If you’re opening a new restaurant (or you are already operating one), you should take a look at how your dishes are being cleaned, and how efficient and energy conscious your current setup really is.
Total Food Service sat down with Heidi Moseley, Marketing Manager for warewashing industry leader Meiko, USA Inc. to discuss the top 10 things you should know about warewashing for your restaurant.
1. New and improved!
New dishwasher models use significantly less water than older styles. Fifteen years ago, a standard rack conveyor dishwasher used about 300 gallons of water per hour. Current machines average 100 gallons per hour or less. When your dishwasher uses less water, you also save energy and chemicals. Other options, such as heat recovery systems and active water filtration, can further reduce your utility consumption rates. Fully-insulated machines not only conserve energy but make for a much friendlier working environment by keeping the heat on the inside of the machine and prevent kitchen staff from experiencing high temperatures on their skin. Over the lifetime of the dishwasher, these modern features tend to not only pay for themselves, while also providing you with a superior machine in the process.
2. Don’t burn up your budget in the long run.
Low-temperature machines, which use chemical sanitization, can be less expensive to purchase on the front end. That makes sense if there is a limited budget for startup costs. The trade-off is that they have higher operating costs over time, from additional water use and the need to keep the dishwasher full of sanitization chemicals. High-temperature dishwashers use hot water at 180°F for sanitization and are generally more expensive to purchase. However, they eliminate the need for a separate chemical sanitizer, provide faster drying with fewer streaks and spots, and eliminate chlorine residue that can affect food and drink flavors and presentations. Better quality models are less expensive to operate in the long run and most pay for themselves over time.
3. Electric shock.
Electricity rates for commercial customers in NYC are above the national average coming in at approximately 11.55 cents per kilowatt/hour. Dishwashing involves the use of a lot of energy to heat water, so if you must use electric heat, a more efficient machine is a must. Access to the City’s steam utility will result in lower heating costs. They vary based on your usage level but currently work out to be approximately 6.4 cents per kilowatt/hour, or about 55% less than the cost of electric heating.
4. Your dishware matters to us.
China, glass, and metal absorb more heat during the dishwashing process – so, they will dry faster. Insulated ware, plastics, and melamine do not absorb as much heat and will take longer to dry. You should consider this when laying out the dishwashing area, and you may have to incorporate drying racks or a dishwasher with a blower dryer accessory. If you have a lot of kitchen utensils, mixing bowls, or hotel pans, a dedicated pot washer is also worth considering. Even for a smaller operation, these may be practical, as single-rack models are available. For a larger facility, a dedicated pot washer or glasswasher, in addition to a rack conveyor general-purpose dishwasher, may be ideal.
5. Quantity and quality
Manufacturers use industry-standard calculations to show a maximum rating for each dishwasher in plates or dishes per hour; these numbers appear on the machines’ spec sheets. But these are maximums that do not consider the staff’s ability to keep up with the dishwashing machine or to load it ideally. Your specific conditions – types of ware, sizes of plates, whether or not you serve items on trays, etc. – should all be considered when determining the ideal size of your machine, whether it’s a smaller single-rack model or an automated rack conveyor dishwasher.
6. Full-service or limited-service? That is the question.
The number of meals you serve on a daily basis will factor into the machine you need to install. For instance, if your restaurant serves three meals per day, the dishwasher must be sized to allow breakfast items to be cleaned and dried before the lunch rush begins. Other restaurants that only serve two meals per day may be able to use a smaller machine if there is enough backup ware to fill the gap.
7. It’s getting steamy in here.
Most code requirements will call for a ventilation hood above a dishwasher. If this is impractical, some ventless machines are available, which use cold water to condense the steam before it enters the dishroom, removing the need for a hood. They then make use of the now-warmer water as part of the washing and rinsing process, increasing energy efficiency.
8. Scrap the junk.
The traditional sink and pre-scrapping nozzle may not be the most efficient way to scrap your ware. A recirculating water trough can be far more economical and ergonomic to operate. These can be designed to feed into a disposer system, a collector that needs to be periodically emptied into a trash bin, or a dedicated waste pulper. All of these solutions can reduce not only your water use but also your expenses for disposing of kitchen waste. With regards to the dishwasher itself, if you need a rack conveyor machine, strongly consider the addition of a prewash section; it will ease the pre-scrapping labor of your staff, improve first-time washing results, and reduce detergent use.
9. Don’t forget the kitchen sink.
Codes will typically require a three-compartment sink in the dishroom. Manual hand washing of ware is impractical in all but the smallest facilities, but if the law requires a sink anyway, consider how your operation can use it more efficiently. Many places use it as a pre-soak tank for deeply soiled pots and pans, which can then be run through a dishwasher; if this is your intention, make sure that the center (wash) compartment is large enough for your larger items.
10. Go with the flow.
Your dishroom layout should have a clear flow from incoming soiled items to outgoing clean ware. You should have a good idea of how the room will be staffed, and what workers will perform specific tasks. For instance, it may be easier for the bussing staff to rack glassware directly as they drop it off, allowing the actual dishroom worker to focus on pre-scrapping plates. Space should be provided for clean ware storage, and possibly drying. A well-designed dishroom will enhance your staff’s productivity, efficiency and comfort.
To learn more about how Meiko can upgrade your warewashing setup, email Heidi at email@example.com.