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High Performance Kitchens are Better, Faster, Smarter, Easier, Greener, and More Ergonomic

Manitowoc’s High Performance Kitchens (HPK) aptly describes a new generation of high-performance foodservice equipment. Truly high-performing kitchens, however, are about much more than the tools themselves. They’re about how those high-performance tools work in concert to achieve strategic operational goals; goals like consistency, speed of service, space and labor optimization, waste reduction, food safety, carbon footprint reduction and brand positioning. Helping operators meet those goals is where Manitowoc Foodservice’s special forces team, High Performance Kitchens, comes in.

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Bringing Technology, Process Together

A multi-disciplinary consulting initiative, High Performance Kitchens (HPK) works with operators across the globe on projects ranging from analyzing the impact of a simple equipment change or an LTO on existing operations, to full-scale redesigns. Specialized team members include industrial designers and engineers, FCSI-affiliated kitchen designers, culinary experts,
interior designers and project managers.

Core HPK services, says its vice president Howard Kosel, center on process re-engineering, cost optimization and the integration of new technologies. “We work with operators and manufacturers, alike,” he adds. “On the manufacturer side, we help with new-product development and cooking platforms and establishing the best fit for those within the marketplace.”

For operators, HPK consults on a variety of project types, including:

  • Operations optimization. “Often there’s a point in time when a kitchen can no longer do what the customer wants it to do,” Kosel says. “It could be related to reducing capital costs, or optimizing flavor, or scaling from slow to busy periods. It could be related to speed of service or food safety.”
  • Venue change. As companies seek non-traditional, often smaller, locations, HPK helps scale operations and devise ways of handling process changes without impacting quality or brand consistency.
  • Menu expansion. Most kitchens today are designed with little flexibility to make changes, Koselflow.”
  • Carbon footprint reduction. Often an integral component of other HPK projects, an operation’s current energy use is analyzed and alternative technologies and processes are introduced to reduce consumption.

Recent projects the team has undertaken include helping a casual dining chain cut 120 hours of labor per week from its operations by identifying bottlenecks and introducing new cooking and holding technologies and processes. Another is assisting a QSR chain that over the past 50 years had developed various prototypes with different kitchen arrangements. “They wanted to launch new products using an accelerated cooking oven. We evaluated the best location for it in the various prototypes and the impact it would have on operations. We did capacity studies to determine the number of units needed, and helped them envision other products and other capabilities that would be required,” Kosel says.

A Global Consultancy

Internationally, HPK recently helped a Canadian chain develop a U.S.-based prototype with a smaller footprint and different cooking platforms. In China, it’s helping a chain optimize operations with reorganized kitchen stations that improve process flow and speed of service. On its growing international business, Kosel says Manitowoc is working to expand its HPK capabilities and establish fully operational testing facilities to support customers in the Asia Pacific region as well as in South America.

Both at home and abroad, he adds, HPK activities increasingly include integration of key emerging equipment categories. Top among them is automated beverage dispensing systems that allow for customization of hot and cold products. Another is cooking and holding systems that enable better quality and longer hold times. Still another is what Kosel calls “companion equipment” to existing at-capacity accelerated cooking ovens in order to allow the addition of new menus items. “Beyond identifying and correcting current barriers to kitchen optimization,” he says, “we help operators envision and enable the future of their menus.