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Equipment Installation Checklist

So, you've ordered a new piece of commercial kitchen equipment and it's now ready for delivery to the site. As an equipment buyer, have you done all of your homework to make sure that the installation will go as smoothly as possible, and that the equipment will work properly from the get-go? If you think you have everything in check, then take a look at the following list of "must do" tasks, to ensure that there are no surprises when it comes time to install your new equipment.
  1. Early Delivery: If the equipment has to be delivered to the restaurant prior to installation and by a third party, make sure that someone will be ready and properly equipped to receive the equipment. You should also make certain that a secure staging is available and you should check the packaging for any obvious signs of damage.
  2. Installation Timing: Establish the amount of time required for installation and decide ahead of time on the date and time of day that will work best for you. Mistimed or poorly organized deliveries of equipment can result in a frequently experienced nightmare, which is to find that the food delivery people and the equipment installation people are competing for parking, dock and corridor access and staging areas. Consider doing some preparation work ahead of time to ensure the installation is completed within the agreed time frame and the equipment is available for use when promised.
  3. Building Access: Is there easy access to the building in which the new piece of equipment is to be installed? Is the entrance door/delivery door large enough to accommodate the equipment that is being delivered? Will people have to either ascend or descend a stairway in order to get the equipment into the building? Is there a loading/unloading dock available to help with handling? These are all issues and questions that have to be answered and are directly related to building access.
  4. Dock/Truck Lift-Gate Requirements: Many pieces of equipment are of sufficient weight that they require a dock or truck lift-gate in order for them to be removed from a delivery vehicle. A key component of efficient installation is to ensure that such logistic tools are available, or, if they are not, then alternative arrangements need to be made. Discuss with either the company shipping the equipment or the dealer you bought the equipment from any questions you have about a lift-gate.
  5. Service Elevator Capacity (volume + weight): If the equipment that is to be installed has to be placed on an elevator in order to reach its final installation point, then you need to make sure that the elevator has sufficient capacity to handle the equipment. That requires a measurement of the elevator (inside volume + the size of the door opening) as well as a measurement of the equipment that is going to be placed in the elevator. In addition, make sure that the elevator has sufficient weight capacity to safely handle the item. Every elevator is licensed for a specific weight limit, so make sure you do not exceed that limit.
  6. Door and Hallway Dimensions: If a new piece of equipment has to make its way through door and down a series of hallways before it reaches its final installation point, then it is important to make sure that the door openings and hallways are large enough so that the equipment can easily pass through them (in the case of doors). You should also make sure that the hallways are wide enough, with a minimum number of bends and curves that could potentially impede the movement of the equipment.
  7. Old Equipment is Out: If the old equipment has not been removed from the premises, how can you have the new one installed? Make sure you remove the old items prior to the new equipment being delivered. If you know that the new equipment is going to be delayed, or if it comes into your facility damaged or missing parts, you may need to have the existing (old) equipment moved to one side but in a place where it can be easily reinstalled if these problems continue.
  8. Utilities: Believe it or not, the wrong utility is the No. 1 culprit for improperly operating equipment in the food service industry. Some things you need to be aware of with respect to utilities and new equipment installation include the following.

    • Electrical Equipment: Make sure that the voltage and phase of the equipment being delivered match that of the food service establishment. Ensure that the AMP requirements of the equipment being installed match that of the service that is in the building. Make sure the wiring and plug being supplied with the equipment is both long enough and compatible with the electrical outlet (if a plug is being used).
    • Gas Equipment: Make sure that gas requirements of the equipment being delivered match that of the gas that is available at the facility. Is it natural gas, propane, etc? Make sure that there is sufficient gas pressure. Gas pressure, which equates to the volume of gas reaching the piece of equipment, will have a direct bearing on the effectiveness and efficiency of the equipment. Elevation has a major impact on performance. At any significant elevation above sea level the gas orifice found on all pieces of gas equipment must be calibrated and set to the elevation at which the piece of equipment is going to be installed.
  9. Water Availability: Many pieces of equipment (such as steamers, steam-jacketed kettles, combi-ovens, coffee urns, dish washers and the like) require water for their basic operation. A key component of any proper installation for these pieces of equipment is to ensure that there is a water source close to, or preferably, at the point of equipment installation.
  10. Water Pressure, Quantity, Temperature & Quality of Water: Having a water connection close to or at the point of equipment installation is just one part of the water component. Just as important is to ensure that there is sufficient water pressure and a sufficient quantity of water available to meet the demands of certain types of equipment. For instance, proper water pressure is essential for proper warewashing, while certain steam cooking equipment requires a minimum quantity of water for its use. Temperature may also be important, so decide ahead of time whether the equipment should be connected to the hot or cold water systems. Some equipment can be connected to the hot water system to reduce recovery times and speed up operation. Water quality is also very important; in a hard water area with equipment like a steam kettle, a water softener may be required.
  11. Hood Depth: If the new piece of equipment is going to be installed under a hood, you need to make sure that the depth of the hood is adequate enough to properly accommodate the new piece of equipment (a minimum of 12" from the front-edge of the cooking equipment to the front edge of the hood).
  12. CFM Requirements: When new and/or additional pieces of equipment are added to an existing hood system, one needs to make sure there is sufficient air-flow (CFMs) through the hood, to ensure the proper operation of the new piece of equipment, as well as that of the original pieces of equipment found under the hood. Failure to do so will often result in a rapid escalation of other closely related problems.
  13. Mounting Surface: Most pieces of equipment have to be installed on a level surface in order for them to work properly. If the new piece of equipment is installed on a table, then this problem does not normally manifest itself. If the new piece of equipment will be installed on the floor of a commercial kitchen, however, then one has to make sure that it is done on a level surface, or that the equipment has adjustable legs/feet so that it can be properly leveled. This problem is often found in a kitchen that has many floor drains as the floor are designed and laid so that all water hitting the floor flows to these drains.
  14. Drain Requirements: Closely related to the above point, many pieces of equipment require a free-flowing drain in order for the equipment to perform properly. If a piece of equipment such as a steamer, combi-oven, etc, is being installed, you need to make sure that a proper drain has been installed, and that it is located at the point where the new piece of equipment is to be installed, or that easy access exists to such a drain. If you have to make a drainage connection, know ahead of time whether PVC or copper pipe is required and plan accordingly.
  15. Check Manufacturer's Specifications Sheet: Check the manufacturer's specification sheet for any special installation requirements that are being recommended, or are required for proper installation. A "spec sheet" can generally be acquired through the manufacturer's website.
  16. Completion of the Warranty Card: Find the manufacturer's warranty card and fill it out, or have the dealer help you fill it out, and then make sure that it gets returned to the manufacturer immediately. The equipment warranty is a big component of the total asset that has been purchased and it should be treated as such.
  17. Equipment Demonstration & Start-Up: If you are properly trained on how the equipment is to be used and cared for, then you should arrange to do a complete and thorough demonstration of the equipment for the customer and for those in operation who will be actually using that particular piece of equipment. If you are not completely familiar with its use, then make arrangements for a representative of the manufacturer to do a thorough demonstration at the earliest possible time. And, if you need to use actual food product for start-up, testing and demonstrations, make sure you have made arrangements ahead of time to have an adequate supply of product(s) available.
  18. Packing Materials: Finally, ensure that all construction debris and packing materials are disposed of properly and that any construction damage is repaired.
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