Today's customers demand more fresh, grab-and-go food options than ever. To accommodate, stores are offering more prepared foods, re-configuring their layouts and grouping options together for one-stop shopping.
Of course, all of these new options can't just sit out on the shelves; they have to be refrigerated. If you're a grocery and convenience store facility manager, this means you're probably investing in more refrigerated display cases to keep up with demand. But how do you maintain these assets properly?
Refrigeration case cleaning: what is it?
Refrigeration display case cleaning is the gold standard for refrigeration preventive maintenance. During this service:
- Your store removes all inventory from the cases and makes sure all electrical power to the case is turned off (this service is best performed overnight so customers aren't inconvenienced).
- A trained technician removes the bottom racking and pans to access the fan plenums.
- They vacuum the fan blades and the bottom of the case, and remove any debris from the drain trough.
- Once this debris is removed, the technician raises the fan plenum to access the evaporator coil, then uses hot water to carefully wash off any dust, dirt and algae from the coil.
- Finally, the technician puts everything back together and documents anything that is broken, bent or looks like it needs maintenance (such as fan motors, blades, corrosion, etc.)
This process might seem invasive, but it has huge benefits for your business and customers when performed regularly. Facility managers who opt for regular refrigeration case cleaning realize two key benefits for their stores and their bottom-line:
1. Improved performance
One of the key benefits of regular refrigeration case cleaning is that it ensures your cases are operating at maximum efficiency. Without all the dirt and grime making your equipment work harder, you're taking proactive steps to reduce energy costs, decrease expensive service calls and extend the life of your equipment. But even more importantly, you're making sure that your food is being stored at the right temperature for food and customer safety.
Neglecting to keep your cooler cases clean can have huge implications during health and safety checks. If your unit says it's cooling to 40 degrees, but in reality it's only reaching 42 degrees, then food quality can be compromised and you will fail inspection. Product shrink and disposal of inventory is costly, resulting in both lost product and the labor costs to un-stock and restock that unit.
A dirty refrigerated case is also much more prone to emergency service, which can be expensive. This not only causes an inconvenience to your customers, but your staff, who will have to relocate inventory to units that are working properly.
The easiest way to avoid these problems is to schedule regular refrigeration case cleaning, which will improve your units' performance, extend their lifespan and help you avoid expensive consequences from noncompliance of health and safety codes.
2. Happy customers, better reputation
Picture this: a customer is walking through your store's "fresh" section, surrounded by all of the delicious prepared options. Suddenly, their senses are bombarded with unpleasant, musty smells. Imagine how that could negatively impact their experience with your store and your brand. They may choose to leave your store and not buy any inventory — perhaps even vowing to never come back. Even worse, they might share their unpleasant experience with friends or on social media, deterring other potential customers — all because of the foul odor from dirty refrigeration equipment.
Every grocery and convenience store facility will contend with this possibility; it's just the nature of stocking fresh items that require refrigeration. Deteriorating produce and leaky packaging provide a perfect breeding ground for odor-causing organisms deep inside your equipment.
Spot cleanings by staff can help mitigate these risks in the short-term, but regularly scheduled case cleaning helps you remove the odors from deep inside your refrigeration unit. This will not only improve your equipment's overall hygiene, but also safeguard your reputation with customers as a fresh, reliable place to buy food. Win-win!
Case cleaning is a crucial part of any grocery or convenience store's planned preventive maintenance program; unfortunately, it often gets put off among the shuffle of day-to-day operations.
We recommend performing this service at least once a year to ensure that your refrigerated units are in solid working condition and your customers are safe and satisfied. Depending on the size of your facility, you might want to combine refrigeration case cleaning with another coil cleaning service — such as HVAC coils, walk-in cooler coils and prep room coils — to strengthen your overall preventive maintenance program and knock out much of your annual maintenance at once.
Want to learn more about refrigeration case cleaning or how to customize a planned preventive maintenance program for your grocery or convenience store?
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