Our last post about Tray Delivery Carts talked about some of the different questions we would ask a customer who was looking to replace or buy new Meal Delivery Carts. We focused on questions about their facility and some things about how they would use them. The idea is to get the right cart for the application. In this post, I’m focusing on questions you would ask once you have the type of cart and necessary functionality needs identified. These are general facility questions and cart questions that you need to know before you buy:
1. What is the width of the most narrow door? Do yourself a favor and test using a piece of cardboard that is the size of the cart to be sure your cart will fit through the door or in the elevator/sally port. Ask for a spec sheet so you can see the exact dimensions including the handle and possibly a bumper. We discussed tray delivery carts in a sales meeting the other day – and one story thrown out there was about a customer who had to have the maintenance guy cut the bumper off of all the carts so that they could be used. That’s right – the ‘protective’ bumper that probably made the cart a little more expensive.
2. What is the turning radius within the facility? Take that same piece of cardboard and walk it through the path the carts are going to take. Now think about the caster set up on the cart that you want? You don’t want to get in a situation where you need a cart that has four swivel casters and you order one that has two swivel in the front and two fixed in the back. Suddenly you have trustees pushing the back end of the carts so that they can fit them through the turn, destroying the casters, putting pressure on the handles, and so on. We all now how gentle the trustees are with your equipment.
3. What type of surface will the cart be moved over? Is it going to stay in the facility or will you be using it to transport food offsite, will it go over rough pavement, loose gravel or spline joints outside, or is it only to be used indoors? This is all about getting the right material and size caster to meet your needs and one you aren’t constantly replacing — all purpose casters, TRP rubber casters, polyurethane casters, rubber expansion stem casters, and more.
4. What type of electrical power does the cart require — and do you have it? Look too see if the cart and your facility are compatible before you order! You may have or need 120 or 208 phase. The cart may have a NEMA plug – so you need a NEMA receptacle in your facility. You also want to be sure that the electrical is available where you need it and that there is enough of it. How many carts will you need to plug in to preheat them — it’s better to think through how you will be pre-heating 15 carts with only 10 outlets available before you buy. You also want to check out the production and staging area and the cell block if you will be plugging them in in both locations.
As the expression goes, the devil is in the details. Carts are such a big investment and they typically have a longer lead time because they are made to order so you want to be sure to spend some time upfront making sure that you choose a cart that will work within your facility.
The next blog post will be about cart options to you should be aware of before you make a buying decision.