Nov 3, 2015

Panera Bread CEO Warns Machines WILL Replace Workers

By on Tuesday, November 03, 2015

 Fast-food workers who are demanding a higher minimum wage may be facing bigger problems if this CEO is right in his prediction.
Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich has “confidently predicted” that as consumers become more comfortable with automated systems, an increasing number of restaurant and fast-food employees are going to be laid off.
 Allowing for technological integration into their businesses, the owners of these chains and restaurants are saving themselves money, which can allow them to put forth a better product and/or open up new locations.

“Labor is going to go down,” he said.  “And as digital utilization goes up – like the sun comes up in the morning – it is going to continue to go up.”
“Digital utilization – you are seeing it happen in Panera today,” Shaich continued.  “As it happens, it’s going to benefit larger organizations like Panera, who already have the technology in place.”
Chili’s has already begun making this conversion by adding touch-screen computers to every table, allowing customers to pay their bills, summon drink orders and order desserts all without human interaction.
Shaich said that this was never about workers’ pay, rather, it is about giving consumers a better experience. This would, however, greatly affect fast-food workers, as they face lay-offs should more businesses – within and without the restaurant industry – move to a digital experience.
This is an early example of the kind of new technology Shaich was talking about:
With humans needing to take breaks, have at least 4 weekend days off per month, and demanding ever-increasing minimum-wage for a job that was never meant to provide a ‘living-wage’, Momentum Machines – a San Francisco-based robotics company has unveiled the ‘Smart Restaurants’ machine which is capable of making ~360 ‘customized’ gourmet burgers per hour without the aid of a human. 

What exactly does a “Smart Restaurants” machine do? Via Momentum Machine’s Press Release:
“Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices. Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant. It does everything employees can do except better.”
  • It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles only immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
  • It’s more consistent, more sanitary
  • It offers custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem
  • One machine can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.
Furthermore, the “labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.”
The issue of machines and job displacement has been around for centuries and economists generally accept that technology like ours actually causes an increase in employment. The three factors that contribute to this are 1. the company that makes the robots must hire new employees, 2. the restaurant that uses our robots can expand their frontiers of production which requires hiring more people, and 3. the general public saves money on the reduced cost of our burgers. This saved money can then be spent on the rest of the economy. We take these issues very seriously so please feel free to tell us how we can help with this transition.

The other main benefit to companies is machines do not require Obamacare!
This is the outcome you can expect to see in industry after industry if you raise the minimum wage, or make the cost of employment too high for employers.


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