Domino’s tests autonomous pizza maker in Berlin

  • September 14, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

A Domino’s Pizza outlet in Berlin is testing a machine that can make pizzas automatically and could be rolled out to all the firm’s outlets worldwide.

Seattle-based food automation company Picnic Works is partnering Domino’s to explore how restaurant automation can enhance customer and employee experiences around the globe. Both companies have come together in Berlin, Germany, as part of a demonstration of the Picnic Pizza Station in a Domino’s store.

The companies are trialling the Picnic automated pizza assembly system in a functioning Domino’s store in Germany; the Picnic Pizza Station can assemble the most popular pizzas by applying sauce, cheese, freshly sliced pepperoni and other ingredients.

The demonstration’s goal is to understand how automated pizza assembly can assist Domino’s employees in producing fresh, consistent pizza as efficiently as possible. This programme is part of an initiative between Picnic and Domino’s that started in 2021 that has included research, product testing and multi-national planning.

“Our mission is to deliver customers hot, fresh meals, safely, at an affordable price, and we want to explore how we can empower team members by giving them the best tools and resources to make their jobs more efficient and rewarding,” said Don Meij, group CEO of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises. “Over the next decade, we intend to more than double the number of stores Domino’s Pizza Enterprises and our franchisees operate, which means we will need an additional 100,000 team members working across Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The key question will be: How do we make their roles as rewarding as possible so they can deliver the best possible service for our customers?”

He said the firm had been working with Picnic to understand and fine-tune how assistive technology could be used to make their jobs easier without compromising on quality, consistency or taste.

The foundation for this multi-year partnership began with shared goal setting, planning, customer research, global opportunity investigation and ingredient testing from a combination of strategists, technicians and food scientists from both companies. With the Picnic Pizza Station installed in the Berlin outlet, the partnership moves to a new phase of collaboration to help both Picnic and Domino’s assess, define and refine potential food automation for the future.

“As a global leader in pizza with more than 3400 stores in ten markets, and the recent announcement it intends to acquire three more markets, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises has long been a pioneer in restaurant innovation,” said Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic. “After many months of laying the groundwork for a robust and fruitful partnership, we’re thrilled to continue applying our award-winning food automation experience to help Domino’s further explore the benefits of automation.”

Collaborative research conducted by both companies in Germany showed that consistent quality was the most important attribute when ordering pizza. More than 85 per cent of German respondents said they were curious to see the robotic equipment in action.

To date, global Domino’s Pizza Enterprises leaders from Europe, Asia and Australia have visited Picnic headquarters in Seattle numerous times to plan and test ingredients from Domino’s worldwide kitchens. A global team of innovation experts, country managers and executives have worked together to choose the Berlin demonstration location.

The in-store demonstration phase began by installing a Picnic Pizza Station in the busy Domino’s Tiergarten store, training employees and increasing system operations. Through daily check-ins and real-time online performance monitoring, both companies will assess the impact of assistive technology and the results of the trial.

The Picnic Pizza Station is autonomous and completely customisable for each order. After loading the dough, the station takes care of applying the sauce, cheese, freshly cut meat and additional toppings. The finished pizzas are then loaded into the store’s ovens for cooking. Each hour, the station can assemble up to 100 pizzas with one operator.

Users of the station range from independent pizzerias and regional chains to managed foodservice providers Compass and Sodexo Live!, universities including Texas A&M University and Ohio State University, and entertainment venues such as SeaWorld.

Founded in 2016, Picnic Works has collected a team of food and technology industry veterans to develop and provide specialised intelligent technology for the food service and hospitality industries. Restaurants, convenient and grocery stores, university and corporate campuses, casinos, hotels, cruise lines, sports venues, catering groups, healthcare cafeterias, small kiosks, ghost kitchen operators, mobile food operations, food trucks, delivery, and military sites are among the segments poised to benefit from the company’s automated food assembly platform integrating RaaS, software, cloud and deep learning technology.