Making Commercial Kitchens Safer and More Efficient

The Opportunity

Calming the Chaos of Commercial Kitchens

Anyone who has ever worked in a commercial kitchen knows that it can be a hectic environment. Between food preparation and service, managing inventory and staffing, and the financial complexities of operating an eatery, the restaurant industry involves a lot of spinning plates – and letting even one of those things slip can be disastrous.

The National Restaurant Association’s 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry report found that around 92% of restaurateurs list the cost of food as one of their primary concerns. Compound this with the fact that about one half-pound of food is wasted in every meal served by a restaurant, and inventory control emerges as a major need for professional eateries.

This doesn’t even touch on the health concerns of modern commercial kitchens. Around 1 in 10 people worldwide get sick from spoiled or otherwise tainted food each year, and even with proper refrigeration and clean preparation spaces, poor air quality in the kitchen itself can open staff and customers to an advanced risk of respiratory health issues with prolonged exposure.

The National Restaurant Association study also found that the rising costs of materials and equipment were a major concern for restaurant owners. Given that the average cost of a commercial kitchen hovers between $40,000 and $200,000, restaurateurs need to do everything they can to make their existing equipment last.

“Our goal is to make the busy day of the kitchen staff easier by automating routines.”

Matti Verkasalo SmartKitchen

The Solution

Digitizing Antiquated Systems

In an effort to move past the antiquated “pen and paper” methods that have made kitchens less efficient, SmartKitchen introduced a series of digital solutions to help tackle many of the most common challenges facing the industry. These solutions empower restaurants by enabling constant measurements of kitchen performance, real-time monitoring of said data, and an illustrative user interface that is easily set up and connects to a proprietary cloud service to securely house performance and environmental measurements.

With these solutions, restaurants can gain meaningful insights that can help improve kitchen safety, reduce food waste and energy consumption, and improve the ecological impact of an operation. Among its suite of products, SmartKitchen offers:

  • Food Waste Tracker – By using smart scales, this service analyzes food waste throughout the production chain. This product monitors food usage from storage to plate and can be integrated into existing menu applications to track food left over from each meal to identify areas of unnecessary expense to help tighten up recipes and inventory. 
  • Digital HACCP For Commercial Kitchen – A complete HACCP solution including automated temperature monitoring, alarms, temperature and hygiene sampling, and checklists for manually performed checks and reporting.
  • Digital Management of Food Service – A centralized tool for managing the operations of multiple kitchens.
  • EquipmentTracker – A smart device to track the energy consumption, usage, and operational integrity of essential kitchen equipment, including freezers, dishwashers, kettles, and more.
  • Restaurant AirTracker – A tracker for temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels of a kitchen remotely from the SmartKitchen service.

“Our goal is to make the busy day of the kitchen staff easier by automating routines,” said  Matti Verkasalo, CEO of SmartKitchen. “We are particularly proud to have developed a complete software stack from embedded firmware to cloud server, focusing on the food industry. We use three different wireless technologies in IoT solution measurements, and the IoT devices are designed and manufactured by SmartKitchen. All collected data is processed and analyzed in SmartKitchen’s own cloud service with guaranteed data protection. It’s unique that we don’t rely on 3rd party software or hardware.”

Why Soracom?

Secure and Simple Connectivity that Puts the Customer First

When evaluating connectivity providers, the SmartKitchen team was looking for more than a simple portal to the Internet – they were looking for a partner that could help them navigate their connectivity needs. This search led them to sign up with Soracom, whose expertise in all things IoT has helped grow the SmartKitchen solution into what it is today.

“From the very beginning, Soracom provided good help and advice in getting started,” said Verkasalo. “During our three-year journey with Soracom, we have always received fast and professional support.” 

Each of SmartKitchen’s customer-configured mobile devices, as well as their gateways, comes equipped with a Soracom SIM card. This allows the devices to connect securely to the internet using the Soracom Air service, which grants them access to a reliable network powered by multiple carriers.

In addition to internet connectivity, SmartKitchen also deploys flexible private networking with Soracom Virtual Private Gateway (VPG) to help further ensure the security of their customers’ data. With VPG, SmartKitchen can close their devices off from the public internet, enabling bi-directional communication strictly between deployed devices and their own servers.

The ease of implementation and consistency that Soracom has introduced has proven a boon for the SmartKitchen team.

“Implementation of  VPG was quick and has resulted in significant business benefits,” said Verkasalo. “There have been no communication interruptions, which is very important to our customers.”

The Outcome

Improving Kitchens and Expanding Operations

With a connectivity solution in place, SmartKitchen has set out to refine its offering into the ultimate product for commercial kitchens. To get there, the company has been looking to its thriving user base, whose input has helped lead to the development of new features such as integrations with other kitchen systems like POS solutions.

Forged by customer feedback and the rapid digitalization of the hospitality industry, SmartKitchen systems have found their way into many of Europe’s top hotels and restaurants, and with continued innovations to the existing product line, expansion is in the cards.

“With Soracom’s SIM cards, we can easily expand our operations to new countries,” said Verkasalo. “We want to be at the forefront and offer our customers the latest reliable technology. We are currently expanding our distributor network, especially in Central and Western Europe.”