In February we attended the National Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers Show for the first time, and we’re glad we did. There was a tremendous amount of energy at the show, due in part to the rebounding economy, and in part to the fact that the show is held every other year. Sometimes, yearly shows can become almost a chore. But when a show is held every other year, excitement builds, and the entire affair is infused with that much more vibrancy.
Beyond the excitement, the show was filled with opportunity. Have you ever heard of a combi oven? It’s short for combination oven, and it’s an incredibly popular technology in Europe. A combi oven uses a combination of convection, thermo and steam to cook. These ovens are extremely high tech devices. You can program a recipe and let the oven do the rest, from preheating through cooling down when the food is done. We even saw a model with a barcode reader that allowed you to simply put your food in and scan a ready-made recipe.
Like Ohio is to rubber, so are Italy and Germany to combi ovens. That’s where the knowledge base and the foundation of the technology are located. But it was clear at the NAFEM Show that these companies are looking to introduce the technology to the North American market. And much like what happened with the auto industry, the time is fast approaching when manufacturers will bring their expertise across the sea and begin manufacturing the ovens here in order to save on freight. Don’t be surprised if this becomes an important part of the food equipment manufacturing industry in the next five to ten years.
Combi ovens weren’t the only things that caught our eye at the NAFEM show. We also took note of the magnetic inserted rubber gaskets utilized in both ovens and refrigerators. With a magnet inside the gasket that seals to the frame of the oven or fridge, the seal created is that much stronger. While not a new invention, it was new to us. And with a magnet supplier and manufacturing process of our own, we’re now hard at work on our first magnet inserted gasket RFQs.
If there was one thing that was clear at the NAFEM Show, it’s that there are good times ahead for food equipment manufacturers. And as for our final verdict on the show? Well, we can guarantee you that if you’re there in 2015, you’ll see UP&R.