Ed’s view: The lure of the new

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Having visited this year’s Host show in Milan, I believe I can confidently say there are no shortage of innovations in the catering equipment industry.

The Fiera Milano’s 16 halls were bursting with new launches and prototypes, with many following a digital or electronic theme. Manufacturers were vying to WiFi connect appliances to enable remote control and monitoring – useful for servicing firms to be able to diagnose or even anticipate faults from afar. The big debate on this however is whether to open up the data to enable a fully connected kitchen.

While getting appliances to talk to each other, as well as to dealers, end users and service companies, would benefit all of these parties, understandably, many manufacturers do not want to open up their machines to wider scrutiny. So the industry may be left in a position where many apps have to be downloaded and monitored to view all appliance data for a single site.

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Automation and hands-free appliance operation was very much on the menu at the show too, with foot sensor-opened refrigerator doors, auto-closing hood type warewashers, auto-food waste management systems and ice cream capsule dispensor technologies all being demonstrated for the first time.

One innovation the Catering Insight team particularly loved was the Ripples coffee printer, which can print any image or text using coffee extract to top any frothy hot drink, especially as we had our faces and logo printed on coffees at the stand! A full write-up of the Host show will be available in our December issue.

Another new development making use of digital technology involved the recent announcement that Blanco has become the first major catering equipment manufacturer to sell through Amazon Business.

With Amazon launching the service earlier this year, following considerable success in the US and German markets, it was only a matter of time before catering equipment manufacturers queued up to get involved.

And as Amazon’s market clout is so huge, who can blame Blanco for getting ahead of the curve? The Amazon business model is very similar to Nisbets, and the kitchen design house-type distributors are still thriving despite that competition, so I would say there is room for many different supply models in this industry.

The last new point for now is the race to be the latest winners of the Catering Insight Awards. In our November issue we revealed the shortlist, as nominated by you, with all these worthy entrants set to find out if they’ve won at the gala ceremony on 23 November in 8 Northumberland Avenue, London.

With dealers voting on supplier categories and suppliers choosing distributor victors, you can be assured the cream rises to the top. We hope to see you at what promises to be another celebratory and fun night!

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