Basics to Build an Automated Truck Wash in 2023

Basics to Build an Automated Truck Wash in 2023 | Lazrtek

If you’re considering building an automated truck wash or a hybrid automated touchless, a lot of planning is required before you can be ready.

Necessary Basics to Build a Touchless Automated Truck Wash

Deciding which efficient touchless automated truck wash system will make money is more than deciding which truck wash equipment will suit your requirements.

Planning is the key to success. Therefore, the more planning you do before developing your touchless automated truck wash, the faster you can build it and the more profitable your business will be.

Planning for a Touchless Automated Truck Wash

The perfect plan for a touchless automated truck wash begins with choosing a superior location, confirming the location quality with a feasibility study,  developing a good traffic layout for your design space, choosing the right touchless automated truck wash services, understanding your water treatment needs and water discharge requirements, selecting the right chemicals and detergents, establishing the right method for your customers to find you, how to pay you and what kind of wash to expect.

When designing, developing, and building a touchless automatic truck wash, it is very important to know whether your customer base intends to wash semi trucks, school buses, commercial vehicles, RVs, or all of these vehicle types.

Design a Touchless Automated Truck Wash

The single biggest benefit to having an automated truck wash is that you can clean vehicles or your fleet at least ten times faster than doing it by hand.

What used to take 45 minutes to an hour for a wash, depending on the size and shape of your rig, can be done in 3-6 minutes. But when you have dozens of vehicles in your fleet, the advantages of an automated system expand beyond saving you hours of downtime.

You can schedule your fleet operation well in advance and do it with more accuracy because you can predict how long one of your trucks will be sidelined.

An automated wash system also makes it easier to clean the undercarriage. This can be very beneficial if you operate trucks in deep snow or heavy mud, as it helps protect against rust, corrosion, and malfunctioning parts.

Finally, an automated touchless truck wash system requires much less time and labor by any washing professional, which often ends up being your driver.

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How Much Does it Cost to Build an Automated Truck Wash?

It’s hard to estimate how much the total cost of your automated truck wash will be.

Beyond the price of the system itself, you have to factor in plumbing, electricity, and wash bay construction. Even then, the size and shape of the system depend on the type of vehicle you want to clean.

But if you were to purchase the system itself, the cost of your automated truck wash can drastically vary, from under $185,000 for a standard touchless drive-through wash to over $400,000 for a system with multiple wash capabilities and all the latest technologies.

1. Choose a Superior Location

Obtain a quality viability and feasibility study to ensure the location supports enough business to ensure profitability. See LazrTek’s article about why you should obtain a feasibility study before potentially wasting millions of dollars on a touchless automated truck wash that fails due to an insufficient customer base and closes due to lack of profitability.


2. Obtain Necessary Permits to Build

Specific permissions and permits are required to build a new touchless automated truck wash depending on the location of the construction project and the type of business that is being established. Your first concern is quality of location that a viability and feasibility study should confirm

Here are some general steps that businesses may need to follow in order to obtain the necessary permissions and permits for new construction:

  • Check local zoning laws: Before starting any construction project, you will need to ensure that the location where you plan to build is zoned for the type of construction you plan. You may need to obtain a zoning permit or variance in order to build on the property.
  • Obtain building permits: Depending on the nature and scope of your construction project, you may need to obtain one or more building permits from your local building department. These permits are typically required to ensure the construction project meets local building codes and safety standards.
  • Check any special needs permits: In addition to building permits, you may need to obtain special permits or approvals for certain types of construction projects. For example, you may need to obtain a permit to build on floodplains or wetlands or to build a structure that is larger than local zoning laws allow.
  • Check for environmental permits: You may need to obtain environmental permits from state or federal agencies. These permits are typically required to ensure that the construction project does not harm the environment or natural resources.

3. Design Your Wash Bay for the Wash Services You Plan to Offer

The ideal wash bay size for a 2-step automatic system is 100 feet long and 25 feet wide. However, systems can be designed to fit in smaller wash bays. The ideal size for a standard 1-step wash bay is typically 50-60 feet long.

We do suggest saving some additional room on the side of the wash bay for an equipment room to house the pumps and controls — about 40ft by 20ft is ideal.

4. Establish Necessary Truck Wash Utilities

If you’re thinking of building a truck wash facility, whether it is a drive-thru truck wash or a walk-in truck wash, you need to ensure easy access to water, electricity, and drainage.

You can use city water or well water for your truck wash, but your water source must handle at least 50 GPM at 50 PSI.

You’ll also need a decent amount of electricity to power your truck wash. Any 3-phase power supply will do, but we recommend a 480V 3-phase power supply to run your rinse pumps at optimal performance.

With proper planning and sourcing, you’re able to produce a truck wash with high uptime and great labor retention.

5. Touchless and Hybrid automated Truck Washing Systems

There are many different truck and fleet washing companies to source your equipment. LazrTek. custom designs touchless automated truck wash systems and hybrid truck wash systems to ensure you provide your wash customers speed, good price and convenience.  LazrTek wash systems are the latest technology and coupled with our proprietary chemicals, deliver more than a truck wash. We actually “clean” trucks.

  • Equipment: One of the easiest ways to ensure your system is always running is using non-proprietary wash equipment that will allow for more flexibility in maintenance.
  • Equipment Quality: One of the most important factors to consider is the quality of the equipment offered by the manufacturer. Look for equipment that is durable, reliable, and easy to maintain. You should also consider whether the equipment meets industry standards and safety regulations. Choose stainless or galvanized steel.
  • Good Price: Price is always a factor when choosing a fleet washing equipment manufacturer. When you get quotes from multiple manufacturers to compare prices, make sure to look closely at the equipment included to confirm you are comparing apples-to-apples and not getting a lesser system when you receive a lower price. (Pro tip: Ask your manufacturer when you can expect to see an ROI from your automatic wash system).
  • Reliability: It is also important to choose a touchless automated truck wash equipment manufacturer with a good reputation in the industry. Look for a manufacturer that has a track record of producing high-quality equipment and providing excellent customer service by looking at review sites, and directories, or asking them for references.
  • Fast Customer service: Customer service is critical when it comes to fleet washing equipment. You want a manufacturer that is responsive, helpful, and easy to work with. Look for a manufacturer that offers training and support for their equipment, as well as a comprehensive warranty program.
  • Customization: Consider the flexibility of the manufacturer in terms of customization. Can the manufacturer accommodate your specific needs and requirements, and can they provide solutions that change with your business?

6. Water Quality

A good wash starts with good water. Establish the hardness of your water in your area. We can then test it and design an initial water treatment to ensure proper water ph for maximum cleaning efficiency and quality.

7. Choose Premium Pre-Soak Chemicals and Detergents

LazrTek highly recommends its 2-step system. We coat the washing vehicle or rig with a low pH acidic pre-soak, then layer that with a high pH alkaline detergent to loosen surface tension of the dirt, grime, and electrostatically road film adhered to the surfaces so it is easily removed with a quick rinse. 

More and more knowledgeable truck wash experts choose the 2-step system because it’s faster because the 2-step system won’t scratch or damage paint. 

There are many different low-PH and high-PH detergents, so make sure you get the best truck wash soap combination that adequately meets your needs. LazrTek can advise you on the best pre-soak chemicals and low & high PH detergents to ensure you get the best clean and neutral PH discharge ready for the sanitary sewer. LazrTek chemicals and detergents are proprietary and were developed by MIT chemists, especially for Touchless automated truck wash applications.

8. Touchless Automated Truck Wash Maintenance Schedule

The final step in planning your truck wash is ensuring you have a regular automated truck wash maintenance schedule.

We recommend that your fleet is cleaned regularly. This typically includes washing each unit every week or two.

Similarly, if you aren’t maintaining your automated wash system, it can slowly deteriorate over time, and the repair cost will increase.

Here are the two key inspections you need to schedule:

  1. Drive-thru maintenance inspections: checking nozzles, spray patterns, water leaks, and the overall performance of your equipment.
  2. Walk-thru inspections: checking your soap dilution ratios, air pressure, and other individual parts of your system.
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Building An Automated Touchless or Hybrid Truck Wash with LazrTek

Now that you have a comprehensive plan, it’s time to build your automated truck wash. 

  1. Choose the right location
  2. Make sure you have the right permits and permissions
  3. Design your wash bay size
  4. Make sure you have the necessary utilities to run the system
  5. Find the right touchless automated equipment
  6. Properly treat the wash water
  7. Choose the best truck wash chemicals & detergents soap for your services
  8. Make sure you properly maintain your system

Once you accomplish the 8 things above, it will help you mitigate any potential mistakes or delays and improve faster breakeven and more substantial ROIs.

Contact LazrTek today or call us at (469) 536-8478 for a free consultation.

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