The Future of Lunch
A Karakuri Semblr food robot is preparing 4,000 lunches for returning office-based employees of British online grocer Ocado in what is believed to be the world's largest deployment of the technology in a high-volume catering environment.
The initiative which has also involved Angel Hill Food Co - the corporate catering division of global facility services provider Atalian Servest, addresses pressing challenges faced by foodservice providers today; including how to satisfy increased demand from consumers for menu choices that meet the needs of a wide range of palates, how to respond to widely reported labour shortages in the hospitality sector, and how best to reduce food waste.
Following widespread adoption of socially distanced working practices by the sector in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the development of high-volume robots capable of being deployed in catering environments has come at a timely moment.
Semblr offers a high throughput portion-controlled food service with a fast turnaround and unparalleled menu choices that allow users to select each ingredient that is used to prepare any of more than 2,700 different food combinations.
The robot is capable of weighing ingredients to match customer orders, and of processing multiple orders simultaneously to meet the demands even of the busiest canteens and restaurants.
Semblir also provides Karakuri with critical data and learnings to support future site installations and product development.
Barney Wragg, Karakuri co-founder and CEO, explains: "Putting our robot in action in a busy dining room for the first time marks a huge milestone for everybody at Karakuri.
"We’ve come a long way in two years and our mission remains the same - to develop robots that support the hospitality and catering industry and improve the experience for both hospitality operators and customers.
"What we’ve delivered to Atalian Servest at Ocado is the most advanced food robotics technology in the world. We will be watching with anticipation and excitement how Ocado’s employees enjoy the food."
Daniel Dickson, Atalian Servest CEO, says: "Working with Karakuri to deliver a successful first installation of Semblr is part of our technology-led FM solution at Ocado’s Head Office. We’re now more excited than ever about the possibilities this revolutionary technology can bring to other parts of our business.
"Our Angel Hill chef team has been working with Karakuri to develop innovative, contemporary and healthy menus that offer a fantastic added dimension to the Ocado Workplace food offer we deliver."
Stewart McGuire, Head of Corporate Development and Strategy at Ocado Group Plc, adds: "Ocado and Karakuri share a vision of automating key elements within the food value chain; this real-life installation is an exciting and long-anticipated moment. Karakuri is developing systems that sit at the intersection of food, people and technology, and we are delighted to help make their vision a reality.
"As demonstrated by us opening up our canteen, our investment goes beyond financial support, and this 'living lab' gives Karakuri a way for them to perform stress-tests in a production environment. Plus, we get to give our staff a sneak peek at the potential future of food service.”
The installation follows the May 2019 acquisition of a minority stake in Karakuri by Ocado.