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The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is no longer just a passing technology fad. Over a few short years since it first emerged, IoT applications have become a part of our daily lifestyles. In fact, IHS Markit predicts that IoT will exceed 75 billion devices by 2025.
While it likely needs no introduction, IoT is where a system of interrelated common physical objects like computing devices, machinery, objects, animals or people are connected to the Internet and can communicate and react to one another.
During the course of my work, I listen to my clients and customers talk about how they should tap into the fast-growing IoT-enabled smart homes segment. I see my colleagues donning the latest wearable gadgets on their wrists to monitor their heart rate and to keep their stress levels under check. And lately, I have been harboring dreams of getting myself behind a self-drive car.
But for me, it’s always the food that moves me! I’m truly excited about the possibilities of what IoT brings to the food and beverage (F&B) industry. Here are how I believe IoT will revolutionize commercial kitchens and F&B businesses across Asia.
Whether you manage a full-service restaurant, a fast food outlet or a catering business, having complete visibility of your daily operations - regardless of where you are located - is what you desire most. One of the biggest advantages of IoT-enabled kitchens is that it allows F&B operators to remotely monitor ovens and other cooking equipment so that cooking efficiency is optimized and consistent product quality is maintained.
Using real-time data gathered by built-in sensors, these monitoring systems can send responses back to you on your mobile phone and computer on the condition and status of the kitchen equipment. They are also able to troubleshoot existing problems as well as anticipate potential equipment failures and proceed to alert you of required maintenance action.
The cost of food is what gives restaurateurs sleepless nights. With IoT-enabled inventory tools integrated into existing point-of-sale systems, outlet managers can keep track of inventory easily and remotely. Inventory is automatically adjusted based on sales and daily orders, and replacement orders are generated whenever an item falls below the minimum level.
For example, IoT-enabled Rational ovens help to reduce raw materials consumption by up to ten percent, lower energy consumption by up to 28 percent and take up less space; all very important benefits for a start-up business. An operator is also expected to benefit from reduced labor cost as the ease of use of the advanced ovens help cut down time and effort in hiring and training new staff in preparing quality meals.
Equipment including refrigerators, ovens and food warming items are being connected wirelessly to provide real time reporting of temperature and other data. Supported by time and temperature-tracking software, kitchen appliances like stoves, freezers and refrigerators can automatically adjust themselves to synchronize with the changing conditions and keep the food inventory fresh.
The self-monitoring systems can reliably track temperatures on the equipment, log entries for audit review and alert operators when an out of range temperature event occurs that could compromise food safety. The systems are capable of compiling accurate results and data needed to comply with health and safety requirements from the authorities.
The kitchen crew will also be spending less time on tasks that can be undertaken at the mere push of a button. With features like preset workflows, the appliances help makes it easier for staff to operate in accordance to the standards set and to guarantee consistency in the preparation of food and beverages.
One good example of how IoT is helping to change the way F&B business operate is Coffeebox. With the help of Eversys’ coffee machines, the fast-growing coffee brand here in China is able to expand in a short period of time in response to the rapid growth of market demand. All orders are taken from a mobile app based at a central office which then allocates each order to the store placed closest to the customer’s location.
These coffee machines feed real-time operational data vital for the central office to manage the daily operations, monitor the amount of ingredients used, the production time for each order and other useful information. They can also be on top of maintenance requirements, which helps to reduce operational downtime.
To cope with the fast-paced F&B market, these advanced machines undoubtedly helped Coffeebox to easily and quickly expand its business yet being able to maintain the quality and consistency of its beverages throughout all locations.
While consumer trends may change with time and market demands are constantly evolving, what remains unchanged for any F&B operator is ensuring maximum efficiency, maintaining good food quality and staying profitable. This is where IoT can greatly help your business.
How do you see IoT shaping the future of commercial kitchens?
Christian Haueter is General Manager of the Business Line Hospitality Technology in China. He brings a background of Strategy and Technology Management which he studied in HSG in Switzerland, NUS in Singapore and Stanford University in the U.S as well as several years of experience in doing business in Asia. Today his technological expertise focuses around innovative products and applications related to the fast growing food and beverage industry in China.