Delays in replacing catering equipment hitting operators where it hurts

Fryers

Foodservice operators are delaying equipment replacement for too long and ultimately end up being forced to make a decision when equipment fails to the detriment of the overall lifecycle cost of their catering facilities.

That’s the verdict of a leading FCSI consultant behind a new software system that enables them to project energy use, energy cost and the carbon footprint of their kitchens based on the kit they use.

Kate Gould, owner of KEG Consultants, has spent the past three years developing a cloud-based asset management solution called ‘CaterOps’ with business partner Alex Schlup, and it has given her a fresh perspective on the way that multi-site operators manage the lifecycle of their equipment.

She says that while the definition of lifecycles means different things to different people, it quite rightly should mean the overall cost of a piece of equipment from cradle to grave.

“Maintenance costs are an indication as to when a piece of equipment has reached the end of its useful life. However more often than not call-outs are made to a piece of equipment that has terminally failed which could have been avoided if lifecycles had been calculated and equipment replacement schedules had been put into place.

“As a result, many pieces of equipment are repaired when it would be more economical, from an energy consumption perspective, to replace it a year in advance, rather than maintain it. The problem for most people is when to take the decision to make the capital investment. A recent example was when I carried out a condition survey and repairs had been authorised for a very old energy deficient refrigerator at a cost of £800 when a new model with a five-year guarantee could have been purchased at a cost of £1,200 – a very shortsighted but not uncommon response to reactively keeping a service in operation.”

I carried out a condition survey and repairs had been authorised for a very old energy deficient refrigerator at a cost of £800 when a new model with a five-year guarantee could have been purchased at a cost of £1200 – a very short sighted but not uncommon response to reactively keeping a service in operation.”

In short, if it is not within the budget to meter individual pieces of equipment, projecting the energy consumption in relation to capital investment of replacement is the way forward, according to Gould.

Does she believe there is a direct correlation between the cost of equipment and how long it lasts? And should operators investing in more expensive kit expect it to have a longer lifecycle?

“Yes and no!” she replies. “It depends on the specification of the equipment in relation to the type of operation and making sure that equipment is replaced like for like with the correct duty in relation to the demands of the business. In addition, consideration has to be given to whether energy efficiency or carbon savings are a priority. Make no mistake about it these are very different.

“Unless there is a CRC influence in respect of the procurement strategy equipment with all the carbon saving technologies are unlikely to provide a ROI for many operations. However, equipment that has integral energy efficiency technology is likely to provide better lifecycle costs.”

Read the full interview with Kate Gould in the current issue of FEJ, available here

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