How AI can simplify food service equipment repairs

How AI can simplify food service equipment repairs
The relationship between restaurants and service organizations is a story as old as time. The ice cream machine breaks down, the restaurant manager contacts the service company, they send a service technician to fix the machine, the technician fixes the problem, and customers enjoy their soft service again. Easy enough, right? If only it were that easy.

Due to labor shortages and skill gaps, it’s time to stop kitchen tools – Like the above ice cream machine – it gets longer. Restaurant owners and food service managers are going to great lengths to recruit and train an unprecedented level of workers to fill vacancies, causing repair and maintenance to take a back seat. At the same time, the service industry’s aging workforce makes it difficult to find qualified technicians, which leads to longer response times when a service call comes in from a restaurant.

Restaurants have few employees, and this puts other industry challenges in the back seat

Labor shortage remains a major challenge facing many business owners. July 2022 survey From the National Federation of Independent Business It found that about half of small business owners said they were still unable to fill vacancies, a near-record level in the survey’s nearly five-decade history.

Restaurant owners, as we know, are among this group – frantically searching for new workers, with exponentially increased time and effort to train their new workforce. The industry is still down 750,000 jobs — roughly 6.1% of its workforce — from pre-pandemic levels as of May 2022, according to the National Restaurant Association. As a result, repair and maintenance of kitchen equipment has become an afterthought.

However, putting repair and maintenance (R&M) planning on the back burner will in turn increase a restaurant’s overall operating and capital expenditures by 15%, according to ResQ trip status Report.

But rather than just prioritizing traditional R&M, it’s time for service and repair teams to embrace the new technologies that will enable the entire workforce to complete jobs more efficiently—no matter how experienced technicians are—so that restaurants avoid downtime altogether and remain fully operational. Restaurant owners can then reallocate time and money to more efficient uses, such as ensuring they can hire staff as needed.

Service organizations are applying artificial intelligence techniques to simplify operations

At the same time, finding qualified service technicians is a major sore point. This issue affects many service companies operating in the food service industry, including United Service Technologies (UST) who serve hot side equipment in supermarket. As an added challenge, floor tank customers are demanding actionable data at an increasing rate. Faced with these two issues, UST turned to artificial intelligence to solve its problems.

Floor cabinets couldn’t find time to manually review thousands of bills to identify useful insights. But now, with powerful emerging technologies, such as AI-powered service intelligence, their teams can organize and analyze bills, calls, and reports in minutes, providing actionable insights in a fraction of the time. Using this emerging technology has helped ground reservoirs create actionable service insights over the 25 years of data they’ve collected.

Ground tanks are now taking advantage of the vast amount of data they have and using it to transform their once reactive business into a more predictive one. They are able to be directive and tell customers what the full life cycle of a machine will look like, all without exhausting their IT efforts.

Floor cabinets also use service intelligence as a learning tool for new technicians to troubleshoot and learn the trade while in the field. Based on historical and real-time data, the system asks technicians a series of questions, then narrows down the most likely scenario, including the root cause of the expected failure, required parts, and any additional or incidental issues. Technicians reach the authority to make the right decisions about alerts. Instead of taking a trial approach and replacing unnecessary parts, or straying from a “no-fault” diagnosis, both novice technicians and service professionals are more likely to complete the maintenance job correctly the first time. Such technology not only eliminates the skills gap between seasoned and novice technicians, but also reduces excessively costly and time-consuming training.

Another company moving the needle with artificial intelligence innovation is smart careAmerica’s leading commercial kitchen service organization.

Leaders at Smart Care realized that they needed to streamline processes once the organization was flooded with data. The single work order that technicians fill out each day contains thousands of data capture points. They needed to figure out how to leverage technology to build a platform that would allow Smart Care to help both customers and technicians alike by gathering data and organizing it in a way that is mutually beneficial.

Smart Care wanted to leverage field service analytics and gain service insights that could help them transition from a reactive legacy service organization to a guiding organization. Smart Care didn’t want to be stuck in an outdated business model, so in order to stay competitive, the company set out to find a solution through technology.

They turned to the intelligence service. The AI-powered tool was not only able to read a work order as a live document, but also analyze field notes captured by each technician on site. With this ability, Smart Care took the most complex pieces of equipment and worked with the manufacturer to obtain building materials and FAQ documents, along with their work order data, to build a diagnostic tool that technicians in the field use on specific pieces of equipment.

As a result, Smart Care has seen significant reductions in things like recall rates and wrong parts ordering which in turn save the company thousands of dollars and generate positive customer experiences.

Average restaurant repair and maintenance costs across the United States 28 billion dollars a year. Regardless of the current state of R&M in your restaurant, it is better to be proactive, rather than reactive. Both Smart Care and UST have been at the forefront with their regulatory innovations. Finding the right service partner who has implemented cutting-edge AI-powered technologies on the restaurant industry can save the restaurant industry billions of dollars by avoiding downtime and making sure every piece of kitchen equipment always works as it should.


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