Case study: De-greasing Dubai Mall's F&B outlets

The region’s largest mall opened in 2008, and a little over five years later was faced with a problem of grease accumulation in its drainage system from the 200-plus F&B outlets

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, Dubai mall, Dubai mall facilities management, Dubai mall grease accumulation, F&B

The Dubai Mall’s maintenance operations are extensive, from cleaning its floors to maintaining the air conditioning system that cools it’s vast expanse.

The mall possesses more than 200 food and beverage (F&B) outlets and food courts. Experts in the F&B space have declared food and beverage outlets as a mall’s new anchor, a business that will ensure footfall remains high in the e-commerce era, making F&B back-of-house management pivotal.

The unique challenge associated with the maintenance of the Dubai Mall’s F&B outlets was a  build-up of fats, oils and grease in the drainage system. As a consequence, in 2013, the mall was suffering blockages on average every two to three days in both tenant and mall main lines, requiring reactionary measures such as drain line hydro jetting to remedy the issue.

In a bid to alleviate the pressures on the mall drainage, Tetra Axis (Tetra) was invited along with five other service providers by Emaar Malls Group in September 2013 to determine the effectiveness of their biological dosing products.

“Drain-Life, Tetra’s biological grease digester is a live, microbial-based solution containing a specially designed formulation of several species of grease-eating bacteria at high concentrations, which completely digest organic molecules of fat, oil and grease. 24/7 dosing helps to create a biofilm on the inside of drain lines and grease traps, degrading and digesting existing organic matter whilst also preventing further build-ups,” its group managing director Robin Gibbs recalls.

Tetra was allocated six restaurants in The Dubai Mall as part of a testing phase. Gibbs adds: “The criteria for the tests was grease and fat removal using biological products, with automatic dosing pumps installed and programmed to deliver the correct amount of Drain-Life per day into the kitchen’s drainage system.”

At the time of installation video inspections were carried out on drain lines, Gibbs informs, with initial inspections determining the quantities of grease and fat built up on the inside of drain lines.

Gibbs adds: “Twenty days into the trials the camera inspection was repeated and in some cases revealed 100% removal of built up fat, oil and grease. Upon conclusion of the trials — which lasted 30 days — a detailed report was submitted to Emaar for consideration, and subsequently Tetra was invited to propose a solution for grease and fat removal in drain lines for the entire mall.”

Following the tests, the mall F&B department engaged Tetra to perform shock dosing of the main kitchen drainage system with Drain-Life X450 during the run up to the New Year 2013-14. “In previous years the mall had experienced main line blockages during this period due to the increase in meals served. This time however there were no reported blockages within the mall main line system.”

On the back of that, Tetra was awarded a three year contract with Emaar which commenced in July 2014. “After six months of beginning the TDM contract with Tetra, drain line blockages within the mall restaurants and the mall main kitchen drainage system had decreased by 95% and so the impact of fat, oil and grease on the mall’s infrastructure was greatly reduced. For the mall management, this also coincided with the reduction of disruption to public areas and costs involved in jetting operations.

“For tenants, the reduction in blockages reduced the risk of food contamination from potentially dangerous drainage water that can occur when drainage overflows happen. Fewer blockages also mean the risk of loss of revenue from suspending kitchen operations, or even shutting down of kitchens by landlords or authorities, is significantly reduced, while disruption and damage caused by reactionary measures such as drain line jetting is also minimised,” he adds. Blockage prevention also decreases built up organics in drain lines and grease traps, meaning that odours emanating from kitchen drainage systems are also reduced, Tetra claims.

The company notes since the introduction of Drain-Life, there have been no significant blockages throughout the mall’s main lines including over the busy New Year period. “The success of Drain-Life in The Dubai Mall is a prime example of the impact of preventative measures on facilities management for both large and small developments,” Gibbs concludes.

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