Chefs working in a cloud kitchen

Video Analytics for Safe and Productive Cloud Kitchens

4 MIN Read

Last Updated on July 28, 2021 by Team Wobot

With the advent of cloud kitchens and a surge in demand for ordering-in, especially during the pandemic, concerns over food safety and hygiene have increased. Cloud kitchens or ghost kitchens are delivery/takeout-only meal preparation kitchens. They do not have a storefront and dining for customers. Instead, these kitchens cater to delivery-based and drive-through serving options. 

A chef packing a takeaway food order in a cloud kitchen
A chef packing a takeaway food order in a cloud kitchen

Over the years, cloud kitchens have increased exponentially. According to Statista, The global cloud kitchen market size was estimated at 43.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and is forecast to reach 71.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2027.

The concerns for safety and hygiene in cloud kitchens are legitimate. There are numerous cases where business food safety issues resulting in lawsuits and bankruptcy brought businesses to their knees. Today, more than ever, it is essential to use technologies such as video analytics for food safety and hygiene in cloud kitchens. 


How Video Analytics can help Cloud Kitchens 

The availability of a vast amount of data and the rising capabilities of computers have led video analytics to report near-real-time statistics. As a result, businesses have been leveraging AI-powered video analytics in numerous ways for food safety and food hygiene in cloud kitchens. Here are some ways how: 

1. PPE Compliance – Mask, Gloves, Hairnet, and Apron Detection 

Standard food practices and even government regulations state that employees must wear protective gear while preparing food to avoid food contamination. 

For example, masks help prevent the transfer of germs from the mouth and nose, whereas gloves prevent germs from the hands from spreading. Hairnet protects against contamination from human hair, and aprons prevent clothes from touching food. These are all essential for food safety and hygiene. However, with the scale of businesses expanding, it becomes increasingly complex, even for managers, to ensure that all employees follow safety protocols, especially in the kitchen space.

Video analytics solutions backed by AI can help identify these in real-time. It can also help raise alarms if employees are not following protocols and identify persons who do not wear protective gear. 

2. Hand-hygiene Compliance 

It is essential to wash hands per standards for a set period and at a specific frequency for safe food preparation. For example, in an 8-hour shift, an employee directly involved in food preparation might have to wash hands up to 20 times for up to 20 seconds each time. 

But who can monitor the frequency, duration, and consistency of handwashing? Activity detection models combined with person recognition technology can enable businesses to keep track of hand hygiene compliance in cloud kitchens. It helps food businesses ensure adherence to the highest safety and hygiene standards irrespective of human intervention or management.

3. Productivity and Compliance Monitoring  

Even in small to medium food businesses, the number of employees is high, and it is almost impossible to track every employee’s productivity every minute individually. However, AI-powered video analytics tools that use person recognition technology can help businesses record employee attendance and identify employees on the work floor. 

It can provide an accurate picture of active employees on the ground and help comply with added safety and hygiene policies. Tampering of food packaging can be minimized, machinery use can be regulated, and raw materials can be monitored. This process makes it easier for businesses to reduce spoilage and costs and increase the overall efficiency of their cloud kitchens. 

Delivery boy picking up an order at a delivery only kitchen.
Delivery men waiting to pick up food order from a delivery-only kitchen

4. Employee Safety 

Many cloud kitchens use various kinds of machinery that can have risks associated with use. For example, high temperatures, weight, and even hazardous emissions can be risks to employees. Using object detection and activity detection video analytics can help monitor if employees wear appropriate gear for such machines and if these machines are being operated properly. As a result, it can minimize health hazards associated with on-the-job machine use and reduce businesses’ legal risks. 

5. Overall Premise Safety and security 

Video analytics with computer vision and real-time reporting can help cloud kitchens maintain overall premise safety for employees and customers. For example, equipping the premise with motion, smoke, and temperature detection can help control food spoilage. It could also be checked if food storage areas are left open. Remote monitoring these aspects of a cloud kitchen by managers combined with occasional in-house checks can help keep businesses aligned and smoothly. These video analytics-powered cameras can also prevent theft, intrusion, and damage with the help of real-time alerts sent to authorities in case of any safety or security mishap. 

6. Food Order Matching 

The cloud kitchen environment is extremely fast-paced, which leaves them susceptible to mistakes. However, as matching customers’ delivery and quality expectations are of utmost importance, cloud kitchens should leave no stones unturned to improve their processes. Computer vision models can help cloud kitchens in minimizing food preparation errors.

Let us take an example of a pizza. Video analytics can help cloud kitchens ensure that a prepared pizza matches its reference image, the toppings are distributed correctly, and identify the type and quality of the crust. In case of any deviations, real-time alerts are sent to the person making the pizza to rectify their mistake, hence delivering a product that matches customer expectations. 

7. Delivery Services

As cloud kitchens depend entirely on delivery orders, they need to ensure the delivery agents are fit to carry the food. AI-powered video analytics can help ensure that the delivery agents follow safety protocols – like wearing masks and gloves – and maintaining a safe distance. In addition, temperature checks, sanitization, and delivery-agent wait time can also be monitored.

Cloud kitchen staff gives hand sanitizer to delivery man for hygiene compliance before take queue at restaurant.
Cloud kitchen staff sanitizes delivery agent’s hands

Conclusion 

Video analytics is a powerful tool that enables food businesses to thrive in a world of competition. Reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and maintaining quality is of prime importance. Wobot’s AI-powered video analytics can help cloud kitchens focus on critical tasks while also focusing on hygiene, sanitization, safety, and security. 

Everyone knows only those who adapt and improvise can survive today. With Wobot’s state-of-the-art video analytics tools that plug into existing cameras, businesses can leverage a new era of technology that streamlines processes and breathes life, and ease into food business operations.

To monitor your cloud kitchens’ operations with video analytics, click here.