One of the most difficult issues for food service operations to confront is how best to return soiled dishes to the dish room from the dining area. Many solutions have been proposed – from using a drop-off window and a belt conveyor, to the application of accumulating rollers. One of the more recent innovations in this area is the vertical accumulator. This latest advancement in foodservice ingenuity did not happen by accident. After all, dish room operation is all about accumulation.
The drop-off window is one of the simplest ways to address this problem. In this dish return system, a patron drops their tray off at the window so that a dish room worker can scrape off food debris and feed the tray it into the dish washing machine. When applied to smaller operations, this can be a simple and effective method if the dish room workers can keep up with the speed of returns. However, it is simply not possible for kitchen staff worker in larger settings to keep up with the volume of dirty dishes returned to the window.
Belt tray return conveyors provide a buffer between the tray-returning patrons and the staff in the dish room. Many longer foodservice conveyors were designed with the intention of creating an additional buffer that would allow dish room personnel to keep up with the demand of returned dishes. However, when you see belt tray return conveyors going halfway around the room, they’re usually accumulating dishes faster than staff can keep up with them.
Roller-type tray accumulators also attempt to form a buffer by stacking more trays in a smaller area. However, these machines are manually run and don’t allow for much of a scraping area in the dish room. These machines are better at accumulating dishes, but require more labor to clean and return the dishes.
The vertical accumulator, such as Avtec’s Bus Trac, is the solution to maximizing the high-volume soiled dish drop-off area. By vertically accumulating trays in carriers stacked three, four, or five trays high, the unit forms a perfect buffer between the drop-off and dish scraping zones.
The revolving unit provides more open spaces for tray drop off and can continue to rotate, allowing the staff in the dish room to keep up at a regular pace. The difference between the number of trays a dish room worker can scrape (3-5 trays per minute) and the number of trays dropped off is balanced with the accumulating capacity of the Bus Trac. The Bus Trac can be as anywhere from 8 feet to 30 feet long, depending on the size of the specific food service facility.
Avtec’s tray accumulator is designed to be easily cleaned (another dish room challenge). The unit includes removable carriers and racks, and the ability to fit in-rack or flight-type dishwasher machines. The 2-tier and 3-tier baskets can be customized to accommodate the necessary tray and dish accumulation, as well as the many scrapping scenarios that can develop in the dish room, such as when trays and dishes get pushed under the carriers.
New tray-less operations can be handled easily with the addition of tray inserts that are designed to hold loose dishware. A wide variety of drop-off configurations can be incorporated into an Avtec design, including complete trim, sill, drop table and soffit designs.
When the question, “Clean up or jam up?” presents itself, recall the benefits of Avtec’s Bus Trac vertical accumulator. This cutting-edge machine can be a real effective solution for any size food service operation. Spend less time clearing the jams in your kitchen and give your dish room staff the opportunity to really clean up!
Eric Von Kaenel
Avtec Product Specialist