Our groundbreaking new warewashing solution reflects smart innovation across the board — from chemistry to digital to manufacturing.
When your business is to help wash 150 billion dirty plates each year, there are plenty of opportunities to learn how to clean them better. But to find them, you have to look.
SMARTPOWER™’s innovative chemistry ensures
that even the toughest food soils, like oils,
proteins and starches, are eliminated.
“You can’t create new products to clean dishes unless you first find out what’s on them,” said Julie Marquardt, vice president, Research, Development & Engineering (RD&E), Institutional.
So as Ecolab set out nearly four years ago to develop the next breakthrough in warewashing, 20 of our technical experts visited nearly 300 restaurants in 21 countries to identify the most vexing challenges in today’s commercial kitchens.
What they learned provided a guiding star for a journey that led to the launch of the SMARTPOWER™ warewashing program. Combining innovative new chemistry, advanced cloud computing and Ecolab’s legendary service, the SMARTPOWER™ program is already making a lasting impact on restaurant water and energy savings, not to mention food safety and guest satisfaction.
Two patterns emerged from the restaurant survey: An increase in hard-to-remove protein residues on plates — and a decrease in the amount of water restaurants use to wash their wares. Global trends of higher protein consumption and increased water scarcity had landed in restaurants, right on the plates.
“Our findings showed we needed a more sophisticated detergent that would get the dishes clean on the first pass through the dishmachine and avoid the need for rewash,” said Julie, who led the product development effort. Joining Julie was a team of scientists and engineers from our RD&E centers in North America, Europe, China and Asia Pacific. “Having a diverse team helped us look at the problem and potential solutions from many perspectives,” said Julie.
The team developed an array of innovative formulations, each with slightly different chemistries capable of addressing local food types and regulations, but all capable of removing soils with less water. Laboratory tests showed success. But how would the formulations perform in a working kitchen? “We asked our customers to judge,” said Julie.
A large casino in suburban Minneapolis, Minn., was one of more than 200 customers around the world to test the new program. Just a week into the trial, Institutional Territory Manager Ryan Sims was surprised at the difference he saw on dishes washed with SMARTPOWER™ detergent. “The shine and sparkle were back,” he said. “And the need to rewash went down drastically.” The customer was amazed too. Well before the trial ended, the food and beverage director requested SMARTPOWER™ for all the casino’s dishmachines.
Worldwide, the trial found positive results. Restaurants were able to put 75 percent more dishes back into service after just one pass through the dishmachine than with previous products.
Smartpower By the Numbers
The product development team knew that chemistry alone, no matter how effective, could not guarantee clean plates. Other factors — from dishmachine water temperature to someone forgetting to add detergent — can leave dishes, glasses and utensils dirty. The best defense, the team determined, would be to monitor each and every wash. With smart technologies integrated into the program, they could do just that — in near real time.
Ecolab’s earlier Apex™ warewashing program had been the first to incorporate digital technologies — sensors and a controller — to monitor dishmachine performance. While the Apex controller could alert kitchen staff to immediate issues, Ecolab field representatives, like Ryan, could only review machine performance data while they were at the restaurant. And what they could see was mostly historic. Issues could have been affecting cleaning for weeks — and they wouldn’t find out until their on-site visit.
So the SMARTPOWER™ program was designed to take the digital foundation set by Apex to the next level — to the cloud, where dishwasher performance data could be analyzed and delivered as actionable insights. Now Ryan can check on his customers’ machines anytime from anywhere. He can see what’s happening in near real time, and what occurred yesterday or two weeks ago. As a result, Ryan knows the issues that need his — or the restaurant manager’s — attention before he arrives onsite for his service call.
“I can log in and see, for example, in the steakhouse kitchen at 3 o’clock, the dishmachine finished with a low final rinse temperature. That suggests that someone forgot to turn on the booster heater, so there may be a need for more training. Knowing the issues before I arrive equips me to be a better resource and serve more as a consultant.”
For restaurant chains, SMARTPOWER™ provides insights into performance that simply were not available before. “Now for the first time, SMARTPOWER™ provides an easy way for corporate account managers to show corporate customers where their pain points are, how to improve their operations and how much energy and water SMARTPOWER™ is saving,” said Chris Schulz, marketing manager.
“Whether the insights from SMARTPOWER™ are for individual restaurants or chains, they’re always delivered to the customer by our people,” said Chris. “That way, our associates are the problem-solvers, the heroes. And our value is delivered by a smiling Ecolab face and a handshake.”
A Smarter Way
Bringing the SMARTPOWER™ warewashing program to market required three parallel, but closely connected, paths: One to develop the chemistries; another to drive the digital connections; and the third to develop a new manufacturing process to produce the chemistries in solid form — at high volume, high quality and low cost.
The manufacturing track fell largely to Ecolab’s Global Supply Chain — and its plant in Greensboro, N.C., the first site to produce the product.
The new process is more efficient, less wasteful and “allows our chemists and engineers to use raw materials they couldn’t use in our previous solids manufacturing process,” said Roger Stolte, director of Global Process Engineering. “And the use of those materials enables us to deliver a product that improves cleaning performance.”
The SMARTPOWER™ solids will be produced at three plants globally—Greensboro, N.C., Chalons, France and Noda, Japan using the new manufacturing process.