In restaurants, grocery stores, food processing plants, and the agricultural field, food automation is increasing productivity and enhancing food safety in the supply chain. Across the food service industry, automation helps promote scalability, efficiency, and quality control. By enabling workers with the right automated tools in food production - restaurants, and grocery stores, many similar companies are easing their labor shortages and the effects of inflation on their slim profit margins.
How Is Automation Changing the Food Industry?
Automated technologies are now being used in every phase of food production, from harvesting and transportation, storage and holding to back of house operations including food preparation and delivery. Some examples where automation increases productivity include:
- Fast food restaurants fry chicken, cook hamburgers, and notify personnel of cooking times and temperatures.
- Remote sensors aid in maintaining a constant brand identity and level of quality.
- Automation and monitoring equipment is used in grocery stores and restaurants to more effectively process online orders, monitor safe freezer, refrigerator, and warm holding temperatures, and prepare food in controlled surroundings.
- Bakeries and markets use smart ovens, air fryers, warming drawers, cameras, and remote temperature sensors to control all aspects of in-store food production and preparation.
- Large scale food manufacturing plants use automation extensively for speed and consistency in product production, while monitoring food safety at every step of the process.
Advantages of Automated Solutions in the Food Service Industry
Technological advances in automation are transforming the industry by:
Improving Quality Control
Automation allows food and beverage businesses to monitor and track quality throughout the process while maximizing ingredient use and delivering a consistently excellent product.
When brand image and taste are paramount, automation with the assistance of technology produces the highest-quality result that is reliably consistent.
Increasing Productivity and Output
Introducing automation and robots to the labor force increases productivity with noticeably less number of employees. In the food processing industry, robots can work 24/7 with greater speed and precision. Automated quality control can alert staff to issues as soon as the product is in danger of not meeting specifications. Using IoT technology, automated equipment can communicate with other smart devices for data collection and real time alerts to management.
Mitigating Labor Shortages
Making the most effective use of their talented human labor force, restaurants, grocery stores, and other areas of the foodservice industry are adding digital automation systems that reduce training time and maximize each essential worker. Floor cleaning, surface sanitization, meat slicing, and even sandwich making can take place with minimal human supervision, which increases productivity and improves workplace safety.
Food preparation can be done in hot or cold environments without harming employees or necessitating the use of additional safety equipment or procedures. Temperature monitoring and automated checklists that serve as structured instructions and adhere to HACCP standards can be used by managers to evaluate employee performance. Additionally, automation lessens the need to hire and fire personnel in response to seasonal changes in workload, enabling businesses to provide full-time, year-round employment.
Reducing Costs and Managing Inflation
Industrial robots have been building high tech equipment for other industries for some time, and they are rapidly gaining greater acceptance in the food production industry. With slim profit margins, rising inflation has spurred many industry leaders to implement food automation technologies. Smart warehousing and temperature controls also prevent food waste and inventory loss due to spoilage or unsafe handling while protecting the safety of the food supply chain.
In order to remain compliant with USDA and FDA regulation surrounding food production and processing, your products need to be traceable. Automation allows businesses to trace the history of a food item and analyze trends to prevent quality problems before they happen. In the event of a product recall, your company can respond quickly and accurately to prevent customer injuries. Industries employ automated tracking and monitoring systems to help protect food safety and also provide valuable data to analyze for process improvement opportunities.
Protecting Your Brand Image and Reputation
Brand image and reputation for quality and safety are essential to food-related businesses. Poor reviews due to inconsistent preparation and handling can have a very negative impact on a good restaurant or grocery store. When consistent taste and appearance matter, automation ensures that customers have the same high-quality experience every time they choose your brand. Knowing exactly how each food item has been handled and cared for during the process, and that hygiene and sanitation procedures are being followed by all employees, can safeguard your valuable business reputation.
Is This the Right Time to Automate Your Food Business?
For much of our history, workers in food harvesting, processing, and preparation did every task by hand. There is value in personal creativity and talent all across the food industry. However, there are many repetitive tasks that can be more safely and efficiently completed with the precision of automated equipment. There may be many areas in your business where automation can improve productivity and even reduce worker fatigue and discomfort.
When your employees are not bogged down with time-consuming repetitive tasks, they can give more attention to personalized customer service and quality control. The value of human interaction is maintained while, behind the scenes, automation empowers workers to do more.
Some reasons to make the move to food automation are:
- When employee turnover is high or labor shortages impact your ability to be productive
- Because the technology has become more accessible and cost-effective to install
- When online orders and delivery have become a large part of your business model
- If you struggle to remain in compliance and satisfy regulatory audits with your current technology
- When inflation and rising costs of doing business threaten to eliminate your profit margin
- If you want the ability to retool and quickly adapt to seasonal or specialty food production
- To set yourself apart as a reliable, safe, and efficient contributor to the local or national food supply chain
Learn More About Automated Food Safety Systems
Many national restaurant chains, grocery stores, and food manufacturers use ComplianceMate systems to manage production and back-of-house operations. With automated checklists and remote temperature monitoring and control, your business can increase production and maximize your employee productivity. Track data centrally across multiple locations and quickly respond to quality control or food safety concerns.
Schedule a free demo of ComplianceMate systems today and find out how you can protect food safety, prevent waste, and automate your food preparation and handling. Take advantage of valuable business intelligence and monitor food quality across all phases of your process. Contact us today to find out more about how food automation increases productivity and profitability in your niche market.