White Castle to Man Fry Station with Robot
It is the latest addition to QSR’s long list of restaurant technology innovations. Last year at the MURTEC Executive Summit, attendees got a special after-hours tour of the new Scottdale, Ariz., location led by White Castle’s VP of Technology and HT’s 2020 Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award winner Susan Carroll-Boser.
Flippy on Fries
While the location is TBA, Flippy ROAR will automate the fry station, will help enable social distancing on the line and frees up team members for other tasks. Plus, it reduces human contact with food during the cooking process and slashes the potential for transmission of food pathogens. Miso Robotics has partnered with Pathspot, winner of the RTN Startup Alley Pitch Slam at MURTEC, to make sure everyone touching Flippy has clean hands.
The implementation also brings a new level of intelligence to cooking that includes tapping into sensors, intelligent monitoring and anticipating kitchen needs to keep food temperatures consistent to ensure optimal quality and consistency. Expected to be up and running by Oct. 1, the initial Flippy ROAR deployment will test speeds in production, taste, quality and operational optimization with backend POS integration. It will be tested to improve employee and food preparation, before being integrated into other locations.
This 99-year-old QSR has always kept an eye on what’s next.
“… We take a great amount of pride in our history – never forgetting about the future ahead,” said Lisa Ingram, fourth generation family leader and CEO of White Castle. “With 100 years of quick-service success, the time has never been more perfect to envision what the next century of White Castle and the restaurant industry looks like.”
At the 2019 MURTEC Executive Summit, Caroll-Boser shared how White Castle is rethinking the customer journey − AI, voice technology, automation, geolocation and more. And at MURTEC 2020, she shared her insights on the IT Leadership Panel: Tech Leaders Tell All.
The Miso Robotics’ solution not only brings robotics/automation to the kitchen, but also includes computer visioning and AI.
For example, if the burger line is backed up 10 minutes, Flippy adjusts the time to drop the fries, and makes sure there’s cheese on the burger, and everything that is supposed to go in the bag, goes in the bag including sauces.
Timing is Everything
With the rise of delivery, these types of tech solutions have broad appeal for QSRs, fast casual brands and ghost kitchens.
“Now everyone is concerned about speed of service. If you drive 15 minutes to deliver, you have to make sure you have a high quality item. You want it fresh and as hot as possible before it comes off the line,” says Buck Jordan, CEO and Co-Founder of Miso Robotics.
In general, “Delivery is a high stakes game for brands,” says Jordan. “The customer can go into the delivery app and hit refund, and (post a negative review) and your brand is damaged.”
The detriment is the cost. Currently Flippy runs about $30,000 plus $1,500 month service fee – which puts it firmly out of place for many restaurants. Miso has launched a robotics as a service model and hopes to get the unit cost down to 0 next year, Jordan says.
In related news, Miso Robotics is now doing a crowd-funding raise.
There’s “serious demand” for this type of technology, he adds, and can help restaurants to grow, “not just hang on by their fingernails. We think automation is a key to making a difference."