The conundrum of what fabrications to include in a commercial kitchen can lead distributors to either specify fully bespoke tabling, shelving and storage solutions, or take a more economical approach and plump for ready-made products in standard sizes. But there is also a happy medium option here, with adjustable series taking the market by storm.
One supplier pushing ahead with ‘off the shelf’ shelving is RH Hall, which provides the Simply Stainless range of fully modular fabrications. Every model, including centre tables, wall benches and sinks, can be adapted and enhanced with a range of accessories.
MD Ray Hall detailed: “All accessories can easily be retrofitted to adapt to the needs of a changing menu. Options include chefs drawers, additional undershelves for storage, leg braces to create voids underneath tabling, counter conversion kits and door panel kits. These options allow for standard ‘off the shelf’ products to become bespoke, without creating additional lead times.”
For dealers concerned about the quality and durability of Simply Stainless’ flatpack products, he assured: “The range has been designed to be stronger than any fully welded product, with its high quality demonstrated using the ‘knock test’ and ‘stability test’. This is backed up by a lifetime warranty on every product in the range.”
RH Hall also has a bespoke solutions team which offers design services for projects which require a more precisely tailored approach. “We utilise the wide range of Simply Stainless products and accessories, with bespoke modifications provided by our fabrications division wherever needed,” underlined Hall.
At supplier Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM), it provides Cambro’s Camshelving starter units, add-on units, mobile units, Basics Series starter units and a range of shelf kits and accessories. According to FEM’s marketing and sales manager Mark Hogan: “Camshelving is designed with the flexibility to suit any space. It is easy to set-up, adjust and change configurations. It’s also easy to keep clean and rust-free, as its polypropylene surface won’t rust, even when washed or placed in wet or humid environments.” The shelving is also embedded with CamGuard silver-ion technology to suppress the growth of mould, fungus and bacteria.
Hogan advised: “Menu items frequently change and the shelving requirements change accordingly, as different sized ingredients and containers need to be stored. Look for smart, innovative design coupled with reliability, convenience, flexibility, versatility and exceptional value, as well as for units that make the most of the space available and that make HACCP compliance simpler.”
Elsewhere, Greg Swift, MD of C&C Fabrications, lauded the benefits of a more tailored approach, saying: “Dealers specifying shelving, tabling or storage with future-proof flexibility must consider modularisation and operational content. The specification, flexibility and content of bespoke fabrication is almost limitless, with solutions created around the client or consultant’s requirements to any size and to fit any space.”
Emphasising that shelving is the most commonly adjustable product, with shelf height alterations and removal available, Swift also noted that worktop heights may be adjustable to suit or to comply with Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) regulations, either manually or electrically.
“Modular design flexibility based upon size increments offers the end user the greatest possibilities later on. For example 600mm, 1,200mm and 1,800mm or 500mm, 1,000mm and 1,500mm modules allow interchangeability,” said Swift, adding: “However, modular sizes are also dictated by various other products e.g. gastronorm sizes, dishwash baskets, pots/pans, undercounter refrigeration, glass or bottle sizes etc, which must all be taken into consideration to provide the operational content required by the end user.”
For King’s Lynn-based EAIS, flexibility is the key to successful storage management. Sales director Danny Boore revealed: “Although we offer a vast range of standard products that will fulfil a majority of demands placed upon a commercial kitchen, we also recognise that is some cases we also need offer bespoke solutions as well. Having the capability and flexibility to be able to offer such bespoke solutions is a vital element of our business, ensuring that we meet customers’ requirements in helping them to maximise capacity.”
The firm produces the EZ-Store modular storage range, where the shelf height is adjustable in 25mm increments. This covers chrome wire, nylon wire, stainless steel wire, solid and perforated, galvanised solid, epoxy solid coated and Polyrakk finishes. A 75mm increment adjustment is also available in the polymer and stainless steel materials. Additional tiers can be added retrospectively if required.
Boore reported: “We are regularly challenged by our distributors to maximise storage areas for their end users. With real estate being so valuable and in short supply in most major UK cities it is vital that all areas are utilised to their full potential when it comes to storage. To this end, EAIS offers a free consultation survey service where we will spend time on site and observe current practice to see where improvements can be made.”
Draycott-based Parry offers many fabrications and furniture units including stainless steel shelving and cupboards. MD Mark Banton said: “We can do anything with stainless steel furniture and always strive to go beyond the basics in the design and manufacture processes to ensure we are delivering products that overcome the ‘niggles’ users tell us they experience on a daily basis.”
The manufacturer is currently expanding its bespoke solutions capabilities to meet customer demand, and according to Banton: “Our bespoke fabrications are designed to be retrofitted into available space. Gone are the days where kitchens would have to be fitted out with off-the-shelf products.”
He added: “The two most common questions we are being asked these days tend to be; can you tailor size and dimensions, and is it manufactured in Britain?
“Our customers want to make the best use of space and rather than have their shelving, tabling and fabrication sitting side by side, they are ‘suited’ up to give a fluid look and feel. And our customers are increasingly looking for the high standards associated with being ‘made in Britain’, which also helps with delivery lead times.”
As a manufacturer, Craven feels all of its products are flexible. For example, its tray clearing trolleys have been produced in 350 variations over the last 8 years. Sales director Neil Fox commented: “Everybody understands how standard shelving is adjustable according to the grooves on the post which are set at every 75mm, but we also supply smooth posts which are infinitely adjustable. Probably the best known of our height adjustable products are our stainless steel tables and sinks, which have a variable height range and can be adjusted by use of either a manual mechanism or electric.”
He reported: “These are particularly popular in schools and colleges, ensuring that the establishment complies with the amended DDA, requiring service providers and employers to make reasonable adjustments to equipment. They can be adjusted between 720mm and 1,300mm.”
Elsewhere, over 70% of fabricator Corsair’s output is bespoke, which MD Arun Sahajpal feels enables distributors to offer their customers the most efficient and cost-effective solution for their particular application, “rather than having to make-do with off-the-shelf offerings”.
Corsair offers various types of height adjustment on its products depending on the application. For example, it has just made several height-adjustable fish tables for a major UK supermarket group. Furthermore the manufacturer supplies a ‘ladder’ system that allows height adjustment of its wall shelving. Racking can be supplied adjustable using a corner clamp bracket.
Sahajpal said: “There are lots of things that are important to dealers, as it’s important that they choose the right products for the end user. Cost is a big factor, and they also take the feasibility of each product into consideration.”
Shelving specialist Shelfspan prides itself on providing solutions to achieve the best fit for coldrooms, freezers or dry store areas through its Eko-Fit range’s flexible, modular features. The frames are constructed from anodised aluminium with removable polyethylene shelf slats. Individual bays are available with lengths from 400mm-1,975mm, depths from 300mm-600mm and heights from 1,550mm-2,450mm with a total of 440 size variations. Shelves can be placed at 150mm increments on the frames, while linear add-on units are available using mid-frames.
Another adaptable product the manufacturer offers is Plate-Mate banqueting trolleys. Plates are stored vertically in a column rather than being spread out across work surfaces and come in many varieties including mobile, fold-away collapsible, wall mounted and table top. Plate capacities range from six to 168. This range is also flexible as the prongs are said to be easily be adjusted to store any plate or bowl up to 50mm deep. The collapsible version can also fold away to be stored and create more floor space when not in use.
Options are increasing at CED Fabrications, as its merger with Tournus Equipment has enabled it to “extensively increase our UK product range like never before, introducing many new innovative commercial kitchen products, from plate dispensers to serving trolleys and beyond”, according to standard products manager Ian Whittington.
The Tournus storage racking systems can be used in kitchens and coldrooms (-30°C to +60°C). Hygiene racking shelves come in 15 different sizes and are supplied with ‘clip-in’ horizontal support bars and either removable polypropylene or aluminium slat shelf.
Whittington detailed: “Many of the Tournus products are adjustable, making them easy to configure to suit the available space and foodservice requirements. For example, the storage racking systems have removable shelving allowing the user to maximise the utilisation of space.”
He concluded: “Dealers are often interested in the specification of each product to ensure they know each feature of the products we supply. For example, the Catering Storage Cupboards by Tournus have a range of specifications, such as being made of food quality stainless steel, ideal for general storage with a sliding door, comes with three adjustable shelves, optional lockable door and more.”
Many shelving manufacturers and fabricators also take account of the appliances adjacent to their products or work with these suppliers to ensure a good fit. For example, RH Hall’s Simply Stainless brand offers oven stands for Rational, Blue Seal and Blue Seal Evolution infill benches. “These can often be much more affordable than the options available directly from the manufacturer,” believes MD Ray Hall.
At C&C Fabrications, MD Greg Swift commented: “Matching suited fabrication with the same profile as adjacent equipment is not only more aesthetically pleasing but allows the kitchen to flow and increases productivity, cleanliness and ultimately profitability.”
Elsewhere, EAIS has worked directly with several manufactures to offer storage solutions either to go over, under or within their products. Sales director Danny Boore believes: “The flexibility of our production plant allows us to cope with most demands placed upon us.”
Over at Parry, MD Mark Banton reported that the firm is often asked to create bespoke fabrications that suite up with other manufacturers’ kit, often specified by the distributor. “All of our distributors are aware we can align with other manufacturers’ products with bespoke fabrications to ensure the end user has a tailored solution throughout,” he said.
Craven also has a number of relationships working alongside other manufacturers. Sales director Neil Fox underlined: “It would be wrong to think that only bespoke products fall within this category – we make lots of undercounter trolleys for example, some of which we have included in our standard product offering; the most popular of these being our RSE general purpose trolley range.”
At Corsair, MD Arun Sahajpal emphasised: “Dishwash tabling certainly requires close liaison with other manufacturers since the interface between the fabrication and the dishwasher is fundamental to the correct flow within the washup area. We recently made an entry table to fit a scheme incorporating a dishwasher which was from the Ark! There was no chance of success on that project without the close interaction between the main parties.”