Evolving Technology in Foodservice
By – The Editor
The foodservice and restaurant industry may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of technology, especially if you are imagining super hi-tech space aged technology. Well, you might be surprised as all the signs are that outside of large manufacturing our industry is in fact, an early adopter. Automation in conjunction with IoT and Robotic technology has made an entrance into commercial kitchens and is having an impact both in kitchen efficiency and product preparation consistency.
Automation as the name suggests is when one part of a process transitions seamlessly into another part of a process without human intervention. There are fryers that automatically drop fry baskets when the oil is at the right temperature and then remove the basket when the product is cooked. Combi-ovens are also a major user of new technology, they seamlessly move between thermodynamic cooking methods, for example from steam to radiant heat, some even clean themselves after each cycle. What is making automation more powerful than ever is IoT and emerging robotic technology.
Let’s look at these technologies individually.
IoT is an acronym for the Internet of Things. This technology is becoming quite mature, and many will be familiar with home IoT devices such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Nest thermostat. But here too the foodservice industry has adopted this technology. It is being used in equipment such as smart refrigerators and combi-ovens. At General Parts Group we see the power of IoT, we work with combi-ovens that send their own error codes and diagnostics, in effect this unit is making its own service call and can even detect issues before the operator does!
While we all know what a robot is, they are relatively new to the foodservice industry. Robots can be part of a piece of equipment or can be completely autonomous. Robots can also be thought of as part of the automation process. There are robots being tested that make pizza and recently Middleby Corporation subsidiary L2F demonstrated their Frybot™ robot which can work an entire fry-line!
We are seeing more and more pieces of equipment having the ability to connect to the internet. What is especially interesting is seeing these technologies work in unison. It certainly is an exciting time to be in the food equipment repair industry and while we do not have a crystal ball, we do know for sure that our manufacturer partners are working hard to realize all these technologies to power the future kitchens of America. We at General Parts Group are keeping a very keen eye on these developments and are continually investing in training to keep ahead of the curve and be ready to support our customers into the future.