Imagine soaking in a hot tub, or chilling in the garden, or sipping a rum punch in the Caribbean.
Cut to shedloads of grubby glasses, irritable punters, staff struggling to keep on top of the empties.
The warewasher breaks down, a member of staff calls in sick. You’re stuffed.
It does not have to be that way, says Adam Lenton, marketing manager of British-made Classeq warewashers.
Manufacturers are working on the next big advance – connectivity.
Connectivity enables the boss to keep tabs on machines remotely.
From the comfort of your hot tub, sunbed, or Caribbean hammock, you will be able to check if the cycle is interrupted, if the water softener is topped up – general issues that can be considered preventative and key for efficient operation – thereby helping to reduce maintenance issues and repairs.
The ultimate aim is the ability to repair machines remotely without having to send an engineer.
“This will have a major impact on the availability of 24/7 management information, mirroring society’s lead on smart technology and access to data in real time,” says Lenton.
“In the not too distant future, we could be seeing the ‘holy grail’ of connected kitchens... it could be a reality whereby all equipment is on one application rather than every piece of kit having its own Wi-Fi-enabled application.”
This would be immensely valuable, he says but it would not be without its challenges – data ownership and access to that data for example.
Case study: The White Lion, Bourton, Dorset
Owner Will Tyson-Smith says: “With busy footfall, and limited space, it is of paramount importance that we clean glasses quickly and effectively.
“We started with a glasswasher that just couldn’t keep pace and it was clearly time for a change.
“We chose the Classeq Standard Undercounter Glasswasher. The performance is great. It’s certainly value for money because we’ve had our machine for four years and it’s still going strong. It’s simple and easy to use.
“So far – we have no mechanical issues whatsoever – not bad for four years of constant use, and the glasses are clean and shiny after each wash. The digital display on the front shows us the temperature of the machine, reassuring us that it’s up to temperature and fully sanitising during the wash cycle. The simple colour coding is also very handy as we always know whether the machine is on a wash cycle or ready to unload.
“As well as being easy to use, the speed cycles are very useful with a standard two-minute cycle and a light 1.5-minute cycle which allows us to gain maximum output, quickly, without compromising the quality of the wash. We also find the machine very easy to clean, which is another added bonus.”
Simplicity is key
It is easy to be seduced by advanced features and options that are not required or would be rarely used in some operations, however.
Lenton says simple, straightforward warewashers that perform and are reliable are what is often more important than having the latest technology features.
“Technology is great, but it needs to be kept relevant and simple to ensure consistent operation and results alongside staff ng challenges and ongoing training needs.”
Although connectivity is the buzz word at the moment, Derek Maher, managing director of Crystaltech, says work has still to be done in terms of improving web security and sensory reliability.
“The smart kitchen is still in the early stages of development and while connectivity does appear to be attractive, it should be kept in mind that additional sensors and transmitters bring extra reliability challenges, and machines have become more susceptible to breakdown of the sensors than the equipment itself.
“The major concern, however, relates to the security of the network and access by a disgruntled employee or engineer who could alter settings remotely.
“There have also been issues where our engineers have visited a customer and have been unable to gain access to data due to sensitive information that can’t be shared and this can add extra time to a job.”
One key consideration that is often overlooked in specifications is the nature of water in particular geographical areas. Electrolux Professional category manager for warewashing Steve Bowler notes that hard water is prevalent across 60% of the UK and can be damaging to machines not designed to deal with this.
Electrolux Professional’s green&clean hood type dishwashers incorporate Zero Lime, an automatic de-lime cycle that regularly cleans heating elements to offset the effects of limescale brought about by hard water.
The Clear Blue filtering system helps keep the inside of the machine as clean as possible, improving the overall health of the warewasher as well as keeping glasses and crockery “spotless”.
Bowler says the machine reuses the steam to pre-heat incoming cold water that has been produced during the wash to reduce running costs.
Soap and the environment
Winterhalter’s ethos is to replace harmful ingredients in warewashing chemicals.
Peter Alsworth, the company’s chemical sales director, says its BLUe products have natural fruit fragrances, contain no harmful additives and are phosphate free, septic-tank safe and not tested on animals.
Such an emphasis on low-impact ingredients does not have to mean a shortage of customer choice or effectiveness, he says.
Alsworth adds there are also concentrate products available – particularly handy for pubs that are pushed for storage space. Nelson Dish & Glasswashing managing director John Nelson says you must follow machine suppliers’ advice. Nelson, like many others, has commissioned its own brand of chemicals that optimise its own machines.
“At the time of installation, the machine is calibrated with a precise dose quantity that produces the best possible results, thus eliminating potential damaged caused by overdosing and poor results caused by underdoing it.”
Nelson warns not to assume dishwasher and glasswasher detergents are interchangeable. He explains:
“Dishwashers require a more powerful formulation to cope with greasy and starchy residues while glasswashers need a formulation that is sufficiently effective to remove bacterial growth that can thrive in yeast deposits but that is gentle enough to maintain sparkle and clarity.”
The Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association chair John Whitehouse explains that some chemicals suppliers offer “green” alternatives to standard products.
“The best way to check if they are up to the job is to trial them before you commit,” he suggests.
Alternative payment system
Pay per wash (PPW) is becoming increasingly popular throughout the industry, says Paul Crowley, marketing development manager of Winterhalter UK.
“It allows a business to have a brand new appliance on site – including service, racks and chemicals – with no upfront cost. They only pay as they wash – when the machine is in use.”
The seers at Classeq believes the next step is that we could see warewashing machines that automatically load and unload themselves, along with sensing when items are clean, negating the need to set cycle times.
This does not mean robots are set to replace staff . Tim Bender, sales director at Hobart Equipment Division UK, says as long as there have been plates, there have been people and you will always need people as an interface somewhere in the warewashing process.
“Currently, we are trying to do is eliminate little bits of the process to help operators save on labour costs,” he says.
Innovations like the Hobart’s Automatic Soil Removal System, for example, means staff can stack dirty plates directly in the rack and put them in the machine without the need for prewashing, for example.