While the dishwashers exhibited at this year’s National Restaurant Association show didn’t blaze any trails (we’re still waiting for that Jetsons-style, atomic-powered microwave warewashers!), there were still some new spins on this back-of-house stalwart.

Making every penny count

Manufacturers know that because warewashers get such heavy use, they can rack up significant energy and water costs. Therefore, most new models are designed to do an effective job of cleaning using less water—in fact, many machines now use less than one gallon of water per rack. For example, Hobart’s CLe line features a special design on its rinse spray nozzles, which means they use up to 50 percent less water. And once a rack of dishes exits the machine, an auto-timer feature shuts off the system’s pump and conveyor after a predetermined time—not only saving energy but also wear and tear on the machine’s parts.

Another way operators can save on energy costs is with energy recovery systems. These systems capture some of the heat and steam generated by the machines during usage which is normally lost as exhaust. That heat is then used to help preheat the incoming cold water supply before it reaches the booster heater. Meiko and Hobart offer energy recovery systems as an add-on to some of their flight-type models.

Coming clean

Refilling the detergent, sanitizer and rinse agent in a warewasher can be one of the messiest back-of-house jobs. By solving that problem, the Ecolab Apex TSC warewashing system won one of this year’s Kitchen Innovation Awards at the NRA show. The system replaces all of the liquids used in dishwashing—detergent, sanitizer and rinse additive—with solid pellets. The chemicals are released from dispensers mounted on top of the machine and are controlled by a computerized system. The computer also keeps track of usage statistics to help reduce rack counts and thus lower water and energy consumption.

Space—the final frontier

Warewashers are often one of the biggest pieces of equipment in an already tight back-of-house area. The latest conveyor models by Electrolux take that into account and move most of the piping and connections normally found on the back of the machine to the unit’s interior. This allows the machine to be set nearly flush against a wall, saving a few more inches of valuable workspace.

Restaurants that offer “small plates” or a snack menu along with their bar service might want to consider a “double duty” machine that can serve both as a glasswasher and as a dishwasher, such as the Jackson Delta 5. It’s a batch-style glasswasher that also accepts full-size dish racks—perfect as a backup for the main warewashers.

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