Middleby company Powerhouse Dynamics has released ConnectWare, claimed to be a universal solution for connecting kitchen equipment.
ConnectWare is a field-installable communications module that enables kitchen equipment to connect to the cloud without the need to install radio units in the equipment itself.
For manufacturers, this is designed to simplify the challenge of getting equipment connected, which should result in a more rapid rollout of connected equipment.
Until now, each original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has developed its own connectivity approach – which has generally involved selecting and embedding a wireless radio module or providing wired Ethernet connectivity on all units, regardless of whether customers chose to utilise those technologies.
Powerhouse Dynamics already provides Open Kitchen, an IoT-based platform for foodservice and retail operators.
The company’s president Martin Flusberg said: “With ConnectWare, OEMs are provided a consistent, simplified approach to connectivity that takes the burden of development and support off their plates and shifts it onto ours.
“Operators looking to connect ConnectWare-enabled equipment can now purchase ConnectWare modules and simply plug them directly into the equipment at their locations. That equipment can then automatically connect to the Open Kitchen platform, providing a total solution for the customer, or be redirected to a different cloud destination if so desired.”
ConnectWare is a plug-and-play solution that has been designed to support multiple communications protocols. This should enable customers to swap in newer ConnectWare modules as new technologies or security requirements are introduced.
The software initially supports two protocols: Wi-Fi and 802.15.4 (the Zigbee protocol utilises a MiWi radio from Microchip Technology), with more options in the pipeline including Ethernet.
The system’s Wi-Fi module was developed by Powerhouse Dynamics in conjunction with Avnet and Microsoft using the Microsoft Azure Sphere chipset.
Flusberg added: “We are very excited to be collaborating with Microsoft on ConnectWare. Microsoft Azure Sphere provides an extremely secure connectivity path that will make it much easier for our customers to achieve widespread IoT adoption.”
Dr. Galen Hunt, MD of Microsoft Azure Sphere, added: “It has been valuable to partner with Middleby, a major kitchen equipment manufacturer, who understands the benefits of securely connecting equipment to the cloud using Microsoft technology.”
Equipment connecting to Open Kitchen has the security option of being part of a PCI Level 1 certified platform. Powerhouse Dynamics also offers a network device, the Secure Access Point (SAP), that can connect equipment without each piece of equipment needing to connect directly to the local network. The SAP manages all client security certificates and automates the provisioning process, saving time and effort.