It is important to understand what truck drivers and fleet operators want in a truck wash to assess the need for automatic truck wash technologies.
After conducting numerous extensive marketing studies and market analyses of the truck wash industry as it exists in today’s world, LazrTek is certain about what drivers and fleet operators want today. Speed, reasonable price, and convenience. With dollars earned per mile in the trucking industry at all-time highs, the average utility of a tractor and trailer is under pressure.
Who Washes Trucks?
All vehicles, whether owned by owner-operators or large fleets, need to be washed at some time or another. Typically the owner or the truck driver of the vehicle is responsible for having it washed.
What Is the Customer “Satisfaction” Standard for Truck Washing in 2023?
Hand washing remains the most popular commercial wash method for trucks. The expected result is “clean & shiny” without spots or streaks.
However, trailers are not usually washed by hand. Since there are many types of trailers, the standards vary.
Most companies have lower standards for trailers than for trucks (i.e. tractors). Independent owner-operators have higher standards than company fleet/truck drivers.
Automated truck washing is sometimes viewed with skepticism, but handwashing takes too long and interrupts valuable travel time when a truck is earning money. There remains some fear that automated wash equipment with heavy friction brushes will damage the vehicle or vehicle add-ons such as antennae.
Some truck drivers are unconvinced that the machine can wash as well as they can, but speed, price, and convenience are becoming necessary to preserve maximum vehicle utility and productivity.
Where Are Trucks Usually Washed?
Most trucks are washed at home or at the fleet headquarters. Therefore, mobile washing companies are sometimes employed to wash large numbers of trucks at company yards. This is the best place to wash since there is no transaction costs-the vehicle isn’t working.
On-the-road wash bays located at truck stops or on major highways are also the spots for truck wash. According to NATSO (National Association of Truck Stop Operators), less than 30% of all truck stops have wash bays.
When Are Trucks Usually Washed?
Convenience is the major factor. If the truck is working and earning money, it is not convenient.
Trucks are more often washed before or after their run or in conjunction with maintenance.
Why Are Trucks Washed? Is It Really Necessary?
There are a variety of reasons why commercial vehicles are washed, ranging from simple pride to practical necessity:
- Maintenance: clean vehicles are easier to perform maintenance on. It is proven that clean vehicles have increased longevity and maintain higher resale values.
- Value: washing maintains investment value longer (e.g. inhibits corrosion).
- Image: a clean image attracts customers. The imaging of vehicles is important to companies, and each vehicle serves as a roaming billboard.
- Regulators: washing helps to avoid fines and/or inspections
- Weigh scales: washing removes a buildup of dirt, resulting in reduced weight and preventing fines.
- Safety: preventing corrosion through regular washing fights against the deterioration of vehicle parts (e.g. brake lines).
- Improved mileage: heavy soils removed translates into a lighter vehicle, resulting in greater fuel efficiency.
- Security: presenting a positive image at borders can avoid troubles associated with stereotyping/profiling
- Lease covenants: Many tractors and trailers are leased from leasing companies today. Maintaining lease vehicles and trailers is mandatory.
- Food & perishables: The FDA has cleanliness standards for refrigerated reefer trailers, and food purveyors have learned that clean vehicles connote fresh products in the food delivery business.
How Are Large Commercial Vehicles Washed?
Truck washing is customarily conducted in one of five methods:
Hand Washed by Owner or Operator
- The vast majority of trucks are “hand-washed”, utilizing brushes, mitts, and pressure washers.
- Operators can spend as long as four hours washing a truck.
Mobile Power Washer
- Quality and cost vary depending on services requested.
- Convenient for the operator since the wash service comes to the location.
- Environmental regulations require wash water to be contained and disposed of to protect waterways and aquifers.
- Since most wash outdoors, this poses a problem in winter
Automated Fleet Wash
- Convenient for the operator to wash trucks at the fleet base.
- At best produces “fleet wash quality” (the vehicle looks clean from a distance), which is often acceptable for fleets.
- Produces inconsistent wash results, and operating costs are typically high
Commercial Hand Wash
- A public, fixed-location wash site where operators take their vehicles to be washed
- Wash quality is generally good but very labor intensive and time consuming
- Commercial wash bays apply various wash techniques. Typical hand wash facilities employ a crew of 4-6.
With the exception of the automated fleet washes, all other methods are manual operations utilizing varying amounts of labor. The fleet wash is a private wash, only accessible to company truck drivers, leaving the public with limited options that are labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Touchless Drive Thru Automated Wash Systems
New technological advances in touchless wash equipment and chemicals have made touchless wash systems very attractive due to the speed (6 min. wash) and quality of the result.
The new chemical formula, which reduces the surface tension of dirt, and The neutral PH water with better detergents together result in excellent wash outcomes, rivaling hand washes in a fraction of the time.
This results in an effective wash price, reduced payroll expense, and a lower-cost wash with equal results.
The New Truck Wash – Standard of Excellence That Truck Drivers Need
Now that the truck wash landscape is better understood. Find out how LazrTek’s Touchless Drive Thru Truck Wash System is making waves in the previously stagnant truck washing industry.
Learn how our revolutionary and new technologically advanced wash systems can meet the truck driver’s and fleet operator’s washing needs in various contexts and applications.
Contact LazrTek at (469) 536-8478 today for a free 30-minute consultation.