Once Kleindienst, twice WashTec
"We run a WashTec bus washing facility here," begins Siegfried Schöße, group leader in the bus workshop of the Erfurt Transport Authority at the Urbicher Kreuz intersection, citing his memories, which describe a business partnership that has worked well since 1991. We are talking about the third dual gantry system at the depot in the south of the Thuringian provincial capital, a MaxiWash Vario Tandem refurbished only as recently as November 2017 and the associated recycling facility. "Not only do we wash our approximately 60 buses in urban regular service when they return from their tours back to the depot, but we also provide haulage and other companies with the service of washing their vehicles in our commercial vehicle wash facility. These are customers who come to us regularly and primarily just before the weekend in order to park up their their vehicles clean before having a few days off. They buy a wash ticket immediately before the wash at the depot service desk, which is available around the clock. They then drive independently into the wash bay in front of the gantry. The drivers of our foreign customers can operate the wash just as well and safely as our employees. This speaks for the simple and logical operation of the terminal with a transparent display. If a driver really does not understand how to operate it, there is still a shunting driver who can also provide assistance. In this case, he is called via the depot foreman, because he is not always in the wash bay."
Word of mouth clinched it
Word of mouth first put the the Erfurt Transport Authority onto the Augsburgers, who back then, still under the name Kleindienst, manufactured and sold equipment for vehicle washing. Kleindienst presented the best offer at the time, since also other manufacturers of commercial vehicle washes tried at that time to win the contract from the Erfurters. And also in the years that followed, Kleindienst's competitors tried again and again to convince the management of the benefits of their washing technology. "Nevertheless, we remained a customer of Kleindienst and later of WashTec because we not only had a good feeling about the technology and the employees, but also developed a trusting business relationship with each other. The reliably functioning technology, the good washing results and in particular the attractive service formed the basis for the mutual trust. Breakdown-free washing operation and reliable service were and are immensely important to us. On account of this we concluded a full maintenance contract with the first tandem gantry, the terms of which were adjusted according to the age of the equipment for the two subsequent models. The contractual terms of service of a brand-new system are different from those for a system that has been washing for several years."
Fast WashTec service
Wherever people make use of technical progress, there is always the risk that plant technology will get damaged despite regular briefings and instructions. The Erfurters struck bad luck, when in 2006, a new MaxiWash Vario Tandem was completely destroyed immediately after its premiere. "A truck got stuck in the 25-metre-long wash bay because it drove into the bay diagonally and its trailer damaged the new facility so badly that it had to be replaced." Back then, WashTec proved how quickly and unbureaucratically help can be at hand. The service technicians quickly rebuilt the gantries.
The maintenance service for the gantries is performed by the bus shunting drivers. They also carry out the weekly maintenance cleaning and monthly thorough cleaning. "If a heavily soiled truck comes from the construction site tomorrow, the facility also has to be cleaned immediately afterwards before we continue washing operations."
Flexible in use
WashTec's MaxiWash dual gantry system easily washes 22 articulated and 27 solo buses, which ensure regular urban transport in and around Erfurt. It also washes non-company vehicles and coaches, as well as "a handful of classic vehicles and vehicles that are shortly due to acquire this status – a Mercedes MBO 405 N in 2021 and an Ikarus 260 from Hungarian production in 2019. This speaks for the high flexibility of the Tandem. Only a "MAN SL 200, built in 1980, cannot be washed here, because it is a convertible bus," adds Siegfried Schöße experienced in transport services. The Erfurters choose to ignore this minor flaw particularly since all the other buses and trucks leave the wash bay sparkling clean. The six brushes deliver the high-quality results because both good service water and the chemicals from AUWA are sprayed in from the nozzles. "After replacing the gantries in 2006 and on the basis of a convincing referral, we decided to switch to AUWA products." It was a good and smart decision at the time, because "we are very satisfied with AUWA. The AUWA sales representative Roland Kloss, who is responsible for our region and for us, knows everything about the system. As a former WashTec service technician, he knows exactly what happens when and where during the entire washing process and, as a result, optimally combines these products so that they can work perfectly during the washing process."
High environmental awareness
Good water is essential for a perfect wash. "As a very environmentally conscious and responsible company and in the knowledge that the city of Erfurt has a good functioning environmental agency, we are very particular about the water quality and the handling of water in our commercial vehicle wash. In fact, I cannot avoid carrying out the monthly separator checks, documenting them and keeping an accurate record of the operating diary. We definitely do not belong to the so-called black sheep. As a large transport services company, we will not and cannot afford to read in the papers even once that we allow our dirt to run off into the Pfingstbach stream." Instead, in the spring of last year, the Erfurt Transport Authority first renewed the separator chain before going on to replace the wash and conditioning system. Before this, the Erfurters also had the entry and exit gates overhauled, as they are subjected to high mechanical stress due to the large number of opening and closing operations, splashing wash water, not to mention the effects of heat and cold.
To alleviate these influences, the wash bay building is heated. "The heating does not of course reach room temperature, but it allows us to wash all year round without us having to make special preparations for the winter. Even at minus ten to minus twelve degrees Celsius outside temperature, washing is not a problem, because the buses are immediately parked up in a heated hall. The bus drivers do not have to scrape the windows in the mornings and, after switching on the auxiliary heating, can drive out of the building in good driving conditions. In the past, this was not possible because the buses were parked outdoors." The fact that in freezing conditions the heating is also good for the washing technology and the washing brushes proves to be a noteworthy side effect.
Reliable and fast WashTec technology
The MaxiWash Vario Tandem washes more than 50 buses and trucks a day. Anyone looking to secure around 20,000 washes a year needs to be able to rely on the technology and requires minimal washing times. The dual system, like the one in Erfurt, takes only two and a half minutes from start-up to produce the best cleaning results for a solo bus. The time required for a "bendy bus" is barely longer. "Washing starts from 5 pm when the so-called one-man vehicles arrive at our depot, from 8 pm the two-shift driven vehicles start to roll in from their daily runs. All the busses have to go through the wash as quickly as possible, since our workload is not spread evenly over 24 hours. The main washing time is between 6 pm in the evening and 1 am in the night." The time factor was the decisive reason why the Erfurt Transport Authority opted for a dual gantry wash. "Theoretically, there would be enough time until four. However, if a bus comes back with a fault to be repaired by the workshop at night, the time would not be sufficient to refuel it, wash it, and bring it back to its parking space in the depot, ready for use. WashTec's MaxiWash Vario meets the criteria and delivers quality results on top - reliable, robust, low maintenance and consistently high-quality washes ... that's WashTec."
Text/ pictures: Bernd Fiehöfer, busplaner 7/2018