As foodservice operators continue to grapple with staffing and supply issues, robots are being tested by many as tools to ease pressures that have persisted through the pandemic. Here’s a look at some recent robot additions.
Late last month, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it will spend $1.6 million to bring 10 robotic sous chefs to the back of house at military bases. The aim? To reduce waste, step up sanitation and stay on top of staffing, the DOD says.
Two robots have helped fill staffing gaps at Wesley Enhanced Living Main Line in Media, Pa., where they are most often employed as food runners and bussers. The robots, which can hold up to eight entrees at one time, have taken on the tasks of about three human workers, Dining General Manager Shawn Fontaine told FSD.
And at Doctors Hospital, part of the OhioHealth network, robot barista Robojo has been a big hit since its debut in the lobby last month. With the help of some promos, the unit drew more than 500 orders on its first day and has settled into about 100 daily since, says Heather Buck, senior system director of food and nutrition services for OhioHealth.
Employees and visitors can choose from 250 different drink options, and those ordering cappuccinos and the like can personalize drinks with messages and photos drawn into the foam, providing fodder for smiles during what is often a tough time, Buck says. In addition, she says, “[the barista] doesn’t spread COVID, call in sick or miss the bus.”