2. Proper Soap Adjustment
Most systems use soap meters to regulate and control dilution. Sometimes, set-it-and-forget-it works, but many customers are best served to vary dilutions over time and seasons.
For example, when a wash is newly installed, the soap concentration is typically at its strongest. This accounts for the initial few months of washing, which focuses on addressing the heavier buildup that has accumulated on vehicles and trailers. Following this initial phase of "restorative" cleaning, the soap meters can be adjusted down to a maintenance-wash level, to help conserve soap and reduce costs. This approach typically remains effective as long as your wash frequency remains consistent.
Seasonal adjustments are often helpful as well. When winter arrives in the northern states and the rust belt region, some users choose to adapt their systems to the increased levels of road grime and road salt by increasing the soap strength, then once spring arrives, they often revert back to lower soap concentrations.
3. Continuous Monitoring and Maintenance
Shifting soap use over time and with varying conditions emphasizes the need for consistent monitoring of your system, but it's not the only reason to keep an eye on things. Who is paying attention to your system? Is someone responsible for monitoring consumables like softener salt, ensuring water spray nozzles aren't clogged, addressing brush wear, and making minor adjustments? Having someone committed to overseeing these details can significantly enhance your wash operations, ensuring not only the effectiveness and longevity of your wash system, but also minimizing the likelihood of unexpected issues.
At Hydro-Chem Systems, we assign dedicated account managers to our customers that are running our soaps through our washes or are using our soaps through competitor systems. Keep your staff focused on your core business by allowing our experts to make periodically scheduled visits to run full system checks and monitor your wash.
4. Access to Skilled Technicians
Like most mechanical equipment, things can just pop up unexpectedly. If damage occurs, parts wear out, or there's a mysterious issue, (like with wiring or control panel programming going haywire) do you have someone capable of fixing it? Having access to competent technicians and reliable tech support serves as a form of insurance. You might not require their help until there's an unexpected problem, but when that moment arrives, that's you need them the most.
While these considerations are important to review during the pre-purchase stage, it's never too late to make improvements to an active wash system.
If you need help in any of these areas, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Whether you're using our equipment or a competitor's system, we can help you enhance your fleet washing operations, maximizing your wash's uptime and effectiveness. By doing so, you'll optimize your brand's reputation, extend equipment lifespans, and achieve the expected ROI from your wash system.