The strength of the pound has forced the prices of imported dishwasher down and there has never been a better time for publicans to make a clean break from their old machines.
A dishwasher is almost as important in a commercial kitchen as the prime cooking equipment itself, according to Malcolm Martin, Miele product manager: "For the end user, first impressions are lasting impressions and when it comes to quality, the wash quality resulting from a freshwater dishwasher is significantly better than from a tank machine where used water is recycled and fresh is only used in the final stages of the wash cycle."
Tailored for small, medium or large businesses, the throughput of Miele dishwashers ranges from 180 to 1,170 plates per hour, but for the pub market Miele tends to recommend either its G7761 or G7764 model of freshwater machines for publicans
However, many of the machines currently on the market, still employ a water re-circulation system in order to keep to a two to three minute total cycle. Evidently there is a water saving implication on these machines which in the case of the Classic Dishwashing Equipment's XL range equates to a 60 per cent water consumption reduction.
Similarly, Zanussi rack type dishwashing machines with twin rinse system claim to be able to reduce running costs by up to £2,000 per year since water consumption is, according to product manager Chris Syder, halved. "Further savings can also be made via a 'heat recovery system' on larger models," he added.
"New machines coming to the market now are designed to be more user friendly and include energy saving features." commented Classic's managing director, Barry Baggott . "The 'new breed' of machines feature electronic control systems enabling much closer temperature control." A number of further features enhance the Classic XL range including noise reduction, colour coded wash and rinse jets for easy cleaning and a new one piece filter system. Other new features include a rinse booster pump which ensures the machines all work at any water pressure.
Hobart, meanwhile, boasts three major technological innovations on its machines. A Genius X filter system which claims to remove debris and food particles from the wash water every cycle and discharge the debris, keeping the water cleaner for longer; a class 'A' air gap ensuring ease of installation and the standard fitting of a drain pump, plus careful location of the wash pump ensuring that when the wash tank is drained down there is no possibility of dirty water being left in the machine to cause contamination.
This leads to another factor which affected the warewashing market - improved sanitisation. It is not enough that plates look clean, but HACCP regulations insist that they are - a rinse temperature of 82.5degC also has to be sustained for some seconds to make sure that plates are bacteria free as well as pristine.
Additional features are inevitably factors that will determine the purchasing decision of many publicans, but most manufacturers deter caterers from buying on price alone. "While price might be an important consideration, the main concern must be result. Machines must be capable of producing consistently clean ware first time, every time," explained Barry Baggott.
Publicans should not then be beguiled by price, but consider the complete 'package' that manufacturers are offering. Most manufacturers offer generous warranties, for example, and service back-up on their products (Hobart offers a 7-day-a-week nationwide service team; Zanussi gives a two-year parts and labour warranty while Classic offers a three-year wash pump, two-year parts, one-year labour and a lifetime guarantee on the wash tank on all XL machines). But check the fine print. According to Kit Free, managing director of European WaterCare, one factor that is invariably not covered is limescale build-up. It is for this reason that companies such as EWC offer dish and glass washer water treatment solutions, including a range of water softeners, which they in turn guarantee against repairs to glasswashers and dishwashers due to limescale.
But despite all of this back up, as is often the case, a poor workman can blame his tools. Perhaps this is a little harsh, but Classic's Barry Baggott can testify that there is an element of truth: "Classic engineers are frequently called out to 'faulty' machines when in fact the problem is simple operator error." Many caterers blame the dishwasher for poor performance when a multitude of other factors can come into play. The lack of efficient handling systems with poor, dirty and clean segregation can, for example, have an impact on how pristine your dishes turn out. All manufacturers recommend that debris is removed from crockery/glass before stacking as this will help to produce clean crockery and clear glasses.
You should also aim to clean your machine daily, so the fewer components there are to clean on the machine, the easier it is to make this chore simple to incorporate into a daily routine. Poor rack design and racks loaded badly can shield dirty items from the wash and rinse action giving poor results.
And, of course, the quality of the detergents and rinse aids used, not to mention the quality of the water itself - hard water will give poorer results increase detergent consumption and reduce life expectancy of the machine - will all have their part to play.
"Obviously a dishwasher can do anything a glass washer can do and more. But for most caterers it is necessary to have both a glasswasher and a dishwasher since glasswashers give the added convenience that they are so small that they can be located where needed - ie under the bar," said Zanussi's Chris Syder.
However, according to Cleanaware there is one sure fire way to test if your glasswashing is efficient. And, if glasswashing is inefficient in a pub environment a number of issues arise. Beer can be returned, there is a lowering of glass hygiene standards, head on beer collapses, there is a lack of lacing, poor gas release and ultimately glass damage. With the endorsement of renowned brand Guinness, Cleanaware lays down a simple challenge to publicans - the water test. Rinse your glass under cold water, dry the outside of the glass, and invert the glass over a sink. If spots appear they represent evidence of poor washing. If, however, there is a continuous film of water, the glass is clean.
Guide to buying a glasswasher or dishwasher
- Identify the exact use for the equipment and calculate its maximum workload. This will ensure that the right model and size is selected and that it will be able to cope during the busiest times of operation.
Interpret the brochure. Brochures show performance ratings for equipment based on peak conditions. In a busy kitchen, it is unrealistic to expect the machine to perform at the same levels. Therefore build in an inefficiency factor of 30% to allow for general peaks and troughs of production.
Pick a reliable machine from a reputable dealer.
Will the machine handle the size of ware to be washed?
Consider the floor space available allowing for door opening if front loader.
Talk to the sales representatives and ask about the dishwasher's features. Identify those which are most relevant to your needs:
- How long is the cycle?
- Is it noisy? (relevant for behind the bar machines in constant use)
- Is extraction necessary?
- What heat recovery options are available?
- How good is the filter system?
- Can you double rack?
- How low are the running costs?
Ask to be put in touch with other caterers who have bought the same model and ask about their experience.
In general terms opt for simplicity of operation. This will save time and m