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White Castle puts robots in the kitchen

White Castle is automating fry stations.

A family-owned, fast-food hamburger chain is expanding a pilot of a solution that automates the work of an entire fry station.

Following the September 2020 deployment of a Miso Robotics Flippy robotic frying solution at a Chicagoland-area store and subsequent November 2021 upgrade to the new Flippy 2 version, White Castle is rolling the technology out to 100 new standalone locations.

[Read more: White Castle in kitchen robot pilot]

By taking over the work of an entire fry station, Flippy 2 streamlines back-of-house activities at quick-service restaurants to create a working environment that maximizes the efficiency of the kitchen for human associates. Specific benefits White Castle has received from the robot include being able to optimize staffing during late-night shifts for its 24-hour operations. Traditionally difficult slots to fill, these shifts have been further challenged by social distancing resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With labor able to focus on front-of-the-house needs, employees are increasing their attention to order fulfillment for delivery and takeout, the chain said. In addition, White Castle has been tracking production speeds to increase and meet demand needs, with the robots able to prepare an average of 360 baskets of fried foods a day. All meals are equipped with an added layer of health and safety – with Flippy serving as a contactless, automated solution.

Improved kitchen workflows have allowed White Castle to redeploy workers to focus on customer-facing activities. White Castle says further anticipates many improvements in efficiency, product quality, and employee experience as a result of its partnership with Miso Robotics. Rollouts of Flippy 2 are being phased by region and will be planned out and scheduled in the months and years ahead.

White Castle said its initial decision to test Flippy came amid constraints due to COVID-19, but its commitment to the robotic technology was cemented after seeing an immediate positive impact on daily operations and the productivity of its store associates.

"Our partnership with Miso continues to lead the way on what's next for back of house restaurant operations looking to empower team members with technology to better satisfy customers," said Jeff Carper, COO at White Castle. "Having Flippy 2 be a new hire at 100 of our White Castle locations keeps us on a path to achieve big goals at White Castle."

"We could not be more grateful for the confidence White Castle has shown in us as we enter into the next phase of our partnership," said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. "White Castle was the first large brand to embrace our technology and we are thrilled that our Flippy pilot made such a positive impact on their operations that they want to integrate 100 more. We can't wait to continue on this journey with such an outstanding partner."

White Castle, America's first fast-food hamburger chain, is based in Columbus, Ohio, and commenced operations in 1921. Currently, White Castle owns and operates 350 restaurants and also sells its fare in retail stores nationwide.

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