Starting a Hot Side division
Thinking of working on Hot Side equipment, as we already do basically everything HVAC/Refrigeration/Ice Maker related.
I've never worked on any of it before (neither have any of our guys), but my rationalization is that the nearest company who does such work is in a larger city, an hour away. No one here in my town of 18,000 advertises this type of work.
I figure that it may be worth being able to say we can service everything in a commercial kitchen - but I am hesitant due to my/our lack of experience. Just don't want to get any of us in too deep without knowing how to get out, haha.
Looking for advice on the best way to go about doing this from others who have gone this route, success or failure.
Well, I'm not in the same position but I have some insight.
Originally Posted by MalcolmHinkleRefrig
I've been doing hot side work for the last 7 years, this summer I was hired by a company that does everything from residential, walk ins, chillers, the works. I started taking some walk in freezer/cooler calls for the first time. Installed a trenton medium temp system today actually.The transition from hot to cold hasn't been too bad for me but I have several guys with 20+ years experience that I can call or ask questions and I got a lot of info from this site before I ever went on my first call. Most of the components were familiar to me, had to learn about the defrost timers, the units with electric defrosters, that I'm dealing with units that the drain pan and line can freeze, etc.
If none of you have any experience on the hot side I would recommend recruiting a hot side guy that really knows his stuff to help get the ball rolling, not because you guys couldn't work through the problems but because it would accelerate and smooth out the process.
For example there is a ton of stuff to know about duct work, static pressures, blower performance charts, undersized duct, too much velocity. Are you doing change outs? Now you have to know how to measure fittings and get them made, how to correct the bad duct jobs. Or on packs how to correct curb issues, economizers, sheaves/ belts, thick double row coils.
I would say even without bringing someone in, if you have good guys that are smart and everyone stays aggressive about learning the nuances of the hot side equipment and its just pack units and the like then it will take about 2 seasons of running calls to get it down on the repair work.
I assume you are referring to kitchen hot-side equipment... I was thrown in, and it's pretty straight forward for the most part. Gas or electric heat. A lot of pretty simple controls - some millivolt, a lot of honeywell 8610's (intermittent pilot) boards, etc. Sometimes there are some oem boards and controls, but still usually pretty straight forward.
Fryers are gross. You can tell when the burners are getting dirty because the cook turns it on with a broom handle (the delayed ignition scares the hell out of 'em )
Conveyor pizza ovens were a little overwhelming at first but take them one piece at a time and they make sense. Flame broilers, too.
Find a good parts supplier, and don't trust them - part pictures are available on the web. We use 3wire out of Seattle - not as good as they used to be when they were Restaurant Appliance, but they carry all major brands. Also Heritage back east. I'm not sure whats close to you but someone will chime in.
Hobart and their companies are a pain. Parts are available, but they don't share literature or tech support unless you work for Hobart.
Proprietary parts are expensive, but they're expensive for everybody and the restaurant ultimately needs the equipment back on line. Mom 'n Pop outfits will take it hard, but it is what it is. We fix it correctly or not at all. If an aftermarket part will make an appropriate repair that's great, but no duct tape and bailing wire.
You will also see that like kitchen refer equipment, the hot side stuff is also often "under-designed," and doesn't seem to hold up like you would expect.
You've also got a great resource here for head scratchers.
X2 along with convection ovens,griddles,warmers,toasters,char broilers,etc,etc (gas & electric).
Great advice, thanks for taking time to reply.
To add to my questions, while we work on soft serve machines, we dont have a relationship with any factory or distributor- do saniserv or electro freeze/HC Duke have factory service rep programs that we could sign up for? Warranty work and the like?
Of those I've only worked on saniserv. I've never called the factory other than to find a parts house. Everything Saniserv wholesales through Summit Equipment Co. out of CA.
I have found some literature online, though, as Customer wasn't cleaning or reassembling (lube!) correctly and kept throwing away the "carb."
They tend to go kill the mix agitator gear-motor in the hopper, or customer throws away the blade for it. If the machine gets a lot of use the mix can then start to freeze in the hopper and not feed correctly. The dasher goes dry and starts to freeze up, and the serpentine belt slips - very loudly.
We're not authorized warranty for any manufacturer as the labor rates are usually pretty silly. We are more than happy to do a billable repair, submit the RMA, etc., and if the factory pays us we will credit the difference back to the customer.
Wow. Where to start...
Originally Posted by MalcolmHinkleRefrig
First, being an hour away is not a problem at any place I've worked at.
You will need fearless techs, who are comfortable around, and can trobleshoot gas issues, both natural and LP, and who will not flinch and run away screaming when a Rational Combi gives and error code 100 for no apparent reason, and the factory will not tell you much because you're not worthy, err, certified.
Your techs will need the patience of Job, to sit in front of a Frymaster fryer in a McDonalds until they can figger out why it keeps explodeing/popping. They need to be able to do this at 11:30, when there are 2 busses of 10-year olds pulling into the parking lot.
Your techs *must* be comfortable around expensive computer boards, and have the confidence to order that $1600 main computer in the above mentioned Rational combi. Next-day-air, too.
They must have the wisdom to recognise the reason the Rational combi drain quench will not ever shut off if you provide the combi with 140-degree hot water. And the drain line can not slope uphill.
In the absence of documentation, your techs need the confidence to be able to "finger" a wireing harness to find how the circuitry is laid out so he can troubleshoot the equipment.
And so much more...
So yeah, your technicians need to be able to technate... There will be mistakes. There will be call backs. And the frymaster will wait until after lunch because they have 2 or 3 more and you are in the managers' way, too.
Originally Posted by BadBozo2315
Have to be able to not be afraid and not let the equipment intimidate you. Despite the complexity, most of the stuff really isn't that complicated once you understand what everything does, and how it is supposed to work.
Problems can be intermittent and hard to find. When all you get told is it didn't work for an hour Tuesday night but has been fine ever since, you really need some good communication skills and to be able to ask questions to understand what the problem actually is/was.
I'm not a business owner, I'm just a tech. It took me a while to get used to working on the hot side equipment. Even with experienced people to call for help, it was still hard. 5 years into it, I still struggle from time to time.
I had that problem my second day on the job. lol
Originally Posted by BadBozo2315
It was two of the three kettles, most the time they wouldn't light and would say ignition failure, one had the occasional pop. The tech that was training me thought it was a gas issue, but he didn't own a manometer, so he got in has van and went to the wholesaler to buy a manometer, and left me there with a box of parts to try and work on them.
Those poor people at that McDonalds, I think we got there at 11, and had them fixed at about 4.
I don't know...
I was compelled to try to give you a rundown of the equipment you may encounter, the forms of heat, controls, applications, blah blah…and I still may do that. However, that would be a book (which I think I've done on here...here and there).
I guaranty you this: every single day will be a learning experience for quite some time. If you can get your guys together very regularly (such as before each days dispatch) to discuss what they came across most recently in their endeavors on “the hot side,” everyone will benefit and will be a little bit more prepared for the day.
Restaurant equipment is very diverse and, in some cases, specialized. The big players out there dictate what they want from the equipment manufacturers…and the manufacturers will provide it. In fifteen years at it, I still see something I’ve never seen…at least once a week (I‘d prefer once a day, but…...I'm not new at this anymore).
A “toaster” may be merely some jacked-up version of the one on your kitchen counter….or some three-phase powered monstrosity running a conveyor system that looks like it could chew your arm off.
An "oven" may be an elaborated version of my little old Black & Decker toaster oven…or a room in their commissary the size of your garage that has a carousel in it.
They may call in a fryer problem…to find it’s the fry dispenser that relies on all the functions that make a robot - be a robot (robotics…via PLC circuits).
There may be six people occupying the wet, greasy floor in front of the equipment you came to fix…but they need it fixed NOW. So the manager tells you "YES! Fix it!" Yet those six people will work around you as if you’re not there or act like you’re a really a pain in their A$$. Even without their help by dropping eggshells, grease, marinara sauce and who knows what else one you…you're gonna get nasty. Oh...the flattened box you fashioned to guard your rump from their nasty floor...will get walked all over by them and will need replaced if you relinquish that real estate for a minute to get a tool or a part.
Or…the space gets all put back together with their stuff because they thought you were done.
Or….they try to use the equipment…WHILE you’re working on it.
Or…you’re in the zone for that delicate moment when you need to make a telling voltage reading…when, from the graces of “culinary school,” someone yells the cautionary statement “BEHIND YOU” as they bump you into the equipment you’re working on.
Or…in the aforementioned scenario…somebody drops a pan (noisy…very noisy) J-U-S-T at the moment you were finessing into making electrical contact with your test leads.
Or…(I can keep going. I gotta million of 'em).
There are other posts in this forum that offer more enlightenment on the equipment you‘d encounter, so search, read and print as much as you can.
The best tool you can provide your techs with is a comprehensive list of manufacturer tech support lines and a cell phone. They will use both each day until they get well grounded on what they're looking at. Even a well seasoned tech should tap that resource when ANY question comes up.
That's me though. I will leave that equipment repaired so its operational, but I'll know and have tested every aspect of it's operation before I leave. I don't incur liability by jerry-rigging. I don't bypass safeties. I don't redesign equipment. It will be OEM or nothing. I stick to the boundaries of safety all the way to FOOD safety...so that if I deem that their equipment isn't meeting those needs (especially dishwashers), I WILL disable the equipment to prevent further use until repairs are made.
I went back about ten pages to extract prior threads on the same topic for you. Some of it is redundant and often recanting the horrors of working on hot side equipment. However, there's some insight imbedded into each thread.
You may also do your own search regarding CFESA (Commercial Food Equipment Service Association).
The first thread is information on tools & parts you will need. For food equipment repairs, there's a unique package of sundry parts that's not used much in HVAC/R. I'll also add that, once you've determined what unique OEM parts needed to service your market and you want to stock your service vehicles with them, they can easily consume a large footprint of the vehicle's storage area.
A restaurant owner asked me why I was selling him a pilot generator for $65 when he knows it costs $35. I tell him just as I can buy a six pack of Bud/Coors/Miller for $6. I tell him I also know that he doesn't get those beers for $1. Just as he sells them for $3.50, other places sell them for $3, $2.50, or $2. The choice us mine, just as for servicing his equipment - the choice is his.