Automated kitchens may be the future of restaurant business

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According to new survey data, the overwhelming majority of restaurants in India have invested or are in the process of investing in new automation technology. Restaurant consultants in India believe it is a matter of time before food establishments in India follow suit.
  • Sakshi Singh
Automated Kitchen

The restaurant industry has always focused on innovation and readily accepted new ideas. And one area that has greatly benefited from this drive towards the future is the kitchens. A glance into this space can reveal the use of hi-tech appliances and equipment, helping the staff cut down on cooking time and increasing production. 

 

Although the human factor has always been present, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed this and forced the industry to adapt to more significant kitchen automation. According to new survey data, the overwhelming majority of restaurants in India have invested or are in the process of investing in new automation technology. Restaurant consultants in India believe it is a matter of time before food establishments in India follow suit. 

 

The new reality of lives during and post the pandemic has led much of the restaurant industry to re-imagine how they can conduct business. Dine-in has significantly reduced, while the trend for takeaways and deliveries, which was already rising due to the widespread use of delivery applications, has increased exponentially. Therefore, the establishments need to have a high level of production that could meet the rising demand. Whale automated kitchens are mostly associated with cloud kitchens, it has been observed lately that fine-dining set-ups too are looking to adapt this change.

 

Time is money: Having an automated kitchen saves on prep time and cooking time. While some restaurants are fast food or quick service, others provide fine dining. In any of these scenarios, the automated process will churn out the dishes quicker. Some restaurant consultants project that in the future, the entire kitchen can be automated. However, at present, in most places, one can see automation being used in specific ways, such as flipping burgers, assembling pizzas or nachos. While this does not remove the need for employees, it does reduce labour costs, cleanliness, and human error.  

 

Reduces labor cost: While it may seem like automation in the kitchen would be more expensive, they ultimately may not be for some restaurants. Why? The automated kitchen is cheaper because the cost is incurred only once. It is cheaper to employee robots than it is to employ humans. The robot doesn’t cost to operate it, and one don’t have a monthly salary to pay. In addition, since they are virtually mistake-free, one can save time in overages and costly human error.

 

“I was a chef of multiple outlets, and use a lot of technology and had few experienced staff in my kitchen to increase efficiency. I am introducing Kitchen Display System in my all restaurants. These systems help in improving communication between the front-end and the back-end teams. Digital receipts of orders appear immediately on monitors/tablets installed in kitchen and also helps in improving cooking time,” Rahul Khare, Corporate Executive Chef, Finch Mumbai informed.

 

Additionally, at Finch Mumbai, Khare is using Smart Combi Oven in the kitchen, that is a three-in-one oven that can cook using convected heat, steam, or a combination of both. It adds another layer of technology to the appliance by offering the ability for remote control and monitoring. Benefits are as follows, it saves money and takes up less kitchen space and Increases food safety.

 

Highly consistent: Many companies who offers kitchen automation has seen increase in queries, specially post Covid. Bengaluru-based Mukunda Foods manufactures machines that make various foods without any human intervention. Its machines - DosaMatic, Eco Fryer, RiCo and Wokie, are all manufactured in-house, and used to make dosas, rice, noodles, and curries in a contactless format. 

 

Today, Mukunda Foods counts several well-known names among its B2B clients including ITC, Rebel Foods, Wow Momos, Chaayos, The Bowl Company, etc. More than 3000 machines have been installed in India and in countries like the UK, the US, Australia and Singapore so far. In the pre-pandemic times, they were able to sell more than 150 machines quarterly, and this number has now gone up to more than 500.

 

Ghost Kitchens, a cloud kitchen company, has invested in a series of automated products that has transformed the kitchen into a semi-automatic workspace. An automatic cooking station, and not human chefs, call the culinary shots.

 

Higher profits: Increasing table turns isn’t the only the way the use of technology can increase profits. During lunch time service, or when customers have limited time to eat, speeding up service times gives them the opportunity to spend more by ordering additional courses, such as dessert. 

 

“A well-organized kitchen is one of the most important prerequisites for running a restaurant. A diverse menu requires different segments in the kitchen for different types of cuisines like a different segment for Asian, Indian, continental and desert. In order to function smoothly the chefs are supported with  equipment ranging from traditional fryers, mincers, grills to innovative machines like  sous vide cooker, siphon gun, steamers and more. Efficient kitchens are the backbone of a successful restaurant and future-ready restaurants must be able to adapt to modern innovation and changes, given the dynamism in the F&B space,” 

Shreevardhan Asopa, Co-owner, LMNO_Q commented.

 

By using kitchen automation restaurants have also gained higher profits simply because they’ve received fewer complaints. Usually when restaurants receive a complaint they offer complimentary food or drinks or even an overall discount. A reduced number of complaints reduces the money lost from these complimentary items.

 

“Our products ensure that our clients achieve ROI between one to a maximum of six months. To put it in context, the major cost heads in any F&B business are Manpower, Training, electricity & oil consumption, and wastage. These automations are aimed at reducing and minimizing each of these header costs,” Eshwar K Vikas, Co-founder and CEO, Mukunda Foods had commented.

 

Guest experience: A customers’ experience can be enriched by technology in a handful of ways. For guests seated near an open kitchen their dining experience can easily be ruined by the noise and disorder coming from chefs, because automation organises the cooking process this creates a calmer kitchen and as a result the surrounding dining area is quieter. The quality and accuracy of meals is also improved; automation software ensures an entire tables order is completed at the same time so every member of the group receives their food at the optimum temperature. The software also highlights when there changes to an order like extra cheese or no olives so that any variations are not forgotten.

 

Reduce waste: Wasted food means wasted money, not simply in physical form but in time as well. For quick service or single item restaurants cooking the right amount of food while minimising wastage is crucial. With the bin management component of automation software operators are able to automate the hot hold process, allowing food to be hot held but for the least amount of time possible, ensuring items are not discarded for being held for too long. Using historical sales data, a bin management solution predicts how much product will be sold in 15 minute intervals during service and can be adjusted by operators to adapt calculations based on busy days or service requirements.

 

More restaurants seeking opportunity: Shaurya Malwa, co-founder of Origin Restaurants (owns Nho Saigon and The Canary) informs that the company would like to explore new innovations and techniques in order to make the experience seamless and ease job of employees. 

 

“In restaurant kitchens, technology is the one way to propel forward. The one technology that we have put in use is Automated Ordering System. This basically means that we have installed digital sensors in our refrigerators and other storage areas that automatically replenishes inventory in a busy restaurant, such as ours,” Malwa stated.

 

Furthermore, the team have installed automatic climate control systems which changes the room's temperature and humidity levels. This helps to create a better environments for the chefs to work in. “We would like to explore more such innovations to improve our kitchens,” he further added.

 

Remotely controlled kitchen: The Internet of Things (also known as IoT) is a network of physical appliances and devices that use a digital connection to communicate with each other. Implemented in a commercial kitchen setting, Internet of Things technology can be used to create a smart, remotely controlled kitchen.

 

In an Internet of Things commercial kitchen, the refrigerator could track and reorder inventory on your behalf. But really, this is just one example of the endless applications and possibilities of an IoT kitchen. Here are some benefits to an IoT remotely controlled kitchen like

 

Lowering the labor costs. With a smart kitchen that can automate repetitive tasks such as monitoring appliances and tracking inventory, one can accomplish more with a smaller team.

 

With remote monitoring through the Internet of Things, one can also keep track of the restaurant kitchen in a remote scenario. A remotely controlled kitchen is not a pre-made product but a bespoke network. IoT providers can design and install an Internet of Things kitchen that’s right for the restaurant.

 

While state-of-the-art restaurant technologies may cost more than their traditional counterparts at the outset, these tools quickly pay for themselves with the value they add to your restaurant. Some food service equipment trends come and go as quickly as the cronut, while others, like remote controlled smart appliances and digital kitchen display systems, are here to stay. This new technology in the food service industry can set you and your restaurant up for success for years to come.

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