What is Pod Service?
Pod Service has been one of the fastest-growing styles of healthcare food service over the past decade, and a significant contributor to this is due to its similarity to the Tray Line Service. Facilities that utilize Tray Line Service can easily re-tool their tray assembly areas with minimal capital investment.
Essentially, Pod Service consists of dividing workstations into several “Pods” instead of having one make line like in Tray Line Service. Each pod typically comprises one serving station with an activator; plates, domes, and lids; air screen refrigerator units; hot holding cabinets; and two starter stations. These pods are smaller, dedicated, and self-contained areas where a worker assembling the tray has everything within arm’s reach and can focus on the task at hand. Once the worker completes the tray, it’s loaded into a transport cart and once the cart is full, it is delivered to patients.
By dividing the make line into Pods, operators eliminate a key drawback of traditional Tray Line Service – Bottlenecking. Due to having their own workstation, or “Pod”, workers no longer rely on others down the line to complete their tasks. They have all the items they need around them and can complete the tray quicker and have it on its way to the patient in a timely manner. In addition to this benefit, generally less labor is required, and fewer hands touch each tray. This is great for creating a sanitary environment, reducing cross-contamination of sensitive food items, and decreasing labor costs.
To no surprise, there aren’t major cons to this method of food service, hence why many facilities have been transitioning to this style over the past decade. However, similar to the Tray Line method, menu variety and service times are often restricted which can contribute to a lesser patient experience. It is important to note that the initial set-up and training might take some time. Be sure that there is a detailed plan in place that includes purchasing the right equipment and training the staff to ensure your operation will be successful.
Efficiency is key with the Pod Service food service style due to the smaller, specialized, and self-sufficient design. Any operator willing to invest in high-quality, mobile, and flexible equipment can easily shift from a traditional Tray Line Service to a Pod Service and increase the productivity of their operations and at the same time cut labor costs.