Robotics in the catering industry

Workforce deficit is a worldwide problem, and employers are looking for various solutions to cope with a lack of personnel while maintaining a high level of quality for their services and products. This workforce shortage is especially prevalent in the catering industry, and it doesn’t matter if we are in the peak of the tourist season or totally out of it. These days, we are quite dependent on computerized and tech support, so it was just a matter of time before robots and robotics find their place in the catering industry.

China is the home of the first-ever smart restaurant. The only thing in that venue is an automatic cold room with a robotic hand that prepares food to be delivered, and a robot that serves food and cutlery.

We’re all wondering the same thing – how smart is this smart restaurant? When you enter it, you’ll notice it’s a cold place whose temperature ranges from 0 to 4 degrees Celsius. Lines of robot hands prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh veggies according to orders made by guests via iPads attached to each table.

Inside the kitchen, monitors are placed at various spots and they show key info about the restaurant, such as a menu with each meal displayed in real-time, including what food items will soon be expired.

Then, there are humanoid robots. There are six of them walking around the restaurant delivering food, while another four of them are in charge of taking back used trays. However, these robots are not enough to take care of all 93 tables at the restaurant, so the venue still uses waiters to clear out the tables.

Service robots are an attraction. But, that also means that guests will stop and take a picture with them or try to talk to them. The robots talk back, sometimes in a humorous manner, and they politely ask the guests to get out of their way so that they can continue to work because if they don’t work, they’ll get fired. 🙂

For now, automatization is used to decrease the number of people working in kitchens and to increase efficiency. Service staff won’t lose any personnel – they’ll still be around, handing out hot towels to guests, showing them through menus and orders and helping food get delivered.

During my last visit to Beijing, I visited one of these smart restaurants. I made my order via an iPad, and the robots did not disappoint. I was quickly serviced with more than twenty beef dishes, pork dishes, tofu meals, and other delicious foods – and all I had to do was wait for about ten minutes.

Some skeptics – and I was one of them – will be doubtful of robots completely replacing us in the future. But, looking at things now and knowing what I know, I’m sure this will never happen. At least not in a way that will make humans obsolete.

These innovations were recognized by the Utiliter company. They are at an advanced stage of negotiating with various manufacturers of robotized hands and humanoid robots. Their goal is to become the first provider for equipping smart restaurants in Europe.

If you want to find out more about the use of robotics in the catering industry, feel free to write to us or give us a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.