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Automation and reporting at McDonald's: all techniques controlled from one platform.

McDonald's, who doesn't know their hamburgers which taste equally delicious all over the world? But did you know that in order to achieve the quality, production security and sustainability that McDonald's strives for, they put a lot of effort into automation? Everything from electricity, to HVAC and even water management can be controlled from one touch screen and monitored via a unique cloud application, courtesy of Luc De Jonge nv and ATS nv.

End customer:McDonald's
Location:Several McDonald's restaurants in Belgium
Implementation:2017 - present

Luc De Jonge nv, since 2017 a subsidiary of ATS Group, has been a permanent partner of McDonald's Belgium since the 1990s for all electrical works in their restaurants. The biggest challenge with these projects is not the complexity, but the timing. On average, there are 10 to 12 weeks between the construction of the restaurant and the opening of a new hamburger restaurant. Then it is important that all the contractors involved form a well-oiled chain. That is why partnerships are very important.

Scope of the project: Automation for efficiency gains

In order to ensure comfort at all times, automation is increasingly being used to relieve the franchisees. The restaurants and the techniques used are becoming more and more complex, while it should be easier for the franchisees. That is why we evolved towards a central control and management system. It is a lot more efficient to work if all techniques are implemented in a uniform way.

"By working in a controlled way, the peak power is reduced from 160 kW to a maximum of 120 kW. It is difficult to compare the old and new situations: the kitchens have become bigger, the menus more extensive, innovations such as LED and free cooling have been introduced... But thanks to this innovation, we have been able to take a 20 to 30% leap in efficiency." Jan Snauwaert, Equipment & Technical Service Manager McDonald's Belgium.

Due to the long-standing partnership that Luc De Jonge nv already had with McDonald's, the team from ATS Group had the opportunity to further optimise the automation. After all, in 2017 the PLC technology was due for replacement. At that time, the technology of WAGO was chosen.

"By choosing WAGO, we could offer McDonald's additional integration possibilities. Because the software had to be rewritten for the most part, this was the perfect moment to think along with the customer: what does McDonald's really need today and where does he want to go. Because McDonald's wants to continue to make progress in sustainability, the WAGO-PLC controls the HVAC installation, the lighting, the kitchen appliances, water treatment, ... By choosing the Modbus protocol, we could let all systems talk to each other. We then bundled this together and made it transparent with a visualisation on a touchscreen in each branch, on which all techniques can be intuitively monitored." John Troch, Application Engineer ATS Automation.

Cloud application

Behind the scenes came a cloud application - ATS SmartKit - for McDonald's technical team. Three restaurants have already received their baptism of fire on this platform: Ath, Beerse and Beringen. The SmartKit platform is ATS' own development for remote alarm and monitoring. All data, some 120 to 150 parameters per establishment are monitored, including error codes. This way they immediately know what the problem is and what they need to start solving it on site. This new approach has only advantages.

"Compared to other countries, the integration of techniques is very far-reaching. As a result, we can now detect future problems early, even without having to be physically present on the site. ATS and Luc De Jonge have also succeeded in this feat without it costing us any more in the end. But it has given us so much more efficiency and possibilities now that everything runs on one platform. They know what is important to us and they come up with improvements themselves, but always with respect for the budget", Jan Snauwaert, Equipment & Technical Service Manager McDonald's Belgium.

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