Top Technology in Large-Scale Catering Establishments – New Solutions for More Operating Efficiency and Resource-Saving

Published in frozen food europe 1,2/2015 Technological developments need time and very often a lot of time. For that reason, it is always amazing to see, with which innovations and product improvements the manufacturers of kitchen equipment surprise their customers in increasingly shorter intervals. Which role is played by operating efficiency and sustainability? Here is the update for 2015.

Catering to people away from home is a pretty reliable market. People work, become sick, study, and are on-the-go or live in facilities for people in their older years or with handicaps. This will also not change in the coming years. On the other hand, the way in which kitchens professionals render their catering services is changing considerably. That applies not only to the food that is used (cf. discussion about TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] and the march against genetic engineering of foodstuffs or the Allergen reg. of the European Community, which has been obligatory law since December 2014). Even the technologies in commercial kitchens used for cooking the main dishes on menus, their storing, distributing and serving, are developing further, rapidly in part, even though it is dynamically different. In the process, two mega trends have been setting the tone in all areas for some time: operating efficiency and sustainability. For example, the manufacturers in totally different areas of technology are optimizing their equipment so that it is able to feed the energy, which is not necessary anymore, back into the cycle of their equipment. This applies to dishwashing machines as well as for hot-air steamers and deep-fat fryers. That’s why modern equipment uses not only less energy, but also uses the energy supplied more efficiently due to its higher efficiency as their predecessors, and moreover emit fewer harmful substances.

Optimal Use of the Available Equipment

Whoever is able to use different types of thermal devices, whose functions are comparable in part like multifunctional cookers (classical cooking, pressure cooking, roasting, frying and more), hot air ovens, tilting frying pans, and deep-fat fryers will ask increasingly in the future, which different culinary results do the devices deliver, how much time does the individual cooking processes take, what is the number of personnel you can retain, what are the costs incurred, and how many pollutants are emitted. One day a “kitchen technological management system” will control the devices and will recommend an optimal production plan for the chef i.e. the most efficient configuration for the device.
But there are also interesting innovations in other areas. A number of manufacturers invest a lot of ef-fort in order to optimize the floor space required for their devices. Therefore, they reduce the total area of their kitchen as well as the capacity of the reconstructed room, wherefore smaller dimensioned ventilation systems can be installed, for which there are different types of technologies (induction, LED technology, etc.). There are also new technical solutions for filtering water as for those of grease or the processing of food waste – many areas. We will present some of them to you.

Dishwashing Technology

By its own terms, Winterhalter is the only manufacturer, which offers its hood type dishwashing ma-chines with a patented heat pump (PT Climate Plus). It uses the energy from the steam, which arises in the interior of the machine while rinsing, but also pulls energy from the room air, in order to heat up the cold water that flows in. Dish and rinse water are heated up faster in this way and the temperature in the kitchen is reduced.
It is also the goal of Meiko’s M-iQ-GreenEye Technology to reduce ambient air. The manufacturer justifies its leading role with intelligent air management, the perfection with filter technology, the efficient energy concept, and user-friendly ease of use. The Sial Group, a network for the development of food trade fairs, awarded the Mercury Award in 2014 to Meiko for this.

Hot-Air Steamers

The manufacturer of kitchen technology, MKN, also describes the technology of its thermal devices as “green” and trims them down to a lower use of necessary resources and a low emission of pollutants. That’s why the British catering company Hertfordshire Catering Limited UK has equipped itself with combi steamers from MKN last year, because it is therefore able to comply with the guidelines of the local governments.
Rational provides its new equipment with the system “iCookingControl. It recognizes the size, the loading, as well as the cooking and browning degrees of the food and adjusts the temperature, cooking time, air speeds, and cooking chamber climate optimally to its needs. It provides information about the process steps, which have been initiated, on the display.

Food Waste Elimination

EnviroPure Systems Inc. manufactures, markets and sells self-contained, food waste elimination sys-tems. They provide water-based submersed environment decomposition that turns food waste into water that can be safely disposed of into municipal waste water systems. They require no water to operate this and provide substrate based decomposition with up to a 1500:1 reduction in food waste, volume, and weight. The results are the total elimination of food waste without any odors, sludge build-up, and system clean outs. The manufacturer points out that the systems handle virtually any kind of food waste including vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and poultry, dairy products, bones, shells and pits with complete decomposition -usually occurring within 24 hours!

Air Cleaning

A considerable part of a kitchen’s operation costs is allotted to filtering the air in the kitchen. That’s why efficient systems in this area are just as sought after as all the others in every respect. Energon Systems offers a special procedure for this. The company covers energy-saving LED lights with the colorless and odorless material “TitanProtect” and therefore produces a reactive compound with oxygen, which is also supposed to reduce bad odors as well as viruses, germs, and bacteria.

Grease Filtering

Manitowoc Foodservice has recently introduced a new FilterQuick filtration into its range of Frymaster’s Oil Conserving Fryers. The system provides minimal oil handling and an extension of component life. A monitor helps to control food and oil quality. Oil life and equipment performance should reduce the consumption of oil/energy by 40/10%.

SDF – Software Designed Food

3D printer prints pizza! These or similar headlines astound many a kitchen professional in 2014 because it is commonly understood that a printer “coughs up” paper, but no food. However, the confusion can be resolved easily. Simply spoken, this is a small apparatus for developing, designing and producing foodstuff digitally. Its recipes can be developed computerised, among other things, and the “prescribed” food products are produced (the so-called generative development process).Therefore its composition and form of appearance is not worked out carefully in a test kitchen but digitally, therefore generated by combinations of numbers, which encode the ingredients, forms, sensory qualities, and production requirements, among others.
The procedure is still in its early stage of development, but is being established gradually in different areas of application. According to trade journals, the Spanish company Natural Machines (www.naturalmachines.com) is working on a device (the label Foodini), which can produce pizza, pasta and burgers digitally and is supposed to come on the market by the middle of 2015 for €830. Barilla is said to be dealing with a device, which should be able to manufacture 15 to 20 noodles within two minutes digitally.

The Preview for 2020

Let’s imagine a kitchen, in which 2,200 meals are cooked one to two days before serving. The operation is completely networked and equipped with hybrid devices for electricity and gas (there is access to both energy sources). It is controlled by a resource management system, which, among others, optimizes the energy and water consumption of the equipment. If components can be cooked with different devices, the system recommends the devices. It assigns the employees, who inform themselves at the personal terminals about their tasks before the beginning of their shifts. The cooking processes are automated to the greatest possible extent. Because most of the components have to be blast chilled or shock frosted due to the fact that production/distribution is time-delayed, the exact coordination of the thermal and refrigeration engineered capacities is extremely important. The system is programmed so that for every finished cooked batch, the appropriate cooling capacity is made available without disrupting the ongoing chilling or freezing processes. Because production takes place up until the early evening in two shifts, the dishwashing processes run up late in the evening. In this way not only cost intensive energy peaks are avoided, but on the contrary, the reasonable tariff periods of the provider are used.

Therefore 2020 is already knocking clearly audible on the doors of the present. Let’s open them up and examine constructively and critically, which chances we are able to use. The trade fairs FoodTec (Co-logne, 3/2015) and HOST (Milan 10/2016) will convey interesting impulses to the kitchen professionals.