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Carwash 4.0™: What It Is and How It’s Related to Industry 4.0

Technology is marching ahead. You might even say it’s running. Think of all the exciting changes we’ve seen in AI during the last two years. One thing’s for sure: the future is arriving fast, and it’s full of possibilities and opportunities.

Practically without even realizing it, we’re well into the era of Industry 4.0. This is a concept which brings together digital information, automation and new capabilities. It’s often called The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it’s characterized by a fusion of technologies – blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological (human) spheres. Hold onto your hats, because the global Industry 4.0 market is now expected to reach $377.30 billion by 2030

If you’re a carwash owner or investor – or just someone thinking about buying a carwash – you need to be aware of Industry 4.0 and the effects of technology and innovation on carwashing. Carwash 4.0™ – based on Industry 4.0 – is transforming how people wash cars. And it will soon separate the most successful wash businesses from those who fall behind.

What Is Carwash 4.0?

Ready for a deep dive? Carwash 4.0 is the application of Industry 4.0 principles to the carwashing industry. Industry 4.0 is a term coined by the German government in 2011, referring to the next industrial revolution. Previous revolutions included steam power, electricity and mass production, and computing and digitization. Like Industry 4.0, Carwash 4.0 uses innovations like connected equipment, remote monitoring, IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, automation, data analytics and cloud computing.

This may sound a bit overwhelming or futuristic, but connected technology is already everywhere in our lives. If you don’t have a doorbell camera app, you probably know someone who does. Likewise you can use your phone or laptop to wirelessly access all sorts of devices in your house, from security systems to thermostats. You can even program a coffee pot to brew up your favorite joe while you drive home from the airport.

Carwash 4.0 takes this concept to the carwash, and it’s a real game-changer in car wash systems. By harnessing the power of connectivity, automation and data-driven insights, Carwash 4.0 empowers operators to deliver on their carwash business plan. You can now have consistent, high-quality customer service across all your locations – more accurately and conveniently than you may have imagined.

Evolution of the Carwash Industry

From simple buckets and sponges to touchless car washes and water reclamation systems, the journey from Carwash 1.0 to Carwash 4.0 is pretty amazing. It highlights the gradual development of more and more sophisticated approaches to carwashing. Ordinary carwashes have now become technology-driven, innovative full-service solutions. We’ve arrived at the latest and greatest way to put customer satisfaction first while profiting from data in every aspect of operations. 

Carwash 1.0: The Manual Era

In the beginning, there were buckets, hoses, sponges and towels.  When car washes were first commercialized, workers washed your car much like you would do it at home. While your car might have sparkled at the end, this method required a lot of time and sweat.

Carwash 2.0: Introduction of Automation

In 1946, Thomas Simpson introduced the first automated car wash. It used a conveyor belt to move the car through the tunnel, overhead sprinklers as a water source, and a blower to dry the car. This was the beginning of the modern car wash, although not exactly an automatic car wash as much of the actual washing was still done by hand.

Carwash 3.0: Increased Automation and Customization

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, entrepreneurs continued to automate tasks such as soaping, scrubbing and rinsing cars. Automated drying systems, touchless washes, water recycling and computer-controlled operations became more common. 

Carwash 4.0: The Connected Carwash

Today, Carwash 4.0 represents the pinnacle of the industry, connecting the carwash to the internet and apps. This capacity leads us to the complete integration of advanced technologies like IoT, AI, data analytics and robotics. 

Capabilities and Benefits of Carwash 4.0

Here’s some more book learning. The Carwash 4.0 approach to vehicle cleaning brings together several technological domains, including: 

  • Connectivity – Interconnected systems for real-time data collection and remote monitoring. Connection between your car wash equipment and the app on your phone.
  • Analytics and Intelligence – Harnessing the raw data generated by connectivity, turning it into actionable insights you can use to improve processes and anticipate maintenance.
  • Human-Machine Interface (HMI) – The ability of machines and humans to interact seamlessly, through speech recognition for example. HMIs also include user-friendly dashboards for enhanced control and monitoring.
  • Advanced Automation – Use of robotics and AI to streamline processes, increase efficiency and consistency, and make owning a carwash less onerous. 

Remote Monitoring

When you have a connected car wash, you can monitor, adjust and optimize equipment and chemistry remotely through the internet – on your phone, tablet or computer. You can be anywhere in the world and working in the dead of night if you like. All you need is a wi-fi connection.

Connected systems provide user-friendly interfaces to manage your wash – or a whole chain of them – remotely. Compared to onsite, hands-on work, this improves efficiency by orders of magnitude. It saves time, hassles and headaches while providing greater accuracy and precision.

Remote monitoring is made possible by the IoT (Internet of Things), a 4.0 technology which allows for the interconnection of various devices and sensors. This technology can monitor an almost unlimited number of carwash functions. These include: chemical dosing in fine increments, product usage and fill levels of reservoirs, fresh water and reclaim system status, car wash vacuum pressure, filter status and motor health, brush pressure and readings of vehicle size and type.

Predictive Maintenance and Maximized Uptime

Imagine if you knew ahead of time that a key carwash system was about to go down, costing you downtime and lost business? Carwash 4.0 allows carwash owners to receive maintenance alerts ahead of failure. The technical term is Condition Based Maintenance (CBM), based on sensors that can detect and interpret changes in sound, vibration, noise, power usage and heat. Then, an alert is sent to the owner, who can schedule maintenance at the tap of a button. On the chosen day, the service person arrives and replaces the part in your tunnel car wash. No hassle, no downtime – a benefit worth its weight in gold, since downtime can be a major profit drain, and that’s not what you were aiming at when you were buying a car wash.

Data and Reporting

It’s been said that data is “the new oil.” That’s because numbers don’t lie and quantifying what’s happening in your carwash is the key to making decisions. Data-driven approaches enable owners to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs). By analyzing trends and patterns, your team can identify how to improve your car wash management. You can also control permissions and access for changes to chemistry, as well as track which employee changed the tire cleaner dosage, when, by how much and cost impact per car. No more “dose ghost” or mysteries as to why usage is up this month!

Connected Chemistry and Cost Savings

Carwash 4.0 makes connected chemistry possible. This innovative and powerful system uses advanced technology and sensors to measure, adjust and optimize chemical usage in a completely hands-off process – no onsite visits or manual labor changing out meter tips. You can also adjust consumption on the app, to dial in the perfect balance between wash quality and chemical usage. By efficiently managing car wash chemicals, you can minimize costs and maximize profitability.

Customer Experience

Carwash 4.0™ provides you with real-time insights into the performance of your carwash, enabling you to ensure consistent quality at all locations. By delivering a consistently exceptional customer experience with top-of-the-line automated commercial car wash equipment, you can build a strong reputation, foster customer loyalty and attract new customers.


When your car wash business is growing, great! Throw yourself a party because you and your team are running a good car wash operation. But now you have a new problem. You can’t get to every location, checking in person that everything matches your standards. Carwash 4.0 leverages technology and automation to streamline the carwash process, making it highly scalable and easily replicable.

Precision water and chemical dispensing and maintenance alerts, for instance, are designed to be easily deployed across multiple locations, reducing the time and resources required for setup at new sites. Now it’s easier to monitor performance and ensure consistent quality across a large territory.

Join the Future of Carwashing: Carwash 4.0

As North America’s premier provider, NCS sets the standard for the industry’s best car wash solutions, car wash products, car wash parts, customer service and cutting-edge innovations. We’re proud to be at the forefront of the Carwash 4.0  transformation, leading the charge towards a future where technology and innovation drive the carwash industry to new heights. To explore this opportunity further, read our Carwash 4.0 white paper here.

If you’re ready to “Go 4.0”, ask about the NCS Lens System and Connected Chemistry. These systems are already available, with more and more connected components on the way. Getting your site or business connected lays the foundation for Carwash 4.0 excellence and starts you off toward a brighter future. To get started, contact NCS today.

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