Posted by Patrick Maness
It would be interesting to take a survey and see how many of today’s top chefs or acclaimed restaurateurs were initiated into the business as a dishwasher. Soaking the hard-to-clean pots, going after the baked-on food with steel wool and loading trays into the square washing chamber may have been the first kitchen job performed by many of today's accomplished chefs.
In the next few years, many restaurants and cafeterias will experience a sea-change in how they wash dishes. Like many processes in our society, the future of commercial dishwashing will involve more automation, reduced labor costs, greater efficiency and, ultimately, cleaner dishes.
The conveyor belt
It's strange that the conveyor belt, which has been used in one form or another for almost a hundred years to produce everything from cars to crackers, is only just now being widely used to wash dishes in commercial kitchens.
Conveyor-type dishwashers use an automated belt to continually feed dishes into the washing and drying tunnel. Much like the automatic conveyor belts in grocery store checkout lines, when dishes reach the end of the belt, it automatically stops moving and gives workers time to remove the items.
This fully automated system is especially useful for cafeterias where a high number of trays, dishes and flatware must be washed and put back into use quickly.
A breakthrough in efficiency
A fully automated conveyor belt system might not be right for every situation, but newer models offer an important feature called heat recovery.
Essentially, heat recovery is a method that captures steam from the hot water used to wash dishes and then reuses that captured steam to heat the water for future wash cycles. This drastically cuts back on the amount of energy needed to heat water.
As a rule of thumb, commercial dishwashers tend to last between five and 10 years. Although they are expensive, they are a necessary investment. Choosing a more energy-efficient dishwasher can reduce the overall cost of ownership. In addition, fully automated conveyor belt machines can reduce labor costs.
Because newer models of dishwashers promise to save money, be sure to keep in contact with your TriMark rep about the options you might want in your kitchen.