Case Study

Hoffman Car Wash

Innovative tunnel collision monitoring system plays pivotal role in continued success of established car wash operator with 20+ locations.

Challenge

Hoffman Car Wash is recognized as one of the nation’s premier family-owned car care companies. In just over 50 years, the business has grown to over 700 employees at 30 locations throughout New York state. Hoffman operates full service and exterior car wash facilities, interior cleaning and express detail services; and also offers self-service wash sites and Jiffy Lube service centers at some locations. The company has set the standard for the region in terms of its state-of-the-art technology and prides itself on building its business by “treating customers and employees fairly.”

However, with significant growth came a challenge for Hoffman Car Wash: an increasing rate of pileups inside their tunnels. Due to Advanced Driver Assisted Systems (ADAS) technology, and because more customers than ever are riding in their vehicles during a car wash, pileups are more prevalent today than in years past. For companies like Hoffman — a large-volume car wash with multiple sites — the increased likelihood of collisions complicates operations and compromises the overall customer experience.

Customer feedback confirmed the severity of the problem. Fairly regularly, Hoffman Car Wash received complaints from drivers who were in a collision while inside the tunnel at one of their sites. To reduce the number of incidents (and customer insurance claims), Hoffman slowed production. Hoffman also experimented with having staff members monitoring the tunnel from inside. However, these approaches provided no permanent solution. Slowing production had a direct impact on revenue. Placing employees inside the tunnel wasn’t great for morale, and the limited exit-end anti-collision technology they installed didn’t provide coverage where it was needed most — inside the tunnel.

Objectives

Hoffman Car Wash aimed to reduce and ideally eliminate their number of in-tunnel collisions. However, they needed a sustainable, long-term solution to its pileup problem that could also help them:

  • Decrease the number of customer complaints (and claims)
  • Increase production and profitability
  • Gain better visibility from inside the tunnel
  • Maintain the business’s positive reputation in the community
Hoffman Car Wash Logo

Hoffman Car Wash has been servicing New York state since 1965. They offer a variety of car washing services from over 20 locations. Hoffman has built its business on treating customers and employees fairly

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Solution

In late 2016, Hoffman Car Wash installed the NoPileups service at its Queensbury, New York location — one of its busiest sites. Managers reasoned that if NoPileups could work there, it would work anywhere.

How NoPileups Works

NoPileups uses machine learning to monitor and identify potential problems in the car wash tunnel, therefore preventing accidents. Motion cameras and computer vision are used to integrate with control systems and stop the conveyor if an issue is detected — whether it be a car hopping rollers or a customer braking on the track. Unlike the human eye, the system is able to maintain focus at all times and react immediately when a problem occurs. Such fast response time to issues in the tunnel means greater productivity, increased revenue, and insight into how a car wash owner can further improve the overall operation.

Results

Within days of the first installation, site managers were so impressed by the NoPileups solution they didn’t want to turn it off, recalls AJ Davison, IT Director for Hoffman Car Wash. Managers learned that, even during testing, the system was far more effective at preventing in-tunnel collisions than any methods they’d tried previously.

300+ potential collisions prevented annually

Increased production rate

Improved tunnel awareness

Greater customer satisfaction

Since installing NoPileups at its Queensbury site, Hoffman has been able to prevent costly pileups that would’ve previously halted production. In fact, according to Davison, Hoffman Car Wash prevented nearly 300 potential collisions in the first nine months of 2017 just at this one location. Because the NoPileups solution was so successful at their pilot site, Hoffman opted to implement the technology at two more locations within months of the first installation. It’s newest and flagship store in Saratoga Springs, New York, installed NoPileups before operations began. To date, the site hasn’t had a single in-tunnel collision.

Conclusion

Due to the increased level of protection the NoPileups service offers, Hoffman Car Wash has been able to speed up operations even on busy days, resuming and even surpassing its previous rate of production. The company has also been able to reinforce their reputation for providing state-of-the-art technology and people-first service. In the months to come, Hoffman Car Wash plans to roll out NoPileups to future sites, with installations planned for its next busiest locations. “There’s nothing that can protect the entire tunnel from a collision except NoPileups,” says Tom Hoffman Jr., Operator at Hoffman Car Wash. “And that’s measurable.”

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