Advancement in technology has revolutionized the way manufacturing sector works by helping it become a lot more efficient. However, automation still yet to be successfully and fully implemented in the food industry across the globe. Therefore, a vast number of large-scale businesses are now working on developing technology that would automate the majority of tasks pertaining to the food industry. This technological advancement will have a significant impact on business owners as well as their staff members.
Advantages of automation in restaurants
If you like reading news regarding the latest developments in the foodservice sector, you would have come across numerous news pieces talking about how restaurants are implementing AI, robotics and automation. Even though it appears in the news a lot, automation in the restaurant sector is comparatively new, less explored or cutting-edge. Therefore should business be lured toward such costly and unverified technologies?
One core reason behind the temptation is increasing labor expenses, especially as a lot of the US states have raised their minimum wages. Although the process of development of new robots for the restaurant sector is quite costly, the technology can quickly pay for itself once perfected. Robots have excellent potential to replace workforces, they lower labor expenses and at the same time, can work round-the-clock with no breaks. This would help your restaurant to remain open for longer if needed.
Below are some other advantages of automation in the restaurant industry:
- Robots help in eliminating the chances of errors. You don’t have to worry about a robot misinterpreting a food order or making a dish the wrong way.
- You can be sure of the correct portion of food served and also keep wastage of food at a minimum.
Automation in the restaurant sector is still a novelty, thus making use of robots in your restaurant can give you an edge over the competition, get you the desired recognition, and would also attract a vast number of curious customers.
- Automated machines do not require time off work – no vacations, sick days or calling off the work at last moment.
- Even though automation is still costly, it is becoming cheaper and cheaper. The latest research concluded that costs have dropped by 40% since 2005.
- Automation has the ability to transform the restaurant industry entirely, however at present, it is only able of carrying out the repetitive and less-skilled tasks that are usually a basic need in food joints. There are some restaurants that have adopted this technology and have been running their operations using robots. One of the best examples of the utilization of robotics in the food industry can be seen at Zume Pizza, wherein the robots perform tasks such as making pizzas.
Robots at Zume Pizza: The ‘Zume Pizza’ is a well-known restaurant chain with its headquarters in Mountain View, CA. It serves pizzas to its customers, and those pizzas are prepared by robots. Robots perform tasks like rolling out the dough, adding sauces, placing the pizzas in the oven for cooking, and removing them when cooked. However, the process has certain limitations, such as adding the desired toppings, slicing the pizzas, and packing them for delivery, so workers are still required to those tasks.
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How are restaurants transitioning towards automation?
With food assembly machinery set up at the back-of-house, kiosks installed in the front along with self-driven vehicles to deliver the food – there are endless automation possibilities for the restaurant sector. Yet, instead of listing all the potential tasks that we only wish can be automated, let us take a look at the processes that have all the chances of getting automated in the coming years:
Automation in front-of-house sites:
Automation in the front-of-house sites would not have a lot to do with the installation of robots to take on basic tasks and would primarily be related to substituting cashiers and servers with self-service kiosks. A number of large-scale hospitality chains, such as McDonald's and Wendy's, are actually starting to experiment with self-service kiosks in their eateries. Although this continues to be in the testing stage, it can eventually turn out to be a feature in each and every outlet if successful.
Furthermore, front-of-house automation is not restricted only to fast-food facilities, as a number of notable fine-dine restaurant chains have adopted automation as a part of their front-of-house sites.
Automation in restaurant’s back-of-house:
Robots in restaurants are carrying out basic tasks that are repetitive in nature, and this makes them ideal for the back-office management of restaurants. Although this may appear to be more like science fiction, there are now many real-life instances where robots are used in restaurants as cooks in the kitchen. A Boston-based restaurant, named Spyce, has been using robots in their kitchen and those robots manage back-of-house tasks like fetching food from the refrigerator, prepping it, cooking it, and also garnishing it prior to serving to the customers.
Automated food delivery:
With the advancement in technology wherein cars can now be driven without a driver or introduction of drone delivery, there are plenty of lucrative opportunities for the restaurant sector with regards to updating their delivery systems. Furthermore, food delivery has become an in-thing, particularly with the increase in delivery-only food joints. In the same way as robots in back-of-house, businesses have already begun developing, testing, and determining how driverless food delivery can work for restaurants.
For instance, a startup named Starship Technologies is known to have tested the use of robots for delivering food from the restaurant to the customer’s place. The company has programmed robots in such a way that they use GPS and inbuilt cameras for navigating the sidewalks that lead to the customer’s location. These robots also have an in-built, insulated compartment wherein the food can be placed. Robots use smart technology to recognize traffic signals, signposts, crosswalks as well as pedestrians. As soon as the robot arrives at its destination, it can be unlocked using a mobile application, and the customer thereafter can obtain the food they’d ordered.
Despite the fact that this technology is incredible and quite advanced, it presently works in a hyper-local region since the robots are only able to travel at 4 miles/hour. Therefore, do not count on making deliveries across the entire city with the help of robotics technology just yet.
Automation in restaurants is going to transform the sector as well as the workforce entirely; nevertheless, the technology remains a couple of years off. The majority of the restaurants involved in developing prototypes or attempting to make use of robots in their franchises are large-scale businesses. They have a considerable amount of money to pay for research and innovation, therefore it is going to take a couple of years before they have mastered the concept for robots and are able to introduce them to the mainstream and make them available to regular eateries. Although this technology is still in its growing stage, it is important to be completely aware of it and the way it could impact your restaurant, so you can be prepared to take your restaurant to the next level in the near future.