How can bus companies save, reclaim and recycle more water?

March 1 2021
Bus wash

The modern demands placed on bus companies require them to constantly look for inventive solutions and opportunities to improve. The need for operators to use less water in the wash process - and to recycle as much of what they do use as possible - is only growing.

This is down to a variety of cost and environment-based factors. And with improved water saving and recycling becoming a top priority, many companies are looking for ways to shake up the way they wash and service their fleets. Read on to learn exactly why achieving a more economical use of water is a necessity in the bus sector, and how specific bus wash solutions provide the answer.

Why bus operators need to cut their water usage

Traditionally, the most important considerations when it comes to bus washing have been speed, closely followed by wash quality. Above all, it is vital to have buses ready to serve the public when they are needed.

But increasingly, operators are finding the amount of water they use and where it goes to be a key factor as well. Water reclamation and recycling has the potential to deliver big savings on their washing costs. However, a major issue many companies have is they can’t accurately calculate these running costs.

As washing is such a crucial component of operating a fleet, it’s easy to chalk all associated costs up as a necessary evil - but this can hide their true impact and the knock-on effects they have on tight budgets. In many cases, operators find that technology used to reduce usage quickly pays for itself, given the extent to which an expensive water bill can begin to stack up.

Environmental commitments are another huge aspect of why using water in a better way is so important. Bus companies are sometimes publicly-owned and always public-facing, meaning they are under considerable scrutiny. Operators need to demonstrate that they are taking proactive steps to reduce their impact on the planet.

Efforts in this direction are taking the shape of cleaner engines, smarter fleet management and more efficient route planning. Reducing water consumption in cleaning and reclaiming what they do use is an action that gives a big boost to an operator’s green credentials and can be achieved very quickly. The environmental need for cutting water usage is clear:

  • Alleviating pressure on the water supply. Longer, hotter and drier summers the world over are leading to droughts and shortages. A more responsible use of water ensures bus companies aren’t an unnecessary drain on the water supply.

  • Reducing the impact of chemicals. The powerful chemicals used to achieve a top-quality clean, as well as grease, dirt and oil, ultimately end up in the water system. By reclaiming and recycling the water that washes these harmful elements away, bus companies can drastically cut their pollution.

Preserving water with recycling and reclamation technology

Fortunately for bus companies, making changes to reduce water usage and minimise the environmental impact of the water they do use is relatively straightforward - with the right equipment and expertise.

The right automatic bus wash system is key to achieving this. While it’s rare for mid to large-sized fleets to be washed manually, the most-commonly used wash systems are often just as water-inefficient. Many operators rely on older systems that weren’t built with water preservation in mind and have since become unsuitable for the modern needs of their fleets.

At Wilcomatic, we estimate that around 95% of the water used in any vehicle wash system can be reused. This figure is important, because it shows what water savings are possible - and by extension what cost and environmental savings too - with the right technology. These days, water recycling machines can be built into wash systems without any compromise on speed and quality. The different types of technology on offer include

  • Partial and total water reclamation. Depending on wash preferences, you can choose to opt for a partial or total reclamation solution. Partial reclamation combines recycled water for washing with fresh mains water for final rinsing, and can reduce the water needed by 85%. Total reclamation uses different grades of recycled water for the different wash processes, can be used as ‘closed loop’ systems and recycles up to 95% of water used.

  • Rainwater harvesting. This one does what is says on the tin. Modern systems are able to utilise rainwater very effectively for washing purposes - something that’s especially valuable in the winter. Quite apart from the obvious financial benefits (completely free water), rainwater reserves mean bus operators don’t have to deplete mains supplies during shortages.

  • Chemical and biological water reclamation. These systems allow the recycling of detergents and effluents, and are capable of reducing wastage by a considerable factor. Instead of having to use full measures of chemicals for every wash cycle, operators can instead top-up to the extent they need. This also greatly reduces the amount of chemicals being washed into the water system.

  • Reverse osmosis rinsing. Reverse osmosis (RO) involves stripping water of its mineral salts and using it for the final rinse. RO water eliminates spotting and streaking on vehicles, meaning operators can achieve the best possible rinse for their buses with reclaimed water.

Wilcomatic are highly experienced in implementing these water recycling technologies, and many others, for bus companies. Our specialist systems are designed and manufactured in the UK by Working Water, experts in equipment that saves companies water and money. We can supply the most innovative bus wash solutions on the market - including totally bespoke options.

All our water recycling systems use the best quality components to guarantee high levels of efficiency as well as unparalleled cleaning quality. You can learn more about how we helped Go South Coast deliver a deeper wash for their fleet by reading our case study.

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