Q&A: Checkit runs the rule over kitchen compliance

Checkit kitchen

Food safety lies at the heart of a commercial kitchen, but how does an operator marry their catering equipment estate with robust compliance policies? One company that purports to have all the answers is Checkit, a specialist provider of automated monitoring technology. FEJ caught up with Dr. Martin Nash, product line manager at Checkit, to find out how it is bringing new levels of accountability to the kitchen environment.

How long has Checkit being operating and what is the background of the company?

Checkit’s smart, paperless system for managing food safety processes initially launched in 2013. Since then, the reliable delivery of HACCP compliance has seen Checkit win a Product Excellence Award and a steady stream of satisfied customers. Substantial investment into R&D led to the launch of Work Management at this year’s Restaurant Show. This new, improved system has been developed in response to the changing needs of the market and the increased demand for improved efficiencies and greater security in food safety management. Checkit is owned by Elektron Technology, a UK-based engineering and technology company.Martin Nash

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In a nutshell, how does the wireless monitoring solution that you provide work?

Checkit’s Work Management solution removes the need for paperwork and eliminates the risk of missing or fabricated records. Managers can easily customise pre-built checklists or build new ones and decide where, when and by whom these checks are to be done. Checklists then appear as and when needed on apps running on the Memo, a robust handheld device with a simple touch-screen interface. When temperatures are needed in checks, wireless probes are used to capture measurements with a couple of button pushes. The results are then collated and stored in the cloud-based Control Centre for reporting and analysis as needed.

What are the main benefits of using the solution you offer?

To briefly summarise, three of the key benefits that Checkit Work Management delivers are compliance, control and traceability. The system manages checks and record-taking, as well as reliably capturing information. It’s so simple to use that it optimises the management of routine activities. Food businesses have instant access to trusted, auditable records that help to protect reputations.

The system has been developed in response to the changing needs of the market and the increased demand for improved efficiencies and greater security in food safety management”

How easy is it for users to check and analyse the data that the system generates?

Very easy — all data, including people, checks, schedules, alerts and corrective actions is stored and managed in a cloud-based Control Centre that can be accessed from any PC, tablet or phone. Progress of tasks and reports are instantly accessible to managers, which means that trends can be analysed and acted upon swiftly.

How much of Checkit’s UK business comes from working with restaurant operators and caterers? Which chains or brands are now using your technology?

Initially, when the first version of Checkit launched we quickly set up the system in a number of single-site operators. Around 50% of Checkit’s business comes from working with restaurant operators and caterers. Recently, The Ritz and Claridges have both installed Checkit. Our development process has built on this experience to develop Work Management to be both simple and scalable at an attractive price point per site. Its use of the cloud makes it easy to install and operate for all sizes of businesses. It is exceptionally powerful for larger groups, whose managers can access data and standardise procedures across all sites.

Many foodservice chains operate dozens of sites. How well does the Checkit system scale? Would users need a Checkit hub at each site or can data feed into a centralised hub?

Checkit Work Management uses the power of a fully cloud-based approach to create a food safety management system so it is not necessary to have a ‘hub’ physically located at each site. Data from multiple locations feeds into the centralised Control Centre, which can be instantly accessed from any device. It is a completely modular, scalable system that adapts to fit the size and shape of any business.
Employees of "El Celler de Can Roca" work in the restaurant's kitchen in Girona on April 30, 2013. Spain's El Celler de Can Roca seized the title of the world's best restaurant from Denmark's Noma on April 29, one month after dozens of people came down with a bout of food poisoning from the Copenhagen eatery. The restaurant in Girona, run by three brothers and known for its dishes based on perfumes, had spent two years as runner-up on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list compiled for a 12th year by more than 900 international experts for Britain's Restaurant magazine. AFP PHOTO / QUIQUE GARCIA        (Photo credit should read QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

How much does it cost to use the Work Management solution? Is there a hardware fee or purely a per-licence cost as you would traditionally find in the commercial software industry?

Checkit Work Management is provided as a service, giving customers use of our continually updated and managed cloud application and Memo software improvements, as well as support and help.  Service subscriptions include hardware and are available in two flavours: ‘Peace of Mind’ includes software, hardware, support and calibration replacements for a flat monthly charge; ‘No Ties’ provides ongoing software use and support, plus system hardware, for an initial setup fee followed by a lower monthly fee and minimal notice. Prices scale with complexity of solution.

Is the Checkit solution covered by a warranty?

All hardware is covered by a warranty. Peace of Mind contracts have extended cover during the contract.

It is exceptionally powerful for larger groups, whose managers can access data and standardise procedures across all sites”

Are there any forthcoming legislative changes or HACCP developments that are likely to affect your business or the ways in which foodservice operators deal with food safety?

There have been some very high profile food safety cases in the press in recent years and this has raised the public’s awareness about hygiene ratings. With Checkit Work Management, businesses are always audit ready. Any changes in legislation can be configured through the Control Centre and added into the memo checklists easily.

As your systems monitor cold storage and hot-holding, do you have any formal partnerships or arrangements with manufacturers or suppliers of commercial refrigeration and hot-holding equipment?

Not as yet — but this is something we would be keen to explore!

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Andrew Seymour

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