When deciding between a custom fabricated commercial kitchen solution and a manufactured, off-the-shelf solution, operators have to educate themselves on the costs and benefits of both options before choosing. To begin the process, factors like space, design and general foodservice goals should be considered, and as Brian Ward noted in his Foodservice Equipment Reports article, “Fab-Tastic Journey,” sorting through the myriad of options can be a difficult task.
Information is important. Finding a custom fab provider that can accurately determine what the goals of the operation will be and then match those goals with the most cost effective solutions is what will make or break a project. Success hinges on it.
“We listen carefully to find out what the operator really needs,” says Jonathan Hood, Franke’s VP of Strategic Solutions. “We help them create standards [in layout and custom fab] so as they go forward, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
With many operations needing to do big things with small spaces, there are innovative ways to make the most out of a limited commercial kitchen workspace. Modular concepts that work vertically instead of the more traditional horizontal concepts should certainly be considered if the goal is repeatability and efficiency.
“When you think custom fabrication, you need to think standardization. You should go modular,” Hood says. “A lot of catalog items go horizontal, and they require more steps around the kitchen. We design custom fab pieces for fewer steps and more utilization. That often means we go more vertical, which optimizes smaller kitchens, smaller footprints.”
Likewise, it’s important to consider future changes an operation might require, as well.
“As you create your concept, you must understand that although you want to build custom, you also will want to make changes in the future,” he says. “A lot of facilities run electrical or refrigeration, water and gas and everything within the walls, and then it’s very hard to do changes later.
But doing more with limited space and saving on future costs by accounting for changes in the present are just the major reasons to utilize commercial kitchen specialty fabrication. There are other benefits.
“We have a client that recently went through a redesign,” Hood says. “The new equipment package costs more. But we took out a drain and water line from the floor. We took $5,000 out of construction cost that you would not think of when thinking custom fab. We took construction dollars and moved them to equipment. The result was a more nimble, more quick facility. Sometimes catalog items just won’t do what you want.”
So how do you choose the right specialty fab provider?
Choosing a provider can be a tough decision. Talk with other industry professionals. Research case studies and white papers. Interview providers. Or you can learn more about selecting a specialty fab partner by reading this free guide.