LANDSBERG AM LECH, GERMANY — A contingent of 150 North American chefs and operators travelled to Germany recently as part of a series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of RATIONAL. The company hosted eight international partner events between September 26 and October 17 at its headquarters in Landsberg am Lech, bringing together around 800 dealers and service partners from all over the world. During the event, the RATIONAL team unveiled new integrated cleaning and digital solutions, as well as a completely new category of cooking systems.
“RATIONAL is a company with innovation at its core,” said Simon Lohse, executive-vice president, North America at RATIONAL as he welcomed guests to the first day of the event. “We offer people working in commercial kitchens the most beneficial solution for their needs —customer benefit remains our guiding star, our DNA, our product remains strongly focused and our solutions are multifunctional and intelligent.”
He said the company sees great potential for growth as seen in market penetration of its technology, adding combis currently have 25 per cent market penetration globally “so 75 per cent of the market is untapped. That’s huge potential for growth worldwide.”
The first highlight of the North-American partner event was the presentation of the iCareSystem AutoDose — an integrated solid-cleaner system as an option for the iCombi Pro tabletop units. Cleaner and care products are securely stored in the cooking system in solid form, enabling autonomous cleaning, either at the push of a button or according to a schedule.
According to Theodor Tumbrink, vice-president, Product Management at RATIONAL “iCareSystem AutoDose increases work safety, saves time and ensures HACCP hygiene safety. Unlike many other solutions, there is no need for hoses or canisters outside the cooking system.”
Digitalization was another popular discussion on day-1 of the event, as the team announced RATIONAL’s first-to-market automatic interface between ERP systems and the iCombi and iVario cooking systems. Cooking programs stored in the system in advance are sent to all networked iCombi and iVario units within seconds and across all locations via the ConnectedCooking digital kitchen management system, saving time and ensuring uniform standards. Meanwhile, sustainable resource management based on automatic data analysis helps to use the cooking systems more efficiently, extend their service life and save energy and costs.
“This is not just a vision for the future,” said Lohse. “The future is here, now. We showed you how commercial kitchens can digitize and automate processes to make best use of resources, achieve savings in operating costs, improve work safety and revolutionize technical service delivery.”
Service partners also benefit from AI-based data analyses and forecasts. Faults are detected more quickly; unforeseen system failures are avoided, and service calls are easier to plan. If necessary, this can also be done remotely. “With these offers, our many years of digital expertise and our modern cooking systems merge to create real added value for our customers and partners,” said Chief Sales and Marketing officer Markus Paschmann.
Caring for the Future
Following lunch, Robert Munday, executive vice-president of Marketing at RATIONAL unveiled how the company is living up to its responsibility for the future with an open and honest sustainability strategy.
“For us, sustainability, it’s not a question of personal belief, it is a question of future business,” said Munday. “Or to put it slightly differently, sustainability is the foundation of future business.”
He announced that RATIONAL has launched, internally for now, its new sustainability strategy. “We’ve developed our vision, we’ve developed the areas that we wish to focus on, such as products and people and partners and the infrastructure that surrounds us. And we’ve set goals — not yet targets, but goals — that we want to achieve, whether it’s in the environmental space, or the community space for people.”
To wrap up the day, RATIONAL gave its gathered partners a glimpse of its new appliance category, one which guarantees the shortest cooking times with the highest food quality thanks to intelligent and adaptive control of microwave technology.
“Our development team has succeeded in combining the three technologies of steam, hot air and microwave in such an intelligent and adaptive way that this extra power — for the first time on the market — can be used across all rack levels in a 6-1/1 cooking system,” said Paschmann, adding the result is an “absolute specialist developed with a clear focus and as a supplement to the existing product range and geared to the special requirements of selected businesses.
According to RATIONAL, a gradual introduction — which includes the Canadian market — is planned in spring 2024, with further information on technical details to follow in time for the launch.