New technology drives Dining Services

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by Ryan LeCheminant

From social media and smart phones to the latest apps, BYU Dining Services is doing its part to incorporate the latest technology.

The Blue Line Deli’s self-checkout scanner is one of the newest additions to Dining Service’s plan to incorporate new food industry technology. The Blue Line Deli is located in the Tanner Building and the self-checkout scanner was launched during the 2011 Winter Semester.

Doug Patterson, restaurant manager of the MOA Café and Blue Line Deli, said he is excited to see the results of what the self-checkout can do for students in helping serve them more efficiently.

“We are still in a learning curve and originally observed very few students using the machine,” Patterson said. “But each day as we progressed and grew with the program we were up to 100 people plus per day using the scanner.”

Other new additions to BYU’s campus are  digital menu boards currently in use at the Helaman Halls Creamery and Scoreboard Grill. John Lepinski, technical marketing manager, said the digital menus are flash based, which allow for high quality graphics and animations. The menus automatically change from breakfast to lunch and dinner menus. The menus can be managed remotely and there are plans to add more around campus. The menus are displayed on 55-inch LCD screens. In addition, the digital menu located at the Helaman Halls Creamery displays a secret menu at 10 p.m.

Lepinski said the digital menu boards have allowed for greater efficiency with menus.

“The digital menu boards help save real estate in the store and also gives a better presentation of our menus,” Lepinski said.

Hans Douma, director of campus support systems, said one technology component that allows BYU to facilitate much of its inventory is a food management system called Eatec.

“One of the challenges in the past that dining services has had is how do you know you are charging the right amount for an item without losing money on that item in a market where prices are always changing,” Douma said. “With Eatec this is all done real-time. As items are purchased prices are updated automatically, inventory cost information ties into the menu, the recipe  is recalculated, as well as the amount it will cost to make that recipe.”

Text and Tell, another recent addition, started around the same time as the self-checkout scanner.

Leone Douma, senior manager of MTC Dining and Cannon Commons, said Text and Tell uses screens that display student’s comments regarding the latest meal. Students can voice their comments immediately by texting their comments to a specified number that in turn will display on the screens. The feedback is given in response to three questions and a rating scale.

“This allows for immediate changes to be made,” Leone Douma said. “For  example, the other day a particular menu item was too salty and because of this system immediate changes were able to made. It is a real time solution.”

Leone Douma said technology has allowed BYU to serve its students better and more efficiently.

“We need to be on top of technology,” she said.  “We are striving to keep up with the technology that excites our customers and by using what excites our customers we hope for them to come join and eat with us.”

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