Hestan Outdoor - Case Study

Hestan Commercial is a manufacturer of high-quality commercial kitchens based out of Anaheim, California. At the recent Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo in New Orleans, they introduced a line of professional-grade grills for the residential market under the brand of Hestan Outdoor.

This new product line include an array of grills, complementary doors and drawers, side burners, refrigeration products and a custom stainless outdoor island suite. With the grills being the centerpiece of the offering, Hestan designers and engineers had very specific ideas on how to create the most innovative, powerful, versatile and reliable grills available.

In this pursuit, one of the core design considerations was the ability to vent the food being prepared by partially opening the hood for a period of time. Traditional methods to accomplish this consisted of holding open a heavy hood – tying up one hand – or using something to prop it open at a fixed height. Hestan knew there had to be a better way.

With a combined design engineering experience of more than 125 years in the commercial, indoor and outdoor appliance industry, the engineers at Hestan recalled previous counterbalance solutions provided by Weber Knapp Co. in Jamestown, New York. After contacting Weber Knapp, the solution to their design problem was found.

“From the initial contact, through the entire design, prototype, testing and production process, Weber Knapp was an extension of our engineering effort and an integral part of our successful launch,” said Hans Wenzel, lead design engineer, outdoor products for Hestan.

For the very first step in the process, Weber Knapp sent a pair of sweet spot Vectis™ counterbalance hinges to Hestan. These hinges were off-the-shelf examples of Weber Knapp’s patented friction sleeve technology. They were sent with the idea that Hestan could back mount them to their prototype and get something you can’t get from a CAD model – the feel of what a properly adjusted springloaded counterbalance is like.

“From that point on, we knew we had found what we were looking for,” said Wenzel.

Weber Knapp was not involved at the beginning of the Hestan grill project. As such, the envelope available for integrating a springloaded counterbalance mechanism was either in a high heat zone or already occupied by the switch for the lighting and the bearing/sprocket system for the built-in rotisserie drive.

Undeterred, Weber Knapp’s lead engineer Warren Waxham made a proposal: “Let’s incorporate the lighting switch, and the bearing and sprocket system into the counterbalance mechanism,” Waxham proposed.

This was a win-win value-added proposition. Weber Knapp was able to claim the required mounting envelope outside of the high heat zone, and Hestan was able to eliminate a complicated in-house assembly procedure. Hestan is in the process of applying for a utility patent to protect this design in its grill applications.

The bottom line result of this cooperative engineering effort is in the hardware that Hestan took home from HPBExpo. They were awarded Best In Show for both the Gas Barbecue and Outdoor Room Products categories.

For more, visit Hestan Outdoor’s website.