Innovative Microwave Oven Automation for NHS Staff

R H Hall, microwave specialist and foodservice equipment supplier, approached us to explore whether barcode technology could provide accurate and consistent quality in microwave cooking.

The collaborative work between R H Hall and Telepen resulted in the development of a solution which became known as the iWave® system. Used in a myriad of controlled environments including NHS kitchens, the iWave® microwave system offers a fully automated foodservice solution, that supports the safety of cooked food through consistent and accurate heating.

A barcode reader is built into the microwave control panel, which results in a microwave-based, automated foodservice station that can operate accurately and safely 24 hours a day. This is particularly beneficial to users in the NHS, where maternity and oncology wards need to provide a high throughput of healthy, safely cooked meals, outside of normal hours.

Food provided in a specific facility, a hospital kitchen for example, has a barcode printed onto the product labelling by the food manufacturer, following thorough and controlled cooking tests, so that the product arrives on site complete with its cooking instructions automatically built in. The iWave® microwave reads the barcode and heats the food up to the correct temperature with no further user intervention, creating an easy and accurate cooking process.

Representing over 100 top brands, including exclusive rights to supply a number of leading brands, R H Hall have a 12-year working relationship with us. Nick Sanders, Business Development Manager of the R H Hall Exclusive Brands division commented, “We have only had good experiences with Telepen. We knew it would be potentially tricky for them to source some of the components that were needed during the COVID-19 lockdown, but they never let this impact their work and if it was an issue, they solved it behind the scenes.”

Heating food accurately, and safely, is a key requirement for all catering facilities managing fresh, frozen, and ambient food services. The key benefit of the iWave® system is to remove user error from the food heating process, ensuring delivery of safely cooked products, every time.

As there can sometimes be variations in food manufacturing that could affect the cooking time, as an additional precaution we added a temperature probe to the solution. This probes the temperature of the food electronically and feeds the information back to the microwave, which can provide an extra ‘boost’ to the cooking time for added safety.

The barcode system has a reporting function which can act as an additional safety measure, by analysing product turnover and cooking results. By recording whether probe ‘boosts’ were needed, for instance, it is possible to identify a microwave that may not be performing correctly.

Nick Sanders from R H Hall continued, “The system is great, there have been a few upgrades over time and Telepen have been fantastic. The demand for the microwaves increased during COVID-19, with orders quadrupling during the peak months of lockdown.”

Kevin Sontag, Sales Account Manager from Telepen added, “Helping our customers adapt to their individual business needs has been key to the success of our relationships. In the case of R H Hall, it was vital to ensure a smooth production run-off as the microwaves were destined for use by hospital keyworkers. As such, we ensured there was an additional workforce available to meet the production needs and accommodate limited component availability during COVID-19.”

Kevin Sontag extended his comments further by saying, “A key learning in this project has been the requirement to easily revise the product, in order to accommodate changes in microwave technology which is consistently evolving. We are pleased that we have been able to successfully manage that for R H Hall”.

When asked whether our development of the barcode technology had aided the growth of the R H Hall business, Business Development Manager Nick Sanders said, “Yes, we have had additional leads off the back of this work and have seen enquiries further afield. We look forward to challenging them now with additional ideas and opportunities, but I know Telepen will rise to the challenge!”

We have over 45 years of experience developing ID based technology, devising one of the first ever barcodes in 1972. Since then, we have gone on to develop unique barcode and RFID technologies, applied in everything from Track and Trace to Event Admittance and Hospitality.

Find out more about our innovative barcode ID solutions by visiting this page.

To talk to us about how Telepen can help provide an integrated solution for your business, call us on +44 (0)1582 769991 or email sales@telepen.co.uk