New Year is the perfect opportunity to take stock of your existing commercial refrigeration equipment. With the amount of work your refrigeration system has likely handled over the festive period, and the fact that it must continue to do so for the year ahead, it is imperative that you take stock if its efficiency for a smooth year ahead.
Give your equipment an ‘MOT’ and determine if you need to invest in select pieces of new commercial refrigeration. For refrigeration that is still performing, reconsider and revise processes to optimise efficiency and reinforce the importance of efficiency with staff.
Here are 5 ways to ensure that your commercial refrigerator is running efficiently.
Keep your Systems Clean
It’s essential to employ regular cleaning programs and keep up to date with all servicing and maintenance. Cleaning your commercial refrigeration is much more important than most people realise.
Regular cleaning should always be part of your daily, weekly and monthly chores however what better way to get the year off to a good start than to carry out a comprehensive, deep clean. Allocate some time for this exercise because it might take a while.
Here are the steps you can take when deep cleaning your refrigerator.
- Take everything out of the cabinet and keep an inventory. It is important to leave the refrigerator free of anything including shelves for easier cleaning. The inventory will help you date order your foodstuffs when you refill the refrigerator after cleaning is done. Remember to employ stock rotation to reduce potential food waste.
- Take your refrigerator apart. Refrigerators are usually designed with removable parts. These include door gaskets and shelves. Some models also allow you to remove the door.
- Scrub every inch of your refrigerator. Clean the removable parts and set apart to let them dry. The remaining unit should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water where necessary. Clean every reachable surface remembering to keep electrical components dry.
- Once done, reassemble your refrigerator and properly arrange your stock inside the cabinet.
- Clean vents and accessible refrigeration components to remove any dust or debris which may have accumulated. This can be done with the soft brush attachment of a vacuum or by wiping with a cloth. Dirt and dust can have a significant impact on the performance and efficiency of your refrigeration and can contribute to potential causes for breakdowns.
Check for Faults and Performance Issues
Regularly check equipment for any faults or reduction in performance. Like any other appliance in your commercial kitchen, your fridge is at risk of experiencing performance issues and breakdown at some point. These are especially common in a busy commercial kitchen where refrigeration is in constant high use.
Loss of performance could signal potential issues before a bigger problem arises. Also, a loss in performance could ultimately lead to costly breakdowns and loss of stock.
In the event that the unit is not performing as expected, replace any worn out parts. These could be worn out door gaskets or broken shelves. Door gaskets are usually easy to replace and can be purchased from your equipment supplier.
Check your condenser coils and ensure that they are clean and functioning properly. Condenser coils are important because they draw heat away from the system allowing the equipment to perform at its best.
A technician will also help you check the refrigerant levels. The refrigerant is one of the most important components in a refrigeration system. They should also be able to check the unit’s performance and advise accordingly.
Use Your Appliances Responsibly
You are less likely to enjoy a high performing commercial refrigerator if you do not use it responsibly.
Check temperature settings on your unit and ensure that they are set properly. Just a degree or two in either direction of optimum temperature can make a difference to efficiency in your commercial kitchen.
Keep doors closed as much as possible. You might find this difficult in a busy commercial kitchen where frequent access is commonplace, however, it is important to reduce energy wastage. This simple action also reduces the strain placed on refrigeration components as they continuously have to work to pull down temperatures when they inevitably rise slightly through warmer ambient air entering the cabinet.
Teach your staff how to use the refrigerator responsibly. Chances are that you are not the only one using the fridge in your commercial kitchen and so everyone must be made aware of the basics. This will enable them to use the unit responsibly and maximise efficiency even when you are not around.
Airflow is one of the most important determinants of a commercial refrigerator’s efficiency. Proper airflow will reduce the amount of energy used by the unit thus helping you save costs on energy bills.
Make sure to maintain ample airflow externally and internally. Exterior airflow helps equipment to maintain consistent temperatures and minimise the strain placed on refrigeration components. Basically, your refrigerator needs space to breathe. Therefore, do not stack other appliances close to the unit in a way that would impede airflow.
Interior airflow is just as important. Allow room for air to circulate cold temperatures within the cabinet by properly organising your stock on the shelves to allow effective chilling of contents.
Find the Perfect Location
Make sure that your refrigerator’s positioning allows optimal performance. One great determinant for your unit’s placement is the climate class.
Climate classes vary depending on what atmosphere the unit is designed to operate in. Some refrigerators with a lower climate class are manufactured to be located in a separate storage area with lower ambient temperatures. Equipment with a higher climate class sometimes referred to as catering fridges, are specifically designed for use in the heart of the kitchen where cooking equipment raises the ambient temperature.
Placing refrigeration in areas where it is not designed to go means that it has to work harder to achieve and maintain cold temperatures thus reducing equipment lifespan and increasing the potential for costly breakdowns.
A fully functioning and efficiently used refrigeration system will save you a lot of time and money in your commercial kitchen. Take some time to ensure that your refrigeration equipment is up to the required standards of operation and that you and your staff are employing efficient procedures in order to start the year on the right note.