What Will It Take to Automate Restaurants?

Your clients may not be ready for a robotic kitchen today, but they can save time and operate more efficiently, now and in the future, with the solutions you provide.

restaurant-kitchen-automation

Kitchen automation solutions moved from a niche market to the mainstream when labor shortages significantly impacted the restaurant industry this decade. At the same time that restaurant job openings grew harder to fill, customers began to engage with restaurants in more ways. Orders come in from the restaurant’s website, third-party delivery services, mobile apps, self-service kiosks, the drive-thru, and through employee and server interactions. These trends make managing orders and preparing foods more complicated. But consumers don’t have patience for a decline in service, longer wait times, or cold or inaccurate orders. Leveraging digital tools, including artificial intelligence (AI), to automate restaurant processes provides a path to remaining relevant and competitive in an evolving industry.

The demand for automation also creates an opportunity for ISVs and their channel partners to meet this demand. Research and Markets expects the global food automation market to grow at a 6.6 percent CAGR to reach $19.5 billion by 2030.

Benefits of Embracing Kitchen Automation

Automating restaurant processes provides many benefits that will help your clients and prospects see clear potential for ROI. Advanced solutions can ease supply chain challenges, allow greater sustainability in operations, increase efficiency, reduce labor expenses, and minimize food waste. It also helps managers with scheduling and optimizing workflows, allocating talent where most needed to enhance customer experiences and build loyalty. Furthermore, automating tasks such as cleaning the range hood to help prevent fires, managing oil to reduce burns, and monitoring food temperature to prevent food-borne illness ensure greater safety for both staff and guests.

However, you may have to help your clients see past what automating restaurant processes means. Although it’s possible to create a fully automated QSR kitchen that doesn’t rely on employees or to deploy robots for service or bussing tables, most restaurants aren’t quite ready to make that leap. But they can automate processes today that help managers focus employees on revenue-generating and loyalty-building activities. Automating restaurants can be an evolutionary process that helps restaurants solve pain points today and lays the groundwork for continued digital transformation in the future.

When you educate your clients on their options and focus on the value your clients can achieve when they automate restaurant processes, you’ll find interest in the solutions you provide in various areas of their operations, including:

Self-service kiosks

Kiosks allow customers to browse menus, choose and customize their meals, place orders, and complete payment transactions. Orders are automatically shared with the restaurant’s point of sale (POS) system and kitchen display system (KDS), eliminating manual order-taking and communicating orders from the front- to the back-of-house. Kiosks not only ease staffing burdens but also increase order accuracy and customer satisfaction.

Kitchen display systems

Once the KDS receives the order, it can send information to the correct food prep area and prioritize work so that all customers, regardless of how they place their orders, receive accurate orders with minimal waiting. This solution automates kitchen management, allowing managers to focus on mission-critical tasks.

Inventory management

With food costs rising, reducing waste is crucial to operating a profitable restaurant. Automating inventory management with barcode solutions, RFID technology, or smart appliances allows managers to keep track of stock. Automating restaurant inventory management puts information at managers’ fingertips, allowing them to see which foods are nearing expiration, which are in abundance, and which are in short supply for informed menu decisions. It will also show where waste occurs and which menu items don’t result in profits, so managers can keep their businesses operating successfully.

Scheduling

Busy restaurant managers will get some time back if they automate employee scheduling and time tracking. An employee management system will build schedules that minimize overtime and accommodate employee requests for time off while still ensuring enough staff is scheduled per shift.

Automating Restaurant Decision-Making with Data Analysis and Predictive Analytics

Another area that restaurants can automate is data analysis. Your clients and prospects may be attempting to use spreadsheets or anecdotal information to run their businesses. However, artificial intelligence (AI) allows managers to make use of their data to personalize customer experiences, target marketing to increase conversions and sales, make smart purchasing decisions, and more. Research shows restaurants are interested in these benefits. Mordor Intelligence expects the AI in the food and beverages market to grow at a CAGR of 38.30 percent and reach $48.99 billion by 2029.

Your Expertise Enhances Automated Restaurant Processes

Whether your clients are looking for ways to automate restaurant processes that they can’t find the labor to accomplish, streamline tasks to save money, or go pedal to the metal and create fully automated kitchens, they need your expertise to accomplish it. Leverage your partnership to help them build fully integrated systems that they can manage centrally and scale as their businesses grow – or implement innovative technologies in the future.

Industry trends are driving businesses to find new ways to operate and automate restaurant operations. Grow your business by meeting the demand.

Kelly Allred

Kelly Allred is a contributing editor for DevPro Journal.


Zebra Workstation Connect
Kelly Allred
Kelly Allred is a contributing editor for DevPro Journal.