Restaurants can attract customers with great marketing, exciting menu choices, impressive services and breath-taking ambiance. But, it only takes a single complaint about unclean food or its handling to send your reputation down the drain.
However, technology is becoming a game-changer in elevating hygiene in food safety practices and protocols. The latest IDC Worldwide Semiannual Smart Cities Spending Guide revealed that combined spending from smart cities programs from Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul are expected to hit over USD 4 billion this year. Strategic priorities related to data-driven public safety, resilient energy and infrastructure, and intelligent transportation will bring in the most significant part of spending in 2019.
With Singapore going full steam ahead with its Smart Nation initiative, smart use of water and energy in restaurants and kitchens will continue to shape innovation in these areas.
Patented Chemistry, Digital Monitoring and Expert Service
Surachet Tanwongsval, vice president and general manager of Ecolab Asia-Pacific, a global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, offered more insight.
“Typically, when considering user experience in a restaurant, food safety is taken for granted. Consumers see what is at the front of the house – where you sit, where you dine, how the food is being served,” explained Tanwongsval.
“However, there's actually a tremendous effort that goes into ensuring food safety behind the scenes in the kitchen. And a huge part of what happens there is related to the dishwashing operations. While there are technologies to track the movement of food from farm to fork, what people don't consider is that right at the last mile, before you put the food into your mouth, the plate and the cutlery play such an important part in terms of food safety.”
Introduced by Ecolab on the market a year ago, SMARTPOWER is its proprietary chemistry, used in dishwashing operations to break down food soils and prevent reattachment. It also reduces labor and saves water.
Critical temperature levels are monitored by sensors to ensure germs are killed and food safety issues addressed. Other sensors monitor functions such as regular changes in water and detergent amongst others.
These sensors provide digital readings on many different parameters in the performance of the dishwasher. The SMARTPOWER controller has 3G and 4G connectivity and sends all this information to be stored in the cloud. The data are then converted into meaningful insights that the client can read immediately from the screen.
However, Tanwongsval pointed out that the data amounted to nothing without interpretation and customized attention. Hence, food safety experts are assigned to provide personalized on-site services to help fix the problems in addition to identifying trends in operations and opportunities in training.
Sustainability and Savings
This winning combination of chemistry, digital monitoring and customized service means that restaurant and hotel clients can have peace of mind with regards to food safety. It also frees them to focus on creating quality food and services for their guests.
The JW Marriot Hotel South Beach in Singapore is one such client enjoying the benefits of SMARTPOWER technology.
According to Ecolab, restaurants using SMARTPOWER are reducing daily washing loads at an average of 10% – translating to lesser employee hours and overall water and energy costs.
Another critical element is the sustainability factor. Many businesses want to cut down on plastic consumption. The increase in productivity and efficiency with a dishwashing technology like SMARTPOWER enables businesses to make greener decisions and significantly reduce plastic-ware usage. Moreover, the packaging of the SMARTPOWER products makes use of less plastic as compared to other dishwashing products, adding yet another eco-friendly benefit.
Productivity and Innovation
Last year, the Singapore government announced the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) to entice businesses to improve with productivity. Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in Parliament that, “With the rapid pace of change and greater competition, we must make innovation pervasive throughout our economy."
Food businesses need to realize that the old industry norm of using paper and pen systems to track important food safety protocols can no longer work in today's competitive and more demanding landscape. Furthermore, the ongoing challenge of preventing foodborne illnesses can be wholly overcome with technology.
Incorporating tech tools into restaurants and other food businesses is one of the smartest moves a company can make to keep its food and consumers safe and its reputation intact.