While in years past most people looked at restaurants and food facilities as ones that relied mainly on pans, skillets, and other basic items, times have certainly changed over the years. From the smallest restaurants to the largest food production facilities, technology is introducing new equipment and ideas to the food industry. To find out just how much things are changing, here are four types of technology making quite an impact.
Used more and more in software at restaurants and production plants, AI is being used in many types of situations. One of the most frequent is helping restaurants and production facilities decide when production needs to be slowed down if product demand decreases. AI may be able to assist by using alternate ingredients or components, especially if a shortage exists. By using AI in this manner, the food industry can streamline its operations and boost production, both of which are increasingly important in helping to feed the global population.
Though robots may not be ready to take over the food industry, they are working side-by-side with humans to make it more efficient and safer. For example, many restaurants are now using robots to act as waiters and waitresses, which has been increasingly important during the pandemic and the labour shortages that have resulted. Also, meatpacking facilities are using robotic butchers to slice meats, resulting in increased productivity and fewer workplace injuries to employees. Some robots are more simple such as hamburger molder equipment that shapes hamburgers to the specifications of the manufacturer, which is typically round with grill lines on it. Whereas other robots move around the kitchen and do multiple tasks such as switching out the fries in the fryer and placing the fries in a container.
When thinking of digital twins, visualize a virtual representation of a physical object, such as a plate of food. Essentially a clone, digital twins can be used by food manufacturers to identify patterns, predict outcomes, and more by using the technology to run various simulations. Becoming increasingly important and intelligent enough to do more and more, digital twins are finding their way into product development, testing, and helping to regulate problems within supply chains.
Due to the many outbreaks of salmonella and other food-related diseases that have occurred over the past decade or so, companies and consumers want to know everything they can about the food they are fixing and eating. To do this, digitized recordkeeping known as blockchain is being used by large companies such as Walmart and many others. Once implemented, it can track every bit of information about certain foods, such as who grew a plant, where it was grown, if any chemicals were used during its growth, and so on.
The use of this technology is still in its infancy but it has already been used to track what farms produced lettuce that had an E.Coli outbreak. Blockchain helped grocery stores track where the infected lettuce came from to a specific farm which enabled them to identify which store locations had the infected stock. Not only did it help take the risky lettuce off the shelves faster than traditional means of tracking, it also enabled the stores with safe lettuce to keep their stock and thus decrease food waste.
As these and other aspects of technology are introduced to the food industry, more and more problems should be solved.