There has always been pressure to adapt to the latest technology. Before the cash register most restaurants had scant idea if they were operating at a profit or a loss. Few restaurants today operate without a POS system, an essential tool to get a handle on food, beverage and labor costs.
The name of the game today is convergence: that magical point when multiple technologies reach a plateau where they can be combined in order to yield something astonishing and new. In the last century, we saw the successive development of radio, TV, computers, personal computers, internet, multimedia, web, and now at our threshold, the Internet of Things — connecting them all.
It’s a natural evolution, and restaurateurs stand to profit enormously from it, especially the early adopters. Just as the internet revolutionized our lives over the past 20 years, the Internet of Things promises a tsunami of change that will flow through our economy, inundating the way we live and work.
In a nutshell, the IoT is a network of dedicated physical objects that contain embedded technology to sense or interact with their internal state or external environment. In other words, inanimate products in your restaurant will suddenly gain a voice, taking the guesswork out of profit-making, empowering undreamt of efficiencies and, perhaps best of all, allowing scalability, so you can build your infrastructure over time as resources allow.
According to Gartner IT Research Analysts, four years ago the global IoT market reached $485.6 billion. This year that number is projected to pass the $1 trillion mark and, by 2019, is expected to grow to over $1.7 trillion to encompass a network of more than 42 billion connected devices worldwide.
With the advent of 5G networks and better access to the Internet, IoT is already changing the way we interact with the world around us. Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be 25 billion smart devices transmitting tiny amounts of data to us, to the cloud and to each other. Considering the safety and cost-saving benefits of IoT devices in restaurants, the market is primed for expansion.
“While IoT restaurant technologies may cost more than their traditional counterparts at the outset, these tools quickly pay for themselves with the value they add to your restaurant.” -Darryl Benjamin
How Will IoT Make My Restaurant More Efficient?
Let’s take a look at actual restaurant-efficiency-bolstering IoT solutions.
- Maximize asset life cycles: Remotely monitor all equipment and troubleshoot potential problems, often avoiding equipment failure and related repairs. IoT applications can also send reminders to schedule maintenance.
- Smart kitchen food safety monitoring system: Monitors refrigeration and other temperatures 24/7/365; leverages real-time, escalating alerts to ensure compliance when food is not being stored or prepared within preset tolerances; checks proactive exception reports to detect equipment that may be problematic.
- Display system: Replaces old school kitchen receipt printers by improving communication between your front-of-house and back-of-house teams; eliminates lag time by having orders appear immediately on a monitor or tablet so your team doesn’t need to wait for a receipt to be printed; and keeps track of how long it takes your team to complete tickets, the data can help you manage your back-of-house team and make well-informed decisions about your menu.
- Smart commercial refrigerator: With IoT technology, a refrigerator can become separate appliances: Each shelf, drawer, and freezer section can be monitored and thermostatically controlled independently. “Incompatible” foods, such as brisket and birthday cake, can be stored and cooled/frozen at different levels in the same appliance. The system can determine spoilage time, when food is supposed to be used by, if its chemical makeup changes (such as a marinade), and if pathogens are present.
- Smart oven: A smart combi-oven is a three-in-one oven that can cook using convection heat, steam, or a combination of both. A smart combi-oven adds another layer of technology to the appliance by offering remote control and monitoring. Benefits include space and money savings, since you need only one kind of oven for most of your baking, and remote control of your oven means that you need fewer staff in your kitchen.
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