Frozen assets

From walk in cold rooms to slow melting ice, blast chillers to cyber fridges, the ice age seems to have arrived at Middle East hotels

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  August 4, 2005

|~|Williams-Cold-RoomL.jpg|~|Williams has added a ‘floating wall’ facility to its range of cold rooms, enabling hotels to alter the amount of freezer space.|~|It’s the only part of the kitchen that keeps working 24/7, and if it stops working, then the results can be catastrophic. Therefore, it is little wonder that greater emphasis is being placed on refrigeration, as manufacturers compete to produce the quickest, coldest and most reliable units. Electrolux has updated its professional refrigeration line with the addition of the Cyber Fridge. The new product features a monitoring system that allows continuous tracking of every single item it contains: its vital statistics (food typology, weight, use-by-date) as well as its delivery and extraction /use by dates. “This is made possible by the use of a dedicated electronic tag, similar to those used in other recognition systems such as motorway tolls, crowd management, etc. Combined with an integrated hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) system, this function provides a comprehensive recording of the life of each food item at all times,” explains Milena Favero, communication and events manager, Electrolux Professional. On a larger scale, Williams Refrigeration recently launched its ‘floating wall’ cold room, a movable partition wall for a dual compartment cold room, offering a 50:50 or 60:40 split for chilled/frozen food storage. “The floating wall can be moved to increase the refrigerator or freezer storage in line with menu or ingredient changes. This added flexibility enables caterers to change menus to incorporate either more fresh ingredients or more frozen supplies in line with seasonal changes or the requirements of the business,” explains Malcolm Harling, sales director for Williams Refrigeration The ‘floating’ wall features 90mm ODP Zero foam insulation and is camlocked into position for rigidity and stability, and can be moved in a couple of hours. Another product rolled out by Williams include sbiscuit top counters (BTCs), under-counter cabinets designed to fit under fabricated worktops. The BTC units are available in a range of temperatures and come in two- and three-door designs. Standard features include an ambient drawer space, for knife or other utensil storage, and the option of castors, legs or a 10mm top hat for positioning on a plinth. The BTCs are designed to accommodate 1/1GN shelves or containers. Options include a wide selection of wells, glass doors, two- and three-drawer banks and a ‘pass-through’ version. Williams has also developed a three-door back-bar bottle cooler to complement the single and two-door versions it currently has available. “We have a wide range of products that fit into any part of a hotel project. At the moment, for unit sales the most popular products are bottle coolers, single door reach-in fridges and three-door under counter fridges,” says Gerry Coffey, Williams export sales manager, Middle East. “Blast chilling and freezing is in demand to meet the strict requirements on hygiene from the Dubai Municipality. It’s also becoming increasingly important for the refrigerated equipment to perform correctly in the local ambient temperature conditions,” he adds. Hotel equipment supplier Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba has introduced non-stick and slow-melting ice to the region. The company supplies Scotsman ice machines to hotels across the Middle East, including the new AutoSentry flake and nugget ice machines, which produce ice flakes or nuggets for use in meat and fish displays, salad bars and cold drinks. “The secret is basically supercooled ice that has a very [low] impurity content, making it last up to eight hours,” explains Wissam Nabulsi, FSE (Food Service Equipment) division head, Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba. “The manufacturer virtually guarantees that ice made from a Scotsman machine will last up to twice as long as that made by a rival,” he remarks. The most popular unit with hotels is the gourmet line of self contained and modular super-cubers. “Without a doubt, the gourmet line is our highest selling and most popular product worldwide. Scotsman combines innovation in design with simplicity and ergonomic design to produce what are arguably the world’s finest ice making machines. Scotsman is also the only company that uses an innovative patent-protected ice manufacturing technology — the horizontal spray system or HSS — which ensures ultra pure crystal clear slow melting ice, cube after cube, day after day,” Nabulsi says. Purchasing decision Hotels and developers looking to purchase new refrigeration units need to consider three main factors: space, performance and price. Space saving is a vital consideration for many caterers and designers, and refrigeration units come in all shapes and sizes, from walk in cold rooms to under counter chillers. Then there are the menu requirements to consider. These days, many restaurants and hotels have menu requirements that impact on their refrigeration, such as the need for separate counters or cabinets to store fish and meat. Price is also a key consideration. As Williams Refrigeration’s Harling says, “If you are buying a bottle-cooler, make sure it will perform well: no-one likes warm lager, however premium the label! It’s no good buying for budget or looks if the refrigeration unit doesn’t chill the product. “You need to bear in mind that a US $750 fridge that lasts 18 months is not a bargain compared to a US $1,750 one that lasts ten years! You have to take into account the expected reliability of your choice, too, because cheaper fridges may well end up costing far more once maintenance and repairs are taken into account,” Harling remarks. Maintenance is also a serious issue for Electrolux. The company has rolled out a dedicated ‘blueservice’ maintenance programme for commercial owners of its refrigeration units. “Hotels are sensible to a reliable product and a competitive price. They pay attention to the after-sales service that represents a fundamental aspect behind the choice of an appliance,” says Favero. “Electrolux Professional has taken this to heart and has created an innovative offering for customers, the blueservice, a special initiative dedicated to the Electrolux brand, which includes a planned preventive maintenance service to keep appliances working efficiently. Once installed, an Electrolux technician will check the status of the machine, free of charge, at least twice a year, reducing dramatically the risk of tiresome breakdowns.” On-going maintenance and paying that bit extra certainly paid off for one of Dubai’s first hotels, which bought refrigeration units from Hobart Foster in the 1960s. “Our first record of having supplied Dubai was 1968 and in 1988 I found them still working in a Bur Dubai Hotel. The last sighting was in 1990 when, after that, I think they were retired, but 22 years gave our customer pretty good value for money,” boasts regional manager, Graham Heath. Paying more, and embarking on a regular cycle of maintenance, will ensure your refrigeration equipment, and that stored within it, remains fresh for the years ahead.||**||

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