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SPECIAL REPORT: How to generate sailor sales

tui discovery servery crop
Trimline kits out serveries for cruise-liners including TUI Discovery.

A life on the ocean waves will necessitate some kind of catering facilities on most ships, whether for passengers or crew. But what special considerations must be taken account for designing and installing galleys and the associated equipment? And is this a flourishing market?

Well according to Trimline, which bills itself as the longest established interior refitter in the industry, having been formed in 1965, the passenger ship sector looks positive. Key account manager Simon Dawkins detailed: “As the cruise market in particular grows, we have seen an increase in the demand for refitting front-of-house and back-of-house catering facilities. In addition to galleys, we are asked to construct bespoke serveries, coffee stations, waiter stations, etc. We also replace and maintain existing equipment.”

With the maritime industry being so global, Dawkins underlined: “If a ship docks in the US, then all food-related equipment must be USPH (United States Public Health) compliant. Twice a year, USPH sanitation inspectors conduct inspections when cruise ships are in a US port. If standards are not met, this often leads to the firing of the shipboard food and beverage department head/manager, so it is imperative that all equipment we supply is compliant.

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“Even ships that do not visit the US are adopting these guidelines as best practice and the feeling is that Europe will soon follow suit with a similar set of regulations.”

Naturally, all onboard catering equipment must be securely fixed to the deck, but in terms of other design considerations, Dawkins revealed: “For front-of-house catering furnishings there is often a struggle between functionality and aesthetic appeal. We work closely with the ship’s designer and F&B manager to reach a compromise which is functional without losing the integrity of the design.”

Cruise ships in particular are keen to pick up on the trends of the foodservice sector on dry land. Therefore Dawkins analysed: “In recent years we have seen ships reducing the traditional fast food outlet options and instead mimicking the High Street with increased availability of coffee shops, sushi bars and gelato outlets. As more and more people turn to cruising, they expect to have the same food/drink available as at home.

“January 2019 has opened with 124 ships on the forward-looking cruise ship orderbook, extending through 2027. The cruise industry is projected to continue to grow throughout 2019 with an estimated 30m travellers expected to cruise, up 6% from 28.2m in 2018, so the cruise industry is likely to continue to follow the High Street with its catering offerings.”

Another catering equipment dealer with a strong track record in marine is Newcastle-based Caterform. “Having provided services to the marine catering sector for over 30 years we have seen cycles of industry growth,” said business development manager, Emily Hattrick.

“In recent years the industry has been steady, with certain segments showing moderate growth. In particular the Royal Navy has seen some milestone years, with the build and commission of the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers – a once in a lifetime project for many small businesses and one we have been proud to be part of.

“From scale, budgets, and timescales, maritime projects can be challenging, but we find by working as an integrated team with the customer and prime contractor we can best help overcome these hurdles.”

For catering appliances she emphasised: “Durability of equipment is key to take the shock and movement requirements onboard. Unlike land-based commercial kitchens, marine catering equipment must withstand an almost constant tolerance of movement and vibration. This requires practical design and high-quality manufacture. We work to ISO 9001: 2015 quality management standards and always strive for continuous improvement.”

Hattrick further explained: “Another key consideration for catering equipment is special voltages required for marine energy sources. Though many land-based commercial kitchens run on gas energy, most ships do not have this energy source as an option. Marine electrical voltages are also not a regular commercial off the shelf specification, and often equipment requires the design to be adapted to meet these needs.”

She believes that depending on the vessel, a main challenge can be as simple as lack of space. “We have worked on some small ferries where space can be very restricting, and in these cases equipment selection can be critical to layout design. Regardless of the galley size however, it’s important that the design maintains hygiene and SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements.

“Fire safety is another key concern for the galley, where a possible fire could be detrimental to the safety of the entire ship staff and persons onboard. This requires thought at the layout and design stage, as well as selection of equipment. Increasingly customers are acknowledging the need for regular servicing of the equipment and galley fire suppression systems, as well as understanding any flammable substances in equipment at the build/refit stage.”

The Wathen Marine Catering Equipment team recently picked up the gong for Small Business of The Year at the Test Valley Business Awards 2018.

A more recent dealer entrant in the market is Wathen Marine Catering Equipment Services, which was founded in Romsey by Ieuan Wathen in 2015. He reported: “The marine sector has been seeing growth for many years, and within the 3 years Wathen Marine has been trading. We have seen growth in each of these years and added a manufacturing arm to the business on the back of this.”

He also noted that equipment specified needs to withstand vessels’ constant motion and vibration, as well as performing well for chefs. “Chefs’ safety needs to be accounted for if there is a sudden movement of the vessel, and any products being produced need to be secured in the ovens or on range tops. This is leading to some innovative ways to keep them there,” he revealed.

Wathen additionally noted: “Galleys come in all shapes and sizes, so finding the correct equipment to produce the covers needed for the crew/passenger numbers can be challenging. The strict SOLAS regulations and the vessels’ movements means it is key to supply equipment that will provide many years of service. Once the equipment is fitted in the galley it often cannot be removed.”

Looking ahead, he predicted: “The sector will only keep growing for the next 5 to 10 years, with over 100 cruise ships on order globally and those in-service needing refits every 4 to 5 years.”

Another company that straddles the dealer and manufacturer divide is Target Catering Equipment. The Gloucester company was also involved in the recent Royal Navy aircraft carriers project, as MD David Pedrette revealed: “The two carriers required galleys fitted out with specialist equipment designed and built for a very specific need.

“Having a long track record of producing galley equipment for the Royal Navy and with our bespoke manufacturing capabilities, made us the ideal choice to produce bespoke galley equipment for these Royal Navy projects.”

Target has also been working with Tommy Nielsen & Company, specialists in repairing, restoring and building traditional ships, based in Gloucester Docks. The manufacturer has provided design, build and installation of complete galleys as well as individual marine galley specialist equipment.

In terms of special equipment considerations, Pedrette noted: “Galley equipment has to pass rigorous quality control standards set out for marine use. Deep fat frying, for example, is a major fire risk at sea, so must be subject to special regulation and control.

“Kitchen ventilation systems also must be highly efficient at removing grease and heat from the galleys to maintain a safe and comfortable working environment. Fire suppression systems are mandatory at sea, with the galley and engine room probably being at the highest risk of danger due to the nature of what they do.”

Target Catering Equipment can provide bespoke fabrication for galleys.

According to Pedrette: “Marine galleys are unlike a shore-based installation that does not move and has a stable platform to fit equipment and utility service connections available in a standard format.

“Moreover, resources like fuel and water are limited to as much as a vessel can carry, although a fresh water generating plant onboard produces such water, so the choice of equipment used to conserve resources is important. Cooking equipment has to be fuel efficient to minimise energy consumption and operating costs.

“Warewashing, cleaning and hygiene also must be of the highest quality, as infection and disease can spread rapidly on board. A high design consideration using appropriate cleaning chemicals and equipment will ensure such a high level of cleanliness can be maintained.”

One company specialised in this very area is Meiko. For example it has M-iQ flight machines onboard nine club ship series vessels from German shipping line AIDA Cruises.

Meiko UK MD Paul Anderson detailed: “Marinised equipment is designed differently and must perform safely in all weather conditions, rough and smooth.

“Marine operators, especially cruise operators, implement the world’s strictest infection control specifications, which are set for cruise liners by the US Department of Health’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Meiko Technical Services engineers are fully familiar with the guidelines, which form an essential part of ensuring hygiene in dishwashing practices on board. As part of our service to catering equipment distributors servicing marine operators, Meiko provides full training via our Slough training facility or at the distributor’s premises or on site.”

Furthermore, he added: “Another major consideration is water; there is less water for use at sea than on land, which is why Meiko’s renowned frugality for water consumption provides a big incentive for operators. Meiko M-iQ flight dishwashers, for example, save 30% water compared to their predecessors.”

Servicing is much more logistically complex, as Anderson explained: “Reliability and wash quality are even more important at sea, when you could be days or weeks away from port, so the design needs to incorporate planned maintenance programmes and spare parts provision. Where necessary, for oil rig operators for example, we will train the marine operator’s engineers and ensure they have an adequate supply of spares on board.

Meiko and MKN appliances are fitted in Trimline’s demonstration galley at the outfitter’s Southampton headquarters.

“Shipping travels the globe and Meiko co-ordinates its engineers worldwide to deliver the same high levels of service wherever the customer is in the world.”

For marine cooking equipment, German manufacturer MKN feels it is a leader. Marketing and PR manager Anja Halbauer commented: “It is probably hard to find a cruise line that is not using any MKN equipment somewhere in its fleet. There are multiple reasons for this, but it most certainly has something to do with MKN’s dedication to innovation, leadership and a strong network of customer support. MKN has been supplying products for the cruise industry for more than 20 years and has its own global marine department with sales, technical and design support.

“As well as a dedication to innovation, MKN guarantees a worldwide service and spare part supply. We have a separate marine department, which specialises in the unique service and parts requirements of the sector.”

She said that for marine catering equipment: “Hygiene and safety are the top two considerations, for example, pot security on ranges and hobs, oven door latches, flanged feet, special voltage, hygienic cupboards and fryers must meet SOLAS regulations.”

As space is an issue in most marine operations, Halbauer advised: “Multifunctional equipment must be considered for optimum efficiency. Some restaurants on ships have front cooking stations, meaning that equipment can also be seen by guests – for that reason, hygiene and design are highly important.”

Competitor Welbilt is positive about its marine market prospects, with Dave Weightman, global key accounts manager, marine and hospitality, revealing: “Marine is the biggest growing area within the business, with sales increasing year-by-year.

“As well as seeing a rise in demand for the latest maritime designs and concepts specific to new build cruise liners, in which Welbilt specialises, we are also working with some of the biggest cruise ship brands as they look to refurbish an aging fleet to cope with an increased demand in cruising.”

Welbilt’s cooking appliances have specialised fastenings to cope with the marine environment.

On quality, he detailed: “Ensuring equipment also meets a high catering standard in addition to an excellent marine standard is also of key value. To ensure this standard is achieved, Welbilt has adapted some of its general market units according to the technical specifications of the maritime environment. By doing this, operators are able to choose from a selection of expertly designed units that meet the specific needs of their cruise liner.

“From the construction, materials used, fastenings and more, suppliers have a whole host of technical driven specifications to meet with maritime catering equipment which is why it is of vital importance for operators to source their catering equipment from suppliers that specialise in this industry.”

Weightman believes: “One of the biggest challenges suppliers face when designing a galley is ensuring a highly ergonomic and efficient kitchen flow is created. However, by working closely with cruise liner design houses, Welbilt is able to ensure that the right sized, and right amount of catering units are designed so that specific catering demands are met, no matter the capacity or style of the ship.”

Another firm vying for a slice of the marine market is Electrolux. According to Alex Reed, sales manager – foodservice UK and Ireland at Electrolux Professional UK: “Taking into account the number of ships Electrolux Professional has supplied equipment to, and the increasing forward orders from ship yards over the past few years, we consider that the marine sector – particularly the cruise liner and superyacht market – to be consistently growing.

“It’s important that manufacturers, distributors and contractors within the sector are able to offer a quick turnaround with installation as they have to be able to complete the job while the vessel is in dock. Over the last year, we’ve also seen a rise in the number of refit programmes for a number of marine operators whose vessels were in dock. We’re seeing a huge increase in demand within the sector for catering equipment that considers both productivity within a high-pressure kitchen, and the low available footprint onboard a marine vessel.”

Underlining that the manufacturer’s thermaline thermomodule connection is USPHS compliant, Reed said: “The ProThermetic Pressure Braising Pan, for example, can boil, steam, and shallow fry, allowing operators to cook lots of different produce through one single cooking appliance offering chefs practical solutions. This type of multifunctional equipment creates a smaller footprint which will allow the vessel to maximise productivity thanks to best in class pressure cooking performances.”

He predicted: “The forecast can only look positive for ships that are due for equipment delivery and kitchen refits within the next 10 years. Electrolux Professional, for example, is better equipped than ever to assist the UK marine market as we are now holding marine stock ready for ships that need a quick turnaround for one-off replacements.”

Tags : caterformElectroluxmarineMeikoMKNtarget catering equipmenttrimlineWathen Marine Catering Equipment Serviceswelbilt
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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