Made in Eastern Iowa: ACP and building commercial ovens

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Walking around the production floor at Accelerated Cooking Products, the volume of output becomes apparent.

Accelerated Cooking Products in Cedar Rapids makes commercial ovens under numerous brands, including Menumaster and Amana.

Stacks and stacks of commercial ovens.

"Per day, we manufacture about 170 to 200 commercial ovens per day," said Jason Schwenke, director of manufacturing at ACP. "Menumaster and Amana are the two brands that we manufacture."

The assembly for a commercial-grade oven only appears to take a few minutes. This is also a case where an oven isn't just an oven. As with so many other sectors, the technology is still emerging.

"A lot of the technology is going into the controls for the end user, making it smarter so that it’s easier to update how they cook," said Schwenke. "On our end, that’s what we’re programming before it goes out and how much we test before it goes into their commercial kitchen."

From an engineering standpoint, Mike Groen pointed out the updated 3D printing approach is how an idea can become a tangible option, cutting downtime.

"It’s absolutely fascinating to see the sparkle in my engineer’s eyes where they can dream up something and, two hours later, have the part in their hands," said Groen, who heads up the department.

Here is where the edge of the commercial oven technology can help save on cost but also increase the overall consistency.

"Touch screens with your iPhones and we’re integrating these things with our ovens now and we’re able to connect to them from a central location," said Groen. "Think of a major chain account and they’re able to update recipes from a central location and go out to each place and program them on site."

Schwenke said about 50 employees at ACP work in the manufacturing end of the company. In the test kitchen, Tony Aguiar, known as "Chef Tony," works on the consistency of each product and potential recipe.

"Sometimes it takes quite a while for the product to come out the way you want it because, yeah, we make ovens but it’s about the food and the quality and integrity of the product needs to be there," said Aguiar.

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