You’ve probably heard the word “automation” be thrown around a lot lately. The truth is that it’s more than just a buzzword. Automation allows businesses of many kinds to streamline operational processes, helping them save money. In the FES industry, automation allows companies to spearhead digitally-driven initiatives for products meant to deliver the best performance. These efforts give operators broad options for optimized performance tracking that add value to their business.
The Ideation of Smart-Kitchen Tech
According to Rail Media, 73% of restaurant operators have agreed that technology provides them a competitive advantage and helps increase profitability. The use of technology in front-of-house operations has become prevalent with a large portion of restaurants adopting products like POS systems. The movement to expand technology solutions to the back-of-the-house has slowly garnered more attention in the last few years through IoT software. IoT, or the Internet of Things, is the idea that any object can connect to the Internet to communicate and share data with other systems.
For operators, the key to building a connected kitchen is ensuring collaboration between equipment the same way they expect harmony in their staff. Equipment in these kitchen environments relies on smart technology to assess metrics for optimizing operations. This data can range from energy usage to calculations for future orders amongst others. Welbilt, a kitchen equipment technology company recently reported that they have an estimate of 8,000 units connected across thousands of kitchens, double the amount they had in 2020. The company developed the KitchenConnect® digital platform that allows their products to share information in one system.
A Sweet Deal for Dealers
Many dealers build sales strategies that thrive on demand for specific products. The connected kitchen equipment category presents an opportunity for a boost in sales of high-value listings that benefit all parties involved. Dealers can leverage the innovative features in the equipment when making a sale and their customers gain access to data that helps improve restaurant operations. Some manufacturers have already taken note of this strategy by adapting smart kitchen technology for their product lines.
AQ’s platform features several product listings that fall under this segment. Here are just a few examples:
BUNN 53300.0100 Coffee Brewer for Thermal Server
The BUNN Coffee Brewer displayed above comes equipped with BUNN infusion series technology that allows storage of multiple recipes from one footprint. It features an energy-saver mode, and its Brew Counter keeps track of how many batches are brewed.
Blodgett HvH-100E Full-Size Electric Hydrovection Oven
Blodgett’s electric oven displayed above boasts Helix technology, which forces air into the oven cavity that improves product quality while decreasing overall cook time. Its SmartTouch2 control panel can hold up to 500 recipes and has HAACP storage capacity.
Manitowoc IDF0900N Indigo NXT Series Ice Maker
The Indigo® NXT Series ice machine comes equipped with preventative diagnostics that continually monitor the product's ice production and is part of Welbilt’s KitchenConnect® program. The product's programmability allows operators to review and adjust production volume, making it less expensive to operate.
Thermodyne Foodservice Products, Inc. 1500 DP
The above multi-functional cabinet listed by Thermodyne was created with the concept of automation in mind. It allows for refrigeration, reheat, and holding of prepared foods with no service attendant required and can be programmed for mealtimes as desired.
What's Trending?: You've Got to Automate to Operate
Digital automation’s trajectory is trending upwards. The prominence of the solution is expected to jump even further as more companies look to cut operational costs and implement documentation of processes, increasing demand for relevant products. The fast-casual environment is predicted to be the most impacted segment from these changes in the short term.
There are a few factors to consider when planning operational changes with a connected kitchen as the end goal. We’ve put together a list of recommendations for your customers to consider:
- Conduct a product audit.
Operators don’t have to start from scratch to adopt this technology in their own kitchen. The first step is to analyze the capabilities of their current products. Once they’ve finalized a comprehensive analysis of where they stand, the operator will have a better understanding of product opportunities to fill in the gaps.
- Prioritize versatile equipment.
Versatile equipment allows operators to run space-conscious kitchens without sacrificing functionalities that require more equipment in traditional settings. Adapting an operational budget for purchases of qualifying products will actually save operators money in the long term. That’s because a lot of multi-functional products fall under the same umbrella as smart-tech due to their increase in popularity.
- Invest in energy-saving solutions.
Championing sustainability efforts can be both rewarding and cost-effective for your and your customers' businesses. Energy-saving equipment has gained popularity with operators and manufacturers alike. These products are built with extended lifetime capabilities and often offer incentives like those available with AQ’s Instant Rebates! program.
These steps should provide a guiding point that’ll ease the start of this selling process for you. Are your customers considering a pivot to smart technology in their kitchen products? Visit AQ’s platform and take a look at the current listings that feature connected kitchen capabilities.