Oct 4, 2023

Chipotle Tests Automated Burrito Bowl Assembly

Chipotle burrito bowl being raised from automated makeline while employee assembles a burrito.
Chipotle continues to explore automating their food prep with the test of an automated burrito bowl and salad robot that they're calling an "automated digital makeline."

The robot was designed by built by Hyphen, a company that produces automated assembly lines for foodservice and is currently being tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, CA.

The Hyphen automated makeline fits under the counter and builds bowls and salads while the top of the counter can be used concurrently by an employee to make burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and kid's meals. The idea here is to fulfil digital orders in a timely and efficient manner, while freeing up employees to work the front customer-facing makeline.

The way the automated makeline works is:

  • Digital orders that include a bowl or salad are routed to the automated system (other items would be made by an employee using the non-automated top makeline)
  • A bowl is moved along the makeline to specified ingredient containers.
  • Each container dispenses the specified portion of its ingredient into the bowl.
  • Once the bowl finishes moving down the line, it raises up through an opening in the counter to be collected by an employee.
  • The order would then be put together by the employee and placed in its designated pick-up area.

According to Chipotle, about 65% of their digital orders are for bowls or salads. Digital orders as a whole made up about 39% of the chain's food and beverage sales in 2022.

The Hyphen automated makeline is just the most recent of Chipotle's tests of food prep automation. Recently, they've also tested and the Autocado (an avocado prep robot) and Chippy (a tortilla chip robot).

Photo via Chipotle.

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