Foodservice Equipment Reports

DESIGN: Dishroom Function Dictates Form

After Manor House senior-living facility became part of the ACTS Retirement-Life Communities corporation, Matt Carlisle, director of the physical plant at the Seaford, Del., property knew he had a great opportunity to redesign the dishroom. He also knew he had one chance to get it right, which is why he and the team started planning a year in advance to ensure the facility had ample machine power and a comfortable, productive workflow for employees.

Space constraints dictated that the new dishroom would need to be kept within the existing kitchen footprint, which consisted of three areas: the main cooking area, a small room with several pieces of additional kitchen equipment and a small bake shop. 

The planning team was comprised of Carlisle; ACTS director of purchasing services Linda Conti; ACTS regional project manager Mark Borst; dishroom design and layout consultant Michael Stempkowski, NEMA Associates, Collingswood, N.J.; architect Jeremy Philo, AIA, Kramer + Marks Architects, Ambler, Pa.; and engineer Steven Griet, PE, LEED AP, president of McHugh Engineering Associates, Fort Washington, Pa.

Together, the group decided to redesign the two adjacent small rooms into one highly functional dishwashing area. The design also set aside space for clean-dish storage. The bake shop and remaining kitchen equipment that previously occupied the space were consolidated into the main cooking area. 

Old Way Out 

Prior to the renovation, the foodservice staff manually scraped, rinsed and racked dishes in several separate areas of the kitchen, then had to transport soiled wares to a very cramped dish-loading station. The flow process required excessive crisscrossing movements and created jams. Pots and pans did not have a dedicated washing area, which meant staff needed to run the cookware through the dishmachine along with the dishes, glasses and utensils.

The redesign centralizes functions, so employees receive trays, then scrap, sort like wares into racks, pre-rinse and load onto the dishmachine conveyor all from one station. It also provides a completely separate pot-and-pan wash area. The relocation of the dishwashing area also eliminated the need for 60 ft. of drain pipe and situated the dishmachine where it could connect to a unique single-source, closed-loop hot-water system. Powered by an external gas booster, the system is housed in the basement one floor below. 

Divide And Conquer 

Relying on one dishmachine to wash everything, including glasses, dishes, utensils and pots and pans, was a major frustration in the old kitchen. By dedicating an area to pot-and-pan washing, process flow improved tremendously, according to Carlisle. 

“Now we have fewer people doing hands-on tasks like scrubbing cookware, and we’re getting everything cleaned faster than before,” he says.

With the warewashing process split, employees wheel racks of soiled dishes, glasses and utensils to a Bi-Line scrapping and racking station, which is equipped to accommodate one to three workers. Pots and pans go to the pot-and-pan station. 

At the scrapping and racking station, employees grab hold of overhead sprayers to rinse the lion’s share of debris off the wares, which they load onto 20-in.-x-20-in. plastic dish racks. Once rinsed, employees simply push filled racks up an angled slide onto a roller conveyor. The racks roll onto the conveyor to self-load into the dishmachine.

Scraps and debris from pre-rinsing flow down a trough into a Hammerall waste disposer that grinds them with an ear-sparing rumble no louder than a residential garbage disposer. 

“This thing is a beast,” Carlisle says of the disposer. “It pulverizes food down to nothing. I could throw a whole chicken in there, and there wouldn’t be anything left.”

Better Technology, Lower Costs 

The dishmachine, a Champion 86PW rack machine, is capable of washing 277 racks per hour and uses intense water sheeting with 160˚F-180˚F water to wash and sanitize. On the clean end, wares are completely dried thanks to “air knife” technology that pushes air through a ó-in. opening at 500 cfm. The clean end also provides plenty of space for clean wares to queue until staffers can put them away.

The new dishmachine’s most important aspect is water efficiency and energy savings. Carlisle notes that with only one meter measuring utility use to the kitchen, it’s difficult to accurately attribute energy savings to specific pieces of equipment, but he estimates the new rack conveyor is cutting at least 25%-40% out of energy on an average-use basis. According to Champion, at full capacity the new machine uses 124 gal. of water per hour, reducing water consumption and operating costs by nearly 60% compared with the replaced unit. 

Another energy upgrade is the single-source gas-booster technology, the Vanguard PowerMax 200, located in the basement one floor below the dishmachine. The external gas booster delivers hot water to the dishmachine one floor above. The booster can deliver instant 185˚F water. The remote system eliminated a problem associated with the traditional flame-ignited boosters in the original design: Manor House employees often had to relight the boosters’ pilots when they were accidentally doused with water. 

Pot-And-Pan Plan 

In the dedicated pot-wash area, a Champion PP-3 power-wash pot sink tackles heavily soiled pots and pans. The system eliminates the need to manually scrub debris off the wares. Under the old system, pots and pans that went through the dishmachine often emerged with traces of baked-on food and employees had to finish the job by hand. 

Now, one employee can man the pot-wash area. It’s equipped with an overhead sprayer so an employee can scrap debris to a second Hammerall disposer, then load the wares into the agitating 120˚F pot soak, the first compartment of the three compartment unit. The sink operates in 15-minute agitation cycles, so employees can walk away and multitask. The second and third compartments are rinse and sanitize sinks respectively. 

To accommodate the power-wash sink and other equipment, the construction crew installed new floor drains leading to sanitary sewer and grease traps, and electrical engineers brought down new electrical connections from the ceiling for the pot-wash area and dishroom. 

And if any equipment needs to be shut down, the design team specified electrical boxes on the wall for quick disconnection, a vast improvement over having to hunt down the right breaker switch in another room. 

The electrical reconfiguration enables Manor House to run all of its equipment off of an emergency generator during a power outage. By ensuring the dishmachine can run continuously, the facility saves the expense of having to buy disposable wares (which it had to do in the past) and maintains its high level of service. 

Easier On Employees 

For staff, the difference working in the new dishroom vs. the old is night and day, according to Carlisle.

The new design and space allotted provides a logical traffic pattern for people and carts and much more space in which to work. 

The old dishroom also used to produce excessive steam, leaving it wet and humid. The redesign sets the dishmachine against an exterior wall, allowing the construction crew to run a pantleg vent directly to the outside. Now the area stays dry, clear and comfortable. 

Additionally, Carlisle says the new dishmachine is much easier to access and maintain. 

Making It Last 

In late 2013, Manor House took another step to ensure the new dishmachine’s long life cycle. It installed a Watts OneFlow Anti-Scale System, a green technology gaining popularity in foodservice venues. The system eliminates scale buildup caused by hard water in plumbing components, such as valves and pipes. 

Different than a water softener, OneFlow works by converting dissolved hard minerals, primarily calcium carbonate, into microscopic crystal particles. The crystals don’t form into scale particles and, in turn, don’t attach to plumbing and block heat transfer. 

Carlisle says visual inspections of plumbing after the OneFlow system installation show considerably less buildup. The system requires maintenance once every few years. And unlike a water softener, it requires no chemicals, such as salt. 

The OneFlow technology is contained in a compact tank, which was installed next to the boiler area in the basement. Carlisle estimates that the system will pay for itself within a year by reducing the labor it took to remove scale from plumbing in the old design.


Name of Facility: Manor House, Seaford, Del.
Area Redesigned: Dishroom
Opened: October 2012
Cost of Project: $280,000
In-House Team: Matt Carlisle, Director of Physical Plant; Linda Conti, Director of Purchasing Services, ACTS Retirement-Life Communities; Mark Borst, Regional Project Manager, ACTS Retirement-Life Communities
Dishroom Design & Layout Consultant: Michael Stempkowski, NEMA Associates, Collingswood, N.J.
Architect: Jeremy Philo, AIA, Kramer + Marks Architects, Ambler, Pa.
Engineer: Steven Griet, PE, LEED AP, President, McHugh Engineering Associates, Fort Washington, Pa. 

Champion/Ali Group 86PW dishmachine w/EBD blow dryer
Bi-Line/Ali Group EZ Rack/PR22 roller conveyor system
Champion/Ali Group PP-3 taskmaster power-wash sink
Hammerall C-500 disposers
Vanguard PowerMax 200 remote gas booster heater
Watts OneFlow anti-scale system
CaptiveAire DU-HFA centrifugal upblast direct drive fan
Eagle Group electronic hand sink w/battery-powered faucet

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