From lowering labor costs to keeping employees safe and happy, “cobots” have many advantages.

Labor costs are a perpetual challenge for restaurant operators. Recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining staff takes not only a monumental amount of financial resources, but also valuable time that could be spent on other business operations. 

This ongoing challenge has prompted restaurateurs to embrace automation in all parts of the industry, from marketing to ordering (think self-service kiosks) to the latest groundbreaking advancement in food and beverage: collaborative robots. 

Unlike their larger and more powerful industrial counterparts—which are typically separated from human workers by barriers or cages to prevent accidents and injuries—collaborative robots are designed to work safely alongside humans. They are smaller, more compact, and designed to stop moving when unexpected impacts are encountered. As such, they’re perfect for foodservice, where they can act as sous chefs, baristas, bartenders, and more. 

“With a staggering 144 percent turnover rate in the quick-service industry, collaborative robots are emerging as a solution, ensuring consistent food quality, reduced waste, and reliable service—ultimately enhancing ROI for those forward-thinking enough to embrace this transformative technology,” says Alex Lee, President of Doosan Robotics Americas.

Doosan Robotics’  E-SERIES holds an IP66 rating and is NSF-certified, meaning it can perform a variety of tasks in the kitchen, from operating fryers to scooping ice cream to pouring beer and making specialty coffees. They are particularly good at “dull, dirty, and dangerous” jobs that involve repetitive motions or working near hazardous equipment such as hot grills and fryers. These positions often see high staff turnover, so the E-SERIES has the potential for significant ROI in a relatively short amount of time. 

“We’ve seen a slowdown in hiring for these jobs, which are tough on the body as well as the mind,” Lee says. “Collaborative robots are not meant to replace humans, but to reallocate them to positions that are more fulfilling.”  

Doosan’s E-SERIES collaborative robot is designed specifically for food and beverage applications and boasts both PL e and Cat 4 safety ratings—the highest in the industry, so they do not require barriers or safety cages to protect employees. Since they take up the same amount of space as a person, valuable kitchen real estate doesn’t need to be remodeled or reconfigured. Additionally, they are easy to install and can perform different tasks. For instance, if the menu changes and the robot is no longer needed to operate the fry basket, it can be reprogrammed and redeployed to flip burgers or package food. 

Doosan’s collaborative robots are affordable for even mom-and-pop restaurants, but final pricing depends on the task it is assigned to do, and operators must work with an integration partner to realize the solution. 

“We believe collaborative robots are poised to seamlessly integrate into the fabric of everyday operations in the food service industry, becoming an indispensable partner,” Lee says. “As technological advancements continue, these robots will help redefine efficiency and productivity while delivering a significant return on investment for operators, and we’re excited to be part of that.”

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