Steam tables have been the de facto standard used by foodservice operators to keep pre-cooked food at a safe hot temperature. However, steam tables are plagued by many challenges including:
An Alternative to Water
To solve these problems, foodservice operators have sought out alternatives to the steam table that are not dependent on water. Datec was approached by a food equipment manufacturer to develop a heater assembly for use in a heated food well which would reduce: 1) energy consumption, 2) cost of installation, and 3) the safety risk associated with the handling of hot water. The client wanted to solve these problems while maintaining food quality and safety.
The Dry Heated Food Well Solution
The solution Datec proposed was a heater assembly which met all the requirements put forward by the client and also provided additional benefits.
Minimal Cost Impact: The implementation of the heater assembly allowed the use of a better heater technology with a minimal cost impact.
Installation: Installation of the heater assembly was simplified and of a higher quality.
Reliability: Datec’s heater assembly provides greater reliability and service life.
Control: Datec’s mica-TF design responded rapidly to control adjustments.
Uniformity: The heater assembly provided more consistent and uniform heating within the heated well assembly.
Service: The design of the heater assembly allowed the heaters to be easily replaced in the event of a burn-out, something that was not possible with the previous design.
The Right Design Makes All the Difference
Datec used their mica-TF® technology to attain even heat and eliminate the need for water. The challenge was to utilize air, instead of steam, to heat the pan uniformly through convection. The heat needed to be spread out uniformly to avoid hot spots and cold spots. The key was to design a mechanism of efficient and uniform heat transfer from the Datec heater to the food holding pan.
The process began with performing a thermal study to simulate the heat transfer. This enabled a precise heater design to meet the requirement of the application. Datec developed the mica-TF ® based heater using its proprietary thick film material system to replace the traditional tubular heater that is used in most steam tables.
Figure 1 IR image of heater – heating side
Figure 2 IR image of heater – working side
Datec worked with the client to redesign the food well, install and test the newly developed mica heater in the well. Several in-product tests were conducted to study the key performance aspects of Datec’s system such as power, energy consumption, temperature uniformity, reliability, etc.
The End Result
Datec developed a heater assembly capable of replacing water and enabling an effective dry heated well solution that keeps food at its desired fresh and safe temperature.
Furthermore, Datec designed the heater assembly in a way that the onsite service of equipment would be simplified which means lower cost to service and less downtime.
Figure 3 IR image of the surface of 3 well system showing very even heat
Graph 1 Surface temperature of well
Datec lets you stay ahead of the competition with our thick film heaters for food holding equipment that integrate new technology, increase performance, and reduce costs. Our patented thick film technology allows engineers to create long-term high performance, cost-effective heating solutions for a wide range of applications.
From prototyping to joint development, contact us to learn how Datec can work with your team.
Datec is a custom heating element manufacturer specializing in thick film heating solutions. Our solutions are ideal for industries such as: commercial food service, medical devices, electronics, automotive, and appliances.
From prototyping to joint development, learn more about how Datec can work with your team.