LazrTek conducted an independent study and found very interesting results for the best fleet washing technique.
Our research amongst hundreds of fleet operators and fleet washers across the USA gave us very important insights into the current fleet washing industry and the issues with keeping a clean fleet.
In essence, there are three fleet washing techniques choices to consider in 2023:
- 1-Step (Touchless)
- 1-Step plus Brushing
- 2-Step. (Touchless)
Each of the above fleet washing techniques has unique benefits to consider and problems to overcome. In attempting to decide which fleet washing techniques best fits your fleet, there are numerous questions and considerations:
What Tools and Services Are Available to Me To Get My Fleet Cleaned?
In our various interviews with large fleet operators around the USA, we found universally that the current cost of fleet washes by hand has risen to expense levels that many fleet operators find disturbing. This cost issue is a direct result of hourly wage increases and labor shortages.
Fleet operators around the USA indicated the average cost for semi-truck exterior wash service from local power washers starts at around $100 per vehicle and does not include a trailer washout. An exterior truck wash removes grime, dirt, and other contaminants from the cab exterior, including doors, exterior windows, and wheels. Tire shine for trucks and trailers can cost an additional $50 or more per semi-rig.
If you don’t want the high labor cost of an external power wash service, and you choose to purchase your own 2-Step equipment and hire your own labor, then a greater upfront investment in equipment will prove necessary.
You will need to purchase a power washer if you don’t already have one. You can choose a hot water pressure cleaner producing approximately 4 to 5.5 GPM at 2500 psi. Another option is a 2-step system utilizing pre-soak chemicals, then detergent and rinse. Please be aware a residential strength pressure washer will not work well for routine vehicle washing, so you shouldn’t buy one from your local home improvement store.
The Hardness of Local Water
To get a semi-truck and trailer clean, rather than just washing it; you must start with good water. The key to a clean truck is good water. Therefore, you are very likely to need to make an investment in a water conditioner for your truck washing system.
Soluble particles and various minerals are typically present in water. Dissolved calcium and magnesium make water “hard.” The hardness of water can render soaps and cleansers less effective and leave behind clumps of detergent and minerals that need to be pulverized with additional detergent. Hard water promotes adherence to the area you’re cleaning, which might actually impede your cleaning efforts.
A water conditioner will “soften” hard water. A water softener is a mineral tank filled with tiny particles known as resin or zeolite that attract calcium and magnesium to adhere to the ionized particles and be effectively withdrawn out of the water, changing PH to a more effective cleaning range.
Calcium and magnesium bind to the beads and are released by a brine solution, which regenerates the beads for future effectiveness. Sodium-rich salt solution is transferred from the brine to the mineral tank, which is then drained of extra brine and re-filled.
The Temperature of Treated Water
The 1-Step or 2-Step touchless fleet washing techniques process with hot water are potential choices and produce relatively clean results. You will likely need to add brushing to get the truck and trailer clean. Utilizing hot water improves dissolving anything that might be adhered to the tractor and trailer better than cold water but requires a heater/burner. For your 2-Step and 1-Step touchless washes, we suggest maintaining your burner at a temperature of between 100 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Any greater than that could harm your vehicle’s surface.
Another method is to utilize a 2-Step washing procedure with a chemical pre-soak to release surface-adhered dirt and grime, then detergent, then treated fresh water rinse. This method is very good and reduces the cost and inconvenience of heating the water to wash. This method is our preferred fleet washing technique because it results in a cleaner truck and a shorter wash cycle time.
Equipment Investment & Routine Maintenance
A similar investment would be required for the 1-Step touchless technique as for the 2-Step method. However, using 1-Step has a shorter-lasting benefit.
The reason is that although your 18-wheeler tractor & trailer may appear clean after the 1-Step touchless process, all of the road films that your truck may have collected over the course of its travels aren’t completely removed. As a consequence, you might need to wash and maintain your 18-wheeler tractor & trailer more frequently. Continued adherence of dirt, grime, and road film is decreased by the 2-Step touchless procedure, which also lowers the expense of fleet cleaning.
How much water do I have access to, and what kind of water is it?
- Lots of spots and streaks will appear on trucks & trailers with darker colors when using hard water with high mineral content (1-Step + Brush)
- Using soft water to rinse will lessen any stains or streaks. (1-Step touchless or 2-Step touchless)
- Reverse osmosis, or RO, water removes 80–90% of all impurities. (1-Step touchless or 2-Step touchless)
- Your 18-wheeler tractor & trailer can be cleaned without spots or streaks using DI water or spot-free water. (1-Step touchless or 2-Step touchless)
Depending on where your fleet is located, you might find it challenging to get access to a sufficient water supply or find that higher mineral content in your water lowers its quality without treatment.
Should we Utilize Deionized Water to Clean the Fleet?
Since there are no nutrients in deionized water (DI), it is “hungry” water. Because pressure washer pumps are made of metal, running DI water through one will cause it to deteriorate rapidly.
You may have to purchase a commercial-strength water softener or purchase soft water from a water softening company. A high-quality water softener will rapidly pay for itself.
How Much Labor Do I Need To Employ?
The 2-Step or 1-Step Touchless methods are much less labor-intensive than any brushing method that’s available to you. Less labor is required, which results in lower costs as well as a simpler and better fleet washing technique. If you choose to use the 1-Step + Brush method, you may need more employees at your disposal, as well as a lot more scrubbing than any other fleet washing method. Therefore, for labor cost reduction and efficiency, LazrTek recommends utilizing the 2-Step touchless technique.
How Clean do You Expect Your Fleet to Be?
If desire the highest quality clean, then look no further than the 2-Step touchless or 1-Step + Brush process. The 2-Step touchless is the most efficient and provides the best cleaning for the money. If you’re looking to knock off the heavy stuff and have it look good going down the road at 55mph, then the 1-Step Touchless process is adequate.
Keep in mind that the 1-Step touchless method is more efficient than brushing, but it won’t give you that “spectacular” appearance or road-film free clean like the other fleet washing methods, such as 2-Step touchless.
How Many Trucks & Trailers Am I Washing?
For fleets with 10 units or less, investing in the right equipment and setup for the 2-step or 1-Step touchless method may make sense. If your fleet is larger, then much heavier-duty equipment and more labor are necessary. If you are washing over 35 semi-tractors & trailers per day, then you may consider installing an automatic truck wash system to add consistency, reduce labor costs and reduce per wash incurred costs.
What Types of Vehicles Are Being Washed?
While the 1-Step + Brushing method is simple and effective, irregularly shaped vehicles such as tankers, livestock haulers, gravel trains, and trash-hauling vehicles would be better served with a 2-Step touchless wash.
With the 2-Step washing method, you will use less physical effort while leaving the vehicle road-film free and the paint and aluminum with a high glossy appearance.
If you run a small fleet and choose not to invest in the right equipment and setup, and want to keep things simple, then the 1-Step + brush method will yield you a high-quality of cleanliness but will require more time and effort.
LazrTek Provides Fleet Operators and Truck Drivers Speed, Price & Convenience
LazrTek is the industry leader and one of the top innovators in fleet washing techniques. We are the first truck washing company to provide complete business solutions and new technologies to the truck wash industry. Trust our expertise and get fast, reliable recommendations by contacting LazrTek today or calling us at (469) 536-8478 or emailing us to [email protected].
We’re here to help you solve your fleet wash needs in the most economical and efficient manner available!