When specifying a slicer, operators should figure out how many hours it will be in use daily. This will help determine whether a light-, medium- or heavy-duty unit will best meet the foodservice operation’s needs.
Heavy-duty, high-volume slicers cut in varying thickness and offer oversize 13-inch chrome-plated blades for busy operations. For foodservice operations that will utilize the slicer for one to four hours a day, a medium-duty type will suffice. These slicers typically slice without manually feeding product onto the carriage. For minimal slicing that will occur between 30 minutes to an hour a day, a light-duty slicer should be sufficient.
Horsepower represents another consideration when purchasing a slicer. Slicers include a belt- or gear-driven knife motor that ranges from ¼ to ½ horsepower. When it comes to hard items, like cheese or frozen foods, it’s best to use a heavy-duty unit with at least a ½-horsepower motor. Automatic slicers feature a separate DC motor driven by a chain and sprocket system, and end users can disengage it for manual operation.
The width and height of the product being sliced will determine the appropriate knife diameter. The larger the product being sliced, the bigger the knife required. Available sizes are 9, 10, 12, 13 and 14 inches.
Slicers can be hazardous to operate by inexperienced personnel. Depending on the staff’s experience, consider additional safety features to protect users during operation and cleanup. These include interlocks that prevent the slicer from being turned on if the carriage is removed or can lock out the blade if the carriage tray is removed. Slicers are available with several interlocks that not only help with safety but also conserve energy by shutting off the machine automatically after inactivity. Features that allow the operator to quickly turn off the slicer as well as child-proof safety switches also are available.
Operators should look at the cleaning procedure for the unit, including how easily the machine can be broken down and the overall cleanability of the unit. Assess the blade guards or sharpeners. Also, cleaning under the slicer is a consideration, so the amount of space beneath the unit is a factor.
A slicer sharpener is good to have, and permanently mounted ones are convenient.