New Age Industrial (NAI) is an aluminum extruder and fabricator in Norton, KS. We are best known for manufacturing heavy duty, aluminum storage and transport equipment for the foodservice industry. Items such as pan racks, storage shelving, and mobile carts are some of the bread-and-butter items you will find in our foodservice catalog that contains over nine hundred items. What might surprise you, is that many of those items were actually designed by end users or customers just like you! Our unique ability to extrude primary grade, raw aluminum into custom shapes and sizes allows customers, with assistance from New Age’s highly trained engineers, to modify standard catalog items to meet their specific needs. Or, even better, we can design and create totally unique products from the ground up. The old saying, “If you can dream it, we can build it,’ applies to our manufacturing capabilities.
Customer Creativity Challenge
To help spread the message that customers can create their own equipment instead of settling for standard, off the shelf storage and transport equipment, we put together a Custom Product Design Contest in the Fall of 2022. We challenged end-user customers to participate in the contest by teaming up with New Age Industrial’s nationwide team of independent factory representatives. They were asked to dream up, describe, sketch, design, and submit an aluminum foodservice equipment product that provided a solution for an unmet need in their foodservice operation. The team who submitted the overall best design was crowned the winners! This unique product was built and showcased at The NAFEM (North American Association of Foodservice Equipment Manufacturer’s) Show in Orlando, Florida from February 1-3, 2023. A Live Awards Presentation Ceremony was held at New Age Industrial’s Booth #1600, where the winners were recognized for their outstanding product design. They were both awarded cash winnings, a framed, engraved plaque made using aluminum from our factory, and a variety of other prizes.
The Makings of a Winner
Selecting a winner from the custom product design submissions was not an easy task, as all the entries we received had merit. Each design could have been developed into a solution that would fulfill many foodservice operators’ unmet needs. But, there could only be ONE winner. The winning design was born out of necessity, as is the case with many great inventions. It was bought to fruition through a process of bottom-up teamwork found in many successful foodservice operations.
And the Winner Is?
So, without further ado, let’s reveal the New Age Industrial 2022 Custom Equipment Design Contest’s winning product design. And the winner is…The Scrap and Stack!
The award-winning design was created by the Child Nutrition team at Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, under the direction of Alyssia Wright, Executive Director of School Nutrition, with the assistance of Claudia Harry, New Age Industrial’s factory representative with The Hansen Group.
The Scrap and Stack is a mobile, multi-function serving line scraping cart. This cart has two tiers and an elevated, top mounted, rail made of heavy duty, all-welded aluminum that is guaranteed for life to never rust or corrode. Mounted just below the top deck are a pair of pan rails that hold stacked 18”x26” sheet pans. At the rear of the top deck is an elevated rail made from extruded aluminum bar stock. The open rail is deigned to securely hold two rows of stacked 12”x20” steam table pans.
The bottom deck is all business. It’s designed to hold a removable non-proprietary food scrap container in the front, using side channels to hold the container securely in the center. This leaves room for a smaller soiled utensil container at the back. The smooth aluminum top deck contains a marine edge perimeter for containing liquid spills, along with a 12”x12” cut-out above the food scrap container. Thick aluminum plates are welded to the frame at each corner, and 5” plate casters with wheel locks are bolted to them, making this one tough, mobile piece of equipment.
Where in the World?
The idea for this winning design sparked during a training visit, where a conversation took place between a new team member working the serving line in a K-12 Kitchen and Claudia Harry from The Hansen Group. Claudia shares this conversation, “I walked her through how kids walk through the line, and how food gets from the kitchen to the line.” She continues, “Questions bubbled up about the number of people who work the line and clean up the line. Out of this dialog, the idea for a scraping cart came to mind. Carts are at a premium in the kitchen, and the thought of a workhorse cart that could help one or two people clear the line faster after service or make light work for one person if the team was short on workers that day was big.”
Next, she ran this idea by Alyssia Wright, Executive Director of School Nutrition, telling her about the previous discussion she had with their cafeteria team member. Little did they know, Alyssia was already working on a design for something that just might work. With the contest in mind, they decided to participate. Claudia Harry said, “My director loved the idea of this competition and agreed to sponsor it with her county and would like to see if it does in fact work in simplifying an un-fun task at the end of a long day.”