Pizza Today - June 2022 - 47

plan to deploy automation technology
within the next two to three years.
Amid the nation's persistent labor
shortage - a National Restaurant
Association survey last November
found four in fi ve eateries understaff ed
- many restaurants are hunting for
technology to support an overworked,
high turnover, and conspicuously
absent employee base. Automation
solves many frustrating staffi ng problems,
especially since a machine doesn't
call in sick or ghost its employer.
Th ough labor might be the primary
reason pizzeria operators are exploring
automation, such technologies spark
other attention-grabbing benefi ts,
from expediting service and improving
product consistency to reducing waste
and jumpstarting profi tability.
The robots are here
At Pizza Expo last March, Clayton
Wood and his colleagues welcomed
operators into Booth #2203 and
happily demonstrated Picnic, a pizza
assembly station enabling one kitchen
worker to produce up to 100 pizzas
each hour.
With Picnic, a staff member places
a sheet of dough on the system. Th at
dough then moves down a conveyor
belt where it is customized for size,
shape and toppings. For a monthly
fee, the company provides installation,
training and support, Wood says.
" Customers don't much care if a
human made their pizza, " he claims.
A recent Deloitte survey of 1,000
U.S. consumers supports Wood's
premise. More than half of the survey's
respondents had no qualms about
ordering food from a partially or fully
automated kitchen.
While the company's foremost aim
is to improve labor productivity, Wood
says the system also helps pizzerias
address high order volumes while minimizing
waste, boosting product consistency,
and informing decision making
in areas like purchasing and marketing
since data on ingredient consumption
and customer ordering patterns is also
provided.
Picnic, of course, is far from the
only emerging player in the restaurant
automation space. Th ere's robotic
technology eliminating the repetitive, if
not unsafe, tasks that tire staff mentally
and physically, such as dicing veggies or
frying chicken wings.
" Th e thinking is, 'Let's automate
the really tough jobs and keep the best
employees out front,' " says Massimo
Noja De Marco, a seventh-generation
restaurateur and the CEO of Piestro.
A fully automated pizzeria that looks
like a traditional vending machine,
Piestro prepares, cooks, cuts and boxes
a pizzeria's original recipes before
placing them into a smart locker for
customers. Operators, Noja De Marco
says, have been giddy at the machine's
prospects to deliver a consistent
product in minutes, curtail food waste,
and expand revenue since the whitelabel
units can be branded and placed
in venues like high-rise apartments or
college dorms.
" We can't build them fast enough, "
Noja De Marco says.
And for pizzerias bemoaning driver
shortages and third-party delivery's
outsized fees, how about a robotic
version of Door Dash or Uber Eats?
Th at's Coco, a remote-controlled cooler
on wheels. When a local delivery order
is ready, a restaurant staff member
places the order in the insulated cooler,
Coco marketing specialist Erin Brown
explains. Th ereafter, one of Coco's
pilots remotely drive the robot to the
customer - the radius extends about
two miles - before returning to the
restaurant to fulfi ll the next order.
Where automation can
go - and how it gets there
At present, high-tech restaurant
automation is in its infancy, but it is
growing - and fast. Richtech Robotics,
for example, boasts the Matradee, a bot
that waits and buses tables, a robotic
bartender named ADAM, and DUSTE,
a fl oor-cleaning robot. Domino's,
meanwhile, tested driverless delivery
in Houston last year and has experimented
with drones as well.
For certain, there are challenges to
mainstream adoption of many automated
solutions. First, most automated
tech requires some level of human
involvement, which means the technology
does not vanquish staffi ng issues.
Picnic, for example, doesn't replace a
human; in fact, it requires humans to
make every pizza. Second, many manufacturers
of these tech-fueled solutions
face their own supply chain issues with
components and parts slowing production.
Th ere are cost considerations, of
course, but Noja De Marco says those
are minimal since savvy operators see
automation's numerous benefi ts.
" Cost is not the but, " he says, adding
that Piestro charges a monthly fee
rather than an oversized upfront investment
so operators can immediately use
the technology.
Brown, meanwhile, lists consumer
trust and skepticism, government regulations
and limits on operational capabilities,
such as poor sidewalk infrastructure
and narrow delivery radiuses,
as some of Coco's biggest challenges,
while Picnic's Wood calls the " human
mind " the biggest hurdle to widespread
adoption. Wood says operators are
" future shocked " when they see Picnic
in action, struggling to understand
how the machine might exist in their
restaurant. For those able to wrap their
heads around the solution and other
automated tech like it, though, he sees
bright prospects.
" Th e future is unevenly distributed, "
he says. " If you start to adapt to automation
in near term, you're getting on
that learning curve that much sooner to
stabilize your business and position it
for long-term success. "
DANIEL P. SMITH Chicago-based
writer has covered business issues and best
practices for a variety of trade publications,
newspapers, and magazines.
JUNE 2022 / PIZZATODAY.COM / 47
http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Pizza Today - June 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - June 2022

Commentary
Digital
Conversation
Mike's Monthly Tip
Man on the Street
Building Blocks
On Deck
Knead to Know
Destinations
A Look at Loyalty
Third-party Conversion
Digital Marketing in 2022
Seasonal Salads
Seasonal Salads
Low Prep Wow Apps
Summer-Inspired Pizzas
The Outdoor Experience
Automation Nation
Exterior Maintenance
Product Showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Ctip1
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Ctip2
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover1
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover2
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Commentary
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 4
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 5
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 6
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 7
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Digital
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 9
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Conversation
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 11
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Mike's Monthly Tip
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 13
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 15
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Building Blocks
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 17
Pizza Today - June 2022 - On Deck
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 19
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 21
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 22
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 23
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Destinations
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 25
Pizza Today - June 2022 - A Look at Loyalty
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 27
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 28
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 29
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Third-party Conversion
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 31
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 32
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 33
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Digital Marketing in 2022
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 35
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Seasonal Salads
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 37
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Low Prep Wow Apps
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 39
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Summer-Inspired Pizzas
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 41
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 42
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 43
Pizza Today - June 2022 - The Outdoor Experience
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 45
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Automation Nation
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 47
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Exterior Maintenance
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 49
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 51
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 53
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 54
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 55
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 56
Pizza Today - June 2022 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 58
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 59
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 60
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 61
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 62
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 63
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 64
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 65
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover3
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover4
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