Automation Can Futureproof Foodservice Operations

New solutions can revolutionize food retailing as retailers face labor headwinds.
Melissa Kress
Executive Editor
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A robot serving food

NEW YORK — Throughout history, technology has made life easier for businesses and that holds true today in food retailing.

As James Boushka, digital experience director at Aramark, pointed out during an education session at NRF 2023: Retail's Big Show, 32 percent of the U.S. population lived or worked within the agricultural or farming industries in 1916. Then, machinery came along to revolutionize farming.

"We have always sought faster ways to do things, so they are not so laborious. We have sought to make life easier," Boushka said during the session titled " Five Reasons Automation Will Save Your Restaurant."

Much as it did for the farming industry in the early 1900s, machinery can revolutionize the food retailing industry today — especially as retailers and restaurants grapple with labor issues.

According to Boushka, the ever-changing labor environment is fighting against strong headwinds as consumers demand faster, more efficient service from food retailers. That's where automation can play a role, notably in five key areas:

  1. Employee safety,
  2. Cost savings,
  3. Consistency,
  4. Waste reduction, and
  5. Profitability.

Automation leads to a cost-positive experience, he pointed out. "I challenge you to think about your day. Find those mundane tasks and there is an automated solution, an automation experience that can help build the momentum for you and your restaurant," Boushka urged.

He advised, however, that it is important for food retailers to talk with their staff about the tasks they want to do vs. what they don't want to do before adding automation and risking the alienation of team members.

"When we work with team members on how to use automation, they do not find it a threat," he said. "If they don’t want to do it, or there simply isn't staff to do those tasks, we have to think about how to automate those. It almost futureproofs us."

NRF 2023: Retail's Big Show was presented by the National Retail Federation (NRF) at the Javits Center in New York from Jan. 15-17. 

About the Author

Melissa Kress
Melissa Kress is Executive Editor of Convenience Store News. Read More