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Warewashing: lowering your operating costs

03 July 2008

Does money go down the drain every time you use your dishwasher? Modern technology and attention to maintenance will mean lower operating costs, and it's kinder to the environment too, says Stuart Ferguson

Remember when a dishwasher was a luxury that only the most expensive hotels or restaurants had? I "made my bones" scrubbing dishes at the County hotel, Ashford, Kent, and a shiver still goes down my spine when I think of all of those dishes that I would have to tackle after a major function.The day they decided to plumb in a pass-through dishwasher was like all of my birthdays and Christmases had come at once.

I'm sure many of you can recount similar tales. Back in the early 1980s we really appreciated the services of that stainless-steel box but, like most things these days, it now gets taken for granted. It's there, it works… job done.

Take a look at your dishwasher. See that white pipe at the back? The one that connects to the drain? It's not just water that's pumping through it. A big chunk of your profits could also be heading that way. Because as with most workhorses in our kitchens, we don't appreciate the money we spend operating it.

With the cost of electricity and water usage rising all the time, and the fact that warewashing machines use both, we should make them a priority when we look at ways of saving money and helping the environment. No one knows this more than David Smithson, chief executive officer for warewashing machine manufacturer Winterhalter UK. "I can't recall a meeting over the last year where saving energy hasn't been raised and where I haven't been asked what we can do to help reduce costs," he says.

As a result of a continuous R&D programme, Winterhalter has come up with IRT (Intelligent Resource Technology). Each of its features has the potential to save thousands of pounds in running costs, according to Smithson. And the benefits will be available to every sector of the hospitality market. IRT technologies have been developed for all Winterhalter machines.

The new rinse system developed for Winterhalter's front-loader and pass-through machines uses a water jet that delivers improved rinse results yet uses up to 25% less water. Less water means energy and chemical consumption are reduced, too. The rinse system can deliver overall running cost savings of 13% with the GS200 and GS300 front-loaders, and up to 20% with the GS500 pass-through washers.

Another company conscious of environmental issues relating to dishwashing is Dawson Foodservice Equipment, part of the Ali Group, which claims its Comenda products operate with some of the lowest energy, water and detergent consumption levels on the market through its patented Proportional Rinse System (PRS). "The system is designed to reduce the use of water, power and chemicals in a dishwashing cycle by a third," explains Dawson sales director Robin McKnight. "It carefully monitors and controls the amount of rinse water, and reduces the amount the rack conveyor dishwashers use when set to different washing speeds, resulting in water savings and reduced power and chemical consumption."

Comenda's range of HACCP-compliant rack conveyor and flight dishwashers can provide a solution that is as individual as the washing requirement it serves. Efficiency is achieved using high-capacity stainless-steel pumps, adjustable anti-block top, bottom and side washing arms, a top and bottom drying system and an optional osmosis rinse with automatic glass or cutlery rack recognition.

What's more, energy savings can be achieved through the fact that all units can operate on a cold water supply saving up to 25kW/hour, depending on the model. Water is preheated to 45-50°C, exploiting the heat and steam that would otherwise be dispersed in the air. The heat pump takes advantage of the heat produced during a cooling cycle to heat both the wash tanks and rinse water, saving up to 35kW/hour, depending on the model.

Over at Electrolux, the company's new rack-type dishwashing machine reduces water, detergent and energy consumption considerably thanks to the IWS (Ideal Washing System), the heat pump and the Energy Saving Device (ESD). The Electrolux IWS system reduces detergent and water consumption by 75% and 30% respectively, compared with traditional rack-type dishwashing machines. This means that over a lifetime of 10 years, the new rack-type could potentially save you up to £30,000 in detergent and up to £10,000 in water costs.

IWS consists of separate modules for prewashing, washing and rinsing, and allows the operator to maintain the best working conditions in each washing phase: prewash with cold water, washing with active detergent, something that is not affected by rinsing aid, and perfect detergent removal in the rinsing phase.

The heat pump and ESD preheat the rinsing water before the water enters the boiler, reducing considerably the energy required to heat up the rinsing water. Furthermore, the Autostart function ensures that no water and energy is consumed when the dishwashing machine is in stand-by. Good insulation around the boiler adds to the energy savings.

The planet is not the only factor that can profit from our energy-efficient drives - we can also show our staff that we care. "It's worth remembering that it's not just the environment that can benefit from the advanced technology of our latest machines," explains David Riley, commercial director, Hobart UK. "The green innovations also help make the kitchen a safer, more pleasant working environment for staff.

"There's often a misconception that being environmentally friendly is too expensive to be practical but that's simply not the case. Investing in green technology can actually save operators money, proving to be cost-effective as well as enhancing an operator's credentials, something that's becoming increasingly important to potential customers."

Hobart has made it easy to see which of its machines are the most energy-efficient, highlighting them on its website with a "saving energy, saving the planet" icon. There's even a calculator on the site to work out how much you can reduce your carbon footprint and bills by switching to the FXP under-counter dishwasher.

The FXP is touted as "an energy-efficient, economical under-counter warewasher" that benefits from reduced water consumption, because of the Intensiv4 four-stage wash system, a reduced tank capacity of 10.8 litres and optimised rinse performance.

The Accurinse rinse system saves up to 30% of water, energy, detergent and rinse aid while ensuring a constant temperature and volume of clean rinse water. The Intensiv4 four-stage wash process saves up to 40% on detergent usage by filtering the main wash water every cycle. The GeniusX2 active filter system is activated at the beginning and end of the wash to remove as much food soil as possible.

With wash cycle times from one-and-a-half to three minutes, the redeveloped Hydro range of pass-through dishwashers from Classeq can process up to 40 big (500mm x 500mm) racks, or about 720 dinner plates, every hour and have been engineered to deliver even better cleaning results while reducing bills by being more energy-efficient and using less detergent.

Classeq's "full coverage" filter system keeps the wash water cleaner for longer, so it doesn't need changing as often. This makes the Hydro energy-efficient, since fewer changes mean less power is required for heating the water, and it also reduces chemical consumption.

But it's not just the warewashing manufacturers that can make a difference to your washing operation. "Most modern warewashing machines use much less energy than their predecessors thanks to improved insulation, heat pumps and condensers," says Ian Bryant, group sales manager at the Carford Group, "and, advances in technology also mean that they consume less water and detergent, which produces a further reduction in operating costs. However, the actual warewashing machine itself is only a part of the whole clearing operation and if the rest of it is not efficient then the machine will not be used to its full capacity."

For example, if the sorting system is poorly designed and results in partially filled racks being washed, money is effectively going down the drain. A well-designed clearing system can result in labour savings by spreading the work between several duplicated work stations, thus allowing the staffing levels to vary depending on the workload. This type of operation can also facilitate recycling at the point of deposit, leading to a greener system and a further reduction in the staff workload. At the end

Contacts

Classeq 0870 224 7280 www.classeq.co.uk

Comenda/Dawson Foodservice Equipment 01226 350450 www.dawsonmmp.co.uk

Electrolux 0121-220 2800 http://www.professional.electrolux.com/

Hobart 0844 888 7777 www.hobartuk.com

Meiko UK 01753 215120 www.meiko-uk.co.uk

Miele 0845 330 3618 www.miele-professional.co.uk

Nelson Dish & Glasswashing 0800 592833 www.nelsondishwashers.com

Winterhalter 01908 359000 www.winterhalter.co.uk

Key maintenance points

A dishwashing operation in a typical restaurant could be using two-thirds of all the water used. A common fault such as a poorly fitting drain seal can allow water to drain away, therefore more heated water is needed to maintain the washing cycle. Embedded energy costs, as designed by the manufacturer, will be achieved only if the equipment is regularly maintained and serviced.

• The machine operating temperature is crucial to the effectiveness of its washing and rinsing. The detergent works best at preset wash temperatures and rinsing at 85°C is necessary to ensure a hygienic finish. Check your temperatures at the end of a busy session, and if they are not as stated in the manufacturers' handbook, call a service engineer.

• The quality of water supplied to your dishwasher is important and if you have a water softener fitted, check that it's full of salt and that it's refilled regularly. Excessive limescale will also add to your energy costs. A heating element which is thick with scale uses up to 50% more energy to reach working temperature. Hard water also requires more detergent, so keep the softener topped up.

• Broken glass and cocktail sticks are the curse of glasswasher pumps. And it's not uncommon for dishcloths and teaspoons to find their way into a dishwasher pump. These repairs are not covered by manufacturers' warranty, so make sure the filters supplied inside the machine are in place and are not damaged. On flight-type and rack conveyor machines, it's easy to miss putting a filter back properly.

• You'll get a better washing result and not have to clear the dishwasher's filters so often when you take a moment to check that plates are being properly scraped of food waste before loading them into the machine. If you have a prerinse sink or waste disposer, check that they're being used to clear food waste before putting them into the dishwasher. Excessive food waste will also clog the spray arms, and reduce the effectiveness of the detergent.

 If you're using a specialist granule washer, make sure the granules are replaced regularly. As they become smaller, they become less effective against burnt-on food deposits, and you'll have to put items through again.

Source: Serviceline 01438 363000 www.service-line.co.uk

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