Pizza Oven Shutdown Shows Just How Connected Kitchen Operations Are

Sometimes it’s just as important to find out why there’s a problem as it is to know what the problem is. That maxim held true for the owner of a pizza restaurant in Baltimore. When the conveyor pizza oven shut down all of a sudden on a busy Saturday night, the owner called Clark Service Group, based in Lancaster, Pa., in a panic. By the time the technician arrived, the problem had been fixed, at least temporarily. The restaurant staff had found a couple of breakers tripped, switched them back on and everything was working fine.

Unable to replicate the problem, the technician set up a follow-up service call for Tuesday to make sure everything was OK and further investigate what caused the breakers to trip. Before that call transpired, the oven had troubles again, shutting off multiple times during lunch on Monday; and again, restaurant employees were able to get it working by flipping the breakers. When the technician returned for the scheduled full-service call, he set about diagnosing the root of the problem.

An intermittent electrical issue is probably one of the more frustrating a technician can service. Joshua Perkins, Baltimore branch operations manager for Clark, knew that finding the source of this particular breakdown would require a little ingenuity. “Knowing which breaker was tripped, it looked like a problem with the exhaust hood,” Perkins says. “But when we looked, there wasn’t anything wrong with the hood.” Next, Perkins and the technician opened up the oven’s control box to check the wires. At first glance everything looked OK, but when Perkins started jiggling the wires trying to find the cause of the electrical issue the hood exhaust controls went into fire mode, shutting down the exhaust fan and the shunt trip breakers powering the pizza oven.

“After four years of making pizzas, normal wear will cause some screws to work themselves out and things to get loose,” Perkins says. “But there had to be something shaking that control box to jiggle the wire like I did to cause an intermittent outage.”

Finding that answer would require a watch-and-learn approach. “It turns out, when they were washing dishes, they slammed pots down against the same wall as the hood controls, which jarred them just enough to break the contact on that loose wire,” says Perkins. “That explained why the problem was only happening during some shifts.”

This fire mode incident shows just how connected kitchen operations are. Proper procedures when washing dishes, thinking ahead with kitchen design and proper maintenance on equipment all work together to keep things running smoothly.

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