Pizza topping narc tattles on gloveless employees

Systems designed to bring efficiencies to sectors like grocery and restaurants now doing double duty as hygiene watchdogs.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

A company that developed a monitoring technology to make sure fast-food employees were doing a good job putting toppings on pizzas has found a new use for its AI-based computer vision quality management system during the pandemic. As worries about cleanliness upend the traditional restaurant ecosystem, smart cameras can be used to ensure cleanliness and sanitation in food prep.

The company, Dragontail Systems, already has contracts with brands like Dominos and Pizza Hut. The expansion from operations management to hygiene will enable those brands to better position themselves amid fast-shifting customer expectations.

"Dragontail Systems' technology will empower fast-food services and restaurants of any size to address the growing concern of health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic," explains Ido Levanon, CEO and director of Dragontail Systems. "Our unique AI camera already helps hundreds of stores recognize even the smallest of errors often undetected by the human eye, for example, pizza toppings above and below the cheese, or even the food's temperature. Now we are upgrading our technology to monitor processes that may lead to virus spread or contamination. In doing so, we expect to develop more impactful insights that foster transparency and ensure quality standards set by the businesses and the end-customer." 

The existence of camera-based management systems like this points to the growing reliance on data and efficiency across a variety of sectors that traditionally rely on low-skilled workers. In grocery, package, and big box stores, shelf-scanning robots are increasingly bringing big data analytics to legacy retail, enabling managers to identify trends, track merchandise, and better compete with online vendors. Fast food, similarly, has been scaling up technologically, with restaurant chains embracing automation in food prep and delivery and optimizing operations via systems like Dragontail's.

The move toward automation and related technologies has only hastened during the pandemic, which has reorganized customer expectations away from personal service to emphasize sanitation and, where possible, fewer human interactions.

Dragontail's system was originally designed to monitor food preparation and packing, including the quality and accuracy of ingredients and the temperature of the food. New enhancements have now been specifically introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus, including the detection of gloves and masks on employees and how often equipment and workspaces are sanitized and replaced. That information is fed to managers and can even be shared with customers to help overcome fears.

"Our system is designed to take on the role of the super manager, processing every relevant data point inside and outside the restaurant and taking into consideration multiple variables such as the number of orders and locations of customers and drivers, in order to optimize decisions at every point in the supply chain," says Levanon. "This enables us to work directly with our customers to find more ways to streamline operations while bringing in more business, guaranteeing meals arrive hot and fresh, reducing costs and increasing repeat-customers." 

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