OPINION: It only takes a few simple steps to reduce equipment downtime and save money

With a third of hospitality professionals dealing with between four and six equipment breakdowns a year, businesses need to start looking at how they can overcome this productivity barrier and reduce costly outages in their kitchen, writes Steve Buckmaster at BRITA Professional.

Many would argue that the back-of-house operation is the backbone of all foodservice establishments and for a business to succeed it needs to be operating as efficiently as possible.

This is where the phrase ‘a well-oiled machine’ springs to mind, yet many kitchens are experiencing a number of issues regarding productivity.

One of the biggest barriers to back-of-house efficiency is kitchen equipment breakdowns. In fact, our research has revealed that over 60% of hospitality professionals think reliable equipment is the most important factor when it comes to kitchen productivity.

As the age-old saying goes, ‘a workman is only as good as his tools’, and while those who work in the back-of-house area — chefs in particular — bring their flair, creativity and passion to the kitchen, it’s fair to say that their job cannot be completed if their equipment fails them. Nearly 70% of hospitality professionals worry about the consistency of their food offering and the key factor contributing to this stress is equipment not working efficiently.

Our research found that 82% of hospitality professionals have had to spend additional costs on unexpected equipment repairs”

It is therefore easy to see how equipment breakdowns can negatively impact the working environment and staff morale, as well as causing an inconsistent service.

Money is also a major worry when it comes to equipment breakdowns and with rising business rates and a turbulent economic climate to contend with, foodservice operators can’t afford for equipment issues to eat into the bottom line.

In fact, our research found that 82% of hospitality professionals have had to spend additional costs on unexpected equipment repairs, and for a quarter of businesses equipment downtime equates to up to a 10% loss of sales on a monthly basis. These figures highlight the extent of the problem, demonstrating the tangible impact that equipment breakdowns can have on the foodservice industry.

So, what can operators do to prevent this? There are a number of measures foodservice businesses have implemented to reduce unexpected equipment failures, such as:

– Ensuring capability matches demand: A common mistake is purchasing a machine that meets the needs of a normal shift, as opposed to the maximum capacity of a venue. To provide chefs with the best tools for the job, it is essential to consider the busiest possible service.

– Investing in preventative maintenance solutions: With a high proportion of equipment breakdowns related to limescale, using a water filter on key pieces of equipment such as the combi oven is one of the most effective ways to stop this.

Over half of hospitality businesses currently use a chemical solution to treat their water, but 90% claim they are still dealing with at least one breakdown a year and 55% are spending up to eight hours a month on equipment issues.

Since chemical solutions require manual input, it can add an additional job to an already stretched staff member to remember to do this, whereas a filter provides an effective solution that works in the background to protect machines.

– Implementing a routine cleaning and maintenance schedule: This will help to make sure machines are constantly operating at their optimal capacity. More than half of hospitality professionals would prefer for a supplier to handle kitchen equipment servicing — be sure to ask your supplier about the maintenance assistance they can provide. From filter exchanges to routine equipment checks, these additional services can help operators save time and money.

By implementing preventative maintenance and cleaning practices such as these, foodservice businesses can reduce the amount of time and money spent on catering equipment repairs, increasing their overall kitchen productivity.

The UK hospitality industry is set to grow by 1.5% this year, yet consumer spending on eating out has fallen — this is largely due to limited wage growth. As such, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in the crowded marketplace.

While it is a challenging time in the sector, it is also an exciting one. By reducing costly equipment downtime, operators can have more space to create, innovate and develop without being held up by avoidable back-of-house inefficiencies.

Steve Buckmaster is sales director of BRITA Professional, a leading supplier of water filter solutions for great-tasting water and reduced limescale build-up. www.brita.co.uk

Download BRITA’s special report on achieving optimum kitchen efficiency

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One Comment;

  1. Glenn Roberts said:

    Well said Steve.
    Excellent article and great research from BRITA.
    Every operator and supplier should take heed and help to reduce operational ‘down time’ and create a more sustainable foodservice marketplace.
    Best Regards
    Glenn

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