Catering equipment industry associations, CEDA and CESA, decided to overhaul their approach to technical training events this year with the creation of the Service Engineers CPD Forum.
Replacing the Industry Technical Conference, the day was specifically designed for technicians to attend, in order to pick up a variety of service and maintenance hints and tips, as well as discuss common diagnosis issues and prevalent faults that occur through lack of maintenance.
The one-day event took place on Wednesday 9 October at the First Choice training centre in Cannock, and involved technical detail sessions with manufacturers alternating with speaker presentations. The format of the day also enabled delegates to tailor the day to their own needs, as they had to pick seven of nine manufacturer ‘surgeries’ to attend. These took the form of intimate breakout groups of no more than 10 engineers, so that each attendee could interact with the manufacturer’s technical representatives.
Companies demonstrating at the event comprised Brita, Falcon, Foster, Hoshizaki, MCS Technical Products, Meiko, Rational, Testo and Welbilt.
The day kicked off with John Whitehouse, MD of hosting company First Choice and current CESA chairman, forecasting what the future of spare parts will be. He predicted this would involve same day deliveries and 24/7 operations, noting that if couriers moved to this model then his company would too. Furthermore he foresees the rise of 3D printed parts and more spares provider business consolidation.
Next to speak was Steve Humphreys, external verifier and technical specialist at qualifications provider LCL Awards. He focused on the latest 18th edition electrical wiring regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 2019. He detailed that the regulations are non-statutory, but engineers installing electrical catering equipment would have to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, which are mandatory.
Warning that Brexit could increase the amount of 18th edition regulations, Humphreys underlined that manufacturers’ instructions are key and will always supersede regulations. Furthermore, he reported: “There is no requirement for a purely gas appliance to have any supplementary earth bonding.”
Recommending undertaking a basic course on learning to safely isolate electrical appliances, Humphreys concluded: “Unless you’re a qualified electrician you shouldn’t do anything you feel uncomfortable doing.”
The first set of round robin technical detail sessions saw Catering Insight check out Testo’s demonstration of its model 300 flue gas analyser. According to distribution manager Mark Gammon, the unit has a smartphone built in so that reports can be directly input into it. The analyser also has remote viewing software loaded on it so that office-based technicians can dial in and provide back-up to troubleshoot remotely.
Furthermore, the measurement specialist also provides a Smart Probe range comprising eight variants to test everything from temperature to pressure. They are all internet-connected and can be operated wirelessly using the Smart Probes app.
In Rational’s demonstration, regional service manager Trevor Lath gave engineers the lowdown on the manufacturer’s compact SelfCookingCenter XS combi oven. Each unit comes with a 2-year warranty and Rational can offer 2-3 day training courses for engineers.
Lath revealed that all appliance operation and consumption data is available for service engineers to interrogate, recommending to view the data first on a repair call-out before deciding whether to physically investigate whether there is a component fault. “You can download all the data to a USB stick to take away and analyse too,” he said, adding that Rational can provide pre-loaded USBs for engineers to upload updated programs to the combi oven.
During Meiko’s session, chief engineer Simon King and group account manager Mark Cooke described how the commercial warewasher sector is moving more towards using reverse osmosis systems to improve water quality and ensure ware sparkles. The pair underlined that each warewasher’s inline carbon filter, which removes chlorine from the water, has a maximum life of 6 months and should be changed regularly. King advised engineers: “If there is an issue with a machine, don’t assume the modules are blocked, check the carbon filter first.”
The second speaker of the day was CESA director Keith Warren, who reported on a raft of regulations updates: “Consultants are working on a programme to manufacture catering equipment to be powered by hydrogen, which could help to achieve the government’s drive for a net zero carbon economy by 2050. This passed into law earlier this year.”
Furthermore, he detailed that the latest version of the BS6173 standard for the installation of gas-powered catering equipment, relating to appropriate ventilation systems, will be issued for public comment shortly and is due for publication in spring 2020. “CEDA and CESA have worked to ensure that catering engineers don’t need to be experts on extraction or ventilation,” said Warren.
Plus he advised that WRAS changes in testing requirements for manufacturers and products are likely to mean that approvals could take longer and cost more, resulting in certificates being delayed or lapsing. Warren reported: “The industry received reassurance that equipment can be considered to be approved until they receive full certification.”
Back in the manufacturer demonstrations, Hoshizaki service manager Andy Norton warned of Environmental Health Organisation inspections on ice machines and recommended ways that installers can prevent or minimise bacteria growth in these units. He advised if at all possible not to site icemakers near warewashers, as the steam generated from these appliances can contain bacteria. Plus he urged installers to make sure the ice machine’s door is sealed as much as possible, adding: “Units should be cleaned every 6 months, descaled and sanitised, to keep them running and safe.”
For Welbilt, technical support specialist Neil Capper and regional technical manager Mark Rawson illustrated features of the Merrychef high speed series of ovens. These use three cooking methods: convection, impingement and microwave. All Merrychef Eikon models are fitted with the same touchscreen panel, where technicians have password access to a service mode for carrying out fault finding and pre-inspection tests. According to Capper: “Engineers don’t need to disassemble the oven, they can carry out all main tests within 5 minutes via the control panel.”
Next up to speak was Derek Maher, MD of servicing firm Crystaltech and current CEDA chair. He took the delegates through warewashing water treatment and chemicals, detailing that getting good results on glass relies partially on caustic detergent, which is good at breaking down starches and grease, but shouldn’t be used continuously on glasses as the glaze will deteriorate. Or chlorine-based chemicals have good disinfectant properties and can deal with proteins.
Maher has conversely discovered: “Lower temperature warewashing actually provides safer results to minimise bacteria growth and use less energy.” He also advised that if an engineer finds a machine foaming, it is usually due to lack of detergent and so more detergent should be poured into the warewasher.
In Foster’s demonstration session, market and development director Chris Playford gave a detailed overview as to how commercial refrigeration is switching over to hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerant, as hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) such as R404a are being phased out by F-gas regulations. However, HCs are more flammable than HFCs and so the amount (charge) allowed to be used is limited. Playford reported: “There is a move in the industry to look at higher HC charge rates.” He also noted that a lack of gas can impact a refrigerator’s condenser performance.
Elsewhere, Falcon’s field service manager Glenn Wild gave a fryer repair tutorial. Detailing that Falcon fryers cut out when over 220°C, he said: “Make sure you measure critical dimensions for safety thermostats and if you replace them, ensure they are from a reputable source.” He further advised that if there is an electrical fault then this could be indicated by the voltage varying across different parts of the circuit when the current remains the same. Wild also added: “Ensure end users do not turn the fryer on until there is oil in it.”
Within Brita’s session, business account executive for the catering sector, Chris Fay, pointed out that to get the water ‘recipe’ correct for use within appliances such as combi ovens, installers should test the water supply and accordingly fit the correct type of filter, while ensuring the filter is exchanged when expired.
Fay revealed: “70% of machine faults are linked to scale. This causes machine downtime for end users, meaning lost revenue, as well as reduced machine life and voided warranties.” He also reported that for every 1mm of scale in an appliance, energy usage is increased by 10%.
Completing the technical detail sessions, MCS Technical Products’ MD Steve Snow said that the supplier sends out a booklet at the time of its cooking appliances installations regarding ventilation. He encouraged technicians not to be afraid of induction technology and to familiarise themselves with it. “If you are called out to one of our units, just look for the serial number and the error codes,” he said.
Snow also detailed that the single hob sizzle plate heater the company offers was a result of a request by a chain operator which was using a system that took 23 minutes to heat plates. “We developed an induction plate to do it in 150 seconds and the payback was 7.5 months in energy saving,” he reported.
The day concluded with some crystal ball-gazing thanks to Steve Wells, COO at research firm FastFuture, who urged that we need to be prepared to look at a variety of different futures. “Successful businesses look beyond the horizon. We need to look outside our core sector to bring in changes,” he commented. Wells believes that factors we need to consider include personalisation, artificial intelligence, the use of sensors and Internet of Things technologies, plus 3D printing – which could allow localised production.
In the foodservice sphere, he gave an example of a pizza van which cooks the food onboard while it is heading to a delivery destination and automatically adjusts cooking duration to be ready just in time for when it reaches the customer.
Wells summed up: “Corporations are now half the age they used to be, as innovators are blowing the competition out of the water. If you don’t adapt, you will disappear.”