"There's nothing in the market that compares"
Interview with Thorsten Schlüter, Rosenow truck stop
The disposal of waste water from intercity bus restrooms is a daily challenge for bus drivers. There is still no comprehensive network of disposal stations in Germany. With the use of a newly developed pump system, Rosenow truck stop in Kiel is ushering in a turnaround in this situation. THINK RED spoke to its owner Thorsten Schlüter about the benefits and prospects of the new disposal solution.
THINK RED: The intercity bus industry continues to boom. But with more and more passengers and buses, the problems of waste water disposal are intensifying. As a truck stop owner, how do you view the current situation?
Thorsten Schlüter: The bus companies are in a real dilemma. They want to offer their passengers a high standard of comfort. That includes punctuality, comfortable fittings and furnishings, and of course also an on-board restroom that can be used at any time. But the disposal network has so many gaps that either allowance has to be made for detours to dispose of wastewater, which comes at a cost for punctuality, or the restrooms are closed, which limits the traveling comfort of the passengers significantly. We need a solution that creates a dense network across Germany.
You’ve been working intensively with Vogelsang on just such a solution over the last two years. What is the result?
Vogelsang’s experience in the industry and technical expertise plus my perspective as a user have resulted in the RoadPump Plus. This system, comprising a rotary lobe pump, collecting trolley and suction nozzle on the toilet tank, as well as water refill options, is a carefully designed answer to the needs of intercity bus services. It is easy to operate and bus drivers can use it while refueling. The pump system saves them time, while also being clean and odor-neutral. An important feature is that truck stop and service station operators can integrate the supply and disposal solution easily into their existing infrastructure and can generate additional revenue with it. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
The RoadPump Plus has been in use at your Rosenow truck stop in Kiel since June 2017. How does the wastewater disposal process work?
The RoadPump Plus is integrated into our gas pump area and works like a diesel pump. While the bus driver fills up with diesel and DEF at the front, he drains the bus’s toilet tank at the rear. He purchases a code that unlocks the system, like for a wash station. Each step is explained by a video on a monitor. This guides the driver step by step through the disposal process. The simplest way is to connect the waste water hose to a suction nozzle permanently installed on the bus, like a coupling. But of course clean disposal is also possible with the existing outlets on the bus and the help of a collecting pan.
What has been the response to the solution so far in the intercity bus industry?
The bus companies are seeing that the system works and gives them a tangible advantage. We’re already getting more inquiries from bus companies than we originally estimated. This is a positive sign and will encourage more truck stop operators and intercity bus providers to get involved in setting up a comprehensive disposal network. We operators benefit from that financially, and the bus service providers get a dense network. The bus drivers lose hardly any time and don’t harm the environment during disposal. But the most obvious benefit is to the passengers: Finally they are no longer confronted with closed restrooms, and will continue to use intercity buses as their preferred means of transport.
Where do you see the RoadPump Plus in five years’ time? Will it be able to establish itself as an industry standard?
I’m certain it can, because there’s nothing else in the market that compares. The high-quality equipment used and good workmanship are key to the excellent quality of the pump system and are fundamental for long-term use. It will surely take about five years for the long-distance buses currently in use to be retrofitted with appropriate suction nozzles. At that time the combination of the supply and disposal system and the suction nozzle will establish itself and the nozzle will be a standard feature on new buses.
About Rosenow TOTAL truck stop
The Rosenow TOTAL truck stop in Kiel offers drivers and their vehicles (ranging from cars to recreational vehicles, intercity and transit buses, tractors and semitrailers) a comprehensive package of services including refueling, washing and catering. The truck stop is a member of VEDA (the German truck stop association) and a partner of global energy producer and supplier TOTAL. TOTAL operates the third-largest service station network in Germany, with about 1,200 locations, and is planning to roll out the new services for the disposal of wastewater from intercity bus restrooms at additional truck stops along Germany’s highways in the near future. FlixBus, a leading operator of intercity bus services, is also involved in this development.