The White Castle quick service hamburger chain in the United States is accelerating work with Miso Robotics – creators of the first autonomous grilling and frying kitchen assistant, Flippy – to target up to 10 new locations (in addition to the initial testing site) following completion of their current pilot project. The announcement on October 27 came following early results at one test location.
The move is expected to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics in the restaurant industry, critical technologies needed to tackle new challenges brought by SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) pandemic challenges such as social distancing in kitchens, takeout and delivery demand, and higher standards for health and safety via contactless solutions.
White Castle will implement the new commercially available version of Flippy Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR), announced earlier this month, into kitchens to enhance production speeds, empower employees behind the counter and maintain consistent quality and taste – while continuing to ensure high levels of customer experience.
The chain’s decision to pilot Flippy in the kitchen in July 2020 came as Covid-19 was presenting new constraints for restaurant operations. The need to limit staff while maintaining cooking speeds – as order volume shifted to delivery and takeout – created a new set of challenges that needed to be addressed to keep customer satisfaction high and remain competitive in a radically transformed industry ecosystem where concerns of food contamination had elevated considerably.
Miso Robotics offered the solution: an intelligent platform and autonomous robotic team member for the kitchen capable of accelerating throughput, integrating with delivery and takeout applications to optimize quick and contactless food preparation and cooking. Early results have shown promise.
“Artificial intelligence and automation have been an area White Castle has wanted to experiment with to optimize our operations and provide a better work environment for our team members,” said Lisa Ingram, chief executive officer of the Columbus, Ohio-headquartered chain. “We believe technology like Flippy ROAR can improve customer service and kitchen operation. This pilot is putting us on that path – and we couldn’t be more pleased to continue our work with Miso Robotics and pave the way for greater adoption of cutting-edge technology in the fast food industry.”
Flippy ROAR is able to optimize staffing during late night shifts for the 24-hour restaurant, traditionally difficult slots to fill, now further challenged by social distancing – ensuring White Castle customer service standards stay high at all hours. With labor able to focus on front-of-the-house needs, employees are increasing their attention to order fulfillment for delivery and takeout. Miso Robotics’ recent advancements to the platform and proprietary software, ChefUI, which powers Flippy ROAR, further assist team members in quality assurance by integrating with delivery applications to sync order completion with driver pick-up time, optimizing food prep production lines and customer delivery.
More sensors and camera capabilities also provide chain operators with visibility into real-time inventory needs and intelligent insights – such as projection and recommendations for bulk orders. Production speeds are being tracked to increase and meet demand needs, reaching an average of 360 baskets of fried foods a day. In total, approximately 14,580 lbs. of food over 9,720 baskets since the pilot was instituted in late September 2020.
All meals are equipped with an added layer of health and safety – with Flippy ROAR serving as a contactless, automated solution with NSF International certification, a trusted industry organization providing standard testing and registration for commercial foodservice equipment and nonfood compounds
“We have been so excited to work closely with White Castle to optimize Flippy ROAR to meet the needs of their kitchen for increased production, team member optimization and quality assurance,” said Buck Jordan, president and chairman of Pasadena, California-headquartered Miso Robotics. “Our platform has become increasingly powerful and intelligent – allowing us to quickly scale, integrate into operations and show our ability to help keep customer service standards on par with White Castle’s industry reputation of excellence. As we move into the next phase of our partnership, we look forward to accelerating our results and delivering even greater value across White Castle locations.”
About White Castle
White Castle, America’s first fast food hamburger chain, has been in business for more than 99 years. It started serving The Original Slider, made from 100% USDA inspected beef, in 1921. Today the company owns and operates more than 365 restaurants across the United States, in a growing number of international locations, and at military exchanges around the world.
The Original Slider, named in 2014 as Time Magazine’s most influential burger of all time, is served alongside a menu of creatively crafted sliders and other food options including french fries. White Castle’s commitment to maintaining the highest quality products extends to the company owning and operating its own meat processing plants, bakeries and frozen food processing plants.