Flight-type, also called rackless, warewashers have a setup akin to a car wash. These units are best-suited for large, high-volume operations, such as cafeterias, banquet and catering halls, or prisons. Due to the big footprint, these systems require a great deal of space.

iStock-539207425Prior to choosing a machine configuration, operators need to consider the warewashing volume necessary to properly lay out the dishroom. Extra space will be necessary to accumulate or scrap, load, unload and store dishware and items being washed.

The majority of flight-type units feature a straight line configuration and resemble a giant tunnel with a conveyor belt. Operators can place items directly on the belt or they can use a rack to confine and protect more delicate items and glassware.

In terms of size, lengths can range from 18 to 40 feet. The most common flight warewasher size measures 3 feet wide by 23 feet long.

This equipment generally consists of five basic sections but may have more or less, depending on the unit. The loading area is where staff place items for washing. The unit may also include a prewash section with a wash tank, a powered rinse tank, a final rinse tank and between one and four blower dryers prior to the unload section. All commercial dishwashers require a final rinse temperature of 180 degrees F to properly clean and sanitize dishware.

Flight-type warewashers can accommodate between 9,000 and 20,000 pieces of ware an hour, depending on the model. The average machine handles about 10,000 plates in an hour.

Constructed of stainless steel, these systems come with countless belt configurations, depending on the model, as units are application-based. This equipment may include one, two or three wash tanks, and units can have between zero and four blower dryers.

Due to the industry’s big initiative on conserving water and energy efficiency, there has been a great deal of technological innovation with flight machine technology in the last 10 years. Previous units would utilize 300, 400 or 500 gallons of water an hour. Today’s machines typically use 60 to 120 gallons per hour, depending on the model and its configuration.

Heat recovery systems represent a newer and potentially money-saving feature. This technology utilizes energy or steam created from inside the machine to preheat cold water used to wash dishes in place of outside energy.

As mentioned, foodservice operators can choose from various belt configurations. A narrow belt machine measures 21 inches wide, considerably smaller than the average 28 inches. Wider belts go up to 48 inches in width. Opening heights also can vary, with the standard typically 18 inches tall, but 22-inch-high versions provide accessibility for oval trays, sheet pans and tall plastic food containers.

One mistake many operators make to save space is eliminating flight warewasher components, like the prewash tank. Doing this can greatly decrease the efficiency and performance of these units.