There’s much to be said for choosing the appropriate washing machinery necessary for the utensils, pans, racks and other pieces of equipment that work within your commissary every day, especially when the wrong one can cause added expenses.  

To get an idea of those expenses, you need only look through the EPA’s Energy Star statistics. For example, the first three food processing plants to receive Energy Stars for their use of ideal equipment used an average of 20 percent less energy, cut back carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 metric tons, and saw $10 million in savings — and that was in 2010. The kind of savings you can reap by selecting the proper equipment for your individual facilities now has only increased, and there are currently more options than ever.

“The ideal washer depends on the type and quantity of items to be washed, the type of soils to be removed, the desired wash time, heating options, flexibility for future needs, space limitations, and budget considerations,” says Kevin Lemen, vice president of marketing for Douglas Machines Corp., which offers a full line of commercial and industrial washers for all containers commonly used in the bakery, meat, poultry, food processing, packaging and distribution industries.

“Since these parameters vary significantly, our line of automated washing and sanitizing systems contains over 40 standard models. Generally, in-store or retail/wholesale bakeries enjoy the flexibility of compact, cabinet-style batch washers, and commissaries and food processing operations typically require the increased throughput capacity associated with continuous cleaning tunnel washers.”

The LD-20 pan washer is for the small- to medium-sized facility, and features a push-button digital control and information center, precision-engineered spray arm assembly, easily removable filter screens, external wash-down hose and spray gun, and comes with either standard or custom-designed wash racks. The LD-20 has a lift door for saving space, but the same machine also comes as the SD-20, with a convenient split-door design.

“Batch washers come in a variety of styles and capacities,” Lemen says. “Lift-door models are the most economical in terms of space. The door of this wash cabinet lifts vertically upward, thereby eliminating any infringement on the space located in front of the machine that may need to be kept clear for traffic. The caveat is that ceiling clearance must be considered with a lift door design.

“Drop-down or hinged-door models feature doors that create convenient drain tables when the door is opened. This allows the wash rack to be pulled out onto the door for loading and unloading. The area in front of the machine also tends to stay dry since the water from the pans drain onto the table and then back into the machine. The lift-door design generally requires that the operator keep the wash rack inside the machine and, consequently, operate within the cabinet’s drip zone for the loading/unloading functions.”

Both models employ self-contained water heating, recirculating wash water, and a fresh water sanitizing rinse. Moisture-resistant control gauges ensure longevity, along with a one-year warranty program and stainless steel construction. They have a heavy-duty 705 HP pump, a 50-in width and 20-pan capacity.

But if your commissary is larger and requires more than that, the walk-in 1536-B batch washer is even more powerful, featuring not only the push-button digital control and information center and standard or customizable racks, but an array of optional accessories, such as its fold-away ramp system and steam extraction fan. It comes with an even more powerful 15 HP pump, 36- to 48-pan capacity and has an average wash and rinse cycle of just five minutes.

“A greater amount of food related product than ever before is being prepared off-site in centralized commissaries and shipped to individual store locations,” Lemen notes. “Conveyorized tunnel washers, with or without blow-off modules, are best suited for these applications due to the significant volume of containers being washed and sanitized. Containers are transported through the tunnel washer by a belt or chain through specific modules — pre-wash, wash, sanitizing rinse and blow-off — before exiting the machine. Batch washers are generally a single person operation, but most tunnel washers will require two people for loading and unloading.”