WashTec Best Practice:
The old ones washed well, the new ones wash even better.
With two WashTec SmartCare gantry car washes, operator Rolf Burgert keeps cars clean in Achern, Baden. As early as 1978, the company operated the first car wash in the city.
At WashTec, the SmartCare gantry car wash is considered the Rolls-Royce in the product portfolio. And so it was no surprise when marketing manager Thomas Brenner came forward with the news that in Achern, at the foot of the famous Schwarzwaldhochstraße, no fewer than two of these Rolls-Royces can be found at an Esso petrol station.
We wanted to find out from Rolf Burgert, who has been washing cars at Fautenbacher Straße 20 for more than twenty years, how it is that an operator uses two high-performance car washes at one site.
It all began in 1978. This is when the first car wash in Achern was installed here on the premises of a large Esso petrol station in one of two bays. It was a used Christ portal system that came from nearby Baden-Baden. In the early years, the other bay still housed a workshop. But with the increasing car wash business and the fact that the workshop business was on the decline, also due to long maintenance intervals for the vehicles, a car wash was also installed in this bay in 1996. Back then, the washing business was even better than it is today, reports operator Burgert, which is of course also due to the fact that there is more competition today.
But that didn't stop the trained car mechanic from upgrading his car wash business. After more than 80,000 washes, it was time for a new car wash, and the washing professional opted for two SmartCare gantry car washes from WashTec. "Before the systems were installed," says Rolf Burgert, "the wash bays were refurbished by euro-top, an expert in refurbishing petrol stations and wash bays. The walls were re-clad and the floors coated." A worthwhile investment for the operator. "I can recommend the company," he adds. For Burgert, ensuring the clean appearance of his car washes plays a major role: "After all, we are in the business of selling cleanliness to customers, so we have to make sure that the facilities are well-maintained."
In February 2021, the time had come. WashTec's "Rolls-Royces" in the form of SmartCare systems "rolled" into the two 12-metre-long wash bays, each with a glazed side wall. Smart for the simple reason that only an internet connection is needed so that operators can connect to the car wash from anywhere in the world. Thanks to remote access, they can conveniently measure and monitor all settings at any time at the click of a mouse and adapt them individually to their business and its requirements: whether pricing, chemical dosing or washing programmes. A service technician is no longer required for these settings. By way of illustration, Rolf Burgert can independently switch from summer to winter operation, adapt washing programmes to the current weather or the current workload. With just one click, you can optimise the balance between best quality and highest speed according to the situation.
It is similar with the dosage of the washing chemicals; they are used where they are needed, and the exact filling level is displayed so that reordering is possible in good time. Thanks to remote access, the operator can conveniently control the dosage of the washing chemicals depending on the programme with a single click. For the clearance width, Burgert has chosen the variant with 2.58 metres, up to 2.66 metres are possible. Its height is 2.40 metres. This means that regular customers such as Hermes delivery services can also use the facilities without any problems.
But before the car washes go to work, the customers can remove the worst of the dirt from their vehicles with the high-pressure lances that are placed in the containers in front of the car washes. Insect spray and wheel rim cleaner can also be applied manually with another lance before starting the car wash. Payment is made directly by inserting coins.
Burgert can adjust the required washing programmes as needed at any time simply by pressing a button. He offers seven washing programmes. More would be possible, but it should ultimately be straightforward for customers, he explains. Payment can be made in the petrol station shop or with a loyalty card directly at the terminal in front of the car wash. In addition, loyalty card holders benefit from a special price. Burgert estimates that around five per cent of his customers use the loyalty card. Nevertheless, many users of the two car washes are regular customers. Depending on the payment method, the washing programme is selected in the shop or at the terminal.
The cheapest programme is mainly the one customers choose. That is also partly due to Hermes. The drivers regularly drive their delivery vehicles to the two facilities and usually choose the cheapest washing programme. In this case, the volume of vehicles that are washed here ensures the corresponding return, the operator reveals.
Of course, the light show during the wash is a must. The foam application is illuminated by LED spotlights in alternating colours. The spray nozzles are aligned in such a way that the foam is applied optimally over the entire surface area, both on small and large vehicles. And the 'quick fit' spray nozzles are easy to maintain without tools or effort, the manufacturer informs.
Technology such as FlexControl, explains the system description, regulates the SofTecs side brushes via an advanced sensor-based control in combination with an infinitely variable tilting position. In conjunction with an optimally matched brush diameter, this allows a high feed-in angle of the lateral contour to be achieved with optimum contact pressure – from the roof edge down to the sill. The precise sensor and control technology of MultiFlex 2.0 makes it possible for the multi-dimensional side brush to adapt flexibly to the rear slope. With separate swivel axes, the MultiFlex side brushes wash with maximum vehicle contact from the rear of the vehicle to the C-pillar.
Very heavy soiling and rugged surfaces on vehicles are tackled by rotating spot spray nozzles. The advanced TurboNozzles ensure optimum pre-cleaning with a powerful high-pressure jet. With pinpoint accuracy in the front, rear and now also in the sill areas. And the perfectly adjusted spraying angles ensure a high-pressure wash all-over. In the last pass, the flow-optimised dryer is used, which ensures perfect drying results for all vehicle shapes with advanced air guidance and precise contour tracking, because customers pay particular attention to whether a vehicle comes out of the car wash dry.
The busiest washing days in Achern are also Fridays and Saturdays, but due to the high customer potential, the car washes are also very busy on the other weekdays. But even on the two busy wash days, the number of vehicles coming to the wash is "manageable", Burgert reveals. "It's not like there are ten vehicles waiting in line, because the two car washes balance out the queue and a wash takes an average of ten minutes."
And according to Burgert, the response from customers to the two new car washes is this: "The old ones washed well, the new ones wash even better."
Text / Bild: Hans Rongisch, tankstellenWelt