Bizerba (Germany) - The checkout and scale system "K-flex" is used in over 300 branches of NORDSEE. In 2010, the restaurant chain decided on the Bizerba solution which has set new standards in terms of flexibility and design, future proofing and investment protection. The structure is completely modular, and for the first time, hard and software from further providers can be connected to the open system solution.
In the evaluation phase, the software was crucial, as we had reached the limits of the current system, remembers Thomas Blaufuß, head of the IT department at NORDSEE: "We were looking for a new checkout system, with software that included modern, gastronomical components. For waiters for example, it should be possible to send orders to the kitchen by radio communication, using a hand-held device". At the same time, the branches should be able to weigh at the counters, and keep components such as printers and cash drawers separate from each other, where the space allows for this. "Our wish was complete modularity, and complete openness. Because, we wanted to be able to connect hard and software from further manufacturers in future. During our meetings with several technology manufacturers, we noticed that such a solution with a weighing function did not exist in the sector to date, and would have to be developed first."
For Bizerba, the concept that NORDSEE wanted also meant some development work, explains Rainer Maase, Head of Retail Germany at Bizerba: "At the time, we promised NORDSEE that we would develop a perfect solution within a year. The company trusted us, and so we started on our development work." As a software partner, Bizerba chose Procom from Darmstadt, who would take on the checkout software. "We were sure, that the cooperation with Procom, as specialists for gastronomy and IT integration, would be the most sustainable solution. NORDSEE also wanted a smaller systems company, where they would be given priority, so that any adjustments could be carried out quickly. With the large IT players, the realisation period would probably have been significantly longer."
The software iPos encompasses more than 50 features for gastronomy. Apart from table and bill management, communication with the kitchen is also automated: If the waiter takes the order with his hand-held device, then the system forwards this to the kitchen using radio communication. In the course of the year, the software finally learnt how to weigh.
The time of black box applications on scale and checkout systems is coming to an end, says Maase confidently: "It is uneconomical to also have to change scales and checkouts, when you actually only want to change the software. And vice versa, it is annoying when you can no longer use the laboriously calibrated software, just because you have changed the checkout and scales. The possibility of varying software and hardware is a clear trend, because such open systems offer companies such as NORDSEE long term investment protection. In this way, the customer is independent, and has a choice on all levels." However, Thomas Blaufuß from NORDSEE says they wanted service from a single source: "Bizerba also helps us with questions regarding the Procom software. All scales and checkouts have the so called e-service, and so can be reached via internet, meaning that technicians can have fast remote access to the system and eliminate errors." For NORDSEE this service from a single source is particularly important, as in future, an increasing number of branches will also be open on Sundays.
K-flex from Bizerba is structured modularly: The central unit, scale, cash drawer and printer can be positioned in the counter area - wherever there is space. Operator and customer displays can be mounted on pivotable arms. Blaufuß: "Until now, we had the problem that our checkouts and scales were pretty bulky. Thanks to the modularity of K-flex, the technology now almost blends into the background. The employees can therefore make uninterrupted eye contact with the customers, and access the counter display without obstacles." Also in the case of spare parts management, the investment protection was an important critereon. "If a component no longer exists in 10 years time, then we won't need to change the whole scale, but we can use a component from another manufacturer instead." Even in the Back Office, NORDSEE is breaking new ground: with the help of an inventory management system, developed by NORDSEE you can manage sales articles and master data, create sales statistics, design screen layouts for 360° marketing, and finally control the devices in the branches.
At the start of the project in summer 2011, five checkouts and one scale were used at a NORDSEE branch in the Columbus Center in Bremerhaven. Now more than 1,100 K-flex devices are in use in around 340 restaurants. "The next step" Blaufuß concludes "will be to make this ground breaking checkout and scale system available to our franchisees all over Europe."
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