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The Importance of Pre-Development of Galleys in Functionality

Image courtesy of ALMACO
Image courtesy of ALMACO

Published Feb 18, 2022 9:01 AM by The Maritime Executive

[By: Marco Cargnello, Galley Design Expert at ALMACO Group]

Cruise ship galleys are behind some of the most exclusive dining experiences in the world, which is amazing considering the amount of food they produce. The biggest vessels serve as many as 10 thousand people several meals a day. With that many portions to prepare, galley operations must be planned and built to run like clockwork and there is not much room for errors or delays. 

“Well planned is half done” is one of my favorite sayings. I believe one of the biggest success factors in galley projects lies in putting extra focus and effort into the first phase of the project, aka. the “pre-development phase”. In this article, I will share my thoughts on why pre-development should be done thoroughly, as well as what boxes we need to tick during this phase. 
What does pre-development of galleys mean and why is it important?

There are many aspects involved when planning food preparation, serving, and disposal on board, which explains why it is so important to dedicate proper time and resources to the pre-development of the galley areas as well as the whole catering flow.

Whether we are talking about “Extended turnkey” (steel to steel) projects or, the slightly lighter, “Visual turnkey” (panel to panel) projects, all galley projects usually consist of the following phases: Pre-development phase, Contract phase, Design & Engineering phase, Construction phase, and Delivery phase. In this article, we shall only focus on the first phase, the pre-development phase, and the role that it plays in ensuring the success of a project as a whole and in achieving successful galley operation. 

By doing a thorough pre-development, we ensure that we have the correct area surfaces, the right flow of people and goods, ergonomics for the crew, the right equipment for a specific activity, and a realistic budget and timetable. Ultimately, putting more effort and thought into pre-development makes the project as a whole less costly for the owner and shipyard. It also reduces the risk of mistakes and miscalculations as well as ensures the end result is a high-performing galley that works like a charm. 
What boxes do we need to tick during the pre-development of galleys?

Understanding the needs and usage

As the first step in the pre-development phase, we need to make sure we understand the needs and for what the galley is going to be used. The catering design needs to reflect the owner’s requests and expectations. In the first part of the pre-development of the galleys, the shipowner provides fleet standards, restaurant menus, preferred brands, and all basic info. 

When we sit down together with the owner, one of the first people we talk to is the head chef. We discuss the different restaurant concepts, menu options, number of seats, etc. What types of dishes will be served and for how many? How many crew members will be working in the area? Where and when will the vessel stop to replenish and how will the goods move onboard? And so on.

A tailor-made design that suits the surroundings 

When designing a show galley that is visible to the guests, a bar, or a buffet, the architect’s concepts and styles must be considered. The catering equipment needs to blend into the dining atmosphere with minimum impact on the first impression that the guests get of the space. “Impact” is the keyword here. The impact should not be visible, but the catering equipment and solutions should have a positive impact on the quality of the food and the service that the guests receive. Thereby the equipment impacts guest satisfaction and brings a higher return on investment to the cruise owners. With the right design and catering solutions, the guests are presented with the perfect dish on their plates that still is affordable to the owner and gives a good margin. There are many ways to bake a fancy cake. Our job is to make sure the chef can do it with minimum time and effort and still serve a delicious and gorgeous cake. 

Mapping of food and passenger flow, work areas, interfaces, and obstacles   

Even when the galleys are hidden from the guests, we need to put great effort into making sure that the foodservice design blends in with the architectural, engineering, and interior design plans. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to get it right, but when the target is met, the result is exemplary food preparation and service spaces with optimal flow and functionality. 
Galleys have various flows and different work areas that need to be integrated with one another throughout the entire ship. Food must flow from the preparation rooms to the guest’s table in a smooth and efficient way, and this is not something that is easy to achieve.

At this point of the pre-development phase, we start creating conceptual designs and 2D and 3D layout drawings of the galleys, bars, pantries, restaurants, and provision stores. The catering areas need to be designed in a way that respects the features and limitations of the spaces that have been reserved for them. 

A ship always has structural challenges to consider, such as fire bulkheads, watertight doors, pillars, etc. Due to all the equipment and heavy materials, the galleys weigh quite a lot, which also needs to be considered in the design and layout.

Galleys are one of the biggest energy consumers on a vessel. They are connected to almost all the systems onboard. These systems are sometimes “invisible” to the naked eye, but crucial when planning the layout and design of the galleys. E.g. the dimensions of a counter will vary depending on whether the refrigeration system is autonomous or remote.
Choosing the right equipment and solutions

Together with the conceptual designs and drawings of the layout suggestions, detailed specifications and equipment lists with technical data and prices are created and presented to the owner. Capacity calculations are made including definition and optimization of the refrigeration plants to ensure that the right equipment and solutions are chosen for the catering areas. This is the point in the pre-development phase, where we also have the opportunity to present innovative and new catering solutions to the owner, like for example, high-speed cookers and ovens that reduce cooking time, dishwashers with lower water consumption, and smart hoods that switch on automatically when the cooking starts.   

Compliance with rules and regulations (USPHS, NORSOK)

In all industries, but particularly in the maritime industry, regulations need to be taken seriously into account when preparing the design plan. When it comes to catering areas, we recommend complying with the guidelines in the U.S. Public Health (USPH) standards or the Norwegian shelf’s competitive position (NORSOK) standards depending on where the ship will be operating and what the needs of the owner are. Crew health and ergonomics guidelines should also be followed thoroughly. 

Creating a detailed budget

The pre-development phase plays a major role and is the basis for creating the budget for the galley project. It’s important to create a precise and accurate budget that takes the owner’s real needs and wants into account. Cost comparisons between different alternatives should be presented and discussed in detail. If the budget is too abstract at this point, there are bound to be surprises later in the project. And they are seldom the good kind of surprises. 

Lifecycle optimization and sustainability

For a design plan to be future proof, it must consider aspects like lifecycle services, trends, and sustainability. When the galleys are installed and the equipment is in operation, the spaces must be arranged in a way that allows technicians and maintenance personnel to be able to access technical spaces and do proper maintenance. If we don’t take this into account already in the pre-development phase, issues could arise once the equipment is in operation.

Lowering energy consumption has gone from being a good thing to a must-have and this applies to galleys too. That’s why it’s important to select energy-saving equipment and plan for proper technical spaces that fit energy-saving devices. I also recommend using energy consumption controlling and monitoring systems, like ALMACO’s Galley Energy Management (GEM) system, to avoid unnecessary energy consumption and optimize when the equipment is turned on and off. It’s important to always stay tuned on new technologies and advanced solutions to ensure the catering areas have state-of-the-art equipment.

Sustainability is not just about new regulations that the owners must follow. Sustainability is also important to the guests and crew members. Guests are always looking for new culinary experiences and right now sustainable food is a big trend. Owners expect catering consultants to be proactive and ready to find solutions and designs that are suitable and flexible enough to fulfill the requirements of new trends.

The perfect compromise 

With so many aspects to be considered, it’s easy to imagine how challenging and multifaceted it can be to fine-tune the catering areas. It takes experience and deep knowledge of catering areas and solutions, as well as thorough understanding of the needs of the shipowner. Once we reach a compromise that all parties are satisfied with, it’s time to pop the champagne corks and celebrate! It means that all the effort, proposals, hours spent on studying and designing were worth every minute that we invested in the pre-development phase. A good and detailed plan is also the best indicator for a successful project and end result, as well as a happy owner with satisfied guests and crew members.  
 

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