Efforts are underway to develop a common standard for the use of connected technology in professional kitchens.
The presence of technology in kitchens is growing at a rapid clip, with everything from combi ovens to refrigeration cabinets becoming wirelessly connected and harnessing the latest computer power.
But the concept of catering appliances ‘talking’ to each other and giving operators an instant bird’s eye view of their equipment estate has raised the prospect that kitchens will face huge IT management issue in future.
FEJ has learned that the topic has already reached the top industry decision-makers, with the European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers (EFCEM) establishing the ‘International Foodservice Equipment Connectivity Group (IFECG)’ to explore it in more detail.
UK trade association CESA is part of EFCEM, and chairman Glenn Roberts said a report was being produced that examines the challenges for connected kitchens.
“IFECG is a working party set up under the auspices of EFCEM and is run by EFCEM’s technical committee, which CESA chairs, and establishing what that common standard should be is its remit. The working party hopes to publish an initial report by the end of the year,” he said.
Mr Roberts added: “The connected kitchen is going to be a huge bonus for caterers. It’ll reduce downtime, maximise efficiency, enhance safety and reduce running costs. The problem is, which method of connecting is best? What we don’t want is a situation where caterers have to run lots of different apps, with each monitoring different brands of equipment. A common standard is the ideal, where one app will cover all equipment.”
One of the more interesting long-term aspects of the connected kitchen issue is how the industry deals with manufacturers reluctant to share proprietary knowledge about their systems and technology with third party businesses and competitors.
Manufacturers are certainly watching with interest to see what the IFECG concludes in its report.
Paul Crowley, marketing development manager at Winterhalter, said: “There are varied and deep discussions about the whole connected kitchen landscape. We know that for this technology to work, it must be simple to operate and must not over-complicate the kitchen environment. Creating a single platform that all of the data, from all of these pieces of equipment, can feed into is the key. This platform should enable operators to easily see how their kitchens are performing.”
FEJ will be taking an in-depth look at the challenges of running a connected kitchen in the forthcoming September issue.