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How Automation is Changing the Restaurant Industry

Labor turnover in the foodservice industry is a growing concern. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unfilled jobs in the foodservice industry grew by 20% from 2017 to 2018. That trend is expected to continue over the next decade, and business owners will need to adapt if they want to stay staffed and operational. In our growing job market, it's a challenge for many restaurants to recruit and retain qualified employees. At the same time, automated technologies like self-ordering kiosks are only getting more advanced.

In this blog, we'll explain why automation is transforming the foodservice world, and how your employees can use that extra time to focus on quality food and customer service. We'll also share some useful technologies that boost efficiency in the kitchen so that your staff has a more pleasant experience on the job. 

Why is Restaurant Automation Growing? 

In recent years, many foodservice businesses have made the hard choice to automate some labor and downsize their staff. This is primarily due to the rising cost of labor and a shortage of skilled workers. Turnover is already high in the fast-casual and fast-food space. Eventually, restaurant owners decide that it would be less expensive to invest in a kiosk or programmable, self-cleaning oven instead of recruiting and training a new staff member to do those tasks. 

Besides labor costs, restaurant owners are also exploring automation in the food industry because it offers speed and consistency that just isn't possible with human labor. You can process more transactions with more accuracy, and the product itself is cooked with higher food safety standards. Food-prep robots reduce human contact with food so that fewer pathogens are spread to customers. Soon, these robots will also be able to detect pathogens with built-in sensors, so that food-borne illness is drastically reduced.  

A Revolution in Self-Ordering

The front-of-house is also being automated across the restaurant industry. In-store kiosks and mobile apps offer a seamless way to order food, without having to hire a full-time cashier. According to a report from Oracle, that could translate into $12 billion in annual savings for foodservice businesses. The typical restaurant could take their current cashiers and allocate them to other roles, or have them focus entirely on customer service. The self-ordering trend will only continue to grow in fast-casual and fast-food restaurants. 

Increasing ROI in the Kitchen

Likewise, restaurant automation technologies save money in the kitchen as well. Many restaurant operators surveyed in the Oracle report expect that robots will be cleaning, prepping food, and even training staff by 2025. Machines will be integrated with more kitchen tasks, freeing up workers to focus on specialized skills that robots haven't been and won’t be able to replace. 

Currently, automation technology can be found in many commercial ovens, which offer self-cleaning functionality, automatic grease collection, and more. For instance, our self-cleaning rotisserie oven uses 35% less water than competing models, and the cleaning system has no moving parts. Additionally, the grease collection system is seamless and automatically pumps grease into external jugs, so it's safer and more reliable. Likewise, the Combitherm Oven series has self-cleaning capability and an optional grease collection system, which simplifies the cleaning and grease disposal process. And of course, many of today's cutting-edge ovens have fully customizable recipe controls, so you can dial in recipes with total precision and consistency between shifts.  

At Alto-Shaam, we’re proud to offer automation in food industry products like our Combitherm, rotisserie and Vector multi-cook ovens. To learn more about our automated technologies that benefit your bottom line, click here to request a Taste of Alto-Shaam demonstration today. 

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