A mind-boggling array of the latest developments in service station and car wash technology was featured at Automechanika 2010, which took place last month in Frankfurt, Germany. It is a mammoth exhibition which describes itself as "the leading international trade fair for the automotive industry". It claims to beat the size of the world’s biggest motor shows the total fair covers 305,000sq m and this year broke records by attracting 155,000 visitors from 180 different countries.

A significant part of Automechanika is allocated to the service station and car wash sectors. The major themes this year covered service station planning and construction, equipment, refuelling systems for alternative fuels, car wash bays and automated car washes. And the car wash sector had its own place in the sun the new south-west outdoor area, next to the new Hall 11 and prestigious new Portalhaus entrance. Called Car Wash City, the 40,000sq m area enabled the many car wash manufacturers exhibiting there to demonstrate their equipment in operation, creating a lively atmosphere of washers and driers in action.

Karcher presented its new, compact, high-pressure self-service car wash for two- to four-bay operations. The company says the wash takes up little space, but has sufficient room to accommodate all of the technical components, such as pumps and engines, the water-softening plant and an osmosis facility. The self-service wash has up to 11 wash programmes that can simply be selected in the recommended order via a large rotary knob (pictured above).

Karcher has also added a conveyor-type wash to its CB line of gantry washes. The CB Takt has separate washing and drying zones so it can service two vehicles simultaneously. The claim is that this can increase throughput by up to 30% over conventional gantry washes. With a space requirement of 18m, the system is described as a low-cost alternative to short tunnel washes.

Meanwhile, Christ was displaying its new and improved rollover wash unit Varius; its three new rollover wash unit models Primus, Varius 1+1, for the high-speed segment and Sirius, conceived for small petrol stations. The Primus features two side blowers, and what is claimed to be the first intelligent roof blower control, which individually adjusts to the respective vehicle form.

Washtec featured 22 new products, including a new tunnel system and an innovative MotoWash for washing and drying motorcycles. The unit has a short, easy-to-operate washing lance and modified foam brush, and adjusted pressure level, to ensure gentle cleaning of any motorcycle.

With the emphasis at Automechanika on sustainability and environmental protection, which was reinforced with the introduction of a ’Green’ directory, highlighting specially assessed and selected companies, there was also plenty to see in terms of water recycling developments from all the major car wash manufacturers.

Elsewhere Tokheim, among a huge display of new products, introduced a range of innovative and scalable security technologies offering "excellent levels of fuel theft protection". The company also featured its first electric car charger (TEC), together with partner DBT.

Istobal trendsetters

The new M’NEX rollovers designed by Istobal are trendsetters, according to Dave Lindon (pictured below), business development director at Istobal UK. "The new generation of rollovers stands out in so many ways looks, mechanics, flexibility and versatility. It has been created to satisfy the needs of the most demanding professionals in the wash world," he said. Istobal claims the new rollovers are more efficient, flexible, and reliable and offer better performance.

Global solutions

Global solutions provider Scheidt & Bachmann was out in force at Automechanika with a display focused on products around payment; intelligent handling of cash; outdoor payment including cash and cashless transactions and a full range of fuel dispensers. Ian Jacques (pictured above), managing director of Chessington-based Scheidt & Bachmann (UK) Ltd, said the company had products for all forecourts regardless of operation, from basic fuel pumps for just one or two fuel types to integrated multi-media touchscreens.

New on the Horizon

Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s comprehensive display featured new products including the Horizon dispenser, newly designed for the European market, featuring integrated payment, and improvements in reliability and security. Stephen Moule (pictured below), the company’s managing director Europe, also sang the praises of the new combination dispenser, combining petrol, diesel, lpg and cng from one unit. Also on display was a new handheld pos device.