Big food automation is emerging on the main street menu

The Tally 3.0 autonomous mobile robot scans grocery store inventory.

Simbe Robotics

Automation and robotics are typically associated with millions of budgets for billion-dollar enterprises. But as technology costs go down, it becomes more affordable for small businesses, and even small businesses.

Outside Atlanta, Jonesboro, Georgia, there are four burgers and wings, the THAT Burger Spot! Was fed up with being slowed down by phone orders.

Beef burgers, turkey, impossible, black beans, fish, chicken and more. Second, the number of putties, sauces, and other customizations matters. Considering all the options, one phone order took an average of 7-8 minutes. It is only if the staff is on hand to take those orders.

“Our menu is a bit complicated and has a lot of options,” said Cedric Pool, President of THAT Burger Spot Franchising, Inc.

“Stuffing is a problem and it’s still a problem. I thought I could automate the process of accepting orders, so I wouldn’t have to pay anyone,” Poole said.

As a result of the search, I found a solution in Grubbrr. It accepts in-store orders and sells self-contained kiosks that can be integrated with online orders and point-of-sale systems. The pool started with two kiosks in one place and was costly. $ 14,400. This is the amount the company pays someone in a year to place an order over the phone.

After making kiosks and online orders available to customers, average restaurant ticket orders have increased from about $ 19 to over $ 21. Average sales per working hour rose from a high of $ 50 to $ 85.

Sam Zietz, CEO of Grubbrr, said:

According to a recent report from the National Restaurant Association, seven in ten restaurant owners currently do not have enough employees to support their customers’ demands. Although the restaurant industry added 1.7 million jobs in 2021, many restaurants are still severely understaffed and expect a workforce. The shortage will continue to curb growth.

In the latest CNBC | SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey in the first quarter, 17% of respondents in the accommodation and food service industry cited labor shortages as the biggest risk to their business.

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Dirk Izzo, senior vice president and general manager of restaurant technology provider NCR Hospitality, said customers in cities such as Denver, Florida and Jacksonville cited 20% to 40% higher kitchen and front desk costs. Said. From a year ago.

“If you bear these costs, you can save a lot of whatever you can to automate things,” says Izzo.

One example of technology that is common and affordable in restaurants is contactless ordering and payment. More and more restaurants are using QR codes at their tables to encourage customers to order and pay by phone. This saves staff time, which would otherwise be required. After ordering, manually enter into the point of sale system.

Technology is getting cheaper and cheaper

The cost of robotics is being pushed down by widespread investment from the global smartphone and self-driving car industries.

“The cost of this technology has dropped significantly,” said Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe. This robot provides an autonomous robot that uses computer vision to track inventory in grocery stores, drug stores and hypermarkets.

So far, Simbe works primarily with large retailers, but according to Bogolea, the company also works with small retailers in 50-100 stores. Simbe’s robot inventory personnel can check the inventory of the entire store 3-4 times a day and place an order directly when the item is launched. “In these environments, it is humanly impossible for humans to manually scan at that frequency and fidelity,” Bogorea said. Retailers traditionally spend 30-100 hours a week on inventory per store.

Technology providers often offer automation as a service. Instead of paying the initial cost of the equipment, the company pays a monthly fee. Green Seed Contract Packaging, located on the outskirts of Chicago, has implemented robotics to automate particularly iterative packaging features such as: Pack baby snacks in boxes or move packed boxes from line to pallet. The company is billed monthly based on the robot’s uptime.

“Instead of using an agency to hire temporary workers, we can hire robots,” said David Gray, CEO of GreenSeed. Depending on the structure of the contract, the cost of robotics is 40% to 50%. He will pay to hire a person. It costs at least $ 17 or $ 18 per hour, but does not include benefits or costs to temporary agencies.

Technology costs are lower, but SMEs that lack economies of scale need to spend more as a percentage of their revenue than large companies. Outside the food sector, one prominent example comes from the accounting world. According to a recent study by Ernst & Young, 70% of large companies with revenues of $ 30 billion or more will spend $ 2 to $ 6 million on tax automation technology. In contrast, 81% of small businesses under $ 1 billion will spend between $ 1 million and $ 3.99 million in their revenue plans. It’s less than this, but not so much.

David Helmer, Ernst & Young’s Global Tax and Treasury Leader, said:

Inflation and SME Economics

Inflation is affecting how SMEs see the cost of automation compared to rising costs in other core areas of their business.

San Francisco-based Nana Joes Granola faces rising raw material and labor costs and is looking for ways to reduce the cost of premium granola as consumers scrutinize their notebook decisions. Owner of Nana Joe’s Granola, Michelp Sateli, the above options allow you to reduce the amount of bags by a few ounces, rebuild recipes to reduce material costs, or more easily drain more. Includes finding ways to use production process and equipment automation.

With Whole Foods among its retail partners, the company faces a highly competitive market, and the surge in sales in 2021 allowed it to pass on some costs to its customers, but high-cost granola during inflation. It’s more difficult to be, says Pusateri. ..

The company received a Covid EIDL loan, which was primarily a hoarding of higher-priced ingredients, which had to be bought in bulk to secure better deals due to inflationary factors, including Nana Joes Granola. Set up a loan aside for automation of the packaging side of production, and it may also need to borrow a business loan for the equipment.

“I don’t think inflation will go away anytime soon. We’ll be trapped in this and we’ll be able to pump out more with the same staff and the same overhead,” said Psatelli.

Investing in automation does not mean a reduction in staff, said Pusateri, who said he favored the higher wages workers receive across the economy. That, she said.

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