Creating the most appropriate kitchen design for a foodservice site is one of the most vital functions for catering equipment distributors, but this is a task they don’t have to perform on their own. Sector suppliers can assist in this endeavour, so Catering Insight asked some major brands what their offerings comprise.
At cooking equipment specialist, Rational, UK technical sales director Graham Kille detailed: “Our regional sales teams regularly visit our dealer network, both in person and virtually, to assist them in accessing our comprehensive array of information on kitchen design. For example, via the designer portal, in the Rational online toolbox, they can find the latest CAD and BIM Revit files as well as specification sheets. In fact, we offer a global support service, so if UK dealers are working on projects overseas, Rational assistance is at hand.”
The manufacturer works in partnership with both the AutoQuotes and Specifi platforms for design, pricing and quoting, with Kille adding: “We offer support via our knowledgeable technical and design team within the UK. Moving forward we are planning to increase our support for dealers with additional training for more of their key employees. This will enable us, in partnership with our dealers, to offer a comprehensive support network for those wanting to incorporate Rational cooking systems within their kitchen designs.”
Looking at upcoming design trends, Kille analysed: “The squeeze on kitchen space and the demand for increased productivity have been ongoing factors in recent years, but they’ve been complicated by the current need to give employees socially distanced and safe working space within the kitchen environment. Flexible, multifunctional kitchen appliances are increasingly must-haves rather than options.”
Over at Welbilt, digital design blocks for its various cooking equipment and icemaker brands are available on both Specifi and AutoQuotes. UK and Ireland sales director Steve Hemsil said: “By working with these leading companies and utilising their platforms, we are allowing dealers to capture the reality of our products to their customers in a way that paper isn’t able to convey.”
He believes: “We are also able to provide a superior level of support to our dealers and consultants given that these sites act as a central hub of data for all to access. For example via Specifi, dealers are granted instant access to an extensive library of Welbilt BIM solutions, data sheets, technical drawing and price lists all in one place, thus easing the consultation process for Convotherm, Merrychef, Garland and Manitowoc models.”
Looking ahead at future designs, Hemsil analysed: “As the size of the commercial kitchen continues to shrink year on year, so does the demand for traditional pieces of equipment which neither utilise space efficiently or offer multiple cooking functions. It is therefore important that dealers look at specifying a broader range of space-saving, flexible options.
“Welbilt currently offers an extensive range of compact units such as our Convotherm Mini, Merrychef eikon e2s, and undercounter Manitowoc ice machines.”
In the warewasher sector, Meiko UK has an experienced CAD team which works with distributors, the supplier’s own regional sales managers (RSM) and project managers to create project designs. MD Paul Anderson commented: “The key to a successful project is sharing information, and our RSMs, who liaise on a day to day basis with the distributor, take a brief, visit site for the site survey and then work on the Meiko solution most appropriate to the customer’s needs with the distributor.
“Importantly for the distributor, Meiko can provide sales support including presentations and site visits for the client. Some distributors prefer to do their own drawing, or Meiko can provide this in the relevant format.”
Anderson underlined: “Meiko UK provides drawing and design information to dealers in any way they want it. We are up to date with the very latest technology such as BIM and our internet portal allows our BIM files to be downloaded anywhere.
“A design receives input from several levels at Meiko. The beauty of working with a leading warewashing specialist is that distributors have access to specialist advice on design and layout, the ‘workability’ of a design, environmental issues, energy saving, sustainability, labour saving and ergonomics.”
Elsewhere, in the FOG treatment arena, Filta Group commercial director Edward Palin outlined: “At Filta, our goal is to make grease management easy for our customers. We do everything we can to facilitate easier specification of our solutions, including all the sizing to ensure the right system is installed. We then performance guarantee the product, which gives dealers total peace of mind.”
Filta’s products are listed on AutoQuotes and the manufacturer can provide a full drawing pack of all products to enable design. According to Palin: “We are confident in the quality of our solutions, including the new GM Cyclone, but we are aware that they must be easy to specify, as well as delivering results for end users.
“We provide CAD blocks and Revit for 2D/3D drawings, again working with distributors to make it easy for them to specify effective grease management solutions. Many of our team have come from commercial catering environments and so we are able to operate in most packages.”
On prevailing design trends, he commented: “Without a doubt, simplicity, reliability and green credentials are the biggest issues influencing kitchen design in the current climate. Green credentials can cover everything from minimal use of plastic to low energy usage, but it is an increasingly important consideration for any operator. A more sustainable kitchen can ensure lower running costs, support wider sustainability targets particularly in public sectors and can also attract customers too.”
Finally, when incorporating refrigeration equipment in a kitchen scheme, Foster and Gamko regional business manager Lewis Bruce pointed out: “Foster and Gamko offer several in-house design options for our dealers. Our bespoke Coldstores are designed to the exact specifications of the end user and are supported by in-house technical expertise to support dealers with the refrigeration system design and specification of the room itself.
“Gamko also has in-house bar design experts to help dealers and end users create a modular bar to suit their establishment.”
He analysed: “Distributors will often call upon manufacturers when designing a kitchen and we’re able to support them with the relevant technical information and product advice to ensure the correct products are incorporated into the kitchen and bar design.
“At Foster, we offer a full library of files available via Specifi Studio Configurator to our distributors, which is completely free of charge. These files are compatible with Revit, AutoCAD, BricsCAD and most mainstream CAD packages. Not only do we supply the necessary drawings, distributors also get additional support with expertise on kitchen planning and specifying correct products for the right application. We offer design help with product specifications and technical back up which can make a real difference in a project.”
There are several digital platforms dedicated to commercial kitchen design, and one main name is US-based KCL. The company feels its products have the sector’s widest selection of CAD and Revit symbols that meet international industry standards.
KCL’s president Kevin Kochman detailed: “We also have many tech tools to adapt those files to the needs of the user. For example, if a manufacturer only has CAD blocks, KCL software can convert them to a usable Revit family. In addition, if a designer wants a generic block or can’t find a particular block, we have a custom block configurator that enables them to do so. We offer unparalleled tech support and are available to our subscribers almost 24/7.”
The firm’s latest innovation is KCL NapkinSketch, for which Kochman outlined: “KCL NapkinSketch gives almost everyone the ability to draw architectural, dimensionally-accurate kitchen plans. It’s a boon for sales teams. The NapkinSketches created quickly in our program can be transferred to Revit for completion by the company’s Revit designer.”
More than 75% of the manufacturers that list products on KCL include at least some Revit content. According to Kochman: “That said, designers tell us that they want even more. That’s why we created proprietary software that converts CAD blocks into Revit families for equipment that does not already have native Revit families.”
He concluded: “KCL NapkinSketch makes it almost effortless to ‘sketch’ out different configurations quickly and without needing to run a CAD or Revit program while doing so.”