Keeping Food Fresh

By James Allard | September 01, 2007

Based on the concept of kaiten sushi, Blue C Sushi was created to bring its customers a unique sushi experience. At the restaurant, customers are presented with an array of sushi and Japanese-inspired cuisine, circulated throughout the restaurant on a conveyor belt.

Monitoring the quality of the products, which include raw seafood, is imperative for the restaurant's success. In the past, Blue C Sushi relied on a bar code system that allowed staff to monitor how long a particular plate was on the belt to ensure freshness and quality for patrons and meet health regulations. However, the only function the bar code system actually served was to alert the staff when a plate had been on the belt beyond the maximum amount of time an item could spend rotating.

RFID for the fish
To acquire the actionable data needed to serve customers in the most effective way, Blue C Sushi selected Intermec (www.intermec.com) , Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) and Kikata (www.kikata.com) ¬ a local technology integrator ¬ to implement a total RFID solution. The solution consists of Intermec RFID readers, tags and antennas, Microsoft's BizTalk RFID device management and event processing platform, and Kikata's Ebisu Live Inventory Management software.

The new technology enables Blue C Sushi to track food as it moves from the kitchen to the customer and provides a better understanding of inventory levels and customer behavior. The data allows chefs to be better informed as to what is on the conveyor belt, what items need to be made, what the most popular dishes are and how to optimize inventory in a resourceful manner.

Results
Blue C Sushi has significantly improved its customer service as well through the RFID tracking system. The increased accuracy of the Intermec RFID technology minimizes the likelihood of errors in bill totals. At the end of the night, the improved accuracy ensures a balanced ratio between customer charges and the purchased food, which reduces the chance of undercharging customers and losing profits, and overcharging customers and hurting the brand.

In addition, employees often comment on the cleanliness and ease-of-use that the new solution provides. The staff is able to keep track of food items that are selected from the belt in real-time, enabling them to improve quality control and provide customers with the dishes they crave. The waste at the end of the night has also decreased, indicating an overall return on investment.

Blue C Sushi intends to use the data it collects to inform future business decisions and buying patterns, and ultimately provide customers with an enhanced dining experience.

Written by James Allard, co-owner of Blue C Sushi, an upscale sushi bar with two locations in Seattle, Washington.

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