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Correctly designed dryers can save carwash operators money in several ways ― namely, energy-efficient operation and equipment longevity. Energy-efficient dryers save operators money every minute they run. Here, a small increase in efficiency can pay huge dividends over the lifetime of the dryer. Because dryers are both electrical and mechanical, they need both types of efficiency to operate at their peak potential.
Experience has shown that high-efficiency dryer designs last about 30 percent longer in the field, compared to ‘assembled’ dryers put together from commonly-available parts. This greater longevity delivers a higher return-on-investment in two ways. First, it delays the expense of replacing dryers, giving the operator more value for the money.
Secondly, efficient long-life dryers provide a double benefit ― everyday savings, multiplied over a greater lifespan. If efficient operation is the ‘principle’ advantage of these dryers, their inherent durability pays a kind of ‘compound interest’ ― ensuring that their operational savings multiply over a prolonged service life.
Of course, efficient dryers bring more benefits than cost savings. They offer volume advantages, as well. That’s because they dry cars more thoroughly and quickly, enabling operators to produce more dry cars every hour. And when dryers produce superior results with less waiting, customers notice. So not only do efficient dryers produce more throughput, they can increase the wash’s volume by attracting more repeat business.
The manufacturer who offers a suite of drying solutions does more than give operators a complete vehicle drying answer. This approach creates a vehicle drying ‘toolbox’ from which operators can choose the dryer types that best complement their wash bays, budgets and business models. These customized drying systems strategically eliminate competing air currents to efficiently remove water from the vehicle’s surface, using any combination of the following:
General-purpose dryers: Designed for multiple mounting configurations, these dryers produce powerful columns of air to effectively dry vehicles, while blasting water out of ‘nooks and crannies’ like sideview mirrors, door openings and character lines. Because these designs are ‘general purpose,’ they should offer a high degree of flexibility. Nozzles should rotate easily, while housings slip on and off for faster routine adjustments. This not only ensures the operator can easily ‘dial in’ the dryers for optimum results in each wash bay, it helps guarantee greater uptime for the wash, which drives volume, throughput and profitability.
Horizontal surface dryers: Provide focused drying of horizontal surfaces. Using a long narrow outlet designed for a top-mount installation, these dryers create a ‘wall of air’ that strips water off of hoods, windshields and roofs. This knife-like air stream ‘cuts through’ ambient air currents to keep the water moving in a continuous front-to-back flow ― dramatically improving overall drying efficiency, and delivering drier cars while using less energy.
Vehicle side dryers: Offer high-volume, high velocity drying to flexibly target the sides of vehicles. With their strong vertical orientation and large surface area, vehicle sides benefit from a specific drying solution. Designed for side mounting, these dryers have specially designed manifolds that ensure an even distribution of airflow to a long row of vertically stacked outlets. Each outlet delivers a concentrated ‘kick’ of air that combines with its neighbors to effectively sweep water off and away from the vehicle.
In the near future, vehicle drying will become part of the ‘price of admission’ for nearly all carwash operators. Carwash customers will be less accepting of a ‘wet wash,’ and much less tolerant of a wash whose drying system delivers sub-par performance.
The fact is, energy is not getting any cheaper. And customer expectations are not getting any lower. Equipment manufacturers who understand these facts will continue to innovate, with new drying systems that save operators time and money, while improving wash quality. For today’s customer, a drier car is a cleaner car. That’s why tomorrow’s customer will insist on the cleanest, driest car for the money … and will most heavily patronize washes that are equipped to provide it.
Marcus McLaughlin is a Marketing Manager at Belanger, Inc. and was formerly marketing director for one of Michigan’s largest carwash chains.