May you live in interesting times, goes the old adage, and times can be no more interesting than right now in the technical sector of the catering equipment industry. With the backdrop of Brexit and general regulatory uncertainty, this market has taken standards by the scruff of the neck and overhauled some major technical guidance and qualifications.
All of this was brought to the fore at this year’s Catering Industry Technical Conference, held in association with CEDA and CESA. At the Nottingham Belfry Hotel nearly 100 delegates were treated to a thorough overview of all the new technical developments in the market.
The event opened with CEDA director general Adam Mason updating the audience on a main point resulting from last year’s gathering, that of warranty responsibilities. CEDA is now putting together a guidance document for a warranty service level agreement and is looking to gather information more widely.
“The key messages are greater transparency and better communication on warranties,” revealed Mason. “These points are forming the basis for a guidance document which will lay out the responsibility for both parties: manufacturers and distributors.”
While CEDA’s technical support adviser Peter Kay reported that since last year’s conference, two ex-armed forces personnel have been recruited as servicing engineers to help plug the skills gap that exists with technicians in this industry. The association has signed a partnership with the British Training Board to convert military to civilian qualifications and pair candidates with employers at little or no cost to these businesses.
“We will ask CEDA and CESA members to indicate geographical areas of requirement and we will put a pilot scheme together by the end of the year,” he explained.
To further increase the rate of engineer recruitment, Serviceline’s Graham Skinner, who is chair of CESA’s Service Providers Group, detailed the Electrical, Electronic Product Service and Installation Engineer qualification. This is an apprenticeship which has been developed by an employer consortium and approved by the Business Energy Industrial Strategy government department. The course qualifies for up to £9,000 of funding under the Apprenticeship Levy and covers not only technical ability but how engineers conduct themselves too. On completion the apprentice will be able to apply for an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme card.
CEDA’s Mason further announced that CEDA members are helping to create a specific Catering Equipment Maintenance and Service Technician apprenticeship course. Covering gas, electrical and plumbing elements, the standard is slated to be completed by the middle of next year.
Training was also under the spotlight for Combico technical training manager, Martin Dagnall. In the 15 months since the firm started running the Commercial Catering Equipment Electrical Competency Course (CCEECC) course, over 300 engineers have been certified.
He also emphasised that Combico is the only Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) centre in the UK dedicated to gas operatives in the commercial catering sector. “This means that technicians only carry out relevant tasks and the assessment is completed in 2 days,” he underlined.
The regulations view from Europe was brought to the conference by CESA director Keith Warren. With mitigating climate change high on the agenda, he warned that: “The EU will require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Don’t expect that nothing will change. It’s going to affect every business and we ignore it at our peril.”
Noting that decarbonisation, digitalisation, and decentralisation will form the paths to achieving these cuts, he outlined that the EU will show technological leadership while expecting buildings to be constructed with energy management and demand response solutions, as well as modernising waste separation infrastructures.
On food waste regulation itself, he commented: “Implementation across the UK has been devolved to regional governments. That causes a problem for national groups.”
CESA’s lobbying managed to allow de-waterers to be used in Northern Ireland when its devolved government initially mandated separate food waste collection, though this may become a national UK requirement by 2024. Warren cautioned: “We would move against the principle of a single solution as it discourages innovation and other areas of food waste management.” CESA will also publish its Food Waste Position Paper by December.
He also reported that, unfortunately, proposals to develop an agreed fats, oils and grease (FOG) management system test methodology have failed.
In terms of connectivity, he predicted that in 10 years’ time, every business will have a head of data management. He detailed that the German DIN standard for equipment connectivity just been produced, and this may be rolled out Europe-wide.
Furthermore, he noted that for refrigeration energy labelling, dealers and resellers have to ensure they meet the requirements for displaying the label. While CESA technical consultant Nick Oryino told delegates that in the future appliances could run on hydrogen, as the government is seriously looking at the fuel as a replacement for natural gas.
Drilling down into specific standards areas, the Building Engineering Services Association’s (BESA) membership director Wayne Terry told the conference about the creation of the Ventilation Hygiene Elite (VHE) scheme to help ventilation hygiene specialists demonstrate their competence, quality and standards.
Increasing kitchen fires caused by grease in ventilation ducts prompted this move, with BESA now offering VHE approved training courses. The core criteria of the scheme were established from the association’s TR19 best practice standard, which itself is under review, and an updated version is due to go live at the beginning of 2019. The new courses will be aligned with the latest TR19 guidance and only available at centres approved by BESA.
In one of the conference’s two seminar sessions, BESA consultant Peter Rogers updated delegates on the review of DW/172 specifications for kitchen ventilation systems which were introduced earlier this year and are now adopted in many parts of the world.
He feels that these are more thorough than the equivalent EN 16282 European standard, as they cover more issues, such as the use of solid fuel-burning catering equipment, as well as banning aluminium canopies. However, neither of them are mandatory.
Rogers also detailed: “BESA has just started work on a new pollution control standard for kitchen ventilation systems to replace the recently-withdrawn DEFRA guidance.”
Hot off the presses, Chris Augur, scheme manager at BAFE, the independent registration body for third party certificated companies in the fire protection sector, told the assembled industry luminaries of the kitchen fire protection scheme the organisation launched the day before the conference. SP206 covers design, installation, commissioning, recharge and maintenance of systems.
“The industry needed to have a fire protection competence scheme as the work quality of non-regulated organisations was falling way short of the mark,” said Augur. “The new scheme gives the end user the assurance that their fire protection equipment is maintained and installed by knowledgeable providers.”
One of the manufacturers subject to the new scheme is Nobel Fire Systems. MD Ian Bartle welcomed the development in his presentation, saying: “It gives a single level of competence.
“Insurance companies were involved in the formulation of the standard. SP206 is now an easier path to obtain insurance certification.”
Looking ahead, Bartle believes: “To date, the current fire systems approvals dictate the last nozzle in the fire system is at the entrance to the extract duct. Fire losses show this is insufficient in some cases as it ignores protection for the rest of a building. The insurance-driven requirement for extended duct protection will drive new demand for much greater and extensive risk assessments, as well as demand to ensure total building protection.”
In the other seminar session during the conference, Richard Hakeem, director of technical and safety policy at UKLPG, the trade association for the LPG industry, sought to make delegates aware of LPG as being “the world’s most multi-purpose energy”.
He cited statistics of over 700m people worldwide relying on LPG for cooking, including 10,000 outdoor catering operators in the UK consuming up to 700,000 cylinders of the fuel per year. Hakeem said: “LPG is up to 5 times more efficient than traditional fuels, and it is cheaper than charcoal with no wasted energy. It can be used all year round in a variety of applications and it is portable.”
UKLPG brought together a cross-section of industry representatives to produce guidance on the safe use of LPG, as it was often being stored dangerously. The new Code of Practice 24 contains information such as design, construction and commissioning of LPG-fuelled appliances, with the Gas Safe Register inspecting to the requirement of the code.
Towards the end of the conference programme, all delegates were invited to put forward topics for discussion in a round table format. One of the subjects broached was WRAS approval for appliances not being granted when a particular hose is connected to them. CESA’s Keith Warren helpfully suggested a way to solve this issue: “CESA has a standard letter which states that WRAS approval isn’t required for connecting to the water supply which we can make available to non-CESA members.”
Conference host Richard West wrapped up the event with a presentation on the subject of grasping opportunities. He advised: “Whenever you change anything in a business, it’s going to cost a lot of money. But change has to be made to best serve customers.
“Think differently, because the real ideas come at the boundaries. What will a customer want in 10-15 years? Share knowledge in informal networks and never believe you can keep winning.”