Restaurant operators are staring at a future where catering equipment is fuelled by central power banks – in an industrial version of the way mobile phones are charged today – and energy supply will be allocated based on the volume of guests they serve.
Those are just two of the potential scenarios posed by catering equipment experts when exploring where the industry might be heading in terms of greener kitchens.
The proliferation of internet-enabled equipment now offers operators a whole world of intelligence and analysis, and many think this will have a starring role to play in driving better energy management.
Simon Frost, who currently heads Hoshizaki’s sales team and is due to take over as MD next month, is adamant that connected technology will drive sustainability and efficiency for businesses.
“This could be in terms of reducing power consumption in something like a combi oven or fryer, whereby the appliance recognises what has been placed inside and its weight before adjusting the temperature and cook time accordingly,” he described.
“Alternatively, we could see appliances such as fridges helping to reduce food wastage by using technology to scan foods being stored and updating the chef with use by dates, aiding stock rotation in the process. This would all form part of the demand for tracking ingredients from ‘farm to plate’, something that is increasingly being demanded by the customer as well as the operator.”
Mr Frost also mooted the idea of catering equipment being powered by huge power banks in a bid to curtail running costs.
“I can see a need for equipment manufacturers to take into account the rising price of overheads and the squeeze on business profit margins having an impact. This could lead to the situation whereby equipment is operated from a central power bank, charged overnight when the cost and demand for electricity is lower. The stored charge could then be used throughout the day to deliver the necessary power for the range of equipment used in a modern day kitchen,” he explained.
I’m sure that at some point in the future the government will insist that operators are only allowed a certain level of power usage based on the number of guests they serve”
Steve Hobbs, managing director of Grande Cuisine, agrees that operators are now having more conversations around energy efficiency as they look to strike a balance between capital investment and ongoing operational costs. But he says it is still a “slow process” and fails to see how it will get any faster until operators are either taxed or penalised based on the amount of energy they use per site.
“I’m sure that at some point in the future the government will insist that operators are only allowed a certain level of power usage based on the number of guests they serve. If they go over this level they will be taxed and if they come in under they will be given tax breaks. For example, let’s say that there was a standard rate of 1KW of power per person then a site serving 300 guests would be given a 300KW power usage allowance.”
Simon Lohse, managing director of Rational, believes that generational changes make it inevitable that operators will come to accept the use of sophisticated technology in kitchens and use it to get a better handle on energy consumption.
“New technology will play a key role in delivering greener kitchens,” he said. “Traditional equipment that cannot deliver greener solutions will be removed. Young chefs have grown up in a technical age and will demand equipment that uses advanced technology.”