Sweetgreen is preparing to center its future restaurants around its proprietary robot that shoots kale, cheese and other ingredients down tubes into bowls on a conveyor belt, reported the Wall Street Journal. The QSR opened its first location with the robot in May, and executives said that the system can cut the number of workers and time it takes to make a bowl by more than half.
The company plans to eventually have salad-making robots to staff all its new restaurants alongside human employees, said the Journal. The workers will prepare ingredients for the machine and others will dispense the meals to customers.
“A lot of other companies are trying to figure out how to add automation to their experience and are not willing to start over,” said Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman. “I’m willing to blow the whole thing up.”
The Sweetgreen system has customers place their order either online or through a screen at a restaurant, then the system combines the ingredients into bowls and spins them to mix. Workers then add other ingredients such as avocado.
During an average lunch rush without the robot, seven to nine workers are needed to assemble salads. With Sweetgreen’s salad-making robot, one to two people are needed, said the Journal.
Restaurants are continually striving to improve efficiency as food, labor and other costs remain high, reported the Journal. Other restaurants have experimented with automation and layouts to improve efficiency.
Chipotle recently partnered with Hyphen, a foodservice platform dedicated to automating kitchen operations, to automate making bowls and salads on the line.
When an order for a bowl or salad comes through the digital ordering platforms it is routed to the Hyphen system, which will then construct the bowl by moving the container along the line and adding ingredients.