Technology is changing the way restaurants perform everyday functions, from serving customers to managing inventory to training staff. What’s more, as consumers clamor for convenience and digital-first options when dining out, automation and technology can help entice diners: According to Technomic’s 2017 Value & Pricing report, 22% of consumers say that kitchen automation that speeds up service is important for creating value. Seventy-four percent of consumers say that speed of service is important for creating value in a restaurant, while the same percentage say the same about order accuracy.
Automation also has the power to transform restaurants’ operations. Quality control is one area that can be vastly improved with the use of technology. Here are four reasons why.
1. Food quality is improved.
With automation, quality of food is more consistent. Technology allows for simpler and more efficient ways of preparing food. Modern kitchen equipment has programmable settings for specific food items, making it possible to cook foods such as bread and hamburgers to perfection and at a high rate of production. Automated labeling solutions can also help with the production of better quality food by providing a way to accurately label prepared food items.
Restaurants are also not far from the time when robot chefs may be rolling sushi, frying fries or making custom salads. The National Restaurant Association unveiled three such chefs at its show several years ago, in fact. And if consumers have anything to say about it, these robots will be coming to a restaurant near you soon—40% of consumers say they are likely to try menu items made by robots, according to Technomic’s October 2017 Omnibus Consumer Survey.
2. Food preparation is safer.
One critical area of quality control is food safety. Technology such as refrigeration monitoring systems can signal when temperatures in coolers or freezers rise above safe holding temperatures, which prevents the need to throw away food due to equipment failure. In addition, fixed sensors and handheld probes help restaurants measure the temperatures of food within seconds. Bluetooth sensors can also wirelessly record temperature readings in a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) log, increasing accuracy of daily reports and reducing the need for paper logs altogether. Thanks to this sensor technology, there ultimately may be fewer incidences of foodborne illness.
3. Communication is better.
Communication between the front-of-the-house and the back-of-the-house becomes more efficient with the use of technology, which can translate into a better guest experience. Mobile point-of-sale (POS) ordering systems eliminate traditional paper tickets and allow servers to inform kitchens with the click of a button about new, changed or canceled orders. Such systems help to cut down on mistakes on orders, reduce confusion when orders are eliminated or altered in some way and help to create a stronger team between the FOH and BOH. The technology of these kitchen display systems may include real-time communication, ticket updates, order timers and customizable displays.
4. Training is more efficient.
A pain point for almost every operator, labor—from employee engagement to training to scheduling—can also be streamlined with the use of automation. Digital tools allow for the proper training materials to be distributed to employees. These tools also make it easier to more rapidly update training documents, recipes and other information. Thanks to mobile technology, restaurants can provide videos on such topics as food safety and understanding point-of-sale systems as part of instructor-led training sessions. Operators also can provide streaming videos for employees in training to watch independently and be asked about later, which can be particularly helpful for younger staff, who may be used absorbing information online. These restaurant novices can watch the videos multiple times and at their own pace.
TransAct Technologies (NASDAQ: TACT) is a global leader in market-specific technology solutions. We have helped restaurants and convenience stores improve food safety, increase operational efficiencies and gain critical insights into their daily processes. Our mission is to transform customer’s back of house with custom solutions that automate manual processes to ensure food safety and empower people to work smarter, not harder.