Convotherm this morning unveiled a new generation of combi steamers that it expects to grow its share of the market after carrying out the biggest engineering exercise in its history.
The company has spent the best part of three and a half years developing the hotly-anticipated Convotherm 4 range at a cost of some $12m (£7m).
More than 60 staff have been involved in the R&D project, which has seen field tests involving 100 global customers and benchmarking against products from Convotherm’s top 10 competitors.
Development work on the range first began back in 2010 when the German brand, which is part of Manitowoc, polled 200 customers to find out what they really want from combi oven technology. A second assessment took place two years later as the company set about preparing for its first major product launch in more than a decade.
The result is a range that encompasses seven sizes of combi oven, each available in eight basic versions. A total of 56 models are contained within the series based on a standard infrastructure that extends to the intuitive user interface in all product classes.
Saskia Smeets, director of field marketing for Convotherm, said the company had diverted all its efforts into achieving perfect cooking results, low energy consumption and functional design, culminating in a line that combines “world-class technology with user-friendly, hygienic design”.
Convotherm 4 offers a choice of controls for two different operating systems: ‘easyTouch’ for highly automated processes and ‘easyDial’ for maximum flexibility.
It also utilises the manufacturer’s Advanced Closed System+ (ACS+), which delivers even cooking results through perfect steam saturation, automatic humidity adjustment in combi-steam mode and rapid and uniform heat transfer in convection mode, plus active control of air input and output.
This, says Convotherm, guarantees a constant environment in the cooking chamber for all products from vegetables through meat and fish to side dishes or baked goods, whether fresh, frozen or pre-cooked.
Special functions include ‘Crisp&Tasty’ for crisp cooking results in minimum time; ‘BakePro’, which offers five levels for the traditional baking function without any need to defrost frozen goods; and ‘HumidityPro’, a manual control for adding five levels of extra moisture in combi-steam mode from 30°C for succulent cooking results.
The machine features Convotherm’s ‘disappearing door’ function to save space, while the company has gone to great lengths to make the units more aesthetically pleasing for customers that want to site them front of house.
An innovative cleaning recirculation system has also been developed for the machines, featuring new operating functions and a single-measure dispensing option. Convotherm says customers will see savings in the cost of energy, water and time versus the existing Convotherm +3 range.
While the product has only been launched to the market today, the manufacturer already has the kudos of winning an accolade for its design after the iF International Forum Design awarded it the coveted iF Design Award 2014 for ‘outstanding international design achievement’.
It is thought to be one of the few occasions where a commercial catering product has won an award prior to it becoming commercially available.