Water is a precious resource, it is essential for life and until something better comes along, it is an essential requirement for professional car wash businesses. Many operators focus on the chemical cost per wash, but have you calculated your cost per wash for water? The more mileage you can get from every litre of water is not only saving the planet, it is saving your hip pocket.
Three of the popular styles in car wash are Biological, Chemical and Filtration. Each has their pros and cons, but there are some basic rules which will help make any system work better for you.
- Resonance time - this is the time it takes for water to flow through the system. The greater the waste water storage capacity, the longer it will take for a molecule of water to flow from the start of the system to the finish. The slower the water flows, the more solids will drop out of the water, helping to clean it up naturally. The best time and most economical to consider this is when interceptor tanks can be placed underground during construction.
- Water flows - It's not economical to recycle all of the water at a car wash. Water from Self Serve bays is not consistent and contains many contaminants. Best practice is to separate the water from the Automatic and only plan to recycle this. The volume is greater and more consistent, so easier and more economical to treat. Separating these water flows is easier to do at the construction stage.
- Cost of operation - The benefit is diminished if the cost of operating the recycling system is too high. Biological systems require pumps, aeration, bacteria and nutrients. Chemical flocculation requires regular chemical for pH adjustment and to flocculate, filtration systems require pumps to operate which will use electricity. It's best to evaluate the ongoing costs of each system before making a decision.
- Performance - Do you need drinking water or water to wash cars with? important criteria are the level of solids in the water, to safeguard the pumps in your equipment. Smell is critical, no one is going to enjoy washing their car in a place that smells like a sewer. Colour can be important for customer perceptions, who may have doubts if they see their car being washed with smelly and dirty water.
If you are considering a system, ask if you can contact sites using the equipment. Find out what the results are like, and ask the owner for their feedback on performance, reliability, cost of operation, service back up and maintenance required to keep the system operating. A lot of sites have reclaim systems installed, but not being used because the results don’t stack up.
Velocity Vehicle Care represent PurClean reclaim systems which is one of the most popular in North America. It has a small footprint and low operating costs. We would be more than happy to do a site evaluation for anyone interested in learning more about recycling their water and lowering their cost per wash.