Your browser is out of date. It may not display all features of this websites. We recommend to use one of these browsers or versions Mozila Firefox or Google Chrome

To Top

The microwave re-invented: See what the new iHexagon from RATIONAL can do

By: Reading Time: 5 Minutes

In the KTCHNrebel interview, the Executive Board Member for Marketing and Sales and the RATIONAL Head of Development discuss the challenge of microwaves for professional kitchens. Food prepared quickly can’t taste good?

Microwaves can’t cook over several racks? These are all prejudices, say Markus Paschmann, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, and Dr. Wolfgang Schmidberger, Senior Vice President Product Development at RATIONAL. They will show here how RATIONAL manages to distribute hot air, fresh steam and microwave uniformly across all racks and get them working together intelligently. To produce the best quality food in the shortest possible time. The new product category iHexagon was presented for the first time in February as part of an international online keynote. The company is already talking about the start of a new era.

The new iHexagon product category was launched as part of an online event.

Image: Rational

Mr. Paschmann, why does this mark the start of a new era?


After almost 50 years of combi-steamer technology and almost 20 years of iVario, i.e. cooking with contact heat, the iHexagon will be our third pillar. And creates a completely new product category, not only for RATIONAL, but for the entire food service industry. During its development, it has proven to be much more than a professional combi-steamer with microwave.

Mr. Schmidberger, what is a iHexagon?


We started from scratch, but had one goal in mind: We wanted to build a cooking system that is quick and also delivers perfect food quality. To achieve this, we formed a project team with experts from the mechanical engineering, electronics, software, food technology, culinary sensor technology and high frequency fields. They had to answer one question: How can we rethink microwave technology in a cooking system?

Rational presents its professional combi-steamer with microwave

Image: Rational

The microwave tamed

Could you elaborate on this?


We initially underestimated the power of the microwave, which had to be tamed before we could progress. It quickly became clear that the microwave is not a third force, but a third dimension. And it has to be finely tuned to suit the food. Here’s just one example: The first bread we baked looked great on the outside, but was completely burnt on the inside. The opposite also happened: A typical Bavarian dish, meat loaf, was much too crusty on the outside, but still practically raw on the inside.

So speed isn’t everything, how did you get the food quality under control?


This was one of our biggest challenges in the development phase. We all have prejudices about the (professional) microwave. But they are only true if you can’t get the energy under control. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside – that was our goal. And that’s what we achieved. Because we managed to intelligently control all three energy types, i.e. hot air, fresh steam and microwave. This means that the microwave is not applied 100 percent all the time, but is only used when it makes sense in terms of speed, but does not negatively impact the food. Sometimes more energy is used, sometimes less. Always with the goal of achieving the best food quality.

Savings of up to 30% are possible with the new iHexagon product category

Image: Rational

Optimal food quality  in the shortest time

And now you can say you’re able to deliver “the best dishes in no time”?


Yes, that’s right. We managed to set the microwave against a higher heat output to balance the forces. Not forgetting the fresh steam to ensure that the food does not dry out.

Could you elaborate?


The iHexagon takes six variables into account: On the one hand, we have the energies hot air, fresh steam and microwave mentioned above. And on the other hand, there is the fan wheel, time and, of course, the food to be prepared. If the food changes, the other five variables are adjusted automatically. It makes a difference whether the food is more porous or solid. Whether it has salt crystals on the surface or is rubbed with oil. The climate management system in the iHexagon takes all this into account and intelligently adjusts everything accordingly.

The new iHexagon promises the best food quality in the shortest possible time

Image: Rational

So, with your iHexagon professional microwave, there’s a difference between cooking a croissant or a burger?


For us, that makes a big difference. But we didn’t know that right from the start. This emerged as we looked intensively at microwave technology. After countless food tests and computational models, we gained an understanding of the basic principles of the automated use of microwaves in combination with hot air and steam – and thus implemented our idea of food quality.

What’s the secret?


It’s not a secret, but rather uncompromising research. With a strong team, lots of experience and a company that promotes innovation, you can embark on new paths. The solution in this case is “intelligent algorithm”. Together with the cooking intelligence, the iCookingSuite, the microwave is adapted to the food according to its condition, size and the cooking progress. This means that sometimes the iHexagon applies 100 percent microwave in the cooking cabinet, sometimes only 60 percent, and sometimes none at all.

With the help of microwave technology, the iHexagon guarantees high food quality in the shortest possible time

Image: Rational

Quality and speed in our DNA

But let’s be honest, the iHexagon is not the first professional microwave oven on the market.


Correct, the iHexagon is not the first and not the only one to use microwave technology. But it is the only one that distributes the energy evenly across all racks in the cooking system through intelligent interaction with hot air and fresh steam. This not only makes the iHexagon unique, but also incredibly productive and flexible.

Markus Paschmann and Dr. Wolfgang Schmidberger with the new iHexagon

Image: Rational

How does this manifest itself in daily work?


The iHexagon is ideal for those who have quality and speed in their DNA. This involves, for example, pre-production for the hot food counter. In our keynote speech, we had the example of Teriyaki Chicken. We showed that you can cook 36 chicken breasts in about 12 minutes. That’s the promised productivity.

And how is the flexibility noticeable?


You can also heat different products simultaneously in the same cooking system. Of course, on all levels as well. This is perfect if your business works with Grab & Go, for example. At peak times, such as at lunchtime, queues can quickly form. But if you can heat wraps and cheese sandwiches in 1:30 minutes and at the same time, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that queues will be a thing of the past.

The new model is available now. How does the distribution take place?


The iHexagon will initially be available in Germany, the UK and the USA. Since the iHexagon is a completely new product category and is therefore unfamiliar on the market, we have set up expert teams in these countries. This will help us to ensure that our customers get the most out of their investment. For example, with suggestions from our experts on how to make existing food concepts more efficient and perhaps some inspiration for expanding the range. With this strategy, we will gradually roll out the iHexagon in other countries also.

Thank you very much for your time.

The iHexagon is ideal for those who have quality and speed in their DNA

Image: Rational

Interviewed today:

Markus Paschmann, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer

Markus Paschmann joined Siemens AG after completing his degree in industrial engineering. He then led the Global Business Unit Electronics at the Harting Technology Group and was Chairman of the Board. In 2006, he became a member of the board at Sick AG. Since December 2013, Paschmann has been responsible for marketing and sales on the board of RATIONAL AG.

Dr. Wolfgang Schmidberger, Senior Vice President Product Development

After various jobs alongside his studies in the European food service industry, hotels and gastronomy, ecotrophologist Wolfgang Schmidberger was initially involved in research in the field of Hospitality Management at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate at the University of Bonn. He moved to RATIONAL back in 2010 and has held various positions in Research & Development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Food Tech