Truck wash systems guide


commercial vehicles in the UK

Keeping trucks clean and on the road

There are around 474,000 commercial vehicles on the road in the UK alone. When we talk about trucks, we’re covering a huge range of vehicle types and sizes in a variety of industries – from small retail vans to huge articulated lorries. What they all have in common is that they are vital to our modern way of life; transporting goods, maintaining infrastructure and powering the economy.

van fleet

The washing process for these vehicles is both logistically challenging and hugely important. They need to be cleaned to exacting standards to promote a strong commercial image, provide a hygienic space for the truck’s payload and ensure the driver retains full visibility. For fleets larger than 15, access to a truck wash system is essential because of the laborious and time-consuming nature of manual washing. But any solution used needs to:

  • Guarantee a high wash standard
  • Fit smoothly into existing maintenance procedures
  • In many cases, be flexible enough to accommodate multiple vehicle types

Wash quality is key

At Wilcomatic, we understand that achieving a high-standard wash and full cleaning coverage is the most important consideration for operators of commercial truck fleets.

Trucks are on the road for long stretches of time, but they spend much of their time parked. This means that speed isn’t a critical factor. 6-8 minutes per vehicle in a truck wash machine is generally considered the sweet spot needed to deliver a sufficiently high calibre wash that is still significantly quicker than manual cleaning.

While time is not unlimited, there is certainly less pressure on turnaround than for other vehicle types like buses.

A high standard of wash is paramount for a number of reasons. For truck operators of all sizes – from the local firm to the multinational corporation – sparkling clean vehicles are vital for the business’s image. Liveries being “clean and seen” is a necessity all year round for trucks that are constantly on the road representing their company. Meanwhile, long operating stints mean traffic film buildups on windscreens can be significant.

There are also regulatory requirements which must be met with regards to cleanliness. These will vary from industry to industry – and can often be determined by the truck’s payload. For instance, those carrying food are likely to be subject to more scrutiny. The Covid-19 pandemic has given operators an extra reason to prioritise hygiene – keeping drivers and other staff safe.

truck wash

Detailing requirements

In particular, high quality detailing is a big priority area. Trucks are typically fitted with any number of additional components. Because of their size, extended mirrors and cameras provide enhanced visibility for the driver. Other features will differ depending on industry needs, but it’s safe to assume any truck wash system will have to be capable of washing and detailing these features to a high standard. This will often require the use of targeted high-pressure washing equipment as part of the main system.

truck wash systems

Types of truck wash system

Rollover gantry systems (and semi-stationary variants) are now considered the most effective for truck washing. Drive-through systems are advantageous for their speed. However, this isn’t the key factor for truck operators – as we’ve discussed, time constraints are generally less pressing for trucks than other vehicle types. The major drawbacks of drive-through systems are their lower wash standards and inconsistency of wash quality based on driver input. With wash quality prized above all else for truck operators, this tends to rule out drive-through systems.

Stationary vs. semi-stationary rollover gantry

Rollover gantry systems comprise brushes rolling over and around a truck to ensure full cleaning coverage of the entire vehicle. This includes the truck’s main body as well as any external components that will require special care and attention.

The semi-stationary variants of rollover solutions apply the same wash in principle, but in two parts. These are particularly useful for sites where the pre-existing wash bay is too small to accommodate stationary systems – which require ample space behind and in front of the vehicle.

Both stationary and semi-stationary rollover gantries are flexible to fleets of different truck sizes and requirements. Where enough bay space is available, the stationary option is usually preferable to avoid logistical complications with the layout and traffic flow of the site. However, both are capable of providing high-quality and consistent washes.

The consistency of rollover systems allows the inclusion of specialist components like high-pressure wheel washers. Wilcomatic’s solutions can also incorporate under-chassis washing systems.

Specific requirements for truck wash systems

Truck wash systems generally require more bay space than their equivalents for other vehicles – often up to three times the length of the truck. For this reason, it’s likely fewer sites can accommodate a stationary machine; but innovative drive-in/reverse-out solutions provide the same cleaning power on a smaller bay footprint.

The more rigorous detailing requirements of trucks mean more high-pressure features are required. For instance, wheel cannons provide the correct level of detailing for arches, hubs and rims. These can be used manually or fitted bespoke to a rollover system to execute automatically.

Touchless washing is also an attractive option for specific areas of a truck. This involves the application of a foam and chemical in advance of the vehicle entering the wash system. These are then cleaned off without the use of brushes. Touchless washing is particularly useful for trucks like tankers which require more sensitivity over where brushes can and can’t make contact with the vehicle. Programmable technology ensures that brushes avoid these areas while continuing to service the rest of the vehicle. You can learn more about Wilcomatic’s range of chemicals here.

How to successfully implement a truck wash

Wilcomatic are industry-leaders in the design and installation of truck wash systems – and we have a 53-year track record to prove it.

We are partnered closely with Otto Christ – widely considered as one of the leading manufacturers of vehicle wash systems in Europe. This relationship means we are the only supplier of their most advanced wash systems in the UK, while we have also worked together to develop new equipment and chemicals.

When we undertake a new truck wash project, we’re committed to ensuring the highest standards from start to finish. From planning to installation, to technical support as you get up and running, we’ll be there for every step.

Equally as important as any truck wash system is a plentiful supply of high-quality consumables – from waxes to screenwash and detergents to foam. Our core range of chemicals are produced on-site, meaning we can guarantee re-deliveries and top-ups whenever you need.

Last but not least is our environmental commitments. Our ‘working water’ division focuses purely on designing and installing wash systems that preserve as much water as possible. Meanwhile, our water recycling and reclamation features improve efficiency, lower running costs and of course reduce the industry’s impact on the environment.

Learn more about the commercial truck wash systems we supply.

Capturing a growing demand for truck washing

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