If you are running a deli, coffee shop or sandwich shop, you will find that a slicer can save you time and money. They allow you to produce uniform slices of meat, cheese, or eggs, faster than with a knife. With their ability to speed up productivity, it makes sense for operations of all sizes to have a reliable slicer in their kitchen. Before you begin searching for the right slicer for your needs, be sure to consider the following aspects of this purchase.
When it comes to buying a slicer for your kitchen, there are many different options available and it’s hard to know where to start. Your first consideration should be the grade of the machine. How often and what products you’re slicing will determine which model is best for you. Though a light duty model might be tempting due to their economical price point, be aware that overloading your slicer will cause it to bog down and burn out which will only cost more money in the long run.
Light duty slicer models are great for slicing deli meats, but that’s about it. They are not recommended for slicing cheese. If your location uses prepackaged cheeses, this won’t be an issue. For most full-service locations, however, this is the least useful option for a slicer. It should be noted this type of slicer can be used a maximum of 1-2 hours a day so they are best suited to low volume operations as they will not be able to keep up with higher volumes without burnout. They also have very few features and are rather basic in design and function.
Medium duty slicers usually have larger blades and a bit more horsepower. With these models, you can slice meats, vegetables, and occasional cheeses, but they are not recommended for frozen products. If you are operating a low or medium volume deli style restaurant using only refrigerated products, this type of slicer can be a perfect solution for a speedy way to uniformly slice products while keeping up with customer demands. This type of slicer can be used for around 2-3 hours a day. There may be more features than a light duty slicer, but the options are still rather limited.
This slicer work-horse can run almost constantly and will cut any amount of meat, cheese or frozen products. With heavy duty slicer models, you will acquire better features that enhance slicing precision, safety, and ease of operation. While they tend to be larger units, they also offer more output than the other types of slicers. They can be operated for 4 hours or longer a day which makes them ideal for high volume operations without worry.
Blades can range from 9-14 inches, the most common being 12 inches. Smaller slicers such as light duty will typically have a 9-inch blade which is another drawback to this type of slicer, with medium and heavy-duty slicers having larger blades. Be sure to buy a slicer with a blade diameter that is equal to the size of the product being sliced. This will help avoid issues and ensure better food cost. While the blade size is important, you should also consider the carriage size in relation to the blade. For instance, if you need to slice larger items and the carriage is unable to support it, you may run into problems.
Manual vs. Automatic
The matter of manual or automatic operation is one of the biggest considerations when buying a meat slicer. The way your restaurant operates, as well as the volume, will help determine the best choice for your business. There are a few questions to ask yourself to help decide between the two options.
Are you slicing just a couple of pieces at a time, or do you need to cut a larger amount?
Do you offer cuts of thickness based on customer requests or a uniform thickness?
How high volume is your business?
While many operators think the matter is about labor costs, this isn’t true. Having an automatic slicer still requires an employee to load it and generally oversee the operation from time to time to avoid issues. However, it does aid in productivity to have an automatic slicer since it frees the employee up to take on tasks close at hand.
A manual slicer requires someone to manually slide the feeder tray back and forth over the blade. It is ideal for cutting just a few slices of meat at a time rather than in bulk. This choice is also well-suited for lower volume locations. A manual slicer is also ideal for varying the cuts based on customer preferences.
An automatic slicer will automatically slide back and forth, without constant supervision. They are available in a couple of speed options: a two-speed machine equipped with choices for high and low-speed operation or a variable speed that has a range of operating speeds. Since they offer a higher output with the same consistency, these are best suited to high volume locations looking for a uniform cut. If you are going to run it for several hours at a time, be sure to get a heavy-duty slicer that can withstand the extra workload.
Belt-Driven vs. Gear-Driven
Another consideration should be the motor design. Slicer motors are either belt-driven or gear-driven. Gear-driven slicers are more expensive, but will be more reliable and require less maintenance. The belts that drive belt-driven slicers don’t require much maintenance, but they do require regular cleaning and a bit of oil every so often. For high volume situations, the gear driven slicer is the way to go.
You can find slicers with a variety of horsepower options. Generally, the higher the horsepower, the more frequent use it can handle. Since a slicer is a somewhat major investment in the operation of a business, make sure you buy a slicer with enough power to keep up with your needs. Choosing a slicer that is incapable of meeting your demands is a poor choice. The extra stress on the slicer could affect the speed, reliability, and lifespan.
When it comes to a machine that uses shape blades to cut food, safety is a primary concern for any business employing this machine. There are a few safety features to look for to ensure a safe work environment for staff.
A knife guard covers the majority of the blade and leaves only the edge necessary for cutting exposed. Since the edge is most likely angled downward towards the carriage, this feature helps to eliminate accidents.
A gauge plate interlock is a mechanism which requires the gauge plate to be set at zero before it will allow the carrier tray to be removed. This will help protect workers from the blade edge.
Easy grip handles are designed to be just what the name says. Made of comfortable plastics and shaped in a way that provides the best grip, these handles prevent worker accidents by ensuring correct placement of hands during operation.
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