Where Tech Plays Into Fast Food's COVID Recovery

    Controlling costs and waste is more critical than ever before.

    Mobile phone being held by person.
    Unsplash/Paul Hanaoka
    Restaurants re-opening today and maintaining a successful business will rely on automation to remain profitable and give attention to details that didn’t even exist prior to March of 2020.

    As restaurant businesses start to reopen, there are both immediate reopening concerns and a long-term strategic response to the Coronavirus. However, the most immediate concerns for quick serve restaurants are maintaining the health of the work force, protecting customers, and giving everyone confidence that they can enter the premises safely.

    What to do right now

    Right now is the time to create and implement technology that will work to ensure the safety of quick-service managers, employees and customers. It is also an opportune moment to explore the technology available to keeps customers and employees healthy and safe and the business viable and profitable.

    Automate best practices for takeout and delivery

    As quick-serves re-open, consumers will not only be focusing on post-pandemic health safety issues, they still have high expectations for accurate nutrition, ingredient and expiry labeling, especially in the grab and go space. Brands can’t rely on inefficient and error-prone hand printed labels – automation for accuracy and efficiency will be key in the post-pandemic marketplace.

    Quick-service restaurants will look very different in the months to come and may vary from state-to-state. There may be limited drive-thru, curbside take-out or delivery, reduced seating capacity or full-re-openings.

    For take-out and delivery, the onus is on restaurants to assure customers that the food is safe and continue to meet customer expectations of fresh food delivered quickly and accurately.

    That’s why automating food labeling for delivery and carryout—with complete information on ingredients, nutrition and time/date of prep—is so essential now and to future-proof processes.

    To give customers more confidence in food safety, tamper evident labeling offers assurance that their food has remained untouched since leaving the restaurant or store.

    Technology protects people post-pandemic

    The most pressing challenges will surround maintaining the sanitary conditions of the entire premises. While reminding employees of good hygiene rules is a given, enforcement can’t rely on reminding—or even watching employees wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Enforcing hygiene rules in the new crisis environment will require additional technology-based protocols that help prevent COVID-19 spread as well as foodborne illnesses, such as Norovirus, E-coli, Hepatitis A and Salmonella.

    Fortunately, the latest hand scanning technology can identify viruses and bacteria which informs associates that they must re-wash their hands, before the dangerous microbes are transferred from their hands to food they are handling.

    Automated solutions limit labor needs and simplifies processes

    Controlling costs and waste is more critical than ever before both to recoup losses and help assure future profitability. Start with employing RFID to have total inventory visibility so that you can track usage and expiry in order to track and minimize waste.

    Use cloud based, customizable digital checklist applications for task executions such as cleaning and disinfecting the restaurant. Temp trackers will ensure that refrigeration is maintained.

    These solutions store checklist data digitally and make it available for analysis and give visibility to completion and compliance. Eliminating paper logs simplifies kitchen processes and helps ensure sanitation protocols are being followed.

    Restaurants re-opening today and maintaining a successful business will rely on automation to remain profitable and give attention to details that didn’t even exist prior to March of 2020. As a quick-service restaurant serving the public, it’s essential to use technology tools to make sure to keep customers and employees safe and keep the business running profitably.

    Ryan Yost is vice president/general manager for the Printer Solutions Division (PSD) for Avery Dennison Corporation. In his role, he is responsible for worldwide leadership of and strategy for the Printer Solutions Division, focused on building partnerships and solutions within the Food, Apparel and Fulfillment industries. For more information, visit https://printers.averydennison.com/en/home.html.