Singapore is amping up their productivity, specifically in the food scene. Using automation and unattended retail in certain food courts, the Country is proving that this could indeed be the way of the future, especially the food and hospitality industry.
Similar to the recently launched Eatsa automated restaurant concept based out of San Francisco, the “no human interaction needed,” unattended retail concept of paying for and accessing food with the touch of a button is already happening at a food court in Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Hungry passengers looking for a bite at the airport are able to select a bowl of rice or noodles with chicken, and pay with a credit card. Close to no human interaction is needed as they make their choices, pay and retrieve their food. Obviously this unattended retail approach is a departure from typical food court concept.
“We must develop a food services industry that is highly efficient, with no loss in quality of food offerings, and with high quality jobs,” Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in September. “Younger Singaporeans aspirations are changing, and you can’t find many young people who will do low-skill jobs and stay with the firm for long. Neither can we continue to grow foreign manpower.”
Singapore has recently added self-driving taxies and other ways to avoid human interaction.
It’s important to note that this new way of connecting with customers is something Singapore is looking to do because of a looming situation: population growth, or lack there of. Singapore faces a quickly aging population, lower fertility rates and lower economic growth. With the need for simple manpower but not the people to do it, this automation via unattended retail fills a void.
And the government knows that.
Experts say the food industry is one of two dozen areas that the Singapore government is focusing on for its S$4.5 billion, five-year transformation plan to rework and improve the workforce.
Replacing human workers with machines and adopting new technology, while relying heavier on electronic payments and digital communication, Singapore is vying to become a leader in this type of automation.
The operator of that Changi Airport food court — Select Group — says its seen high cost reductions and plans to open a similar food court next year. Singapore’s government and SPRING, the state agency responsible for local entrepreneurism, are also impressed and are generating similar opportunities to increase productivity this way.