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Minimum wage increase means more AI in Ontario restaurants

September 15, 2017

Restaurant Robotics & Automation

Over the past few decades, modern civilization has witnessed some of the most impressive technological advancements in history. With research rapidly moving forward, it should be no surprise to learn that innovators have been designing robotic aid to replace manual human labour within the restaurant industry. Now, before you start imagining a fancy A.I. robot in a chef’s hat flipping your omelette in the back kitchen, the reality is that automation has actually been replacing many forms of human labour for ages.

In fact, it was a short visit to a robot-filled Volkswagen factory in Germany that motivated Mr. Henry Hu, co-founder and CEO of start-up restaurant “Café X”, to re-imagine this type of robot technology and its potential for the coffee-loving world. With high precision, accuracy and speed- applying a similar automation approach has allowed Hu to open the first machine-operated café in San Francisco. Much like our beloved Starbucks, Café X allows customers to place their orders via smartphone app and schedule convenient pickup times. By combining this smartphone technology with robotic automation, Hu’s robot (a white little mechanical arm named “Gordon”) is able to serve approximately 100 to 120 cups an hour!

From the increase in delivery apps to the use of in-restaurant tablet technology – restaurant owners continue to seek new ways to both “wow” their consumers with an interactive dining experience AND save their restaurants money. As minimum wage continues to increase, more and more restaurants will opt for automated technology to help drive down their operation expenses by replacing humans (good one, Kathleen). Although this type of technology does not come without a pretty price-tag (ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars per restaurant location), the value of speed and quality may very well be key ingredients for the modern restaurant’s success. Naturally, the Quick Service restaurants have been the first to implement the benefits of automation technology, with Business Casual restaurants not too far behind. As a result of these trends, industry experts are predicting that 90% of fast food restaurants will opt for a fully-automated business model over the next few decades.

In addition to offering a magnitude of benefits to restaurant owners, the ability for customers to engage via fresh technology offers an exciting and empowering experience that harness customer interest and of course – customer loyalty. However, the more restaurant technology continues to develop, it is important for restaurant owners to consider the possible pressures of increased customer volume. Unfortunately, coffee titan Starbucks had experienced the heat of unexpected high-volume during their past quarter, where the release of their recent order scheduling app caused higher traffic, longer wait times, increased errors and worst of all – frustrated customers.

With technological advancements continuing to change the way restaurants conduct their business, the future of the restaurant industry will continue to push boundaries and impress food lovers everywhere.

Are you thinking of implementing automation technology into your next/existing restaurant? Contact our BUILD IT by Design professionals at (905) 696-0486 or info@builditbydesign.ca to discuss your options!

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