Restaurant owners have long been facing operational challenges. These include high energy costs, limited kitchen space, and equipment downtime. For addressing these challenges and improving restaurant productivity, the owners have turned to commercial kitchen equipment. Most of such kitchen equipment has an electric motor at heart, whose performance dramatically impacts how the equipment operates and how it mitigates the above challenges.
It is imperative that owners increase their productivity while reducing their costs, considering their profit margin usually falls between three and five percent. This requires a clear understanding of the connection between the motor and the equipment. Doing so not only reduces the operating costs but also ensures a smoother running operation.
Energy costs happen to be a major concern in the restaurant industry. Commercial kitchen equipment is uncommonly hard on the electricity bill, being typically robust and energy-intensive. According to the US Energy Information Administration, consumption in restaurants is typically three times more per square foot than any other comparative commercial enterprise. This is because restaurants use specialized equipment that has a high power demand, and they operate for extensive hours, thereby consuming huge amounts of energy.
Therefore, purchasing and using high-efficiency, higher energy star-rated restaurant equipment is one of the easiest ways to improve the bottom line. However, as a motor is at the heart of each piece of equipment, it offers a greater choice. In fact, restaurant operators can improve on this further by taking a proactive approach and selecting equipment that has an electronically commuted motor or ECM. They can even consider retrofitting existing equipment with ECMs for a more favorable option.
The reason for the above decision is that an ECM operates more efficiently as compared to what a traditional induction motor does when running restaurant equipment such as ovens, walk-in coolers, mixers, and fryers. Depending on the use cycle, equipment with ECM technology can save more than 30% in annual energy costs. This improves the bottom-line savings and improves the profitability of a restaurant.
A microprocessor and electronic control help to run an ECM. Compared to regular induction motors, this arrangement offers higher electrical efficiency. It also offers the possibility of programming the precise speed of the motor. Moreover, ECMs can maintain high efficiency across a wide range of operational speeds.
Apart from the higher efficiency, ECMs are precise and offer variable speeds, which in fans means an unlimited selection of airflow. A properly maintained airflow during changes in the static air pressure brings important benefits to the restaurant, especially for its hood exhausts and walk-in coolers. The higher efficiency of ECMs leads to reduced heat in the refrigerated space, thereby reducing the equipment runtime.
Forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers are re-engineering their designs and products to include ECMs for delivering smaller and more versatile equipment. Compact motors such as ECMs, are gaining wider recognition and appreciation as they improve the power density of their equipment. Compared to equipment with traditional induction motors, those using ECMs offer the same output, but with a much smaller footprint and lower weight.