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BUS WASHING: What operators need to know BUSRide called on leading bus wash OEMs for best practices, pitfalls to avoid and critical points to fit the most effective, cost efficient system to the company and fleet. Why is a bus wash system important to the company? Nothing makes a better first impression on the paying customers than the arrival of a clean, shiny bus or motorcoach. A clean bus is statistically safer and easier to maintain, and the vehicle stands a better chance of a longer operating cycle. Thorough bus washing on a regular basis protects all exterior surfaces from the elements and corrosive contaminants. In the advent of bus-wrap advertising and upscale graphic design, extra care to the exterior surfaces of buses and coaches has become a greater concern. The capability of cleaning the undercarriage is particularly important in regions where harsh winters require corrosive salts and chlorides to clear slippery roads. These chemicals wreak havoc on exposed steel bus frames. Scheduled washes using the correct system are essential to reducing damage and structural repairs. Taking control of bus washing controls the company’s image and can be the least expensive way to meet quality assurance and quality control. What are the types of bus wash systems? As bus companies and transit agencies vary greatly, each wash system is highly customized to meet specific needs according to fleet size and vehicle makeup. The necessary components may include more than one brush or mitter system, and range from one to multiple high-pressure stations with pre-soap, high-pressure rinse, spot free rinse or wax capability. Some will institute blowers to hasten the drying time as the bus exits the wash bay. Gantry systems wash buses in a stationary position, as brushes, mops and touchless sprayers on tracks, move over the vehicle and down the side, front to back.



Drive-through systems remain stationary as the driver moves the vehicle through the brushes, sprayers, product dispensers and dryers. Tower or walkaround systems are cost-effective solutions for small fleets, easily moved by hand around the vehicle as the rotating brush sprays, scrubs and rotates. With their low price point and versatility, a company of any size can use these systems — as the main wash source for small fleets or for larger fleets to use a tool for odd size washing, or backup should the permanent automatic system break down. Undercarriage wash systems are of interest to operators doing business in harsh, corrosive-prone winter environments. Standalone undercarriage systems combine chloride neutralizing with corrosion inhibition and protection. Measured against corrosion repair costs, this specialized system offers exceptional ROI. What determines the system bus and coach operators should consider? Where large transit bus and coach fleets may require 30 washes an hour and up to hundreds per day, automated drive-through and gantry systems are the answer. The greatest demand is for wash systems that can handle five to 40 buses per shift. For the company that must move several hundred buses through the system at night, or before the drivers leave their shift, the drive-through is the most popular solution. The rollover gantry removes the driver from the equation and typically takes no more than 5 to 8 minutes per wash cycle. Gantry systems tend to work most effectively when service schedules are not as tight and the desire is for a higher level of wash quality. Bus yards and garage facilities vary in size and layout from one operation to the next, each with separate specifications

for the optimum wash equipment. Autonomous single-brush bus washers are especially applicable for challenged space and budget situations. What do operators need to know about bus wash systems they may not already know? A bus wash system is not a do-it-yourself project kit. Selecting and configuring the most appropriate system involves the operator working closely with the wash system OEM to determine the most effective solution for the fleet in the space available. The system must fit and function properly, allowing adequate access to electric utilities, water supply and proper sewer drainage. During design and installation, operators need to be aware of the capacity and restrictions of all utilities, and ensure the parameters and specifications match those the OEM recommends. The wash bay footprint must allow the correct placement of all the controls and leave adequate room for vehicles to enter and exit safely. Benchmarking is helpful. Few operators know their cost per wash, which considers the estimated life cycle of the system, annual maintenance costs and costs of wash products, as well as required time and labor. The advantage of this metric is knowing precisely what the company spends on this function. Understanding the exact cost affords an opportunity to make the wash process more cost efficient.

the independent variable. Impatient drivers can move the bus through the cycle too fast for a complete and thorough wash, often resulting in damage to the bus and the wash equipment. Some drive-through systems incorporate speed control sensing devices that track the bus through the wash at specified intervals. What role does technology play in bus wash systems? Until recently, bus wash systems were a mechanical function. The influx of electronic sensing and monitoring technology has advanced the wash process, and the benefits and savings are apparent. Bus wash OEMs continue to implement technologies that refine the process, improve quality and lower costs by conserving water, products and electricity. Technology has brought metered soap systems, improved mitter systems, water softening and mineral removal. How important is the choice of chemicals and wash products? The correct mix of chemicals has as much an impact on the quality of the wash as the equipment itself. Aside from utility costs over time, the bus wash chemicals and cleaning products constitute the biggest expense. However, a modern bus wash system can save as much as 25 percent in chemical usage compared to older systems, simply because the new wash systems are more effective at metering usage to consistent levels.

What are the greatest concerns in the operation of the wash system? In a drive-through system that is most effective when the bus is moving approximately 1.5 feet per second, the bus driver is

What are the water drainage requirements? The most important question in the long-term use of a bus wash system is whether to incorporate a reclaimed water

Bitimec International Inc.

Awash Systems Corp. The Tower Wash is easy and efficient

No Wires - No Hassle Bus Washing. If you have 5 to 50 bus and van washes to do a day‌ you’re on the right page! Single brush bus washers have come of age. Fast machines provide unlimited elbow grease under the control of a human operator, to deliver consistently high quality washing. Bitimec is the market leader in the sector with Electric, Diesel, Battery and even Hybrid powered machines.

Bitimec International Inc. 15 E. Putnam Ave Greenwich, CT 06830 203-340-9388

Washing your bus has never been so easy and so efficient. Superior in design and automation, the Tower Wash System features an exclusive direct injector soap system that assures the same application every time. Using a mere 25 gallons of water and only a few ounces of soap, a bus wash takes less than 5 minutes. The only North American manufacturer of this type of system in 25 years, serving every U.S. state and Canadian province, Awash Systems customizes each order to accommodate each wash setup. Installation includes overhead track and cable system design for inside and outside wash bays.

Awash Systems Corp. 19 Community Ave., Unit #2 Stoney Creek, ON L8E 2X9 1-800-265-7405 | BUSRIDE MAINTENANCE


What are the environmental concerns in a bus wash operation? For the most part, today’s wash chemicals are much friendlier to the environment, removed simply enough through normal sewer drain systems. For all intents and purposes, hazardous waste removal systems are unnecessary for modern wash systems. Where there is no federal protocol, with each municipality, county or state establishing its own level of wastewater tolerances, this is somewhat a controversial red herring. Nonetheless, the industry has complied with better technology and decreased use of acid products, which most operators no longer even consider an option.

— easily the best choice for reducing water usage. Depending on the complexity of the system and the overall configuration, the typical recycling system can recapture on average up to 80 percent of the water used for each wash. A system with advanced technology can control water usage even more. Except for the soap, totally loop-closed reclamation systems filter everything out effectively for washing only. Rinses require only a minimum amount of necessary freshwater. While this is premium from a conservation standpoint, the costs are much higher


What are the recommended maintenance requirements? Operators often overlook or underestimate their maintenance needs, as well as their available manpower to operate and maintain the bus wash system. Preventative maintenance naturally ensures longevity and better use over the system’s life cycle. The OEM recommendation is to adhere to the recommended maintenance schedule and assign a technician to specifically monitor the wash system and keep it in working order. The job requires someone with mechanical aptitude, because of the multiple hydraulic, electric, water and air pressure systems, as well as automated, computerized control systems at work in the wash bay. In the area of bus washing, what pitfalls should an operator work to avoid? Do not view the wash system as a magical solution for a fleet of any size with every type of bus. Every available system comes with advantages as well as limitations. Know what to expect and do not ask more from the system than can it accommodate with normal use.

NS WASH SYSTEMS Everything for a Complete Bus Cleaning


Fight back with CorroDyne: The first Automated Chloride Knockdown System to manage Fleet Corrosion Protection. Is your road equipment left exposed due to ineffective wash programs? The CorroDyne Chloride Knockdown System automates the neutralizing and protection process, providing a massive advantage when compared to simple rinse automation or manual applications. Can you afford to leave your fleet untreated and exposed to the constant barrage of road salts and corrosion? Control the issue and put a cap on repair and maintenance costs with CorroDyne.


Wash Dynamics 2101 Dawn Avenue Virginia Beach, VA 23451 (888) 999-8628


NS Wash Systems has been designing and building vehicle wash equipment since 1961, becoming the leading supplier to many of the nation’s largest and most demanding transit authorities. Our line of bus washes has revolutionized the large vehicle cleaning industry with such innovations as: • Rugged ladderized aluminum frame construction • Lammscloth cleaning components • Up to 30 buses an hour • Virtually maintenance free • Undercarriage Washers • Wheel Wash Systems NS Wash Systems • High Volume Spinner Arches 235 Florence Ave. • High Pressure Cleaning Systems Inglewood, CA 90301 • Water Recycling Systems (877) 679-2741

Bus Washing: What operators need to know  

BUSRide presents a new educational eBook on bus washing systems!

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