Robots are ubiquitous in factories and logistics, common in sports and the performing arts, and increasingly important in agriculture and medicine.
But they’ve been something of a tease in restaurants. From the Automat to Flippy, automated restaurants have not been what they seemed. Automating back office tasks is common and automated ordering is on the rise, but robotic food preparation has been more of a performance than a reality. The Automat looked automatic to customers, but actually depended on cooks and food delivery people hiding behind the machinery.
The Beastro, from Kitchen Robotics, may be the game changer. As the pandemic continues and restaurant patrons rely on curbside pickup or delivery, the traditional kitchen may be replaced by the “dark kitchen” or “ghost kitchen.”
These are set-ups where the food is cooked only for delivery. Human beings can’t come in to eat or even to pick up their food. There is no human contact, even as Uber drivers whip up to the window to collect orders. Transactions are all arranged online through apps. Payments are 100% virtual.
So, if there are no diners, why should there be cooks? The Beastro is a fully automated kitchen that can produce 45 dishes per hour, while reducing labor costs by more than half.
What about the cooks?
Most ghost kitchens still employ human beings, and many are hiring while conventional restaurants lay their workers off. A couple of kitchen operators might take the place of a harried short-order cook and a beleaguered waitress. A Beastro might even be a step up for restaurant workers.
It’s more impressively automated than a stand mixer or a pressure cooker, but it will probably continue to require human workers. It could be another kitchen tool.
Before the pandemic, food service management was expected to be a growth area for jobs. The entire hospitality industry was hard hit in the spring, but bounced back in July. 504,000 food and drink jobs were added as restaurants reopened and called employees back to work.
Compare that with 26,000 jobs in manufacturing, where companies have been automating during shutdowns.
It’s clear that the pandemic has made Americans more positive about robots and automation as a way to avoid potentially dangerous human contact. That change has been positive for automation. Companies that were wavering before have been pushed over the brink by business model changes brought about by coronavirus shut downs.
If nothing else, this situation has sped up the changes that were progressing slowly before. If you need service or support for your Rexroth electric industrial drive and control systems, we can help. Contact us now.