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Greener Technology for the Food Industry

"Our customers are more than just customers to us – they are truly our partners. We work together to give them a final product that makes an impact in their business." – Dustin Shelburne, Sales Development Manager, Hobart

For over a century, improvements, especially automation, have revolutionized the modern food and hospitality industry. Today’s customers want more—especially greater sustainability and higher energy efficiency.

Tim Peters, Product Manager, and Dustin Shelburne, Sales Development Manager, work together to provide our customers with an energy-efficient conveyor-type commercial dishwasher that meets their needs. They have a strong passion for our products, the innovation process and for working at ITW. 

What is your role and how does it tie into innovation?

Tim: As the Product Manager for Hobart’s dishwasher group, I am involved in every step that goes into making our dishwashers, from start to finish. We are constantly evolving our dishwashers to meet the needs of our customers, so innovation is something I think about daily. Our innovations always begin with and are the result of research that includes end customers, channel partners or peers in the food industry. We cultivate close relationships with these different groups in order to best capture their ideas, feedback and insights into how we can differentiate our products in a meaningful way. I like to say that I always have my “eyes and ears open” and am looking for common themes that rise to the surface from each of these counterparts. Once our teams identify how we can differentiate our products, we continue to engage our customers and end users to ensure that our innovations addressed key pain points and provided solutions that impacted their operation in a meaningful way. 

Dustin: As the Sales Development Manager for Hobart’s dishwasher products, I focus on engaging with our customers and consultant community to ensure that our product developments are meeting the needs of our end users in the field. Our innovations are critically important to our customers since we offer a premium product. Part of providing a premium product is also providing specialized features for our customers, so innovation is key. I work to bridge the gap between our customers and internal teams, translate our customers' needs or desired customizations, and constantly improve our product designs and the innovations we bring to the industry.  

What is the latest innovation you’ve been working on?

Dustin: Our Advansys™ CLeN dishwasher is one of our latest and most exciting innovations, and it was driven directly by input from our customers. We saw over and over again from our customer interactions that saving energy, money and water, or total cost of ownership, were the key pain points our end users were experiencing. We focused on how to keep the wash water cleaner for more time during a wash cycle so that the machine requires less water, and consequently, less energy and money to operate. From this, our new Automatic Soil Removal technology, along with our Drain Water Energy Recovery (DWER) technology, results in significant total cost of ownership savings.

Tim: As you would expect with dishwashing, a lot of food soil enters the wash tank during the washing process, and you can only compensate so much with dish soap to try and keep the water clean before the wash water needs to be changed. Our Automatic Soil Removal technology actively and proactively pumps food soil out of the tank to help keep the wash water cleaner, longer, resulting in better wash performance and fewer wash water changes per day.  

The Drain Water Energy Recovery technology is the other innovation that helps to reduce energy costs for our customers. Dishwasher plumbing codes require that before you discharge water, it has to be at or under 140 degrees. To meet code, machines typically have to rely on tempering the water by adding cold water to the hot wash water as it drains from the machine. The process of tempering adds additional water costs to running a dishwasher. Our Advansys™ CLeN dishwasher’s DWER system significantly reduces the amount of the water needed for tempering and also reduces energy costs, saving thousands of dollars a year for our customers. Using heat exchanger technology, our Drain Water Energy Recovery innovation transfers heat from the exiting drain water and preheats the incoming fresh, cold water, resulting in a 20 percent or greater reduction of energy costs. The heat exchanger also cools the drain water before it exits the machine, reducing the water needed for tempering by up to 90 percent. 

I am very proud of both of these innovations. They are unmatched in the market and have received innovation awards from the National Food Equipment Manufacturers show and the National Restaurant Association. Our teams did a fantastic job of bringing to life two unique solutions that addressed key customer pain points, resulting in greater customer value and brand preference for our machines.  

Why is ITW’s Customer-Back Innovation (CBI) process a unique way to innovate?

Dustin: Our innovation process is unique because it allows us to customize our products for our customers. We work with many large national accounts and learn everything we can about them to ensure our products are the best fit for their needs. Our customers are more than just customers to us – they are truly our partners. We work together to give them a final product that makes an impact in their business. It is really a team effort.

Tim: What I like about ITW’s innovation process is that it is very disciplined. ITW essentially gives you all of the tools you need to innovate, and if you follow our CBI process, you will be successful with it. Our process makes you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand things from their perspective. I also agree with Dustin that because of the way we innovate, our customers treat us as partners. These close customer relationships offer objective and honest feedback so we can develop the most impactful innovations. 

Why are you proud to work for ITW?

Tim: I am proud to work for ITW because our products really are the leaders in the industry. I love being at the forefront of the market and getting to innovate the next generation of equipment for the food industry. I feel proud going to work every day to meet the expectations of being an industry leader, and taking on the challenges, as well as enjoying the successes that come with it. I am motivated every day to do my best and love being a part of the ITW family.

Dustin: Being on the sales side of the business, I am naturally competitive. Finishing second is not an option for me. I chose to work for ITW and Hobart because I wanted to work for the best company and products and with the best people. I feel proud to see how much ITW invests in its people too. The company has always been there for me and is constantly aiming to develop and grow its people to be the best they can be.

What’s the best advice you can give for making the most of your career?

Dustin: Working in the food equipment industry is a lot of fun. My best career advice is to always work hard but enjoy yourself too. I also always tell people to challenge themselves, ask questions and don’t just settle when you are working on something. Constantly push yourself to grow, develop and make an impact for your business.

Tim: My best career advice is to not be afraid of a challenge - embrace it. It will benefit both your personal and professional growth. You will be a part of the best teams at ITW, overcome challenges together, and ultimately become stronger professionally because of it.