Simple operation is key for modern warewashers, but how are manufacturers ensuring they incorporate ease of use into the design, and working with dealers to inform end users of ergonomic features? Catering Insight asked a wide range of manufacturers for their thoughts.
At Hobart Warewashing, sales director Tim Bender believes: “Smarter integration with the human operator is one of the places where there is plenty of room for evolution in machines, whether it’s through technology like apps or the introduction of elements like touchscreens – both of which mirror the everyday functionality of personal smartphone devices, making for a more logical user experience.
“Hobart machines are designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible, regardless of the operator. In fact, our policy is to assume no prior skill or knowledge of the workings of a machine – doing this means we can work from the floorboards up in the research and development process, ensuring simplicity at every step.”
The manufacturer offers free training for the life of its machines, working to educate as many end users as possible on the Profi and Premax machines at its Peterborough innovation centre. While for the dealer-specific Ecomax warewashers, Hobart’s sales force works with distributors at their sites to deliver training and ensure a complete understanding of the range and its performance.
Training is also one of the core tenets of Maidaid’s customer service, as it hosts monthly dealer sales and engineer training which covers topics including ergonomic and ease of use features. For operators, each of the manufacturer’s machines comes with basic user instructions, coupled with onsite training offered by both Maidaid staff and its dedicated independent service company. Furthermore, the firm is working on a library of videos to assist venues when new users will be operating the machines.
The company believes its warewashers are easy to use, offering three button control: on/off, cycle start and cycle selection. All cycles are actioned by one button. Sales director Julian Lambert commented: “The obvious decision taken some time ago by Maidaid was to stop looking for wonderfully inventive design features with unnecessary operational options and bring it back to simplicity in use, daily maintenance and serviceability.”
Baskets too are said to be ergonomically designed, as Maidaid can supply a specific basket dependant on what items are being washed.
Over at Meiko, as its equipment is exported worldwide, “Operation is designed to be clear, simple and intuitive, so people of any language and culture can use the machines effectively and safely,” according to UK MD Paul Anderson.
For example, the sensor touch panel on the M-iQ flight and rack dishwashers utilises visual symbols which should be easily understood. Other recent ease of use developments include the automatic hood on an M-iClean H opening or closing with a tap of the finger, while its control panel can be displayed on the left or the right of the machine or mounted elsewhere at operator eye level, and colour-coding of key components on M-iQ and UPster rack transport machines to help identify items requiring daily manual cleaning.
Anderson underlined: “Meiko and its distributor partners both commission the new machines and train the staff in their correct use, a process that, many times, involves ongoing training support for the customer.” Its distributor partners are kept up to date through resources including product, sales and market data and, increasingly, video.
Elsewhere, DC Products’ director Bob Wood said of his brand’s units: “Simple one touch controls and clear light indicators pay dividends when operators have a high turnover of staff or varying competency levels.”
As well as focusing on the main appliance design, the firm aims to ensure integral removable items are easy to access, to make cleaning the machine as easy as possible. For instance, the wash tanks are made with cold extruded moulded basket sides to reduce dirt traps, and wash and rinse arms should be easy to release.
DC Products provides dealers product literature to keep them up to date with ongoing ergonomic and ease of use features, but Wood reported that often they prefer to call or email the manufacturer, or visit its office showroom to receive free sales and service training. “We always advise our distributors that having a deep understanding of the machine’s features and benefits will always give them the competitive edge when selling to the end user,” he emphasised.
For Italian manufacturer, Krupps, looking at the tableware market is a priority, as it studies pot, tray and glass trends so that it can create different wash cycles for different flatware types. The firm also produces various baskets based on different glass dimensions. Its machines are operated by the Uniko touch display which features what are designed to be clear washing cycle icons to enable the user to choose the most appropriate option. The start button changes colour according to the cycle used, and a timer displays the cycle’s progress.
Krupps works closely with dealers, investing in training to give them the right tools to support end users’ requirements. It also provides leaflets to support its sales network and help dealers to train users.
Export MD Riccardo Scuotto commented: “In our view, dealers are our spokespeople and we care a lot about their training since they are constantly in a close contact with users. Therefore we provide a constant flow of user feedback in order to continually improve our products and services.”
At Project Distribution (Prodis), national accounts manager Darren Mairs revealed: “We have recognised that electronic warewashers have always been viewed as complicated and difficult to use. With that in mind that we are launching the new Prodis EV line of warewashers which have been designed from the ground up to be user-friendly, and simple to operate.”
The low voltage electronic control panel features a one-touch operation and is illuminated, changing colour to reflect the machine’s readiness – green is displayed when it is ready for use.
To coincide with the launch, training videos for end users will be available on Prodis’ website, along with technical videos for engineers. Additionally it will be offering workshop training days for dealer sales and engineering staff. “This will allow the dealers to be comfortable and confident in selling the features and benefits of the easy electronic control system while at the same time explaining the benefits of the self-diagnostic system to the engineers,” said Mairs.
German-headquartered Winterhalter believes it was one of the first manufacturers to introduce single button operation, plus all its machines now use icons and sounds to alert users, deliver information and identify any potential issues. The warewashers can also be set to operate in 47 languages.
Paul Crowley, marketing development manager of Winterhalter UK, detailed: “Winterhalter always tries to design a complete system, going beyond just the metal box in order to offer our operators the best washing solution. For example, we have designed a rack dolly system for our utensil washers. Heavy and dirty utensils and items such as baking trays can be collected using this dolly.”
In terms of education, the firm has a training truck touring the country. It also partners with its distributors and ensures they can demonstrate how a Winterhalter machine works.
Crowley added: “We share our technical knowledge with our dealers, allowing them to provide an even better service to customers, and ultimately to increase sales.”
Winterhalter’s UK sister company Classeq surveyed operators and found that 75% felt that warewasher manufacturers had introduced unnecessary technological complexity and non-essential features.
The firm recently redesigned all of its machines with simplicity in mind, with the new Standard and Duo ranges featuring two-button controls and digital displays. Adam Lenton, marketing manager, said: “The machines operate on an electronic system rather than electro-mechanical and have inbuilt equipment to record usage data, temperature displays for rinse and wash tanks and chemical use.”
Through further research, Classeq identified that distributors want to work with manufacturers who are easy to deal with and have simple, reliable products. Lenton added: “We are continuously assessing our business processes to find simpler ways of helping our partners and customers. We launched new web platform last year to help cut through the mire and debunking the confusion that can exist around warewashers.” The site includes a ‘help me choose’ section and explanatory animations and video links.
Smeg, too, focuses on distributor education. UK commercial channel director Phil Coulstock explained: “We offer free staff training on all our machines for our distributors as we know how vital it is that staff are taught correctly how to use the equipment and most importantly how best to maintain the machines to get the best reliability from them.”
As well as recently hiring Matt Cosnett as technical service manager, the manufacturer is working on some distributor masterclasses that it will be holding at its Abingdon offices in the final quarter of the year. Coulstock said: “These will run through the unique and technical product features and benefits of our machines and give the attendees the necessary tools to upsell the features of our machines to end users.”
Recent design improvements to the manufacturer’s machines include upgrading plastic components to stainless steel inside the wash cavity to improve longevity and reliability, which adds to the three-stage filtration system in the Topline series and a four-stage version for Ecolines.
Swedish manufacturer Wexiödisk aims to ensure all of its machines are simple to operate and supplies a pictogram with every unit to be mounted on a nearby wall, giving staff a visual operation reference.
The firm feels its accessories also reflect ease of functionality, such as creating a wash basket specifically for glassware for its WD-4S glass undercounter dishwasher. John Shepherd, UK and Ireland country manager said: “The basket means that the glasses are tilted in such a way that the water does not run along the glass surface.”
He underlined: “We have a number of patented systems which are unique to Wexiodisk, so dealer sales staff must have the appropriate knowledge to understand these systems if they are to use this information to their benefit when closing a sale, or for Wexiodisk specification.” Therefore the manufacturer offers full training free of charge at a convenient time and place for the dealer, as well as site surveys carried out alongside a dealer.
Over in Electrolux, ease of use was a key driver during the development of its latest green&clean rack type warewasher. This features an ‘adaptive touchscreen interface’ which includes clear graphics to guide the user, including simple animations with minimal text.
Steve Bowler, category manager for Warewashing at Electrolux Professional UK, commented: “To get the most out of a warewasher, it needs to be sized to suit the amount and type of items being washed, as do the baskets that are used within them. The best way to resolve this is for operators to work closely with dealers and the manufacturer to determine the optimum style and size to cater for the establishment.”
The manufacturer offers training sessions onsite and at its Center of Excellence in Luton to all its dealers, as well as extensive sessions for end users which can be tailored to the site in question.
At Comenda, it reports it designs all its warewashing products to be user-friendly for all skill levels. The machines’ control panel includes a colour-coded status indicator and cycle monitoring, as well as showing all functioning parameters, highlighting any anomalies.
The brand is supplied to the UK through Hubbard Systems, which has created a range of brochures and specification sheets to help the dealers explain the features and benefits to the end user. Furthermore the firm is in the process of developing downloadable training videos to highlight the message and a new website which will include the videos and full product information.
Hubbard technical sales manager Jonathan Mellor reported: “Our area sales managers call on dealers on a regular basis, giving them up to date information on the latest developments and working with them, for example to undertake site surveys. Dealers can also call on our technical support team to get help with warewasher enquires.”