Is the foodservice equipment sector ready for the new industrial revolution?

The FEA is preparing for changes brought on by the government’s digital strategy

Embracing digital technology has the potential to be as transformative to UK manufacturers as the industrial revolution. Following the launch of the UK government’s digital strategy, the Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is aiming to support its members as they adopt these emerging technologies.

The digital strategy is a set of broad initiatives aimed at developing new tech industries including building broadband infrastructure, improving education and training in digital skills, aiding the financing of the UK’s tech ecosystem as well as promoting the adoption of new technologies to enhance productivity.

“Many of these new technologies are already quite familiar, in particular the addition of online connectivity to commercial foodservice equipment,” says Andy Threlfall, policy and technical director of the FEA. “But it’s clear that these are just the first steps of a journey that will have profound effects on the way all businesses operate in the future.”

The rollout of 5G broadband is a vital part of this strategy. It will make the adoption of advanced digital technology by industries and business sectors far easier, as it will allow them to manage the large amounts of data required for systems like cloud computing, AI and machine learning.

“This next generation of digital technology will have an enormous effect both on the foodservice equipment industry and the foodservice industry as a whole,” says Andy.  “Access to and analysis of data created by many different sectors will help to create new avenues for efficiency and increase productivity.” 

As well as this the digital strategy will have many advantages for businesses looking to meet carbon net zero targets, which is likely to be a major driver for the uptake of these systems over the next decade.

“The foodservice equipment industry has shown that it isn’t afraid of embracing the potential for new technologies, and if it proceeds as expected the government’s digital strategy will have widespread ramifications for the sector,” says Andy. “The FEA aims to continue to facilitate the conversations the industry needs to have in order for it to be ready to meet the challenges of implementing new technology and changing legislation.”

The FEA is looking into developing training programs and running seminars aimed at helping members exploit the potential of the digital strategy.  The Association will also continue to work with the government and EFCEM (the European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers), as well as other partner organisations in Europe and around the world, to ensure the industry remains a central part of the conversation going forward.