Most industries take efficiency seriously, but for fast food companies it must pervade their every move; from serving customers right back to the original fitting out of the kitchens. Enclosure manufacturer, Spelsberg UK, thrives on the challenge of working with the makers of fast food kitchens, some of whom fit out restaurants all over the world for many of the biggest names in the convenience catering industry.
The world market for fast food is growing at nearly five percent per annum and should top $600bn before 2019, according to a new report by Transparency Market Research. As well as opening up new territories, there is a constant drive to introduce new menus, redefine service levels and improve operational efficiency.
Not surprisingly, the kitchens are designed and built so that food can be prepared quickly, efficiently and hygienically. This concept is also extended so that they can be installed rapidly and are easy to clean and maintain.
Thus, the design concepts behind fast food kitchens are highly developed and naturally their build and installation has become a specialism with just a few international companies who work all over the world. For such companies, providing integrated equipment and service solutions to the restaurant and retail industry is just the start of their expertise. They go beyond simple supply and are closely involved in the development of new kitchen and restaurant concepts as well as providing significant levels of R&D support to their customers.
The basic manufactured product is the stainless steel fabricated workstation. This is designed to be durable for a high-volume restaurant environment, and fully fitted out with a complete package of equipment and cabling in place ready to be plugged in. A full set of workstations may be delivered to a restaurant anywhere in the world and can be up and running in practically no time, thus allowing large chains to open new restaurants and refurbish existing ones very quickly.
To meet the needs of its high efficiency customers, kitchen build companies must be equally proficient in the delivery of their products and services. To this end, they insist their suppliers are efficient, reliable, adaptable and innovative. Thus, once they find a good supplier they nurture the relationship and build up a high-performance partnership with them.
One such supplier is Telford-based electrical enclosure specialist Spelsberg, which has worked on many kitchen projects for a number of customers.
“We employ a range of enclosures in our work with kitchen builders,” said Spelsberg MD Chris Lloyd. “Probably the most frequently used are the TK and AK ranges, but they also make good use of our bespoke design options.”
The TK range is a general purpose enclosure designed to house a wide range of electrical, electronic and pneumatic equipment. This is available in a number of variants, including different sizes and materials, so can be matched to specific installation needs.
The base of the TK-PS for example is made from grey polystyrene and there is a choice of either a transparent polycarbonate or grey polystyrene lid. A polyurethane cover gasket is fitted as standard. It has an IP66 ingress protection rating and is resistant to most acids and alkalis, so is ideal in environments where there are washdowns and food-standard hygiene practices in operation. It is also impact resistant and can withstand temperatures from -25 to +40 °C.
The AK range is a new distribution board from Spelsberg. It is certified to EN 60670-24 (also known as VDE 0606-24) for voltages up to 400V and feed currents as high as 125A, so is suitable for installation in commercial kitchens and other working environments.
The whole AK range has an IP65 rating as standard and is free from heavy metals, PVC and silicone, which make the units suitable for installation in food preparation areas where there is likely to be water used for washing and cleaning. The design of the AK provides clear access to the interior for easy mounting or swapping out of electrical equipment. The high quality finish means they are suitable for use in positions where they may be seen by restaurant customers.
Lloyd continued: “Probably a third of the enclosures we supply to kitchen builders are to a custom design. All in all that is quite a volume, but we are geared up to provide specials as quickly and as efficiently as standard products. For instance, we may be asked for a printing or embossing, a special configuration of access ports or mounting holes or a see-through cover. Spelsberg can meet all such requirements with its in-house machining capability.”
Typically, kitchens are built and fully fitted-out in the companies’ own facilities, then shipped out and delivered to sites around the world in a plug-and-play format. The idea is that there is no need for an electrician on site; setting up the kitchens is no more difficult than plugging-in a home hi-fi system.
Keeping all the technical work in-house enables the kitchen builders to guarantee quality and safety standards. This is particularly important because the equipment is worked very hard - often for 18 or 24 hours a day, yet it is typically expected to last ten years or more.
Lloyd concluded: “Quality and endurance are essential to a kitchen builder’s reputation, so it is only natural that they demand top quality products from their suppliers.”