Experts are calling the present phase of economic development, which includes almost all sectors, as the fourth industrial revolution. Digitalization, interconnection, and big data are their important characteristics. How relevant are these for industrial kitchens?
By Dieter Mailander
Revolutions cause fundamental and even long-lasting changes in a nation’s system of rule and its social order. Similarly, as is the case of industrial revolutions, a part of the people affected, profit from their upheavals. But many others among them suffer severely to some extent. Such a development affected those families in the middle of the 19th century, who earned their living with their mechanical weaving looms. Due to the introduction of the automatic weaving loom, this work was relocated to factories. The families frequently lost their work and therefore their income too; they had to fight to survive. This led to civil unrest and even often to violent uprisings. Let’s take a look back to the earlier industrial revolutions and then turn to the present and the future, namely to the digitalization and interconnection. Experts see in it the fourth industrial revolution.
Industrial Revolutions Reach the Professional Kitchens
Today, one designates the first industrial revolution at the end of the 18th century with industry 1.0, in which railroads, steam engines or textile mills emerged among other things. Due to these new sectors of industry the sales markets increased, new working places were created, others, as were described above, cease to exist. The second industrial revolution at the beginning of the 20th century was characterized by the mass production of commodities on electric run assembly lines. Being that the standardized working processes were unusually fast and monotonous, this put a strain on the people physically and psychologically. This causes deadening and alienation. Working models, which cushioned these effects evolved first decades later.
Cooking Requires Technical Understanding
The third industrial revolution emerged in the last third of the 20th century. Therefore, it is not too long ago and pushed automation forward strongly through electronics and IT in all business sectors, even in commercial kitchens, especially by programmable logic controllers. In 1976, Rational presented its first hot-air steamer. The devices have been upgraded successively with new programs. The amplitude of the today’s range of applications can’t be compared with those of the early stages. From a simple hot-air steamer with a few standard programs, it has become a versatile deployable multifunctional piece of equipment with a broad spectrum of standard programs and the additional possibility to program cooking processes individually. Its means of application require a differentiated knowledge, especially with those, who manage the production of food and test, which programs deliver the best results. Their employees are usually only accessing preset programs, which is possible without a problem after qualified instruction. The development of the convection oven is typical for all of the professional kitchen equipment. Dishwashing equipment and dishwashing systems or blast chillers/shock freezers have run through a comparable development and are digitalized and network-compatible as well. Specialists like the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, speak of the fourth industrial revolution, which encompasses all areas of our lives. Scientists, for instance, are working all around the world digitally integrated on products and processes. Manufacturers are unifying their standards and are therefore enabling an increasingly closer interconnection between people, machines, and systems with the effect that the efficiency of their working processes are climbing considerably. The equipment of private apartments, from window shutters, refrigerators up to heating systems can be controlled by way of a smart phone.
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