Food Transport Academy / 02-12-20

What is important when choosing detachable vs. fixed runners?

ScanBox Feature Video Cover
Detachable Pressed Runners from ScanBox

Runners, guides, ladders, guide ladders, guide racks, canteen hangers – a dear child has many names! If we leave the nomenclature aside and describe the basic function, it is all about organizing and safely transporting canteens, trays and pans. The crucial factors in a well-functioning and safe food transport system with preserved food quality are design and flexibility. Together, they have a direct impact on the critical aspects of the logistics. Below we describe how the choice of runners affects food quality, transport safety, cleaning and flexibility. But first, we must start by describing the difference between detachable and fixed runners.

What is detachable vs. fixed runners?

At ScanBox, we have manufactured products with both fixed pressed and detachable pressed runners for many years. It is a common misconception that detachable runners are not pressed, but the difference has nothing to do with the pressing itself. The big difference is IF the runners are permanently fixed inside the box or if they are detachable and can be lifted out of the box in their daily use. Our detachable runners are pressed in stainless steel of the highest quality! In 2018, we added the “Tilt-Stop” function with U-shaped runners for the best possible safety when loading and unloading the pans.

ScanBox Pressed Runners
Fixed Pressed Runners from ScanBox

How can the choice of runners affect food quality?

It is widely known that good insulation properties, even temperature distribution and moisture control are the three critical factors for preserved food quality when holding and transporting food. The choice of runners in a hot or cold box primarily affects the second factor – evenness in temperature distribution, especially when it comes to the lateral distribution of air inside the box.

Fixed pressed runners are considerably less expensive to manufacture than detachable pressed runners, but they have one great disadvantage when it comes to temperature distribution. Fixed pressed runners obstruct the natural air circulation as soon as canteens have been loaded into the box. This is because the canteens block the vertical air circulation inside. This means that the air circulation is horizontally isolated per guide level. To resolve this problem, air must be forced from the back of the box at all levels of the runner to get an even temperature distribution from top to bottom. As this type of forced air circulation is unusual, it means that fixed runners create an unnecessarily uneven distribution of temperature. This ultimately affects food quality, especially when the food is in transport and does not have access to electricity to keep fans running, which increases the evenness of temperature distribution.

Detachable runners often have some distance between themselves and the inside of the box. This allows for natural air circulation both vertically and horizontally. This leads to an even and controlled temperature distribution without having to force air from the back of the box. With detachable runners, you can feel confident that the temperature remains even and that food quality will stay preserved. A good benchmark for a box with a well-rounded design is to have a maximum of 1-2°C in temperature difference between the top and bottom guide level when the box is filled with food.

Air Circulation Detachable Runners by ScanBox
Air Circulation Detachable Runners from ScanBox

How does the choice of runners affect transport safety?

All commercial kitchens work daily to reduce food waste! When it comes to waste while holding and transporting food, it usually takes place during the latter. One should not underestimate food waste during loading and unloading of pans, especially since it causes a risk of injury to employees. Also, this adds time for cleaning of the boxes. One of the most important functions of the runner is to keep canteens in place to ensure that the food does not spill out into the box. An important rule is to always transport pans inside the boxes with lids on! This may not feel necessary when the boxes are stationary, but they will be subject to tough handling between central and satellite kitchens. This often includes transport in traffic with quick stops, sharp turns and shocks.

ScanBox detachable pressed runners in stainless steel are U-shaped with a precision gap to keep lids and canteens in place under rough transport conditions. The U-shaped runner also provides safety when loading and unloading of the boxes as canteens cannot tip over when the center gravity is moved out of the box (see picture below). We call this smart solution “Tilt Stop”!

ScanBox Tilt Stop
ScanBox Tilt Stop

We mentioned above that the boxes are exposed to rough conditions during transport and, sometimes, the boxes get damaged which affects the dimensions of the box. Although these damages are marginal, they can affect the ease of loading and unloading pans, especially when a box is heated (expanded) or cooled (compressed). A box equipped with fixed pressed runners has a higher risk of canteens falling through or becoming hard to feed into the box. Since the fixed pressed runners are an integral part of the box, it is extremely difficult to correct this problem. With detachable pressed runners, we can change and adjust runners and brackets to minimize downtime all without having to buy a new box. The tolerance of rough handling is simply greater with detachable runners and the probability of having problems with “sluggish” or “penetrating” canteens is much smaller.

How does the choice of runners affect cleaning?

Even if you limit possible spills as much as possible by following the above tips, accidents can still occur and food spills end up inside the box. When that happens, it is important that the cleaning is easy to handle and is as smooth as possible for the staff. Every second of reduced unnecessary cleaning of boxes is a saved cost for the business and will make your staff much happier! Accessing all nooks and crannies can be difficult, especially if you have to manually clean them with a microfiber cloth. The detachable runners can be easily lifted out and in this way you can access all angles and corners inside the box. At the same time, you can machine wash the detachable runners in the dishwasher! You can do all of this without risking the electrical installations in the box becoming damaged.

ScanBox detachable laser-cut runners have no joints or nooks and crannies where food scraps or the like can get stuck.

How does the choice of runners affect the flexibility of the business?

It is extremely important for most businesses that the kitchen equipment facilitates flexibility in the event of increased or changed needs. A detachable runner makes it possible to change the capacity of a box without changing the dimensions of the box. We can easily change the CC of our runners so that they will fit trays and various depths of pans or plates. In a box with fixed runners, limitations to changing CC often applies. This means that in the event of changing needs or if you have a multifunctional business, investments are needed in several different types of boxes that take up both time, space and financial resources. The detachable runners give you increased flexibility and security so that your investments remain relevant and useful.