Cracks have appeared in a number of our tilting bratt pans, which have been in heavy use since September 2007. All the cracks are in the front edge and in the rounded/coved part of the pan. The cracks are through the base to the underside, and naturally they get wider with heat. What do you think has happened?
First, you need to check that you are using, cleaning, maintaining and servicing the bratt pans in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. For example, if it's a medium-duty unit, you shouldn't be using it 20 hours a day nor should staff use metal implements to scrape or clean the units.
The problem sounds as if it's caused by overheating, which could be due to a variety of factors. Check that staff aren't heating the pans while they are empty, which will cause overheating. Check also that staff are letting the units cool down after use.
Bratt pans are extremely versatile, and operators sometimes will clean the pan when it is still hot so as to start using it again as soon as possible. Cold water coming into contact with a very hot pan creates a high thermal shock, which can weaken the structure.
Assuming you and your staff are doing everything right, then it might be a problem with the bratt pans themselves. Find out whether the thermostats are working correctly and check that the pans are fitted with an overheat control.
It's unlikely that the pan is cast iron, which cracks easily. More likely it will be a thin steel skin bonded to an aluminium base. The cracks might be close to the edge, where the steel could be thinner as a result of being "stretched" to the contour during manufacture. This makes it more susceptible to damage during the heating and cooling process. If the damaged area is in contact with the element this might also cause overheating. A food service equipment engineer would be able to investigate this for you.
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