When most people think of robots and our food, many people think of something straight out of a sci-fi movie. In fact, it’s a slow integration that looks more like something you already see on a daily basis.
Automation in the fast food industry often boils down to more automation in a self-order kiosk, kitchen, or drive-thru lane that takes your order without having to speak to a person.
“People often hear automation and think that robots prepare their own food,” says Restaurant Brands International (USA).QSR) – Get the report from Restaurant Brands International Inc. Popeyes president Sami Siddiqui told The Street in a May interview about changes including automatic fryers. “I’ve seen some of that in the industry, but that’s not really the reality of what we do.”
Will we see robots at McDonald’s? Yes and no
When it comes to drive-through lanes, this is a plan McDonald’s (Delhi Municipality) – Get the report McDonald’s Corporation has been trying to implement for the past six years.
In 2016, the burger giant outlined a plan in which it would convert many restaurant drive-throughs into self-order stations, similar to the screens now found in many stores.
“Customers can place their order and skip the front counter altogether, having their food delivered to their table,” the company said in a 2016 earnings callback. “In addition, customers can place orders directly from the mobile app. Identify their pickup or kiosk app profile that has custom favorites and preferred payment methods.”
But implementation wasn’t as quick because of a number of bugs that had to be fixed – while a problem with a self-order screen can be easily solved by a staff member in a restaurant, it can be more difficult. When there is a long line of cars behind you.
scroll to continue
According to a recent BTIG report released by Restaurant Dive, voice ordering accuracy was 80% at 24 Illinois restaurants that tested this type of drive-through lane.
Although that number is quite high, McDonald’s has previously said it wants 95% before rolling it out to more restaurants.
BTIG predicted a more widespread rollout could come “later this year,” while CEO Chris Kempczinski previously said he expects it to become a standard in its restaurants within the next five years.
“Labour turnover and availability remain a major challenge for operators,” writes BTIG analyst Peter Saleh in the report.
Automation is one way to reduce labor costs over the long term, but it’s slowing adoption somewhat for now. Data from the National Restaurant Association shows that employment in the fast-food industry is still 6.4% lower than before the pandemic.
Where do we stand with automation?
These types of drive-thru lanes are becoming increasingly common in industry.
Delicious! brand (Yama) – Yum! Taco Bell, owned by Brands Inc. Reports, just opened a digital-forward restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. It has four lanes where you can order through the video screen and three lanes are dedicated solely to accepting orders placed through the app.
This type of restaurant style does not always go over well with visitors, as it is too automatic and machine-driven for many.
But the trend has started, and analysts predict that within the next five years, this type of pickup will be commonplace at both larger and larger chains across the country.