Five Latest Tech Trends To Keep Your Eye On

Key points

  • Robotics and automation are making rapid inroads to the dine-in, takeaway and home delivery markets
  • Automated food preparation can save you time, money and labour costs and free up staff to focus more on delivering customer service and satisfaction
  • Sustainability tracking tools can help you make menus more sustainable and healthier
  • Digital kitchens and delivery by robot and drone are also becoming more widely used as foodservice businesses recognise their time and cost-savings benefits

From the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the rise of drones, robotics and automation is making rapid inroads to the dine-in, takeaway and home delivery markets and foodservice businesses with pizza and pasta on the menu are no exceptions. Here are five tech trends to keep an eye on:

AUTOMATED FOOD PREPARATION

Automating your kitchen’s food preparation area will save you time, money and labour costs, freeing staff up to focus more on delivering customer service and ensuring satisfaction. Given the current staff shortages across the industry, it’s no wonder tech companies are investing in creating solutions for the foodservice sector in this area.

American company Picnic has created the world’s first automated pizza delivery station at a college campus dining facility at Texas A&M University. The autonomous, completely customisable station starts with the pizza dough, applies sauce, cheese, fresh-cut pepperoni and additional toppings, then loads it into the oven for cooking. It can assemble up to 100 pizzas an hour while saving labour, increasing productivity, reducing food waste and improving food handling and safety. What used to require three staff members now only needs one!

SUSTAINABILITY TRACKING TOOLS

Sustainability in food is the watchword of the current Millennial generation of consumers who comprise the bulk of today’s market for dine-in, takeaway and home delivery. Consequently, tech companies like Bon Appetit Management are developing sustainability and wellness data tracking and reporting tools designed to give chefs and foodservice business owners easy to access and understand data to help make menus more sustainable and healthier.

Pulling data from multiple purchasing, finance and menu management systems, the Food Standards Dashboard keeps track of data such as local produce, amount of plant vs animal based foods on menu, compliance with accreditation criteria, and alignment with low carbon footprints to help decrease deforestation, lower transport miles and reduce waste.

DIGITAL KITCHENS

C3 has more than 250 ‘digital kitchens’ in the US serving 40 proprietary restaurant brands – meaning kitchens which leverage technology from mobile order apps and websites to deliver greater efficiencies and enable staff to focus more on the customer than on the process of preparing food.

Cloud-connected systems enable digital kitchens to connect with each other, populate order details and accept orders from outdoor kiosks, mobile devices and servers. This greater connectivity in online ordering means they can serve more food to more customers faster.

Their centralised data storage and analytics provides greater insight into operational efficiencies and also enables them to identify marketplace trends, which means they can refine their menus faster to attract more customers.

DELIVERY BY ROBOT

C3 has also partnered with robotics company Coco to deliver food via robot at three multiconcept food outlets in Los Angeles. The four wheeled autonomous ‘rovers’ cover a two mile radius around the busy dining hubs of Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Los Feliz, providing reduced delivery costs and faster delivery times.

Instead of having to wait for a delivery driver to arrive, restaurant staff load food into a robot as soon as it’s ready. The robots deliver the food 30 per cent faster than a human in a vehicle and have cut down the commissions paid to delivery drivers by up to 50 per cent.

Uber Eats has also announced plans to start using Serve Robotics delivery service to deliver food autonomously in LA later this year as part of a trial program likely to be rolled out into other areas.

DELIVERY BY DRONE DROP

Similar to using robots but taking advantage of the airways, Drone Drop launched in 2020 in Sydney as a means of delivering food and drinks from restaurants and cafes to customers within a 10km radius.

With no minimum order restrictions, Drone Drop allows customers to purchase as little or as much food as they like, either for immediate delivery or scheduled in advance via the Drone Drop website and mobile app.

Average delivery time is 15 to 20 minutes and Drone Drop has created a phone app to make ordering easy.

Another homegrown delivery via drone service is Wing, which has been expanding its local delivery service in the Brisbane city of Logan over the past two years, and has launched a new drone design with smaller rotors to be quieter than previous models, so that it doesn’t disturb neighbours while flying overhead. According to Wing’s community affairs spokesperson, the new drones make less noise than a passing car.

Wing is owned and operated by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and has seen a boom in business during the lockdowns of the past two years, with usage in Logan growing 500 per cent in 2020 vs 2019.