MemberAugust 23, 2015 at 12:00 am
Hello Technicians- Just wanted to ask a quick question. I’m very interested in the food service repair trade. Where would be the best place to start to learn the skills needed to enter this field. Any advice would be very appreciated. Thanks a lot!
MemberAugust 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm
Try ignitorlabs.com or cefesa.com . They both have very good online training classes .
MemberAugust 24, 2015 at 8:21 pm
Hello mroadman- Thanks for the info! I’ve actually seen Ignitorlabs website and it looks great. One thing I wondered about was the training time with the basic technician training module was a total of 24 hours. With how complex some equipment may be, I thought you would probably need a lot more hours of training to be able to enter the field. But, it does look like a great site- I’ll check it out. Thanks again!
MemberAugust 24, 2015 at 8:40 pm
As mroadman said, the only actual formal training out there is through CFESA. Ignitor Labs taps into their resources for their on-line training as well as factory training. Sort of a collaboration between them.
I’ll try to categorize the basics, based upon the CFESA training criteria. Google “CFESA” if you don’t know who they are.
CFESA’s main areas of training are – electrical, gas & steam. CFESA’s E.G.S. training covers those three. Their “R” for refrigeration is a fourth area, which opens the doors into that realm of food equipment. My having checked CFESA’s website just recently, I see they have put an emphasis on “water quality” training as well. That stands to reason, since it goes hand-in-hand when working on steamers, ice machines and beverage equipment (especially hot beverage). The latter wasn’t one of my strong suits, but we’re always learning.
Anyway, those are the broader categories of training. CFESA lays it out that way and the newer. up-and-coming, on-line training through Ignitor Labs includes all of that. Either way, they’re expensive when you’re footing the bill. Some CFESA certified service companies will put you through that training anyway to keep their company in the good.
I’ll throw a few more categories in the mix just for some frame of mind as to what you’ll need to learn. In the sub-categories of HOT side work (cooking stuff…we’ll forget refrigeration for now), there’s COOKING equipment, FOOD PREPARATION equipment and WAREWASHING equipment. So, along with the fryers, ovens and such, there’s also slicers, mixers, food processors, etc….and all forms of dishwashers. I’m sure I’m forgetting something
To start out in doing food equipment repair, the areas you must be strongest in FIRST is a THOROUGH knowledge of electricity and its applications. The second most significant is GAS (natural & LP). Knowledge of STEAM is certainly important, but encountering it is entirely based upon its use in your geographical location. Additionally, any one of those three has various degrees of expertise to pick up on. There’s also areas to learn regarding to mechanical systems (chain, gear & belt drive systems…and all that THAT entails), pneumatic systems (occasionally), plumbing (codes, tools, materials, pumps, valves, etc), trade standards regarding most EVERYTHING you touch, local codes, safety, knowledge of each type of equipment and how it’s used…and much more.
Obviously you’re NOT expected to know this stuff before ever working on it. These are simply some areas which you’ll eventually gain some knowledge and proficiency in. Working on food equipment is a never-ending process of LEARNING…especially as it gets more advances year after year.
As far as I know, there are no trade schools that teach what we learn. The closest would be by attending an HVAC/R school, since they cover many aspects of equipment operation which we encounter in our trade.
All of us in this trade started out differently. Some with a HVAC background, but many without. Some walked in of the street and got the job, while others had…well, some background in the trade. Some might have been car mechanics…or cooks in restaurants…before deciding to take the leap into working on this stuff. I personally don’t know ANY who took CFESA training classes FIRST in order to open that door. But, I’ve been at it when CFESA was still getting THEIR foot in the door.
Anyway, your BEST starting point is to be well-rounded in your electrical knowledge and troubleshooting skills. Your thorough and intimate study of gas-fired systems and the physics of & components in steam systems will open some doors. That’s where I started from after leaving the military nearly twenty years ago. At that time, I’d never given a thought towards working in this trade – but here I am.
I learned MOST of what I do through others I’ve worked with, from asking MANY questions – and by just DOING IT.
It’s dirty, grungy, greasy and often stinky work, but I STILL learn something new every day through the challenges it presents.
MemberAugust 26, 2015 at 12:50 am
Hi ectofix! Wow! – I can’t thank you enough for all the great info! All of that gives me some great direction into places and areas I can check out. I’m studying electronics on my own to hopefully give myself a primer for the more involved stuff that’s coming. Gonna seriously consider IgnitorLabs and check out CFESA’s website. You gave me some great insight of what is really involved in this trade, and took time to write out all that info- I really appreciate it. Thanks again!
MemberAugust 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm
Glad I could help.
I reread what I wrote and should clarify something.
I may have suggested “steam” as something you won’t see as much of. I’d written that from my standpoint that LIVE steam may not be commonplace in your area. Of course, if working at a hospital or similarly large institution that has boiler systems for comfort heating, water heaters, etc. – then you might end up working on kitchen or warewashing equipment which employs steam as a heat source. Live steam, as a rule, does NOT contact food. It’s not deemed as sanitary enough for that purpose. Live steam is ONLY supplied as a heat source.
For fourteen years while doing field service work, I RARELY encountered live steam. I work in-house at a large resort now and deal with live steam DAILY. Otherwise…where I’m at now, live steam is everywhere, so all of our dish machines and kettles use live steam for heat.
Yet, you WILL frequently encounter self-contained equipment that generates their OWN steam – such as steam ovens (usually called “steamers”), combi-ovens and steam kettles…no matter where you’re at. That sort of is very common.
It IS important to learn as much as you can of THOSE – especially the various STEAMER designs. They each vary in how they produce their own steam – from the counter-top steamers (many new ones are “boiler-less”) and up to the big, seething and groaning boiler-based floor models which build pressure and usually have connections to provide a steam source to other nearby equipment like steam kettles.
Here’s a link within a website called fesmag.com which offers some v-e-r-y general info on equipment categories and its upkeep: Foodservice Equipment Repair & Maintenance – Foodservice Equipment & Supplies
MemberSeptember 3, 2015 at 8:18 am
Mastering the steps of troubleshooting is very high on my list for a newby. I’ve been at this for years and knowing what the equipment should be doing properly and what it’s not doing leading that item or sometimes items that’s have failed. SAFETY,, working on live open equipment when necessary. ( safety gear ). As for steam, I encountered my first steam convection oven and it is a complex beast that had 3 failed parts due to one part failing and causing the others to fail Because of overheat. Want an instant sunburn, stand too close when you open the door.
When you have a failed part it’s paramount you are sure it failed just because it just failed and something else didn’t cause it to fail or else you’ll be back in a short time with an angry customer. Such as a failed compressor, was it a TXV, suction regulator, clogged cap tube?
best of luck!
MemberSeptember 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm
I’m kinda old school. I went to Coyne because I was going to do heating and air. How I wound up doing hot side/cold side, is another story. The school was highly rated, and places like ETI were just getting started. I recieved some solid training in electrical and refrigeration from Coyne. At the time, only companies like Hobart were offering training and that was on their own equpt. only! A company like ignitor labs was unheard of.
To sum it up, pick a school with a good rating. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Companies who do what we do, will always give you a chance as long as you went to a well known school. And, of course, never be afraid to ask questions!
MemberSeptember 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm
Ectofix is right on the money. Usually live steam is for larger institutions, like hospitals, bigger schools, prisons, etc.
There is a lot to learn. Just remember to do it one bite at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
MemberSeptember 3, 2015 at 11:43 pm
Thanks Uncle Paul for your advice and info! All the little insights to the field are so helpful. I admit, I feel overwhelmed when looking down the road of such a wide field like equipment repair. Excited to try and learn the trade, but still have that ” where do I even begin” feeling- haha! Again, Thanks for your help!
MemberSeptember 3, 2015 at 11:46 pm
Thank you wmontg5988!- That’s good advice that I’ll keep handy when/if that situation comes up.
MemberSeptember 3, 2015 at 11:54 pm
Thanks again, ectofix! The concept of steam as a working part of the equipment is interesting in how it is used in its different applications- to control it, to use it properly, etc. Very impressive your knowledge in this trade. Thanks again!
MemberSeptember 4, 2015 at 3:09 pm
Hello cardmagic88 what a great question and one I’m sure many techs have. As you can likely tell from our username I’m with CFESA based in the Headquarters out of Fort Mill, SC. I would like to first start out by thanking ectofix for pointing out that CFESA (Commercial Food Equipment Service Association) has many different training’s threw out the year. We have our EGS course coming up soon here in our all new Training Facility. Without sounding like an advertisement, you can find more information by clicking on the CFESA logo when you first log into the TechTown area here on the PartsTown website (please see the image below).
If you have more specific questions please feel free to message me here on tech town cfesa or post a reply and we will make sure one of our team members gets back to you right away.
Thank you again everyone for the mention and also to Parts Town for bringing this to our attention!
MemberApril 21, 2017 at 5:57 pm
Hello every one,
The Question by cardmagic88 was my question that has not been given a right answer before.
I have a restaurant that runs business relaying on freezer,cooler,toaster oven,backing oven,pressing oven,macrowave, ice machine,beverage cooler and more. over the years that I did not know how to have my screw driver handy I had to spend so much money for repair the equipment. when I started to repair some stuff on my own, I could cut the some of the cost, of course thanks to internet and those who put those video on youtube. but still I could not do all the repairs because I did not have a any kind of back ground or skill related to be a technician but I know that I have a courage to be a technician.
recently I found out about the skill worker school called Himark they have four branches. I am going to take the Gas technician 3 and then 2 and maybe 1 if needed but they said that with 3 and 2 I can start to work. what they said is I am going to learn and being certified as a Gas technician meanwhile I learn about electrical system that would give a knowledge
to repair those equipment also. since mroadman had the same idea about how to start from Gas,electrical and steam I think that I am in the right path, I was just wondering if the idea of starting with cfesa would be a better place to start with.
Thanks to every one who shared their idea it was very helpful for me
Log in to reply.