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Nando’s takes first steps in networked cooking journey

Nando’s Rational oven

Nando’s is beginning full deployment of Rational ConnectedCooking across all of its UK estate, and intends to extend it to North America, South Africa and the Middle East by the end of the year.

The chain, which now boasts more than 1,200 restaurants globally, is a long-term Rational user but said it was “really just beginning our journey” with the brand’s networked technology, which can provide benefits such as real time service information and remote menu management.

Cameron Holder, head of non-food and indirect procurement at Nando’s, said the business has worked with Rational for at least 25 years and regards the company’s equipment as one of the keystones of its success.

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He said: “It has certainly affected the way we cook our products. There’s a Rational appliance in every single restaurant of Nando’s, we use them to prepare our ‘hero product’ so they are the only cooking equipment we demand.”

“We need to be able to create a consistent product, and we need to take into account not being able to rely on highly skilled staff being available all the time. With our Rational equipment, we know that kitchen staff can select the program they need and let the appliance get on with cooking the chicken, safe in the knowledge that it will come out exactly as required.”

Rational has helped Nando’s to integrate the latest technological developments into its operations, including ConnectedCooking. It enables an entire fleet of appliances to be controlled and monitored remotely. Key performance metrics can be measured remotely and menus can be altered across multiple sites.

“We were very interested when Rational launched ConnectedCooking,” explained Holder. “We’re really just beginning our journey with this technology, but we’re constantly finding new ways to use it to improve efficiency.”

One major benefit of ConnectedCooking for Nando’s has been reduced downtime.

“Our Rational appliances are absolutely critical, if one breaks down it can shut down that restaurant until it’s repaired. We’ve worked closely with our service partners to create a proactive maintenance schedule, which has allowed us to extend the working life of our equipment quite considerably. We’ve been very successful with that – many of our Rational appliances are now over 12-years-old, and working as well as they did when they were new.”

Mr Holder said that networked technology also offered advantages in terms of improved service life and reduced downtime.

“Having the ability to monitor simultaneously every single Rational appliance we own opens the door to some amazing possibilities. Our service partners can now identify units at risk of breaking down before they do so and either schedule a maintenance visit, or even fix them remotely in some instances.”

This has helped Nando’s to cut down the number of maintenance call-outs by 35% since the introduction of ConnectedCooking.

“By any metric it’s been tremendously successful already, and we can only see this improving from here,” he added. “If we can identify the nature of the problem before an engineer is sent out we can ensure they come out with the right parts, which makes the entire process go incredibly smoothly.”

There have also been unanticipated benefits of the new system.

“We’re already discovering interesting applications for the system,” Mr Holder says. “Having full access to the HACCP data instantly has been a boon in handling customer complaints.”

For example, if a diner reports a meal not tasting right, or in alleged food poisoning cases, the records of the appliance used to make that meal can be checked instantly. “This lets us immediately see if there was anything wrong with the process, helping us to resolve queries much faster.”

As time goes on they’re able to take more data into account, which helps drive further savings. “We’re starting to get very detailed pictures of how each machine gets used, so we can offer restaurant managers precise suggestions about how to improve usage on each one,” says Mr Holder.

“For example, if they need to tighten up their cleaning schedules, or if one of the appliances is getting used more than the other [most Nando’s restaurants have two appliances] to balance it up more. Being able to provide simple, actionable advice can lead to big improvements.”

Nando’s is now beginning full deployment of ConnectedCooking across all of its UK estate, and will be bringing it to Canada, South Africa, the Middle East and the US by the end of the year.

“The support we receive from Rational has been vital,” says Mr Holder. “They’ve assisted us every step of the way, from training to implementation, providing tips on menu development as well as advising about the best appliances for specific situations, for example smaller restaurants.”

“When you’re aiming to offer a consistent experience across such a large company as Nando’s, everything needs to work the same,” says Mr Holder. “With Rational’s help, we’re able to manage hundreds of restaurants with the same personal touch as single location businesses.”

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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