The foodservice industry has long been saddled with having to keep track of a lot of information related to maintaining equipment. Today's information technology, however, offers the foodservice industry an opportunity to streamline its operating data and lessen the cost of managing information.
Gary Meehan, CEO of QiCode, a communication gateway for managing product information, offered an overview of how information technology can help the foodservice industry during a presentation at the recent Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit in Dallas.
"Foodservice operations are rough on equipment," Meehan said. Automating activities to keep the equipment operational will improve the reliability of the equipment over a longer time period.
The return on investment for equipment maintenance can be measured in productivity, reliability and longevity.
Technology brings change
Equipment industries have long required multiple levels of distribution between manufacturers and end users, Meehan said. These multiple levels can sometimes complicate the task of managing equipment information.
Data management software providers have developed programs that streamline the data and provide more visibility about what is happening with the machines. When a company that uses a piece of equipment can track what's going on with the machine in shorter time frames, they are often better able to control those costs.
A good equipment maintenance system gathers all maintenance data in one place, Meehan said.
"We don't need data as much as we need insights from the data," he said.
Technology tools to provide such data include QR codes on equipment that holds all relevant data about the equipment. Equipment manufacturers are developing systems for streamlining this data and providing it to their customers – the equipment users – at no charge.
Maintenance costs elusive
The cost of maintaining equipment is an elusive one that impacts the total cost of ownership, Meehan said.
Speaking to all the different parties involved with equipment at different points in the equipment distribution chain, Meehan said: "Each one of you is managing the same information in many ways. You have the power to change things."
A lot of equipment users focus on having quality equipment, Meehan said, but cleaning and servicing the equipment is also important to maintaining its reliability. According to one survey of service technicians, one-third of service calls are caused by improper maintenance or operator error. With some equipment, 30 to 60 percent of service calls are not necessary.
Having better access to maintenance info can help prevent some of those calls and dollars spent on servicing, Meehan said.