Pizza-making robot maker Picnic Works this week announces an expanded university partnership with contract food service management company Chartwells Higher Education. The announcement follows successful pilot programs at Texas A&M and the University of Chicago.
Chartwells said it realized the efficiency benefits of Picnic’s technology during the pilot program and has decided to deploy the Picnic Pizza Station across an initial five universities to streamline dining operations and promote timely service and consistent food quality for students and guests. The first five universities will include Texas A&M, the University of Chicago, Missouri State University, Carroll University, and Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.
“Our team realized an unexpected benefit during the pilot,” said Christopher Burr, vice president of digital strategy at Chartwells. “Due to the speed in which we were able to produce pizzas, we reduced waste at the end of the day by moving to a “just in time” production model.”
Seattle-based Picnic Works has been working with Chartwells Higher Education since February, when the food service company launched the pilot program.
Chartwells said it is a recognized leader in contract food service management, serving over 300 college and university dining environments throughout academic institutions across the U.S.
Picinc was founded in 2016. Its flagship product is the Pizza Station, a three-column rectangular autonomous machine that assembles pizza. The company said it integrates robotics, software, the cloud, and deep learning technology to make the station work.
Picnic Pizza Station reduces labor, improves efficiency
Picnic said its pizza station provides kitchens an immediate return on investment (ROI) through automation, helping restaurants reduce labor by 66%. The station also aids in reducing food waste to around 2%, a significant reduction from the average 10% most kitchens experience today.
“The success we saw in Texas and Chicago proves that great things are bound to happen when two innovative organizations collaborate,” said Clayton Wood, Picnic CEO. “Picnic is thrilled to continue partnering with Chartwells to improve the business of university kitchens around the country. We're also exceeding diner expectations, with 80% of A&M students surveyed saying they believe robotic technology helps make tastier, more consistent pizzas.”
The Picnic Pizza Station will be on display next at The College & University Food Services National Conference from July 13 16, in Spokane, Wash.