The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

‘Automated’ McDonald’s raises questions

Illustration+by+Tj+Favela
Illustration by Tj Favela
Illustration by Tj Favela
Illustration by Tj Favela

The push for automation in the food service industry raises serious concerns about the future of the job market.

Recently, McDonald’s opened an “automated” location in DFW, where customers can order ahead and receive their food by conveyor belt at the site. This conveyor belt shows a separation from interaction in the transaction, and instead relying entirely on machines to bring the patron the human-prepared food.

In reality, ordering through the drive-thru of this location is no different than any other one. A human takes the order, processes the card and gives the food. But the stir that was caused by this location’s marketing raises a major question about the importance of a human in the service industry, rather than a machine.

Automation in the workplace can be an incredibly useful tool, but advertising it as an alternative to human interaction is going too far. This trivializes the jobs that are available, as well as the need in the workforce for these integral positions.

These were the people who were able to get the community through the pandemic by providing food and services, our essential workers, and yet now they’re advertising that these positions aren’t needed, only the bare minimum.

Jobs in the service industry are imperative to middle and low-income persons as well as students due to their flexibility of scheduling and accessibility to people new to the job market. If these jobs are able to be handled with machines, rather than being a position that needs to be filled, there would be a definite shift in the job industry.

One of the jokes made online regarding this new McDonald’s is how it was opened due to efforts to raise the minimum wage. While the cynicism is funny, this actually has very troubling implications. Instead of giving those who work tirelessly in the service industry higher pay, they’re just replaced with machines.

If other businesses see this kind of model that McDonald’s advertising is pushing and start to roll out their own automated centers, there’s the potential for many people to lose their jobs. You don’t need to pay a robot an hourly wage, just maintenance every couple of months.

This model would be incredibly cost-effective to corporations and the higher-ups, but it spells certain doom for all of those that rely on them as their only source of income.

The world isn’t being taken over by machines anytime soon, but it’s important that this push for automation and streamlining production be pointed out.

It’s fine to have machines there to help with tasks that are potentially life-threatening or dangerous. It’s fine to have a machine help with little things to make going about the day easier, that’s what they’re for.

What’s not fine is pushing for an automated norm that tries to advertise itself as the future, when in reality it’s taking away real jobs that are imperative for middle to lower-income families in this economic downturn. It’s not fine that people are making light of the push for a better minimum wage that would actually be able to pay bills..

Machines were created for the purpose of making people’s lives easier so they could give a more human aspect to the work they are doing, but now it seems we’ve evolved to the point of machines just taking the work.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian