Guide: Industrial & Commercial Dishwashers

So you are interested in buying a commercial dishwasher for your new cafe, pub, restaurant or function centre. You are most likely completely overwhelmed with the choices available and are now stuck wondering to yourself ‘what is the best dishwasher for my needs?’ Do not worry! I have been in your exact situation before when it came to selecting the dishwasher for my Aunt’s new cafe.

The aim of this page is to provide you an in depth and comprehensive guide to the different types of commercial dishwashing machines that are available on the Australian market. It should take you between 10 and 15 minutes to read, but by the end of it, you will be an expert! With your newly gained knowledge, you will be able to select the best dishwasher for your needs, and then get back to what’s important. Running your business!

What Is A Commercial Dishwasher?

During your research you might have noticed the words warewasher or warewashing machine thrown around. Don’t get confused. These words are interchangeable with commercial dishwasher or industrial dishwasher. The term ware comes from the various items that are commonly washed in the machine. This includes dishes, glasses, cups, pots, pans, cutlery and more.

Another term you might have seen around is glasswashers. These are different to warewashers or commercial dishwashers, as they are designed only to wash glasses or pots. This is great for bars or pubs, as glasses are often the most in demand clean item. Think of how many times you have bought a cold beer and the glass is still a little warm.. That’s because it was just taken out of a hot glass washing machine.

You should know that most commercial dishwashers also wash glasses too. They are more of an all rounder, compared to glasswashers, which only wash one medium.

What Should A Commercial Dishwasher Do

Before you start you quest to finding the perfect commercial dishwasher. You should know that there are certain important attributes that should be met during the selection phase.

EASY TO USE

Let’s face it. The hospitality industry is known for a quick turnover of staff members. New staff members are often shown things once, then given the responsibility of autonomous work. This includes operating the dishwasher. Do you want to have to go through a lengthy training session every time you bring on a new staff member? I didn’t think so. When we are selecting a dishwasher, we use the mantra ‘set it and forget it’. Trust me, you want to be able slide in the racks, press a button, then come back and it’s done. It doesn’t need to get more difficult than that.

BE SPEEDY & HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH CAPACITY

Rush hour. Lunch. Dinner. We all know what it’s like to work that shift! Having clean glasses, plates and cutlery is so important for a commercial kitchen. Your customers are waiting at their tables for their meals to come out. The last thing you want is a chef screaming for clean wares so he can serve his food.

You need to know how many plates, glasses, pots, pans etc you have. Do you have a surplus of wares? No? Then you might need a lightning quick dishwasher. Speed and capacity are one of the most important factors to consider when selecting what dishwasher you are going to buy.

SANITARY REQUIREMENTS

This is a big one. It’s every hospitality businesses nightmare to serve their customer food or drink on something that is not clean. Imagine how bad it would be for business if your customers got sick, or the health inspector determined your unfit for business.

Make sure your dishwasher meets all Australian Standards and will return your wares to a sanitary condition.

Types Of Commercial Dishwashers

During your research, you have probably seen a commercial dishwasher for every application.

There are three main types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:

Commercial Undercounter Dishwasher

Undercounter Commercial Dishwashers

If you are a coffee shop, a bar or a small restaurant, then an undercounter commercial dishwasher is probably the best choice for you. They are ideal for small spaces, when you do not have the luxury of fitting in a freestanding dishwasher.

Out of all the commercial units. The undercounter dishwasher looks most similar to one you might find in your family house. They can be considered the bridge between domestic and commercial dishwashers. The main difference is that they wash faster and more effectively, have higher loading capacity and are built to last longer.

If you are running a large kitchen that has a high volume of clients, then the undercounter dishwasher is probably going to slow things down during your peak times. Often, they just don’t have the capacity to wash enough wares at once.

Advantages

  • Installation is easy.
  • Does not take up much space.
  • Cheapest commercial dishwasher available.
  • Looks and operated much like a domestic unit.
  • To Keep In Mind

  • Great for smaller kitchens.
  • Can only fit a limited amount of wares at one time.
  • Not suitable for larger commercial kitchens with high volumes of clients.
  • Commercial Pass Through Dishwasher

    Pass Through Commercial Dishwashers

    Pass through dishwashers are the next step up from undercounter models. They typically sit between two benches or tables. With this setup, it allows multiple parts of the wash cycle to happen at once. Normally an empty rack can sit at the side and get loaded with ware and rinsed while another is getting washed by the machine. This is difficulty with undercounter machines, due to the limited space.

    Characterised by a pull-down hood, these machines are significantly bigger than undercounter models. They generally operate at bench level, which means the operator does not need to bend down to load and unload the heavy racks. This rapid loading and unloading leads to a high output of clean wares. Making this model popular in higher volume kitchens including hospitals, larger restaurants, schools, function centers and more. In fact, they are the dishwasher of choice for most commercial applications.

    You should know that a higher wash output comes with higher energy consumption. This is something to take into consideration when making your purchase.

    Advantages

  • A high loading capacity
  • Fast loading and unloading
  • Quick cleaning cycles
  • Easy to use
  • Less lifting crates when compared to undercounter models
  • To Keep In Mind

  • Uses more electricity and water than undercounter models
  • Takes up a lot of space and often needs to be selected before kitchen design.
  • Commercial Conveyor Dishwasher

    Commercial Conveyor Dishwashers

    If undercounter dishwashers are the David of the kitchen, then conveyor dishwashers are the Goliath. They offer a completely automated cleaning process at high volumes. Plastic dish racks filled with wares are passed through a large cabinet on a conveyor system. This allows the machine to wash hundreds of crates per hours. Some models even have the ability to dry the dishes and wares.

    These machines have an incredible capacity. This means they are big! They take up a significant amount of space, and are only suited for high volume commercial kitchens. If you already have a kitchen that is low on space, then maybe you should reconsider using these.

    If you are running a school or university cafeteria, a hospital, a hotel or any other kitchen with high volumes of clients, then this could be the best option for you. Think of how busy it can get during the lunchtime rush! One of these can come in really handy.

    A high washing capacity and automated functionality means that these are typically the most expensive commercial dishwashers available on the market. Most of the time, the extra investment is worth it, as you can service more clients in shorter periods of time, and with less staff members.

    Advantages

  • Largest loading capacity.
  • Super fast cleaning.
  • Self drying models available.
  • Does a high quality and thorough clean.
  • To Keep In Mind

  • Typically expensive.
  • Takes up large amounts of space, making it unsuitable for some commercial kitchens.
  • Technical Information

    HIGH AND LOW TEMP DISHWASHERS

    Did you know that there are high and low temperature commercial dishwashers available? Before making your purchasing decision, it is important to know which is the best choice for your situation and needs.

    These are some important difference you should know about.

    High Temperature Dishwashers

    The main characteristic of high temperature dishwashers is that they use heat as the only means to sanitize your wares (dishes, glasses, cutlery, pots etc). Typically they wash at a temperature between 65 and 72 degrees celsius and then rinse at around 83 degrees celsius.

    Since these machines operate at such high temperatures, it means that they normally need a condensation hood to operate safety. A hood can add to the initial investment cost of your dishwasher, but it is an important mechanism to protect your staff members from danger and keep your kitchen in a suitable working environment. Before making the decision to purchase one of these, you should consider whether you have space to install a condensation hood above the unit.

    Advantages

  • Dishes come out hotter, meaning they often dry faster
  • Does not need to use artificial sanitizers, which sometimes cause damage to dishwares. This also created savings on running costs.
  • More efficient than low temperature models (use less water, shorter wash cycles and larger rack capacity).
  • Better at removing grease, oils and other residues.
  • Do not need to buy chemicals to operate
  • Causes less damage to cutlery, flatware and plastics
  • To Keep In Mind

  • Higher initial purchase price than low temperature dishwashers.
  • Sometimes needs an additional booster heater to be installed.
  • Should have a condensation hood installed.
  • Low Temperature Dishwashers

    Unlike high temperature dishwashers, which rely on heat to sanitise wares, the low temperature models rely on chemicals. This is because they typically wash and rinse at between 48 and 60 degrees celsius, which is not hot enough for sanitisation. This means that the ongoing costs are high higher with low temperature models.

    Advantages

  • Lower initial investment
  • Less energy used as water is not heated to temperature as high as high temperature models.
  • Often do not need a condensation good (check with your local authorities).
  • To Keep In Mind

    • Sanitisation is done through chemicals.
    • These can be harmful to dish wares.
    • Need to keep purchasing chemicals to keep dishwasher running. (Note: before purchasing sanitising chemicals, make sure they are compatible with your dishwasher model)
    • Higher operating costs.
      • Often need to rewash to remove greases and other residues properly.
    • Generally have a lower rack / loading capacity
    • More water users for each wash cycle
    • Dishes can take longer to dry once wash cycle is complete.

    BOOSTER HEATERS

    Typically booster heaters are only required for high temperature dishwasher models. They require extremely hot water to complete their final rinse cycle. This ensures that all sanitary requirements are being met.

    Booster heaters come in two types: electric and gas.

    A booster heater is generally not required when using a low temperature dishwashing machine.

    Advantages

    • Food residue is able to be removed more effectively
    • Final hot rinse can mean faster self drying dishware.
    • Ensure that the final rinse water temperature is hot enough
    • Are designed to be small and compact and can fit right next to your dishwasher
    • Units effectively remove food residue and provide rapid self-drying and sparkling clean dishware
    • Are designed to be small and compact and can fit right next to your dishwasher

    WATER HARDNESS & SOFTENERS

    Hard water is a term used to describe water that has a high mineral count. The level of minerals in your water can vary depending on where you live.

    Hard water causes problems with commercial and metallic components. When water is too hard, the lime scale can quickly start collecting on the internal components of the dishwasher. Typically this affects how effective and efficient the dishwasher will operate. In worse case scenario, it can cause your machine to break or fail.

    The best way to fight against hard water is by installing a water softener. This works by breaking down the lime scale (calcium carbonate) levels in the water before it enters into the dishwashing machine.

    Typically there are two different types of water softeners available for dishwashers: automatic and manual.

    Automatic

    Manual

    Required regeneration maintenance

    Required regeneration maintenance

    Can do done during operational hours

    Must be done by staff members outside of operational hours

    Requires dishwasher salt to be added less frequently

    Requires dishwasher salt to be added more regularly

    Some models include an automatic internal water softener with low salt level warnings


    We strongly suggest that if the water levels are hard in your area, that you select a dishwasher model that has an internal automatic softener. It just makes life easier and you can get back to running your business without having to worry about manually maintaining the unit. If you select a model without an automatic internal water softener, you should make sure you get an external unit that has enough capability to service your machine.

    Also, you need to know if your dishwasher has a cold or hot water feed. This will determine what type of water softener you need. This can also have an influence on how your unit is plumbed.

    You should know that water softeners are not always needed. It all depends on how hard the water is in your area. For a quick reference, you can check our water hardness table for all Australian capital cities. You should check with your local water board to confirm the levels in your area.

    City

    (Calcium Carbonate) Water Hardness in ppm

    Melbourne

    10 - 26

    Sydney

    29 - 226

    Brisbane

    100

    Adelaide

    134 - 148

    Perth

    29 - 226

    Darwin

    31

    Canberra

    40

    Hobart

    6 - 34

    Things To Consider

    1. Initial, Operating & Maintenance Cost

    Let’s face it. The hospitality industry is hard. Most bars, restaurants and cafes are running on a shoestring budget just to get by. That is why cost is one of the most important factors you should consider. One mistake that many business owners make is taking advantage of short term wins whilst forgetting about the long term picture. For example: selecting the dishwasher with the lowest purchase price but the highest operating and maintenance fees. 5 years down the track this guy will be kicking himself wishing he had of invested more in his dishwasher.

    You should also consider how many man hours you will save by investing in a more capable machine. You can say goodbye to that dish-pig who keeps getting in the way of the chefs!

    The purchase price, maintenance and running costs are not the only expenses you should consider. Most machines need a professional (or two or three) to install them.

    You should also consider the wastage costs that can occur. For example:

    1. If you continually run glasses through a high capacity commercial dishwasher, it can cause damage, and therefore replacement costs.
    2. You might decide to use a low temperature model, which requires nasty chemicals to sanitise your wares. This can often cause damage to them, and thus they require to be replaced.

    If you choose a dishwasher that is not big or fast enough for your business, then you potentially slow down the kitchen, which slows down your customers getting their food & drinks. This can lead to a loss in business.

    2. Size and Capacity

    Does the dishwasher physically fit into your space? Does it still meet all of the Occupational Health & Safety Regulations? What about the Australian & New Zealand Standards?

    If you are installing a dishwasher into an existing space. The first thing you should do is measure how much space you have. This will determine what models you should even consider.

    If you are creating a new space. You should first identify your capacity requirements and then make a shortlist of dishwashers. Then take the technical drawings to your architect, who can help determine what model fits in best.

    How many plates or glasses does it wash per hour? Is this enough to ensure that you can keep your kitchen running worry free? This could result in your customers having to wait for long periods before getting served with their food & drinks. This is not good for business.

    3. Ease of Use

    Running a kitchen is hard. The last thing you need is a headache with your dishwasher. Generally speaking, commercial dishwasher manufacturers are aware of the conditions inside a kitchen. So they have designed machines that are easy to use. Each model is different though, so you should check to make sure your selected one is easy to use before you purchase.

    You should also imagine how the machine will work within your kitchen. What will be the process of loading and then unloading the trays? You might be able to identify issues that can arise in the future. Maybe your chef cannot get to the food he is preparing on the other side of the kitchen because your dishwasher is getting unloaded. These small details should all be considered, as they can often be overlooked and have lasting effects.

    5. Noise

    With fast and high capacity dishwashers comes noise. This is almost unavoidable! Normally the smaller the machine, the less noise it makes. This is another reason why smaller undercounter commercial dishwashers are often perfect for smaller establishments. For example. In a bar the dishwasher is in the same room as the bar. You wouldn’t want it super loud and ruining the atmosphere. On the other hand, your larger dishwashers like conveyor models tend to be much louder. Normally they are situated in larger areas that are away from the partons. But you should still consider overall noise levels. Can the staff in the kitchen still hear each other whilst the machine is running? Are noise levels within the legal working limit? It is more than likely that your machine won’t make too much noise, but these are still things you need to consider.

    Almost every model will have noise output information in the technical specifications.

    6. Energy and Water Use

    In Australia, water and power are not cheap. They can quickly add up and become a significant chunk of a business’s expense. You should take this into consideration before purchasing your machine. If you hugely overestimate how many wares will be going through your dishwasher at any one time, then you might be wasting a lot of unnecessary energy. If you are concerned with how much energy your machine will use, you can check the dishwashers technical specifications to see its energy rating. Some even come with low-energy modes.

    7. Labour Requirements

    Not all dishwashers are created equal. Some require the dishes to be pre washed or rinsed before going through the machine. This will require manual labour from someone. Do you have a spare person in your kitchen waiting around for this? Most kitchens don’t! Also, you will need someone who can be there to load and unload the crates as they go in and out of the machine.