5 Factors of Clean

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The Perfect Washing World

If we washed cars in a perfect scenario, all 5 of the Factors of Clean would work in harmony with each other. Our water would always be soft, brushes sweeping effortlessly across all surfaces cleaning every nook and cranny, product getting 20 seconds of dwell and our dream would continue. All this with crystal clear blue skies, mild temperatures so even the surface of the vehicles are at the perfect temperature for helping our chemistry work at its peak to produce a clean, shiny and dry car!

Well that would be a perfect world indeed, but we all live and work in the real world where cleaning conditions change with seasons, equipment & material wear out, quarter panels get missed, and brush pressures increase or decrease. This can be frustrating and sometimes even brings the doubt in our minds – “Maybe this is something we need to live with?” or “Seems to be a limitation of our wash.”

We all know this difficulty way too well. Overall, you produce a great car but how do you fine tune the process? How do you focus in on the fine details, the ones that set us apart from the rest? Let’s take that rear quarter panel as an example of how we could apply the 5 Factors of Clean to get this problem area clean by starting with Water and working through each of the 5 individual factors.

Water – Is the first step in narrowing down any cleaning issue. You should always start with checking water quality. Hard water is the silent killer of chemistry, with hard water we start working on cleaning the water before we start working on loosening the soil from the surface of the vehicle.

Question – How could this affect just the quarter panel when all the other surfaces are clean?

Answer – Just 2 to 5 grains per gallon can reduce presoak effectiveness up to 15% as the grains per gallon go up so does the effect on chemistry. Reducing effectiveness 50% to 70% in some cases.

Question – So how can this affect only one spot on the vehicle?

Answer – When one of the five factors of clean have diminished ability one or more of the remaining factors must be increased to compensate. The quarter panel is not getting the needed attention from the wash process to be cleaned.

Question – How do I give this problem spot more attention?

Answer – If one of the 5 Factors are weak or missing completely, we need to increase the other 4 factors accordingly to compensate for the ones we cannot control.

Action – Also known as friction is the great equalizers! This process can overcome the shortcomings of the other 4 factors of clean. The more touches generated from the equipment the more soils we remove from the surface of the vehicle.

Question – I have turned up the pressure on my wraps so high that it felt as though I was going to push the cars of the track. With all the added pressure on the brush I still can’t get the rear quarter panel clean. Action is definitely not helping me what should I do next?

Answer – When assessing action, we are looking for a few different things. On friction equipment we are looking at speed and crush. Is the brush spinning at the correct speed? How much crush do we see on the brushes? A brush spinning too slow will not get enough touches on the surface to adequately agitate the soils on the surface. Next we look at crush. Crush is how much of the brush lays flat when on the vehicle surface. Too much crush and we end up with a relatively flat surface trying to agitate soils on the vehicle surface. Too little crush and we end up with finger marks on the surface. I always shoot for 1/3 of the brush depth for crush; this generally gives me enough sweeping action for soil agitation.

Question – So we have assessed the action from our brushes and adjusted carefully but still have some dirt on the rear quarter panels. What Next?

Time – Are we giving enough of it for our chemical to work (dwell).

Question– We have cars lined up most days to the street. How do I get more time when I can’t get them through fast enough now?

Answer – If we could slow down all the processes, we would ultimately have better wash quality. With today’s wash volumes that isn’t always an option. So how do we gain more time in the process without slowing the down the car wash? We can gain time by looking at our applications processes. Can we move a piece of chemical delivery equipment to be applied at an earlier stage of the wash where it will have time to work effectively? This step is difficult but usually with we can find ways to stack chemistry effectively to give us customer satisfaction and an effective time range to allow your products to work correctly.

Question – Time is maximized but I’m still having an issue with that darn quarter panel, what next?

Chemical – Looks great, smells good, really drives the customer experience! But is it the right product for the job? Is it setup where the manufacture suggests?

Question – Chemical costs are outrageous! You want me to add more to get soils off the vehicle?

Answer – Chemical cost can definitely be painful at times but they are a necessary evil for your washes success. Setting up your products to work at the suggested ranges will not only make an impact on cleaning but will also drive customer satisfaction. Furthermore, make sure the product your using is designed for the purpose your using it for. Just because it foams doesn’t make it a great presoak. Read labels, ask questions about the products you use. The right product in the right place can make a world of difference.

Question – The quarter panel is getting better, is there anything else to look at to help it and the rest of the car look even better?

Heat – With heat come chemical activity, most manufactures recommend presoak temperatures between 80°F and 120°F. We have to remember heat comes from multiple sources and we have to manage it carefully as too much heat is a bad thing.

Question – So crank up my boiler and my cleaning issues go away?

Answer – No, we have to think about all are other factors that can introduce heat into our wash process first. Hot sunny days for example could produce flat surface temperatures of more then 170°F. Knowing the conditions we are working with is imperative to managing this step in the 5 Factors of Clean is the trickiest and could potentially cause significant damage if not managed correctly.

Question – Looking at the quarter panel now I definitely see an improvement but think it could be better. What is the next step?

The next step is to repeat the process to further fine tune the wash experience. Finding improvements in your wash process as you go will increase customer satisfaction and ultimately increased profits and revenue. So, I leave you with this, take time to work on the small details as they set you apart from the rest of your competition and WATCH the 5 Factors oF Clean on a daily basis.

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