How to Create an “Efficient” Dishroom for Your Operation Today
— September 29, 2016
In my travels as the Hobart rep over the last 14 years in Indiana I have noticed several things about how the dishroom layouts of old really do not work for the operations of today. So many times I will go into a dishroom and see 2-3 different scrapping stations, dishmachines with pre-wash tanks, small clean tables, and more. One thing that remains constant with all of these is that these dishrooms were designed at a time when labor was plentiful and the costs associated to run the dishrooms properly did not create undue hardships on the corporation as a whole. Additionally, all of these facilities oftentimes were washing regular plates, glasses, silverware, and now that even has changed affecting the type and amount of ware washed in the dishroom.
Summarized below are the Key Driving Forces requiring dishroom updates:
- Reduced labor available for warewashing
- The Amount of Time available to wash ware has reduced
- Energy Efficient Requirements/Suggestions on saving money and reducing costs have risen
- The Type of ware has changed
- More trash of paper and Styrofoam goods
- How to Be proper stewards of the environment and the demands with such
- Increased scrutiny by community have made recycling programs have become prevalent
Suggested Solutions for each driving force in “Warewashing” Tips by Tim:
Reduced Labor Available for Warewashing
Back in the day there were far more dedicated “dishroom-specific” employees that were solely responsible for washing, sorting, cleaning, and storing all of the ware and trash associated with the warewashing operation. That is not the case in most operations today. In fact, most operations today use “floating” positions that tackle all different parts of the operation and require employees to be “cross-trained.” There are many dishroom operations that were designed for 2 plus employees and such operations in many cases had dishmachines that were designed to be operated with more than 1 employee to properly operate them. As a result of labor constraints, it is essential to design your dishroom operation to effectively operate with only 1 employee if need be. For many larger schools that were designed with “Flight-Type” style dishmachines, which are designed to operate with a minimum of 2 employees, these systems now create major issues that can increase the opportunity for slips and falls, increase worker fatigue, and more.
SIMPLIFY YOUR OPERATIONS BY:
Incorporating all warewashing functions into one central warewashing area to include pots and pans
- Many kitchen layouts of old would normally consist of a “decentralized” and “separate” pot and pan washing area that would typically be located closest to the cooking lineups. This is a nice idea, however, with limited labor available for warewashing this operation is best incorporated into the main “dishroom” area. It is my recommendation to incorporate a “soiled” soaking sink into the soiled tabling of your dishroom so that heavily-soiled pots and pans can soak to loosen up baked on food soil and then be washed easily and ergonomically through the dish machine.
Design your dishroom around the number of employees you have allotted to operate it.
- For example: In the below pictures you will see Figure 1 is a system that was designed 20 plus years ago that requires a minimum of 2 employees (most likely 3-4) to operate, whereas, the system in Figure 2 is a system designed 3 years ago that replaced a “Flight Style” machine that can be operated bare bones with 1 person if needed.
The Amount of Time Available to wash ware has reduced
In addition to the reduction of employees dedicated to the warewash function, the window in which all ware needs to be washed and the warewashing function completed has drastically shrunk as well resulting in the essential need to purchase a machine that will provide the optimum “Throughput” of ware to complete the function in the shortest amount of time. The standard at which dishmachines are rated for speed is a term called “Racks per hour.” For example, a basic door-style machine will be rated for roughly 60 racks per hour meaning that it will take 1 minute to complete the washing and sanitizing function of 1 dishrack of ware. You then need to determine the amount of ware that will fit per rack. For simplicity’s sake a dishrack will old roughly 10 trays (give or take a couple depending on size).
Therefore, if you have an elementary school with 400 kids and you have a total of 400 trays you would have a total of 40 racks worth of trays to wash at the end of the day.That function (not including loading and unloading of the racks) would take you 40 minutes in a basic door-style machine.
If you focus on throughput and realize that while the capacity of (60 racks per hour) is sufficient for your needs, but determine that the 40 minutes required to wash that ware at the end of the day when it is all piled up then determine it would be a much better idea to move up to smallest “conveyor” machine which will automatically move the dish racks through the dishmachine from soiled to clean side. Most of these machines start at 200 racks per hour and go up to 340 plus racks per hour depending on size. If we take the most basic at 200 racks per hour and apply that same “Capacity Multiplier” to the 40 racks of trays needing to be washed that same amount of ware would be finished in 12 minutes (in lieu of the 40 minutes above).
As you can see “capacity” in schools is very rarely fully utilized due to the fact there are very rarely dedicated employees that run the dishroom all day long. As a result, it is IMPERATIVE to focus on just how quickly you can wash all the ware you have when you START the warewashing function and therefore you MUST turn the focus to “THROUGHPUT!”
EXAMPLES OF WHAT THESE MACHINES LOOK LIKE FOR REFERENCE:
Energy Efficient Requirements/Suggestions on saving money and reducing costs have risen
Most every dishmachine manufacturer now meets “Energy-Star” rating guidelines. As a rule of thumb you should NOT consider any dishmachine that does not meet these requirements. This is the MINIMUM standard that should be applied to all purchases unless there is not a standard for a given category of dishmachines. Ask your trusted sales partners to provide “Energy Audits” estimating the annual operating savings that you can show to your business managers and other corporation counterparts to enhance the “payback” proposal for purchasing a more efficient replacement. Also, note that there are many energy companies such as Duke Energy that now have stream-lined energy rebates for replacing “Non Energy Star” dishmachines with machines that are “Energy-Star” rated.
FOR EXAMPLE: DUKE ENERGY CUSTOMERS WILL RECEIVE THE FOLLOWING…
SINGLE-TANK DOOR TYPE $700
SINGLE-TANK CONVEYOR $1000
MULTI-TANK CONVEYOR $1500
**Note: Check with your local Utility company to see what rebates may apply
The Type of ware has changed
As we are all aware the type of ware that was washed 10, 20, and 30 years ago continues to evolve in school foodservice operations. While many operations in the distant past would wash ceramic plates, glasses, bowls, silverware, pots/pans and more, most operations now have more paper and disposable waste the contend with, but have a drastically reduced amount of ware needed to be washed. Many operations have even abandoned the typical “compartmentalized tray” and have opted for the basic flat “Fast-Food Tray” which has drastically reduced the amount of ware required to be washed each day. In addition to the type of ware creating a need to properly “size” the dishmachine for throughput, you must also determine if there is a need to add a BLOWER DRYER to help assist in the drying process of the ware being washed. Most plastic trays do NOT dry very well at all and a Heated Blower Dryer will drastically reduce the amount of standing water on ware after it is washed. As a result of this change it is VERY important to size the proper machine based upon your current and future projected warewashing needs, but do NOT simply replace a like for like without studying this in detail.
Increased amounts of Trash (Paper/Styrofoam/Plastic/Food)
It is vitally important that you study the amount of trash your foodservice operation generates each and every day to properly account for the best vehicle to not only reduce the environmental impact, but also reduce your operational costs by reducing this trash to a minimum.
There are several categories of waste and each has a different and possibly more effective piece of equipment to most effectively solve the issue at hand. These are broken down into the following categories:
Food Waste Reduction
- The most common way most facilities reduce food waste is by adding “Food Waste Disposers” which ultimately grind up food waste into small particles and send this waste into the local sewer system. One thing to consider is whether or not the local municipality (governing body taking care of the local sewer system) still allows food waste disposers. Some are banning these in certain areas and if that is the case there are other options to consider that will not hinder your scrapping operations in your dishroom, but provide a different vehicle to handle the food waste.
- Should a municipality not allow disposers or your facility personnel not want the added strain on the building drainage system then one such option to replace these disposers with is a “Food Waste Collector.” These simply recirculate some of the soiled water for scrapping and have a large scrap basket that will capture the soiled food waste, paper waste, etc. that is scrapped off the ware. This basket is then simply discarded into a trash can.
- If your facility is looking deeply at reducing the amount of trash to include reducing the amount of paper goods from your cafeteria (boats, cups, bowls, etc.) along with any Styrofoam trays one such piece of equipment to tackle these items along with food waste all while recirculating “gray soiled water” in lieu of a fresh-water feed on a disposer then a “Pulper” is a piece of equipment to consider. Pulpers include a two-stage process in which the first stage all this waste is ground up into small pieces and then sent to a “water-press” that then presses all the water out of the product and it comes out combined into a product called a “Pulp.” If the only bio-degradable products are used in your operation this Pulp can even be turned into very nutrient-rich compost by adding a “dehydrator” to the equation. It is best to consult an expert to size these systems properly for you.
- If your facility uses all Styrofoam trays and you have a mass amount of non-biodegradable trays entering the trash cycle from your operations, you want to consider looking at a product that will melt these trays into large plastic bricks. These plastic bricks can then be either shipped out and then get full recycled or you can use these in your school systems for various projects. Some schools have even used these for art class projects. Ask around to some of your peers and ask an expert on these items.
Increased Scrutiny of Recycling Programs
In the past recycling was an after-thought for students and operators, however, today these programs continue to gain traction with not only the foodservice operations, but the Students themselves. Students continue to drive implementation of these programs and it is very important when implementing a thorough waste management program in your operations to study the possibility of implementing a recycling program that can not only have a positive environmental impact, but add revenue to your bottom lines!
In closing, your warewashing and waste operations are NOT the glamorous positions such as cooks or servers, but these operations are essential in creating a safe, effective, efficient, and operationally friendly environment for your entire foodservice operations. It is crucial when researching replacements of existing dishrooms or adding new operations, that you study in detail the above six crucial factors to determine the proper pieces of equipment to effectively tackle every part of your warewashing and waste operations. There are many highly-trained individuals in our market that can help guide you through this process. Seek out a “Trusted Partner” to assist you and make that person or company “Earn” your business by providing “Value” to your operation as you see it in your eyes. Myself or any of the HRI, Inc. team members would love to assist and serve you in any way possible.