Operators finally offered benchmark for catering equipment maintenance

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The first ever independently-verified standard for the planned maintenance of catering equipment has been developed as a result of the collaboration between two professional trade bodies.

The Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association (CESA) and the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) have produced an industry recognised set of maintenance schedules designed to help catering managers prolong the operating life of their equipment, reduce running costs, and achieve compliance with relevant legislation.

Having an independent industry approved standard to which all catering equipment should be maintained also gives managers benchmarks against which they can verify the competence of the service providers they employ.

“When we were offered the opportunity to work with BESA on this, we grabbed it with both hands,” said CESA director, Keith Warren. “The lack of agreed quality standards created serious confusion for catering managers and meant vital maintenance tasks were simply being neglected.

“These standards provide the industry with a level playing field so that it can measure both the quality and the cost of the maintenance they receive against a set of independently verified parameters.”

The catering equipment standards have been built into BESA’s long-established planned maintenance tool SFG20, which was developed to support facilities management programmes for whole buildings.

This dynamic online software programme allows a facilities manager to produce schedules covering all the main types of equipment found in buildings. It is constantly updated with changes to technical standards and legislation to ensure the building remains compliant. Schedules display how often a task should be carried out and what skill sets are needed to maintain an asset.

“More and more building owners – including increasing numbers in the public sector – are adopting SFG20 as a tool to establish a cost-effective strategy that closely matches user requirements to investment in planned service and maintenance,” said BESA’s head of business development Wayne Terry.

“We are delighted that the catering industry wanted to work with us to develop something specifically tailored for their needs and, by collaborating with CESA, we have been able to produce a set of schedules that should cover almost every eventuality for catering equipment users.”

The lack of a common set of standards has meant that some companies simply avoided maintenance completely as they couldn’t measure what they were getting for their money.

SFG20 already features over 500 maintenance schedules, covering more than 60 equipment types, and gives users the opportunity to customise maintenance schedules, including service times, frequency and criticality ratings. More than 100 new schedules have now been added specifically for the catering equipment industry.

SFG20 is also aligned with rapidly emerging digital working methods, including Building Information Modelling (BIM), and is constantly updated to capture evolving service and maintenance techniques.

It has been adopted by government departments, including the prison service, and other public sector organisations, including the NHS, to provide customised maintenance programmes. It is also used by major end-users like Ikea, John Lewis and Network Rail, as well as several universities and large construction companies who provide maintenance services to their clients.

The schedules are colour coded. Red designates a critical task that must be undertaken for the owner to remain legally compliant; amber indicates that the task is ‘function critical’ and, therefore, vital to the core activities of the business; and green is for more discretionary work that could be adopted to support an organisation’s aspirational goals, such as meeting corporate social responsibility reporting.

This allows the FM team to prioritise tasks in line with any budgetary constraints and plan appropriate resources. It also reduces the risk of over or under-maintaining equipment.

The 105 new schedules cover all aspects of catering equipment maintenance with clear guidelines on levels of work to be carried out, intervals between servicing and operative time required. They encompass everything from coffee machines to cold rooms and storage, from fryers to griddle pans, and ovens, hobs and ranges. They also take account of services like ductwork and grease extract cleaning filter cleaning and replacement, and water treatment.

“Catering managers have always been aware of the need for maintenance, but have often struggled to understand what level of work they should expect from service providers,” said Mr Warren. “These agreed standards provide a vital backstop of knowledge that will allow them to measure the quality of the service they receive and, equally importantly, make the business case for planned, long-term strategies that can extend the lifetime of their equipment and reduce running costs.

“The lack of a common set of standards has meant that some companies simply avoided maintenance completely as they couldn’t measure what they were getting for their money. The SFG20 schedules change all of that and we are now seeing them quoted in FM providers’ tender documents.”

The fact that BIM data can be directly imported into SFG20 schedules is another significant business benefit for catering managers, according to CESA, and it is making this option freely available to its members.

“BIM has a key role to play in creating good operating conditions in buildings,” said Mr Warren.  “It is important that there are no cost barriers to its uptake within the catering sector.  This initiative compliments the CESA BIM resource and further develops CESA’s commitment to taking a lead on the development of digital solutions for the sector.”

Since April 2016 the government has required all public-sector work to be subject to the Level 2 BIM method of working, which demands that building information is developed in a collaborative 3D environment.  SFG20 has been adapted so that ongoing maintenance costs can be based on the standard from the point that initial design drawings are constructed, rather than later in the process or after project handover. This greatly improves the long-term performance of a building.

SFG20 is also regularly integrated with different software solutions. This can be done on an individual basis with subscribers taking raw data that is then loaded into their own software. However, a simpler solution is to use an SFG20 ‘Approved Provider’ who can automatically load SFG20 into a user’s preferred software solution such as a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system, which many building managers already use.

BESA and CESA will meet regularly to monitor uptake of the standards and will carry out a joint annual review to ensure the schedules remain technically current and continue to meet legislative requirements.

“The common platform created by SFG20 is proving hugely valuable to a growing range of building equipment operators,” said Mr Terry. “It is a natural progression for us to extend our reach into the catering sector and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with CESA to enhance and improve the schedules specifically developed for catering managers.”

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