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December 05, 2013

Automation of Restaurants would allow for higher wages but fewer jobs #Fastfoodstrikes

Today a few thousand people are striking in 100 cities for fast food workers to be paid $15/hour instead of $7.25 per hour.

A robotic hamburger kitchen already exists that can produce 360 gourmet hamburgers in one hour. McDonalds corporation has enough profit to fund the development of automated machines that could provide a one year return on investment. Each McDonalds might need more one machine. Each machine takes up 24 square feet and replaces the people who cook and the kitchen.


Here are the numbers for an average McDonald's restaurant in Michigan

Individual restaurants spend nearly $507,595 on wages, or more than $1,390 per day (25.1% of each restaurant's revenues)

Combines, wages and benefits consume more than 31.9% of the average McDonald's restaurant's sales

Average McDonalds sells $2.1 million per year in revenue. Assuming $3 per meal that is 700,000 hamburgers or about 2000 per day. Some burgers are more expensive while the value burgers are cheaper.

Individual restaurants employ approximately 61 people in operations and restaurant management positions.
The average McDonald's spends nearly $128,325 on manager and support staff salaries.

So $380,000 on crew wages. This would be 52,400 minimum wage hours. 26 full time equivalents at minimum wage, but it is split among 50 mostly part time people.



If a McDonalds had 3 or 4 different automated cooking kitchen units they could produce high end and low end burgers and french fries and apple pies etc... Some of the machines would be very simple as McDonalds apple pies and many other menu items are just heated and served. Drink, shake, and desert machines would also be easy to automate.

We already have self service checkout at supermarkets and many restaurants have internet or mobile phone ordering.



With automation the staff could be reduced to 6 (2 per shift, plus there are still the same managers in the separate salary category) people who provided oversight of the automated cooking, ordering and checkout systems and provide a couple of human checkouts like the staffing of a supermarket. There would be an engineer-mechanic-computer specialist who would maintain the systems.

Total wages would be cut in half and number of jobs reduced by 4 times and the meals would either cost the same or less depending upon competition and the market situation.

Gas stations used to have staff of about 5 people or more. Now most only have 1 or 2 people. 1 person if they are just selling gas and may 2 or 3 if they also have a convenience store.

Javabot and Roasting Plant coffee shops

The automated restaurant model probably works better for In and Out burger with a simpler menu or a Starbucks which already has higher wages and having different coffee and blended drinks would be like having different inks in an inkjet machine.

It already exists with the javabot at the Roasting Plant coffee shops. It is likely that is the new competitor that will enter with the new model. Like Redbox killing Blockbuster in movies.

The roasting plant coffee restaurants have the javabot for producing coffees.

Roasting Plant’s proprietary system uses custom-designed pneumatic tubes to produce the freshest cup of coffee on the market today.




Japan already has fully automated restaurants with no waiters

The latest technology ensures food can be cooked to order and delivered to you by conveyor belt with your bill being calculated as you dispose of your used plates down a chute to be washed.

The automated restaurant in Tokyo has each table is equipped with a touchscreen ordering system, a high speed food delivery conveyor, and a chute for dirty plates. The only staff are in the kitchen, which is also partially automated.



Five year old video of an automated restaurant in Germany



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