This month will hopefully see many foodservice sites return to operation when the lockdown restrictions ease. But getting catering equipment up and running again isn’t just a matter of flipping a switch, and therefore many appliances may be relying on water filtration systems to help in this regard.
So how can dealer and the rest of the supply chain help? Brita Professional’s sales director Steve Buckmaster explained: “One of the biggest challenges for end users is preventing premature equipment breakdowns. For equipment that uses water, such as a combi oven, the most common reason for breakdowns is the build-up of limescale.
“Dealers should emphasise how this can be prevented with the correct maintenance; installing a water filter helps to eliminate the particles and minerals likely to cause limescale build-up. As a result, this can help prolong the equipment’s lifespan, enabling it to function efficiently and reduce unexpected breakdown costs during this crisis period.”
Buckmaster further underlined: “After periods of equipment not being used, it’s important that the water filter is flushed through before sites are re-opened and that the age of the filter is checked and exchanged if necessary. Many businesses will struggle to manage all of this in-house before re-opening, which is why outsourced servicing and filter management is becoming a popular option.”
Brita itself offers a specialist filter management service to advise on the correct filter and when to carry out essential filter changes.
He concluded: “With the likelihood of kitchens having less staff, to adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines there will be increased pressure to be more efficient. If equipment goes down, kitchens will struggle with time and additional profit losses, therefore, in today’s current climate, preventative maintenance could not be more important.”
Stuart Godfrey, business development manager at water treatment specialist Aqua Cure had some further advice: “Filtration is important but the emphasis needs to be on sanitation. Bacteria and virus reduction are extremely prominent right now – water filtration alongside a stringent cleaning regime offers protection for the consumer that the water is clean, clear and has been treated to remove any contaminants either water borne or on surfaces and touch points.
“Water filters now have the capability to add and remove certain elements from the water. This means you can remove contaminants but also tailor the product water for consumption, providing true consistency across an estate not only in cleanliness but also in taste.”
Godfrey believes: “Given there are water treatment solutions to solve every budget, water treatment should not be a luxury depending on the circumstance. Some of the higher end systems could be deemed a want rather than a need, but our opinion is that consumer necessity is driven by the requirements of the water profile.”
Aqua Cure feels it can help dealers and end users by identifying the water profile a foodservice site is looking to achieve, the type of equipment it’s for, and factoring in a hard or soft water location, to form a recommendation.
Over at European WaterCare, marketing manager Anna Parrish reported that the firm advised foodservice sites on how to shut down their appliances at the beginning of the lockdown, and is now helping with recommissioning.
For coffee machines or combi ovens that have been unused for a period of time, WaterCare recommended its IX-type water filters need to be cleansed by disconnecting the outlet hose and flushing through into a drainage bucket, with the same method applying to its CTU filters, albeit flushing five times the volume of resin through them.
Parrish underlined: “Establishments that remained open such as hospitals and care homes needed to run efficiently so that no breakdowns occurred, as it was very difficult to get technicians in to repair there. Having water filters and softeners fitted would have helped. Equipment that was not protected from water related issues would have been at risk of breakdown and it may not have been possible to get the equipment repaired when we were in first stages of lockdown.”
She believes that water filtration should be considered a necessity “because it is preventative maintenance”, adding: “It is far more cost effective to have catering equipment equipped with water treatment to prevent water-related issues causing breakdown and downtime, resulting in loss of revenue, than having to replace the expensive appliances.”
Filtered water system supplier EcoPure Waters believes that the foodservice industry should continue to consider sustainability once sites get back up and running. MD Paul Proctor commented: “The enforced closure has given organisations the time to rethink important aspects of their operations and, in many cases, to invest in a more sustainable future. Many organisations are now turning to mains water filtration systems that create an endless supply of chilled still and sparkling drinking water for serving in reusable, own-brand glass bottles.”
He added: “If sites filter their own drinking water and serve it in multi-use glass bottles, there are a number of environmental benefits over bought-in water in single-use bottles: it eliminates single-use plastic bottles; it lowers carbon footprint; it avoids waste and recycling; and it reduces food miles.”
Likewise, WET Global produces ‘Pure Ionic Water’ for the Water Smart Foundation. WET’s Michael Adams analysed: “When equipment has been out of use, water can sit in pipes creating a risk of contamination. WET Global’s water systems prevent virus and bacteria from residing in water using sophisticated water technology, the 03 Ionic process. Water is passed through a semi-impermeable membrane to separate foreign bodies purifying to a level so high that this patented technology is used in dental and medical facilities.”
He continued: “The hospitality industry has taken a huge hit and margins are slimmer than ever. Installing a system saves the bottom line by implementing a reusable bottle scheme.
“Dealers should emphasise that by adopting sophisticated water technology, users will benefit from the peace of mind and knowledge that the water that they use and their customers drink is virus-free. They will then in turn be able to provide that reassurance to their customers that every precaution has been taken to protect them.”