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Tapping into new opportunities

When it comes to commercial kitchens, the key considerations are health and safety, speed and efficiency. But in terms of boiling water provision, traditional solutions like the kettle and urn have proved flawed in one or more of these areas - so what's the alternative? Jon Cockburn, head of marketing at Heatrae Sadia, explains why being hot on the latest light commercial kitchen products can benefit the installer.

Although workplace catering facilities will vary in size and type, with offices, factories and medical centres generally having relatively small kitchens, and restaurants, schools and hospitals having large commercial kitchens, they will all require boiling drinking water.

Traditionally, boiling water has been delivered via kettles or urns - but these solutions do not always offer safety, speed or efficiency. Kettles and urns full of boiling water can be knocked over, and trailing cables can be damaged. Kettle users can also be scalded by water spilling from the appliance, or by steam.

It is also time-consuming to continually fill a kettle or urn and wait for it to boil - which can be frustrating; in busy working environments people don't want to spend their break times waiting for a hot drink.

There is also energy efficiency to consider. If an urn is filled and boiled, but not all of the boiling water is used, the excess hot water will lose heat through the insufficiently insulated tank, translating into massive energy wastage. And kettles and urns are invariably filled with more water than is needed. According to an Energy Saving Trust report, 75 per cent of people boil more water than they need, and overfilling kettles costs British households £68 million on energy bills a year. We believe that workplace kettles are also overfilled - costing the commercial sector millions.

In light of the drawbacks presented by kettles and urns, in recent years we've seen increased demand for plumbed in boiling water units. More and more businesses and public sector organisations are choosing them - and since these products need to be professionally installed, this is good news for installers working in the light commercial field.

The business and public sector premises that commercial heating installers work in on a day-to-day basis will usually have some type of onsite catering facilities. Installers therefore already have an existing customer base, and can expand their business by offering boiling water units as well as the installation, maintenance and servicing of commercial heating products.

Permanently connected to the cold water mains, electric boiling water units provide a constant supply of hot water, which can be used for multiple purposes, from making hot drinks to cooking vegetables. With varying capacities being available, they are suitable for any environment, from small office restrooms and school staffrooms to larger restaurant kitchens and workplace canteens.

Traditional boiling water products were quite industrial in appearance and operation, but the introduction of the boiling water 'tap' - widely regarded as a stylish kitchen accessory - has opened up the market even further, leading to good growth potential.

Our easy-to-install, five litre capacity Aquatap is based on our market leading Supreme boiling water product, and includes similar built-in safety features and the same Intelliboil™Plus technology, but has a more stylish 'hot tap' design.

In workplace kitchens, hot taps are ideal for quickly making hot drinks like tea and coffee, and for preparing instant snacks and soups. This is particularly beneficial for busy working environments where employees don't have time to wait for a kettle to boil - for example in hospitals, call centres and fire stations.

In larger commercial catering environments, such as restaurant kitchens, canteens, bars and cafés, having boiling water literally on tap can save chefs huge amounts of time when blanching or cooking vegetables or preparing stock, sauces, rice, pasta or couscous, and making hot drinks for customers also becomes quicker and easier.

Boiling water units are also safer than kettles and urns; securely mounted onto a wall or counter top, they can't be knocked over and any steam produced in the boiling cycle is condensed and retained within the unit.

Importantly, boiling water units are also energy efficient, delivering the amount of water required on demand and replacing it as it is used. Our Intelliboil™Plus technology effectively and efficiently manages the boiling cycle by regularly bringing the contents of the water container to the boil in response to ongoing user demand. A 'temperature ready' LED indicator advises when Aquatap is ready for use.

Based on an environment of 15 people requiring four hot drinks a day, we estimate that the daily running costs of Aquatap is £6.96 lower than a kettle, which translates to a saving of £1,670 per year. For a commercial kitchen, the savings could therefore be much higher.

The other benefit of hot taps is that there is usually the option to have cold drinking water delivered from the same unit. Over recent years there's been increased emphasis on drinking an adequate amount of water to remain sufficiently hydrated, with dehydration contributing to headaches, tiredness and irritability, as well as serious health problems. Studies have also suggested that water increases the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the brain, improving concentration and mental performance.

Some workplaces opt for bottled water coolers, but this can be expensive and involves a lot of maintenance in terms of replacing and storing the relatively large, heavy bottles. In addition, bottled water in general has come under scrutiny in recent years, in terms of its environmental impact and whether plastic water bottles actually harbour potentially harmful bacteria.

UK drinking water is of the highest standard, has a record level of quality and is the most stringently tested in the world. However, tap water can be poor tasting and warm - which can discourage people from drinking it. So, a good solution is to chill and filter mains water via economical plumbed-in units.

We offer the SuperChill chilled water unit, and Aquatap is designed to deliver refreshing chilled or ambient water in addition to boiling water; there are boiling only, boiling/chilled and boiling/ambient versions available.

Increasing numbers of businesses and organisations are beginning to appreciate the benefits that instant boiling and chilled water products provide, whether they have a small kitchen or large catering facilities. Proactive installers looking to broaden their offering could benefit from learning more about these products and their installation requirements. Call 01603 420 220

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