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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: January 25, 2005
No: 05-02

Wireless galley

NATICK, Mass. -- Even from a remote location, Navy food service supervisors will be able to continuously access and monitor kitchen functions with the Smart Galley Process Control System.

The Smart Galley, being developed by the Systems Equipment and Engineering Team at the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate, located at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here, will take food service management to a new level.

"The Navy is in the process of streamlining equipment functionality to reduce maintenance and save labor," said Ken Ryan, project officer. "With future ship designs carrying fewer sailors, it's especially important to increase efficiency."

The Smart Galley concept was first demonstrated last summer during the Combat Feeding Research and Engineering Board conference after retrofitting a sub-hatchable convection oven with an electronic controller from Food Automation-Service Techniques, Inc., and connecting it to an online management software system provided by Smart Commercial Kitchen.

A two-way telemetry wireless station was set up to communicate if the oven was on or off, if the door was open or closed, and set temperature vs. actual temperature. Although the demonstration focused solely on a temperature probe and on a single kitchen item, the capability is much more, according to Ryan.

"This system monitors, reports and alerts," he said. "You want to know that the oven is working, when it started cooking and the status. You can tell if the temperature is too low or high to ensure food safety and quality. If a problem develops, it can send a message."

Data can be transferred wirelessly or through a local area network, and presented in a way the user prefers, according to Rob DiLalla, a mechanical engineer.

"We want a simple software interface," DiLalla said. "But it is another whole effort to develop a graphical user interface that's easy to use with the Smart Galley."

The team is working with Foster-Miller Inc. on a Small Business Innovation Research effort to build a mock galley at the Combat Feeding Navy Lab next summer before demonstrating it on a Navy platform.

"Ultimately, we want to build off the initial concept demonstration and enhance the use, diagnostic alerts and process control capabilities," Ryan said. "We also want to add more sensors to measure more critical process control points and variables."

A combi-oven, convection oven and dishwasher will lead the way followed by other food service appliances such as the griddle, steam kettle, steam table, skittle, refrigerator and freezer to form a total Smart Galley.

The mock galley will include the ability to remotely respond to the information provided instead of just receiving it. One benefit is that it will save troubleshooting time and downtime because culinary specialists and supply officers can order necessary spare parts in advance to replace them, said DiLalla.

"There's not a lot of historical data on how equipment wears out," Ryan said. "This system could allow us to track it and anticipate equipment failures."

Other benefits could be recipe management and inventory control. Ryan said the appliances could be programmed for breakfast, lunch and dinner to save time preparing meals. Still, in case of a network or computer malfunction, manual controls will still be accessible.

The Smart Galley will be consistent with the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) data protocol. The association completed in 2003 the industry standard that allows independent pieces of food service equipment to communicate with a computer.

Ryan said the Smart Galley technology could transition to the other branches of the military for their food service operations.

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This page last updated on 23 January 2004.