Apetito selected the Citroën Berlingo and NV200 diesel vans, which operate on a five-year replacement cycle, based on a variety of factors including wholelife costs, monthly rentals, gross vehicle weight and safety demands, but critical to the decision was the models being fit for purpose in terms of accommodation of the ovens and fridge.
The Chefmobil incorporates three separate independently-timed ovens to heat meals.
The oven configuration is designed to stagger cooking times.
The multi-chamber design, which was first introduced in 2006, means the Chefmobil never holds meals for longer than 45 minutes in a typical two-hour delivery.
Every meal is evenly cooked
The system also means the initial temperature doesn’t need to be as high as traditional systems, ensuring the meals retain their nutrition, flavour, appearance and aroma, says Apetito.
Once the cooking cycle has completed, the oven switches to a ‘hot-holding’ phase that ensures every meal is evenly cooked and delivered at the optimum temperature.
The ‘hot-holding’ phase of the system is significantly reduced when compared to traditional regeneration systems, says Apetito. The fridge is used for chilling desserts.
The conversion also improves health and safety as the ovens are powered by a vehicle’s engine management system, unlike the old system which used bottled gas.
The development of the triple oven and fridge system has additionally helped Apetito improve cost-efficiency as the Chefmobils have a greater capacity – 57 main meals and hot desserts – so are able to carry more hot meals and desserts per vehicle than previously.
Importantly, the conversion work undertaken by Hitachi Capital sees drivers able to operate the microchip-controlled ovens with one touch of a screen next to them in the cab.
And a secure digital card records diagnostic data on the ovens and fridge, including historical temperature information, to provide customers with a robust audit trail.
All drivers are trained to use the equipment prior to getting behind the wheel of a Chefmobil.
That, says Sayers, helps avoid unnecessary maintenance costs caused by operator error.
Sayers says: “Chefmobil provides Apetito with the most advanced mobile regeneration and delivery system available.”
As, he explains, minimising vehicle downtime is essential for business success: “The service is critical to the daily well-being of thousands of people so assurances on delivery are a pre-requisite for the local authorities and the people who purchase our service.
“The development of ‘plug-and-play’ ovens means that if an oven chamber is broken, the vehicle itself is not necessarily off the road, which has been the case before.”