The slicing and weighing of meats and cheeses are arguably some of the most frequent and time-consuming activities of a deli employee. There are multiple ways retailers can save time and effort at the slicer.
Dayton, Ohio-based Globe Food Equipment makes sure its slicers can communicate effectively with store employees.
“One of the things that Globe had done on our slicer is we now have an interacting display,” says Todd Clem, director of project management for Globe.
That display offers information that is easily accessible to the operator. Instead of seeing four blinks of a light, for instance, the graphic will tell the operator what the issue is with the slicer. “We think that makes it easier and saves a lot of time for our customers,” Clem says. “It really helps with labor savings.”
Troy, Ohio-based Hobart, meanwhile, has incorporated a scale into its HS6-1PS manual and HS7-1PS automatic slicers. Instead of employees slicing the product, then carrying it to a scale, and then perhaps repeating the process multiple times to get to the right weight, Hobart’s new slicers precisely cut the meat or cheese until reaching the desired amount.
Baking, as they say, is an exact science. Instore bakery employees can’t get caught up in other tasks and leave a batch of product in the oven for too long, wasting food and putting a dent in profits.
WP Bakery Group USA, based in Shelton, Connecticut, recently rolled out its WP Navigo 3 control system in its Matador Instore Baking Oven. The company says the system makes instore baking easier than ever, even for semi-skilled personnel. It can hold up to 200 recipes with up to 20 baking steps.
“You can put in the recipes and baking times, when to steam, step-by-step baking and more,” says Bruce Gingrich, vice president of sales for WP. “Once the baker puts in the information, you can then have a fairly non-skilled person operate the oven. That’s very efficient when labor is at a premium. A lot of bakeries are saying they can’t find good people, and this allows you to operate your business effectively without skilled labor.”
In larger instore settings, loading the oven can require a good amount of labor. WP says its loaders can help with this.
“You can get a good amount of labor savings on the larger loaders,” Gingrich says. “You can take away all the labor from the deck oven,”
For smaller deck ovens, WP loaders can sit on the side of the oven to help with loading and loading. “It also provides a work space where you can prepare the bread if you have to put cuts in it or some seeds on top,” Gingrich says.
Rational’s SelfCookingCenter sits on a footprint of less than 11 cubic feet and allows employees to fry, roast, grill, steam, poach, bake and more. The company, headquartered in the US in Rolling Meadow, Illinois, says the center brings the support kitchens need — cooking quickly with easy-to-use controls while providing food quality retailers specify. The company also says it can save money, time and energy.
The SelfCookingCenter does all the monitoring and checking for employees, setting the temperature, humidity and cooking time by itself. With the center monitoring the cooking climate and browning, employees don’t need to flip or turn items like pan-fried foods.
The SelfCookingCenter covers up to 95% of all the typical cooking applications, according to Rational. Retailers would no longer need a traditional steamer or convection oven. Combining heat and steam into a single appliance opens up a wealth of new options in professional food preparation, the company says.
Retailers can also operate the SelfCookingCenter manually. Regardless of whether they’re using convection, steam or a combination, in manual mode employees can adjust every parameter, directly, down to the degree.
The Space$aver from Eaton, Ohio-based Henny Penny offers the versatility of two separate cabinets with independent, easy-to-use control systems in one integrated platform. At less than 22 inches wide with an integrated hood, it can be installed anywhere in the kitchen, and a jointless, one-piece construction makes it easier to install and maintain.
It also features a powerful four-stage filtration system to extract smoke, fat and odors, ensuring operators can cook different items simultaneously, without flavor transfer.
Henny Penny recently received a 2019 Kitchen Innovations Award from the National Restaurant Association for its FlexFry fryer. A big reason for the win, the company says, was the equipment’s ease of use.
According to the NRA, FlexFry is the first of its kind, offering a combination to open frying and pressure frying in the same battery footprint. The combo includes Henny Penny’s F-5 electric low oil volume platform and two, three or four vats of pressure frying.
A touchscreen interface, three-minute express filtration and auto top-off on the F-5 and, for pressure frying, an easy open/close lid and pressure assist technology help with labor ease.
“Henny Penny understands operators and is committed to designing products that offer them greater flexibility, consistency and simplicity,” says Ares Marasligiller, director of product strategy at Henny Penny. “Receiving this award speaks to how we are equipping kitchens to efficiently handle back-of-house challenges while addressing the long-term needs of the foodservice industry.”
Meanwhile, some retailers have begun testing with robotics when it comes to cooking tasks. Walmart is perhaps the biggest name in this realm. The retail giant recently began using Flippy, which is developed by Miso Robotics, in some of its delis. Flippy can grill 150 burger patties an hour and is being viewed by Walmart as an autonomous way to fry foods in its delis. The robot can move foods into the correct fryer and remove them from the oil when they are done.
The robots cost between $60,000 and $100,000 and have already been used in CaliBurger locations as well as at Dodger Stadium, where they fry chicken tenders.