Can AI Alleviate QSR Labor Shortage?

According to the Association for Advancing Automation, orders of robotic machinery have increased by 37 percent year-over-year. (https://www.inc.com/rebecca-deczynski/robotics-labor-shortage-automation-stu.html)

There simply aren’t enough workers to fill jobs. 

As Americans are quitting their jobs at an increasing rate, the QSR space is turning to technology automation to keep their doors open and increase labor flow. QSRs of all sizes and turning to robotics and automation to streamline otherwise inefficient tasks. This means a major increase of demand in the technology space, and we’ll put it in overdrive to keep up.

Robots vs. People

AI is one of the biggest breakthroughs in automating the QSR industry as we’re seeing it today. Miso Robotics, a leader in AI robotic technology, created “Flippy” the well-known robotic kitchen assistant that flips burgers and now takes over the fry station at White Castle. Miso Robotics is a leader in AI integration who are now introducing “Flippy 2” which is their sleeker more independent version of the original Flippy. https://www.cnet.com/news/flippy-the-fast-food-robot-makes-fries-at-white-castle-gets-an-upgrade/

“Flippy 2 takes over the work for an entire fry station and performs more than twice as many food preparation tasks compared to the previous version including: basket filling, emptying, and returning.” Mis Robotics said. 

Another AI robot that is transforming the restaurant industry is Sally, the salad-making robot created by Chowbotics. Sally can mix up to eight fresh ingredients ranging from vegetables to salmon into a compostable bowl in 90 seconds. The online delivery service DoorDash has recently acquired Chowbotics, which has raised eyebrows as to what DoorDash’s plans are with the salad-making machine. It is presumed that Sally will aid in the rise of ghost kitchens to maximize DoorDash’s customer demand. There has been no further comment from either company but DoorDash currently has the greatest share of the US food delivery market at around 48 percent, so what we do know is that they are cooking up something big for Sally. 

From ordering to check-out, consumers have been calling for an overall better customer experience that manual labor is just unable to give at times; along with demand for higher wages and the popularity of sign-on bonuses the restaurant industry is at battle with choosing robots over people.The benefit of having a machine that can alleviate so many manual tasks is simple– it is a one time investment. On the other hand, the shift to more automation can potentially optimize job growth. Giving more menial tasks to the robots such as bussing and taking orders give humans the power to develop new skills for different careers.

Ordering With Ease

A continuous problem in the QSR world is the difficulty of mastering a correct order efficiently when a customer comes through the drive-thru. Human error is the root problem to taking inaccurate orders causing frustrated customers. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic the desire for less human interaction is at an all time high, which is causing QSRs to explore less customer-facing options within their business. 

McDonalds for example is currently ramping up its use of voice-activated order taking, this also comes with designs for automatic systems to operate their deep fryers. The big push for automation from McDonalds drives from decreasing long wait times that have lengthened in past years. 

Another example is Taco Bell, which is making the shift to primarily self-service kiosks in all of their locations. These self-serve machines are made with customer satisfaction in mind. A customer can click on the exact meal they want without error and without any human contact. This eliminates a position for an employee at the front register and puts all duties into the employees making the food, for now. 

Taco Bell’s Senior Director of Information Technology, Rafik Hanna said the company “strives to stay relevant with customers’ ever-changing preferences.”

What does this mean for manual labor? With the reduced risk for inaccuracy, proven growth in upselling, and lower operational costs for businesses, manual order taking will soon be a thing of the past. 

The biggest question we have to ask ourselves: Is automation eliminating jobs, or simply shifting them elsewhere?

CUSITech provides a single point of contact to manage the planning, surveying, installation, and implementation of technology adoption with our nationwide skilled W2 technicians, so you can hit go-live dates on time and on budget. Give us a visit today: https://cusitech.com

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