Roboti dolaze

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Meho Krljic:
Vreme je za ludističke košmare  :lol:
 Drones could replace $127 billion worth of human labour 

Meho Krljic:
Wendy’s Serves Up Big Kiosk Expansion As Wage Hikes Hit Fast Food  

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Wendy’s (WEN) said that self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages.
It will be up to franchisees whether to deploy the labor-saving technology, but Wendy’s President Todd Penegor did note that some franchise locations have been raising prices to offset wage hikes.
McDonald’s (MCD) has been testing self-service kiosks. But Wendy’s, which has been vocal about embracing labor-saving technology, is launching the biggest potential expansion.
Wendy’s Penegor said company-operated stores, only about 10% of the total, are seeing wage inflation of 5% to 6%, driven both by the minimum wage and some by the need to offer a competitive wage “to access good labor.”
It’s not surprising that some franchisees might face more of a labor-cost squeeze than company restaurants. All 258 Wendy’s restaurants in California, where the minimum wage rose to $10 an hour this year and will gradually rise to $15, are franchise-operated. Likewise, about 75% of 200-plus restaurants in New York are run by franchisees. New York’s fast-food industry wage rose to $10.50 in New York City and $9.75 in the rest of the state at the start of 2016, also on the way to $15.
Wendy’s plans to cut company-owned stores to just 5% of the total.
Still, Penegor said that increased customer counts more than price hikes drove the chain’s 3.6% same-store sales increase in the first quarter.
Although profit exceeded Wall Street estimates, Wendy’s shares dived nearly 9% Wednesday because of weak second-quarter sales.
“We are seeing a bit of a softer overall category in April” relative to the past two quarters, Penegor said on an earnings call, implying more of an industrywide trend than an issue specific to Wendy’s.
Penegor said the reason for softer growth was hard to pinpoint, but he listed a cautious consumer, tougher spring weather in the Northeast, and a wider gap between the cost of food at home vs. food away from home as possible contributors.
While Wendy’s management was upbeat about company prospects, noting that it just experienced its first year with a net increase in restaurants since 2010, its downbeat comments about sector growth were contagious. McDonald’s eased 1.7% after touching a new record high on Tuesday. Yum Brands (YUM), which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, slipped 2.6% and Restaurant Brands International (QSR) fell 3.4%.
For now, Penegor said, wage pressures have been manageable both because of falling commodity prices and better operating leverage due to an increase in customer counts. Still, the company is wary about both wage hikes and a possible recovery in commodity prices and is “working so hard to find efficiencies” so it can deliver “a new QSR experience but at traditional QSR prices.”
In addition to self-order kiosks, the company is also getting ready to move beyond the testing phase with labor-saving mobile ordering and mobile payment available systemwide by the end of the year. Yum Brands and McDonald’s already have mobile ordering apps.

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Meho Krljic:
Fmr. McDonald's USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour

--- Quote ---As fast-food workers across the country vie for $15 per hour wages, many business owners have already begun to take humans out of the picture. 
   “I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry -- it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries -- it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” said former McDonald’s (MCD) USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.3 million people earned the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour with about 1.7 million having wages below the federal minimum in 2014. These three million workers combined made up 3.9 percent of all hourly paid workers.

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Bennigan's CEO: Replacing Employees With Robots is the Wrong Direction

--- Quote ---With more and more discussion in the restaurant industry of shifting to robots or tablets in response to the minimum wage debate, Bennigan's CEO Paul Mangiamele is speaking out on the downsides of automation. Mangiamele views automation as hurting a restaurant’s relationship with its customers.
   “I have been on record saying that I will never abdicate from the service connection that our servers, our people, provide to our guests by going to a tablet. I’ve never seen a tablet talk about our menu, I’ve never seen a tablet do a refill. I think that’s the wrong direction, especially for those in my category which is casual dining,” Mangiamele told the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney.
Mangiamele then weighed in on the importance of the industries’ employees and left room for compromise over potentially raising the minimum wage gradually over time.
“I think anyone who puts forth a notion that we, the industry, don’t care about our people that make the brands come alive is ludicrous. But I think there needs to be a very calm, very deliberate, very intelligent conversation about how to take the wage and increase it over time.”

Mangiamele explained that he viewed some automation as appropriate to make the restaurant chain’s work flow more efficient.
“We are looking at automation as I said before. The automation really is in back of the house to decrease the ticket time.”
On the other hand, Mangiamele said, “But, in terms of replacing people by robots, I think that’s way out there and it really should be a discussion about what’s the quid pro quo. If the unions and the governments of the states want to have this debate on higher wage, then we should also have a discussion about lower corporate taxes or some incentives.”
Mangiamele then pointed out the potential drawbacks of a minimum wage hike.
“If the smaller and more fragile businesses go out of business, it eliminates all jobs and who’s the beneficiary of that? The unions who get their dues? Doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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Foxconn cuts 60,000 jobs, replaces with robots

--- Quote ---In a bid to accelerate growth and reduce labor costs, Apple supplier Foxconn cut 60,000 jobs at a single factory, work that is now being completed by robots. As many as 600 companies in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Kunshan may have similar plans to automate their workforce, according to a government survey.

Foxconn spokesperson Xu Yulian told the South China Morning Post, “The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labor costs.” He added, “More companies are likely to follow suit.”
These changes are spurred in part by a desire to reduce labor costs, but have also been made in response to an explosion at a Kunshan factory in 2014 that killed 146 people. The explosion was attributed to unsafe working conditions in the Taiwanese-owned metal polishing factory, which were recognized and documented. After the explosion, the local government pledged to reduce the population and to maintain 0% growth in land development in Kunshan, where 46% of land is covered by buildings and factories. The government also pledged 2 billion yuan per year in subsidies to support companies that install industrial robots on their production lines.
In order to change over from human workers to robots, where possible, Foxconn and other Taiwanese companies in Kunshan spent 4 billion yuan ($610 million US) on artificial intelligence in 2015. The job cuts represent a significant portion of the population of Kunshan, which has 2.4 million people, two-thirds of whom are migrant workers in the local factories according to a 2014 survey.
While the prevalence of manufacturing jobs has helped to sustain the Chinese economy’s double-digit growth and allowed many Chinese people to overcome poverty levels, recent trends have shown some of these jobs being transferred to India and other competing countries with low labor costs. A drive to replace humans with industrial robots represents an effort to retain those jobs in the face of rising Chinese labor costs. While Kunshan was still rated the top ‘county-level’ city in China for GDP, it experienced its first drop in GDP from 2013-2014. This, combined with the 2014 explosion, may have contributed to the support for investment in industrial robotics.
Worldwide sales of industrial robots more than doubled from 2004-2014. Industrial production numbers for China as a whole have declined over the last five years, from 15% of the national economy in 2011 to 6% in 2016.

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Meho Krljic:
Adidas to sell robot-made shoes in Germany 

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Your next pair of Adidas shoes may be put together by robots - the German sports retailer has said it will start selling its first robot-produced shoes in a new, state-of-the-art factory in its home market starting 2017.
   The announcement came as Adidas unveiled its prototype “Speedfactory”, a state-of-the-art, 4,600 square-meter facility on Tuesday, meant to automate shoe production, which is largely done manually in Asian factories at the moment.
The new production site in the southern German city of Ansbach is still under construction, but it represents a return to local production for Adidas, which stopped manufacturing shoes in its home market more than two decades ago in favor of Asia.
But the company has struggled with steadily rising wages across the continent, where it employs around a million people.
Still, Adidas insisted that the aim was not to immediately replace their workers, saying the goal was not "full automatization".
Six subcontractors of Adidas in China declined to comment or said they were not aware of the new production sites in Germany, news agency AFP reported.
The factory will deliver a first test series of around 500 pairs of shoes to be sold from late 2016, with large scale production targeted for next year. Adidas management also said the shirts of the German national football team could be produced in the same factory too.
The sportswear and equipment company also plans to open a second Speedfactory in the United States in 2017, with similar ones to follow in Britain or in France.
Adidas produced 301 million pairs of sport shoes last year, but it has to ramp up production by more than 10 percent if it is to reach its growth targets by 2020.
Its chief competitor Nike is also developing a robot-operated factory, but Adidas said it is further along in this area.
jd/uhe (AFP, dpa) 

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Meho Krljic:
Inside Silicon Valley’s Robot Pizzeria

--- Quote --- Zume, a new startup in Mountain View, is trying to make a more profitable pizza through robotics

In the back kitchen of Mountain View's newest pizzeria, Marta works tirelessly, spreading marinara sauce on uncooked pies. She doesn’t complain, takes no breaks, and has never needed a sick day. She works for free.
Marta is one of two robots working at Zume Pizza, a secretive food delivery startup trying to make a more profitable pizza through machines. It's also created special delivery trucks that will finish cooking pizzas during the journey to hungry customers if approved by the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health. Right now Zume is only feeding people in Mountain View, California, but it has ambitions to dominate the $9.7 billion pizza delivery industry. 
"We are going to be the Amazon of food," said Zume's co-founder and executive chairman, Alex Garden. Garden, 41, is the former president of Zynga Studios. Before that, he was a general manager of Microsoft's Xbox Live. Garden launched Zume in stealth mode last June, when he began quietly recruiting engineers under a pseudonym and building his patented trucks in an unmarked Mountain View garage. In September, he brought on Julia Collins, a 37-year-old restaurant veteran. She became chief executive officer and a co-founder. Collins was previously the vice president and CEO of Harlem Jazz Enterprises, the holding company for Minton's, a historic Harlem eatery.
In October, Zume began working closely with Swiss robot maker, ABB, and a global crew of mechanical, electrical and software engineers. In April, the startup sold its first cyborg-constructed pie to an unsuspecting customer in Mountain View.      Alex Garden, co-founder and executive chairman of Zume.
Photographer: David Nicholson/Bloomberg
   People familiar with Zume's fundraising discussions said that Google Ventures as well as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are considering Series A bids. In May, Yahoo Inc. founder Jerry Yang was seen touring the pizzeria with his crew of investors from AME Cloud Ventures. Garden said he didn't want to talk about fundraising, "But I can tell you the venture community is validating our idea."
Two minutes from Google's main campus, Zume's headquarters sits in an unmarked concrete building that looks like an auto repair shop. The 8,000 square foot interior is divided into a large kitchen, where the robots are; and an office space, where twelve engineers, designers and product managers work. The building also has a machine and fabrication workshop.
Inside Zume's kitchen, protective glass boxes separate the robots from humans. Marta hangs from the ceiling of her cage like a giant spider, her spindly robot arms converging, ladle-like, to douse a pie with sauce in under two seconds. "We created her to spread your sauce perfectly, but not too perfectly, so the pizza still looks like an artisan product," Garden said.
Fully sauced, the pie travels on a conveyer belt to human employees who add cheese and toppings. The decorated pies are then scooped off the belt by a 5-foot tall grey automaton, Bruno, who places each in an 850-degree oven. For now, the pizzas are fully cooked and delivered to customers in branded Fiats painted with slogans, including: "You want a piece of this?" and "Not part of the sharing economy."    In August, Zume wants to start cooking its pizzas in the startup's patented delivery trucks. Each truck has 56 ovens that can be turned on and off remotely. Garden can barely contain his excitement for what comes next: "The robots will load all these individual ovens with different menu items. Then the truck will circle the neighborhood. At precisely 3 minutes and 15 seconds before arriving at the customer's location, the cloud commands the oven to turn on and--" Garden made the symbol of a large explosion emanating from his brain-- "BOOM, the customer gets a fresh, out-the-oven pizza delivered to their door."
Nobody has ever done this before, he said. The Santa Clara County Health Department is reviewing Zume's mobile food permit application now, and the startup's truck plan depends on its approval. Although laws vary from state to state, traditional food trucks generally aren't allowed to cook food while in motion.
Garden is confident it won't be long before he's competing with the major pizza chains. "Just imagine Domino's without the labor component," said Garden. "You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be."    Yum! Brands Inc.'s Pizza Hut and Domino's have been experimenting with robots, too. Last month, Pizza Hut Asia partnered with Mastercard and Softbank to develop a robotic cashier, named Pepper, which uses artificial intelligence to interact with customers. The company plans to deploy Pepper in selected outlets across Asia by the end of the year, said Chaiti Sen, a Mastercard spokeswoman.  In April, Domino's Australia began testing an "autonomous delivery vehicle," named Dru. The 3-foot, four-wheeled machine--it looks like a photocopier on wheels-- can make deliveries up to 6 miles, said a company spokeswoman. 

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