Flexibility and ease of maintenance rank right at the top of McDonald’s list of priorities when sourcing new catering equipment as its kitchens are forced to work harder and adapt to its changing business model.
Many McDonald’s restaurants have moved to 24/7 service within the last five years, putting its kitchen infrastructure under constant use.
On top of that, it is expanding into table service, investing heavily in widening its menus – particularly in the wake of competition from gourmet burger rivals — and launching self-service kiosks. In the UK, it is currently piloting a trio of new premium burgers made from a thicker beef patty in 28 restaurants.
This is all raising the bar in terms of the reliability of equipment, says Bernard Morauw, senior director of architecture and restaurant design at McDonald’s International.
“Understanding the very harsh working conditions around the equipment and the design of the solutions have become absolutely critical,” he remarks.
Morauw says McDonald’s is also looking for suppliers with foresight into the kitchen trends of tomorrow, admitting that “future proof” equipment is attractive to its buying teams.
Solutions that can deliver true flexibility are also highly prized. “For us, it is about equipment that can evolve the footprint, the type of products we offer and the speed at which we serve. In the early years of McDonald’s we came from the old school where each piece of equipment was designed for one product. But to have the flexibility to cook different products on one piece of equipment is becoming an important element when designing our solutions.”
Morauw said that anything that can reduce complexity and make the operation easier gets a big tick, too.
“There are so many pieces of equipment that are too difficult to maintain, are not easy to calibrate, and those kinds of things are really critical for us when it comes to operational management. At the end of the day, when we put together a business case on a piece of equipment the reality is that it is always about the lifecycle cost.”