Entrepreneur Ingo Wischemann had several good reasons for wanting to plan and build a technically sophisticated car wash park at Hauptstraße 79 in Ochtrup, with a highly efficient and comprehensive range of services for car washers. On the one hand, he recognised the need for private and commercial customers directly at the location and in the surrounding area for a modern, sustainable car wash park from the world market leader WashTec, which offers everything in terms of technology that is necessary and important for the perfect washing and care of vehicles. When assessing the current market situation at the time, he was helped by the fact that only gantry car washes were used to clean and care for vehicles both in the immediate and indirect vicinity.
On the other hand, he was helped by the fact that he was already the owner of the property. In addition, as an entrepreneur, he saw important, promising business advantages: The junction of the busy national road 54 is only a good kilometre away. It connects the Dutch city of Enschede with Münster in East Westphalia. Another sales opportunity is offered by an outlet centre located in the town, which makes people travel to the small town in North Rhine-Westphalia. "Almost all visitors to our town who use the B 54 to travel to and from work pass by us," says operations manager Sven Unruh, who started work in September last year and previously worked as an industrial mechanic. At that time, the construction site had long been in operation, but much of the interior work had not yet been completed.
With the ground-breaking ceremony on the 5,500 square metre site in early December 2020, the building permit granted in 2016 was realised. Mr Wischemann himself and the WashTec sales representative responsible, the extremely experienced area manager Thomas Bolz, had a great deal of influence on the planning. "When you see the result, I have to say that they thought of something really good," confirms Sven Unruh after three quarters of a year of car wash operation in the meantime. Car washers visiting the generously dimensioned wash park for the first time are well informed and guided right from the start.
Sven Unruh describes the traffic rules: "The entrance to the car wash is in the opposite direction to the clock on the site and once around the approximately 2,000 square metre wash and vacuum hall." The reason: "We received the corresponding specification from the city of Ochtrup, as it was to be avoided that waiting car washers had to remain on the main road with their vehicles." He adds, "We achieved a much larger buffer this way. Around 70 vehicles can now be picked up from the area at the same time."
The heart of the "Wi-Wash" indoor car wash park is a 36-metre-long washing tunnel with state-of-the-art washing, care and drying units from WashTec, which can accommodate vehicles up to 2.40 metres in height and width. The SoftLine2 Vario meets the highest standards in vehicle cleaning and care. Friendly pre-washers carry out an extremely thorough pre-cleaning as soon as the vehicle reaches one of the two parking spaces in the pre-wash area.
The customers already receive important support in this process, as two red grids have been embedded in the floor in each case, which on the one hand help them to reach the perfect stopping position, and on the other hand speed up the entry procedure. The pre-washers work with pre-wash units from WashTec. By using the high-pressure pre-wash module, they achieve perfect results during the attachment and dirt removal process, even in areas of the vehicles that are difficult to access.
Only a few metres further on, the vehicles reach a plastic conveyor belt. The entry conveyor moves the vehicles through the wash tunnel at a set speed. Car washers are first informed by the individually designed Smart-LED entry portal - "Wi perfect", "Wi intensive", "Wi caring", "Wi clean" are the aptly formulated wash programmes on the left side of the individually designed and LED-backlit stainless steel construction. A few moments later, the FoamSensation foam prewash starts, displaying a colourfully backlit foam curtain that impressively covers the vehicle surfaces and turns the car wash into an experience for customers.
A rim prewash foamer starts almost in parallel on both sides. "It's part of every wash," says the operations manager. Four BPS jet nozzles that oscillate up and down demonstrate how thoroughly all external vehicle surfaces are cleaned automatically with up to 70 bar of high pressure. Two half-height side rollers then clean the wheels, sills and side areas without contact, while the first roof roller begins to rotate and shortly afterwards also intervenes in the washing process. Four side rollers arranged in pairs and another roof roller therefore continue to clean the vehicles intensively, efficiently and gently, as they travel along linearly and thus remain in contact with the vehicle surfaces for longer and are also fed electronically and therefore precisely. Between the four side rollers and the second roof roller, a wheel washer travelling along for a distance of one metre provides another intensive rim and wheel wash.
After the wash, the vehicles reach the maintenance station - rinse and preservation sheets, polishing rollers. The high-performance blower dryer in contour-following as well as linear travel versions achieves excellent drying results thanks to the rotating roof nozzle. It not only saves energy, but also achieves improved side drying thanks to the so-called integral effect. WashTec achieves this through an adapted design geometry of the roof nozzle. The textile three-brush roller dryer after the blower dryer improves the drying result even further and gently polishes the vehicle surfaces. Finally, a diagonally circulating cloth dryer as an additional dryer contributes to the very good drying result, its fluffy textile strips absorb trailing drops. Finally, WashTec's stainless steel countdown traffic light signals to the customer the number of cycles until the car leaves the wash tunnel without any problems.
Customers who then want to clean and maintain the interiors of their vehicles drive into the care hall after a generous right-hand bend. It not only offers them 16 generously dimensioned vacuum cleaner stations with double hose feed and central air supply that adapts to the respective demand. "The advantage is, in particular," says Sven Unruh, "that our customers can vacuum the interiors of their vehicles very conveniently from both sides. This is an extremely comfortable situation for them, as they no longer have to pull the suction hose over the roof of the car or through the interior. And for us, this customer-friendly service means an important competitive advantage."
We set up eight vacuum cleaner stations "outside the care hall. They are roofed over and received adequate equipment. Our customer card holders can charge their electric vehicles free of charge at four of these vacuuming stations." Other services offered to customers in the care hall include compressed air at each vacuum station, four floor mat washers, modern stationary air pressure testers with digital displays and a fresh water service to refill windscreen washer tanks.
The wash tunnel and the care hall are separated by an area that accommodates four self-service wash bays, the water treatment technology and a lounge for customers, as well as public sanitary facilities. WashTec's JetWash is also just right for "Wi-Wash", offering self-washers performance from the top shelf with the SelfTecs concept. According to this concept, self-service washers wash and care with targeted application of chemicals, while the washing process remains simple.
The background to this is the merging of three washing and care stages into SelfTecs Wash & Shine. The established colour concept, which unites display and hoses, makes it easier for customers to follow the washing and care sequence. "Our customers are really enthusiastic about the voluminous power foam that flows out of the lance at high speed and about its consistency. Once they have lathered up their vehicle, many promptly come to the lounge to buy hot or cold drinks or even snacks. For this purpose, we had two vending machines set up and concluded the necessary service contracts. The lounge, furnished with table and chairs, is now extremely well frequented."
Another special feature is "our service offer to sell our customers three different microfibre cloths for caring for their cars after the wash. The cloths can be purchased at the cash desk or bought from the vending machine in the suction hall. Each cloth costs three euros. The price for the universal wipe only has to be paid once. If the universal cloth used by the customer is dirty or wet, he or she can exchange it for a washed copy for life, free of charge.
We have a washing machine and when the basket is full, we start the machine. This offer is becoming more and more popular with our customers. The second cloth is particularly suitable for glass and mirror surfaces. However, the customer washes this cloth himself at home. We offer the third cloth to customers for cleaning sensitive interior surfaces, our so-called interior cloth," Sven Unruh summarises the essentials.
The players involved in the project, WashTec AG and Wi-Wash GmbH, also planned and realised the carwash park with sustainability in mind. In the course of this, the complete greening of the hall's flat roof with an integrated rainwater management system, including an intelligent drainage throttle, is probably unique in carwash parks in Germany. The system is controlled via a Smart Control Flow unit.
"To supply the wild plants, there are around 75,000 litres of water on the roof, which is collected up there in so-called retention boxes. A computerised control unit connected to it monitors the water level depending on the weather. As soon as the reservoir exceeds a certain level due to rain showers, the throttle opens and automatically drains off excess rainwater." The plants draw rainwater to their roots through capillary tubes to supply themselves.
This innovative system offers two main advantages: On hot summer days, the entire building does not heat up because the water on the roof evaporates first. And: in the course of their growth phases, the plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen due to photosynthetic reactions. In addition, the wash park in Ochtrup is supplied with electricity by a photovoltaic system also located on the roof of the building. The electricity, which is generated in a resource-saving way, can be stored on site in six tanks so that it can be used as needed or fed into the power grid. WashTec's sustainable gravel-filter-supported wash water treatment, which achieves a recovery rate of up to 85 percent, is also part of the environmentally friendly washing practice.
Wi-Wash's extremely professional marketing is convincing. Promotional postings in the major social media channels, and a successful clear presentation of all services on the company website invite young and old to professional washing and care. The attractive, personal as well as free "Wi-Wash" customer card offers customers, among other things, discounted bonuses, occasion-related free washes and free use of one of the e-charging stations.
"We also offer customers a 'Wi-Wash' app. It works in the same way as the physical card and gives customers the advantage of being able to top it up anywhere. In the launch phase of the app, we gave a 25 per cent top-up bonus to push the app as a digital customer card. From our point of view, this is yet another incentive for every customer to download the app and actively use it. An app that the manufacturer of our POS system developed in cooperation with our marketing department and integrated directly into the POS system," Sven Unruh describes the benefits of the card.
He also says: "We now receive the very best compliments from our customers" and cites one as an example: "When customers ask me after the wash whether the car has not only been washed and cared for here but also polished and then realise that they have seen such a result for ages or never before, these words already carry weight and spur them on. Thank you WashTec!"
Text: Bernd Fiehöfer