There is a new wave of warewashers surging in from manufacturers with a focus on efficiencies and performance. Kathy Bowry reports
However, as they say, it's what's inside that matters: at the moment it all hinges on what these tweaks can offer by the way of sustainability - which, in operational terms, equates to lower running costs.
Tim Bender, sales director of Hobart Warewashing UK, tells The Caterer: "There is no single magic bullet that can lead to operating more sustainably. However, employing class-leading machines that are at the vanguard of energy efficiency, training staff on correct usage and safeguarding high performance and operational longevity by putting a sound service plan into effect are key considerations that will have a marked effect on both the green credentials of a site as well as its bottom line."
"Environmental performance is part and parcel of choosing a new equipment solution," says Bill Downie, Meiko UK managing director. "Careful attention must be paid to energy, water and chemical consumption, backed up by site visits to existing operators of your shortlisted supplier's equipment.
"Every manufacturer is making claims of 'green' savings and the key issue for caterers is to find a benchmark against which they can compare the various proposals from the manufacturers. Take advantage of the 'free site survey' offers to see detailed cost and savings projections and to check what is and is not included in the purchase price. Meiko provides energy consumption figures for all its machines. When compared accurately against competitors, the results are clear to evaluate.
"For example, the performance figures for the new UPster K-M250 rack transport dishwasher - which is directly relevant for larger-scale kitchen projects including schools, larger restaurants, stadia, universities and so on - clearly state connected load and consumption figures with theoretical basket capacities."
Meiko's new rack solution comprises six models with throughputs ranging from 95 to 250 racks per hour. Of particular significance is the increased machine entry height of 508mm and the integral heat recovery unit that comes as standard on all models. This means that direct ducting is not required and general room ventilation is suitable, providing that suitable air changes are available within the wash-up area, says Downie.
Winterhalter, meanwhile, has launched a new UF Series utensil washer fitted with the company's VarioPower technology, which allows the wash pressure to be individually adjusted depending on the items and the degree of soiling. For really stubborn baked-on deposits, Winterhalter has developed a 'Crust Cracker' chemical, which gets into action before the washing program begins, negating the need for manual pre-washing.
Other new features of the UF machines are foldable doors, giving the staff clear access to the interior of the machine and a new rack dolly that means staff can easily push the heavy, loaded rack directly from the dolly into the machine and at the end of the cycle deliver clean ware back to the workstations.
John Shepherd, UK and Ireland country manager for WexiÁ¶disk, believes the WD-153 ICS+ rack machine is the ideal unit for large, busy, catering setups. "Using an intelligent control system (ICS+), sensors eliminate the empty spaces normally found between the baskets during the cycle, which can account for up to 50% of the capacity and utilises a significant amount of water and energy over a sustained period. The ICS+ technology checks the basket feed, stopping the pumps and the rack when a space is identified. The majority of rack conveyor machines have two speeds: one slow and one fast. When operating at the slow speed, the dishwasher can use double the amount of energy, water and chemicals. The CRT ensures this is not the case, using between 1-1.4 litres of water per basket, whichever speed is selected," he says.
Steve Bowler, category manager, warewashing, at Electrolux Professional, says: "Warewashers are often in constant use, and opting for cheaper models that forsake some of the more recent technical advances can see a machine fast become a serious drain on a kitchen's utility bills. Efficiency - in terms of water usage, detergent type, and energy consumption - should be a high priority when making an investment, and taking these major factors into account during the purchasing stage will inevitably result in lower overall operating costs further down the line.
"The introduction of new technology was central to the development of the Green & Clean Hood Type warewasher, and has helped establish it as one of the most efficient on the market. It benefits from an energy saving device which comprises of a highly efficient water pre-heating system that recovers steam to create a comfortable working environment, and with an automatic de-lime cycle, 'Zero Lime', for completely lime-free components. Both of these features contribute to a much lower level of energy consumption and a 33% reduction in running costs.
"As well as offering bespoke training courses as part of both pre- and post-sale activity, our warewashers form a key part of our '24 to the door' Electrolux Express initiative. We can provide a replacement warewasher to be delivered to a customer within 24 hours of them placing an order with one of our national network partners if their existing warewasher breaks down or needs replacing.
Mark Banton, group director at Parry, which supplies the SteelTech brand, reckons the range offers the perfect starting point for many caterers. "This is down to the product's versatility, reliability and economy. For example, SteelTech dishwashers feature extremely low noise levels and have been specially designed to reduce electromagnetic emissions, water consumption and carbon footprint."
The warewasher approved by the Carbon Trust
Winterhalter is the first catering equipment company to achieve carbon footprint certification through the Carbon Trust. This is supported by the development of a new tool, so buyers can use a simple calculator to compare the lifetime carbon footprint and expected energy costs of any Winterhalter model, based on anticipated levels of actual use.
"This is a big step forward for any foodservice business that wants to know and show its impact on the environment," says Dominic Burbridge, associate director - business advice of the Carbon Trust.
"Companies now understand that when purchasing equipment they need to take into account the total life cost, including its energy efficiency, which allows them to make meaningful comparisons as to the real value of their investment."
Tough customer at pizza chain
Hobart UK has been working in partnership with Pizza Hut to bespoke-build a machine tough enough to stand up to the rigours of all-day dining. This development comes 10 years into the company's relationship with the chain and is the result of the close working relationship between the operator and manufacturer over that time.
The company has created a special version of its AUPRS-10A hood-type machine, used throughout Pizza Hut's 273-strong portfolio of sites, which property manager for Pizza Hut Malcolm Merry, says is "simply brilliant".
Malcolm says: "A lot of the ingredients we use - cheese or shredded vegetables, for instance - can make for a lot of waste going into the machine. However, with Hobart's Permanant-Clean filter system, you don't have to change the water, and regardless of the condition of the crockery or cutlery, it always cleans perfectly."
The filter system pumps soil out of the dishwasher, meaning dirty plates can be stacked directly in the rack.
The more fine and coarse the soil carried into the dishwasher, the dirtier the wash water gets. In the past, this would mean emptying and refilling the machine several times a day. But according to Hobart, Permanent-Clean removes this need and transports residue away from the dishwasher, offering savings of up to £600 a year in water, energy and detergent costs.
The right combination
Derek Maher from Crystaltech, an installer and servicer of all makes of commercial glasswashers and dishwashers, warns that they can be the main source of cross-contamination within the catering environment if the right combination of chemicals and temperature is not achieved. Impure water can cause cloudiness and polishing glasses increases germ transfer.
"Many glasswasher detergents are too caustic and cause cloudy-looking etching on glasses, or are too weak and leave behind unhygienic residual dirt or proteins," says Maher. He recommends renovating glasses on a regular basis to remove protein and other residues. Maher has developed his own reverse osmosis system, which requires fewer chemicals at a lower temperature to deliver perfect results and can reduce the need for cleaning chemicals by 70%, as well as removing the need for labour-intensive polishing of glasses after cleaning.
There's a lot of work going on in developing new warewash chemicals, according to the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association chair Simon Frost, who says they can be as important as the right machine in terms of the quality of wash results. Talk to your chemicals supplier to ensure that your chemicals are the best for your machine and local conditions, such as hardness of water.
Energy- and water-saving features to look out for include reduced wash tank capacities, more efficient rinse systems, heat exchangers that recycle energy normally lost in waste water or steam, designs that eliminate the need for heat pumps on larger machines, and machines that operate vent-free, taking out the need for direct ducting and extract fans that use energy continuously.
Sustainability features and tips
Pre-rinsing can use much more water per wash cycle than the warewasher. Low flow spray valves and pre-rinse machines can reduce consumption considerably. Some manufacturers offer machines that eliminate the need to pre-rinse.
Double-skinned and insulated cabinets will help reduce energy consumption and cut down on noise emissions.
Automatic integral dosing units will protect the machine and prevent overdosing.
Water treatment is essential to protect the machine. Some warewashers come with integral water treatment systems.
Variable wash cycles and programmes can save water and energy. For example, a shorter cycle, designed for items that are predominantly clean, can reduce consumption considerably.
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