ITW Food Equipment Group is ready to assist customers with equipment solutions or product services with 55 sales, service and manufacturing locations in 23 countries and 9,000 employees. The $2.2 billion group is the largest commercial food equipment company in the world comprised of strong brands with great legacies to be a total kitchen solutions provider.
ITW has become one of the world’s leading diversified manufacturers since its founding more than 100 years ago. To capitalize on its worldwide presence, ITW’s Food Equipment Group implemented a global platform approach with local customization for its products to capitalize on best practices and better serve its customers.
“To better serve our customers and key end markets, we have recently organized our businesses around four global platforms,” Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Global Accounts Mihyar Mohamed says. “This structure enables us to more effectively leverage our global resources to address key customer needs. We share insights, technology, research and development, and operational best practices across the globe to come up with optimal solutions that can be customized for specific local needs.”
ITW Food Equipment Group is already seeing results from its global platform approach. The recently launched Global Flight Type commercial dishwasher is a great illustration of this concept in action. The North American and European dishwashing groups undertook a collaborative, hand-in-hand approach to developing their next generation platform. The teams took advantage of the newly constructed Global Ware Wash innovation center, a 7,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art technology and development facility in Germany to support the effort. “Our group in Germany and our American team in Ohio worked closely along every step of the process to take advantage of the best technologies and features of each respective design, and developed a common platform that was then customized to local needs,” Mohamed explains. “It’s best practice sharing across geographies.”
ITW Food Equipment Group’s global platforms enable its divisions worldwide to become more efficient because design does not have to start from scratch. “Instead of everyone trying to come up with their own best idea, we can quickly take the best practices of all divisions and come up with an optimal solution,” Mohamed adds. “This approach brings multiple diverse perspectives into one room, working together toward one common goal. That always leads to better problem-solving.”
As the world continues to evolve and global customers have become the norm, ITW Food Equipment Group believes its global platform approach will mirror those of its customers. “With our global perspective, we can be a partner to our customers by providing consistent product offerings with a global level of service,” Mohamed notes. “Because of our global reach and platform structure, we are best positioned to partner with global foodservice and food retail customers.”
Product development at the ITW Food Equipment Group starts with the customer. “We take an integrated customer-centric relationship approach to finding solutions for our customers,” Group President of the Global Retail Platform Mary Beth Siddons says. “The basis for all our product development is customer need.”
Customer-back innovation is a fundamental philosophy at ITW and is tied to its 80/20 business process. “The efficiencies gained from 80/20 deliver best-in-class operating margins, strong free operating cash flow and differentiated returns on invested capital,” ITW explains. “ITW’s commitment to 80/20 is stronger than ever, and the company continues to make the investments necessary to ensure that 80/20 remains a key driver of its competitive advantage now and in the future.”
ITW Food Equipment Group’s customer-back innovation process involves working closely with its customers, observing how they work and understanding how its product can and will be used in their operation. “Based on all that research and working with customers through the development process, we can offer solutions that are focused and targeted,” Mohamed says. “Customer-back innovation is not about doing cutting-edge innovation for its own sake, but identifying specific customer pain points and developing solutions to address them.”
A few of ITW Food Equipment Group’s latest products include the Vulcan combination oven that allows cafeteria personnel to turn three easy-to-use knobs and begin baking. Vulcan’s VK Fryer offers customers increased frying capacity and throughput while also saving energy. The company is developing sustainable products, such as the fryer, which helps its customers save on energy and water consumption. “It can be a huge payback if you are replacing an older model,” Mohamed notes.
ITW promotes a culture of innovation and many of its employees have at least one invention to their credit. “We make large investments in research, development and engineering,” Siddons says. “We focus on improving our level of service, quality metrics, overall manufacturing efficiencies and productivity year after year. We stretch ourselves further and further and are always looking for ways to improve.”
ITW Food Equipment Group’s customers expect the brands to produce reliable, long-lasting products. Quality is built into its manufacturing process with each facility driven by metrics, Siddons says. “Our brands demand a high level of quality and reliability,” she adds. “We build quality into our manufacturing process and build tight relationships with key suppliers who are business partners in the design, development and quality of our products.”
Brukar Inc., an offshore contract manufacturer of stainless steel precision castings, machining, welding and assemblies for North America, is one of ITW Food Equipment Group’s strategic suppliers. “The relationship is not a vendor relationship; it’s a partnership,” Siddons says. “We work together on design components and quality manufacturing solutions. That’s the relationship we want to have with our strategic suppliers.”
ITW Food Equipment Group is the only food equipment manufacturer that operates its own service organization of 2,000 technicians worldwide, Mohamed says. ITW Food Equipment Group also partners with third-party organizations to provide service support. “We have dedicated technicians that are tightly linked with our equipment and understand it better than anyone else,” he adds. “We offer a unique combination of service that no one else has.”
ITW Food Equipment Group offers complete solutions with a deep product portfolio and is able to serve the needs of the kitchen from consultation through installation.
Moving forward, ITW Food Equipment Group plans to continue making investments to be a valued partner to its customers around the globe by providing them with innovative customer-back solutions and second-to-none service offerings. “Our intent is to continue on the path we have been on, [and] invest in our people, infrastructure, service solutions and product development so we can continue to maintain our position as a valued partner to key customers,” Siddons says.