How Does RPA Help Businesses in the Food Industry?

by Burak Koçak
6 months ago
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In a world where food businesses thrive, there’s a quiet but significant player on the field: RPA, or Robotic Process Automation. It may seem out of place in the food industry, but it’s a crucial ingredient behind the scenes.

Amid the delicious dishes and culinary creations, the inner workings of food businesses often go unnoticed. RPA doesn’t cook or serve, but it does something equally important: it optimizes and streamlines digital processes for restaurants, supermarkets, food delivery services, and so on.

So, why should you care about RPA in the food industry? In this article, we’ll dive into how this technology enhances food businesses, making sure excellence isn’t only on the plate but in every aspect of the dining experience. Stay with us and get ready to learn how RPA is changing the food industry.

What RPA Does and Its Impact on the Food Industry

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is a technology that uses software robots to automate repetitive tasks and processes in various industries. These digital robots mimic human interactions with computer systems, such as data entry, document processing, and data extraction. RPA is gaining popularity for its ability to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and free up human employees to focus on more strategic and creative tasks. It has applications across different sectors, from finance and healthcare to manufacturing and customer service.

RPA systems are designed to streamline workflow by executing rule-based tasks without human intervention. They can be programmed to work 24/7, ensuring tasks are completed with speed and precision. RPA technology has the potential to transform business operations, drive cost savings, and improve customer satisfaction by accelerating processes and enhancing accuracy.

In the food industry, RPA’s impact is substantial, though often behind the scenes. It assists in inventory management, order processing, and supply chain optimization, ensuring that food products reach consumers efficiently and with minimal errors. This technology helps businesses in the food sector maintain consistency and quality in their operations while meeting customer demands more effectively.

How RPA Benefits Food Businesses?

In today’s fast-paced world, automation is a game-changer for food businesses. Robotic Process Automation is revolutionizing the industry by streamlining operations, enhancing customer experiences, and improving overall efficiency.

Below, we outline the specific benefits of RPA for food businesses in detail:

  • Streamlined Order Processing: RPA can automate order entry and processing tasks, reducing manual errors and order processing times. This ensures that customers receive their food orders accurately and promptly.

  • Menu Personalization: Virtual software robots can analyze customer data and preferences to suggest personalized menu items, increasing customer satisfaction and sales.

  • Predictive Analytics: RPA can analyze sales data and trends to provide insights into customer preferences and demand patterns, helping businesses make informed decisions.

  • Marketing and Promotions: Bots can automate marketing campaigns and promotions, targeting specific customer segments with personalized offers and advertisements.

  • Enhanced Customer Support: RPA-powered chatbots can provide 24/7 customer support, answering queries, taking reservations, and even processing orders, improving the customer experience.

  • Inventory Management: RPA helps in real-time tracking of inventory levels. It can automatically reorder ingredients when they reach a certain threshold, preventing stockouts and reducing wastage.

  • Supply Chain Optimization: By automating supply chain processes, RPA ensures that ingredients are sourced efficiently and delivered on time, reducing costs and minimizing disruptions.

  • Cost Analysis and Reporting: RPA generates accurate financial reports and cost analyses, helping businesses make data-driven decisions to improve profitability.

  • Quality Control: Virtual robots can be used in quality control processes, ensuring that food products meet specific standards and reducing the likelihood of recalls.

  • Accurate Billing and Invoicing: RPA automates billing and invoicing processes, reducing billing errors and ensuring that customers are charged accurately.

  • Adaptability and Scalability: RPA systems can easily adapt to changes in the food industry and scale operations up or down as needed, providing flexibility in a dynamic market.

4 Use Cases of RPA in the Food Industry

Case 1: Daily Reports

In reporting, RPA can make financial report creation easier by getting financial data from different ERP apps, putting them together, and saving them in specific folders.

Primanti Bros, a well-known sandwich chain restaurant in Pittsburgh, required eight regional managers to spend 45 minutes each day collecting the daily sales data from five restaurant locations. Additionally, there were occasional tasks of preparing reports for weekends and holidays.

Primanti Bros. used RPA technology to create bots that make daily sales and labor reports super fast, in less than 3 minutes instead of the old 45 minutes. In terms of numbers, RPA saved Primanti Bros.:

  • 2,000 hours annually 
  • $84K in savings

Case 2: Procure-to-pay

Just like any other business, restaurants should make timely payments to their vendors in order to receive the goods they need.

Moreover, since restaurants often handle perishable goods, it’s essential for them to pay their suppliers promptly to ensure that they receive their products quickly and can use them immediately in their cooking operations.

RPA bots can be instructed, through screen recording, to perform a sequence of actions, including:

  1. Launching a web browser.
  2. Accessing the banking website and logging into the account.
  3. Initiating a payment to a vendor by extracting the vendor’s banking details from their information sheet and the invoice amount from the purchase orders.

Procure-to-pay automation guarantees that payments are executed on time. This reduces delivery delays and enables kitchen or purchasing managers to concentrate on their main duties instead of being tied up with tedious, repetitive tasks.


Case 3: Automating Price Updates with RPA

Restaurants are adopting digital QR menus accessed via mobile phones. RPA, connected via APIs, links menu prices to real-time ingredient costs. When ingredient prices change, RPA adjusts meal prices instantly, eliminating manual work.

For example, during fluctuating cooking oil prices, managers use tools like Apicbase to specify ingredient costs, and RPA automates meal price updates. This RPA application saves time and ensures accurate pricing adjustments.


Case 4: Optimizing Workforce Scheduling

In both office and restaurant settings, absence management technology streamlines the process of employees reporting their time off, ensuring accurate payroll calculations and efficient scheduling. When integrated with employee scheduling software, it further enhances operational efficiency.

For restaurants, especially in the seasonal food industry, maintaining a clear view of the workforce is crucial to avoid disruptions during peak times. RPA-powered software can automatically adjust schedules and tasks in real-time based on absence requests, ensuring smooth operations.

Takeaway

In short, Robotic Process Automation is a vital solution for the food industry, bringing efficiency, speed, and profitability to the forefront. It simplifies essential tasks, spanning supply management, inventory optimization, customer service enhancement, and beyond. This translates to fewer errors, increased productivity, and smart cost-saving through.

In today’s fiercely competitive food sector, RPA is akin to a strategic advantage, empowering businesses to not only endure but excel by staying ahead of the competition and swiftly adapting to market dynamics.

References

“RPA in Food Industry: Top 11 Use Cases in 2023.” AIMultiple, research.aimultiple.com/rpa-in-food-industry/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.

“4 Benefits & Best Practices of Procure to Pay Automation in ’23.” AIMultiple, research.aimultiple.com/procure-to-pay-automation/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.

“AI Clocks in: How Bots Are Streamlining Restaurant Operations.” IBM, www.ibm.com/case-studies/primanti-brothers. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.

Kenton, Will. “What Are Menu Costs? Definition, How They Work, and Example.” Investopedia, Investopedia, www.investopedia.com/terms/m/menu-costs.asp#:~:text=Menu%20costs%20are%20the%20costs%20incurred%20by%20a%20business%20when,that%20some%20prices%20are%20sticky. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.