Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

FEB 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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FEBRUARY 2018 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • 49 IT T oday's ultra-sophisticated foodservice equipment requires end users do no more than drop it in place, connect the utilities, plug it in and go. Right? Not quite. Although it certainly may seem that way, to guarantee proper equipment performance and to ensure that war- ranties do not become void, end users should follow some key best practice advice of equipment installers. Experts say that improperly in- stalled equipment plays a major role in first-year warranty repairs. "I've heard manufacturers say that 50 percent to 75 percent of initial problems are because [equipment] is installed improperly," says Paul Toukatly, service manager for Duffy's Equipment Services in Utica, N.Y. "Six months down the road, you find out that a piece of equipment's been on the wrong gas, or is on the wrong voltage, or is just not being used the way that it was designed to be used." Warranty repairs can happen even more quickly than six months due to lack of proper installation, according to Wayne Stoutner, president of Appliance Installation and Service (AIS) in Victor, N.Y. "For first-year service calls on new equipment, I would say a majority are from improper installation, particularly within the first 90 days or so," he says. Common Mistakes Not understanding spacing require- ments for equipment is a common mis- take installers see. Oftentimes, operators try to place individual pieces of equip- ment too close together. "Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers — not all of them — are saying their unit needs zero clear- ance on the sides, which is the worst thing they could possibly do for us," says Zach Howard, field service supervisor for EMR in Baltimore, Md. Utility supply lines present another common problem, according to installers. Many times, equipment goes into kitchens without anyone considering increas- ing the gas capacity or using the correct electrical voltage. Toukatly brings up the example of a successful operation that adds more fryers in the kitchen. "You add two fryers on the gas line. Well, that gas line was sized for the equipment that was already there. You add two more pieces of equipment, and the gas supply can't keep up — and no one knows why." A similar situation can arise with electrical supply lines when equipment that's meant to run on one voltage level actually runs on another level. In that scenario, the equipment won't perform up to its capacity or parts can burn out and need replacing. Manufacturers may see this as a reason to void the warranty. Venting and other safety consider- ations are also sometimes overlooked, Stoutner notes. "I've seen people order equipment that won't necessarily fit under their commercial hood, and they try to install it when they don't actually have the hood space or the fire suppres- sion capacity." Why do these installation mistakes happen? One reason: the evolving way operators procure foodservice equipment. Purchasing an item online, for example, can sometimes lead to an anyone-can- install-it mentality. And problems arise when inexperienced installers come into the picture. "They pull it out of the box," Stoutner says, "open it up and think, 'It's brand new. It should work.' Unfortunate- ly, these are large commercial pieces, and things happen quite a bit in shipping." Working with a local dealer, Stoutner says, offers some recourse in case any- thing goes wrong during the installa- tion process, "whereas it's really hard to go after the website located across the country when you've ordered some- thing improper." Even researching equipment online before buying has its pitfalls. "You can go look at the cut sheet online," Toukatly says. "Unfortunately, those are not always updated, so you've [now] got a piece of equipment with a gas line that's been moved. Or you're assuming it comes straight out the back and now it comes out the side, or vice versa." The Right Way After seeing so many installations done wrong, Toukatly, Stoutner and Howard agree taking a few basic steps can help get an installation done right. That starts with reading the factory manual. "Specifications change," Howard says. "And ask a lot of questions. Ask what you're getting before you buy it. Ask what you need, and make sure you get the specifics on it." Another important point is to ensure The Pre-Site Process A pre-site survey serves as one of the lesser-known but most valuable aspects of the equipment installation process. A manufacturers' rep or a tech from a service company can help avoid expen- sive mistakes and problems by checking out the equipment installation area beforehand. The pre-site survey can also determine if the operation has gas and electrical hookups sufficient enough to allow the new equipment to operate at peak performance. "If the customer can't accommodate [the equipment] or doesn't have the necessary utilities, [the manufacturer] actually won't send them the equipment until that is addressed," says Zach Howard of EMR. Some manufacturers include this in the cost of the equipment, but it can be done outside of a purchase as well. The service company will charge for the pre-site survey, but as Paul Toukatly of Duffy's Equipment Services says, it's better than "having a piece of equipment that doesn't do what you want it to do." He adds that his company does pre-site visits on behalf of several manufacturers, saying, "That'll tell you how important it is to have the installation done properly."

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