McDonald’s Says Robots Not Key in Its Future

McDonald’s says robots are not the key to its future
The CEO said that customer data could be a better solution to reduce the pressure on workers
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors that automation is not a “silver bullet” for labor shortages.

In response to pandemic-related disruptions, rising inflation and rising labor costs, fast-food chains are facing new levels of unemployment, with many turning their attention to robotics. an assistant that helps reduce pressure on employees and streamline operations.

Asked about the topic on an earnings call this week, Kempczinski said robotics will not be an important part of the future business model.

Instead, he said data on customer activity should be used to more closely inform planning and ensure sufficient peak staffing.

“The idea of ​​robots and all that stuff, while it’s great to grab headlines, it’s not practical for most restaurants,” he said. “The economics don’t stack up. You don’t have to have a footprint. And you have to make a lot of infrastructure investments around your device. You’re not always going to see that as a broad solution anytime soon.” ”

Robotics can still be seen in some giant restaurant chains, with a fleet of commercial service robots from Pudu Robotics launched earlier this month at McDonald’s locations in Slovenia. The service bot helps collect and deliver trays and offers contactless service; with the latter part responding to increased consumer awareness of hygiene and safety standards in customer-facing roles. The company has also been testing voice-activated drive-throughs since 2019, although a recent report on the accuracy of the devices showed 80% accuracy, a number below the 95% goal set by McDonald’s before the wide rollout began.

While some digital development is expected at McDonald’s, large-scale deployment of robots is not on the horizon, according to Kempczinski.

“We have to follow it the old-fashioned way,” he said. “This makes us a great employer and offers our crew a great experience when they enter the restaurant.”