Nerves of steel

“If you look at some of the fabricators over the last five years, since the crisis really hit, manufacturing standards have been significantly reduced in order to meet the price expectancy from the client and what has been demanded from the construction contractors. The market has been heading in the direction of constantly more for less; working harder and harder, and just trying to bring the net cost down.”

Given that gloomy assessment of the state of the fabrication sector you might wonder exactly what Julian Shine is doing setting up Hyginox UK, a company that will provide modular and bespoke fabrication to foodservice operators in the UK market.

But he is confident that Hyginox is able to bring something different to the table due to its claim that it will offer the first commercially-viable H2 hygiene specification compliant stainless steel counter fabrication in the UK. “This fabrication is built to the H2 DIN standard, which is the higher industry norm standard for hygiene of cabinetry,” Shine explains.

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“What this means is that it is ideal for high risk food environments, such as hospitals, and we see it being used in fine dining, five-star hotels and the top end of B&I. This product is never going to go into schools, pubs or small restaurants because it is a premium product and there is cost to it.”

The product that Hyginox will market in the UK and Ireland is made by Steelnovo, a 30-year-old Italian producer of quality stainless steel systems that the company has struck an exclusive partnership with.

Hyginox UK will import H2 specification cupboard units and counters directly from Italy, and carry out bespoke work in the UK where necessary.

“The great thing about this product is that our partner has invested many millions of euros in the development of it,” says Shine, pointing out that inspiration has been drawn from the automotive industry to develop algorithms that allow body sizes to be produced to suit. “It is not going to be a 900, 1200, 1500 and 1800 range. If you want it 927mm or 928mm you can have it 927mm or 928mm,” he remarks.

Units are constructed using the latest robotic laser welding techniques, while welding is carried out from the inside of the cabinet to create an absolutely perfect seal. A strong emphasis rests on making sure that mechanical and electrical services are easily accessible post-installation, and an application of a super hard wearing, transparent coating with built-in Biomaster Protection to repel bacteria is also available to customers.

Shine is convinced that there is a market for a fabrication solution that provides something superior to the monocoque designs prevalent today, and he has already begun opening dialogue with foodservice design consultants to discuss its merits.

Given that the product is targeted at the higher end of the market, as well as catering applications requiring the greatest standards of cleanliness, the success of Hyginox will depend heavily on how widely its offering is specified.

Price-wise, Shine says the fabrication is likely to be no more than 10% to 15% more expensive than what he calls traditional fully-cladded six-sided box tube structures.

“It is not going to be hugely more expensive than standard quality fabrication, but it isn’t ever going to compete or come anywhere near the monocoque style of fabrication — the cheap and cheerful stuff,” he says. “However, it will compete with the quality fabrication. And what it brings is absolute confidence on the level of hygiene that you can maintain within your kitchen facility.”

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One point that Shine is keen to make clear is that Hyginox UK is a completely separate entity to his Newport-based distribution business, Shine Food Machinery.

“It is certainly important that it is acknowledged as an independent entity because there will be a bit of reticence from the distribution chains to look at if it isn’t a separate company,” admits Shine. “They are going to be a little bit worried about describing it or specifying it if they think it is going to give Shine an unfair advantage. It is going to be guaranteed that no company — and that includes Shine — will receive beneficial costings in the market place. There will be one cost for the product and that cost will be right across the market place.”

As you would expect, though, Shine Food Machinery is likely to be one of Hyginox’s main customers, at least to begin with. Shine has already had the luxury of being able to assess the product prior to its official launch by using it in projects that it has carried out.

“We have tested it and we have actually got our sixth installation due to be completed at the end of the month,” he says. “To be honest, they were on contracts that we had already secured at a price, so we have actually used them as loss leaders and proving grounds, just to make sure that the product works and is fully accepted by the client — and it has proven so.”

As Hyginox looks to make its way in the market, the one thing it doesn’t intend to do is begin manufacturing for third parties or carry out turnkey contracts. Shine is adamant that the company’s route to market is consistent and transparent: “Hyginox will be a manufacturer and supplier to the rest of the distribution chain,” he says.

For Hyginox, the immediate priority is to get the product in front of specifiers and communicate the benefits of it versus other solutions, so that six months to a year down the line it finds itself written into projects.

“We understand the gestation period of construction contracts, and the periods of development from design through to installation, so we are not looking for a barnstorming performance from the outset. But it is very exciting to be doing something different,” comments Shine. “We have always come from the distribution arm as a specialist contractor to the construction industry. Now, with this new company, we are actually looking at things as a manufacturer.”

What you need to know about Hyginox UK

Construction

Hyginox UK H2 specification has a one piece base, back and sides internal structure with continuous seam laser welding performed by robots for the highest precision. Lower edges of the chamber have a 15mm radius with flat rounded corners to the front face. Hydrinox says the tank is welded from the inside to eliminate hairline cracks associated with welding from the rear face.

Modules

Hyginox UK is available in heated or ambient sections and suites with an extensive range of chilled and frozen storage cabinets. Technical compartments and matching wall mounted cupboards complete the range, while tabling and ancillaries are also available. Modules are available in any length from 400mm to 2000mm and in three body heights and depths.

Ranges

Three distinct topwork types are available that can be tailored to a customer’s exact requirements. Back-of-house counters utilise topwork that contains mechanical and electrical services presented to a rear raceway. Front-of-house counter sections use topwork that creates a thermal barrier between the inset counter top display and the under section, routing services to an integral raceway, while bar service incorporates worktop task lighting.

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