In today’s world of environmental concerns and the impacts of each industry on it, the Truck Industry has taken a serious thought to the level of impact it has on the environment. As a result, this industry has lessened its impact on the environment through its efforts with items like tires, engines, fuel consumption, aero-dynamics, etc.
Washing your truck can be another dynamic way to be environmentally sound and save some money as well. Let’s discover the world of washing trucks, put some myths to bed and pass on some ideas on how to be green while saving money and improving your image.
Today there is technology available to meet any needs and desires of your washing requirements, be it budget or environmentally based. Generally, the most popular automatic machinery to wash vehicles today consists of automated drive through, rollover and walk around units. These automated systems enable a truck to be washed and rinsed in less than 5 minutes. Available as well are water reclamation and recycle systems to offset environment concerns and save on water costs.
However, there are many operators still using the manual pressure washer and hand brush scrub system, taking up to 30 minutes or more to wash and rinse. Reliable labor, time costs and wash consistency are the major frustrations with any operator utilizing a manual hand wash system.
Here are some facts
Washing trucks in your parking lot:
Do you know some municipalities and States have banned washing cars on the street and even your driveway? Yes, that water goes directly to the storm sewer and immediately into your local water source (stream, river, lake or ocean). If you are washing in your parking lot, where does that drain go? Most likely, directly to the closest aquatic system in your area (river, stream, lake or ocean).
Whatever chemicals are being used for washing end up in the local aquatic systems. Did you realize that if even if you used the proper “biodegradable soaps”, you are still sending grease, oil, gasoline and other contaminants with that wash water into the water shed?
When surveyed by the EPA almost 80% of the population believed the water going to storm sewers went to the treatment plant to be cleaned. Unfortunately this is not true. The storm sewer water goes directly to streams, rivers, lakes and oceans.
The EPA suggests washing your vehicles on gravel or grassy surfaces, as Mother Nature knows how to neutralize those contaminants in the soil. However, this can’t be efficient for any truck operator that has multiple vehicles to wash. The surface would obviously become overcome with water and mud, so there has to be more thought put into large vehicle washing.
There are technologies available to capture your wash water in your parking lot, recycle and reuse this water. Also there are companies that will capture and dispose in the proper sewer system so as not to pollute your environment.
Washing inside your building
Washing inside your building, in majority of cases, means you are tapped into your municipal water sewage system, thus the wash water is being sent to your treatment facility. This does help the environment; however, there is a cost.
- Cost to the municipality to clean this water
- Your company or building is paying for water (possibly on a meter). Check your water bill and understand it.
- Are you paying for sewage discharge as well? Many companies do not realize that there is a water charge in and many times there is a “water out” charge. Some areas meter water in and out, with a hefty charge for water discharge. So you are paying for water in and then paying again for water out, sometimes twice the amount to discharge.
Today’s technology allows for water treatment systems at your wash bay. There are many systems available that allow for you to capture your water, clean it and re-use for washing. This would allow a zero discharge, thus saving money and the environment.
Do you know your cost of washing each truck? In our visits and discussions with hundreds of companies, we would say only 1% can actually tell exactly the cost of washing each vehicle.
Hand washing Trucks
Did you know a 3/4” water hose dispenses 17 gallons of water per minute? Do the math and washing a truck for 30 minutes = 510 gallons of water. Each gallon weighs 8.3lbs, so you may have used over 2 tons (4,200lbs) of water to wash that truck.
The average American uses 99 gallons of water per day. Primarily for cleanliness (washing clothes, showers & toilet flushing = 67%). (Trivia, next largest use is leaky faucets/pipes 14%). Thus over 80% of water use by average American’s is not for drinking. One truck wash by hand could equal 5 American’s water use for a day. What is your water footprint?
Whether you are washing inside your building or outside on your parking lot, the use and cost of water can be a major hidden cost to your facility. Do the analysis and find a major saving, especially when you look at your cost per gallon of water.
Today’s technology for cleaning trucks, no matter if you are using an automatic system, a walk around single brush unit, pressure washer or old fashioned hand brush can be a green initiative in your company. It’s a matter of education of water usage, techniques and analysis. Long ignored as a factor in costs, with water shortages and environmental impacts, this is a growing concern.
The cost of water varies across the continent, thus it can have different impacts depending on your location. Do you draw water out of a well or lake? We hear from these customers that we don’t pay for water, so not a concern. We have to believe there is a cost to all of us eventually.
For most of us, the municipality supplies our water through pipes to our facility. Take a minute to examine the water bill and come up with a cost per gallon of water. This is not easy, but necessary to determine your cost per vehicle of washing.
After determining the cost of water, you will have to capture the cost of labor, chemicals and supplies (brushes, cloths, etc.). Now it is understandable why only 1% of companies don’t know the actual cost of washing a truck.
Overall, truck washing has much more of an impact than most operator’s take time to consider. There is a major affect to both the environment and the bottom line of every company, city and municipality. Take time to consider your footprint on the environment.