You’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s a bit of hocus pocus involved in the creation of Induced Energy’s induction hobs.
Particularly for its latest launch, the Invisible Cooking Station bespoke counter, it almost doesn’t look possible that cooking can take place on a seemingly blank piece of lava stone.
But according to the manufacturer’s sales director, Nic Banner, it’s all down to the Brackley-based business’ technical wizardry. “Everything we do is made by hand. This is because quality matters to us so much,” he said.
Not only are all the hob components handmade, the software is all written in-house too. “That’s the beauty of our products, people could try and copy the parts but they can’t touch our software because it is so well protected,” detailed Banner.
The secret of the Invisible Cooking Station’s operation, where the hob’s position can only be seen when the pan sensor is engaged, is that a focused coil allows the heat to punch through the lava stone. The underside of the countertop is routed out to 15mm thickness above the coils, from 30mm across the rest of the stone.
The induction technology is based on the firm’s standard units, which include table-top and drop-in single, double and quad hobs. Induced Energy also offers an Iplate keep hot unit and accessories comprising stock pot trolleys, ventilation hoods and bespoke tabling.
The company was founded in 1992 by the late Colin Sanders, with Banner explaining: “We are the only manufacturer of commercial induction hobs in Britain. This makes a massive difference, because we offer our own back-up and support.”
The four on-site engineers who construct the hobs in Induced Energy’s onsite workshop travel round the country to cover all the warranty work, as all of the firm’s new appliances are supplied with a 2 year parts and labour warranty.
However, to ensure that the units are properly installed in the first instance, the manufacturer will be launching engineering training days for dealers, fabricators and service companies. The first sessions are scheduled for around October, with four to six engineers invited at a time to the demonstration kitchen at Induced Energy’s premises.
“We want to prevent any conflict between our sales team and dealers’ sales teams and engineers, otherwise the end user will suffer,” said Banner. “We can point out to engineers the advantages of how we install our hobs, as well as any potential pitfalls.” [[page-break]]
In the year since Banner joined the company from distributor, Cookco, he has set about transforming its strategy. “I have helped to make it more proactive rather than reactive,” he said. “I go out and meet end users at exhibitions and industry events to see how we can help them and introduce them to dealers.”
This is another step change for a company which has historically sold direct to end users. Banner was keen to emphasise that while there are still a handful of inherited direct clients such as the Ministry of Defence and the National Trust, all business is now done through dealers. “I pass on leads to distributors, and while nothing is guaranteed with the end users, if we’ve got the dealers’ backs then they should hopefully back us.”
The proactive tactics have paid dividends this year, as thanks to Induced Energy exhibiting at Gulfood, Dubai, (where it officially launched the Invisible Cooking Station) the firm has received a lot of Middle Eastern enquiries.
“Towards the end of last year and until this March we had a massive boost in business,” reported Banner. “It did drop off a little over the Easter period, but the enquiries are now coming back and are probably double what we had during our busiest period last year.”
Looking forward, the company is going to focus on the education and offshore accommodation sectors. “Our products lend themselves so well to offshore, given the health and safety aspects of induction technology. Plus the sector is willing to invest in premium products,” Banner commented.
He also wants to educate schools as to the benefits of induction cooking. “Many schools are reverting to using gas in kitchens, but they don’t know how much they are spending on this – they have to install extractors. The more powerful the extractor, the more they are going to pay out on gas.”
Banner believes that while the initial outlay for induction systems can be higher than gas or electric, the energy costs saved during operation could be significant. For instance, a feasibility study undertaken for the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh indicated that the payback period in comparison to gas cooking would be just over 9 months.
For Induced Energy the next few months will see three more product launches. “We need to promote our recent and new products more heavily; we want to introduce them to all our dealers,” said Banner.
He concluded: “It’s going to take time to educate our dealers on the benefits of induction and that Induced Energy does not sell to end users.”