Case Study 1 – Eco friendly Car Wash Soap
Posted on February 26, 2015
Company 1 is a medium volume commercial Car Washing operation designed to clean personal vehicles at a reasonable rate using automatic wash bay technology. Company 1 was interested in lowering operating costs per vehicle using a more economical detergent solution, however they did not want to sacrifice Customer Satisfaction. Company 1 contacted us to find out if it was feasible to construct a lower-cost alternative to the brand name product they had been purchasing.
Beginning with the Needs Analysis, we created a priority list of their objectives:
- Lower cost than their current product
- Heavy foam generation
- Reasonable cleaning power
We determined that their Customer Satisfaction depends on a heavy visual appearance of foam generated on the vehicle during wash, as well as removal of basic dirt and other matter that may be encountered during driving. Eco-friendliness was not a primary concern, however it was thought to have added value for customers who are interested in leaving less of an impact on the planet. Since cost was the driving factor in their decision to look for alternatives, we must keep the product below the price of their current supplier in order to achieve their objective.
Utilizing our prior experience in the Car Wash industry, we created a starting detergent formulation with 100% Design for the Environment recognized Green Ingredients. Since other Car Washes had used similar formulations with reasonable success, we felt this starting point would be a good way to begin field testing using Company 1’s equipment.
Upon field testing the cost and cleaning power were met, however the performance of our initial version failed when it came to foam generation. Testing of spray equipment to ensure it was properly operating did not reveal any equipment failures. Increased amount of product injection did not significantly improve foam generation. We were sent back to the lab.
Competitor Performance Analysis
We obtained a sample of the competitors product before we returned to the lab in order to try and gauge their performance more accurately. A simply ingredient-by-ingredient match was insufficient. We performed a foam generation study using foam-spray equipment available from an industrial supply company. Testing revealed that our product’s foam generation was 1/8″ the level provided by the competitor product, despite the comparable performance for cleaning power.
After some brainstorming, a new approach was developed using the same ingredients, but in a different combination. Foam generation testing indicated it was on par with competitors product, and yielded adequate cleaning and cost savings.
Field Testing Part 2
Field testing the revised formulation provided results similar to our in-house testing, and generated foam that was visually adequate, cleaned the vehicles well, and provided an approximate 27% cost savings over the competitors product. In addition, it was built using 100% Design for the Environment Green ingredients. On top of that, it is built using 97% Coconut-based Renewable Resources.
Our research indicates that there is a growing market for super-concentrated automatic Car Wash detergents that must provide a great visual experience for customers, clean their vehicles properly, and increase the operators profits. Despite Eco-concerns not being a top priority at this point, we think it’s always wise to plan for the future, so building with that in mind also helps to prevent future problems for owners and operators of these establishments.