A solution to the catering equipment energy dispute?

Could a catering equipment database run by an organisation in Germany improve the lack of transparency over manufacturers’ energy consumption figures? Catering Insight investigates.

For all the advances that have taken place in foodservice technology, there would still appear to be no single, definitive place for customers to source independent verification of energy consumption data.

So emotive is the subject of equipment energy usage today that some might argue the brands care more about it than the end-customers who, in the main, just want to know if a product is going to cost less to run than their last, and how it stacks up against similar appliances.

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You can understand manufacturers’ obsession with it, though. Energy efficiency and sustainability now form key components of the buying criteria and if a manufacturer is adamant its kit is superior, it can be galling to hear others making claims or counter-claims that don’t necessarily stack up.

Multifunctional cooking systems specialist Frima believes there is a way to end the dispute over energy data comparisons once and for all, and it recently called on catering equipment manufacturers to play their part.

The manufacturer insists the German-based HKI Cert database is the authoritative source of comparative energy consumption figures that the industry has been looking for.

HKI is an abbreviation of the ‘Industrial Association for House, Heating and Kitchen Technology’, and it set up the database to “create a platform for information for the objective comparison of energy-related product data.”

The HKI Cert database figures are based on the recent German series of standards, DIN 18873, which relate specifically to measuring the energy use of equipment for commercial kitchens.

DIN, the German Institute for Standardisation, says the standard is intended to give buyers the opportunity to select commercial kitchen equipment which “meets their needs and is cost-effective.”

Frima is owned by Rational, which is German of course, so its allegiance to the HKI database is no surprise, but the company insists that the “unbiased” format of the service is the reason why other catering equipment manufacturers should find it compelling to join.

“Every catering equipment buyer wants comparative data on energy consumption, and every manufacturer says they support it — yet not many are putting their money where their mouths are,” says Graham Kille, managing director of Frima UK.

“We joined the HKI database in May 2013, but not enough manufacturers have. In fact, Frima’s is the only multifunction appliance on the website. I can see no reason for manufacturers not to share their energy efficiency information on the HKI database, other than poor performance.”

The database is online and available in both German and English versions.

“Lots of manufacturers bemoan the fact that the Energy Related Products Directive is taking so long to be implemented,” said Kille. “Until it does, which could be many years away for some catering equipment sectors, HKI provides a credible, authoritative alternative. The database gives UK catering equipment specifiers, distributors and customers what they want — fair and square comparative consumption figures. It’s time for the catering equipment industry to stand up and be counted.”

Alex Zylberberg, director at canopy maker Jeven, agrees with Frima’s assertions. He says Jeven has already done the German tests and published the results. “These days everyone wants to say that their products are energy efficient, but few can actually prove it,” he says.

But Peter Kitchin, MD of C&C Catering Equipment, said that while the prospect of manufacturers joining the HKI database was a nice idea, he can’t see it happening.

“We have been trying to sort this for years. During my time at CEDA we worked closely with the FCSI and CESA and even had a group formed. Trouble is, CESA has members with inefficient equipment as well as members with very efficient equipment. CESA has to represent and support all members, good and bad, so I would very much doubt this database will happen.”

FAQ: The HKI Cert Database

What is the HKI Cert database?
A commercial catering equipment database that provides information about the energy consumption of commercial kitchen appliances.

Why was it created?
As we all know, the energy consumption of products is increasingly becoming the focus of interest of customers and policy makers. Consequently, HKI Industrial Association for House, Heating and Kitchen Technology, together with its members, set the goal to create a platform for information for the objective comparison of energy-related product data.

Who can access the database?
Operators, vendors, kitchen planners and other interested parties can all gain access to the information fre of charge and compare energy-related data.

How is the energy data verified?
The necessary data is collected by certified laboratories on the basis of applicable DIN standards to ensure accuracy and comparability for all registered devices.

Who can join the database?
HKI offers all manufacturers of commercial catering equipment the opportunity to register their products into the database and — as an independent and neutral body — ensures its reliability.

How can a company obtain registration information?
The basic principles and requirements for registration of catering equipment into the database are available by emailing cert@hki-online.de. The 18-page document containing registration information is also available on the website at www.grosskuechen.cert.hki-online.de. The document was updated as recently as April 2014.

How much does it cost to register a product?
For HKI members, costs of registration and entry of commercial kitchen appliances in the database are covered by the membership fee. To cover costs, the fee for non-members is €600 (£477m) for each commercial kitchen appliance the first year beginning with the entry, and a fee of €300 (£239m) each the following years. In cases where there are more than three commercial kitchen appliances to be entered, non-members are requested to contact the association as a discount is possible.

Not all categories of catering equipment are covered under the database. Will that change?
There are currently 14 categories, although only seven appear to contain data from manufacturers at present. HKI plans to expand the database to include other product groups in future.

Methodology

As an example of the measurement data required of equipment manufacturers, here is the DIN methodology for convection ovens:

– Time needed to heat up to 180°C (min)
– Energy consumption to heat up (kWh)
– Energy consumption without load conditions (kWh)
– Energy consumption in convection mode without steam injection (kWh)
– Water consumption under load with steam injection (kg)
– Energy consumption in convection mode with steam injection (kWh)
– Water consumption under load with steam injection (kg)

Database categories

– Refrigerated display cases for food distribution
– Convection steamers
– Commercial coffee machines
– Deep fat fryers
– Convection ovens
– Tilting frying pans and stationary frying pan
– Tilting pressure braising pans and stationary pressure braising pans
– Multiple deck ovens
– Regenerating systems
– Cooking zones
– Ice machines
– Beverage coolers
– Ovens
– Microwave combination ovens

Brand coverage

Up to now, the majority of catering equipment manufacturers with products registered in the HKI Cert database are understood to be from Germany. The companies listed on the website include Franke, WMF, Rational, Schaerer, MKN, Sielaff, Melitta, Jura, Eloma, Carimali, Frima and Convotherm.

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