Many features have been added to dish- and glasswashers to ensure sparkling results and to make the working environment more pleasant. But if the machines are not maintained properly, all this advanced engineering can count for nothing, discovers Kathy Bowry
At a time when everybody is questioning expenditure - whether it's for new equipment or running costs - simple maintenance of your warewasher could enable it to achieve top cleaning performance and last longer.
"Service and planned maintenance are absolutely critical to customers for the smooth running of warewashers and ultimately the smooth running of the whole operation," explains Bill Downie, managing director of Meiko UK.
"Planned maintenance is more important than an extended warranty and is something operators should take very seriously. The better maintained the machine, the less likely it is to break down and incur costly downtime."
Downie warns that even the best machines can suffer loss in performance from sloppy day-to-day maintenance and says this is why Meiko has engineered its products to be extremely easy to maintain and clean.
As soon as machines are installed, the company's engineers train staff in all aspects of daily maintenance, from cleaning to adding chemicals, to ensure tip-top performance.
Alan Evans, executive training chef for Electrolux Professional, agrees with Downie.
"Maintenance is crucial and the technicians who are carrying it out need to be really confident with the equipment," he explains.
"Customers often ask how often they should be getting their machine serviced and in my opinion once a year should be the industry standard. Before we even think about installing a machine we always do a full site survey - looking at factors such as the water supply and the water softness.
"In the unlikely event of a problem with the machine, speed is most definitely of the essence - the longer the problem persists, the longer the machine will be out of action. For large sites with rack- and flight-type warewashers this can virtually bring them to a standstill, which is why we have integrated a diagnostics system into all of our dishwashers - it's as close to self-diagnosis as you can get."
BEFORE YOU BUY
An important aspect to look out for when buying a new machine, whether it's a big rack transport or an under-counter glasswasher, is that major components such as pumps and heaters are easily accessible for servicing, which will cut down on any downtime. Also watch out for dirt traps: rounded edges are a lot easer to clean than sharp angles.
For managers who don't want staff adjusting the machine's settings once it has been programmed, wireless machine-to-computer programs have been developed, which can monitor and adjust the warewasher's performance from the office.
Kurran Gadhvi, marketing manager at Valera, which supplies Adler warewashers, says: "Most machines come with fixed time cycles and the length of wash chosen should reflect the amount and type of soil on the items to be washed. Remember that chemicals react differently from one manufacturer to another so it is important to follow the stated doses.
"However, as most machines are supplied with automatic dosing equipment for both detergent and rinse aid, it would only normally be necessary to change the dosage settings if you were changing your detergent supplier."
Downie agrees: "In the current economic climate we have found that customers like to be able to buy everything from one supplier - equipment, service, maintenance, chemicals, detergents and so on. This can help keep costs down in all sectors and ensures compatibility."
New developments in water filtering are producing shiny end results by combating local water conditions, which is often why the wash isn't always perfect. An audit of 1,000 pubs by Casque Marque, an independent accreditation scheme that recognises excellence in the service of cask ale, found that 40% of glassware was dirty, with a film on the glass.
"This not only puts customers off, but also diminishes the quality of the drink being served," says Tim Bender, product development manager at Hobart UK.
"The tell-tale sign is when gas bubbles break out on the side of the glass. A good head is generated when bubbles originate at the bottom of the glass."
Advanced filters such as the Hobart Genius X2 cut down on spottiness as they filter out very fine impurities in the water on both glasswashers and dishwashers. Meiko and Winterhalter have also added sophisticated filtration systems across their ranges: Meiko has the AktivPlus and Winterhalter is fielding its own quadruple filter.
Sophisticated computer programs, automatic dosing, and refining the machines have all helped to make the end results as near perfect as possible. Nevertheless, it is essential to arrange regular servicing and ensure that staff carry out simple daily maintenance, as this could eliminate many problems.
BETTER WORKING EQUIPMENT
Until last year, a reverse osmosis unit, indispensable for turning out sparkling glassware, would have to be stand-alone and plumbed into the glasswasher, taking up valuable space behind the bar or in the kitchen. It may even have involved a separate maintenance contract.
However, Meiko has been really clever with its award-winning GiO Module, which is integral to the cabinet of its FV40.2 glasswasher. This is serviced along with the machine as part of the Meiko service contract, thereby saving money as well as space.
New kid on the block DC has added a useful internal water softener to its glasswashers, which regenerates at the touch of a button.
"We have made the regeneration process safer and much easier for people so they are more inclined to regenerate their softeners on a regular basis, improving results and reducing the need for expensive call-outs to descale or replace scale-damaged parts," says Bob Wood of the DC Development Team.
The problem of noise, steam and heat generated by warewashers has also been addressed by the manufacturers.
Maidaid-Halcyon's latest addition is the Evolution range of hood-type and under-counter glass and dishwashers. The company claims that Evolution's pump is the quietest on the market.
Advances have also been made in reducing steam blasting into the kitchen when the hoods on hood-type machines are raised. Both Hobart and Meiko have devised ways of trapping the steam within the machine: Hobart with its 4S-H hood design and Meiko with its AirBox Activair option.
For BBC MasterChef maestro John Torode, Winterhalter's Energy+ system on its GS500 series of pass-through dishwashers is a godsend in reducing heat in the kitchen of Smiths of Smithfield and it is now going into his latest venture, the Luxe.
Energy+ recycles exhaust heat from the steam and hot wastewater and returns it to heat the incoming cold water. This not only slashes heating costs but also, by condensing the steam to remove its heat, removes the need for an extractor hood or extra ventilation and makes wash area working conditions much more pleasant.
[Electrolux](http://www.electrolux.com/professional) 0800 988 2809
0844 888 7777
[Maidaid-Halcyon](http://www.maidaid.co.uk) 01280 845300
[Meiko UK ](http://www.meiko-uk.co.uk) 01753 215120
[Winterhalter 01908 359000
KEY MAINTENANCE TIPS
- Regular cleaning will improve the life of pumps and help provide the best quality wash by keeping the machine clear of waste products. Clean out the filters as often as you can, and at least once a day. Check the filters are not damaged and allowing waste to pass through, which will damage pumps and possibly cause blockages. Replace immediately if damage is evident.
- The bigger the dishwasher, the more good staff management is required. Check that doors are put back in position correctly before making a breakdown call. One call recently on a big flight machine was caused by a door safety switch, which was telling the control system the door was not closed properly. It had been knocked out of line by being accidentally bashed as a basket was removed. In this case, it needed a repair, but these switches can cause unnecessary expense when damaged.
- If the machine is displaying operating temperatures that are different from the manufacturer's recommendation, have it checked urgently to avoid hygiene risks. It is vital that the final rinse temperature reaches 82e_SDgrC for proper sanitisation.
- Water and electricity are a dangerous mix and damage or wear to cables may not be obvious to the operator. For safety, make sure that the machine is installed by a person qualified to work on electrical installations and checked regularly at least once each year.
- It makes no sense to have an engineer move a pile of dirty plates before he can take a look inside the machine or clear debris from filters or wash arms, which should be done in routine cleaning.
- If, after all that cleaning, the machine still has a cloudy off-white coating inside, that is limescale building up, which will constrict pipework, make the pumps work harder and damage heating elements. Check your water softener is working properly. It should be easily accessible to allow regular top-ups with salt, which staff can forget to do. If it seems to be working OK, it may need adjusting to regenerate more often.
- Use the most appropriate machine for each job - a glasswasher for glasses, a dishwasher for general crockery, and a potwasher for utensils and cooking containers. Some service visits are activated when a dishwasher fails to wash glasses correctly. The solution quite often is simply to drain down, clean the machine and refill with clean water between washes - glasses don't like greasy wash water.