To illustrate the promise the IoT holds for the commercial kitchen, let’s look at how it could help the popular and fast-growing restaurant sector, specifically the quick service (QSR) and fast casual segments. As consumer demands and tastes change, the market share of these establishments is rapidly expanding.
One of the biggest challenges is managing operational costs. QSR chains face a constant struggle to control a wide range of cost centers—including those related to food and material purchases, food preparation, food waste, energy, and labor. Left unchecked, these can erode the operator’s already thin margins.
By implementing IoT technology in its restaurants’ kitchens, an operator can take major strides toward addressing these other vexing operational challenges. At a high level, the IoT can automate and standardize several key restaurant processes, as well as provide far greater visibility into restaurants’ operations—especially, the condition and status of kitchen equipment.
Key elements of the IoT-enabled kitchen are:
Alerts when there are temperature changes that could affect product quality
Anticipate equipment failures before they happen so maintenance can be scheduled with the least disruption
Increased customer satisfaction and retention via personalized digital services
Complete visibility into daily operations across multiple locations, data collected any time on any device
Automate time consuming daily tasks
Real-time information for faster business decisions
It’s clear that the IoT can dramatically improve several key dimensions of a kitchen’s operations.
These improvements include:
Enhanced food quality and compliance with food safety regulations
Lower energy cost and reduced food waster
Reduced total cost of ownership for key assets such as refrigeration units, ovens, and fryers
Lower labor costs and greater employee efficiency and productivity
While initial adoption of this solution will lead to better line of sight into day-to-day kitchen operations, more significant benefits will likely accrue over the longer term as kitchen operators add greater functionality and other offerings.
Eventually, enhancements to the solution could even unlock new ways to increase customer satisfaction and retention, as well as create new revenue streams, by offering personalized, value-added digital services.
Internet of Things technology offers plenty of promise to improve commercial kitchen performance, and we expect the connected commercial kitchen to gain momentum soon—to the point at which the IoT will be seen as a “default” capability for commercial kitchens.
Commercial kitchen operators should start investigating how to best leverage the IoT in their operations via a proof of concept or pilot.
High-level steps in that effort include the following:
Identifying target use cases and capabilities to influence key business drivers
Selecting a representative sample of outlets to build a working proof of concept solution
Measuring actual benefits, refining the business case, and developing a plan to roll out a pilot program across a larger number of outlets