Auditing Hardware Inventory for Smarter Kitchen Operations

By Brian Harris

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It it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s the conventional wisdom. But if it’s breaking down every other week during your most profitable daypart, then you might have a costly problem on your hands.

The fact is that if you operate a large franchise network, not all your locations will have the same hardware. When growing companies acquire stores, there may now be 15 different types of microwaves, dozens of different ovens, and several different brands of refrigerators. Blenders, dishwashers, deep fryers – the list goes on!

 How do you know which locations are ready for upgrades? It all comes down to keeping track of performance over time.

Creating a Site Profile

The most efficient way of managing your hardware inventory is to create a site profile for each of your restaurant locations. Creating a mobile form for use across your network will allow you to continuously update the record. Each month a manager would be tasked with completing the hardware inventory audit of kitchen appliances. You can also create exception notifications for underperforming or broken equipment.

Let’s look at how a manager might audit a refrigerator. The form would include fields for the following:

  • Model/Year
  • Warranty (Yes or No/for how long)
  • Energy Star (Yes or No)
  • Temperature setting
  • Temperature of meats in storage*
  • Shelving, handles, temperature-setting knobs

*This data can be collected with the same mobile device with the use of a Bluetooth thermometer

Let’s say the problem with the appliance is visible. Shelves, knobs, or handles are missing. Perhaps there is pooling water around an appliance. The manager would simply use their smartphone to take a photo. That photo would then be timestamped and assigned to that location in the audit.

Repeat this process for all major appliances to complete the site profile. Be sure to talk to the staff members who use the appliances because they might be familiar with certain “quirks” not visible to the naked eye.

A Bird’s-eye View… With Eagle Vision

After managers have completed the hardware inventory auditing, look at the data. Which locations submitted photos of visible problems? You can filter down to photos. Which locations had refrigerators running above 40 degrees Fahrenheit? You can receive a notification when readings are too high.

When it comes to food safety, there’s no room for error. If you knew one of your locations had underperforming refrigeration, you’d investigate. You’d call to have it serviced or, if necessary, replace the appliance altogether.

Having the latest information on your hardware also helps save if you need to buy in bulk. For instance, as you start to audit, you may start to see that refrigerators across the network are having issues. Perhaps they were all purchased years ago around the same time. Maybe they’re still some appliances in the network that lack an Energy Star rating. It might be time for an across-the-board update, in which case, you may reach a deal with a manufacturer.

Auditing with the right tools helps you get a bigger picture while also addressing issues at individual stores. It’s important for the safety of your customers and employees, and important to your bottom line.

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