The future is vast, with countless possibilities allowing us to dream big. There is no doubt that technology is revolutionizing the F&B industry. As such, we have seen new additions like robotic waiters, automatic conveyor belts and more as the years go by.
Just last month, we were introduced to Singapore's first robotic barista designed by Crown Digital. Meet ELLA, a fully automated AI machine who can prepare 200 cups of coffee in an hour! Keith Tan, the owner of Crown Digital, said that:
"ELLA was born from a real problem in our business. Shortage of labour and inconsistencies in service led to poor experiences. So, we created ELLA to solve these problems."
Here’s another example. Karakuri, a food robotics start-up, created an automated canteen that makes/serves food right off the bat. Although Karakuri’s robotic canteen was made originally for breakfast bowls, they have considered expanding its features to suit other departments of the F&B industry.
This system has the capability to manufacture and distribute food in restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and even vertical farms. All in all, gaining lots of financial support and investments from interested enterprises, summing up to a whopping $21.8 million!
So, can AI really help in these precarious times?
Many are considering to close their restaurants during this pandemic. An article by Bloomberg even states that “restaurants in the US will face an estimated $240 billion loss by 2020”. It may seem like all hope is lost. However, we should use this as an opportunity to become more innovative and bring our businesses back to life.
Right now, Crown Digital is earning way more than before due to the implementation of smart technology in their business. I mean, who wouldn't flock to a fully automated robot serving quick and quality coffee! Likewise, Karakuri’s modernised food distribution system garnered lots of attention and financial support from large enterprises. So, don't let go of the benefits that technology can bring to your F&B businesses.
Now then, let’s see what AI/smart technology can bring to the table. According to Karakuri, here are four key-ways technology can positively reshape the F&B industry. This is better known as “The 4th industrial revolution of food”.
1. Improving Safety and Quality
As human beings, we are prone to make mistakes every now and then. However, we've got a helping hand. With technology on our side, we can expect accurate yet speedy production, better consistency, and safer control over operations. This reduces the chances of human errors being made to a large extent.
With that said, technology is not used to replace human workers like what everyone thinks. Instead, it is positioned to augment people by taking on our boring, repetitive tasks. Having a smart-automated system not only gives us opportunities to partake in more exciting job scopes, but it ensures the safety and wellbeing of all staff too.
An example would be Starship Technologies’ self-driving robots. These little ones are in charge of delivering food, especially for workers who don’t have time to get lunch. We can definitely expect to see more of these autonomous deliverymen in the future. Perhaps, our GRAB food drivers could even be one of them!
2. Reduces Food Wastage
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, 1/3 of all food goes to waste. That is about 1.3 trillion Kilograms, leading to food shortages being one of the world's biggest concerns. Many supermarkets even throw away food simply because they do not look “appealing”.
However, AI allows food waste to be recycled and reorganized accordingly for further use (refer to the infographic above). This limits the amount of food being wasted and allows for more to be salvaged. With that being said, we should continue to preserve our food sources as much as possible.
Thankfully, the good folks at Lumitics have made the world’s most seamless food-waste tracker, Insight. This revolutionary system uses a proprietary AI image that recognises complex food, giving constructive feedback on how food can be salvaged. With it, chefs and food manufacturers are able to identify the type and quantity of food being thrown away daily! Here’s how it works:
3. Enables Healthier Eating
Now, this may seem a little odd. However, smart technology allows food to be produced in a safer and secure manner. This goes all the way back to agricultural practices, where AI drones are used to increase and monitor crops. Fun fact, they can even produce a 3-D map for soil analysis, finding out which parts of the field is best fit to plant different vegetables.
We are also seeing smartphone apps that use technology to create personalised meal plans and dieting advice. Heali, a health and nutrition start-up based in LA, recently announced the release of their new mobile app. What makes this app special is the detailed meal plans and health advice it prepares. All of which can be crafted almost immediately for its users due to the implementation of AI. You can learn more about the app here!
4. Provides Cleanliness and Hygiene
Lastly, technology plays an essential role in maintaining hygiene, which is especially important for the F&B industry. Using smart robots to clean and disinfect facilities make it a lot easier to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Not to mention, the costs that companies can save on hiring personnel to keep the place in check.
To support this, Universities in the UK are developing a self-optimized Clean In Place system (CIP). This system utilizes a multi-sensory function that detects food residue, cleaning swiftly and leaving the area spotless. It is even estimated that this approach can save the food manufacturing sector of up to $160 million a year! As the saying goes, a clean place, is a safe place.
So, could AI and smart-tech be the driving source of success for the F&B industry? The future may seem uncertain, but we should continue to strive for a brighter tomorrow. We hope that this piece of news can give you a glimpse of what the industry will look like henceforth. With that said, let’s continue to be innovative and find new ways to boost your business amidst this pandemic. You can visit our blogpost for 5 simple ways to make your restaurant’s social media content stand out!