It took some time for McDonald’s area supervisor Andy Suckiel to embrace automated oil management for the two California franchises he oversees in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, California.
Now with four years of experience using Restaurant Technologies, Inc. (RTI) oil management solution, it’s difficult for him to imagine any other approach.
“The automated filtering and oil changing system has become a way of life for us; it’s just a better way to optimize food quality and eliminate a significant risk to employee safety,” Suckiel says. “It’s an understatement to say that my team would not welcome going back to carrying hot oil out the back door.”
Suckiel and veteran McDonald’s franchise owner Ross Pollard were slow to embrace the new technology, despite corporate endorsement of the RTI system. But after a few site visits to observe other franchisees using the system, they soon changed their minds.
“The stores were cleaner, both inside and outside,” Suckiel says. “Work flow was more efficient, fryer filtration was automated, oil storage bins were gone, and the grease traps were eliminated. No one was trucking up and down stairs with jibs. We immediately saw the safety benefits—no worry about slips, falls, and burns.”
The impact on food quality was equally obvious when the pair watched the technology in action. The Web-based Total Oil Management (TOM) portal delivers oil-monitoring data from fryer sensors to an online dashboard.
Suckiel can now track filtration frequency in real time, analyzing oil quality and usage statistics for comparison against McDonald’s best-practices recommendations.
“If we’re not achieving the recommended days-of-use standard for our oil, we can look into variables that impact oil life performance and immediately course correct,” Suckiel says.
On a quarterly basis, he also uses a conversion efficiency report to benchmark his stores’ performance on key food-taste factors—like the food-to-oil ratio—against other McDonald’s franchises.
The switch to RTI closed-loop oil handling is also proving the link between green operation and profitable management. As part of the McDonald’s sustainability initiative influencing restaurant rebuilds and remodels, Pollard’s stores combine the RTI system with new low oil volume (LOV) fryers that use 50 percent less oil than traditional fryers.
Lower oil consumption and precision filtration monitoring, combined with less time and energy to heat the units, can help both the bottom line and the environment.
Before switching to automated oil management, Pollard’s operations were exposed to greater risk of employee injury. The stores also lost out on potential revenue from the sale of recycled oil because of handling difficulties associated with manual collection and pick-up, as well as the potential for theft when used oil is stored outside a building.
“Stealing used oil has become a legitimate concern for restaurant owners because of its value in the production of synthetic oils and biodiesel,” Suckiel says. “We don’t have that concern. RTI comes on site regularly to remove the used oil from the waste tank located inside the building.”