With high staff turnover and unskilled labour a challenge for operators, the need for highly-automated catering equipment that is incredibly easy to use and transcends any language is becoming a key priority. FEJ’s first ever special report on innovative, ease-of-use equipment provides a unique breakdown of the main areas of the kitchen and the solutions now available to make life easier. In part three, we look at commercial microwaves.
When looking for ease of use from microwave technology, some operators will automatically assume that manual, dial controls are the simplest option. However, touchpad models can actually offer a much easier solution, provided that the right training is given.
“Pre-programming is key to getting the most out of these ovens — and understanding the benefits available from certain features,” says Ray Hall, managing director of RH Hall, which distributes the Sharp commercial microwave line in the UK.
With the right training, these more advanced machines are actually remarkably simple to use”
Understanding and fully utilising preset controls or menu creation programmes will ensure that each site has identical cooking times and therefore deliver consistent results. Larger chains will often have staff to manage these menu settings and make any changes required. However, the RH Hall Food Solutions division can offer menu development for multi-site operators — and even arrange for the units to be pre-programmed before they are sent to site. There is even the capability to create custom control panels for a completely bespoke finish.
RH Hall also exclusively offers the Maestrowave Combi Chef 7, which is able to operate in a variety and combination of cook modes for ultimate flexibility. “It can bake, roast, grill, steam, defrost, regenerate, microwave, boil or simply keep food warm — this is the oven that can do it all,” he says.
The oven features Menu Creator 2.0 software and contains the functionality to allow operators to achieve optimal output at the touch of a button.
“A total combination of 11 cooking modes can be used to achieve top quality results and up to 99 menus can be pre-programmed to ensure consistency time after time,” says Hall.
But does a microwave become less user-friendly the more feature-rich it becomes? “With more features becoming available, this could easily become the case,” says Hall. “However, with the right training, provided to the right people, these more advanced machines are actually remarkably simple to use.”
What technological developments are you seeing that will ultimately make microwaves easier to operate for chains?
“More and more microwaves are now using advanced menu software to allow the upload of cooking programmes to machines, via USB or more recently SD card. This allows testing and trialling of cooking times by development chefs, who are either employed by the chain operator or even the manufacturer. Once every menu item is assigned a preset number, there is no need for a skilled operator to use the machine.”
3 key things to take away
1. Pre-programming is key to getting the most out of the latest touchpad microwave ovens.
2. Utilising preset controls or menu creation programmes will ensure that each site has identical cooking times
and therefore deliver consistent results.
3. Manual dial microwaves have traditionally been seen as the de facto choice for operators seeking ease of use, but touchpad models now provide a reliable alternative and promise superior automation.