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Back in the 1950s, the founder of a burger chain set out to “wow” customers. His mission was to establish a restaurant with a reputation for quality and fresh taste, and, in its seven decades, the chain has grown to more than 700 stores dotting nearly a dozen states across the South.
When the popular chain began working a few years ago with Frontline International to achieve better management of its restaurants’ cooking and waste oil, they also found a way to help increase their employees’ safety, protect their oil supply, and control costs.
The chain’s equipment manager has been with the company for 30 years. In that time, the burger business has changed, but not its daily use of many gallons of cooking oil and the resulting output of waste oil from cooking burgers and chicken and deep-frying fries. Hot oil is not only a slip-and-fall hazard in the kitchen, but toting and pouring hot waste oil into a dumpster is also a hazardous undertaking for employees. And then there’s the recent surge in waste oil theft. That’s why they called Frontline.
The chain has retrofitted about a dozen stores with Frontline’s direct-plumbed waste oil management system. With its push-button, hands-free technology, this system offers many benefits over previous systems, including the ability to reduce risk by controlling spills and by securing the waste oil with an anti-theft valve on its collection ports.
Waste oil theft is a growing crime of opportunity in areas where many of the chain’s burger stores are located, and the location of the waste oil tanks—inside or outside—doesn’t matter. “Waste oil is the new copper,” says the equipment manager. “We’ve even had shortening stolen from inside our stores. The thieves back a truck up to the building, suck the grease out, and leave. But with the anti-theft valve and without the password, it’s just a no-go and doesn’t work. The electronic valve is a great idea. It provides foolproof security.”
Frontline’s collection ports, where renderers hook up their trucks to pick up waste oil, feature an integrated anti-theft valve that makes it impossible for thieves to drain out the stored oil and easier for the chain’s authorized suppliers to collect it. Waste oil tanks stored outside a foodservice establishment have the protected valve built in. For tanks stored on the interior, the same anti-theft valve extends to the building’s exterior.
Since the retrofitted stores were so pleased with Frontline’s system, in 2015 the burger chain decided to include its direct-plumbed fryer setup in the design and build of two new store locations.
The chain builds new locations from the ground up in 60 days, so the direct-plumbed system had to fit into that compressed timeline while also delivering advantages that would justify using the equipment from the word go. “When it’s included from the beginning,” the equipment manager says, “the plans can be part of the scope of work so there’s no confusion for inspectors, no special permits to secure. The equipment is obviously easier to use, safer and cleaner, but we wanted to see what advantages we might get from including the equipment in a new store build.”
In addition to the security that Frontline equipment’s anti-theft valve brings, the burger chain has reaped benefits from implementing Frontline’s M3 data management system, which can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection. The equipment manager discovered that the M3 system was able to weave seamlessly into the chain’s WAN (wide area network), giving him the ability to monitor the waste oil in all stores right from his computer. “The M3 system has also helped with monitoring our renderers, because now we can tell, when a certain number of gallons were supposed to be picked up, if a different amount was actually taken. That information can be very helpful in terms of long-term cost savings,” he says.
It seems likely that the chain will retrofit additional existing stores with the direct-plumbed system, he said, so their waste oil can be more safely and securely managed.” The chain is also considering including Frontline’s equipment as part of the new store building process in the future.