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The latest trends in restaurant refrigeration equipment

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Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News recently asked leading refrigeration equipment managers about buying tips, cost savings and the latest developments in refrigeration. Read on to find out what they had to say. . . .

Participants:

Phil Beauvais, Market Manager, Hobart Canada

Greg Hotta, Distributed Product Manager, Garland Canada, Manitowoc Foodservice

Lina Muasher, Igloo Food Equipment Co.

What are some of the most interesting developments when it comes to refrigeration equipment for restaurants and commercial foodservice in Canada in 2016?

Greg Hotta: R290 refrigerant is a now the new standard in commercial refrigeration. It is an environmentally friendly refrigerant that is naturally occurring and has very little effect on the environment. Going forward a refrigeration unit with R290 coolant is a natural fit for foodservice operators who understand the paybacks in helping the environment and in energy savings. LED lights have also become the norm for residential lighting. This is now becoming more common in commercial refrigeration. LED uses less energy, has a longer life span and provides excellent lighting vs. traditional incandescent lighting. This ultimately saves the operators money in energy and bulb replacement.

Lina Muasher: New trends include straight glass display cases, square design, slim line merchandisers and see-through sides (glass). Cube display cases are perfect for the latest baking trends including macaroons and other patisserie-related goods. These are quite beneficial to commercial foodservice as it enhances the overall look and ambiance of the business. It allows for durable and high-quality products while maintaining a modern look that will attract the attention of current and potential customers.

What are the major factors for restaurant owners to keep in mind when selecting new refrigeration equipment?

Phil Beauvais: In Canada, the first consideration that a restaurant operator should keep in mind when buying refrigeration equipment is verifying the model they are choosing is on the NRCan (Natural Resources Canada) approved list. There are a number of requirements that apply to certain refrigeration and freezer models so prior to purchasing a unit, ensure it is on the list. You can check that your model complies with Canada’s Energy Efficiency regulations by visiting the NRCan web site (http://bit.ly/1TVSr61). In some regions of Canada rebates may also be available and you can access this information by contacting your local utility. The second consideration should be equipment performance; not all commercial units are equal in this department. Ask your supplier for references to contact regarding the performance of the equipment being considered.

GH: Operators should look for EnergyStar approved equipment. Most operators have multiple refrigeration units, including reach-ins and prep tables. Operating energy costs can be considerably lower compared to old equipment they may be using. Easy of cleaning is also important. This includes interior and exterior of the units. Also door gaskets. This is a wear item, and keeping these clean helps the unit maintain temperature and increase the life expectancy. All these things are important as health inspectors look for hygiene and temperature holding.

LM: When selecting new refrigeration equipment, it’s best to choose equipment that has low amperage, which is quite beneficial as it means low operating cost. Also, low heat emission from the condensing unit has a huge positive impact on the environment. Lastly, it is important to consider quiet operation and ease of service.

What are restaurant operators looking for in terms of energy efficiency, cost savings, functionality and ease of use when it comes to refrigeration? How does your company’s product line address these issues?

PB: Traulsen addresses energy efficiency, cost saving and functionality in a number of ways: Our air flow design keeps more cold air inside the unit when the door is opened, pulling less warm air from outside of the cabinet, and allowing a quick return to operating temperature after the door has been opened. So your refrigerator is working smarter and not harder to keep up with the demands of a fast-paced restaurant. Innovations like the EZ Open Foot Pedal allow for hands-free door opening, ensuring that pans and trays of expensive food are held securely in two hands by operators, while still being able to open the equipment door. We also have a new door gasket designed to simplify cleaning and reducing areas that can collect dust and debris.

What are some tips or best practices that restaurant owners can follow to get the most benefit from their refrigeration equipment?

PB: If I could give only one tip here, I would say to be sure to purchase a unit that has an easily accessible coil, link and dust collect on the fins of the condenser coils and they need to be cleaned off regularly. Dirty coils reduce the efficiency of the refrigeration system and an easily accessible condenser coil helps to ensure that cleaning can be done by the operator. Proper and timely cleaning is a simple way to protect your investment and ensure efficient operation of your refrigeration equipment. By not cleaning your coil you are four times more likely to experience a premature compressor failure and the compressor is often the most expensive component on the unit. Cleaning instructions should be included in your operator’s manual for easy reference. My second tip would be to look for units with digital displays to easily read operating temperatures. Dial temperature displays are often difficult to read and a digital display makes sure that you can confirm the unit is at the proper operating temperatures at a glance.

GH: For gasket maintenance, do a daily wipe down of the door/drawer gaskets with mild soap and water. Neglecting this maintenance will reduce the life of the gasket. Torn or worn gaskets that don’t seal properly force the refrigeration unit to work harder, costing more money. It also becomes harder for the unit to maintain proper temperature. Also important, make sure the refrigeration unit has adequate ventilation. If a unit is positioned in the kitchen in a tight space or the condensing coil is blocked or covered, it becomes harder for the unit to maintain the proper temperature. It could also cause the compressor or components to fail prematurely.

LM: Restaurant owners must understand the working environment where the refrigeration equipment will be located. Cleaning of the equipment should be performed on a regular basis, once the coil shows signs of dust collection. Preventive maintenance of the equipment should be performed every time the cooling coils are cleaned.

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