As the International Carwash Association put the finishing touches on its annual conference and trade show, the industry examined the challenges and opportunities it faces this year and beyond.
The event, held May 13-15 in Nashville, showcased new equipment and technologies from more than 350 exhibitors.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of growth occurring through consolidation and new builds, as well as an increase of multisite operations,” the Chicago-based ICA said in a recent column. “There continues to be plenty of access to capital, whether through private equity, private money or commercial lending, which means those looking to sell in the near future have great opportunities to take advantage [of]. Those not looking to sell have an opportunity to build an impressive business.”
A January blog post from Tommy Car Wash Systems, a Holland, Mich.-based manufacturer of stainless steel equipment and car-wash conversion services, made a series of predictions it expects to occur over both the short and long term.
Three more substantial ones:
Changing Automotive Technology
“While driverless cars are still years away, there are already standard automotive features that make it difficult, if not prohibitive, for some modern vehicles to wash in traditional chain and roller-style car washes,” the blog said. It talked about how electronic parking brakes and automatic emergency braking systems can both automatically engage the vehicle’s brakes in the wash tunnel, causing it to jump rollers and collide with incoming customer vehicles.
A greater volume of in-bay automatic and rollover wash conversions might be on the horizon because “most of small-town America is serviced only by old, slow-processing rollover or in-bay automatic washes, each of which is its own missed opportunity. These facilities may be readily converted into short, conveyorized tunnel washes,” a process that involves removing the floor, repouring the conveyor pit and installing new equipment. The conversion could improve processing speed from eight cars per hour to 40 or more.
More Teardowns and Rebuilds
“There are countless outdated and struggling facilities waiting on extraordinarily valuable land in locations brimming with untapped potential. Old sites will increasingly be closed, demolished and replaced with modernized buildings and equipment able to take full advantage of the local market,” it said.
Filling a Vacuum
Tommy Car Wash Systems also sees paid vacuum center systems replacing free vacuums as well as a revival of interior cleaning services, anticipating “a slow move away from the current low-labor, exterior-only concept and toward new flex models able to process vehicle interiors more quickly than traditional full-service washes using assembly line-like procedures.”
Click through to view several of the equipment trends and developments occurring in the car-wash industry.