Since Dishcraft Robotics, the robot dishwashing startup, came out of stealth last year, we’ve known that its business model would be dishes as a service. In a Linkedin post yesterday, Dishcraft Founder and CEO, Linda Pouliot talked publicly for the first time about the roll of that service, dubbed Dishcraft Daily.
Dishcraft Daily quietly launched in September of last year and is currently being used by a number of unnamed corporate campuses, cafeterias and other high-volume eating venues. Each day, Dishcraft arrives at the end of lunch service, picks up all the dirty dishes that have been stacked into special carts, and drops off clean ones. Dirty dishes are taken back to the Dishcraft facility and loaded into the cleaning robot.
As we wrote last year at the time of the company’s launch:
[Dishcraft’s robot] grabs each dish individually and inserts it into a rotating wheel. The wheel spins the dirty plate face down and into position where it’s sprayed with water and scrubbed clean in seconds. The scrubbed plate is then rotated again where cameras and computer vision software inspect it for any debris left on the plate before exiting the machine into a dishrack or going back in for another scrub.
Once outside the robot, dishes are sent to be sanitized and stacked to be shipped back out the next day.
I spoke with Pouliot by phone this week and she said since the company’s launch last year, its robot is now faster and has improved the AI function that detects dirt and other matter that might linger on the dishes. The company is opening up a new facility next month that will be able to handle dishes from up to 50,000 diners a day.
When writing about robots and automation, there is always the question of the human cost. Dishcraft’s robot is automating a job that is not only done by a person but also serves as a good entry-level job that doesn’t require a high degree of specialization.
However, restaurants are currently facing a labor shortage, with turnover as high as 150 percent. Restaurants are also grappling with increased pressure from the current administration that is cracking down on undocumented workers, a labor pool restaurants rely on.
While Pouliot wouldn’t provide specific pricing, she said that Dishcraft Daily is comparable to existing dishwashing solutions currently available to dining operators. Additionally, Pouliot claims that the Dishcraft robot’s computer vision and AI are more accurate and impartial (i.e., what constitutes “clean”) than a human to create consistently cleaner dishes.
In her post, Pouliot also said that Dishcraft can help companies with zero-waste initiatives. A corporate office feeding employees probably doesn’t have dishwashing facilities or a place to store hundreds of plates on-site. Rather than setting out single-use plates (even compostable ones may have forever chemicals in them), companies can offer reusable, clean plates.
Right now, Dishcraft is only servicing customers between San Francisco and San Jose. We’ll have to see if the land that brought us software as a service will embrace dishes as a service.