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Multi-functional equipment aids foodservice industry

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article image Watlow offers multi-functional equipment for the foodservice industry.

UNLIKE many industries, the foodservice industry has been forecast to grow in double-digits this year. With this growth, comes a demand from restaurant chains for technology and equipment enhancements that force OEMs to find new ways to adapt their equipment to evolving industry needs.

With today's changing demands, pressure to create and increase equipment value is separating the good from the great in the industry. Manufacturers who stay ahead of what customers want and respond quickly to their needs will be successful. Those with less vision and flexibility run the risk of falling behind. Watlow helps OEMs keep up-to-date by providing energy and space efficient, easy-to-use and safe equipment.

Multi-functional equipment

To save on overall equipment cost and kitchen floor space, the foodservice industry needs to prepare numerous food products with the same equipment. As a result, equipment is required to perform multiple functions. Whether it's to braise, roast, bake or crisp - equipment needs to have the right combination of technology and components for the job.

Watlow has a vested interest in staying on the cutting edge of innovations and new technologies and is committed to bringing the benefits of these to their product and service offerings.

For instance, Watlow's engineering services group, Single Iteration, uses its broad and creative engineering resources to help solve thermal problems and develop thermal system solutions.

Single Iteration's thermal experts can generate new ideas, evaluate, design and prototype components and systems to assure they will meet specifications well before they must go into production.

Ease of use

Changes in the foodservice workforce are creating an increasing need for products that are easy to use and simple to understand. But ease-of-use applies to much more than product operation. Significant investments are being made to simplify all aspects of doing business with Watlow.

Watlow's cast-in heated parts designed using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) can help simplify complex heating problems and insure thermal uniformity on items such as griddles, toasters and steamers.

The use of FEA reduces OEM's development costs and increases speed because several prototype iterations are avoided and the development time is shortened.

Watlow's cast-in heated parts designed using FEA can help simplify complex heating problems and insure thermal uniformity on items such as griddles, toasters and steamers.

The use of FEA reduces OEM's development costs and increases speed because several prototype iterations are avoided and the development time is shortened.

The heated part is much more than a heater. It is a functional component of equipment that can be designed in the exact shape and size needed. It can eliminate the need to have several heaters installed in a machined shape by casting the entire assembly as one near net shaped heated part.

Watlow also routinely adds wiring harnesses and thermostats to heated parts to allow assembly directly into an OEM’s equipment. This saves the OEM significant time in sourcing, purchasing and inventorying many components.

To address ease-of-use for kitchen staff, Watlow's Series N7 platform temperature controller allows OEMs to customise and pre-program menu items which, in turn, speeds up cooking and food preparation and helps assure consistency, good taste and food safety.

The unit also features a plain-text display that allows the user to more easily understand specific information and intuitively access directions. This cooking computer also enables restaurant chains to reprogram and add new menu items keeping pace with ever-changing food trends.

Ease of information

Watlow's Online Kitchen Gateway provides an affordable solution for restaurant applications. The gateway, using NAFEM Data Protocol, provides a conduit between legacy equipment and enterprise software to monitor equipment operations and performance, alert users of maintenance needs and reduce energy usage.

The gateway allows users to reap the benefits of their enterprise software by automating tasks such as HACCP food safety monitoring and equipment diagnostics without having to replace old equipment.

Efficient products and processes

Efficiency in both foodservice end products - and the process of creating the end product - has also been a driver of innovation. Skyrocketing energy costs are one factor driving efficiency. But the effort to reduce costs and create higher margins has always been a driver in an industry with traditionally lower profit margins.

Watlow solves this need with energy efficient Firebar heaters with flat surface technology. Firebars provide faster heat-up and recovery times than standard round tubular heaters. In fryers, its unique shape minimises coking and oil degradation and enhances the flow of the oil past the element's surface, helping to pull heat away from the heater sheath.

What can OEMs do?

With so much change in the industry, what should OEMs do to stay competitive? Firstly, recognise that first-class foodservice equipment requires superior thermal products and innovation, so partner wisely in the supply chain. Look to partners, such as Watlow's Single Iteration division, to help gain a competitive advantage through quicker, more efficient product development.

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