Choosing a bus wash system for your bus fleet could be difficult when it comes to washing technology which relates to your nature of business and the return on investment in the long run.
We’re sure that you know that keeping a bus fleet clean and presentable is an important part of a school district or transit agency’s image. There are many bus wash systems on the market with a variety of different features or methods, making it difficult to determine which is best to keep your fleet clean.
LazrTek suggests 4 factors to look for when choosing a bus wash system for your school district or transit agency.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Bus Wash System
1. Brushes vs. High pressure
When it comes to getting a bus clean, all bus wash equipment manufacturers agree that brushes are more effective than using only high-pressure water. Lazrtek addresses a popular misconception about bus wash systems is that brushes can damage and scratch the bus.
“The dirt that collects on the brushes actually does the scratching; no brush would actually scratch unless it gets embedded with dirt,” he says. “If you use the proper amount of soap and proper cleaning methods, your brushes will always stay clean, and you never have to worry about scratches.
However, most brushes aren’t equipped to deal with bike racks and other attachments that block the brushes. Lazrtek has been manufacturing and operating bus wash systems since 1971. The company’s newest bus wash systems are designed specially to deal with bike racks, mirrors, and other structural bus add-ons by using a combination of brushes and high-pressure water in a hybrid wash system.
“The bike rack on the front and side mirrors always created a problem to be washed because the brushes cannot really get in there,” Lazrtek Marketing Manager Harold Rosbottom says. “LazrTek just introduced a new system that tracks the front of the bus. The system sprays the front of the bus with high pressure and, as the bus moves through the tunnel, will continue to spray the front until it is completely clean.”
LazrTek and its Joint Venture partner Envirochem have been manufacturing large, drive-thru bus wash systems since the 1960s. Lazrtek believes most school districts and agencies are looking for hybrid wash systems that combine high-pressure water with low-pressure brushes.
“Brushes are still the most cost-effective way to get a good clean. “In our new systems, we deploy low volume, high-pressure pumps to conserve water, chemical, and soap.” We use about 1/3 the water, chemical, and soap of older systems and we get the buses clean. If buses have lots of structural add-ons or window and roof leakage is a concern, we recommend hybrid machinery that combines both brushes and high pressure, really, in our opinion, is the way to go.”
2. Fleet Size Matters
When choosing a bus wash system, the companies say that fleet size is a big consideration as well. While mobile wash units are convenient and save money, they may not be the best option for an agency with hundreds of buses to wash every night.
Harold Rosbottom, Marketing Manager for LazrTek, says that many agencies and school districts continue to rely on hand-washing and may not realize the affordable options for smaller fleets. A number of companies, including LazrTek, offer machines targeted at washing small fleets.
“Of course, for the bigger fleets they’re going to need something more automated,” LazrTek says.
“Some are buying a several hundred thousand dollar automated bus wash systems thinking it’s the most efficient because they can drive the bus through like an automatic car wash,” Jackson says. “Even if it looks like a great machine if you’re only washing 10 buses a night, do you really need to spend a few hundred thousand dollars?”
3. Easy to Use and Maintain
LazrTek suggests school systems and bus agencies to take a practical approach and think about which wash system will be the easiest and most efficient to operate once the system is installed.
“Sometimes the systems can get so complicated with cylinders and electronic controls, they miss the fact that it’s a bus wash system; it’s not a rocketship.” “Look at the system that specifies how much chemical, water, and power are required, as well as ease of operation, reliability, and ongoing maintenance.”
LazrTek has invested heavily in the past few years updating and improving its wash systems to conserve water, time, and energy. LazrTek publishes that the company’s bus wash machines use half the power that they did a decade ago. LazrTek has also made efforts to keep its machines user-friendly and reliable while conserving water, chemicals, and soap for an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient operation.
4. Saving Time, Water and Money
With many school districts and bus agencies facing water shortages, LazrTek bus wash systems have adapted to conserve water and energy with low-flow machines.
LazrTek recommends washing buses more often rather than cutting down on washes, especially if using a touchless drive thru, hybrid, or mobile bus wash system.
“If you establish a wash policy and wash the bus every few days, you’ll see every day you wash it gets faster and faster,” he says. “If you have an automated machine, it’s generally set up for the worst-case scenario — the dirtiest the bus is always going to be. LazrTek new touchless and hybrid wash equipment is now programmable to correspond with wash policy and wash cycles to spend less time when buses are washed more frequently.
LazrTek’s eco-friendly wash systems use less than five gallons a minute and, while the average bus takes about five minutes to wash, some agencies that clean their buses every few days are able to wash a bus in two to four minutes.
LazrTek has also been able to cut down their water use by changing the nozzles on their machines. By misting soap instead of spraying, the machines use less water to rinse off. The company has cut down their water use to under 35 gallons per wash. LazrTek has developed water reclamation systems so school districts and bus agencies can clean and reuse water in their bus wash systems. However, please be aware that a good wash starts with good water and reclaimed water is not always the best to utilize.
LazrTek also notes the importance of looking at all parts of the wash process. Switching from surfactant-based cleansers (e.g. soap) to enzyme-based chemicals is more effective and uses less water.
“Soap’s pretty good at removing dirt and doing things, but it doesn’t remove any of the greases or the oils that have a tendency to accumulate and collect,” he says. “Bus wash agents are enzyme-based chemicals that eat those oils and reduce dirt surface tension so the dirt falls off during the wash cycle. Plus, the enzyme-based agents are very easy rinsing. From a sustainability standpoint, enzyme-based chemicals are very good because they’re easily rinsing, and you can go low-flow on the rinse applications of a bus wash.”
LazrTek has service technicians available around the United States, but LazrTek adds that school systems and bus agencies should look for systems that are simple enough to fix via online diagnostics without always waiting for a technician to arrive. LazrTek guarantees 24 hr. service response times.
“All the bus wash systems work beautifully when they’re first installed, but [agencies] have to make a point that it should be easy to maintain by their own technicians,” he says. “Most school bus operators and bus transit agencies have mechanics and they are more than capable to service most of our wash machines with our help and assistance via our online diagnostics. When an issue arises, we can dial in, diagnose the problem and then the local technician can take care of it right away instead of waiting for a distant technician to show up and save the day.”
Are You Choosing a Bus Wash System? Consider LazrTek
LazrTek Touchless Drive Thru Bus Wash
LazrTek’s touchless drive thru bus wash system are becoming very popular due to new chemical and soap breakthroughs that wash without brushes almost as well. Buses travel through the automated system on tire guides at about a foot per second. Touchless Bus wash machines are made of hot-dip galvanized structural steel or stainless steel and wash very effectively without any abrasion.
The wash system can accommodate buses up to 60 feet long and is ideal for agencies with large fleets looking to wash many buses very quickly. The touchless system utilizes low volume, high-pressure pumps and washes a bus with 1/3 the water, chemicals, and soap older systems consume.
Lazrtek and Envirochem have manufactured new state-of-the-art touchless bus wash systems since the 1980s and have worked installed many of these wash systems throughout the United States washing for prestigious firms such as FedEx, Kroger, Nashville Schools system, Walmart, and Ashley furniture. LazrTek consults with School Districts, bus transit agencies, train transit systems, and commercial bus operators on wash system designs for a durable wash system that can last for decades with minimal maintenance.
Mobile Bus Wash System
LazrTek Mobile Bus Wash Unit is a mobile machine with wheels and a spinning brush. A single operator can walk the machine around the bus twice, once to scrub with soap and once to rinse off, to get the bus clean and shine.
The portable machine doesn’t require any building modifications and has no problem fitting in an existing area; all it requires is an electrical outlet for recharging overnight and a water line to fill the water tank. Because it relies on manpower, bus washers also have more control over the cleaning process.
Lazrtek mobile wash units use foam brushes instead of the more commonly used polyethylene to clean and polish at the same time. The mobile wash also features a mirrored cutout to prevent any damage to the bus mirrors.
The Lazrtek mobile wash unit is self-propelled allowing a single operator to operate the equipment effectively thereby reducing strenuous labor necessity.