Nando’s is tasking its development team with uncovering new technologies that will make its kitchens function even more effectively and simplistically in future.
With almost 400 restaurants in the UK and annual sales north of £800m, the peri-peri chicken chain is already known for running one of the slickest casual dining operations in the business.
But it is still obsessive about remaining ahead of the curve in order to ensure its back-of-house operations run as seamlessly as possible and can adapt to new trends such as delivery.
Kitchen and equipment development manager, Adele Hing, who was hired last year from Waitrose, is spending a large chunk of her time at the moment reviewing Nando’s current equipment estate and identifying new technologies that might enhance its kitchen operations.
Among the things to catch her eye are the online management systems that catering equipment manufacturers are beginning to introduce, particularly as the latest connected solutions can potentially transcend hundreds of sites.
“A lot of the suppliers are coming out in the market with really good systems to back up equipment. For example, Rational has launched ConnectedCooking — [so it is about] how we work with that to improve how our operators use the equipment, what can we see as a central team on our equipment, how can that help maintenance. A lot of other suppliers are doing it — you’ve got coffee machines telemetry and all that kind of stuff, which is great to a certain extent. A lot of it is around the efficiency of an operation.”
Machine telemetry — the process of transferring data from an item of equipment wirelessly to a remote device —is another area that Hing believes could deliver huge benefits, but she is also aware that it needs to be approached carefully.
“I’ve looked at telemetry in the last few years with other businesses and it’s more about how does it work with all your other bits of kit because you don’t want to get to a place where you have got everything connected by WiFi and a huge dashboard of all this great stuff but actually you’ve got to log into 10 things to get to what you actually need. It is just about managing that and thinking about how the technology will work for you in future, and keeping it simple because ultimately we don’t want it to be complicated, we want it to be easy.”
Read more about Nando’s plans in the July issue of FEJ following Adele Hing’s appearance at the Commercial Kitchen Show.