In Brief
  • Wendy's is the third largest burger chain in the world after McDonald's and Burger King, and their new self-serve kiosks could be the key to topping the charts.
  • Scientists have predicted that automation would takeover jobs in many industries, and food service may be one of the first where robots are the most cost-effective and efficient.

Experts have predicted that machines will take over a good number of jobs in the next five to ten years, but for a Dublin-based Wendy’s the automation began last year with their self-ordering kiosks. The demand for the technology has been rather high, coming from both costumers and franchise owners.

“There is a huge amount of pull from (franchisees) in order to get them,” according to the Wendy’s chief information officer David Trimm, speaking during the company’s investors’ day. “With the demand we are seeing … we can absolutely see our way to having 1,000 or more restaurants live with kiosks by the end of the year.”

Image credit: Wendy's
Image credit: Wendy’s

Obviously, these kiosks would cut labor costs: “They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it,” said Darren Tristano, VP at food-service research and consulting firm Technomic. “They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk.”

“They always are courteous. They always show up for work on time,” Bob Welcher, president of Restaurant Consultants Inc., joked about the kiosks last year.

As automation reaches the food industry, Wendy’s is taking the lead. It helps that the kiosks are made in-house, at the company’s 90 Degrees lab on North High Street in the University District. “So we know that the things we build work,” Trimm said.

Wendy’s is the third largest burger chain in the world, after McDonald’s and Burger King. In the United States, around 49 million consumers go to Wendy’s each month, and self-serve kiosks could definitely help those numbers climb higher.