With high staff turnover and unskilled labour a challenge for operators, the need for highly-automated catering equipment that is incredibly easy to use and transcends any language is becoming a key priority. FEJ’s first ever special report on innovative, ease-of-use equipment provides a unique breakdown of the main areas of the kitchen and the solutions now available to make life easier. In part four, we look at refrigeration cabinets.
If an operator is looking for the most user-friendly refrigeration cabinets available, there are plenty of boxes that need to be ticked. Easy to clean interiors with radiused corners to avoid food traps and removable shelving, self-closing doors and easy-to-set controllers are all elements that need to be factored into the process of choosing the right model.
Consistency is vitally important for any chain operator looking to deliver the same uniformity of product across multiple sites and the latest refrigeration cabinets on the market can assist with this challenge.
Practical features, including the robust hinges and self-closing door, and the larger internal storage space, will make them even easier to live with”
“A major issue for chains is different sizes of kitchens, depending on the site,” says Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director at Williams Refrigeration. “Manufacturers who offer the same or very similar models, but in different configurations, allow operators to get the best size and shape cabinet for each kitchen, ensuring their storage is consistent.”
Harling suggests that temperature control — featuring advanced controllers — is a necessity for maintaining temperatures accurately, while he also points to the important of high performance insulation. “Look for cabinets that will operate in ambient temperatures up to 43°C to ensure temperature control and food safety,” he says.
Williams’ Jade range is popular for delivering on performance, ease of use, reliability and affordability. It has recently redesigned and improved the range of cabinets and counters, making it the manufacturer’s most energy efficient range to date.
“From the outside the Jade cabinets and counters look the same — sleek, aesthetically-pleasing, functional design — but everything you can’t see, such as compressor and condenser type, airflow design, as well as gaskets, self-closing door and hinge mechanisms, has been improved,” reveals Harling. “In terms of ease of operation, it’s all about ‘refrigeration for the real world’: the Jade’s practical features, including the robust hinges and self-closing door, and the larger internal storage space, will make them even easier to live with.”
Harling says that in recent years there has been an increase in the number of budget-priced imported fridges on the market, but he claims that many of its customers have told it that these products do not perform well in hot weather, resulting in them turning to quality brands for replacements.
“Some of these imported products are semi-domestic models that are being miss-sold, but many are allegedly commercial models that are simply not up to the job. Either way, they cause operators big problems during the warm weather because they couldn’t maintain temperature and therefore failed HACCP guidelines or simply broke down. Hopefully the arrival of MEPS will put an end to the issue of this kind of miss-selling,” he comments.
What technological developments are you seeing that will ultimately make refrigeration easier to operate and more reliable for chains?
“Advances in refrigeration controllers, such as the Williams CoolSmart, protect the system, lengthen its life and manage temperature control more precisely. With blast chillers, easy to operate controls are important. Williams has the 1-2-3 control system that is very user-friendly.”
3 key things to take away
1. Easy to see and set controllers will allow you to check temperature at a glance and adjust the temperature
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of an overall robust build for longevity and the ability to stand up to the knocks of a busy kitchen. You want the doors to be slammed shut without fearring they will fall off!
3. Look for easy to clean interiors — radiused corners avoid food traps, while racking and shelving that can be easily removed will make life easier.