As technology advances, nearly everything in our lives becomes more sophisticated. Our cellphones have replaced what we once needed six devices to do. Not only can we use them to communicate virtually wherever we are, they provide us with GPS enabled maps and directions. There are apps that tell where the nearest gas station or restaurant is. A recent Nielsen study showed that nearly 85 percent of convenience store and gas station searches come from smartphones.
The modern day carwash customer
The carwash industry has adopted these technologies as quickly as they have been introduced. Carwashes around the world are using apps in order to provide location and pricing information as well as deals to customers. Mobile detailers, such as Wash.ly have developed apps allowing clients to schedule services no matter where their cars are parked. They can not only schedule a detailing service from their office building — they have the option of having their wash performed in their office parking lot.
Aside from the ability to connect carwashes to their customers, technology has crept its way into the day-to-day operations of carwashes — pairing the carwash controllers with the mobile devices owners and operators use every day.
Controller manufacturers and distributors are bearing this in mind while they are developing their new units the same way owners and operators are keeping this convenience technology in mind when they are ordering their units for their new carwash or their upgrade.
Control and convenience
Washworld, for example, provides their Washview software with their High Velocity wash system. The software allows owners and operators to control and monitor their carwash from anywhere so long as they have a mobile or Internet connection. Washworld developed the Washview software in 1999 for the purpose of providing clients with the ability for “programming, troubleshooting and maintenance” without having to be present at the wash. Washworld had gotten into the convenience technology almost a decade before cell phones would become miniature computers in peoples’ pockets.
Aside from convenience the Washview software allows for owners to save a bit of energy during the slower months. Using the software, owners can control every aspect of their wash — from lighting timers to the dryers — as if they were at the site.
Karen Ott, product marketing manager at Washworld explains that in addition to these potential energy saving methods their Ultimate Control Cabinet will revert to a standby mode when not in use. The controller display itself includes a dimming touch screen and screen saver. The software is compatible with Apple, Windows and Android operating systems for the purposes of remote operating.
These technologies can be paired with variable frequency drives (VFD’s) in order to save owners and operators money throughout the summer months — when car counts can be low and when owners say they need savings the most. VFD’s offer a wide variety of ways for owners to adjust their wash settings when days, or seasons, are slow. For example VFD controllers can:
- Control the RPM’s (revolutions per minute) of motors
- Eliminate inrush on blower and vacuum motor startups
- Adjust the setting and speed of carwash dryers.
You can also use the VFD controllers’ advanced settings to save water. Some controller systems have the capabilities to determine the size of vehicles and use an appropriate amount of water. Think about it — do you really need to use as much water to wash a Smart Car as you do to wash a Hummer?
Arthur Stephens, president of International Drying, Inc. said his dryers are designed to work with most controllers and their speeds are programmable.
“If somebody has a variable frequency drive they can adjust how fast the dryer is actually spinning so they adjust the output,” Stephens said.
And thanks to controller manufacturers staying ahead of the curve all of these energy saving tasks can be performed from an owner’s smartphone, computer, or tablet. Having the capability of slowing down dryers for smaller vehicles or flatbed trucks could have a huge impact on an owner’s bottom line if utilized on a frequent bases.
Energy savings and wash control are not the only advantages of using these advanced controller systems.
Rob Brehaut of Minute Car Wash in Newburgh, NY, uses Micrologic systems at his two tunnel carwashes. The software gives Brehaut the same control as if he were at either of his carwashes.
“Basically, I could do everything that I could do on a desktop computer from my iPhone or Android,” Brehaut said.
Brehaut installed the Micrologic Car Wash Management System application on an iPhone. Since then he has switched to an Android-based phone and the experience of using the system was “no different.”
“If I’m not in the tunnel and I want to time my equipment I can dial into the controller from my phone and time my equipment without having to go into the office,” Brehaut explained. “I can punch my guys in, punch my guys out. If they’re having a problem at the wash they can call me and say, ‘Hey, this thing is turning off too early,’ I can go in there and reset it and get the timing right.”
Brehaut said he can also tap into his camera feeds, ensuring he can keep an eye on the wash when he is away.
Modern day controllers
Contemporary controllers offer a vast array of features to ensure carwash owners can keep their carwash working like a top. From energy efficient settings to general daily operations to security, controllers have become more than just a way for customers to select their desired wash and to tell the system what options to use.
Controllers have evolved in recent years giving owners and operators total control no matter where they are. Controllers can seemingly adapt to any new technological advances. There is no telling just what the next big gadget might be — maybe Google Glass or maybe a James Bond-type watch — but given the state of contemporary controllers it seems likely they will continue to adapt and evolve.