How Will Automation Impact our Industry?

With labor costs increasing due to things like minimum wage discussions and new legislation, many companies are turning to automation to offset costs. While economists often cite job losses as a negative effect of automation, proponents defend the movement arguing they enhance the day-to-day operations of workers, while improving customer service and restaurants’ bottom lines. Foodable went on a hunt at National Restaurant Association Show to find some of these technologies and look at how they fit into the industry.


Digital menus are becoming more and more popular in restaurants. What began as a new way to present menu items has evolved into a digital ordering system. Offering a wide variety of ordering systems, eTouchMenu provides options for all types of operations from fast casuals to full service. Kiosks allow customers to quickly walk in, place their orders and walk out. Pay only tablets allow restaurants to retain a higher level of service. These flexible solutions provide more efficient service that has proven to be useful for both operators and consumers.


It seems on-the-go consumers are always looking for speedier service. That’s why Bite is turning to facial recognition to create an ordering process that takes seconds. After a customer has ordered at a restaurant, any time they return to that restaurant, the kiosk will recognize their face and pull up their previous orders as well as recommendations. The Vice President of Product at Bite, Steve Truong, speaks on the concerns around automation saying, “There’s been a number of studies from companies that have been using kiosks for a while like Panera Bread, and in their studies they’ve actually found that installing kiosks, if done right, can increase the number of people you hire… you have so many more channels in which you can take orders, you actually end up de-staffing some of the cashiers but staffing up a lot more in the back because the order flow and the throughput increases dramatically.”


The Wello company is looking for ways to improve health and safety in the industry. SkyWello, aims to eliminate the time wasted probing food and recording temperatures, as required by the FDA. Placed above a food line, the SkyWello automatically takes the temperature of foods on the line, and records those temperatures. This saves time, while eliminating the need for manual probing every hour. Not to mention, it drastically improves the accuracy.

Play the full episode to see these cool products in action!