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Asset Management: Making Your Commercial Kitchen Work Smarter

asset-management graphic

Figuring out the magic formula to improve and maintain productivity in your commercial kitchen is one of the biggest challenges facing the catering industry today. Issues including employee turnover, skills shortages, squeezed margins and exacting customers mean that managing a catering facility is harder than ever. 

It’s a challenge that has seen many kitchen operators lose their way and find themselves in trouble, but for the managers who are willing to utilise data, invest in tech and work smarter, the rewards can be great. 

Here we’ll discuss the proven methods and strategies you can use to help bring your catering facilities under control.  

Asset Management & Tracking

Commercial kitchens are full of assets that are crucial to the smooth running of your day to day operations. Ovens, fridges, food merchandising displays – all vital pieces of equipment that are used to serve your customers the quality food that keeps them coming back. 

By proactively managing and tracking every asset of equipment within your kitchen, you have a complete picture of all your equipment, it’s service history, compliance records, current condition and costs to date to help you make smart decisions.

What is asset tagging?  

For business critical kitchen equipment, the process of proactive asset management begins with asset tagging. This includes taking a full inventory of your estate, then adding physical tags to each item that corresponds to a managed database. Each piece of equipment is assigned a unique ID reference, which then becomes a point of reference to locate data about the asset within the database. 

Asset tagging, when used alongside a detailed and robust ‘living’ database, provides a comprehensive record of maintenance, costs, usage, age, supplier and more to help you understand where efficiencies can be made. Whether that’s in replacing equipment that regularly breaks down, using assets at different times or even reorganising your workforce around high and low usage periods.  

Asset tagging affords anyone with access to the database a clear understanding of the status of all equipment and how it impacts the estate as a whole. This insight is invaluable to future planning and indeed future proofing your catering operations. Utilising intelligent business data such as this means that making commercial decisions is much easier, quicker and proactive, rather than reactive. 

Asset Management Strategy

By implementing an asset management strategy using asset data, businesses can prioritise obsolescence, plan for maintenance and servicing, optimise hours of use and more. As with most things, preventing a disaster is better and more cost effective than trying to find a fix retrospectively. Strategising in this way gives estate and catering managers the confidence to sort the pressing issues from the ‘nice-to-haves’, the critical equipment from the quickly replaced.  

So, how do you devise the perfect asset management strategy and what should be considered?

Equipment Maintenance

Regularly servicing equipment, especially business critical assets is a great way of reducing the chance of breakdowns and unplanned maintenance. Your asset management database will make this so much easier to keep track of, each piece of equipment will now come with service history and allow for the forecasting of future work. Ensuring that all of your equipment is fully compliant with regulations is also a good way to mitigate any future problems, and again you can include this information in your ongoing asset management strategy.

Costly, last minute call out charges could be a thing of the past with this proactive approach. 

Human Error and Misuse

Keeping a log of breakages caused by members of staff, whether by misuse or simple human error, will give you invaluable insights into the training your team may require. This is a time and money-saving strategy in the long-term, as it can help reduce instances of faults caused by staff who simply don’t fully understand how to use the piece of equipment correctly. It is also worth logging a responsible, appropriately trained employee next to each asset this helps to put ownership back on to the employees and teams that will actually be using it. This encourages them to take better care of their assigned equipment and encourage others to do so too.

Selecting the Best Equipment

Having a big picture view of all the assets at your branch or group of branches can help you understand if certain brands or makes are more prone to breakdowns, highlight the star performers and show where you could be making investments to improve your overall estate. Equipment that performs well and is consistently operational ensures that your team are able to deliver services to customers effectively, efficiently and to budget. Planning for obsolescence is also far easier with a comprehensive database. Parts or equipment being discontinued can really throw a spanner in the works when it comes to the end-of-life period for your equipment, but understanding when and why this may happen allows for proper planning. It is best to invest in equipment with a consideration for purpose, performance & longevity, as well as the total cost of ownership and environmental impact to get the best return for your business.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

If you work with a service provider, such as Arolite, they can also help you take your asset management strategy even further, helping to tailor your strategy to the branch or business goals. As an example, aiming to reduce downtime or improve efficiency by a particular percentage might seem difficult to achieve or unquantifiable, but with the right support and infrastructure, these goals are possible. Your service provider can analyse your entire estate for you, identify areas for improvement and provide thorough, actionable recommendations. Working smarter in this way with a partner who understands the challenges and risks associated with modern catering kitchen management can help you fulfil targets and performance quotas that may otherwise be tough to achieve. 

Ultimately, asset management is a way to organise and optimise what you already have and give you concrete reasons to invest, should the need arise. It’s a way to maintain profitability, high service and satisfaction levels in a cost-effective, time-efficient way. 

Your kitchen doesn’t need to be fully automated or run by robots to work smarter, sometimes all it takes is the right data and support.