We run into this issue all the time: the perception that restaurant technology is really expensive.
"Operators say that costs, in various forms, remain the primary barrier to implementing more technology in their operations," says Annika Stensson, Director of Research Communications for the National Restaurant Association.
However, commercial kitchen and food safety technology is more accessible than many restaurant managers and owners may realize. As technology moves ever-forward, prices fall ever-downward.
For example, MIT just developed a new way to test for E. coli bacteria using a smartphone. “What we have here is something that can be massively cheaper, with low entry costs,” says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry at MIT and the senior author of the study.
Meanwhile, existing lines of equipment, such as temperature monitoring equipment, continue to get both better and more cost-effective.
Kitchens can incorporate a variety of new radio technologies that are much more affordable and give users much broader insight into how their restaurants are running and how they’re serving safe food. For example, Paul Gobeille, senior automation engineer at design, construction and mechanical engineering firm Stellar, told Food Engineering Magazine, “Today’s wireless systems can now allow for four to six sensors in these bigger spaces [which would have been previously limited to one or two wired temperature sensors], which increases accuracy and reduces install cost tremendously.”
In fact, improvements can help technology investments pay for themselves. As more wireless systems help restaurants to automate processes – for example, by wirelessly transmitting temperature readings and automatically recording them at pre-set intervals – the equipment can actually start to pay for itself through labor cost savings.
“The cost of automation, like any technology, is decreasing,” says Mike Golden, vice president of facility planning firm Food Tech.