Burt Bonilla, CFESA Master Technician, Coker Service Inc., learned about servicing foodservice equipment while on a ship at sea serving in the U.S. Navy from 1995 to 1999. “I was an electrician and worked on a lot of galley kitchen equipment,” he says. “I excelled at it and really liked it.” Bonilla’s time at sea gave him a lot of experience working with equipment in an environment where parts were hard to come by.

“We didn’t have many parts available, so we had to troubleshoot and nail down what we needed for orders,” he says. After leaving the Navy, Bonilla considered becoming an electrician, but an opportunity came about to join Coker Services Inc., and he was impressed with the company. Bonilla has served as a master technician at Coker since 1999. Here Bonilla discusses the industry, technology and common mistakes operators can avoid.  

burtpictureFE&S: What are common mistakes to avoid when it comes to maintaining a piece of equipment?

BB: A lot has to do with daily, weekly and monthly cleaning. There is proper housekeeping that operators can do at the store level that can keep service needs at bay. When I’m inside the store, I go over the dailies, weeklies and monthlies and set them up with preventative maintenance on a daily basis to keep up with motors, bearings and thermostats so they just need to take care of cooling fans. If they do dailies, the equipment takes care of itself. Preventative maintenance is key. 

FE&S: What’s the one question you wish operators would ask before buying a piece of equipment?

BB: They should ask if the equipment is going to work inside their kitchen. Sometimes we go in and the unit isn’t efficient enough for their operation or it won’t do what they want it to do based on the utilities available, airflow or kitchen staff’s skills. Instead, they like that it’s shiny and will look good. 

FE&S: How has technology, such as tablets, QR codes and more, helped make it easier to service equipment?

BB: I love QR codes! We have a good system at Coker with these codes. If a customer hears a noise and knows they want us to come out with a part, they can pull up a QR code on our system. Then they can attach a video, photos or record sounds. This allows us to hit the ground running when we come into the store, because we already have a good idea of what the issue is. Customers appreciate that. Many times, you walk in the door and have to order a part. We like to bring the part with us, but we can’t always verify it ahead of time. If we get a video or photo, we already have a good idea of what to bring with us. Tablets and phones are great for the office in terms of billing. Nowadays, you just press send and it’s billed. On the office end, this is life changing. 

FE&S: How has equipment evolved for the better over the course of your career?

BB: There are easier diagnostics with today’s technology, which results in better troubleshooting.