As a child, you may have enjoyed watching and counting the railcars that rolled by your local railroad crossing. But today, that seemingly endless stream of cars slowly moving past is just a hindrance, delaying you from where you need to be.
A professional power washing consultant, however, sees railcars in a different light – as profit. Each passing railcar is a potential unit in a profitable service contract.
The Niche Market of Railcar Cleaning
A niche market, the rail industry is full of untapped potential for power washing. Pressure wash consulting firms know there are legal requirements for the rail industry that mandate cleaning; for example, locomotives must be cleaned after a specified number of service hours, and boxcars must be cleaned before transporting different products. In addition, power washing is a regular part of the rail industry’s maintenance of cars in order to maintain the corporate image. Power wash consulting professionals can develop a simple request for exterior washing to include additional value-added services such as graffiti removal, repairing hatches, paint touch-ups and more.
A good pressure wash consulting professional may advise your company that a lack of experience in the railway industry shouldn’t deter you from venturing into this niche market. This is absolutely correct – with a few years of wastewater recovery and power washing experience; written best management practices; and the completion of a railcar cleaning training program, a contractor should feel confident about offering services in this relatively untapped market.
Entering the Market
While some railway companies may have their own service locations and pressure washing equipment, more companies are hiring contractors to do the work at a specific location. To enter this market, a power washing consultant would advise researching the companies in your businesses area and directly contacting the purchasing agent (or strategic sources manager) for each company. If the firm currently has a power washing service provider, management may still be open to new bids at the next contract renewal time; it never hurts to ask.
When you prepare a bid, first know what type of railcars you may be cleaning. You will also need to know if there are any regulations specific to the company or industry. For example, when washing locomotives, the American Association of Railroads has written guidelines dictating that waterproof tarps must cover the brakes before pressure washing. Identified as a significant safety hazard, pressure washing without this preventive measure may cause corrosion of the disk brakes, resulting in brake failure.
Another major consideration a power washing consultant may advise you about is location. Take into account who owns the land where the work will be done, as well as environmental constraints such as water sources and wastewater disposal.
In addition, a pressure wash consulting professional will advise you that the railway industry will have tight deadlines to get the railcars back in service as soon as possible. It is not unreasonable to be asked to clean one unit train – consisting of 125 railcars – in as little as three days.
To provide power washing services to the rail industry, you will need:
- Insurance liability at the minimum of $5 million.
- Power washing equipment, including long hoses.
- Water extraction equipment and waste water recovery mats.
- Tanks to bring in clean water and to haul out waste water.
- A 4-wheel drive lift truck with industry approved personal protection (PPE) equipment to prevent falls.
- Industry-approved wheel protection covers.
- Chemicals and soaps including sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric and ammonium bi-fluoride.
- Appropriate PPE for chemical use.
With the right equipment, there is a seven-step process for cleaning railcars most power washing consulting professional recommend:
1. Wrap/cover wheels to keep the brake cylinders, roller bearings, control valves and slack adjusters dry.
2. Install wastewater recovery mats, and begin water collection.
3. Apply wash to the roof, then rinse (two-step).
4. Two-step under carriage and sides.
5. Remove graffiti.
6. Apply degreaser.
7. Rinse entire unit, including the undercarriage, from the top down.
Are you looking to expand your pressure washing business? Visit www.PaulHorsley.ca to learn how a professional power washing consultant can help your business grow and improve your bottom line.