Canadian heating element manufacturer Datec Coating Corporation has developed a mica heater to replace traditional steam tables with dry wells.

Datec’s thick-film heater element is printed directly onto mica, resulting in a thin, lightweight, low-profile and uniform heating solution. The mica-TF heaters can be attached to a surface to act as an efficient conductive heater or mounted as an effective radiant heater.Source: DatecSource: Datec

While traditional steam tables have been a mainstay in the restaurant industry, particularly in self-service restaurants, for various reasons, including their capacity to keep food fresh, warm and safe to consume while employing hot water to keep food temperature stable, Datec suggests that the classic steam tables have a host of drawbacks, including:

  • High operating costs driven by the need for continuously heated water
  • Potential safety hazard for employees who risk being injured by the hot water and steam as they change out the food pans
  • The need for additional labor for replacing the water that evaporates as it heats
  • Some steam tables require expensive plumbing
  • Steam tables require extensive cleaning at the end of the day and it is difficult to remove lime scale

As such, Datec Coating Corporation suggests that there are a number of advantages for using dry wells instead of steam tables. Among them: dry wells do not require water to keep food warm; instead, the company's mica-TF heating element heats the air surrounding the food pan, keeping it warm and fresh. Other advantages of the mica-TF heated dry well technology include:

  • Reduced energy cost — Dry wells reduce energy consumption by roughly 50%, thereby reducing the energy bill for restaurant owners
  • Improved space utilization — Dry wells take up less space than steam tables by freeing up space underneath the well
  • Reduced cost of installation — Dry wells do not need costly plumbing installation associated with traditional steam tables
  • Reduced labor cost — Labor for water filling and replacement and cleaning is eliminated, thereby reducing overall labor cost

Compared to the standard steam tables, dry wells can also retain food quality while lowering operational costs, according to Datec. They also reportedly help restaurant operators save money.

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