Middleby Corp’s internet-enabled kitchen division Powerhouse Dynamics has developed a “universal solution” that it claims will make it drastically easier for restaurants to connect their equipment.
The ConnectWare field installable communications module enables kitchen equipment to connect to the cloud without the need to install radio units in the equipment itself.
For manufacturers, this greatly simplifies the challenge of getting equipment connected, which should result in a more rapid roll-out of connected equipment, according to the firm.
Restaurant brands worldwide are accelerating the pace of getting their kitchen equipment connected to the internet.
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 utilize those technologies.
“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,” explained Martin Flusberg, Powerhouse Dynamics’ president.
“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 re-directed to a different cloud destination if so desired.”
ConnectWare is a versatile plug-and-play solution that has been designed to support multiple communications protocols.
This provides future-proofing by enabling customers to simply swap in newer ConnectWare modules as new technologies or security requirements are introduced.
ConnectWare initially supports two protocols: Wi-Fi and 802.15.4 (the Zigbee protocol utilizing a MiWi radio from Microchip Technology), with more options in the pipeline including ethernet.
The ConnectWare’s Wi-Fi module was developed by Powerhouse Dynamics in conjunction with Avnet and Microsoft using the highly secure Microsoft Azure Sphere chipset.
Equipment connecting to Open Kitchen has the optional security benefit 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.