Labor issues, food quality, and equipment uptime are all improved by Welbilt’s cloud-based solution.

The ongoing labor shortage many brands are dealing with has led to many headaches—being short staffed affects a restaurant’s ability to provide the guest experience operators strive for, with food quality and customer service being compromised at times.

Brands are seeing positive results by making the switch to a connected kitchen, with smart equipment united under the same cloud-based solution—like Welbilt’s KitchenConnect. These digitally connected pieces of equipment are easier to oversee and train employees to operate.

“We work with customers from large, to mid-size, to independent restaurants,” says Omar Omran, senior director of KitchenConnect, a division of Welbilt. “What more than 90 percent of them are looking for from their cooking equipment is three things: They want to increase profitability, decrease the amount of time machines are being serviced, and ensure that their food is the highest quality it can be. KitchenConnect unlocks the power to do all of those things.”

Pivotally, KitchenConnect helps centralize data pertaining to cooking equipment so that multi-unit brands can have more transparency into each kitchen. KitchenConnect also helps upload, update, or program new recipes into ovens, fryers, and other cooking appliances across a brand’s footprint with a single press of a button, overcoming a major labor expense of manually updating menus and recipes. The progress of those updates can then be tracked to ensure rollouts were successful.

Perhaps the biggest upside of KitchenConnect is that ROI is measured on a customized dashboard to help brands understand how to get the most out of their equipment. For example, a Frymaster deep fryer unit monitors both the oil quality and KPIs related to oil management, which can save brands an estimated $4,000 per year per fryer. The data informs employees when the oil should be changed, or maintenance is needed, enhancing equipment up time and improving food quality.

“KitchenConnect is the leader in the industry in using AI to produce data that shows the major ROI our customers receive,” Omran says. “We also now have the world’s first AI-powered combi oven from Convotherm for fully automated cooking. This technology allows the oven to visually recognize what food is being loaded into the oven and automatically cook the food to spec.”

There’s also this—every time KitchenConnect rolls out an update, the equipment gets smarter. Whereas non-connected equipment precipitously loses value over time, the value of KitchenConnect equipment remains high because the machines actually get better at what they do with each update.

Not only does all of this help make restaurant brands less dependent on experienced employees, but it also makes their work less stressful. That can help retain talent at a time when it’s hard to do, and is yet another way operations are becoming more efficient with KitchenConnect.

“Brands have to make coming to work feel exciting, and digitizing your kitchen is a way to address that,” says Maribeth Kelly, manager of marketing and communications services at Welbilt. “The more exciting things like this there are, the more your employees are going to stick around. And with our sustainability effort, KitchenConnect will be planting one tree per connected equipment.”

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