Digitalising the business world? Sure, we´ve heard the buzzwords like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain. Technology, though, also plays a role on a smaller scale and is already simplifying today’s daily work routine before tomorrow’s, even in areas that at first glance don’t seem to have much to do with digitalisation.
Say cheese: a photobox for dishes
Sometimes high tech is simply a grey, unassuming box in a small office. At this moment Florian Kerl, Chef de Cuisine, is placing a dish, ‘curry sausage with a fruity sauce and rustic fries’ in the box. On the PC tablet attached to the box Florian is now focussing the picture and adjusting the lighting. He presses the shutter button and seconds later the picture appears on the screen. The Chef nods approvingly and presses a second button to forward the picture to his information system. He quickly adds the ingredients and additives, and just a few moments later the tasty snapshot appears on the info screens in the OTTO Canteen in Hamburg. Just a cute gimmick? Read on!
Rethinking processes – from scratch
The photobox saves the Canteen staffvaluable time in their working day. If a menu-change comes up at short notice the menus don´t need to be altered manually and the price tags don´t have to be replaced by hand at the food stations – all this can be done in seconds by computer. The illustrated dishes on the screens can make it easier for the employeesto find a suitable dish during their lunch break. What’s more the price, ingredients, additives and number of calories are listed clearly. Employees who have intolerances or allergies don’t have to read confusing footnotes or go from one station to another to inspect the food. There are also digital info screens in front of the bistros on the OTTO Campus that at the touch of a button can display the ingredients of your wholemeal roll, or which milk is used to prepare your latte macchiato.
“We want to rethink and re-evaluate our processes from scratch. We are trying to improve services and ease employees’ daily routines through software solutions and tools. From an outsider’s perspective you probably wouldn’t think such a photobox could revolutionise the daily routine in the kitchen – for our Kochwerk staff, however, this technology delivers a real practical benefit”, explains Helge Thomsen, Business Service Owner at OTTO. Digital price tags and digital menu boards are a further example: “If, for instance, the salad bar serves corn instead of red beets you don’t have to replace the price tags or re-write them with a marker by hand,” elaborates Helge. Just have to press a few keys and the software changes the lettering automatically.
Smart lunchtimes via smartphone
Helge is convinced that in future, the smartphone will play an even larger role in the Canteen. Employees wondering what’s on today’s menu can find that out on the bus, at home or on their way to the next meeting. They receive the menus on their own smartphone via app. There´s more: besides the dish, they also receive information on calories, fat, carbohydrates and proteins. One unique feature is that each user can customise their own menu; for instance, users who are gluten intolerant will be shown gluten-free dishes only. It’s also possible to display the maximum amount of calories the meal can have. Dishes that exceed this quantity are automatically hidden.
Visionaries in the sector even think this future scenario is realistic: via smartphone, employees reserve a table beforehand at a certain time and already select their meal for the day. They won’t have to wait, the Canteen staff can plan the meal-preparation processes more efficiently, and the amount of leftovers can be decreased even further. They’ll even be able to pay via app or QR code. A pretty tasty idea, isn´t it?