Robots are coming to a restaurant near you. Well, the truth is that they are already here but they are not in the form typically imagined. The term robots is another way of saying robotic automation, or process automation. While kitchen automation does have robotic like products in actual restaurants, the majority of the next generation of kitchen automation products will resemble enhanced kitchen appliances
Robots have always been here
Cooking or food preparation have long ago taken their place in the kitchen. From ovens, to food processers, to dough mixers and more it is clear that the modern kitchen is already full of machines. These machines make the food preparation job easier and quicker for their operators. These devices, can be accurately defined as kitchen automation tools. Their introduction has made kitchens more efficient and consistent. The next generation of kitchen automation machines, will continue this trend, and bring it to a new level. New technologies have expanded on what is now possible, and next generation products are on their way to the modern kitchen
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Next Generation Kitchen Automation
The first generation of kitchen automation devices are typically all single purpose. That is, they carry out one function, and require human inputs and outputs. They do not typically have any level of intelligence and are simply turned on to start, and off to stop. The next generation of kitchen automation devices will link two or more of these processes together and apply a level of intelligence to achieve more advanced results. Human inputs will still be required, but a lot more will be achieved in between.
Its about cost and consistency
There are two main drivers of this trend towards kitchen automation. Cost is the primary reason why kitchens would want to introduce more automation. Although the upfront cost of introducing automation is high, the return on investment is well worth it. Consider the amount of money saved not having to pay a human to do the same task. Kitchen automation devices will always be more consistent than a human doing the same task. Consistency is critical when it comes to food delivery
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Not for every restaurant
Kitchen process automation or robotic automation will not be for every restaurant. Most restaurants will continue to be sources of creativity and craft, and robots will never be able to replace that. The more robot like automation products will be better suited to quick service restaurants (QSR’s) where efficiency and consistency are the main objectives. Slowly but surely kitchen automation devices will find their way into most kitchens. They will do this because it will make absolute sense to do so. Even the most high end establishments will introduce automation where quality and consistency results can be achieved while saving human labor costs.
What about restaurant staff?
An obvious counter argument is what will all the staff do? What is their future? This is a long and complex issue for automation in general society, and is argued on more informed sources than this. Suffice to say that post pandemic staffing is a serious issue right now. It is very difficult to fill positions in the restaurant trade and this is set to continue. Manual kitchen labour roles will continue to be hard to fill. by automating the manual tasks, it leaves more room for the more creative and fun roles for restaurants to be filled.
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What types of automation is available right now?
There are many companies doing great work in this space. Salad making robots are increasingly popular, as are pizza making robots. It is easy to see how these two services, combined with artificial intelligence could produce high quality and consistent dishes. Flippy is another product that can automatically flip burgers and cook fries unattended. Manna Aero is another company that produces drones to pick the food up from the restaurant and deliver to your door. In certain food types, we are not that far away from getting food delivered entirely untouched by a human.
Restaurants and Robots
Robots, or automated machine processing is already with us in so many ways. Every year, more and more machines will be added to the kitchen and restaurant to help staff do their jobs more efficiently. Essentially, as mentioned earlier, if a machine can complete the same task as a human, without any loss in quality then it is destined to be part of the restaurant landscape. Any negative fears about jobs being misplaced will soon disappear as more time can be dedicated to the more creative and value added tasks that ultimately define the success of any restaurant.