Singapore's food and beverage industry is experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles - aka drones - as it deals with a severe labour crunch that is raising costs for businesses and forcing some to shut down or curtail services.
"The manpower situation's so bad, we're afraid to expand,'' said Edward Chia, managing director of Timbre Group, which has a chain of restaurants and live-music venues on the island. "Technology is going to be a real game changer; robotics is going to be the future.''
Advanced robots can boost productivity by up to 30 per cent in some industries and lower total labor costs by a third in South Korea and 25 per cent in Japan by 2025, according to a Boston Consulting Group report this week. Robotics are already widely used in Japanese factories, as well as in therapeutic functions and in banks.
Timbre introduced tablets more than three years ago to enable customers to place orders faster; it resulted in a 25 per cent increase in productivity, Chia said. It now plans to equip its five venues with eight drones each, four at the bar and four for the kitchen. The drones will pick up food and drink orders and take them to a service area, from where the staff will take them to the tables, he said.
"This way, customers will have to spend less time waiting for their orders, and our service staff will have more time to interact with customers, " Chia said. "And, your food will arrive faster so the pizza is warmer, the beer is colder."
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland