Opinion pieces on the foodservice equipment and supplies industry from leaders and laymen from all aspects of the business, including dealers, distributors, design consultants and multi-unit operators.
While the goal for most foodservice design is to enhance operational efficiency and guest experience, industry engineering processes can also enhance food safety when done right.
Foodservice-related economic indicators continue their roller coaster ride while a series of chains continue to navigate the choppy waters of today's business climate.
Amid the confusing and bleak U.S. employment figures emerges one positive note: the foodservice industry continues to add jobs.
The Restaurant Performance Index managed to stay in positive territory at 100.2 even though both major components of the Index fell. The Current Situation Index dropped 1.7 in July leaving it below 100 for the first time in nine months at 99.8. While 53 percent of the operators surveyed reported their same store sales increased the biggest block of operators (46 percent) said traffic declined.
When researching environmentally friendly options it is easy to become confused by greenwashing, which overpromises the impact of certain products. With this in mind, it helps to have a few tips on what to look for when navigating the forest of green options.
The term biodegradable commonly appears in many product descriptions but it does not necessarily mean what you think. Biodegradable implies the products will breakdown in a landfill but this does not suggest that the rate of decomposition means it is safe for a permanent stay in the environment. Compostable products represent the true standard for items that maximize sustainability.
Compostable products and materials turn into soil and organic matter, meaning they are most acceptable for re-entry to the environment. In order to earn this designation, companies must obtain the compostable label through certifications from such organizations as the Biodegradable Products Institute or the American Society for Testing and Materials.
The foodservice industry requires multiple cleaners of varying strengths and uses due to the different surfaces and spills or messes that need attention. Green Seal-certified products are the best-known alternatives to chemically based items.
For bathrooms and hand-washing stations Green Seal-certified soaps and hand towels are excellent replacements to traditional options. Foam soaps require less water and hands-free systems for soaps and towel dispensing cut costs even further.
Foodservice operators most commonly use green cleaning products for glass, surface and floor cleaning. When it comes to tasks that involve de-greasing, foodservice operators can choose from plenty of Green Seal-certified products capable of replacing traditional cleaners, though they may not always be quite strong enough due to their less caustic formulations. Peroxide-based products provide comparable green alternatives but whether using them is appropriate depends on the operation because the strength of chemicals still generally reigns supreme.
To properly control costs, most of these systems include options for dilution control. The systems allow manufacturers and distributors to ship products in concentrate form via recyclable containers to reduce carbon footprints while also reducing the impact to the waste stream.
As green products and cleaners become more mainstream foodservice operators must continue to be aware of these advancements to reduce their environmental impact while also maintaining an operational bottom line. Because truly implementing green or environmentally friendly solutions without compromising an operation's bottom line or brand promise requires foodservice professionals to wipe away the green washing by making informed purchases.
On a much more frequent basis, foodservice professionals need to justify capital projects as facilities age, equipment fails or customers demand new services. At the same time, the C-suite faces increased financial pressures, which result in the organization's most valuable capital projects requiring funding approval before moving forward. This combination becomes challenging for operators when, by nature, foodservice capital projects face tough scrutiny. Without a solid financial analysis detailing the return on investment (ROI), a project stands little chance for approval.
If there is one lesson that I have learned well through my association with FE&S over the years, it is the tremendous value of peer recognition. I have listened spellbound as award winners from DSR of the Year to Hall of Famer to Top Achievers to Dealer of the Year have graciously accepted their place among the very best in the industry at the FE&S Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala.
As internationally renowned restaurateur and occasional country singer Kenny Rogers once told us: "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run." Unfortunately with the mixed signals the economy continues to send us it's getting harder and harder to know when to do what.
A couple of years ago the Wounded Warrior Unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center made headlines for all of the wrong reasons. The facility was outdated and in poor shape. Simply put, the facility was beneath the level of quality that the U.S. soldiers who had sacrificed so much for our country deserved.
Part 4 in a series of posts on how industrial engineering philosophies and techniques can be applied to foodservice operations.