Adande at Sheetz

Adande has a further boost in sales of its patented refrigerated drawers across North America, following a strategic partnership with convenience retailer, Sheetz. Adande has installed VCS2/CW two drawer refrigerated units at the vast majority of Sheetz outlets and is scheduled to provide equipment for all new stores and remodels.

Sheetz is a major player in the USA convenience retailing sector, with 615 locations across 365 cities, satisfying the growing demand for food on the move. Over 46% of the outlets are in Pennsylvania, but the company also operates sites in Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The company’s operations combine convenience retailing, dine-in facilities, and food to go with nearly all of them also selling gasoline. Sheetz offers all of the freshly prepared, made to order meals you would expect from a fast food chain, including subs, sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, chicken, panini, pizza, and drinks. The company also enjoys a reputation for its innovative specialty meals, particularly its ‘walking tacos’, which allow customers to enjoy the Mexican classic, while on the move, but without the associated mess. Sheetz is understandably proud of the enthusiasm and loyalty of its customer base.

The installation of Adande units at Sheetz outlets followed nine months of intensive product testing, which included in-store trials at three live locations and the retailer’s head office at Altoona, PA. The tests were supported by Adande’s energy and engineering departments, with the results monitored by store operation staff and chefs from Sheetz. Every aspect of the drawers was assessed to ensure that the product was a good fit for service in Sheetz kitchens and all decisions were based on the potential return on investment.

Increased Reliability
Sheetz’s re-evaluation of its refrigeration requirements was prompted by frustration with its existing equipment. The company was experiencing frequent breakdowns and maintenance issues associated with seals, runners, and hinges. Adande’s Global Sales Director, Karl Hodgson, claimed that the proven technology of the Adande products was an obvious choice.

“Adande drawer units are inherently robust and built to withstand the harshest and busiest kitchen environments. There is less wear on the horizontal seals than on the doors of conventional refrigerators, meaning that seals need replacing infrequently – they are guaranteed for two years. The durable metal drawer runners are designed to protect against the moisture and freezing issues associated with conventional fridges and freezers. Adande’s drawer runners have been tested to achieve over 500,000 openings.”

Another advantage of the Adande design is the positioning of the condenser inside the unit, rather than the exterior positioning on traditional upright refrigerators. This ensures that Adande’s self-cleaning condenser, with its air flow pattern, is isolated from the dust, debris, and food particles, which frequently cause compressor failure on conventional equipment.

A testament to the reliability of Adande’s equipment is its proven failure rate of less than 1%. In the unlikely event that an Adande drawer should fail, the independent control of the other drawer allows it to be set to the required temperature, eliminating complete redundancy of the cold storage unit, which has a profound effect on service. This has allowed Sheetz service response times to be increased from a six hour priority call out to a routine next day visit, as partial equipment failure is not mission critical. It has also reduced the pressure on Sheetz’s service operations, with fewer emergency call outs due to Adande’s inherent reliability characteristics.

Compact Energy Saving Solution
Kitchen floor space in food to go operations is notoriously tight and the large capacity of the Adande unit, relative to its footprint, has enabled the retailer to make better use of its workspace. Sheetz Manager of Store Services, Chris Havice, explained: “The unique horizontal design of the Adande gives us 60% more storage space in the same floor area. This has allowed us to dispense with an ancillary freezer, which we used previously in our kitchens. This has led to savings in capital expenditure and energy costs associated with the extra piece of kit.”

Chris Havice has reported that the Adande units are demonstrating a 32% reduction in energy consumption, compared with the equipment used previously, delivering a further return on investment. These savings are achieved by Adande’s unique insulated ‘Hold the Cold’ horizontal container design, which ensures that heavier cold air is retained within the drawer, no matter how frequently it is opened.

Improved Food Quality
During the extensive trial period Sheetz addressed the issue of food quality and extended storage periods as another area for a return on its investment. Chris Havice stated:
“The Adande drawer design and humidity system deliver accurate and stable temperatures which help ensure food quality and freshness for longer, reducing the amount of product we have to throw away. With conventional freezers, temperature fluctuation occurs when the door is opened frequently or left open accidentally. These variations in temperature have a negative effect on the quality and longevity of ingredients.”

Sheetz has also achieved cost savings in the use of cooking oil. In conventional freezers, ice crystals form on frozen product. During the cooking process these crystals cause a degradation of the oil, meaning that it needs changing frequently. Adande’s low velocity cooling and humidity systems

eliminate ice crystal formation, extending the life of cooking oil and reducing the number of oil changes for significant savings. The absence of ice crystals also helps maintain consistently high standards of cooked food quality, providing an improved eating experience for the customer. Previous trials with Adande units have also seen a 4% lower take up of oil in the fries which can represent a significant cost savings.

Faster Service
Speed of service, especially during busy periods, is of paramount importance in convenience store environments. Chris Havice reported that adoption of the Adande units has helped improve ergonomics and operational performance in Sheetz kitchens.
“The ability to position the unit at the workstation means that there is quick and easy access for food preparation, cooking and service, eliminating the need for operators to fetch product from remote refrigerators.

This increases kitchen efficiency and speeds up service, allowing us to serve more meals during peak trading periods, this increases our sales revenues. The Adande VCS2/CW model incorporates a solid stainless-steel food preparation worktop, which means we are making optimum use of available space. The drawer layout ensures that all menu ingredients are readily visible and available for the operator. The independent control of the temperature of each drawer, through a range of 8°F to 59°F, is also a key feature of the Adande, providing the capacity for chilled and frozen storage at the point of preparation and service. The dual temperature capability allows us to make menu variations without having to install additional or alternative cold storage equipment.”

Adande units are quick and easy to clean, ensuring time saving hygiene regimes. The drawers of the Adande are fully removable for thorough cleaning and the stainless-steel exterior may be wiped down as part of regular housekeeping routines, which have become even more important in the COVID-19 era.

Karl Hodgson commented that the lengthy product trials with Sheetz and the roll out of Adande units across the retailer’s estate further highlight the credentials of Adande technology:
“An increasing number of forward thinking operators are specifying Adande as the refrigeration solution of choice for improved food quality, cost savings, operational benefits and sustainability. Our ‘Hold the Cold’ technology has been taken up in food retailing and foodservice environments worldwide. Our growth has been very strong across North America, where we are now supplying our innovative refrigeration equipment to at least five of the leading convenience food chains in the USA.”