foodservice equipment tips

3 must-follow equipment specifying tips

Whether you’re building a foodservice operation from the ground up or performing a remodel on an existing location, kitchen design and equipment specification can seem daunting. Fortunately, we have three actionable pieces of advice to help streamline the process.

Close collaboration is key.
During the design and specifying stages, it’s extremely important to work closely with all involved partners: from architects to design consultants. Before you even begin, make sure to:

  • Establish responsibilities of all involved parties (design consultant, general contractor, kitchen equipment contractor, etc.).
  • Establish the conditions for bidding on the project.
  • Describe the scope of the project and identify a project manager on your end.
  • Establish a timeline, including equipment delivery dates and contingency plans.
  • Detail the payment schedule for all materials, equipment and labor.
  • Establish requirements that adhere to the local codes, laws, etc.

The devil is in the details when it comes to equipment specification.
Equipment specification is one of the most important components of the design development process. These specifications can be written in several different ways, but the most important thing is to ensure that exact requirements are crystal clear.

Specifications should encourage the bidder to bid the best possible equipment at the right price; meaning the piece that matches the specification exactly that is of the lowest relative cost. Dealers may be inclined to compete with fellow bidders on price, resulting in the substitution of a product that may not meet your quality or performance standards.

The performance standard specification describes the amount of work that a specific piece of equipment must do (and to what standard). For example, a typical performance specification might state that a pizza oven must be capable of preparing 40, 18-inch pizzas per hour. One of the major problems with this type of specification is that it is often very difficult to measure. There are many factors and variables that surround the words “capable of preparing,” such as degree of doneness, the state or condition of the food product before being placed in the oven, etc. This is why it’s crucial to be as specific as possible.

The burden of proof on quality rests with the equipment dealer or kitchen equipment contractor, while the responsibility for acceptance of the quality that was recommended rests with you and your design consultant.

Follow a standardized format.
All equipment specifications should follow a standard format and provide a set amount of information. This is done to minimize the number of errors and to help reduce omissions. Typical elements include:

  • Item Number – This is the key or reference number that is used on the detailed design drawings, in the specifications and on the equipment schedule.
  • Name – This is the generic name of the equipment being specified (e.g. a steamer, an oven, etc.).
  • Number – Refers to the quantity of a given equipment line item.
  • Model and Manufacturer – The model number and the name of the manufacturer.
  • Key Dimensions – The size of the unit (width, length and height).
  • Description – This includes a specification of the quality and standards of fabrication, along with a description of the standard parts normally furnished with the equipment.
  • Utility Requirements – This is a listing of the gas, electrical, plumbing, steam and ventilation requirements for the piece of equipment.
  • Accessories – The optional finishes, features and parts that may have an impact on the price of the unit.
  • Approvals – Certifications from various agencies (including UL, ASME, NSF, and CSA/AGA).
  • Other Notes – These are special notes or instructions that will help the bidder and/or contractor in understanding the needs of the design consultant or client.
  • Performance – See above.

All set with a plan of action for specifying equipment? Head to The NAFEM Show, Feb. 9-11, 2017, in Orlando, Fla., for inspiration, and to connect with equipment manufacturers, design consultants and other partners.

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