Velocity Water—another company under the Sonny’s umbrella–is also producing water reclamation systems that Harkins says can help operators recapture and reuse 50 to 60% of the water their wash uses. The company is steadily working on a new system that can reuse up to 70 to 80% of water, but the system is still under development and testing. Harkins says that one of the biggest challenges in water reclamation is trying to remove the dyes/colours that are used in soap.
Transchem has also stepped away from using dyed chemistry in its newer portfolio of products. Ewing says that this has been part of the company’s effort to create reclaim-optimized chemistry. One way that Ewing is trying to recapture the theatrical experience strong red, green and blue dyes have given automatic car washes is by encouraging operators to incorporate LED lighting systems in their car washes.
“The show that customers are used to experiencing at car washes isn’t as vibrant with no dye, and that’s where the LED lighting system comes in,” says Ewing.
By incorporating LED systems with deep colours, Ewing says that operators can enhance the clear nature of chemistry that has no dye and is optimized for water reclamation. By stepping towards these products, Ewing says that Transchem’s reclaimed systems can recycle about 65% of the water that they use in their car wash.
Beyond water, Walker says that operators should also consider upgrading their equipment to more energy-efficient models that can help them reduce their overall energy consumption.
Part of that is energy efficiency, something that Arthur Stephens, president and CEO of International Drying Corp., has been working on at his company. International Drying has been manufacturing car wash drying systems for around 22 years, with an ongoing focus on improving energy efficiency, performance, longevity and sound control.
Stephens recommends operators consider using car wash systems that use axial fans for their efficiency. International Drying’s latest system delivers over 11,000 cu. ft. of air a minute out of a 10-horsepower motor, versus an average centrifugal unit, which he says typically delivers around 5,000 cu. ft. of air per minute out of a 15-horsepower motor.
“By using a system that’s more efficient, you won’t need as many motors to hit all of those different pinpoints on a vehicle because of the airflow,” explains Stephens, “you’re saving upwards of 20 to 30% on your electric bill.”
Beyond the axial fans, Stephens says that operators can also consider technology like variable frequency drives (VFDs) or dimmer switches that can help control the energy input and voltage used to run their drying system. He recommends operators run their centrifugal fans between 55 and 57 hertz, versus a higher hertz like 60—this can help reduce energy consumption by 6 to 8%.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when operators are saving a couple of thousand dollars a month in their electric bill and reducing their energy use by that amount each month, it adds up over the year, both in energy savings for the environment and in an operator's pocket.