Restaurants and pubs are all-day businesses these days, with the vast majority now serving up separate breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. But increased business means increased wares to handle — so how are mainstream chains dealing with this? FEJ got in touch with the major warewashing suppliers to find out what they are observing.
As operators have expanded their opening times, many have had to modify their kitchens to ensure the availability of sufficient cooking equipment to support multiple menus. Has there been any knock-on effect for warewashing equipment?
Phil Coulstock, commercial channel director, Smeg: Extended opening hours’ main effect on glass and dishwashers is the additional stress put on key components such as elements. Even though the machine may not do any additional cycles during the day compared to the shorter opening times, the additional hours where the machine is switched on can reduce the life expectancy and performance of the elements working hard to maintain wash and rinse water temperatures. Smeg Topline glass and dishwashers are double skinned and insulated to help retain heat and to reduce the amount of time the elements have to work to maintain temperatures.
Julian Lambert, sales director, Maidaid: Some of the knock-on effects and considerations are the space available and services — water supply and power are convenient for installation. Due to the increase in opening times and greater throughput of customers, more pubs and restaurants are purchasing hood machines. Space for prewashing and unloading tabling must be allocated and be of sufficient size to enable operators to use the machine effectively. On too many occasions, Maidaid has received requests to downgrade power requirements after the machine has been delivered due to insufficient power being available. This consequently means the equipment can never function to its full potential.
Tim Bender, sales director — Hobart Warewashing UK: The rise of deformalised all-day dining means that with more and more frequency it is consumers setting the agenda for the times they want to enjoy food. This sea-change in eating habits means that high quality cleaning power is only one of the requirements of the modern warewasher. With a greater throughput, all-day dining operators need to work smarter to keep the tables turning; it stands to reason that the machines they employ in the kitchen should also follow suit.
Catering sites stand and fall on the synergy between the equipment and human operator, meaning modern machines must be intuitive and easy to operate, as well as sturdy and economic. Changing food and drink trends also create challenges. Many on-trend dishes require warewashers to work harder, as do speciality coffees and cocktails. In particular, foods that have high protein and starch content, such as macaroni cheese, egg and pasta dishes and any food that readily bakes onto dishes, challenges both the machine and the chemicals. Despite space restrictions, this means the minimum requirement for a busy outlet is both a dishwasher and a glasswasher.
Paul Crowley, marketing development manager, Winterhalter UK: Over time, the variety of food that outlets offer has changed, and not only that, but the types of cuisine offered has increased. This has meant demands on warewashing equipment have increased, with the need to be able to deal with different levels and types of soiling. Machines need to be adaptable and flexible to cope with these changes. Caterers have also increased their operating hours, and of course they are always looking to reduce operating costs. Increasing operating hours means that the available times for access to service machines has been reduced, and the window for repairs has narrowed. The time for routine cleaning and maintenance schedules has also been squeezed — all of which means that machines have to be as reliable as possible.
Have you see any of the chains change their approach to warewashing because of the additional demands they face?
Tim Bender, Hobart: With the warewashing requirements of fast-casual restaurants needing to adapt with the pace of service itself, Hobart UK has been working in partnership with Pizza Hut Restaurants to bespoke-build a ‘bulletproof’ machine able to stand up to the rigours of all-day dining in one of the UK’s most popular chains. With an ethos of always listening to the challenges of end-users, we have created a version of our AUPRS-10A hood-type machine which is used throughout Pizza Hut’s 264-strong portfolio of sites. Hobart’s revolutionary filter system directly pumps all the soil carried into the machine out of the dishwasher, meaning dirty plates can be stacked directly in the rack. The more fine and coarse soil carried into the dishwasher, the dirtier the wash water gets. In the past this would mean the water needed emptying and refilling several times a day. PERMANENT-CLEAN removes this need at a stroke, transporting all residue away from the dishwasher and saving some £600 per year in water, energy and detergent costs.
Paul Crowley, Winterhalter: Caterers are seeking more flexible and adaptable solutions. This flexibility translates into demands for machines that can offer options such as increased throughput at given times. They are also seeking more reliable equipment. Fast cycle warewashers help caterers ensure that there is no build-up of dirties. For example, Winterhalter’s PT Series features an energy control system that speeds up the washing process, increasing rack capacity per hour by 28% and reducing heat-up time by 50%. It works by making best use of the available power — for example by prioritising heating of water it ensures the boiler has maximum power when it needs it. The speed of the system means the PT is ready for action faster than conventional passthroughs, allowing back-to-back rack washing, which is a huge bonus for busy sites in peak times.
With a greater throughput, all-day dining operators need to work smarter to keep the tables turning; it stands to reason that the machines they employ in the kitchen should also follow suit”
John Shepherd, UK & Ireland country manager, Wexiödisk: Most chain operators will now look for a warewasher that offers versatility as well as reliability. This is largely because crockery trends have changed to complement varying different cuisines and presentational styles, therefore chains are finding a need for a machine that has the ability to wash a variety of different styles of crockery, all within the same unit — for example wooden boards, china plates and mesh baskets often used to serve sides in. This will help the operator save time and allow everything to be washed in one unit rather than certain items requiring separate washes, a separate machine or even being washed by hand. As well as time, this will again help to reduce the energy, water and chemical consumption within the washroom itself.
Phil Coulstock, Smeg: The only change Smeg has seen recently has been that a couple of the high-street QSR and coffee shop chains have started to take our Topline CW522D & CW522SD machines, which offer the ability to wash two baskets at once. This simple and very cost-effective solution offers users a huge reduction (as much as 50%) in water, electrical and chemical costs but interestingly the main reason they cite for the change is the ability to free up more space on their already overcrowded countertops by being able to put more in the machine each cycle.
High street chains endeavour to be as creative as possible in terms of tableware, whether it’s serving pizza on rectangular boards or using baskets and mugs to present chips. What impact is the use of more eclectic tableware having on the warewashing operation?
Bob Wood, DC Products: Some new ranges of warewashers, such as the DC Optima range, all have increased loading heights to cope with extra tall glasses or unusually-sized tableware. There are ‘soft start’ programmes to ensure lighter and plastic items remain correctly positioned for optimal cleaning and drying while advancements in specialist chemicals, such as detergents and rinse aid, have been made for more effective cleaning of stubborn soiling and a gentler, less-abrasive but enhanced clean and finish when it comes to glassware and delicate tableware. Appropriate rinse aid also helps the drying process. Internal or external rinse booster pumps help if your water pressure is low. For your machine to operate to the best of its ability, you’ll need a water pressure of 2-4bar (28-56psi). Anything less or more than this may adversely effect wash and rinse results.
Most chains will now look for a warewasher that offers versatility as well as reliability, largely because crockery trends have changed to complement varying different cuisines and presentational styles”
Paul Anderson, UK managing director, Meiko: Serving ware does indeed come in every size and shape but at Meiko UK we can provide tailor-made wash baskets from our own warehouse to order. Special wash baskets can be configured for unusual shape plates or serving dishes or, more usually, for extra tall glassware where the stems require protection during washing and storage.
John Shepherd Wexiödisk: Warewashing equipment is constantly evolving to cater for new trends in tableware and at Wexiodisk we always look at how we can maximise our units’ versatility and still provide perfect wash results, all while keeping energy consumption to a minimum. Our WD-7 hood machine is one of our most versatile warewashers to date as it has the ability to accommodate an array of items of varying different shapes and sizes thanks to its large 500mm opening height and 500mm size basket. In addition to this, the water pressure of the unit can be increased by 2.5 times to the lower wash arms so that when large cooking utensils such as 20 quart mixing bowls or Gastronorm trays are being washed, (as opposed to simply tableware which will require a lower setting) the best results are achieved every time.
What is the single biggest warewashing challenge facing high street restaurant and pub chains?
Bob Wood, DC Products: In order to specify the right type of machine it’s important that operators familiarise themselves with each machine’s in-built features and also some of the optional add-ons. Be careful not to purchase an under or over-specified machine for your catering operation’s specific requirements. An over-specified machine will have rarely used capacity and features which you do not require for your operation and from which you may never benefit. Many of these features will have come at a price and will probably have increased running costs over a correctly specified machine, too. An under-specified machine will be detrimental to your catering operation, not only in terms of current capacity and performance but also in terms of future-proofing your investment.
Paul Anderson, Meiko: The challenge is to achieve consistency across the chain. When it comes to warewashing, many chain operators like the idea of placing that headache, as well as the risk of equipment breakdown, back with the equipment supplier, allowing them to fix budgets and eliminate the risk of unforeseen expenses due to breakdowns. A ‘No Bills’ guarantee for three or five years that includes fully inclusive breakdown support — within a specified timescale — spare parts and annual planned maintenance and, of course, no unexpected repair bills, is proving successful with operators who are keen to see improvements in reliability, wash quality and customer support, plus reductions in lifetime costs of ownership as well as cuts in energy and water bills. Staff training covering daily equipment maintenance is also a key part of the equipment supply package and chain operators, especially, require ongoing training to cater for staff movements. Prospective customers should look for suppliers who offer onsite training and training courses in a dedicated technical facility.
Julian Lambert, Maidaid: One of the biggest challenges facing restaurants and pub chains is the ease of use of the equipment purchased. Maidaid Halcyon warewashers offer straightforward three-button control, ON/OFF, Cycle Start and Cycle selection. With as little as 10 minutes training, an end-user can be operating and carrying out effective daily maintenance on any Maidaid Halcyon dishwasher.Once the cycle length has been selected to suit the products to be washed, all cycles are actioned by one button. Maidaid Halcyon machines also incorporate simple status indication so the user knows if the machine is heating, in cycle or ready for the next load.