Foodservice sites have had to think on the hoof and rapidly adapt to a new way of working, in order to re-open after lockdown. So with social distancing necessitating extra area in which to fit the kitchen brigade, could shelving and storage systems come to the rescue of space saving? And if so, what should catering equipment dealers take note of?
According to Jestic Foodservice Solutions sales director Steve Morris: “Operators are having to work smarter to keep staff safe and comply with social distancing in their kitchens. With space at premium, storage and workstation solutions can help maximise social distancing whilst maintaining an efficient workflow.”
The supplier imports the Metro brand of commercial kitchen shelving into the UK, and is reporting that Metro’s SmartLever Productivity System is helping operators to maximise the available space in their kitchens and other areas, so staff can work efficiently and at a safe distance from their colleagues, in line with coronavirus social distancing regulations.
SmartLever is a shelving system which is designed to be quick and easy to install and enable operators to set up individual workstations and storage areas in virtually any space. The flexible system can be configured to suit each operations’ needs, requires no wall fixings, and should provide unobstructed access to the shelves and work surfaces, which can mean 30-50% more storage capacity versus four post shelving in the same footprint.
Morris commented: “With no posts in the way, products are also easy to see and easy to access. SmartLever systems are constructed from heavy gauge, epoxy coated steel and come with the reassurance of a 10 year limited warranty.”
Another Metro product which could help to maximise social distancing within kitchens is PrepMate – a portable, multifunctional workstation which can be wheeled to any location, enabling chefs to perform a variety of prep tasks at a safe distance from other staff, designed in what could be a space-saving footprint.
Over at FEM, it imports the US-based Cambro brand into this country. The Cambro elements and premium Camshelving series are ranges of modular shelf components that can be used to build a bespoke shelving system. Designed to withstand high volume operations, these units are said to be simple to assemble and easy to adjust to suit changing storage needs.
FEM’s commercial director Mark Hogan believes: “The Elements and premium Camshelving systems allow operators to create the ideal storage system with the space available to them. With dishwasher-safe shelf plates including moulded-in antimicrobial protection, it’s easy to keep clean and hygienic. Configuration options like L-, U- and T-shapes allow operators to maximise the available space and can help with social distancing.”
Meanwhile, the Cambro mobile high-density system is claimed to increase storage by up to 50%, by using mobile trolleys on a floor track, which should allow more ingredients to be stored in a smaller area without compromising staff access.
But perhaps an overlooked method for optimising storage space is to use wall fixtures and fittings. For instance, Cambro wall shelves can be placed above work stations, sinks and other high use areas, expanding storage space while reducing the need for movement, as staff should have easy access to everything they need. They are designed to be able to cope with temperatures up to 88°C, and the I-beams can support up to 68kg, creating a secure holding system for cookware and utensils, cleaning supplies or ingredients.
For the Metro brand, Jestic’s Morris asserted: “Wall space is often underutilised in commercial kitchens, and with space at a premium, Metro SmartWall, with its system of integrated wall tracks, offers the flexibility to add wall shelving and wall mounted task stations where needed.
“Utilising the SmartWall system around and above sinks, work tables and equipment will keep these areas cleaner and more organised. A wide variety of shelves, containers and specialised accessories can be added to a base grid, all of which incorporate Microban antimicrobial protection to maintain hygiene standards.”
Hygiene has indeed rocketed up the priority list of most foodservice sites, so how could the design and construction of storage systems or fabrications help with kitchen hygiene considerations?
Morris emphasised: “MetroMax Q shelving is an advanced polymer shelving system offering outstanding strength, durability and flexibility which also features easy to clean removable shelf mats which can be cleaned in a sink or commercial washer.
“Microban Antimicrobial Product Protection is built into the shelf mats and posts to inhibit the growth of bacteria, so the shelves stay cleaner between cleanings.”
While at FEM, Hogan underlined: “Ensuring that storage structures are easy to clean and difficult to make dirty is vital. For example, Cambro’s Camshelving is constructed with smooth polypropylene and uses a weldless construction system, stopping liquids and dirt from getting into crevices. The shelf plates incorporate Camguard silver-ion antimicrobial technology that inhibits the growth of bacteria, and the ventless shelf design allows for maximum airflow around perishables. These features help to make HACCP compliance easier. The shelf plates are easily removable and can be washed in a commercial dishwasher.”
He further reported: “There has been a substantial increase in dealers looking for more hygienic and cost-effective storage solutions. The Cambro Elements and Premium ranges have been particularly popular, due to the Camshelving promise of a lifetime warranty against rust and corrosion. This has been a particular pull for dealers as having a rust-free environment is now even more vital than ever before for a sanitary, HACCP-compliant operation.”
Back at Jestic, Morris concluded: “At a time when many foodservice businesses have had to adapt their offering by upscaling their delivery and takeaway options, dealers are increasingly specifying Metro products to help QSR and fast food operators improve the flow of takeaway order staging and streamlining delivery and collection preparation processes.
“Metro Order Staging Units, for example, are the perfect solution for the preparation of home delivery orders and are also ideal for storing supplies – whilst To-Go-Stations feature angled 18” x 36” shelves to improve visibility and accessibility, making it easy for delivery drivers or customers to pick up orders front of house.”