Welcome to the Future: Technology in the Fast-food Industry

artificial intelligence

Food isn’t the only thing that is fast in fast-food chains; employee turnovers are too. An average restaurant that has 20 employees at a time can see up to 30 workers within a year. That’s because people don’t really see working at a fast-food joint as a long-term employment opportunity.

The customer and food service jobs aren’t technically endearing, especially when the employees deal with rude or disrespectful customers. So it’s not surprising that the rate of employee turnover in the fast-food industry is at an all-time high.

But when an employee leaves and another one replaces them, much of the time is spent training the new staff regarding specific health codes or management rules that they should be familiar with. The labor gap that this quick turnover rate has left gave rise to food corporations welcoming technology into their operations.

Robot Cooks

In the popular burger chain in the US, CaliBurger, they have begun using a robot that can flip patties on the grill and create uniformly cooked burgers to ease food service production. Although any human can do this simple task, introducing a robot fry cook can reduce additional staff in the kitchens.

This was not done to replace human employees; rather, robots are being utilized to fill in the gaps created by the labor shortage. Now that the robot can cook the patties, the other employees can prepare food and carry out orders to the hungry customers.

Self-service Kiosks

In a traditional fast-food chain setting, the customers will line up in front of the cashier, where they can place and pay for their orders. There’s nothing wrong with this situation, but it can be time-consuming and wasteful, especially when the customers take their precious time deciding what to eat.

Even if it only takes a few minutes, the time spent answering questions and waiting on customers is time wasted. When this happens, the lines can grow longer and longer, resulting in other annoyed customers. Luckily, self-service kiosks have entered the picture.

With kiosks that customers can operate themselves, cashiers no longer have to deal with indecisive customers who can’t settle on their order and proceed to do what they were hired to — collect payments for the food and provide receipts.

Other employees originally assigned to cashier duties can be given new tasks, such as delivering food to tables or helping out in the kitchens. In this sense, the introduction of technology is a wise business move because it frees up labor otherwise tied to the counters.

Self-cleaning Machines

In the foodservice business, ensuring the safety of the food and cleanliness of the environment are topmost priorities. That is why fast-food chains are subject to health inspections and regular maintenance; so customers can always rest assured that their food won’t put them in danger.

But maintaining cleanliness in a fast-food joint is a full-time job. Besides the fact that a flurry of people goes through the doors every day, carrying various contaminants and bacteria that can circulate the environment, eating can be messy, especially when there are children involved.

Drinks spilling over tables, food pieces dropping all over the place, and the occasional slips caused by wet floors. Sometimes, even having mops and rags from sales all lined up isn’t enough to resolve these problems. That’s why having maintenance staff is a must for all food establishments.

So that covers cleaning the area where customers are being served, but what about the areas behind the scenes? Fortunately for business owners, self-cleaning machines have been invented to lessen the work they have to do daily.

With self-cleaning ovens, robots that can clean grills and stovetops, or dishwashing machines that can ensure the cleanliness of utensils and tools used in cooking, hours of labor can be saved or shifted to other tasks.

What Does This Mean for Fast-food Chains?

Innovations in technology are nowhere near being over. If anything, manufacturers see this rise in technological dependence as a sign to create better products that can ease employee productivity while bridging the gap between customer and service provider.

Especially in this digital age, businesses that can adapt to the demands of their market are what customers expect to have. Capital investment is needed to jump-start this transition from traditional operations to modern means, but those who have already done the change guarantees a quick return on investment.

Technology is changing not only the way businesses conduct their operations on the day-to-day level but also the way customers are experiencing the innovations in the fast-food industry. Who knows? Maybe in the near future, all fast-food chain restaurants are being completely run by robots.


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