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Smart robots help F&B businesses deal with manpower shortages

Robots at unmanned smart kopitiam setup at Chillax 2022. (PHOTOS: Chia Han Keong/Yahoo News Singapore)
Robots at unmanned smart kopitiam setup at Chillax 2022. (PHOTOS: Chia Han Keong/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the food and beverages (F&B) industry had to quickly pivot to contactless services such as robot waiters and tablet menus to reduce chances of infection.

Nowadays, as the world is stepping out from the shadows of the pandemic and going back to their pre-pandemic routines, is there still a demand for such automated services in the F&B industry?

"I think there will still be," said Jaden Kim, managing director of Bear Robotics Singapore, which brings in waiter-bots that can be programmed to take customer orders and serve food.

"People are more used to automated F&B outlets following the pandemic, and are more ready to accept such service moving forward. So F&B outlets who are experiencing manpower shortage are more willing to install these automated systems and not worry about losing customers."

At the Chillax 2022 trade and industry show by the Singapore Bakery and Confectionary Trade Association, an unmanned mock-up cafe was set up to show how F&B outlets can set up automation to the point where they can function without waiters and servers.

Bear Robotics said it needs only about a day to map out the service routes for its robots, and they can guide patrons to their tables, take orders from them and serve them the food. Meanwhile, the F&B outlets can use their available manpower on key processes such as cooking, cleaning and managing payments.

Chillax 2022 sees support for food truck businesses

Such innovations are on display at Chillax 2022, which was held from 8 to 10 November at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

The event saw the launch of the Singapore Food Truck Support, a ground-up initiative aimed at helping budding F&B entrepreneurs learn how to start a food truck business, which can cost up to 90 per cent cheaper than operating in a fixed location.

The Healthy Food & Beverage Association Singapore was also launched amid the Singapore government's drive for better health among the city-state's residents. The association will be encouraging local suppliers to convert and produce food supplies that are lower in sugar and salt levels, and in turn helping restaurants and cafes provide healthier options for consumers.

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