Around the Table: Automation in Quick-Service Restaurants


In the age of technology, convenience reigns king. In the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry, where convenience and speed are part of the product, technology is a natural business partner. “Around the Table,” explores how automation has made its way into franchises all over the country, with the full extent of its capabilities still untapped. Antunes guests Steve Gauger, Senior Vice President of Advanced Development & Automation, and Dan Hartlein, President, speak decisively about automation’s potential to improve quick-service system, customer satisfaction, and profits.

The term “automation,” often brings to mind visions of intricate machines roving around autonomously. But Hartlein and Gauger assure that automation doesn’t have to be that complicated, or wildly futuristic. In fact, Antunes designs automated programs that integrate into a QSR’s already established kitchen space, resulting in little disruption to established processes.

Whatsmore, automating need not be a giant change. In fact, small, granular changes can have major ripple effects in efficiency and profits. From cutting slices of cheese, to fishing out pickle spears, automating these small tasks in the assembly line can produce drastic changes in QSR performance.

As the COVID-19 sits heavy in everyone’s thoughts, Hartlein and Gauger point out the hygienic benefits of automated processes, emphasizing the consumer’s growing habits of ordering-in or delivery. But will automation steal jobs from people? Gauger and Hartlein assure that’s not the case.

With automation still breaking ground in the quick-service industry, the possibilities are endless and processes are ripe for improvement.

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