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article imageAutomation key to McDonald's revival

By Tim Sandle     Jul 25, 2017 in Technology
Des Plaines - Fast food giant McDonald's has seen a significant rise in second quarter profits. This is being put down to new ways of working and automation, leading to increased productivity.
McDonald's net income leapt by 28 percent to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, Business Times reports. This signals the continuing change in fortunes for the company. The reasons for the success are several: there have been some new product launches ('Signature Crafted Recipes' sandwiches), which have proved popular with consumers; a renewed focus on customer service; and further developments with the process of preparing the popular foods. Based on the increased sales, the corporation, founded in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald, has changed its same store sales estimate for 2018 from two percent to three percent.
This predicted increase in growth is attributed to a continuation of technology designed to aid manufacturing automation and with McDonald's further application of digital technology to automate the customer experience. With production related automation, new machines have accelerated the burger making process, with the aim of reducing customer wait times even further. Putting a futurist hat on, McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi thinks that one day, perhaps not too far into the future, robots will manufacture all of McDonald's food products.
Perhaps the most significant short-term change is the use of new digital ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in 2,500 restaurants in the U.S., saving on labor costs. A related technological change, Andrew Charles from New York-based business analysts Cowen told CNBC, is the company's plans for mobile ordering. This will be made available to 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The two digital initiatives are part of what McDonald's is calling "Experience of the Future." Fox News describes the “Experience of the Future” initiative as a series of measures designed to offer" patrons a different — i.e. more modern — dining experience than what's currently available."
What might this mean for the consumer? For starters, utilizing table-location technology allows McDonald's employees to deliver food directly to customers’ tables. For mains, there's the installation of self-service kiosks (mirroring something Wendy's is already rolling out). And to finish with, there will also be dessert counters in some restaurants.
Changes to restaurant aesthetics are also planned. The appearance changes will also include a change to staff uniforms, moving to a more neutral gray from the overly colorful garb worn today.
READ MORE: Reimagining work: What robots can do for us
With the self-ordering displays, for customers unsure about engaging with digital technology McDonald's has committed to having so-termed 'guest experience leaders' to assist consumers in the ordering and paying process. Customers can either take the self-ordered food away or have it delivered to the table of their choice.
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Other things that the Des Plaines, Illinois company is planning include table service for cooked-to-order "gourmet" burgers; table-side orders from mounted Samsung tablets, for the fries you forgot to order; and other digital displays at table side offering games and news to keep guests entertained. Not all of these features will be available at every store, but they highlight how one leading company is adapting to the digital age and why it predicts these measures will boots its profitability.
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