In a technologically-driven leap, Chipotle is venturing into the world of automation with their new “collaborative robot,” aptly named “Hyphen.” This move isn’t just about speed and efficiency; it’s about reshaping the customer experience.
A New Era for Digital Orders
Chipotle’s digital platform has seen a surge with approximately 65% of their orders being bowls or salads. With the integration of Hyphen, a robot designed by the startup of the same name, Chipotle aims to further streamline its digital ordering process. This collaboration will help human team members concentrate more on enhancing in-store guest experiences, especially during high demand periods.
How Does Hyphen Work?
Hyphen’s primary function is to assemble digitally ordered burrito bowls or salads. The process is impressively seamless:
- An ordered bowl or salad moves along a conveyor belt system.
- It pauses under an intelligent dispenser which accurately portions out each ingredient.
- Once assembled, a human team member will finalize the order, adding finishing touches like chips, guacamole, or salsa before packaging.
For those wondering about other items on Chipotle’s menu, traditional dishes like burritos, kids meals, quesadillas, and tacos will still be crafted solely by human hands. Furthermore, in-store orders remain a personal affair, with human employees managing the entire process.
In Chipotle’s Words
Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief customer and technology officer, highlighted the brand’s commitment to innovation, stating, “The digital makeline by Hyphen epitomizes our dedication to integrating technology to accentuate human potential. Our vision is to make this automated digital makeline the heart of our digital kitchens, ensuring a superior dining experience.”
Benefits of Incorporating Hyphen
With Hyphen’s efficiency, restaurants could potentially assemble over 350 digital orders every hour. This automation allows the staff to focus on in-person customers, ensuring a memorable dining experience.
Testing & Future Outlook
Currently, Hyphen’s capabilities are under evaluation at Chipotle’s Cultivate Center in Irvine, California. Garner indicated in a conversation with Yahoo Finance that practical implementation in an operational restaurant might still be a few months away.
A History of Embracing Technology
This isn’t Chipotle’s inaugural dive into the tech pool. Their portfolio boasts of past experiments like Autocado, a robot skilled in slicing avocados, and Chippy, a robotic marvel trained in crafting tortilla chips.
While Chipotle’s innovative journey is commendable, fans of the brand might joke about one thing – let’s hope their quirky social media persona, Corn Lad, doesn’t find its way into the real world!