Without a reliable car wash conveyor system, your car wash is more or less a hand wash business. A crucial piece of equipment for any automated vehicle wash operation, keeping your conveyor working smoothly should be central to your car wash maintenance routine. Preventative car wash maintenance is easier and less costly than replacing your car wash equipment, and so developing a maintenance schedule will go a long way to keeping your business running smoothly.
Conveyor System Maintenance: The Links in the Chain
Downtime is a car wash’s worst-case scenario. If the conveyor breaks down, that tunnel is instantly offline. Worse still is the very real possibility of a customer’s car being on the conveyor, mid-way through the cleaning cycle, when a malfunction occurs, stranding car and driver inside the tunnel. Frequent breakdowns and technical issues will quickly turn customers away from your business.
Preventative car wash maintenance is always preferable to a major repair, or what they refer to in the medical field as “intervention extremis.” Regular car wash maintenance ultimately lowers the costs your business, extending the life of your wash equipment, meaning your business goes longer without the inevitable major repair and replacement that so much industrial equipment experiences.
At NS Wash, we recommend greasing the slider carriage and take-up drum every day. Rollers should be checked for wear and condition daily, as well. Every month, we recommend lubricating the call-up fork cylinders with spray-on lubricant and checking the oil on HECO gear reducers. Shaft seals should also be inspected for leaks at least once a month. The oil in your HECO gear reducer will also need changing annually.
Still, even with the very best car wash maintenance and thorough inspections, complicated mechanical equipment will always have the risk of a surprise malfunction or failure.
Similarly, with regular lubrication of necessary parts, we recommend extensive and regular cleaning for all parts. The bulk of car wash maintenance is cleaning. Pressure cleaning your conveyor’s hydraulics, rollers, and any other parts likely to experience lots of build-up. Dust, grit, and grime are the primary culprits of conveyor malfunction and breakdown, and regular cleaning will prolong the life of all your wash’s mechanical parts and equipment.
Expect the Unexpected
We highly recommend keeping a full set of spare parts and components on-site and ready for use at a moment’s notice. This isn’t hyperbole: if you find yourself with a faulty conveyor chain and a line of cars waiting to enter the wash tunnel, speedy repair immediately becomes your first concern. Once swap out a worn or malfunctioning part for a fresh spare, make sure to put in an order for a new one, if you don’t already have some. Regular car wash maintenance can vastly prolong the life of your wash equipment, but no amount of maintenance can prevent every contingency. With that in mind, keeping the parts you need to affect proper conveyor system maintenance is key.
(Don’t) Do It Yourself
Not all managers are engineers and not all owners are operators. This is a simple fact of life, but if you are a car wash owner who relies on specialist employees to service your equipment, resist the urge to take matters into your own hands in the event of a malfunction. Similarly, even an expert technician must remain conscious of safety procedures, and not leave themselves in a situation where, if they needed help, they’d be unable to summon it.
In general, car wash maintenance should never be ad-hoc or impromptu. Always make sure your team is aware of what you’re getting ready to do, that there is no other activity going on in the bay, and that you have some means of communication. Of course, maintenance and car washes, in general, are generally safe places to work and patronize, but an environment with heavy industrial equipment brings with it an element of risk, one that deserves to be thoroughly addressed by owners and operators.
This is also why we recommend scheduling all maintenance cycles with clear notice to all employees well ahead of time. This not only improves your business’s efficiency, but it also makes your car wash a safer working environment.
Keep Your Manuals, Don’t Mess Around
As familiar as you might be with your tried-and-true conveyor system maintenance and wash equipment, keep all manuals and source material for your equipment on hand, and properly organized. You’ll likely need the specific name and ID number of any given part you need to order, and having a definitive source for proper sourcing will help keep things on track.
Additionally, your conveyor is built to work within specific parameters, such as weight limits. Playing fast and loose with the stated parameters of your machinery is asking for trouble and most likely to lead you paying for repairs that you’d never have needed to otherwise.
Keep Track of Repairs and Maintenance
Every maintenance job, from simple re-greasing and cleaning to major overhauls, should be documented. Whether you use a digital format such as Microsoft Excel or rely on a paper record, make sure to back up your files, or create hard copies of your logs. For each maintenance operation, make a note of the reason for the maintenance, the means of repair, and the outcome. If you’re having consistent problems that regular car wash maintenance doesn’t seem to be solving, your logs can sometimes point towards the larger issue.
Additionally, this will help you keep track of your inventory of spare parts, helping you stay on top of orders for replacements.
Find the Right Provider
Since car wash maintenance inevitably relies on having the right spare parts, finding a competent source for your maintenance and service needs is critical. At NS Wash, we are dedicated to guaranteeing our customers that their car washes are profitable, safe, and eco-friendly. Whether you’re looking for a new supplier of parts and services or just want some expert advice on conveyor system maintenance, we welcome the opportunity to work with you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. And, in the meantime, make sure to keep those hoses clean!