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Dryer beware

October 11, 2010
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This month, Professional Carwashing & Detailing® rounded up two industry experts from Belanger, Inc., to discuss dryers used at conveyorized carwashes. In particular, how they can be maintained and used in an express exterior system to dry faster and more efficiently. Christina Alexander is the sales promotion manager and Tom Weyandt is the director of new product design.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: In the express carwash world, dryers need to be fast and thorough; what kind of technology allows dryers to be faster without sacrificing the dryer quality?

Christina Alexander: Because of past dryer technology, operators were conditioned to believe that drying speed was directly contributed to the equipment’s total horsepower (HP). But if their dryer nozzles are not directed properly on the vehicle’s surface, and/or they are not delivering the maximum air velocity out of each nozzle opening, all the HP in the world is not going to properly dry their customers’ vehicles.

Tom Weyandt: With the latest drying advancements, past HP beliefs are quickly becoming obsolete. Questions that today’s operators should be asking which directly relate to the latest technological developments in dryer speed are:
  • What is the total vehicle surface coverage produced by the dryer’s configuration?
  • Do the dryer nozzle outlets create conflicting air flows on vehicle surfaces?
  • Do the dryers deliver maximum air velocity to each vehicle surface?
All of these technology advancements significantly increase the drying process of your equipment while significantly reducing energy consumption.

Christina Alexander: To be completely accurate, vehicle dryers are only one part of the dryer process. To help optimize your dryer’s performance, you need to also monitor and be effective in your use of:
  • Waxes;
  • Drying agents;
  • Spot free rinse; and
  • The pH of your chemical.
Those processes, along with how well your wash system cleaned the vehicle, all contribute to the overall finishing results your dryer system is capable of producing.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: How have dryers evolved over the years in terms of those systems used at express carwashes?

Christina Alexander: Dryers have gone from large, HP-distant dryers that are far away from the vehicle, to complex contouring dryers that move in a guillotine-style over the vehicle, to simple and efficient compact dryers with directed air streams.

Now, the latest technology is taking full advantage of wider air streams that eliminate conflicting air flows for maximum performance with less energy usage. Not to mention, these systems maintain a safe distance between the vehicle and the dryer nozzle. This maximization of air flow design ultimately results in faster line speeds with less HP requirements.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: Is more upkeep and maintenance necessary with today’s dryers?

Tom Weyandt: No, generally less maintenance is required, but typically this depends on the dryer design and manufacturer. If you choose a drying system with no moving parts, your maintenance requirements will be considerably reduced.

Christina Alexander: Furthermore, safety is a very important issue when it comes to dryer maintenance. Always choose a dryer that has nozzles and housings which easily slip off and do not require any handling of heavy motors when performing routine adjustments.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: What kind of problems can occur if operators do not properly maintain the dryers?

Tom Weyandt: In general, dryer inlets need to be cleaned to prevent loss in efficiency, bearings need to be greased to promote motor life, and accidental dryer contact damage needs to be assessed for proper airflow delivery and impeller damage.

Christina Alexander: Impellers rotate at a very high rate of speed and need to be frequently checked for smooth operation, vibration, or out-of-balance concerns which can cause wear on bearings and impellers, as well as much more serious concerns such as structural failure or explosion.

Tom Weyandt: Improperly maintained impellers that fail can cause severe damage in addition to major liabilities. In fact, it may sound scary, but improperly maintained impellers have been known to virtually blow up inside the dryer housing and literally come shooting out of the nozzle opening onto a customer’s vehicle. And this is the exact reason we strongly urge all operators to not only properly maintain their dryers, but also insist on 3400 rpm impellers that are rated class 3 or higher. This rating ensures that your impellers are constructed to a higher quality that will help eliminate severe impeller blow outs. Some equipment manufacturers have also started designing their dryer nozzle outlet to include cutoff protectors or catchers masks which prevent such scrap metal from shooting out of the nozzle openings.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: Will dryers work even faster in the near future? If so, how?

Tom Weyandt: Yes, energy efficiency and green issues will require dryers to get better. Maximizing the efficiency of dryer housings and impellers along with improvements in nozzle design and airflow over the vehicle will all be areas that will continue to be targeted for improvements as dryers advance.

Christina Alexander: Although dryer technology is quickly advancing, it is important to look at vehicle dryers as only one part of the dryer process. Remember to monitor your entire wash process when evaluating your dryer’s performance.

Christina Alexander and Tom Weyandt both work for Belanger, Inc., a carwash products manufacturer, based out of Northville, MI. For more information, visit