Improve stores of provisions and fittings on ships

Antonio Ferrando, Supply Store Expert at ALMACO Group, explains the key factors behind the creation of optimal supply stores and layouts.

What are the three most important things to consider when building supplies and fixtures stores?
Let me start by highlighting these three elements: fluidity, maximum food preservation and personalization. These three elements are really the key when striving to create an optimal layout of grocery stores and galleys for a customer.

Flows: Development has a direct and major impact on the flow in an area. A good flow arrangement ensures that the traffic operates efficiently when food arrives on board the ship. Food should be neat and stored as quickly as possible. Food should never wait in the wrong place, not when it arrives on board, not when it is transferred between stations, supply stores, kitchens and to dining rooms, nor when it is finally transported to washing areas and food waste stores. The current in the stream should be strong and unobstructed throughout the journey.

Maximize conservation: each store of provisions should have the right layout inside the room to ensure that the temperature is correct in all parts of the space, for example the air cooler should be located in a place that ensures that air can circulate evenly throughout the room, even when the grocery store is full. The layout inside the store of provisions must prevent misuse of space and guide the crew to use it correctly in an intuitive manner. When the flow in the layout is well planned, it means that the work is quick and efficient, that the food is stored longer and that the working environment is safe and comfortable for the crew.

Personalization: When it comes to arranging stores and kitchens, not one layout will suit every homeowner. Owners have different ways and preferences when it comes to storing, preparing, serving and disposing of food. Some owners still want their cold stores to be nearly identical throughout the fleet to ensure that crew members can move from ship to ship while still finding their way. Others agree with new arrangements for new vessels. Some owners prefer shelves to pallets in cold rooms, others want the opposite. Some owners have specific rooms dedicated to specific foods, such as caviar rooms, banana rooms, flower rooms, or ice cream rooms. Others are willing to keep more types of food in the same room and compromise with temperature. The important thing is to know the customers and their preferences, and to have enough experience to be able to help and advise when needed. All this, respecting and considering the ways the owner and crew are used to working.

What should you watch out for in supply stores?
I have already talked about the importance of good circulation and proper layout inside grocery stores, so I won’t repeat it, although this is where most mistakes are usually made. . Instead, I’ll talk about the importance of paying enough attention to detail when planning a grocery store. Things like choosing the wrong solutions for coolers, fire doors, ventilation, flooring and wall panels can cause many problems, especially as the ship ages.

Durable Floor: We recommend using 3/5 heavy duty non-slip stainless steel floors that support 2.5 to 4.5 tons, depending on the owner and whether forklifts are used in the area. After 20 years, we have found it to be the most sustainable and profitable alternative in the long run. It is also the safest choice for the crew.

High Quality Fire Doors: Poor quality fire doors can cause problems. The fire doors we recommend are developed by ALMACO in collaboration with our long-standing partner Porkka. The doors are very strong and extremely efficient, both in stopping fires and in maintaining a stable temperature inside grocery stores. Whether the desired temperature is +2 or -28 degrees Celsius (+35.6 or -18.4 degrees Fahrenheit), these fire doors have a big impact on food preservation and energy consumption.

Sufficient Ventilation: A fairly common problem we have encountered when working to modernize grocery stores is insufficient ventilation between panels and steel construction. This causes condensation to form in the ceiling and on the outside of cold rooms, which leads to water infiltration. Upon inspection, the unsuspecting crew member opening the ceiling panels is greeted by an unwanted shower.

What new trends do you see in the layout and technology of supply stores?
There is a growing demand for smart energy saving solutions to meet the demands of durability, quality, health and safety. This trend is true for all catering areas on the ship, not just the grocery stores. The ease of preventive maintenance and component replacement is also becoming increasingly important.

Ozonizers in supply stores for conservation: An interesting trend in supply stores that has re-emerged is the use of so-called ozonators in supply stores for fruits and vegetables. Introducing ozone to food stores prolongs the shelf life of food. This is a very smart way to make sure food stays edible longer and to reduce food waste. The technology is not new however, we saw it on the market 10 years ago.

Special Grocery Stores: Regarding special grocery stores, we can certainly see that more and more owners are leaning towards the use of special “earmarked” stores dedicated to specific foods and other perishable goods. This is the best way to ensure that everything is stored at the right temperature. On the other hand, in some cases it is even more cost effective to simply order smaller amounts of a particular food and compromise with temperature. Especially when the amount needed is quite small and sporadic. However, when we do pre-development with new owners, we always suggest using special food stores to ensure the best possible preservation of food.

USPH Standards – does it make sense that all vessels comply?
There is no real reason, other than cost, not to meet United States Public Health (USPH) standards in grocery stores and other foodservice areas. Ships going to the United States must have it with all required certifications and approvals. Many owners who do not intend to sail in the United States still ask for equivalent solutions, even if they do not intend to go through the paperwork. The requirements set out by the USPH standards are relevant and important to all owners, not only to obtain a certificate, but to ensure that the food preparation process and equipment are healthy, safe and easy to clean and maintain. One example is Viking Line, which only sails in Northern Europe. They requested USPHS compliant solutions for the restoration areas of their new Viking Glory construction, although they were not asked.

Whether or not the USPH is required, ALMACO always recommends that catering areas meet sufficient standards for health, safety and cleaning. The joints of the panels should be tight enough and the corners should be rounded to prevent dirt from sticking to them. The same goes for all shelves and furniture. We favor equipment that is easy to clean, for example plates and components that can be removed and washed in the dishwasher.

Another USPH standard that we always recommend for all projects is sufficient and good quality lighting. A grocery store should have 220 lux in order to have enough lighting to read labels, clean and work in the room. Lighting has a great impact on the well-being of the crew.

How important is solid knowledge and experience?
I have worked for ALMACO for 31 years now, in part even before the Foodservice division was taken over from MacGregor. ALMACO has the longest experience in catering solutions for the marine industry in the entire market and this is something we are very proud of. Few companies are able to provide expertise in kitchens, supply stores and refrigeration machinery – all in the same company. And from both a jobsite and owner perspective, it’s a clear benefit to working with a company that can support and understand the demands of all of these areas. When doing a layout for grocery stores, I think it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of how to combine it with the demands of kitchens and refrigeration machine areas. This is the only way to truly achieve a layout that works holistically and ALMACO knows how to do it.

While working for the company, ALMACO provided supply stores for over 200 passenger ships and built over 9,000 cold rooms. We always strive to improve ourselves with every ship we build. We have the best partners in the industry and have been involved in product development with them. Our customers come back because they trust us and know they can leave everything in our hands. We take care of it from the beginning right through to repairs and upgrades and consider ourselves very lucky to have long term friendships with our customers and partners. Together, we create the magic of catering.

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