Technological Innovations: Novelties in Professional Large-Scale Kitchens – Extremely Exciting New Developments

Published in frozen food europe 3,4/2016 Procedures in large-scale kitchens are becoming increasingly automated – they are supposed to become more reasonable and hygienically safer. Perhaps food will be brought to the wards of hospitals and nursing homes without human intervention in the future. With which technological novelties will the professionals in large-scale kitchens have to be concerned with?

If their business runs well, managers are often not concerned about the future. But if they come under economic pressure, they resort frequently to the easiest means. They fire employees, being fully aware that they will need them again desperately in the future. But they will not get them again, because they have found another place of work. Professionals in large-scale kitchens take the same course of action. Perhaps like their colleagues, they don’t have time in every day work life to deal with the development of their businesses in the next three years. That’s why we have researched some areas of the everyday kitchen routine and have discovered developments, which from our point of view, will leave an imprint on the future of commercial kitchens.

Smartphone Technology

A start-up entrepreneur has developed an app, with which consumers can enjoy, for example a coffee to go, when they are out and about, without waiting. They order it with the help of the app, pay for it cashless with Paypal or credit cards, for example, and pick it up directly at the counter without standing in line. With one of the other smartphone applications, the guests in restaurants scan a QR code. They transfer their orders to the kitchen with it and pay their bill with one of their credit cards after they have finished eating their meal. Therefore, they save themselves the often annoying long waiting times at the check-out.
One can transfer the smartphone applications to other services in entirely different areas of the dining-out market. In hospitals, for instance, the evening meals are often served already in the late afternoon or early evening; shortly after, the trays are collected again. Now if a patient feels like having a warm meal during the evening, perhaps in the future, he can order directly from his sickbed with his or her smartphone, pay and have it delivered directly to his or her room. This could also be a similar development in nursing homes, however only in several years. Then the “generation smartphone” will move in, which books their appointments for the hairdresser as well as their taxis online.

Automating Procedures

Labor-intensive procedures in large-scale kitchens can become automated; frequently the people in charge would like to lower costs by these means. But some, for instance, would also like to relieve their employees from work harmful to their health. This is how they increase their attractiveness as an employer – this is always an argument worth considering if a business has problems in finding employees. Another motive is the improvement of the hygiene status. If fewer people come in contact with silverware or china, the risk of contamination is lower.
Examples for automation are:
• sorting and packaging silverware
• portioning food on the conveyor belt
• conveying trolleys, trays, china, and boxes.
But machines, for example, also unload 24 trays of a distribution trolley in a run and put them on a con-veyor belt, which transports them to the dishwashing unit, one at a time. On the way there, all of the pieces of china and silverware are bussed without the intervention of an employee and go directly to the dishwashing process afterwards. After drying, the trays and china are lifted up and stacked automatically from the conveyor belts, and if applicable, directly into thermal units such as plate dispensers.
A machine can be connected to the dishwashing unit, which gathers up the silverware and packs it. In the first step, the unit sorts out the pieces of silver. As required, it brings together knife, spoon, fork, napkin, salt, pepper, toothpicks in the second step and wraps all of the pieces into a plastic or paper bag. Since the entire process runs closed, the operators of the kitchen therefore guarantee the current highest hygienic standard.
This type of silverware packaging unit pays itself off with a Central European wage level and 3 x 1,200 batches of silverware a day within eight months; the lower limit is 3 x 700 batches daily. The pay-off period for more complex investments has to be calculated according to each project: it is quite often under five years. Currently, there are only a few companies, which bother with this market. But well-known manufacturers of dishwashing systems or food distribution technology are acquainted with specialists like Brimato, because they have been collaborating with them on projects for many years. The same goes for kitchen specialist planners.

Unmanned Food Distribution

There have already been unmanned locomotor systems for quite a long time. RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) is one of the technologies, which carry pieces of luggage from the check-in to the machines, for example, at airports. Unmanned vehicles (driverless cars) from Google, Apple, or car manufactures operate entirely different. They have radar-navigation systems and GPS receivers in the cars. They are equipped with windshield cameras and systems, which measure the distances to other vehicles and their speed. Perhaps approaches will evolve from these technologies such as distribution processes being able to be organized by RFID or GPS in large hospitals in the future.

High-Performance Materials also in the Dining-Out Market

Carbon is an innovative high-performance material – considerably lighter than steel or aluminum, but just as sturdy. Specialists see it as very promising, even if it is still rarely used today. BMW builds this high-tech material into its flagship model of the 7 Series and in the small, particularly lightweight vehi-cles with electric drive. Innovative manufacturers of food distribution trolleys use a combination made from aluminum and carbon for a part of their trolleys. Therefore, they provide examples how large-scale catering establishments profit from high-tech materials too.

In the past, innovation of thermal, refrigeration, and dishwashing type equipment resp. systems have left an imprint on the technical development in large-scale kitchens. On the other hand, leaps forward in development in the future will perhaps come stronger from digitalization and interconnection as well as automation. One thing is for certain: it remains extremely exciting!