Keeping Up While Gearing Up


Looking at the most recent crop of new products, one thing seems clear: Equipment companies are listening more closely to the needs of operators. It’s no longer just about adding bells and whistles. Today, if a new piece of equipment isn’t greener, cleaner or smaller, it’s not going to make the cut.


It’s easy being green

Almost by definition, products that save energy fall into the green category. Manitowoc, for example, already has a line of EnergyMizer products that reduce energy costs.  But now the company has also switched from a chemical insulating foam to a water-based foam inside its ice machines and storage bins.  Eliminating the chemicals—such as propellant gasses—used in refrigeration machines anticipates future regulation, notes Manitowoc engineer Jim Baumann. “We are seeing more and more legislation on the horizon restricting the use of greenhouse gases in this category,” he says.


The Protector Fryer from Frymaster features new technology that extends oil life up to four weeks.  Since the unit exceeds Energy Star standards, it’s doubly green in that it can reduce energy consumption as well as cut down on the amount of oil that eventually has to be discarded.  Vulcan’s new 900RX line of gas griddles goes green in a different way, replacing the mercury used in the unit’s flame switches with a thermocouple that supervises the pilot contact.


Antimicrobials to the front

Antimicrobial agents have primarily been used in cleaning products or on cutting surfaces.  Now they’re showing up in the front of the house, too.  Stanley’s TouchSafe coffee carafes and cream pitchers incorporate Agion silver-based antimicrobial protection in all their polypropylene “touchable” surfaces, such as handles, levers and spouts.  Lynda Yost, VP for Stanley manufacturer Pacific Market International, says the idea to add the antimicrobial came from “listening to operators.  We hear their concern about E. coli scares.  This helps them feel safer.”


For younger diners, Rubbermaid Commercial Products has developed the Sturdy Chair Youth Seat, the first high chair to use Microban antimicrobial protection.  The protection is built into the product during the manufacturing process, resulting in a chair that should stay cleaner and look newer for a longer period of time.


No Space? No Problem!

Manufacturers are creating a lot of products these days with smaller footprints or designing products that help operators maximize the limited space they have. One example is Cleveland’s Convotherm Mini-Combi Oven Steamer.  It delivers the same cooking abilities as the company’s larger units—such as convection steaming, slow cooking and combination cooking—in a unit that measures just 20 inches wide by 27 inches high and 27 inches deep.  Amana’s AXP High-Speed Combination Oven offers radiant, microwave and convection functions.  Although its footprint is smaller than similar ovens in its category, its usable cavity space of 1.07 cubic feet is equals to or larger than comparable ovens.


Even wire storage shelves can do double duty as locked units, for storing alcohol or other items that need to be secured.  Eagle Group’s Security Modules add end panels, a rear panel and either a hinged or flip-up door to standard wire shelving to convert it to a lockable unit.