With the sharp rise over the last few years in the cost of raw materials, utilities and greater competition for the 'take-away pound', many chip shop operators have invested in high efficiency ranges. In terms of new sales they now represent the standard rather than the exception.
Most operators can expect to make substantial savings in energy bills, cooking oil and raw material usage compared to a standard range. Also, because of the reduced emissions of poisonous fumes and carbon gases due to a more efficient combustion process, the industry is seen to be taking a responsible attitude to environmental protection. This is important as ranges consume fuel throughout the whole year as opposed to, say, heating which is concentrated in the winter.
But what is high efficiency and how do you know you are getting real high efficiency and it's not just a spurious claim? The process started in Holland in the late 90's. Hewigo for example was amongst the first to develop high efficiency burners in conjunction with high efficiency pans and was quick to introduce them to the UK market.
The Dutch Government gave strong incentives to both manufacturers and end users to develop and use the new technology. A move not only expedient in terms of energy use and environmental concern but offering a competitive advantage. In Hewigo's case, which we believe to be fairly typical, a thirteen months development period including making samples, testing and re-testing, finding good likeminded suppliers, reporting and gaining approvals cost almost £100,000.00
The approvals obtained were Gastec High Efficiency Quality Assurance and Low NOx ratings. Although the UK has no official definition for the phrase 'high efficiency', in Holland, to make a high efficiency claim, manufacturers must reach at least 88% efficiency. In reality however, manufacturers producing High Efficiency ranges, including Hewigo, achieve over 90% and operators should bear this in mind when making the choice.
The Gastec approval is recognised as the toughest and highest level of achievement in Europe and valid in the UK too. If operators have doubts of any manufacturer's claim they should ask to see the appropriate certified evidence.
Naturally you will pay more for high efficiency burners but with the savings at many levels of the business, they will more than pay for themselves within the lifetime of the equipment, especially in busy outlets.
Manufacturers who were first to introduce the technology eight years ago, now benefit from considerable experience making it work for their customers and the empirical evidence from use is that they have made an excellent contribution to the development of the industry.
With any new technology, of course, there are always teething problems and all manufacturers have worked hard to overcome them. For example, we at Hewigo have used our customers' experience and our own skills to develop what can legitimately be called a second generation of high efficiency. Areas of particular focus are the performance of the ignition system to give even greater consistency, refinements in the way the gas and air are mixed to provide optimum heat control and improved distribution of the heat from the burner to the pans to reduce heat spots and increase pan life.
Development of high efficiency technology has certainly been welcomed. It has helped operators become more competitive at every level but potential purchasers should ensure that they interrogate manufacturers to provide clear evidence of just exactly what they are getting for their money.