Making your carwash equipment more efficient should be a top priority and your vacuums should be one of the first components on your list. Professional Carwashing & Detailing tracked down experts in the field to create a list of new technologies and updates to get you started.
Think of the motors!
Sean Dunkle, manufacturing engineer of D&S Car Wash Equipment Co., said current vacuums and detail machines generally have up to three motors for the vacuum component, a compressor for the air function and some include fluid pumps for fragrance, shampoo, spot remover, etc.
“By reducing any of these power users, while still providing the same features and performance, energy usage is decreased,” Dunkle explained. Additional efficiencies can be achieved through the use of ‘smart’ controllers to turn motors, pumps and lighting on or off, when needed.
Dunkle added that the new generation of electronic control systems can also track usage and maintenance requirements. He said to consider combining features into a single unit. The “all-in-one” approach provides better use of raw materials and reduces power and space requirements, he said.
Research & Development Director Tony Goodwin of Fragra*Matics Manufacturing suggested the use of turbo motors, which “allows the owner to achieve the suction of two 8-amp standard motors with one 12-amp motor.”
Avoid making these mistakes
A vacuum, according to Dunkle, is similar to any machine — proper maintenance ensures maximum efficiency, therefore saving energy. “If a vacuum has a clog or other malfunction, it should be put out of service immediately. Not only would an unsuspecting customer lose money if kept in service, but the machine will be activated for a set amount of time, thus wasting unnecessary energy.”
Vacuums can suck away a lot of energy, and can also cause some safety problems, if not properly watched. You wouldn’t leave a car running if you weren’t anywhere near it, so the same practice should be considered with your vacuum.
Tiffany Huffman, customer service/marketing representative for Fragra*Matics Manufacturing, noted the maximum energy consumed is when the vacuum motors are running but the unit is not being used, and reminded operators to use a timed vend cycle.
Nancy Schmautz, vice president of TD Industries Inc, The Car Wash Specialist, suggested checking the fuses for a full voltage draw using a voltmeter, remembering that fuses are cheap to change but an expensive service call when broken. “By incorporating a regular preventative maintenance program into your wash,” she said, “you conserve your capital equipment costs as well as your operations costs.”
Make vacuums a little greener
Besides making sure a vacuum isn’t wasting energy by not performing well, there are ways to make vacuum a little more eco-friendly. To some customers, a vacuum might seem like a big energy consumer and waster too. They’re hefty machines and they make a lot of noise, but their image can be greened up and it would be a smart move to try and draw in the eco-friendly customers.
Dunkle said that more and more D&S customers have expressed a desire for more efficient vacuums, with better performance, at a better overall cost. To save on energy, he said their company offers a vacuum with a smart controller that turns the compressor on only when needed, a photo sensor to turn the lights on or off, and will automatically brighten or dim the display, according to ambient light.
One tip Goodwin suggests is to use LED and florescent lights at the vacuum stations, which “dramatically reduce the carbon footprint.” He also said that Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) compliance parts eliminate downstream environmental waste. Also, there’s certainly no need to have the lights on inside of a vacuum if no one is around.Using reusable bags that can be washed, and then alternating them with a clean bag will help save the environment, according to Schmautz. Also, she said, “use environmentally-safe chemicals in carpet cleaning and fragrance machines, remembering people and animals touch the inside of the vehicle.”