When Wendell Hays was 17 years old, he got a job as a fry cook at a local restaurant. The amount of formal training Hays says he received amounted to: “There’s the deep fryer, now go cook.”
“The deep fryer controller had 30 buttons, but it felt like 400 to somebody like me who didn’t know how to operate it,” Hays recalls now. “It was a dangerous, messy situation.”
Hays is now the director of product management with Frymaster, and he knows his experience as a line cook many years ago is hardly unique. In fact, turnover and staffing shortages have only gotten more acute in the years that have since passed. Operators have increasingly fewer resources to fully train each team member.
When unseasoned employees are using a traditional deep fryer, it can cause several problems. For one, as Hays alludes to, it can create a dangerous situation. Secondly, if team members are not cleaning the fryer and managing the oil correctly, the quality of taste of the fried foods will steadily drop. Finally, mismanaged oil will lead to more frequent oil changes, causing costs to skyrocket—at a time when operators simply cannot afford it.
Frymaster, a Welbilt company, has been solving for these challenges with its touchscreen technology: the easyTouch Controller. Equipped Frymaster deep fryers come with an intuitive touchscreen that helps walk team members through the cleaning and maintenance of the machine. Because the fryers are internet-connected, restaurant brands can obtain centralized data and insights into how well each machine is being maintained.
“For the employee, we’ve taken all of the thinking out of the equation,” Hays says. “The deep fryer tells team members when to skim the oil and when it’s time to filter the oil. It filters the oil with minimal user intervention and gets the crew back to frying as quickly as possible. The software component of the fryer holds team members accountable and gives transparency to managers.”
The results, Hays says, are game changing. Hays reports that a recent pilot for a brand raised filter compliance from 50 percent to above 90 percent. “Their crew didn’t change, the manager didn’t change, we just got smarter about what we asked them to do—that’s the beauty of the touchscreen.”
While other rival equipment manufacturers have begun to implement touchscreens on their equipment, Hays reports that Frymaster’s patented technology is more effective and more widespread—the company has rolled out over 35,000 touchscreen-equipped fryers across the world.
The industry has come a long way since Hays was onboarding at his first industry job. Now, he sees a future where new employees will be more effective—and brands will be more profitable—thanks to technology from companies like Frymaster.
“If you look forward to the future of deep frying foods, a lot of the new development is coming around to connectivity,” Hays says. “Such a huge component of that is transparency. If I manage a small chain of 10 locations, I can’t be in every restaurant every day. But if I can see the data and have exception reports sent to me when certain things are going on with the fryer, or they aren’t being filtered enough—I’m going to know about it.”
For more on Frymaster’s touchscreen deep fryers, visit the Frymaster website.