Good Thinking

Smoking hot: Behold the future of pizza delivery

Smoking hot: Behold the future...
Fresh out of the oven, on its way to a customer's home
Fresh out of the oven, on its way to a customer's home
View 7 Images
Meet Bruno. He's responsible for loading pizzas into the oven.
1/7
Meet Bruno. He's responsible for loading pizzas into the oven.
These ovens will ensure that your pizzas arrive at your doorstep piping hot.  
2/7
These ovens will ensure that your pizzas arrive at your doorstep piping hot.  
Fresh out of the oven, on its way to a customer's home
3/7
Fresh out of the oven, on its way to a customer's home
This is Marta. She makes sure that each pizza gets just the right amount of sauce. 
4/7
This is Marta. She makes sure that each pizza gets just the right amount of sauce. 
5/7
6/7
Zume Pizza's first delivery truck
7/7
Zume Pizza's first delivery truck
View gallery - 7 images

At first glance, it looks like a solution to a particularly first-world problem: To eliminate the sogginess in pizzas caused by dwell time (i.e. the interim period it spends waiting to be delivered), startup Zume Pizza has launched a delivery truck equipped with 56 specially designed ovens to guarantee that their pies arrive at customers' doorsteps fresh out of the oven, literally.

Only in Silicon Valley, right?

But hang on. This isn't really about lukewarm pies. It's about disrupting a US$38 billion market that is currently dominated by big-box chains. In fact, the Big Four in the US – Domino's, Little Caesars, Papa John's and Pizza Hut – currently control around 40 percent of the market. And while there are many ways to go about doing this, founders Julia Collins and Alex Garden have chosen to focus on the food-delivery experience, and for good reason: the surge in mobile ordering and demand for food delivery. In fact, digital ordering is growing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic. At Domino's alone, more than 50 percent of its US customers order via digital platforms. Collins, who has a restaurant background, believes that Zume's advantage lies in its ability to deliver on price, quality and speed.

Zume Pizza's first delivery truck
Zume Pizza's first delivery truck

Thanks to its Baked on the Way (BOTW) technology, when customers place an order, the pizzas are par-baked in an 800-degree oven and then loaded into the truck's ovens, which are programmed to complete the bake four minutes before they reach their destination. Using BOTW technology not only ensures that customers get to enjoy pizzas the way they were meant to be, but also eliminates the need for artificial additives, says co-founder Garden. "By eliminating dwell time, we can make pizza with locally sourced, chemical-free ingredients, so that customers don't have to compromise quality for convenience."

These ovens will ensure that your pizzas arrive at your doorstep piping hot.  
These ovens will ensure that your pizzas arrive at your doorstep piping hot.  

On the delivery front, the technology also brings with it a number of other benefits: since the ovens are fully automated, drivers can concentrate on the road without compromising safety. Theoretically, it also reduces delivery times since the pizzas are baked en route (though one has to wonder how long the 56th customer will have to wait for their pie).

Pizza bots

While Zume Pizza's rivals have been experimenting with robots – Domino's has been testing a delivery droid in Australia and New Zealand – it has not replaced a part of their workforce with them yet. At Zume however, there is a robot workforce with bots costing between $25,000 and $35,000 each, currently perform highly repetitive, low-level tasks such as squirting sauce on pizzas and loading them into the oven. They are slated to take on more work in the future.

This is Marta. She makes sure that each pizza gets just the right amount of sauce. 
This is Marta. She makes sure that each pizza gets just the right amount of sauce. 

Thanks to them, the company says it has been able to halve its labor costs and reinvest its savings in employee benefits. Its drivers, for instance, earn between $17 and $20 an hour, which is above the minimum wage of $15 an hour, and receive health and dental insurance as well as company stock. So far, the public's response has been encouraging – it currently has 107 reviews on Yelp and a 4-star average.

At present, Zume Pizza serves only Mountain View, California residents though it should come as no surprise that the founders have plans to expand, starting with San Jose and the South Bay, followed by the rest of the Bay Area if all goes well.

Zume delivers made-to-order pizza with robots

Source: Zume Pizza

View gallery - 7 images
9 comments
mhpr262
A six-axis robot just to put the pizza from one conveyor belt onto another?
ColinOBoyle
Super cool, though I'm disappointed that people as smart as this are catering to the chemophobic with phrases like "chemical-free ingredients". Water is a chemical, friend, as is air and everything else we eat, breathe, touch, and drink.
At least they didn't brag about "GMO-free" ingredients, I guess...
MartinVoelker
Saw a crepe machine in Avignon, France which spreads dough on four rotating burner plates while the single operator (poor woman!) takes orders and then finishes the crepes with toppings. Probably a money maker for the owner.
Bob Flint
Hate to be the guy stuck in traffic with all the ovens going and everything is charred...
Paul Anthony
I'm surprised the human is spreading the toppings. I know that is a challenge but if your going to have a six axis robot just to move the pizza to the oven off of the conveyor then you should be able to have a few of them put on toppings. I don't get how the logistics will work to deliver 50 plus pizza pies. Just Taking the pizza to a 2nd floor apartment is 5 minutes. If you allow only 3 minutes per stop and have 20 pizzas to deliver that is 1 hour not including drive time. At least the pizza is being kept warm though. Perhaps there are a few delivery cars following around the mother ship? Kind of like an aircraft carrier formation.
windykites
Watching that, I thought of some better ways of doing things. I have seen many Food Factory shows. One conveyor belt should be used, so the pizza slides into the oven after all the toppings are added.
Astro_Osk
Until the drivers are replaced.
Blurb
Old ideas new again .. Silvio's dial a pizza (who became dominos in australia) tried cooking in vans back in the 90's. The vans were tested on both the gold coast and in toowoomba.
The issue was on weekdays to make money you needed a fairly large delivery area but on weekends that area was too large to service effectively. Sure you could run multiple vans on weekends but they were expensive items to not be used on weekdays.
And how do I know about these ... I worked on the project cheers blurb