How to Extend the Life of Your Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Restaurant kitchen equipment is generally made to endure high-volume use. Well-functioning equipment is crucial to run your restaurant successfully, but without proper maintenance, even high duty kitchen equipment is prone to breakdown. If equipment failure happens, it could bring your restaurant operation and productivity to a full stop. The downtime and equipment replacement cost will ultimately shrink your bottom line.

Kitchen equipment, especially high-value equipment, must work properly for your restaurant to stay profitable. Margins in the restaurant business are tight, and you can’t always afford to replace a piece of faulty, high-value equipment. Fortunately, you can extend the life of your commercial kitchen equipment by preventing unexpected failures. Here are some methods on how to achieve this:

Preventive/Planned Maintenance for High-Value Equipment

You can perform reactive maintenance on low-cost assets, such as a blender, because they rarely affect overall restaurant operations. But for high-value equipment like a commercial oven, refrigerator, or dishwasher, you must implement preventive maintenance. When any of these machines ceases to function, it can bring your whole business to a stoppage. And replacing these machines is extremely costly.

When you do preventive maintenance, it means you are performing the essential, routine maintenance on your expensive kitchen assets to keep them in optimal operating conditions. By doing so, you are preventing unanticipated asset failure that can otherwise cost you tens of thousands of dollars to replace that piece of equipment. Also, think about the adverse effects such an incident can leave on customer experience and business bottom line.

Preventive maintenance requires detailed planning and scheduling of maintenance on your kitchen equipment. It also involves keeping proper records of past maintenance and servicing done on each piece of equipment. These records help the maintenance staff to keep track of when maintenance is due, besides assisting them with troubleshooting problems.

The exact preventive maintenance required differs from equipment to equipment. Take the example of a commercial oven. It is high-cost equipment, and preventive maintenance, in this case, would involve information on when was the oven last serviced, what problems were detected and fixed, and what is the next date for inspection. It could also provide similar information about the maintenance of the thermostat, the oven doors, and the calibrated program and buttons.

If your equipment is old and beyond the preventative maintenance stage, we put together a list of the top online stores for restaurants where you can compare prices on new commercial restaurant equipment.

Create Maintenance Checklists

Creating and using maintenance checklists is one of the best ways to ensure top performance for high-value equipment. A checklist helps to implement preventive maintenance through specified actions. In other words, preventive maintenance lays out the plan for maintenance and a checklist helps bring the plan into action.  Checklists help extend equipment life by several years, besides preventing losses resulting from sudden breakdowns.

A maintenance checklist is a written list of the things to do for the upkeep of appliances, intending to reduce the risk of failure. Make sure to create and implement a checklist for inspection and upkeep of each and every piece of your restaurant’s high-cost kitchen equipment. A useful checklist pulls the maintenance objectives and strategies from the preventive maintenance plan and list down all the actions and tasks necessary to execute the strategies.

For example, a refrigerator is a high-value equipment in your kitchen. A typical maintenance checklist for this piece of equipment will include the following:

  • Clean and degrease the condenser coils
  • Clean the condenser drain lines
  • Inspect temperature, defrosting, and cycling
  • Inspect compression operation
  • Check unit thermometer and doors
  • Inspect and calibrate defrost time
  • Check the door gaskets for air leak

When your staff implements this checklist, you can rest assured that your refrigerator is not going to have a sudden breakdown and trigger the need for a costly replacement.

Use Equipment Manual

Your kitchen appliances come with user manuals. Your staff needs to follow the instructions written in the manual for your equipment to last longer. A good checklist always takes necessary information from equipment manual.

The manufacturer sets the minimal standard depending on the normal operating conditions and mentions it in the manual. The manual typically describes how to use the equipment and what basic maintenance tasks to undertake at what interval. This information can help you create and implement a robust maintenance checklist.

For example, a commercial dishwasher manual typically contains the following instructions, in addition to other operating details:

Before turning on the machine:

  • Wash the tanks and make sure they are clean
  • Confirm the machine is empty
  • Make sure filters and rinse arms are in the operating position

Filling the dishwasher:

  • Switch on at wall isolators
  • Close the door
  • Turn on and wait for the dishwasher to reach a specific temperature before operating

In case the operator fails to follow these instructions, the machine is likely to malfunction and breakdown. To prevent such a situation and take the safest route, make sure you or your restaurant consultant educates and trains your staff correctly to turn to the equipment manual for the standard operating procedures. Also, make sure your maintenance staff follows the maintenance instructions written in the manual.

Following these instructions to extend the life of your commercial kitchen equipment will also help you achieve consistency in performing a task. No matter who operates the machine or undertakes a maintenance task, you can achieve the same results and decrease the risk of costly errors.

Preventative maintenance and using the manufacturer’s equipment manuals coincides with maintaining a clean restaurant.  For additional reading, here’s a checklist to help keep your restaurant clean.


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