10 Ways to Save Energy in Your Commercial Kitchen

By Ivim Pelloso, FCSI member and partner and executive manager at Placontec

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There are basic concepts in industrial kitchens that allow energy reduction: electric power, gas usage, the physical area, equipment, and employees. These concepts are true for any business — commercial and industrial restaurants, coffee shops, bars, supermarkets, hospitals, hotels, fast food restaurants, etc.

The design of an industrial kitchen is directly connected to the basic data related to the operation. The average number of client services, kinds of services, types of menus, the public, seats, and the medium ticket are crucial data for the design.

Below, we break down each area and/or operation and the efficiency gain of each.

10 Ways to Reduce Energy and Maximize Efficiency

1. Maximize linear circulation. All activities in an industrial kitchen must follow a straight line, which is essentially the shortest distance between two points. There must be no interferences that could increase the distance between the two places. The linear circulation reduces the cross-contamination risk and it interconnects places in the kitchen.

2. Use a transport trolley. We must use the transport trolley to multiply the capacity of cargo transport in any operation — from receiving, to stocking, to food preparation — in both the cooking place and in the distribution.

3. Consider your stock. A well-designed stock of dry and perishable products also allows for energy efficiency gain. In terms of using a vertical refrigerator versus cold rooms, the vertical refrigerator presents a better operational flexibility. There are many temperatures, and it is more effective than a set of cold rooms.

4. Create a smarter preparation area. Each preparation area must be flexible and designed to meet demand, and, if possible, in several operational shifts. This way, no preparation area will be left idle. Additionally, equipment with upper shelves located in kitchen benches and in the transport trolley improve operational efficiency in the preparation area. The employees can work with the equipment next to his or her kitchen bench.

5. Condense your cooking area. Designed through the menus and services, as mentioned above, the equipment must be used with its maximum productivity in order to meet the operation. Smaller equipment is more efficient because its usage will be continuous. This allows for several operations in a row, using all capacities. For example, combi-ovens/blast chillers/griddles/charbroilers are all smaller equipment that have more operations and guarantee a more efficient energy installation.

6. Rethink your equipment. We must always compare equipment for optimal effectiveness — for instance, a steam braising pan with an open or closed valve. In the steam braising pan with an open valve, the power source works without high or low modulation, uses all the energy throughout the operation, and wastes power through the security valve. In the pan with a closed valve, the heat is modulated, the power source is modulated with pressure, and temperature is adjusted according to the usage need. It reduces the cooking time and power usage.

7. Use technology to your advantage. The technological evolution provides quality and security gains. It also reduces the time of food preparation. Using technology to bring food preparation forward increases shelf life and it also allows:

  • Planning, preparing, producing, etc., without the effective quantitative demand
  • Offering a greater amount of products
  • Effectively controlling production and costs
  • Effectively controlling food to be hygienic, sanitary, and microbiological
  • Effectively scheduling preparation activities in order to get a better performance in food production, equipment usage, and in building installation
  • educing the existing operational stress in a conventional kitchen when the service time is about to get started

8. Train (or retrain) your employees. With these steps in place, especially with technological advancements, training new kitchen employees and improving your existing employees’ performance might become much easier. The functionality is evident in an industrial unit where the sectors and areas are well-defined.

9. Create a solid management system. There won’t be any results if there isn’t a management system in place. Without the appropriate management system, employees will not be able to repeat the same activities consistently. Additionally, the management system is important to help the person in charge monitor the employees and the operation. The management system will control the stock, purchase the products, communicate with the providers, and improve the menu. This allows the person in charge time to dedicate himself or herself to the following activities: negotiating the purchase, stocking the products, pre-processing the food, cooking, and being prepared to solve any problem.

10. Plan for the future. A well-designed industrial kitchen will guarantee the operation for a long time because the new technical innovation will be specified and the equipment will be standardized, which provides a good appearance and a safe place.