Brian Tubby, Laboratory Manager, 3M Foodservice Water Filtration
While no two projects are the same, there are some general principles that can help guide you to selecting the right system for your clients.
Jack-of-all-trades. Detail-oriented. Space optimizer. If you're in the foodservice design and consulting business, you know better than anyone that clients expect you to be experts on virtually every aspect of their new kitchen facility. From reviewing their initial requirements, to finalizing construction, you'll likely be faced with thousands of decisions throughout the process that influence the project's success. That's why it's absolutely critical that you understand one of the biggest decisions you make—one that affects almost every aspect of the kitchen—is how you handle the water quality. Let me provide 3 reasons why:
1) Water isn't what it used to be.
Our water specialists travel all over the U.S., receive water-samples from customers' buildings in different types of environments, and review water-reports from various water-suppliers. Largely, the trend we're seeing is that municipal infrastructure is providing water that is microbiologically safe for consumption, but that water contains agents which are challenging to treat for the water-suppliers and that simply aren't the best for delivering foodservice products like ice, beverages, coffee or steamed food. That means it's largely up to the consultant or specifier to implement a water treatment or filtration system to help reduce sediment, chloramines, chlorine taste, and odor to deliver a higher quality of water—or Recipe Quality Water™ as we refer to it at 3M.
2) Equipment life and operational efficiency depend on water quality.
Of course, the water that gets used in a kitchen affects more than just the quality of the food and beverage that your clients can produce—it also impacts their bottom line. While the initial upfront investment of an expensive piece of equipment may seem acceptable at first, the true cost of that equipment (or "life cost", as we call it) should include the cost of general maintenance, downtime that could arise from scale buildup multiple times over its lifetime, and the cost of repairs to the equipment.
For most foodservice establishments, scale buildup is the single biggest water challenge they face regarding equipment-protection. Any equipment that uses water at extreme temperatures (think steamers, coffee and espresso machines, etc.) will be prone to scale formation without a water treatment system in place. With scale buildup comes inefficiency and possibly even downtime for maintenance, meaning more costs as well as lost revenue.
With the right water filtration or treatment system, you can actually help prolong and protect the life of the expensive equipment your clients are purchasing, saving them a lot of headaches for the foreseeable future.
3) Consumers are as savvy as ever.
The foodservice industry as a whole has seen a massive shift in the past decade, especially as it relates to coffee and espresso. The "water spec"—or recipe of the water—has become the standard by which foodservice establishments operate. Organizations like the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) put out specific coffee brewing handbooks with entire sections covering the water specifications for brewing the best coffee or espresso. They account for everything from the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), to the chlorine and chloramines present in the water, all with the aim of improving consumer standards for their brewed beverages and the brands they associate with them.
Of course, this trend is not isolated to just coffee. Major brands in the cold beverage industry are obsessed with maintaining their brand standards and driving repeat business through positive customer experiences, so the water used in their post-mix machines needs to reach a consistently high-quality level.
Where to start?
Now that you know just a few of the many reasons why quality water matters for your clients, there's a few parameters you can use to help narrow your search during the water filtration or treatment system spec-in process:
1. Know your water source. Water can vary from county to county, or even within a city, so you can never assume its characteristics will match your expectations. A simple way to know what you're dealing with is to work with a 3M Water Filtration specialist to analyze a water sample. We generate reports that cover all the indicators you'll need to be aware of, like pH, hardness, alkalinity and more.
2. Know your available space. A general rule of thumb is that the lower the quality of your feed water is, the more space you'll need to dedicate to the water filtration or treatment system. Advances in our technology have brought us a long way towards more compact systems that can be mounted in a variety of ways, so it's often simply a matter of finding the configuration that works best for your space.
3. Know your equipment. As soon as you have the list of all the equipment being installed into the new facility, start exploring your water filtration or treatment system needs. If you are looking to protect a single piece of equipment like an ice machine, coffee-machine, cold beverage dispenser, or drinking water outlet or if you looking to protect multiple pieces of equipment, 3M has sizing recommendations to assist you in choosing an appropriate water filtration product. While facilities like schools, universities, hospitals, or hotels may, depending on their specs, only require a simple system, they can quickly become as complex as a system for a sports arena if the feed water quality is poor¹. The last thing you want is to encounter any last-minute water quality surprises that hold up the completion of your project.
Want to know another great way to see that your next water filtration spec-in goes according to plan?
Tap into 3M.
Our industry expertise runs deep, and we're always ready to let the water knowledge flow. Whether you have questions for one of our technical experts, or you're simply looking for resources to help you specify our our water filtration and treatment systems into your next design, we've got you covered.
¹ Please see product manual for installation and use instructions.