Working in the dining facility, mess hall or galley, we sometimes spend so much time cooking we forget about how important it is to maintain the piece of equipment we are using. It’s just like performing maintenance on your vehicle if you are reluctant not to perform maintenance on your vehicle it will eventually fail you. It does not matter rather it’s a government facility or contract operated facility; maintenance must be included in your everyday activity. Planned maintenance is the best defense in prolonging the life of your food service equipment. As the adage goes “proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance”, and no place is this truer than in your dining facility (DFAC). While planned maintenance won’t stop a piece of equipment from breaking (that’s inevitable), but what it does do is stop premature failures, extend the life of a piece of equipment and ensure that your equipment is running at peak performance and efficiency.
A high level of efficiency is vital to the overall operation of a DFAC. Kettles should heat up and boil, freezers should freeze, and mixers should mix effortlessly as intended. When they don’t, they use more energy and reduce the quality of the products prepared in them.
Planned maintenance catches small problems and prevents them for becoming big (and usually expensive) problems. The overarching objective of planned maintenance is to save money, reduce the number of service calls, conserve utilities, extend the life of equipment and avoid abrupt interruptions to DFAC operations.
Planned maintenance of your dining facility’s food service equipment can be as easy as regularly cleaning and servicing your food service equipment. Here are some recommended tips for properly cleaning and maintaining your dining facility’s food service equipment.
- Clean your food service equipment daily to prevent dirt and grime build up. Build up comes from food products and grease falling into the crevasses and wears down your equipment.
- Make a schedule for cleaning, calibrating ovens, checking refrigerator temperatures, descaling water intensive equipment (i.e. dish machines and kettles) and any other type of food service equipment that requires scheduled maintenance and upkeep.
- Closely read and follow the cleaning directions in the manufacturer’s operator’s manual and on the solvent bottles to avoid damaging your equipment.
- Contact the manufacturer if you are not certain of the proper way to clean your food service equipment. Most manufacturers keep copies of maintenance manuals even for retired or discontinue models.
- As you replace your equipment, make sure a service contract is a part of your purchase packet. The contract should ensure the manufacturer, or a local service company is contracted to perform regularly scheduled fine-tuning of each piece of equipment purchased.
- When researching and choosing new food service equipment, look for ones that are easy to clean or in some case (such as ovens) self-cleaning. Easy to clean means parts that come apart and that can be put back together easily.
- Take advantage of your manufacturer’s regional or local representatives. They are well trained and usually do not charge to help, so call them in to teach you the best cleaning methods for your equipment. If necessary, call the headquarters office.
- Keep small food service equipment items such as blenders and produce cutters in closets, cabinets or on shelves whenever possible. Keeping them out of the way prevents them from being knocked over, dropped or spilled on.
- Make sure the maintenance personnel on your installation are a part of the purchasing process and that they receive the required training on the equipment as well so that they know how properly service it when the need arises.