09 Apr
Will Robots Replace Fast-Food Workers? Will Robots Replace Fast-Food Workers?

Will Robots Replace Fast-Food Workers?

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Fast-food restaurants in some parts of Europe already use touch-screen ordering systems that take your order, accept debit/credit payment and spit out a number that's called when your order is ready to be retrieved at the counter. One day, fast-food establishments could use robots to cook and serve your food items, suggests a report from financial services company Cornerstone Capital Group.

While it could take a decade or so for that idea to become a reality, there are compelling reasons for why automation of the fast-food business makes bottom-line sense. Noting that food and labor costs account for anywhere from 60% to 70% of industry revenues, the report has identified three factors which portend to place significant upward pressure on costs.

First, there is the matter of income distribution across various social classes, which has become a matter of contention lately; and, as workers continue to lobby for a higher minimum wage, this factor could have an even greater impact on costs. Second, it's hard for restaurant owners to calculate the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare), which makes it difficult to calculate costs for health care. And the effects of corn fuel, China and climate change "have the industry questioning whether the pronounced recent spike in food price volatility is structural in nature."

Raising prices is not the best option, because of the unpredictability of factors such as inflation as well as the average wage of workers; people who are making smaller amounts of money would be disproportionately affected by price spikes, which could drive down business.

While automation is currently complementing labor (e.g., touchscreen ordering), the day may come, the report says, to automate labor.

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Read 3320 times Last modified on Saturday, 21 March 2015 04:11
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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