Digital Catering: Professional Cuisine with the IoT

05.08.2020 by Ümit Günes
Networked gastronomy kitchen with professional cooking equipment

With cookery books from the Cloud, pushbutton cooking and automated HACCP checks, connected kitchen equipment and the Internet of Things (IoT) help chefs to strike a daily balance between quality and efficiency.

Lunchtime in the rehabilitation clinic. Numerous patients wait for the meal service with growling stomachs. In the kitchen, things are heating up: Umpten portions of lasagne or the vegetarian variation are being plated – all within a very short time and with consistent quality. That would hardly be possible with pots and pans alone. This is why the Head Chef relies on professional cooking equipment such as the combi steamer and the FlexiChef from MKN: These cook entire menus simultaneously and with pinpoint accuracy.

From Top Hotel to System Catering

MKN is well aware of the challenges that modern gastronomy faces. The commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, supplies professional chefs all over the world. Its combi steamers, classical kitchen equipment and modern multifunctional technical solutions are equally at home in canteens, hotels and system catering restaurants. “Professional chefs operate today in a tension field of high expectations, pressure of time, shortage of skilled staff and food hygiene requirements,” says Peter Helm, authorized officer and head of innovation and digitization at MKN. “That is why gastronomy needs reliable technology and efficient operational procedures.”

MKN Maschinenfabrik Kurt Neubauer GmbH & Co. KG manufactures thermal professional cooking technology. Founded in 1946 in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, MKN today maintains a presence all over the world. On an 80,000 square meter site the company produces cooking technology that covers the entire thermal process. MKN has nearly 600 employees around the world.

Professional Cooking Technology Meets the IoT

With sensor technology, display controls and automatic cleaning systems MKN equipment has for years brought high tech into the professional kitchen. Since 2019 the company has taken high tech a step further and connected its Combi Steamer to Deutsche Telekom’s IoT Cloud. Cookery books and cooking programs can be sent centrally to Combi Steamers via the IoT platform, which is a smart solution that assists snack counter employees of a major German retail chain, for example. They just press a button on the connected device and bread rolls, pretzels or croissants of consistently professional quality are ready to bag and sell.

Usage data can also be saved and analyzed automatically via the Cloud of Things. That is how MKN customers receive such useful information as how much waster and electricity they have used, when equipment was last cleaned and whether the Combi Steamer has maintained the constant temperature required. That enables operators both to go for predictive maintenance and to implement the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). “Food safety procedures are so enormously complicated nowadays that they are almost impossible to map in analog form,” says Peter Helm. “Automated data storage in the Cloud leaves our customers on the safe side.”

Gastronomy kitchen with MKN combi steamer with cooking program


 

Everything From a Single Source

MKN offers users the IoT platform as a complete end-to-end solution. That is because Telekom provides with the Cloud of Things not only the basic technology but also ensures that users of the smart Combi Steamer do not need to worry about the hardware or LAN, WLAN or cellular connectivity. MKN and T-Systems are now working on connecting the new FlexiChef, a multifunctional device that cooks, roasts and fries, with the Cloud. As a member of SMART Kitchen, a group of companies that want to take forward digitization in the professional kitchen, MKN aims in future to connect MKN products such as gas stoves, fryers and warming trays. The company is also in contact with other manufacturers with a view to offering customers a uniform IoT platform. “Chefs and managers will then have a constant overview of all their equipment, regardless whether or not it is in the kitchen.”

Benefits for the Customer


  • Central Control:
    Cooking programs and cookery books can be sent to every Combi Steamer via the Cloud of Things. And bidirectionality enables information to be transferred from one kitchen device to others.
  • Quality and Efficiency:
    Uniform cooking processes ensure optimal results no matter who is working in the kitchen.
  • Optimal User Experience:
    The solution’s user-friendly dashboard shows the status of all connected equipment.
  • Smart Evaluation in Real Time:
    Automation of usage data facilitates predictive maintenance and observance of HACCP principles.
  • Data Security:
    Usage data is securely stored in the Cloud of Things.


 

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Ümit Günes
Ümit Günes

Marketing Manager IoT

Ümit has been working at T-Systems since 2015 and knows a great deal about many facets of the Internet of Things. He is particularly interested in topics related to the digitalization of the business world. For the blog, he reports on new developments and trends in the IoT world that offer real added value for customers.