Car washing on a grand scale

30th of November 2018
Car washing on a grand scale

Alexandra Lachner reports from Mr Wash in Stuttgart, one of the largest car washes in the world.

“How much dirt do our customers actually bring in with them?” This was the question Robert Kerbler asked himself in preparing for his interview with ECJ.  “More or less clean cars drive into our black box-like facilities and drive out again, clean.”  

Between the process of driving in and driving out again, the sludge traps of the Stuttgart car wash collect 126 cubic metres of dirt per year. The whole facility has its own small treatment plant, with various collection tanks in which dirt is deposited and from which it is finally removed in compressed form.  Some of the recycled water is returned to the washing process and can be used for cleaning wheel rims or the underside of the vehicles.

So far, so good.  But how is the facility itself kept in good condition? “We have tried out various concepts in different locations, but it has always proved best to concentrate on continual cleaning,” says Kerbler.  “If we just carried out thorough cleaning periodically, this would quickly create the impression that the facility was not in perfect condition. That won’t do for our customers.” The cloths on the washing units, the lambskins and the cloths for interior cleaning are all washed on site in industrial washing machines. Where the vehicle interior cleaning is done, the floors are polished with electric floor polishers and the windows are regularly cleaned.

A unique process has been developed for the washing facility, using specially selected cleaning agents. “We use alternately acid and alkaline agents in order to remove every kind of dirt even from stainless steel surfaces”, says Kerbler. “For the sake of our employees we are also anxious to use non-abrasive agents”.

Hose drums are installed on the shop floor from which employees can unroll hoses and attach telescopic sprays to them. The cleaning agents, which are dispensed via a dosing system, are then applied to the surfaces. Depending on the degree of soiling, washing is either carried out with a simple hose or in the case of base plates, for example, with a high pressure spray lance.

The right time for this work has to be found so as not to interfere with opening hours. “In car washes with two washing lines, as in Stuttgart, both lines are rarely operating continually at the same time, thus providing a break which can be used for cleaning purposes. On really busy days, or in facilities where there is only one washing line, cleaning has to be done either in the morning or in the evening”, Kerbler explains. This includes the time before and after closing time, in order not to interrupt the washing operation.

Another interesting fact is that, according to Kerbler, one aspect which stands out as particularly relevant to the quality standards of Mr Wash, in addition to the overall impression of the facility as a whole, is the condition of the customer toilets. “It’s true that Germany is a country where cleanliness is in general very highly rated and also where car washing is very popular,” he says with a smile. “We notice this particularly when we exchange ideas internationally: car washes in the USA, for example, are much smaller than ours and our colleagues there are very interested in the way we operate.”

 

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