Tray Delivery Carts

Food for thought: Tray Delivery Carts (part 2 of 3)

Cook's 46-7/20"H Non-Heated/Insulated Ironman Tray Hauler

Cook’s Brand Ironman Tray Hauler

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.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

Food for thought: Tray Delivery Carts (part 1 in a series)

Cook's Brand TDC1914SS Stainless Steel Tray Delivery Cart

Two-shelf Stainless Steel Tray Delivery Cart

One of our goals at Cook’s Correctional is to be experts in the field of equipment and supplies for the correctional kitchen. That is one of the top ways for us to bring value to our conversations with you.  We need to know what choices you have, what products work and what doesn’t work in corrections, what products offer the best durability, what products are the best economic value, and in general what products are out there that can help you get the job done safely.   Our entire organization has gone through product training to emphasize its importance.

One of the items that is somewhat unique to corrections are tray delivery carts.  While hospitals and other institutions may use tray delivery carts, the products they choose aren’t the same as what is used in a jail or prison.  When we work with a customer who is looking to purchase a new cart, we start by asking them questions about their facility.  It is by knowing how they will use the cart that we are able to best help them get the right product for the job.  Here are the questions that we start with when we are exploring a new or replacement cart purchase with a customer:

1.  What is the security level of the facility?  A higher security level speaks to a need for a more durable cart.

2.  How many inmates are housed at the facility?  This helps us to determine the cart capacity needed.

3.  Feeding method and location?  Knowing the feeding method helps us to determine the best type of cart for your operation.  Do you need a heated tray delivery cart or is an unheated or flatbed cart going to work?  When we ask about location it helps us to determine what features may best suit your operation. If you’re transporting these carts outside and over rough pavement it will influence your caster choice.

4.  Do you have any issues with your current meal delivery process?  This is a great time to evaluate how the cart may be affecting your entire process and if you can improve the efficiency of your operation by changing the cart type or possibly another component of your meal delivery process.

Purchasing a new tray delivery cart type will often affect your entire operation, it’s that important of a component.  It’s also a significant investment, so it’s worth taking the time to evaluate if you’re purchasing the best product to meet your needs.  In our next post, I’ll talk about more ‘specific’ cart questions that you should consider.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

What makes a good tray delivery cart?

Cook's Brand Stainless Steel Tray Delivery Cart

Cook’s Brand Stainless Steel Tray Delivery Cart

We have a ton of experience with tray delivery carts, so much that a few years ago we felt we could design and build carts that were superior to anything on the market.

So what makes a good cart…

To start with, you need a strong frame for the entire cart and shelves. One of the biggest areas of failure on a cart is the front of the shelf, where it is typically just welded. On our carts, we reinforce the top/bottom shelves with square tube so when the inmate sits on it or overloads it, the shelf won’t break.

Next, you must have great casters. Casters that are large enough to be pushed easily through the yard or down to the housing unit at the end of the facility. We like 6” polyurethane, non-marking casters which hold about 2000 lbs. Yes, no one will ever put 2000 lbs. on it but why take the chance!

Beyond casters and a sturdy frame, corner bumpers, welded handles and heavier gauge stainless steel are also very important. But when purchasing a new 2 shelf cart, the primary focus should be on the frame and casters. IF the frame and casters are made to

Jeff Breeden, CEO Cook's

Jeff Breeden

withstand corrections abuse, the cart will last you a long time.

Your cart can be Stainless Steel or Aluminum – we carry Cook’s Brand carts in both materials and have many customers who purchase each of them.  The difference in the materials really won’t affect the life of your cart so much as the appearance, weight and the price as aluminum is less expensive than stainless. If you in the market for a cart, make sure to look at how it’s built to be sure it will last in your operation.