The professional warewasher sector has transformed itself in recent times, with more and more manufacturers utilising cutting edge technologies such as digitisation, connectivity, reverse osmosis and steam heat recovery, but what of the future?
According to Hobart Equipment Division UK sales director Tim Bender: “The sheer advance of technology and R&D has brought the modern warewasher to a state where it is almost as fast as it can be. There is of course room for improvement – for marginal gains – but there is undoubtedly room for manoeuvre with regards to size and footprint and extracting more capacity from a machine within the same physical space.”
He revealed: “This challenge has proven the catalyst for our new Two-Level Washer – a machine that makes groundbreaking strides in time, energy, water and space saving while doubling the capacity and productivity of a conventional hood-type, by way of an additional washing chamber; the very embodiment of doing more with less.
“With space at a premium in modern kitchens, the machine’s two wash chambers offer the ultimate in flexibility. At peak times, for instance, a utensil wash programme can take care of heavily soiled pots, pans and cutlery in the lower compartment, while up to three racks of dishes can be washed on a separate programme in the upper level.”
At Electrolux Professional UK and Ireland, warewashing category manager Steve Bowler analysed: “For the past few years, commercial kitchens have been dealing with contradicting factors, as footprints are reduced at the same time as output requirements are increased. This has affected warewashing technology, with a greater emphasis now placed on maximising throughput volumes to match the demands of a busy kitchen. This is a trend that is likely to continue, with the space allowed for dishwashing equipment unlikely to increase in crowded kitchens.”
He feels: “The performance of warewashers, in terms of overall volume and capabilities, must be matched by both efficiency and through minimising environmental impact. Water consumption is a significant factor in this regard, as the need to positively affect the bottom-line makes a reduction in running costs of paramount importance.”
Plus he believes that connectivity is another technological trend that will feature heavily in the coming years: “Inter-connectivity between devices is prevalent across virtually all aspects of our lives, and we cannot expect commercial kitchen equipment to be different. Incorporating it in the right way can produce significant savings, which is exemplified by Electrolux Professional’s OnE platform. Capable of remotely monitoring a range of Electrolux appliances, it helps to keep track of, and ultimately reduce, running costs.”
Elsewhere, Meiko UK MD Paul Anderson reported: “Manufacturers such as Meiko are devoting huge energy to reducing water and energy consumption. We only make dishwashers and upwards of 20% of Meiko group profit is put into R&D. Creating better designed dishwashers, wash and rinsing systems and filtration is our goal.
“Equipment is also becoming ‘friendlier’ to catering management, with built-in reporting systems monitoring temperatures, door openings etc, but also helping to identify faults before they become serious.”
Anderson forecasted that Meiko will continued to be guided by concern for the environment and escalate its focus in the distributor market on sustainable and environmental issues. “First and foremost, our customers require dishwash solutions that perform in terms of sparkling results, good design and ergonomics; and which receive the very best in terms of technical support including attending breakdowns within 8 working hours,” he said.
“But reducing water consumption, energy and chemicals reduction can also be achieved, and we will be working with our distributor partners to promote dishwash solutions that minimise use of resources. This will require a higher commitment to training, both on-site for distributors and their customers and through various media such as video.”
At Krupps, export MD Riccardo Scuotto commented: “Warewashing technology is moving forward quickly and now many manufacturers are introducing wi-fi control systems on their equipment. We are very happy that this trend is following the path we started in 2015 with IKloud, the first wi-fi remote control system for professional warewashers.”
He predicted: “Next year economy saving will be the greatest trend: customers are increasingly asking for low consumptions products while obtaining better washing results. At Krupps we decided to anticipate this new demand with Start&Stop Delay and Thermostart, two features awarded the Smart Label at Host 2019.”
Furthermore he reported that Krupps keeps in contact with dealers to obtain end user feedback too. “Recently we noticed that end users are increasingly asking for an easier method to obtain information from the machine, for this reason they are appreciating all the features connected to IKloud, like having a quick overview of their warewasher, setting the on/off daily times and monitoring use and consumption.”
Elsewhere, Wexiödisk UK and Ireland country manager David Glover evaluated: “Within the industry we are beginning to see the development of energy saving technologies come on leaps and bounds.
“For Wexiödisk, however, the development of energy saving technology has been the focus from the start and has led is to develop a range of unique warewashing technologies such as the ICS+ (Intelligent Control System) and Duplus which are both patented techniques that hugely reduce the environmental impact of commercial warewashers whilst reducing utility costs.
“We also predict that digital displays will continue to become more advanced than ever before in the next coming years – developments which will further ease the operation process of commercial warewashers.”
He continued: “With compact kitchens set to continue to rise in 2020, warewashing areas are in turn likely to continue to shrink – this pattern is one that we feel will significantly influence the development and design of new warewashers, with many suppliers now looking for ways to reduce the footprint of their models.
“Despite this soaring demand for space-saving equipment however, many dealers and operators still associate small equipment with small capacity capabilities. However, with a space-savvy unit such as Wexiodisk’s popular WD-6 Duplus, dealers are able to reassure their customers that the very highest of warewashing standards will be met without compromising on space or capacity.”
At Winterhalter UK, marketing manager Paul Crowley analysed: “The ‘holy grail’ for warewashing is to use less water and energy without compromising on results. This may mean different chemicals, different hardware or a machine that no one in the industry has quite envisaged yet.
“Another area will be automation – automatic loading and unloading, not only to speed up the washing process but also to overcome the potential lack of kitchen staff. Connectivity will continue to develop, with more manufacturers getting in on the act as operators realise the benefits it can bring.”
He believes that connectivity will continue to trend into 2020, commenting: “This in turn is leading to a trend whereby operators are looking for solutions that take away the pains of warewashing – in other words, suppliers who will look after every aspect of it, except the loading and unloading! So they want someone to supply the machine, the water treatment, the chemicals, the service and the staff training – and to check it’s all running smoothly on a regular basis.”
Crowley reported dealer feedback such as: “Everyone is looking to reduce costs. For example, we’re getting more requests about our utensil washers – this is an area where in the past the washing might have been done by hand. Although the initial cost of a utensil washer obviously outweighs labour, the machine will pay for itself quickly over time.Meanwhile, customers are increasingly trying to extend the life of their machines by repairing rather than replacing. We have plenty of examples of machines lasting well over 10 years.”
Over at sister company Classeq, marketing manager Adam Lenton believes that connectivity will remain a strong trend, remotely monitoring warewasher performance and consumption and actioning remote repairs.
He detailed: “The next step on the journey, especially in view of the technological advances that are gaining pace in robotics and artificial intelligence, is that we could see warewashing machines which automatically load and unload themselves, along with sensing when items are clean in a machine – so you wouldn’t have set cycle times – with the machine knowing when items being washed are clean and when it can finish automatically.”
However, he emphasised: “With regards to Classeq, we’re not really associated with the latest technology, our brand is more about making things simpler for our customers, partners/distributors. That said, however, we have spent many years developing warewashers which have the vital technology embedded to deliver optimum performance, however, it’s not been for the sake of gadgetry or gimmick. One of the key components of Classeq’s offer is around the simplicity of the machines, designed to have really simple controls with universally recognised symbols.
“We have a dedicated research and development department and are always working on improvements to the existing and new products to add to our portfolio. However, we do concentrate on keeping things simple and not overloading people with too much choice.”
Elsewhere, in Smeg, commercial channel director Phil Coulstock’s opinion: “Dishwasher technology hasn’t made many significant advances in the last 15-20 years, other than a move away from electromechanical components to fully electronic ones and the battle between manufacturers to reduce water, chemical and energy consumption.
“But this has halted of late as there comes a point where there is a limit to how far you can reduce things till you reach the point where things aren’t washing well enough due to insufficient amounts of water and chemical in the machine.”
Therefore he revealed: “Smeg has been working on what we believe will be the biggest change ever in the product sector, the implementation of wi-fi connectivity into its machines. The connectivity aspect will completely change the way machines are sold, installed, operated and, if there is ever an issue, how they are fixed.
“All aspects of the supply chain will see clear benefits from the distributors selling the machines: the buyers, the operators and the manufacturers. In the next 5-10 years connectivity will re-define the machines completely in terms of how they are designed, built, used, serviced and what they will cost to buy, if they will even be sold and not rented to operators. The options and potential changes are endless.”
Finally, Gemma Christie, business account manager at Miele’s professional division, cited sustainability as a continuing focus. “That will mean many dishwasher manufacturers developing energy and water saving solutions, ergonomic solutions and intuitive controls.”
She said: “Many professional kitchens have to rinse heavily soiled items prior to the warewashing cycle to ensure items are cleaned thoroughly and meet the high standards expected by hospitality customers. But that could soon be a thing of the past as dishwasher manufacturers are developing technology that enables greater waste disposal, removing the need for pre-soaking.”
Next year Christie foresees full system solutions becoming more popular, comprising the machine, detergent, rinse aid and accessories. Plus she predicted: “Thanks to sustainability’s increasing popularity, wash loads will become more frequent for hospitality businesses as they exchange disposable packaging for reusable items. For example, doing away with plastic coffee cups and replacing them with reusable vessels will only build on the items that need washing.”
She concluded: “When buying dishwashers, businesses will feel more inclined to pay a little bit more on the product itself, as it could mean paying less on servicing and maintenance.”
When Catering Insight posed the question as to which warewashing technologies are becoming obsolete, warewashing manufacturer executives responded with a variety of opinions.
According to Hobart Equipment Division UK sales director Tim Bender: “One thing we do see dying rapidly, and something that from January 2020 we will be discontinuing, are waste disposers, as they simply don’t make sense from an environmental point of view anymore.”
While Meiko UK MD Paul Anderson picked water softeners as being on their way out. “They are problematic to operate – staff fail to look after them properly – they consume too much water, take up valuable space especially behind the bar; and because much better technology in the form of RO systems is now in place for most types of machines.”
At Krupps, export MD Riccardo Scuotto predicted the demise of electromechanical models. “Even if they can enable good washing results, they cannot compete with the latest wi-fi equipment and its awesome features that are helping both distributors, technical services and end users.”
Classeq marketing manager Adam Lenton agreed with Scuotto: “The lower end of the market still uses electromechanical systems, but this is now becoming dated. With more suppliers moving to digital systems, the cost of these older systems is increasing with the fall in demand – plus accuracy in dosing, and serviceability of the digital systems is far superior, leading to better results, and better information of usage.”
At sister company, Winterhalter, marketing manager Paul Crowley believes: “Modern machines tend to have more integrated, built-in features as standard. This could mean that external features, such as external water treatment systems, will become less common.”
Phil Coulstock, Smeg UK’s commercial channel director, detailed that it is unlikely that drain heat recovery will be used on any of the brand’s warewashers in the near future: “Purely because Smeg has found a way to incorporate the double benefits of the steam heat recovery – steam removal from the work space and also the energy transfer from the steam to heat up the cold inlet water.”
Elsewhere, Gemma Christie, business account manager at Miele’s professional division, believes that manual detergent loading is likely to be replaced by autodosing. She explained: “This removes the need for employees to measure and handle the chemicals themselves, potentially putting themselves at risk.”