Introducing the OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification
Plus Aitme and Barilla, Coco's new robo, and we're Zippin through Airports!
A bona fide guide to get NSF Certified
Last month I did a Q&A with Orsi Dezsi, Director, Global Food Safety – Equipment & Chemical Evaluation at NSF about what NSF Certification is, how to get it, and why every food automation startup needs it.
There was so much interest and great feedback on that piece that we have partnered with NSF International to create the “OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification.” This will be an eight-week series in which people at the NSF will contribute posts to OttOmate on subjects like hygienic design, performance testing, and working with a third party agency.
I could not be more excited. For real! This is crucial information and what the NSF is basically providing (for free!) is a how-to guide for any startup to get that sweet, sweet (and very necessary) NSF Certification. (FWIW, During his talk at our Pizza Automation Event, Billy Taylor of Papa John’s International spoke about the importance of having NSF Certification in order to work with the pizza chain.)
Dezsi returned this week to kick off the OttOmate NSF guide with an introductory post to set the table, as it were. Here’s an excerpt:
With new inventions introduced nearly every day, it’s critical that foodservice equipment is evaluated and tested against existing standards to ensure food safety is maintained. While the equipment may be fully automated, the basic principles of hygienic design (such as radius’, in-place cleaning, etc.) continue to pose important food safety risks manufacturers should be aware of. In entering the world of food safety, startups are sometimes unfamiliar with such hygienic standards, as well as the local codes and government requirements for food equipment.
Third party agencies, such as NSF, play a key role in evaluating potential risks prior to the introduction of equipment to the market. Attaining product certification from a certification body provides external validation that the product is cleanable, hygienically designed and safe to use in the certified applications. In fact, some businesses require proof of product certification in order to purchase and use the product. At NSF, we work with entrepreneurs and product innovators to align design features with the requirements of the NSF/ANSI Commercial Food Equipment standards.
You should definitely read the whole thing, because the post also points you exactly where to start with your NSF Certification process. Then check back in each week at OttOmate for new NSF content. It’ll save your startup time, money and effort, and help you get to market faster.
We can provide this NSF Certification Guide free of charge thanks to our paid subscribers. Please consider becoming one yourself so we can create even more cool guides and programs!
Aitme is working with Barilla on pasta dishes for robots
Well, the pasta dishes aren’t for robots. Silly rabbit, robots don’t eat.
Rather, Aitme Co-Founder Emanuel Pallua told me this week that his company is working with Barilla on pasta dishes that will work well with Aitme’s fully robotic kitchen kiosk.
Aitme showed off its newly designed all-in-one robotic kitchen kiosk in a promotional video on Monday and Pallua filled us in on all the details, as well as Aitme’s aggressive rollout plans for next year, and how COVID is — and isn’t — driving demand for his canteen kiosk.
To build or buy your delivery robot, that is the question
L.A.-based robot delivery service Coco announced this morning the official launch of its new COCO 1 delivery robot. What makes this news more interesting is that the COCO 1 is being manufactured by famed mobility company Segway.
This brings up the question of whether delivery startups should build or buy their robots. (A topic we discussed last week about when we learned about DoorDash’s own robo patents.)
While I don’t know the details of Coco’s deal with Segway, on its face this seems like a smart play. Hardware is hard — especially at scale — and unless you’ve got a killer new robot design, they are all basically boxes on wheels. By handing off the manufacturing of robots to Segway, Coco can focus on its teleoperation and logistics software, as well as its biz dev efforts to line up grocery and restaurant partners.
What do you think? Should delivery startups build-a-bot or just buy them?
Post Your Job Listing on OttOmate! (For free!)
Need to hire a hardware or software engineer, build a biz dev team, or find a financial whiz? Post your job listing here on OttOmate to reach a specialized audience tailor made for your robot startup or restaurant chain! Paid OttOmate subscribers can post jobs here free of charge, which will be available to all OttOmate readers.
Zippin’s cashierless checkout takes off at JFK and RIOGaleão airports
Autonomous retail startup Zippin announced yesterday that its technology is now powering stores at airports in two different hemispheres. The company’s cashierless checkout is being used by Camden Food Express at JFK and in the Ame Go store at the Galeão aiport in Rio de Janeiro.
These are the first autonomous stores for each airport and they are arriving at kinda the worst/best time. It’s a bad time because after finally getting vaccines for young kids and boosters and feeling like we could move about the country, COVID’s Omicron variant roared into our lives just in time to spoil holiday travel.
Unfortunately, this grim resurgence also makes it a pretty good time to launch cashierless stores as they reduce human-to-human contact and drastically shorten the amount of time people spend inside shopping together.
As Zippin Co-Founder and CEO, Krishna Motukuri explained to me this week, “As things are opening up, transit hubs are realizing that as people are coming back, there is still quite a bit of PTSD around COVID.”
Read the full story to see how Zippin is ramping up its roll out next year in airports and stadiums, and is ready to take on Amazon.
Attend OttOmate’s Airport (un)Event — And a Call for Speakers!
Talk to just about any food automation startup and they’ll tell you they want to get into airports. Robot baristas, smart vending machines, even delivery robots are all starting to appear in airports around the world.
But what do airports want? How do you start working with an airport? Are there security issues? What are the crowds like?
These are just some of the questions we’ll answer at our OttOmate Airport Event on December 16th. Don’t worry! You don’t need a ticket and you don’t need to schedule time on your calendar.
I’m going to pre-record all the fireside chats and launch them all on December 16th. So far, we’ve lined up the following speakers:
Sam Cho, Commissioner, Port of Seattle
Amanda Tsung, Co-Founder & COO, Yo-Kai Express
Krishna Motukuri, Co-Founder and CEO, Zippin
Henry Hu, Co-Founder & CEO, Cafe X
With More to Be Announced!
If you want to be considered as a guest speaker, email me, I’d love to chat with you.
While you don’t need a ticket, you will need a paid OttOmate subscription to watch the sessions. So become a full subscriber today and get access to this and all of OttOmate’s online events!
The OttOmate Holiday Gift Guide!
Since most of the robots we write about aren’t really suitable for home use (though I dunno, maybe your kitchen can fit a Flippy), may we humbly suggest the following gifts that any food tech professional will love this holiday season!
Give the gift of OttOmate! Buy a subscription for a colleague to make them smarter about food automation. BONUS: Expense it and the gift is actually free!
Give them OttOmate merch! Our lineup of comfy T-shirts and hoodies are locally printed, so you’re helping out a small business!
Flytrex gives Red Bull wiiiiiiiiings
My, my. This issue is filled with all kinds of airborne activity. From airports we move on to drone delivery.
This week I caught up with Yariv Bash, CEO of Flytrex, which recently raised $40 million and is this close (well, first half of 2022-close) to getting FAA approval to operate drone deliveries across the U.S. of A.
During our chat Bash explained what it’s like working with the FAA, laid out the specifics of their current delivery operations in North Carolina (“dozens” of deliveries per day), and how Red Bull is a popular grocery item to have delivered by drone.
Nomitri pushes cashierless checkout to the edge with LÜNING
Zippin wasn’t the only cashierless checkout startup making moves this week. Nomitri launced its smartphone-based cashierless checkout system at a LÜNING Group store in Germany.
There are two big reasons to pay attention to Nomitri:
It shrinks the cashierless checkout experience down to a smartphone. The only thing a participating store has to install is a special phone holder on existing shopping carts.
Nomitri pushes all the computer vision and accompanying AI to the phone itself. This means no additional computing power is needed at the store, and Nomitri works without big bandwidth (or any bandwidth, if need be).
A lot of cashierless checkout solutions are coming to market in a variety of formats. Now we’ll see which ones stick with retailers (and consumers).
Le Bread Xpress est maintenant chez Macy's
Le Bread Xpress opened up its first robo-micro-bakery at Macy’s in Santa Clara this week. The Macy’s-branded machine will serve up pastries, pizza, sandwiches and calzones, and it’s the first Bake Xpress machine fully open to the public.
What’s cool about this — and about the coming wave of smart vending machines at large — is that these are basically eateries in a box. With their small footprint and no need for a human, you can basically set up a mechanized food court just about anywhere. Macy’s could keep customers in its stores (and make some extra scratch) by offering a full range of meals and beverages.
Vending machines may not offer fine dining, but it’ll be just fine for shoppers looking for a quick meal.
Hey! If you’re reading this, then you’ll probably like Kristen Hawley’s excellent restaurant newsletter, Expedite! It’s great! Check it out!
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading.
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ‘90 rulez.