The current gastronomy is dominated by a shortage of skilled workers. At the same time, digitization is advancing and opening up new markets. Will this lead to a revolution in personnel policy? Are robots the solution?
Since the restart of the gastronomy, the guests have been back, but the staff is missing. This is also the case in the service area: no phenomenon of the post-lockdown time, but the shortage of skilled workers was increasingly exacerbated by the far-reaching regulations that were put in place to contain the corona virus. Companies around the world are working on promoting automation in restaurants using high-tech robots. One of them is the Swiss marketing agency Precom Group AG, which specializes in digitization in the catering sector. “To save the catering business from the worst, service robots could be an alternative,” says managing director Thomas Holenstein, naming a way out of the personnel crisis. “Their acquisition costs are still high. But it’s worth it, because the artificial intelligence takes the strain off your colleagues, works quickly and efficiently.” For Holenstein, the advantages are obvious. They are already being used, for example, in the Graz “Momoda”.
1. Service robots can be used longer
Every human needs time to regenerate. Despite the statutory rest periods, even a skilled worker can be tired or simply not performing at full capacity. Not a robot: in the morning at five it is just as fit as at half past one at night. He doesn’t need a vacation, is never sick, and never quits. Once programmed, it only needs electricity to function.
2. Service robots are very efficient
In the catering industry, skilled workers often work in shifts. Whether early, late or the night shift in the hotel business, nobody can manage all of this continuously. A robot can do it! In the ideal case, he will therefore not only replace one specialist, but more. He easily takes over several shifts one after the other, which makes him extremely efficient. If used wisely, it can even increase productivity: There are two famous robots in Shanghai, Kona and Koya, which make noodle dishes at extreme speed. They are an attraction on top of that, so they attract guests. Other robots also show top performance: For example, non-humanoid service staff carried up to four times more dishes than a human.
All of this saves the employer considerable costs. The potentially high acquisition costs therefore quickly pay for themselves.
3. No more personnel problems!
A career in gastronomy is not very attractive for young people. Fewer trainees also mean fewer skilled workers, and that creates a shortage of staff.
This is where the service robots score! Because they are constantly learning and taking on increasingly complex tasks. Your sensor technology is getting better and your software is becoming more and more sophisticated. This is what the future could look like: With one or more robots, perfect personnel planning is very easy.
4. Service robots are suitable for pandemics
Pandemics will accompany us into the future, all experts agree. Keeping your distance is just as important as impeccable hygiene.
Robots as service staff are a good solution: They cannot infect anyone and still ensure that the guest feels comfortable in the hotel or restaurant.
5. Service robots in the catering industry do not need any training time
Every new employee needs a training period. The fact is that the instructor has double work during this time, while the new one works with half the strength. The stress is high during a training phase. If there is also a high fluctuation, such training periods are needed again and again.
Robots, on the other hand, only have to be programmed for their new tasks. Once this has happened, they immediately bring in all of their work. This completely eliminates the training time. The work progresses faster because all employees can devote themselves fully to their work.
Several companies are now promoting their innovations in the emerging market – even if the industry itself still seems skeptical. These include the burger robot from the American start-up Creator, which is supposed to make 400 burgers an hour, or the app-controlled serving robot from the start-up Cedar Robotics from Seattle. But drinks can also be served without human intervention: For example, using the coffee robot from Cafe X or the cocktail robot from The Tipsy Robot. The machines produce at least one drink every minute. However, the robots are currently unable to respond flexibly to individual customer requests. The saving could come at the expense of the service quality, is therefore the fear, even if the machines always have a smile ready for the guests and promise safety in everyday gastronomic work through sensor, braking and balance technology. One thing is certain: there is no substitute for personal contact and personal service. However, we have to deal quickly with alternatives for skilled worker.