Robots are taking over fast food jobs

Misa specializes in robots for food service, offering robotic systems for pouring drinks and cooking french fries. The company is offloading more and more of its restaurant business to automated systems. Deploying bots is like hiring people – you hire them. Miso uses RaaS (bots as a service). Restaurants hire robots for a monthly fee. The system makes return on investment relatively simple. Restaurants can compare the monthly cost of the robot with the monthly cost of the employee.

We caught up with Jake Brewer, Chief Strategy Officer at Miso, to get his views on the future of robots in food service.

Design News: Where do you see the most potential for robots in food service in 2023?

Jake Brewer: In 2023, restaurants will focus on expansion and adoption. We’re past the point where the question was whether to implement bots and automation. Now it’s a matter of place in the kitchen. The drinks and frying station is where we start in a big way as it has the greatest potential impact operationally on the restaurant.

DN: What other problems are robots solving in food service?

Jake Brewer: Over the past two and a half years, the restaurant industry has had to go through a new set of dynamics to stay afloat. Unfortunately, labor shortages made efficiency a challenge. Staffing shortages have always made operational success difficult – and we are now seeing an absolutely high number of open positions and inflated turnover rates.

No one is fighting to fill those backroom positions anymore. Operators need to help support employees who have already returned. Bots streamline operations and provide a better customer experience. It establishes the overall improvement and stability of the work. For the workers who are there day in and day out, their jobs are getting easier. For operators, there is suddenly a better and more marketable work environment to attract talent.

In addition, labor-intensive, repetitive, and frankly dangerous tasks such as operating a fryer are not among the roles that attract workers. This is where robots come in. We seek to offload these kinds of tasks in the home, freeing up humans to do what humans do best, like customer service.

This video shows the future of robots in food service:

DN: What do you see in the future in restaurant technology

Jake Brewer: More restaurants are piloting and deploying automated solutions for internal operations. We’ll also see changes to the front and rear booths with more sophisticated kiosks that can prepare fresh food or take your order straight at the touch of a button.

DN: Explain how ROI typically works out with robot adoption in restaurants.

Jake Brewer: Our robot, Flippy, costs $3,500 per month to run the frying station, a role that usually runs 8-12 hours each day, at a cost of about $4,500. In this regard, the payoff is immediate.

However, the reality is that the role is pretty much vacant. As a result, when divided by the cost of running Flippy (with maintenance) by 12 hours, the cost is about $9.80 per hour.

DN: How do major restaurant brands deploy bots?

Jake Brewer: Below is a brief description of bot deployments at our food service partners.

  • At White Castle, we expanded our initial partnership in 2020 from beta testing Flippy to rolling out Flippy 2 to 100 more restaurants this year.
  • At Chipotle, the brand initially tested Chippy at the Chipotle Cultivate Center, Chipotle’s innovation hub, and later experimented with Chippy at one of its restaurants in Fountain Valley.
  • At Jack in the Box, the brand has piloted our core product lines, Flippy 2 and Sippy, at one of its standalone locations with plans for further integration in the coming months.
  • At Panera, the brand has begun testing CookRight Coffee to support Panera’s Unlimited Sip Club membership.
  • At Wings and Rings, the brand has demoed Flippy 2 at its Crestview Hills, Kentucky, location, with potential plans for further integration.
  • At Wing Zone, we’ve partnered to standardize Flippy 2 in all of Wing Zone’s future restaurant buildings, making the brand the first to feature food robots in its operations at this level.

DN: What trends do you see in the future in restaurant technology?

Jake Brewer: Looking into the future, major brands will feel more comfortable dipping their toes in truly futuristic technology and fully automating certain aspects of a restaurant kitchen and beyond.

As the industry works towards the “kitchen of the future”, we aim to apply artificial intelligence, automation and robotics to bring innovation to the back of the restaurant and address the challenges plaguing the industry. In addition to our current offerings, we are also working with brands to design future automation-specific kitchens.

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