Keeping your fleet clean, green and rolling

In this ever changing landscape, the drive to invest in cost-efficiency is paramount, and is one of the main reasons why construction and quarry managers look to engage experienced, scope specific contractors to deliver effective vehicle and equipment wash down packages. The right choice in the critical design stage will provide the project with long-term value and ensure one of the operation’s larger investments, the fleet, both large and small, is protected.

Fleet asset protection through investment in critical maintenance systems is an operational certainty, and playing a starring role in equipment infrastructure areas is the humble “truck wash”.

On the ground, the operational performance and reliability of the truck wash is as important, if not more so, as the fleet itself. Installing the right product for the right application can be the difference between a valuable investment and a really bad decision. It cannot be understated that efficient management of fleet operations is a key driver of volume, with a resultant impact on margin.


{{image2-A:R-w:250}}Vehicle wash management is a lot like the fast food industry – it’s expected to be fast, functional and with as little human interaction as possible, to ensure safe and efficient experience for the operator.

Most systems are designed to provide automated wash management of the vehicle’s wheels, wheel arches and over chassis; this function is to ensure the fleet can be regularly purged of the build-up of corrosive site material, long seen as a rapid destroyer of an otherwise healthy vehicle fleet.

The selection of the right product will allow the installation of a fit for purpose wash system, target engineered to meet the specific requirements of the site. Most suppliers in the market today will push the most cost-effective solution, and like with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so it is important to ensure your supplier has the product that is specific to your industry and is proven to meet the design and performance criteria the project requires.

During front end design it is important to ensure your contractor has the design capabilities to provide a full suite design package, from the ground up, with third party verification.

{{image3-A:R-w:250}}When selecting a vehicle system you must be assured of its performance, but this can be tricky when there seems to be a lot to choose from. Therefore, it really is the selection of the truck wash supplier that is as critical – if not more so – as the equipment itself. It is their experience that should provide you with confidence in supply.

Like the quarry/construction industry as a whole, the evolution of the humble truck wash into critical non-process infrastructure takes cost-efficiency from the pit to the boardroom, with real reductions in the cost of doing business. With the increase in demand, the industry has had its fair share of fly-in, fly-out contractors looking to add truck wash contractor to their resume, which in some cases has led to quarry owners investing poorly. The key to selecting the right person for your job is to do your research and look for a dedicated specialist who has the capacity and ability to work with you from start to finish.


{{image4-A:R-w:250}}The right choice of vehicle wash extends beyond its ability to clean the vehicle.

Factors for consideration include not only how well it cleans the vehicle, but the turnaround time. With larger road haul vehicles now costing $1 million-plus, investment in quarry vehicles is growing, and the need to improve ROI on these major assets is every quarry manager’s challenge.

Every kilo left on the haul vehicle after washing means one kilo less it can transport from the quarry face back to the processing plant and/or direct to the client, and every hour held up in the wash bay is one more hour this asset is non-productive. For example, on a wet day in a quarry, sludge build-up in the underbody, on and around the wheels, including the treads, and hang-up in the tray body can total many hundreds of kilos, and sometimes much more; multiply this by the number of trips per day and you will see just how much a dirty truck is costing your company in lost productivity.

Product hang-up in the neck of the tray body is another area creating lost productivity, and modern wash systems today should include a high impact internal tray body wash, particularly for side and bottom dumpers, to allow simultaneous washing to get the vehicle back on-line sooner rather than later. Today, effective washing is more about cost efficiencies than good looks.


{{image5-A:R-w:250}}The need to keep the fleet clean and green should not be understated. As well as a legal requirement, enforced by the Environmental Protection Authority, there is a moral imperative to ensure waste product does not fall on the road after exiting your site, thereby creating a safety hazard for other drivers.

Keeping major assets clean provides for ease of access inside the maintenance bay and the tyre change bay, and all adds to the ability of the maintenance crew to get this equipment back on line in the shortest possible time.

During the wash process oil and grease will be removed from the vehicle, and these hydrocarbons cannot be allowed to contaminate surface or groundwater. The design of the wash bay needs to provide for an efficient and effective recovery process for sludge and hydrocarbons removed from the vehicle during the washing process, and must be an essential part of any vehicle washing system.

A water recycle and treatment process should also include an efficient oily water separation system, treating not only free oils but also emulsified oils, in addition to a heavy sediment separation system, lamella plate or cyclone process, with sufficient settlement time allowed before in-line filtration and in-line water softeners to reduce salt and calcium build-up before the water is returned to the header tank for reuse.

A water treatment system designed to handle bacteria, including tropical invaders, should be an essential part of any biosecurity system. An effective biosecurity system will ensure the safety of vehicle drivers and wash system operators should they accidently ingest waterborne bacteria during the wash process.

Valentine Whitton is the environmental services manager for Fleetwash.

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