Foodservice Equipment – How to select the right caster for you

selecting-a-caster

Casters are special housings that include wheels and they facilitate those wheels being attached to equipment.  Many people interchange the terminology of wheels and casters as meaning the same thing and for the most part that works out to be accepted.  However, when we want to really analyze the subject of casters, it is important to break them down into all of the important components.  Components such as the wheel, the tread of the wheel, the barring that make the wheel spin, the mounting plate, and even how the wheel locks and swivels are important to know and understand.

A caster is simply designed for mobility of equipment.  The equipment needs to be mobile, caster-patriot-plus-hdwhether it sits in a corner of a commercial kitchen and only needs to be moved for easy access for cleaning, or if it’s a large banquet cabinet that needs to be loaded onto trucks and moved to off-site locations.  These two applications require different consideration when it comes to wheel tread, hubs, and bearings.  A caster that supports equipment without being moved very often can tend to get flat spots from sitting still, so a wide dense tread with bearings that require little to no maintenance is best.  Adversely, equipment that will be pushed over thresholds, bumps and gravel, roll well with a soft tube-less semi-pneumatic tread, with Zerk grease lubricated raceways and bearings.

The environment the equipment is in can play a large part in your purchasing decision as well.  The bulk food warming cabinet that hangs out in the corner of a commercial kitchen needs a caster that can roll on the smooth surfaces of the kitchen floor while being resistant to the cleaning agents that are used when cleaning those floors.  Some applications, such as in healthcare patient meal delivery, need casters that can roll around hushed environments on equipment that must be as quiet and tranquil as possible.  These delivery cabinets, in the highly sanitized healthcare facilities, are commonly spray washed inside and out.  Without the properly sealed bearings, the casters will become corroded from the cleaning.

caster-dimentionsSize matters but bigger are not always better.  If the cabinet is one that will be sliding in and out from under a counter, being sure to pick the correct size caster will be paramount in your decision.  It should also be known that typically the larger the wheel diameter is the easier it will roll.  Remember this terminology for the size of your caster; Wheel Diameter – This is the distance measured vertically from one side of the tread to the other, Tread Width – The distance measured laterally across the tread, Overall Height – the total distance the caster raises the cart of the ground from the tread to the fastener plate.  Generally, the larger the casters are, the higher the load capacity they can carry.  This becomes spread out across all of the casters, so if you have typically four casters on your cabinet, you will divide your total weight across the four casters.  Assuming you have a cabinet that weighs 100lbs and it has a load weight of 900lbs, your total weight would be 1000lbs.  As stated before, this weight will be divided by each caster giving you a total of 250lbs per caster.

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Holding pizza hot and fresh in a pizza warmer

The pizza market is a huge slice of the restaurant industry, reaching over $38 Billion in Pizza oven2015 according to PMG Pizza Magazine.  Pizzas are flying out of the ovens at an incredible rate as the restaurant industry is forecasted by the NRA (National Restaurant Association) to continue to grow.  Millennials are leading the way in pizza purchasing power and Mintel is projecting them to account for 30% of all U.S. retail sales by 2020.

Millennials are a generation of foodies who want pizza, and they want it now.  To keep wait times down and quality up, many pizza restaurants are using pizza warming cabinets.  These pizza hot boxes are designed to keep pizza hot while maintaining a high quality, service ready product.  The millennial foodie is aware of the quality products that are available; They know and seek out new, intense flavors, and textures of artisan dishes.

It’s paramount that pizzerias keep the high-quality product that they are turning out of their kitchens all the way through the sales processes.  The investment and efforts that are put into the staple menu item should not be neglected in the few precious minutes before the customer bites into the slice.  80% of what makes that product great, is what happens between the oven and the plate.

Specially designed foodservice equipment such as pizza warmers, or holding cabinets, are TS-1633-36made to maintain safe food temperatures while keeping the pizza as hot and fresh as it is right out of the oven.  To do this, companies such as FWE / Food Warming Equipment have figured out the ideal temperature and humidity settings specifically for pizza.  FWE has found that maintaining and holding pizza at 150°F – 160°F with a relative humidity* of 15% – 20% will keep the pizza at an optimal serving quality.

FWE’s hot holding pizza cabinets come with something very unique in the industry; They have a small removable water pan located by the heating elements and an air circulating fan, that allows for just the right amount of vapor to lift out of the water and humidify the cabinet.  This heated holding environment is made with your pizza in mind.  Being product specific when designed means they have engineered the correct wattage for food temperature, along with the correct air to moisture levels to maintain product consistency.

As the pizza industry is sure to continue to feed the generations following the millennials, the consumers are going to seek faster service and higher quality.  Foodservice solutions are available to help as labor becomes difficult to find, and as customers become more informed and picky.  Something as simple as a pizza warmer cabinet can help you get and keep that slice of pizza industry business.

* the amount of water vapor present in air expressed as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature.

Pizza

Foodservice Equipment – Maintenance “Top 10” List

Maintenance is being treated as more than an afterthought in today’s restaurants, especially the big chains, and that’s a good thing.  The well-maintained restaurant is seen by all as a cleaner, safer place to eat and work.

Here is a Top 10 List to get you on your way to having a properly maintained kitchen:

  1. Read the warranty information supplied with each piece of new equipment to learn what the manufacturer recommends.
  2. Put all literature supplied in a three-ring binder.
  3. Assign the binder to managers and require new managers to review it.
  4. Prepare a one-page maintenance sheet and post it where it will be seen.
  5. List appropriate clean dates and a box to initial and date when cleaning is completed.
  6. Insist that managers pay attention to maintenance schedules.
  7. Post a list of local service agencies, their phone numbers, and which brands they cover.
  8. Upon start-up of a new facility, place a list in the front of the binder containing make, model, serial number and date, along with the service and warranty period for each piece of equipment.
  9. Set up service, cleaning, and inspection programs for all operational equipment with servicing agents.
  10. Set up a regular exhaust hood and duct cleaning program to prevent fires.

It is critical to get staff members involved in your company’s efforts to care for the equipment.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Reduce the damage caused by carelessness, abusive behavior, and vandalism by holding the staff accountable for the condition of the equipment when they complete a work shift.
  • Eliminate dents and gashes caused by carts and mobile equipment by providing adequate clearance around equipment. It’s not smart design to have people transporting items through what seems like a maze.
  • Protect equipment with rails, guards, and bumpers, which are offered as accessories, for both fixed and mobile appliances.
  • Catch little problems before they turn into big ones, with a weekly or monthly check of all kitchen workstations. Look for missing screws, damaged or worn wires and cords, bent panels or hinges. Get them corrected promptly.
  • Make your staff aware of what maintenance costs the restaurant. Make maintenance the topic of some staff meetings, in addition to training sessions. Solicit opinions from the staff about improvements that could be made.
  • Make an effort to get “clean” utilities—that is, do everything you can to protect equipment from power spikes with surge suppressors; treat or filter incoming water and air.

Source:
Katsigris, Costas, and Chris Thomas. Design and Equipment for Restaurants and Foodservice: A Management View. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009. Print.
George Zawacki, senior associate, Cini-Little International, Inc. First appeared in Equipment Solutions, a publication of Talcott Communications Corp., Chicago, Illinois (March 2004).

 

Don’t Let Them Go to Waste: 5 Steps to Kick-Starting Your Sustainability Efforts — Foodable Web TV Network

Source: Don’t Let Them Go to Waste: 5 Steps to Kick-Starting Your Sustainability Efforts — Foodable Web TV Network

By Tarah Schroeder, FCSI, principal at Ricca Design Studios

Creating a sustainability program can be overwhelming for foodservice operators, as it often brings up questions and conversations beyond the realm of foodservice. And with so much information available, it can be difficult for operators to sort through the noise and  know where or how to start.  If you truly respect innovation, creativity, people, and problem solving to include sustainability in your culture, then turning broad sustainability goals into reality requires thoughtful commitment and careful preparation. Developing a plan is the best way to truly reduce your impact to the environment, as well as build a stronger internal and external community. Read on to learn about the steps any foodservice operation can take to embrace sustainability.

  1. Include sustainability in your mission statement.

A mission statement is a company’s touchstone, providing guiding principles that inform company objectives. Any restaurant or operation that wants to be more sustainable must start here to truly effect change in its culture before it can create achievable goals. Categories can include:

  • Resources — water and energy reduction
  • Community — waste as a resource, gardens, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • Health — healthy menu options, healthy work environment

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, a Colorado-based quick service restaurant chain serving breakfast and lunch, has created a mission statement of People, Profit, Planet, Pancakes to reflect both their culture and dedication to sustainability.  It is no wonder that they have high employee participation in waste reduction and energy-saving initiatives.

  1. Create a Baseline.

 

A baseline lets you know where you stand before making commitments on how to do lightsbetter. In the past, the first step would have been to look at peers’ energy performance. However, it is now understood that differences in menu, operations, and style of service, make it too difficult and inaccurate to compare restaurants to each other.

It is better for restaurants to develop their own baseline from which they can improve upon, such as audits for existing restaurants and energy models for new projects. There are varying levels of energy assessment. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has created three levels of audits on their website.

A level one audit is an internal checklist that starts with utility bills, and then continues to building characteristics, such as lighting, refrigeration, kitchen ventilation, and cooking equipment.  A checklist can be used in conjunction with infrared thermometers and plug load data loggers, and many utility companies offer audit assistance. Overall, understanding these existing conditions are important because they provide a basis for recommending energy and water conservation measures.

A waste audit can be conducted much the same way, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has resources here. The first steps to creating a waste baseline are thinking about where your waste is going, how much and what type of waste is being generated, and where the majority of waste is coming from (pre-consumer versus post-consumer).

  1. Write a Performance Plan.

A performance plan translates sustainability goals into an action plan.  It takes short-term goals, such as retrofit and replacement decisions, and long-term goals, such as smart energy targets that can be reviewed and updated, and puts them into practice. Some examples of strategies for short-term goals include: implementing procedures to assure manual shutoff of systems after hours, timer shut-offs for load shedding, or consolidating preventative maintenance of like equipment. The Foodservice Technology Center is a great resource for strategies.

Long-term goals can be created based upon the baseline information with deadlines further down the road. For example, the goal might be to reduce energy use by 5 percent in four years. The strategies to achieve these goals could include a capital replacement program to purchase Energy Star-rated cooking and refrigeration appliances for replacement of old appliances on a life cycle cost basis, upgrading building automation system or metering to include kitchen systems, or creating a design protocol for any new buildings or projects that come online.

Harvard University was one of the first higher-education facilities to create a performance plan that had specific sections on dining services. This was due in large part to the President’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2016. Some strategies they used to contribute to this long-term goal included:

  • New dishwashers that have saved over 500,000 gallons of hot water annually
  • 150-gallon stainless steel storage tank for waste vegetable oil
  • Diverting more than 95 percent of construction and demolition “waste” from landfills
  • Peak demand exhaust hood controls
  • Large skylights to improve lighting

 

Foodservice PotHere’s a simple step-by-step breakdown for creating performance plans:

  • Step One: Make a commitment
  • Step Two: Assess performance
  • Step Three: Create an action plan
  • Step Four: Implement the action plan
  • Step Five: Evaluate progress
  • Step Six: Recognize achievements
  1. Bring the right people together.

Sustainability champions are key to the success of any initiative, as they are enthusiastic about making change and will ensure that the conversation always stays relevant.

When building their new headquarters in Houston, Exxon Mobil wanted to make sure that sustainability and safety were important components of the overall project.  A sustainability group that included operations, maintenance, and design team members was formed to review high-level decisions from an environmental impact point of view. Capital improvements such as waste to energy strategies, that are often value engineered out of a new project, remained intact and contribute to a successful operation today.

  1. Re-evaluate and re-assess.

A plan can only work if it is constantly being updated and revised based upon current trends, culture, and circumstances.  If you take the initiative to follow these steps, the only way to keep it relevant is through re-evaluating and re-assessing your goals and strategies.

It is these purposeful steps that will help you create a culture shift that is focused on sustainability.