A BaxterStorey site in Bristol is set to realise thousands of pounds of savings in capital equipment and energy usage after deploying a system that automatically projects power consumption, carbon footprint and lifecycle costs of catering equipment. FEJ looks at why it could change decisions on kitchen specification forever.
BaxterStorey’s heritage is built on the culinary expertise and professional training and development of its people. Today the company boasts a headcount of 8,500 staff and operates across more than 600 locations. But that scale also brings challenges, particularly when it comes to production and the huge volume of catering equipment it is required to manage across its kitchen estate.
For a caterer its size, costs can multiply enormously if inefficient equipment is installed and used or best practice isn’t adhered to; equally the most innocuous tweaks to a process or a system can result in huge savings by virtue of the economies of scale on offer.
But how can you identify the opportunities that might be accessible in the first place and, furthermore, initiate any change that is necessary?
This is a question that BaxterStorey’s head of sustainable business, Mike Hanson, has been seeking the answer to and he hopes to have found it in the form of CaterOps, a software system that automatically maintains accurate catering equipment records, maps out future energy costs and proposes savings through strategic kitchen equipment replacement decisions.
In a bid to evaluate how the system could positively influence the way the company manages its catering equipment, BaxterStorey has been trialling the system for a large client at Trinity Quay in Bristol, where approximately 1,000 employees currently work.
The catering services are contracted to BaxterStorey and the responsibility for catering equipment and kitchen maintenance falls within the remit of the facilities management partner. It is currently producing around 300 meals per day, 252 days a year, at the site, but current growth projections mean it expects this figure to increase.
Hanson has been using CaterOps to help the on-site team identify how levels of production affect the energy consumption of appliances and establish where efficiencies can be made.
The first task was to obtain accurate information relating to the catering operation. To do this, a condition survey of equipment was carried out in all the catering areas, including the production kitchen, dishwash area, servery and basement store.
Specific data, including the number of hours each piece of equipment is operational for and the number of meals produced, were also gathered to project energy consumption and the carbon footprint of the facilities.
At the core of the CaterOps system, which was developed by design consultant Kate Gould, is a database of equipment. Any older pieces of equipment that are not on the database are researched by CaterOps and the technical details are uploaded to enable realistic comparisons to be made as part of the underlying equipment replacement strategy. At Trinity Quay, several refrigerators and an old Garland bratt pan fell into this category.
Once the database was complete and each of the catering areas set up on the system, CaterOps was populated with site-specific data, including the cost of utilities, number of meals produced, days the facilities are open for and the list of equipment in each area.
According to the company, collating the information, researching the technical specifications for obsolete equipment and inputting the data took a fraction of the time it would have using Excel spreadsheets. In addition, the benefits of CaterOps far exceed the use of spreadsheets by providing an ongoing management tool.
The immediate benefits of using CaterOps at Trinity Quay include access to a central asset register of catering equipment, which BaxterStorey didn’t have before, and an equipment replacement strategy that clearly demonstrates how the lowest lifecycle cost will influence the carbon footprint of the facility.
It is also able to see projected energy consumption and associated costs for the next 10 years, as well as budget forecasts for capital investment year-on-year. Additionally, the system identifies operational and design efficiencies that will reduce energy costs and arms it with a maintenance log for every piece of equipment on the system and the projected energy cost per meal produced.
During the condition survey at Trinity Quay, it became apparent that the deep fat frying suite was nearing the end of its useful working life and that the use of the fryers had reduced since they were installed. Through the CaterOps system, it was able to identify the most cost-effective replacement with the lowest lifecycle cost, taking into consideration operational changes.
The implementation of CaterOps also prompted the removal of several pieces of catering equipment that were surplus to requirement. This, together with the replacement of the fryers, produced savings of more than £8,000 in year one alone for the business, as outlined in the chart below:
CaterOps’ calculation of energy savings based on lowest lifecycle model means that it is able to reduce energy cost per meal from 7.38p/meal to 6.94p / meal, leading to reduced projected energy cost over 10 years by £8,325.
This equates to an energy cost reduction of 2.91%, an energy reduction of 2.59% and a carbon reduction of 2.79%, it says. From experience across its contracts, CaterOps says it is realistic to achieve a minimum capital saving of £5,000 per year by implementing the system as a strategic catering equipment tool. On this basis, it says the potential savings over the next three years are as follows:
In addition to these savings, there are other financially unquantifiable gains to be made, which are dependent on individual companies’ contractual arrangements with their supply chains. This includes the time savings that come from having a central database where catering equipment information can be managed and is instantly accessible by both the client and supplier, as well as instant access to up-to-date financial forecasts for capital equipment replacement costs year-on-year.
Additionally, centrally-managed equipment maintenance records help to identify the most cost-effective time for replacement and allow users to ascertain where operational changes will reduce energy consumption.
As BaxterStorey has demonstrated with its endeavours at Trinity Quay, the days of drowning in spreadsheets and being bamboozled by energy efficiency claims could well be over — and the company will be greener, and financially better off, for it.