The quantity and type of food, along with the type of items being washed represent key factors to weigh when specifying a warewasher for any foodservice operation.
When choosing a warewasher, it’s important to understand the different washing methodologies and the effect on types of materials and composites. For example, dedicated glass washers will have a longer wash cycle and lower water pressure. This helps keep the unit from damaging fragile glassware during washing. By contrast, dedicated pot-and-pan washers use higher water pressure and longer wash cycles to more effectively remove heavier soiling.
When considering the type and placement of the unit, consider both utility hook up and availability. Warewashers generally require incoming water and drain systems.
Proper ventilation and air circulation also are necessary for this equipment. For the exhaust system to be compatible, both the fan size and cubic feet per minute (CFM) air circulation need to be adequate for the room size.
When specifying warewashers, determine whether a high- or low-temperature model is preferable. High-temp warewashers, recommended for operations cleaning dense proteins, such as eggs, cheese and lipstick, have a final rinse temperature of 180 degrees F to sanitize the contents. In many cases, these units utilize a booster heater that requires additional electrical capabilities. Low temp warewashers don’t require as much electricity but utilize chemical sanitizers.
Because some models offer the option of electric, steam or gas water-heating systems, decide which type is preferable when deciding on a unit. Some warewashers offer either a fresh-water rinse, which helps increase energy efficiency, or a fill-and-drain system for operations that don’t have exposure to scrapping or pre-rinsing.
The warewasher’s filtering system represents another consideration to weigh. Water conditions have a direct impact on the unit’s operation and service life. The better the water, the better the washing results will be.
Compare the ratio of usable cubic inches of wash area versus the unit’s overall footprint. Tank sizes are measured in 6-inch increments. Also assess throughput speed. This will determine how fast the system can wash the items required. The bigger the warewasher and the faster it runs, the more efficient it will be.
When replacing a warewasher, determine the space constraints for this equipment. Keep in mind that it may be best to purchase a unit that is larger than necessary for increased efficiency, flexibility, capacity at peak periods and future expansion of the operation. If the ability to wash varied loads that are intermixed is important, consider a system that offers random loading capabilities.
Noise levels can be an issue with some warewasher types. If the dishwashing area sits by the dining room, consider specifying a quieter unit with heavier insulation.
Ergonomics represents yet another factor to weigh. Namely, consider how employees will load and unload the unit. Heat recovery systems capture heat coming out of the warewasher and redirect it out of the space and/or repurpose it as a heat source for the unit. This saves on air conditioning and electricity costs and can make the space more comfortable for employees. Ventless warewashers in the door machine category may negate the need for exhaust hoods.
Variable-speed units that correlate the water to the belt speed for conveyor warewashers can offer increased efficiency for seasonal operations or those with varying volume.