While catering equipment distributors realise that water filtration is an integral part of many appliances they specify, it could be argued that their in-depth knowledge of these requirements could do with improvement.
For Richard Stephenson, marketing manager at water purification product supplier Aqua Cure: “It’s clear from discussions with catering service companies and contact relating to machine issues that water treatment is still regarded as something of a black art. We continue to hear myths like ‘scale treatment is not effective above 350ppm’ etc. which indicate how misunderstood this area still is.”
He feels that this is a challenge, as water treatment is an area where knowledge of the issues is required to recommend the right products. “There is no one size fits all solution: a hard water filter is not appropriate in a soft water area and though following basic principles can get you part way there, ultimately we’d always recommend speaking to an expert,” he advised.
To address this, Aqua Cure is working to educate catering equipment dealers on suitable water treatment. This includes assembling an online knowledge base – effectively a series of ‘how to’ guides – as well as including a guide in its free trade catalogue.
Stephenson encouraged distributors: “Equipping appliances with water treatment provides plenty of benefits in terms of improved end product quality, but the biggest benefit is in medium/long term cost savings.
“I’m sure a lot of businesses find that equipment downtime, remedial repairs and descaling are a significant expense, not to mention a massive inconvenience. The correct water treatment reduces downtime and improves productivity and efficiency, and this is before factoring in the cost of replacing a damaged machine. Both scale build up and internal corrosion can irreparably damage foodservice equipment and both can be substantially prevented by specifying the correct treatment of feed water.”
He added: “Besides acting as preventative maintenance, water treatment can also improve the quality of the end product, reducing chlorine taste and odour in hot drinks and producing beverages of consistent quality. In warewashing applications the correct water treatment can also reduce streaks on glassware and cutlery.”
Aqua Cure is looking to connect with distributors for more than just orders. “We take a proactive approach to ensure that what was working for them a year ago is still working for them now and are always available to offer impartial advice and this helps to build valuable and trusting relationships,” said Stephenson. “Many of our customers are advising the end user, so it is important that we educate them so they can pass the knowledge on.
“An example of this was where one of our distributors passed on our advice to a major national service company and suggested they split their estate between hard water and soft water treatment based on postcode. This saved cost in the soft water areas and prevented the potential problems which can occur when hard water filtration is used in a soft water area.”
Stephenson concluded: “The need for the correct filtration is the reason you can’t just shift boxes in this market. Distributors have to understand their customer’s application and water type. With lots of smaller players in the market and several levels in the chain, specifying water treatment can sometimes feel like a bit of a minefield.”
Brita Professional too is doing its bit to educate the dealer community. “There certainly is a thirst for knowledge from our professional business partners,” reported sales director, Glenn Roberts. “Distributors often approach us to expand their understanding of water filtration for catering equipment, and ensure they are fully informed about the latest technology and products in the market.
“In order to accurately recommend the correct water treatment, it is vital for distributors to conduct a full analysis of the water supply. This means testing the local water before installing and exchanging every water filter. This step is sometimes overlooked, so we work with our partners to ensure they have the right knowledge and tools to test the local water, so the perfect solution is installed every time.”
The manufacturer conducted research with The Craft Guild of Chefs which suggested that 63% of professional chefs are unaware that untreated water can cause a combi oven to breakdown, with 59% of them considering their knowledge of water treatment to be poor or average.
“The very best water is needed for perfectly functioning appliances and producing the finest dishes,” emphasised Roberts. “Our filters are specifically tailored to suit the requirements of the catering sector. They prevent the build-up of deposits such as limescale on and in sensitive nozzles and in the cooking chamber, as well as glass corrosion of viewing windows in combination ovens. This in turn prevents machine damage, and service and repair costs are reduced.
“Water quality dramatically impacts the use, efficiency and lifecycle of catering equipment and is vital to the quality of the end product. We therefore recommend a thorough analysis of the water in the local area should be conducted upon installation of the new machine. Water quality can be tested using Brita water hardness test kits, and then by referring to the Brita website or manuals.”
He underlined: “There are several variables that need to be taken into account for water filtration including cartridge capacity, volume of water going through the machine and the make-up of local water. We offer free advice on water quality around the UK and a simple phone call could help make sure the right filter is used.”
Brita also provides free training at its Water University, available on a monthly basis to anyone in the catering industry, either at its offices in Bicester or by visiting site.
The training includes summaries of water’s composition, problems which can arise with water in catering and beverage equipment, how to test water, what to watch out for, specific solutions for water quality and equipment types, plus how to maintain water quality.