The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are more than 100,000 car wash facilities throughout the country with Americans spending $5.8 billion annually to have their vehicles cleaned and detailed. In fact, over the last two decades, the number of car owners opting for car wash and auto detailing services has increased exponentially, and industry revenue growth is forecasted to grow at an average yearly rate of 3.3 percent. This will continue to rise as automatic car washes become more affordable and environmentally friendly.
With tremendous growth comes increased competition to provide the most convenient and specialized car wash process for the modern vehicle. For decades, full-service, in-bay automatic (IBA) and self-serve car wash services dominated the landscape. Today, they are competing with express exterior and flex-serve washes implementing modern systems and processes that greatly enhance the car wash experience for a better and longer wash while utilizing virtually no labor.
Performance problems that can wash away business
Machines are the lifeblood of modern professional car wash facilities. Success is dependent on the performance of the equipment. As the demand grows for vehicle washes, system components are being used at a much higher pace and volume which can result in faster wear and tear of machinery. Automated conveyors, for example, can fail to operate on high traffic days due to insufficient pressure issues. If mechanical problems persist due to poor performance, this may lead to car wash downtime resulting in a huge loss of profit.
Along with machines, car wash owners and operators must be mindful of car care applications. Modern chemical systems are essential to wash performance. Running out of soap or wax can also lead to downtime. The ability to monitor liquid levels can ensure the car wash process is performing at an optimum pace. These liquids can also be affected by variables beyond control, such as the weather. The most important agents, soap and water, under the most extreme conditions can induce havoc on a car wash facility. Car washes can shut down from frozen waterlines, ice buildup, bay door malfunctions or equipment freezes. Being offline temporarily can have permanent consequences for owners and operators.
Despite industry advancements, car washes remain subservient to other variables such as air pressure and water temperature. Innovations in advanced condition monitoring and the advent of the internet of things (IoT), equip owners with data and analytics to diagnose machine health, detect issues before they arise and monitor equipment in all weather conditions.
Condition monitoring for car wash facilities
One car wash equipment manufacturer for automotive dealerships wanted to provide preventative maintenance on its systems. They were seeking a remote monitoring solution that would allow them to monitor a variety of conditions:
- Bay temperature
- Water temperature
- Hydraulic temperature
- Hydraulic pressure
- Chemical levels
Real-time information would enable technicians to effectively and efficiently service equipment. Additionally, the capability to sense chemical levels would allow owners to know exactly when soap, conditioner, pre-soak, and other cleaner replenishments need to occur, reducing system downtime and lost revenue.
Preventive maintenance ensures continuous operations and machine performance
The local Parker distributor suggested a continuous remote monitoring solution that could monitor the system including liquid level sensing. SensoNODE™ Gold Sensors and Voice of the Machine™ Software is a low-cost monitoring system with superior flexibility that can be incorporated throughout the car wash process in new or existing systems. By installing the wireless SensoNODE Gold Sensors, service technicians can monitor the bay for changes in pressure, temperature and humidity with instant data and conduct accurate diagnostics to pinpoint any potential issues without having to be on-site.
Chemical levels can be tracked with Parker’s liquid level sensor which identifies chemical fluid levels within barrels. This sensor is non-invasive and attached to the outside of the chemical container. This reduces the opportunities for spillage and employee health mishaps. This helps alleviate material and equipment issues while also providing service technicians with critical information to know exactly when they are needed to be on location.
Together, SensoNODE Gold Sensors and Voice of the Machine Software create a touch-free experience for the dealership as up-to-date machine measurements and chemical levels are available to be viewed via an internet connection. Access to this information eases concerns over inadequate car washes, equipment malfunctioning or low chemical levels. Learn more.
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Article contributed by Westin Siemsglusz, IoT market sales manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation.