Every piece of car wash equipment is going to need some form of maintenance schedule or routine. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, annual, or bi-annual, even walls and floors should be on a cleaning schedule! Keeping your investments in good shape will keep them running well for years to come.
We sat down with Trent Walter, Owner/CEO of National Pride Equipment Car Wash Superstore, to learn some new tips and recommendations to utilize preventative car wash maintenance to optimize uptime.
1. Keep on Schedule
When you install a new piece of equipment, it’s a good idea to get the local distributor out to walk through the maintenance on it with you. Even if you don’t get the chance to do this, the equipment manufacturer representative should provide you with the specific preventative maintenance schedule for that piece of equipment. Take all the schedules for all the different pieces you have and combine them into one large schedule with all the items accounted for in one place.
Trent recommends creating a basic spreadsheet or calendar for each routine with room for notes. Print it out and keep it in a binder on site, available to everyone, so staff can go through and see what equipment was serviced when.
For the ongoing routine, it’s helpful to delegate a specific person or specific people in charge of preventative maintenance. Trent recommends helping your staff truly understand the role they are playing in keeping the wash open and running. For instance, if you need to grease a central bearing unit on a vacuum, help them understand why you are greasing it. Explain that there’s a lot of rotational speed that generates heat, leading to wear and tear. The unit needs to be greased on a weekly basis because every week it consumes last week’s grease and dries up, which could lead to damaged equipment.
Further, explain how many pumps of grease to use and let them know to look at the bearings for additional wear and tear or premature failure. Pointing out every function and breaking each one down helps staff follow a standardized method and allows them to be more autonomous once they understand the reasoning behind their actions.
It helps to put substance behind what they are doing both to aid in understanding and to further their professional development.
2. Use the “Why, Why” Analysis
Things are going to break. Even the best planners can’t escape that. However, when something breaks we recommend doing the “why, why” analysis to get to the root of the problem.
If you just go in and fix the broken part and don’t evaluate the situation, the equipment is likely to break again soon. Finding why the situation happened in the first place is a type of root cause analysis that lets you get to the source of the problem rather than just covering it up over and over again. So, ask yourself why the equipment broke. Then, ask why again. Continue asking why until you get to the complete and true root cause of the problem.
This method can be as simple as “Why did the hose fail? Because it was 12 years old and exhausted its useful life,” or as complex as “Why did the hose fail? Because it blew a hole in it. Why did it blow a hole? It got over-pressurized. Why did it get over-pressurized? A check valve failed and high pressure got into the low-pressure side of the line.” AHA! The hose isn’t the root cause, it’s the check valve!
This understanding leads you to change both the hose and the check valve. If you just change the hose it will break again.
3. Avoid common mistakes with CIL.
CIL = clean, inspect, lubricate. It’s so easy yet many people forget to do this. You can’t see if something is failing when it’s covered in crud!
When you clean your equipment, it forces you to inspect it. This will give you the heads up on whether something is loose, or going bad. This simple, yet effective step is critical to maintaining uptime and alerting you to change parts out before they reach the end of their useful life.
While there’s no guarantee, following these steps will help you push towards 100% uptime. Stay on a schedule, ask why, and use CIL to keep your car wash in good shape!