Request InformationCleaning large commercial vehicles is by no means a new idea since there are a variety of different methods of cleaning commercial vehicles today.

These methods range from a simple soap bucket, brush and hose to elaborate gantry systems. The different types of commercial wash systems on
the market include the following:

All of the above truck washing methods are used today however their application and purpose varies. For example, the truck wash manufacturers sell the gantry and drive through type wash systems however, their use is generally intended for in-house fleet wash applications where all the vehicles are typically the same. This same equipment has been used in commercial cleaning with limited success because of its inability to adapt to the different sizes, shapes and configurations of trucks. The successful operations generally use some automation to complement the labour.

The truck wash industry has varying opinions regarding washing methods and what is considered as an acceptable wash result. The supplier of automated equipment will promote a fleet clean that is described as a shiny face with a little dirt behind the ears. Whereas the manual wash operator says hand washing is the only method for producing satisfactory results due to the various types of vehicles. Automated systems are intended to wash a truck with minimal or no labor and the wash is generally much faster than manual wash options but the wash quality is not 100%. On the other hand customer satisfaction is being achieved with manual washing with the disadvantage of being very time consuming. The new truck wash concept being proposed is designed to achieve both the speed and the quality of wash with a labor component that complements the automation.

The drive through wash system is the only system with the potential to provide a service that can clean large volumes of vehicles in a short period of time. The key to this wash system is to meet customer needs by providing a quality wash, maintain consistency yet still provide the timesaving benefits.

The market for a drive through wash service that can clean up to 30 commercial vehicles (tractor-trailer sized) is a very attractive concept in a day and age when corporate image is important and time is money. In an industry where margins are small and competition fierce trucking companies need any edge they can get and a truck wash service with timesaving benefits could provide the extra advantage a company needs. Commercial trucks are extremely visible and fleet owners take pride in advertising their company names and logos on these vehicles. Therefore, the vehicles' cleanliness is highly visible to the public eye. Providing a fast yet quality truck wash service, gives the owners and operators of the vehicle the opportunity to clean their vehicles quickly and more frequently to maintain this clean corporate image. Regular cleaning will also extend the life of the vehicles by slowing down corrosion.

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The gantry wash system utilizes high-pressure and or brushes which are mounted to a motorized frame. The vehicle enters the wash building and when the vehicle reaches a pre-determined position it stops and remains stationary while the gantry moves back and forth the length of the vehicle to perform the different cycles of the wash. Typically, a gantry will perform two or three passes of the vehicle. One pass would apply chemical, the second pass applies the high-pressure or brushes and the third pass would apply a rinse. The advantage of this type of system is that the speed of the cleaning operation is controlled by the speed of the gantry. Typically the building size required to house such equipment is limited to the size of the largest vehicle you are cleaning. The disadvantage is that it can take ten minutes or more to perform the exterior cleaning and the wash equipment utilizes a lot of moving parts with the potential for frequent maintenance. To complement the wash cycle many owners utilize an attendant to perform some hand detailing while the gantry is in motion.

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The drive through wash system utilizes stationary equipment and a vehicle drives through the wash bay at a low speed. These systems often utilize brushes to complement the high-pressure however the rotating brushes used in any wash system should be limited to flat smooth surfaces to avoid damage to mirrors and aerials. The advantage of the drive through system is that a vehicle can be cleaned quickly to a degree of cleanliness dictated by the equipment and methods that are being used. The system uses far less moving parts than a gantry system therefore provides simplicity. The disadvantages are that the speed of the vehicle is dependent on the driver. The faster the vehicle travels the more the quality of wash deteriorates although careful design can alleviate this problem. Generally, a commercial truck wash tunnel is 180 feet long and a 60-foot tractor-trailer traveling at 1-2 feet per second translates into a 2-4 minute wash. The drive through system requires the equipment and sprays to be positioned at a safe distance from the vehicle. Therefore, to effectively wash with high-pressure in a drive through system a higher flow of water is necessary to carry the water a greater distance while maintaining the impact needed. This is not a problem as long as an effective water recycling system is incorporated for the high-pressure application.

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Mobile truck washing consists typically of entrepreneurs with power wash equipment on their truck and they come to your site to wash your vehicles. The quality of wash varies depending on the process the operator uses. Whether they use high-pressure only or they brush the vehicle will effect the cleanliness as well as how much you pay for the service. It can be assumed that the length of time for this type of wash service mirrors that of a manual wash facility of 20-30 minutes for comparable wash quality. Although not strictly enforced in all areas of the country there are laws, which prohibit washing outdoors because the wash water can potentially, seep into the ground and contaminate the aquifer or enter the storm sewers, untreated. Mobile truck washing outfits are required to contain the wash water, collect it and dispose of it in an acceptable manner.

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Manual wash sites typically use the same tools as the mobile truck washing operators however they perform the wash service indoors. Typically a building sized to accommodate the largest vehicle to be washed is required and attendants use high-pressure wands, brushes and elbow grease to perform the cleaning. The time to wash and cost will vary on the type of truck being washed. The largest chain of commercial truck washes in the USA is Blue Beacon where the average wash time is about three tractor-trailer rigs in an hour.

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