· 7 min read
EyeSucceed Provides Wendy’s AI Technology for Food Safety and Supplier Oversight
Wendy’s is an international fast food restaurant chain founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. Wendy’s is best known for its made-to-order square hamburgers, using fresh, never frozen beef, freshly-prepared salads and other signature items like chili, baked potatoes and the Frosty® dessert. The Wendy’s Company is committed to doing the right thing and making a positive difference in the lives of others.
The Wendy’s QA Department was looking for a way to evaluate augmented intelligence (AI) solutions that are specific to the food industry and that could enable a flexible and efficient approach to food safety and supplier oversight. Enter EyeSucceed smartglass solutions.
Wendy’s was interested in determining how AI technology and remote auditing and training solutions could be useful in its corporate and franchise locations, and in its relationships with suppliers. The Wendy’s team didn’t want to only use off-the-shelf technology, but wanted an AI solution specifically tailored for the food industry that could fit the specific company’s needs and wants in the different segments of their supply chain. That’s why the team wanted to pilot the technology in several progressive phases before investing in a solution.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, restricting travel and face-to-face interactions. This affected several routine processes with suppliers, which normally took place in person:
- Product cuttings: Wendy’s corporate site receives supplier product and cooks it, according to company standards, while sharing information with the experts in real time about the process.
- Product evaluations and approvals: Wendy’s QA team evaluates a supplier product for specification compliance, checking for shape, size, color and texture.
- Supplier walkthrough: Wendy’s staff travels to a supplier site to conduct an in-person audit.
- Supplier compliance: Wendy’s staff travels to supplier sites to provide complaint analysis and follow-ups.
EyeSucceed, an NSF International company, is a Glass Enterprise Solution Provider1 and the food industry’s smartglass expert, working with clients in foodservice, retail and the supply chain. EyeSucceed can be used for livestreaming, employee training, and augmented intelligence to detect and record deviations and suggest next steps.
To gather information on all possible areas that EyeSucceed could impact, and to what level, Wendy’s QA Department led the effort to conduct the pilot in three phases. “We structured it so our findings at each phase could be used by different QA teams and different internal departments as a jump-off point without having to reinvent the wheel each time,” says Jorge Hernandez, Quality Assurance VP at The Wendy’s Company. “This approach has been efficient. We were able to find value in the way we monitor our suppliers, approve distribution centers, and in how we improve the safety and quality of our products.”
In the first phase of livestreaming, the EyeSucceed team sent Glass Enterprise Edition 2 to Wendy’s Product QA and R&D teams at its corporate headquarters, as well as to several suppliers and distribution centers. This allowed the Product and Distribution QA teams to approve some products and conduct the oversight tasks remotely:
- Product cuttings and product evaluations were performed remotely from headquarters, livestreaming the experts into the call so they could observe and answer questions.
- Supplier walkthroughs and complaint investigations took place as live audits using the EyeSucceed smartglass technology at the supplier sites to transmit information in real time to the QA team at Wendy’s HQ.
EyeSucceed was a valuable tool that helped the Wendy’s team respond to changing food safety climates. Hernandez says, “When your job is to protect your brand across the globe, learning fast and being flexible are at the top of your toolbox. EyeSucceed provides us an additional tool that made our approach more flexible, and our work more efficient and effective. The glasses increased our ability to share product evaluations, complaints and product performance with different suppliers, including facility suppliers, as well as the ability to audit and approve distributors remotely. This, in turn, increases our speed to respond to potential food safety and quality problems while maintaining our quality and safety expectations.”
In the phase I pilot, Wendy’s experienced:
- Reduced costs: Travel time and expenses were reduced compared to in-person supplier visits at the corporate office and Wendy’s QA team visits to supplier sites.
- Greater efficiency: Multiple suppliers can be visited virtually in less time, allowing the QA team to follow up more regularly on quality expectations and processes.
- Added connectivity: The technology enables new ways to connect with suppliers without having to rely on in-person visits.
- Deeper connections: Without travel, the technology allowed increasing awareness of Wendy’s quality standards and compliance with additional staff at the suppliers’ locations, even in multiple locations.
- Positive feedback: Wendy’s staff and suppliers who used the technology gave great feedback on how easy to use and helpful it was.
The pilot is now in the second phase, which involves validating the same information as in the first phase, but across international geographies. The third phase will focus on restaurant food safety operations and is set to take place in the spring. “However,” Hernandez adds, “The first phase of the pilot yielded such strong results that our restaurant training department is now testing the technology.”
“NSF International is a well-known, long-established and well-respected organization in public health and food safety. Working with its EyeSucceed team was easy,” Hernandez says. “The Glass Enterprise device with EyeSucceed software is one more tool that can help us improve in several areas, from food safety and quality to regulatory compliance and training, and from employee safety to operations performance.”
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