The suction function
Even in a depressing economy, a life without a clean car doesn’t seem feasible, said Jennifer Bender, the sales & marketing manager of J. E. Adams Industries Ltd. That’s the good news for carwashes and detailers. People, even though their lives might be a little messier than usual thanks to a shaky economy, more than likely will not want to live amongst messiness.
“Kids are still going to make a mess, dirt and snow are still going to be tracked into the car, and pet hair still runs rampant no matter what the economy is doing,” Bender said. “Consumers may cut back on washing the outside of their vehicle, but if a vacuum is convenient and cost effective many people will continue to use this product,” Bender explained. “The alternative is a messy, dirty car.”
How to keep energy costs down
Vacuums require energy and energy is a hot commodity now-a-days, not only because it’s expensive, but it’s also fragile and getting eaten up by the minute.
According to the folks at GinSan Industries, the best way to keep energy costs down is to properly care for and maintain each vacuum on a regular basis. GinSan says to empty the filters and keep the motor screens clean if you want a vacuum to run efficiently.
Bender said one good way to keep energy costs down is to accurately set your timers for the length of usage. “If the average vend time is four minutes and you have your timers set for six minutes, the vacuum could be running without being used,” she said.
In addition to fine-tuning your timers, Bender recommends selecting a commercial vacuum opt for the push button on/off switch versus a toggle switch. “Employees and customers can easily walk away while the unit continues to run,” Bender stated, “wasting not only electricity but the life of your motors.”
Maintain, maintain, maintain
Steve Osborn, vice president of sales and marketing at Fragramatics Mfg. Co., Inc., thinks all long-term carwash revenue will track your maintenance program.
“Some [operators] don’t even have a maintenance program and they let their equipment die a slow death and when it breaks, they replace it,” Osborn said. “You have to be proactive.”
Tim Sater, the director of marketing and regional sales for D&S Car Wash Equipment Company, said there are a couple simple things an operator can do to ensure the longevity of their expensive vacuum investment:
- Regularly replace bags so they do not get full of dirt or continue using them with rips and holes. A bag that is full or has holes in it can leak dust that will eventually cause the motor to burn up. This can be a costly repair, Sater explained.
- Make sure the bags are securely attached to the inside frame. If a bag becomes loose, it will spew dust and debris in the canister and cause the motor to fail. It is just a matter of time.
- Minimize water intake. According to Sater, “Moisture, as well as dust, is the enemy of all electrical motors. If enough water is introduced into the canister, the motor will eventually burn up. You just have to hope that whoever is using the vacuum does not suck up a lot of water.”
Shake it out and keep it clean
Bender said one of the most important steps an operator can take to improve the life of your equipment is to shake out your filter bags at least once a week and more often if necessary. You should also wash the filter bags as much as needed.
Osborn said the same thing. “The best thing to do is to clean the filters every two to three weeks,” Osborn said. “We’re not talking just washing the bags, we’re talking going out there with a soft-headed brush, and cleaning the filtration units. The caked up dirt can ruin the vacuum. Reach up in their, scrub the inside of the bags. It makes the motors last longer because they’re not working as hard and it gives the customer high performance because it maintains the suction.”
Bender said operators should clean the outside of the vacuum with soap and water only or a stainless steel cleanser and to not use harsh chemicals or abrasives as they could scratch and rust the unit. “Stainless steel can last for decades if you clean it properly,” she said.
Keep the air flowing
Proper suction is key to getting the most out of a vacuum. That may be obvious, but what might not be obvious is how to get a vacuum to suction at an optimum rate.
Check the hoses, nozzle, doors, and motor gaskets for wear and tear and to replace anything that may have a hole or is worn as it will decrease your suctioning ability.
“The best vacuum is when your suction and air flow are optimized,” Osborn explained. “If I take a vacuum nozzle and it sucks down to the carpet, but there is no air moving, but there is maximum suction, then there isn’t a vacuum.
“You can pick up a bowling ball with the suction, but if there is no air flowing through the hose, then the dirt isn’t moving,” Osborn said. Osborn added that it is even advisable to check the vacuum every other day.