In part two of two, Catering Insight’s focus on newcomers to the foodservice equipment supply chain spotlights Ki-Tech Solutions.
Ki-Tech Solutions is the brainchild of Richard Fordham (MD of importer Cuisine-Europe and freelance national sales manager of Exclusive Ranges) and Andy Fulham, ex-partner of distributor Catering Projects Group. Fordham revealed: “I had been promoting the Sicotronic Energy Optimisation System for a couple of years, but with traction beginning to take hold and a number of projects coming to fruition, decided that it needed a bigger structure around it to service all aspects of the system and project management properly.
“Andy (now operations director) and I had been speaking for a while about a new venture and had identified that a horizontal data platform to encompass as many areas of connectivity under one agnostic dashboard was really what our industry needed, rather than several ‘vertical’ silos of information which, at the time was what was on offer, and we decided that the timing was right – little did we know!. We formed the company in September 2019 and went live on 1 January 2020.”
But just a few months later when lockdown took hold, Ki-Tech headed over to LinkedIn to engage with the industry. “Our thinking was that those working from home or furloughed would still be keeping an eye on the industry and what was going on,” detailed Fordham. “At the same time the website went live and we started a series of light-hearted but hopefully informative blogs. It’s paid off as we now have significant interest and activity with hotels chains, restaurant groups, supermarkets, boutique hotels, commercial office-based catering and building management.”
He added: “The hardest thing has been the lack of physical contact and the fact that projects we should have completed by now have been put on ice. Thankfully none of them have been cancelled and we have to accept that they might be delayed by a year.”
One piece of technology the company is promoting is something the industry has been crying out for, as Fordham explained: “We had been looking for a connectivity platform which was completely agnostic and independent for some time, but nothing we could find matched our requirement and roadmap of where we wanted to take the business. That was until we first saw the KoolZone platform and met with their team – we were completely blown away.
“It’s such a flexible, immediate Enterprise-quality solution, but is very intuitive, easy to use and install. We have access to over 140 different types of sensor, so if it can be measured, we will have a wireless way of doing so. There are a huge amount of apps and dashboards on offer from manufacturers and they all have their merits, but to get them to communicate with each other is incredibly difficult.
“From an operator’s aspect we can access and deliver the specific data from a number of different manufacturers and other sensors that are of use to their own operation in a way that is completely scalable, from a single site up to view of a full international estate. From the equipment manufacturers’ viewpoint, we don’t want to interrogate the data, we simply want to deliver it to those that need it.”
Ki-Tech’s other main promoted product is Sicotronic. Fordham explained: “It overcomes the common issue of insufficient electrical supply on new and refurbishment projects. The system works by using clever software to redistribute power to only where it is needed on a timed basis without adversely affecting the performance. The energy optimisation system from Sicotronic means, in simple terms, we can deliver a working kitchen with around 60% of the theoretical connected load.”
Going forward, the company will be looking at other areas its partner technologies can be utilised in, including retail. Fordham concluded: “One thing the past 6 months has taught us is that we need to be flexible and to embrace dynamic thinking to be able to change direction if we need to. No discussions are off the table, as we feel that the solutions we have can be of benefit to just about any type of operation.”