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Embracing the Robotic Future


Sally Ray
Senior Director of Marketing
Hoshizaki America

The emergence of innovative technologies is happening at an unprecedented rate. The last few years alone have seen major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, internet of things, robotics, and other digital tools — all made possible by the acceleration of capturable information. It’s clear we’ve entered the Data Era. What was new yesterday is old news today! For manufacturers, it can take true effort to keep pace with, prompting many to adapt to the current environment by transforming into technology companies, or at least partnering with one.

Some of those advanced technologies, such as connected machines that monitor equipment performance in real time, have experienced slow adoption in these early stages, but the promise is just too great. Similar to other technological advances, as costs come down and more manufacturers implement smart technology and connectivity, we will inevitably see more operators embracing these features — and there will be no turning back. Instead of alarm codes, machine learning will allow us to watch for patterns that indicate an early warning before a freezer filled with food goes down, an ice bin is empty or a prep table rail is not holding the right temperature leading up to an inspection. There is a lot of information equipment can tell us, and we’re finally able to listen. The magic is when a manufacturer can translate all that data into actionable insights for end users.

All that forward progress has made it an exciting time to be in the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, but we should also be thoughtful about how we are using these new tools and make sure we keep asking the right questions. To ensure successful integration and adoption, manufacturers need to be cautious in several areas, including data ownership, protection and privacy, integration with existing systems (such as whole kitchen or healthcare facility monitoring), cybersecurity threats, and transparency (we must be clear on how we use the data — and how we do not). It is essential that we use market research to ascertain what matters to operators and not overcomplicate the technology interface. The technology should make the machine easier to use, not more difficult.

The advantages of these technologies are not just for end users. They can make our daily work more efficient too. At Hoshizaki America, we’ve been moving to more digital solutions across the board, and I’ve been yielding the benefits on the marketing end. In the past 18 months, we’ve launched a new digital catalog and a digital asset management (DAM) solution. They both allow for easier access to information and an overall better customer experience. The move from a print and static .pdf catalog to a dynamic digital page-turning catalog with embedded videos, pop-ups, tabs, a sharing feature, and more has changed the way our sales team interacts with customers. I’ve heard more than one salesperson state that they use the digital catalog to introduce and train on our equipment.

As you look through this issue that features women leaders in the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, you’ll hear from many of them who are using technologies like these to drive innovation at their companies. I encourage dealers to take time to learn about these innovations and how they can improve the operational efficiencies of customers. Make sure to understand the ROI — and if not, talk to the manufacturer. Be the hero!

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