Mr. Wash Autoservice AG is one of Germany’s leading providers of car washing and detailing services. In 1964, Mr. Wash opened one of the first automated car washes in Germany.Since then, it has expanded its network to 33 sites located on the most important traffic arteries in Germany’s major cities. The service centers wash approximately 6 million cars each year to very high standards. The company’s top priorities are speed of service and offering customers good value for their money.

Its range of products extends from car washes and interior detailing to refueling and oil changes.

“All our software has been developed in-house,” explains Henning Zimmermann from the company’s IT division. “The software enables our customers to watch from monitors what our employees are doing for them while their cars are being cleaned. In addition, the monitors also provide them with interesting information, for example during oil changes or other services. We offer a comprehensive service. After all, everything we do focuses on the customer.”

ADVANCED TRANSACTIONS SOLUTION

Customers can purchase cleaning services directly at the Mr. Wash gas station checkout. Under the old token system, customers would pay and then be issued a token that identified the wash program they had selected. However, the token system had one key disadvantage: it did not provide sufficient flexibility. For example, it was difficult to add extra services, such as interior detailing, to the wash program. In fact, it actually prevented the company from implementing many of its customer service ideas.

Mr. Wash’s management therefore decided to replace the out-of-date, token-based system with a modern ticketing solution. During a transition phase, customers were issued tickets printed on standard receipt paper. However, this solution did not prove popular with customers as the flimsy receipt paper left an impression of lower quality than the tokens.

The solution that crystallized in the minds of the management team was a future-proof, high-performance printing solution utilizing rugged thermal printers. During the development phase, a variety of printers from different manufacturers were tested in partnership with the technology specialists.

INNOVATIVE PRINTERS

Custom printing.

The selected printer is capable of printing high quality tickets on thick card stock. Its high printing speed (under two seconds per ticket) sets new standards. Moreover, the printer is an extremely compact unit with a very low footprint that allows it to be mounted flexibly under the shop counter. The unit also has a strong cast-metal housing and is so rugged that it is virtually immune to all the wear and tear of everyday operation. Importantly, the high-quality printer is intuitive to operate: the tickets are loaded in concertina-folded packs of 500 into a stainless steel box located underneath the printer housing. This allows Mr. Wash employees to replace media quickly and easily.

“When we were evaluating potential printing solutions, it was very important to us that our employees are able to replace media as easily as possible. The last thing we want is for customers to be left waiting. On peak days, one of our printers has to print nearly 4,000 tickets, and, for major customers or promotions, it must be capable of printing up to 1,000 wash tickets non-stop. Our new system takes just two seconds to print each ticket,” continues Zimmermann.

CUSTOMIZED RECEIPT

Mr. Wash customers have a choice of four different wash programs at the checkout counter and they can also combine these with further options, such as interior detailing. The tickets are printed at the desk and are valid for one use only. The barcode printed on the ticket is scanned and compared with the information in a database. As the printer can print tickets with a very high resolution, the barcodes can be encoded with extra data. Furthermore, Mr. Wash is able to include additional information for customers such as details on promotions, gift vouchers, or special deals with automobile manufacturers. Tickets can also be customized for major customers or fleet operators. At the moment, Mr. Wash is working with ticket media that contain four different layout versions. This enables the printer to produce four different layout designs — one after the other — giving customers a highly varied selection of ticket designs.

The thermal printing media are also customized for optimum performance under the operating conditions at Mr. Wash. The tickets are supplied pre-printed in color, perforated, and concertina-folded in accordance with the company’s requirements. In addition, the material is also protected against manipulation to increase security. The advanced thermal media can be stored for several years and, unlike standard thermal labels, remain clearly readable. This is particularly important because many of Mr. Wash’s customers purchase a stock of tickets or use them as gifts. Consequently, they may be redeemed over a longer period of ti

Under-counter mounting with removable ticket box.

SPACE SAVING, HIGH-PERFORMANCE

Mr. Wash has installed a total of 60 printers in its branches. The complete application for ticket printing and controlling the printers was implemented in a Linux environment by the in-house IT division at Mr. Wash. The company received extensive support from vendors during this process. “We are delighted to have found vendors that are able to supply the complete printing solution and also provide full service support,” says Zimmermann.

The development division at Mr. Wash has also built a space-saving, made-to-measure frame that allows the printer to be mounted under the counters at Mr. Wash. A rail construction allows the entire printer unit to be pulled out, the empty ticket box removed and replaced by a new box of 500 tickets. The ticket box has additional mounting to ensure that it is correctly positioned

at all times. The technology specialists from Mr. Wash and its vendors are currently working on further ways to optimize the printing system. At the moment, the printers are still connected via USB to a PC, which is responsible for data communication and control. In order to save space and improve the administration and performance of the printer solution still further, the aim is to connect the system via Ethernet in the near future.

SUMMARY

The new printing solution enables Mr. Wash employees to provide even better service to its customers. The innovative system not only allows tickets to be produced more quickly, it also makes them safe and secure against attempts of forgery — an important economic advantage for the company. This modern solution has been operating successfully and extremely reliably since its launch at the beginning of 2013. Not a single equipment failure has been registered to date. The solution is flexible and can be adapted or expanded to meet future challenges and requirements.

Cindy Guiles is a senior product manager for Datamax-O’Neil, an Orlando, FL-based global provider of industrial-grade label and receipt-printing solutions. Cindy has been with Datamax-O’Neil serving the industrial label and printing solutions market for nearly 10 years. To contact her, e-mail cguiles@datamax-oneil.com or call (407) 523-5534.