Carl’s Jr CEO toys with idea of more automated restaurants

Looks like the little guy can teach a global fast food conglomerate a thing or two about running a restaurant

Eatsa, the mostly automated healthy, fast food bowl shop based in San Francisco, has inspired the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to rethink the traditional workforce with the idea of adding more automation to its restaurants.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

While the CEO didn’t say he’d replace all workers with robots, an employee-free dining room and ordering system could help the fast food giant cope with rising minimum wages across the country.  Even at Eatsa, live workers are needed behind the scenes to assemble bowls. 

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says, predicting the automation trend will likely extend beyond the restaurant industry.  “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

The outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage has said it could lead to reduced employment opportunities across the board and stagnated growth for his industry.

If the minimum wage is raised, argues Puzder, more companies like CKE foods which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr will look to automate faster– which could further decimate jobs.  

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Puzder.

The CEO acknowledges that it may be some time before Carl’s Jr’s dining room is people-free, and the chain would have to start small and test a more automated food system first before a larger roll-out. 

But Puzder says he sees automation fulfilling “rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order”–areas in which a robot would probably be more precise than a human.

And while older customers may take some time to adapt to interacting with a faceless platform, Puzder says the coveted millennial market actually prefers as little social interaction as possible when it comes to ordering food.

“Millennials like not seeing people,” said the CEO. “I’ve been inside restaurants where we’ve installed ordering kiosks … and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2016/03/17/carl-s-jr-ceo-toys-with-idea-more-automated-restaurants.html

Investment Opportunities in Automated Economy

When will the jobs return? That’s been the question in this glacially slow recovery.

The answer? Many of jobs won’t be coming back, and that’s painful news for all of us.

Job creation ebbed for years before the 2007-2008 recession and is likely to fall far short of what it was in previous decades.

Low consumer demand is one reason. Companies have no reason to hire if people aren’t buying their products, and recession-wracked Europe, our biggest consumer, isn’t consuming as much.

Yet there’s another reason for weak job creation that isn’t talked about as much. Automation, aided by new technologies, is increasingly replacing labor, changing workplaces and altering the economy in fundamental ways.

For evidence of this trend, just look around your house, your office (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) and the nearest shopping center.

o IPhones, iPads, and other devices are changing the way we shop, communicate and get news and information, disrupting old labor-intensive industries, such as newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service, while creating new ones that generally employ far fewer people.

o Online banking, brokerage and mortgages are increasingly making it easier for consumers to never set foot in a brick-and-mortar bank.

o Movie-downloading services such as Netflix and Redbox have hastened the demise of video stores.

o Self-checkout aisles at stores and gas stations have eliminated thousands of retail jobs.

Truck drivers’ jobs might soon be on the line too. Experiments with computer-driven vehicles have had vastly improved results in the past several years. In 2005, computer-driven cars could go only a few miles. Recently, Google-operated cars went thousands of miles without a mishap, and California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a bill to allow them on the state’s highways.

As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, new jobs are created but not fast enough to replace the jobs that are disappearing. This is creating hardship for millions of Americans.

“At some point in the future — it might be many years or decades from now — machines will be able to do the jobs of a large percentage of the ‘average’ people in our population, and these people will not be able to find new jobs,” writes Martin Ford in his eye-opening book Lights in the Tunnel, which can be downloaded for free. This book details the challenges that we face and offers some possible solutions, including shorter work weeks, job sharing, and eliminating payroll taxes so employers have less incentive to replace workers.

David Autor, an economist at MIT, points out that the job market has been “hollowed out,” with the jobs in the middle — clerks, administrative positions, factory workers — disappearing. At the same time, high-wage jobs have been created in computer programming and biotech. Low-wage, automation-resistant jobs in such industries as food service and health care are doing just fine.

While government officials can and should worry about how to create more good-paying jobs, investors who have long suffered from a sideways stock market can profit by seeking out companies on the leading edge of the automation phenomenon.

Examples include Rockwell Automation, which makes industrial systems; Irobot, a maker of automated tools such as vacuum cleaners and floor washers; Aerovironoment, which manufactures unmanned aircraft and other vehicles, and NCR, a great example of an old-line firm that morphed from mechanical cash registers to ATMs and automated check-in systems.

Another approach to finding investment opportunities stemming from the automation trend is to look for stocks with high sales to employees. A recent survey by Bloomberg calls attention to some companies with high sales-to-employee ratios. Among them: Apple, eBay, Microsoft, Amgen and Google.

Every industrial revolution has been accompanied by new technology that underpins the innovations, and that is also fertile ground for investors seeking growth. Microchips, computer storage, optical drives, LCDs, fiber optics and nanotechnology are just a few of the innovations that are driving the new economy.

Green energy is another trend that’s here to stay. The list of these companies is long but worth investigating for investing ideas.

The good news is that the United States has enormous capacity to supply needed goods and services (with less labor than ever before, which means higher productivity). Jobs are being replaced, to be sure. However, every scenario that Ford envisions won’t necessarily come to pass. Innovators in the global and U.S. economies will doubtless find new ways to make money.

This could mean that today’s manufacturing jobs will be increasingly supplanted by more service jobs. For example, all of the new automation equipment will need servicing. One thing that seers of the high-tech future typically fail to envision is technology needs a lot of work to keep it running.

Whatever the future holds along these lines, investing in old-line firms that are labor intensive seems to be an increasingly bad bet. Such companies tend to be mature, which typically means low-growth potential and low investment returns. By focusing on high-revenue companies that harness automation, however, you’ll be looking to the future. And after all, investing is all about the future.

Yet it’s important to keep in mind that the future never unfolds as neatly as even the best seers predict — even when they’re basically right. The key is to keep abreast of economic developments to see new niches of investing opportunity developing as a result of the automation trend.

On a brighter economic note, this investment will spur general economic growth that, for all we now know, could ultimately produce new jobs in areas that now we can’t even conceive.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Ted Schwartz, a certified financial planner, is president and chief investment officer of Capstone Investment Financial Group. He advises individual investors and endowments, and serves as the adviser to CIFG UMA accounts. Because Schwartz has a background in psychology and counseling, he brings insights into personal motivation when advising clients on how to achieve their wealth management goals. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Oregon State University. He can be reached at ted@capstoneinvest.com.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/investment-opportunities-automated-economy/story?id=17760124

Automation is Coming: Stop Whining and Get Prepared

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t hear something about automation and new technologies that are going to replace human jobs. Perhaps it’s a large company like Google, Apple or Tesla working on a self-driving car; a company working on an implantable chip put into the human body to detect a serious disease years before it is even recognizable by modern medicine standards; or a no name guy who rises to fame with a new app that simplifies a difficult and tedious task. The reality is that automation is not some wild fantasy anymore that’s decades down the road. It’s already here and is going to dramatically change life as we know it.

With all the good that’s going to come with automation, we are suddenly faced with a new problem: the elimination of many middle class jobs. Dr. Michael A. Osborne from Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science and Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey of the Oxford Martin School, estimate that 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years. They say jobs that have already been severely impacted by computers (manufacturing, administrative support, retail, and transportation) will continue to diminish. Furthermore, they believe routine-based jobs (telemarketing, sewing) and work that can be solved by smart algorithms (tax preparation, data entry keyers and insurance underwriters) are most likely to be eliminated.

If you think income disparity is a problem in the United States now, watch what happens when many middle class jobs start disappearing. Is some form of socialism or equal sharing going to solve it? No chance. What about raising the tax rate to 90 percent or more? That might work if you were talking about subsidizing the poor, but it will never be enough to support America’s middle and upper class, people with solid paying jobs who make up roughly 70% of the population.

The solution

People are mixed over automation. Some are excited and on the edge of their seats waiting for the next big breakthrough. Others, however, aren’t as enthralled. The fact of the matter is, no matter what you think about it, you’re not going to have a choice. Rather than whine, complain or trying to fight it, it’s time to embrace it because it’s inevitable, and might very well replace your job.

What is the solution? As hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” If your job is one of those that might very well be replaced, it’s crucial that you find ways to work with automation rather than against it.

Here’s my three-step solution for middle class America to be ready for the automation age.

1. Serve

If you’re not the next Elon Musk, the best thing you can do is learn to serve people like Musk who are inventing and leading us into the automation generation. The founders of this revolution are the mega wealthy, and we’re not talking about the top 1%. These are people who make the top 1% seem poor. They are the ones who own a fleet of private jets, yachts and even their own islands.

Serving the wealthy is always a good way to make money, and this is especially true as it relates to automation. Problem solving is the fastest way to build wealth, so ask yourself: what problems are people like Elon musk and other innovators going to face? How can I serve these people? What skills and talents do I have that they are going to need?

2. Support

First there were the big mainframe computers of the 1970s. Then the personal computer started to become commonplace in homes across America in the 1980s. And of course, the invention of the internet changed life as we know it in the late 1990s. The one thing all of these milestones have in common is they all needed support in order to survive. The people who acquired the necessary skills to support computers did very well for themselves. It didn’t matter if it was learning to write code, repair or service computers, design websites or serve as a technology consultant. Big opportunity was everywhere and many people accumulated great amounts of wealth as a result.

The automation generation is no different, and is going to need major support. You can’t wait until the technology is already here and used by everyone. The time to obtain the skills to support these systems is now.

Automation and technology are wonderful, but when things go wrong, they tend to go really wrong. We’ve already seen what can happen when technology that we take for granted goes astray. How many times have we heard about an airline computer system breaking down? The result is massive delays and headaches for millions of travelers. Or what happens when the electricity goes out? It turns our lives upside down.

No matter what the new technology is, it’s going to need repairs when it breaks. It’s going to need regular maintenance and support. It’s going to need updates and adjustments. And this is great news for humans because it’s going to be the opportunity of a lifetime. Of course, the key is you have to know how to support these systems. So while many middle class jobs are in jeopardy and are going to eventually be cut, on the flip side, there’s going to be so much opportunity like never before. I believe we’re going to see more new millionaires than we’ve ever seen in this country as a result.

3. Sell

Salespeople are the backbone of any organization, and there’s going to be huge opportunities to bring people together with products and services in the automation age. Who’s going to sell the automation? Who’s going to market it? The beauty of living in a capitalistic society means competition, and those who can connect the buyers and sellers and close the deals are looking at opportunities like never before.

Of course, any successful salesperson is only as good as the people and products behind him. Therefore, huge opportunities are also going to exist in marketing, public relations, advertising, photography, video production, graphic design, writing, editing and more.

The bottom line: automation is about to change the course of the world as we know it. It’s going to be a great disruptor and impact middle class workers like nothing we’ve seen before. You have two choices: sit around and become a victim, or get excited and jump in the game while it’s still early. America was built on innovation. Think of things like the railroad system, the assembly line, the highway system, the internet and more. Are you ready to become the next great innovator and continue the tradition? Or are you going to let the automation age sneak up on you and make your life a living nightmare? The choice is yours.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-siebold/automation-is-coming-stop_b_12232794.html

Industrials Sector | Reuters.com

* Warns of political risks amid bribery scandal

(Recasts with outlook, adds quotes, details on earnings,

background)

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 A powerful storm system

plowed up the U.S. Eastern seaboard with torrential showers and

high winds on Monday, hindering airline and rail travel, after

killing at least 21 people in the South, many in mobile homes

demolished by tornadoes.

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 U.S. President Donald Trump

formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific

Partnership trade deal on Monday, distancing America from its

Asian allies, as China’s influence in the region rises.

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 The new U.S. administration

of President Donald Trump vowed on Monday that the United States

would prevent China from taking over territory in international

waters in the South China Sea, something Chinese state media has

warned would require Washington to “wage war.”

7:54pm EST

http://www.reuters.com/sectors/industrials

This creepy robot is powered by a neural network

robot1.jpg

The humanoid robot “Alter” is displayed at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

P Photo/Koji Sasahara

It has a mask-like, yet eerily expressive face and a body made up of gears and wires. This humanoid robot called “Alter” is powered entirely by a neural network that gives it the ability to move by itself.

Yes, it is as creepy — and as fascinating — as it sounds. The robot is on display to the public at Japan’s National Science Museum, where it’s unnerved visitors by moving its arms around, gesturing to the crowd jerkily, without any human operator or remote control directing its actions.

How does it work? The robot, designed by a team lead by Takashi Ikegami of the University of Tokyo and Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, runs on a “central pattern generator” that has networks that act similarly to neural systems in the body, according to Engadget. These networks give the robot the ability to generate its own movement.

Of course, if you watch the video of Alter in action, it’s clear that the robot doesn’t come close to moving as fluidly as a human. That being said, its agency over making its own movements creates the powerful illusion that it is a living being.

To add to the creepy factor, Alter has some musical chops. The robot was also programmed to “sing” — maybe it’s more like a hum — in deep, resonant notes. The robot’s voice is tied to sine waves, or mathematical curves that represents clear, repetitive oscillations, which correspond to its finger movements.

But despite the neural networks that give it the illusion of life, this robot can’t think on its own. Maybe that’s next?

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/this-creepy-robot-is-powered-by-a-neural-network/

Carl’s Jr CEO toys with idea of more automated restaurants

Looks like the little guy can teach a global fast food conglomerate a thing or two about running a restaurant

Eatsa, the mostly automated healthy, fast food bowl shop based in San Francisco, has inspired the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to rethink the traditional workforce with the idea of adding more automation to its restaurants.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

While the CEO didn’t say he’d replace all workers with robots, an employee-free dining room and ordering system could help the fast food giant cope with rising minimum wages across the country.  Even at Eatsa, live workers are needed behind the scenes to assemble bowls. 

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says, predicting the automation trend will likely extend beyond the restaurant industry.  “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

The outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage has said it could lead to reduced employment opportunities across the board and stagnated growth for his industry.

If the minimum wage is raised, argues Puzder, more companies like CKE foods which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr will look to automate faster– which could further decimate jobs.  

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Puzder.

The CEO acknowledges that it may be some time before Carl’s Jr’s dining room is people-free, and the chain would have to start small and test a more automated food system first before a larger roll-out. 

But Puzder says he sees automation fulfilling “rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order”–areas in which a robot would probably be more precise than a human.

And while older customers may take some time to adapt to interacting with a faceless platform, Puzder says the coveted millennial market actually prefers as little social interaction as possible when it comes to ordering food.

“Millennials like not seeing people,” said the CEO. “I’ve been inside restaurants where we’ve installed ordering kiosks … and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2016/03/17/carl-s-jr-ceo-toys-with-idea-more-automated-restaurants.html

Automation shrinking the US economy? | Bulls & Bears | The Cost of Freedom

DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING “Cost of Freedom Recap” CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS’ POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF “Cost of Freedom Recap” MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.

MORE COMPANIES PLAN TO REPLACE WORKERS WITH MACHINES AMID CALLS TO HIKE MINIMUM WAGE

GARY B SMITH: The minimum wage affects many jobs, many of which could be replaced by machines. We saw it years ago, with bank tellers. Now, almost everybody uses an ATM. We see McDonald’s experiment in Europe, and at my supermarket, it’s the same thing, self-check-out. It forces the company’s hand, and if I can do that cheaper and faster with machines and the robotics’ industry is happy to comply.

JONAS MAX FERRIS: Every one of these technologies is improving. You can make the case that raising the minimum wage could push work offshore to countries with really low wages and no technology, and it’s going to happen anyway. When Google creates a self-driving car, because it’s a better technology than having somebody not drive well and play the wrong radio when they’re in the car with you.

JOHN LAYFIELD: Amazon is going to have 10,000 robots in their warehouse. This is going to be inevitable. This is going to be sped up by the minimum wage being raised. This is a natural transition for the economy. If you add Twitter and WhatsApp together, you have a $27 billion. We are creating wealth in this country but we aren’t creating jobs.

TRACY BYRNES: We are not losing jobs but creating different ones, and maybe we should look at the educational system to train them for these jobs. We need kids to make the equipment so they can replace people, and we need somebody that will make the drone that will deliver wine to my house on a Friday night. It’s a replacement factor. This is where we are going.

SASCHA BURNS: What we have to do is train for new jobs. You didn’t have a car mechanic until you had a car. I can’t imagine that you guys support the government would pay for this kind of job training.

FEDERAL AGENCY SCRAPPING BONUS REVIEWS BASED ON PERFORMANCE

JOHN LAYFIELD: I don’t know what alternative universe this works in. Nothing makes me sicker in the world than everybody getting a trophy. Winning and losing happens, if you have no grading system for the employees, you are not rewarding the good employees but you are rewarding the bad employees. This is an absolute disaster.

SASCHA BURNS: The only good thing about it is its less expensive than settling all the lawsuits that were going to happen. It’s a big mess, and yes, it’s ridiculous. A lot it has to do with the way the agency was put together, so quickly, a public sector and private sector, and it’s a snafu.

JONAS MAX FERRIS: Without a profit motive, I’m not sure if you can have discretion over bonuses. You can all of a sudden play favorites because what do you care? You aren’t making any money anyway. Donald sterling was not not going to give bonuses to black players, because that would be stupid. Who cares in the government, give them the bonuses. That’s what happens when you have the bonus discretion. Profits keep us honest in some ways.

TRACY BYRNES: It’s apathy when everybody gets a good score. This notion of the pay grade system, when you know what you are going to earn every year, it doesn’t want to make you get out and do anything better than basely what you think you are going to earn.

GARY B SMITH: If you are the hard working CFPB person and you come in, and he is getting the same bonus as I am? Why am I going to work hard? Everybody will start slacking because there is no incentive to do a great job.

“DIVORCE PARTIES” ON THE RISE ACROSS AMERICA

TRACY BYRNES: There are 101 excuses to have parties today, and if your divorce makes you that happy, more power to you.

JOHN LAYFIELD: You take a practice swing in golf and most people need a practice marriage.

GARY B SMITH: I personally if I got divorced, I would be very sad. I would not be in the mood for a party. But that being said, I agree with Tracy, if they have the money, they want to spend it, it makes them feel good, and contributes to the economy, then I say fantastic and have at it.

SASCHA BURNS: They are stimulating the economy, and as long as I don’t have to get a bridesmaid’s dress or buy anything useless off the registry, then I hope they have a great time.

JONAS MAX FERRIS: This is a better use of your money. This is letting the word know you are available for another marriage and you can marry more money, and this could be a good investment, even though you are wasting $25,000.

PREDICTIONS

GARY B. SMITH: GET READY FOR THE SELLOFF! (DXD) RETURNS A 10 percent GAIN BY SEPT

JOHN LAYFIELD: GOLDMAN SACHS AND BRAZIL BOTH WINNERS! (GS) KICKS UP A 20 percent PROFIT IN 1 YR

TRACY BYRNES: “HIDDEN CASH” MILLIONAIRE PROVES WE DON’T NEED GOV’T HANDOUTS

JONAS MAX FERRIS: PAMPER YOUR PET! (HOT) BARKS UP 15 percent IN 1 YR

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/cost-of-freedom/2014/06/02/automation-shrinking-us-economy

America’s 10 greatest factory tours

Who says America doesn’t make stuff anymore? From cars to coffee, hot sauce to jumbo jets, we’ve got ten great places to see how the proverbial sausage is made.

Ford Rouge Factory, Dearborn, MI

One of the most important sites in the history of the automobile, this city unto itself just ten minutes from downtown Detroit is where you’ll now find the F-150 pickup truck in production. Besides the chance to see the action on the factory floor below you, visitors are also given a crash course (through the magic of multimedia) in the history of the site, the Ford Motor Company and the industry at large. (Also check out the top of the building, the world’s largest green roof, at 10.4 acres.) All tours begin at the nearby Henry Ford museum complex, a destination unto itself.

Nearest airport: Detroit. Click here to see cheap flights.

Martin Guitar, Nazareth, PA

The choice of sensitive rockers everywhere was around long before rock ‘n’ roll was invented. Martin’s history of manufacturing some of the world’s greatest acoustic guitars begins back in the 1700s, when Christian Frederick Martin, Sr. left his German home at age 15 to apprentice with a Viennese guitar maker. Martin has been a presence in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley since 1833; one-hour tours of the plant are complimented by an on-site museum and a Pickin’ Parlor, where visitors are welcome to play high-end and limited edition models.

Nearest Airport: Allentown, PA. Click here to see cheap flights.

Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL

One of the most popular roasters in the country – now served in some of the most popular cafes and restaurants in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – offers its fans (or just the merely curious) this easy-going and fun tour at their main roasting facility in the Windy City. You’ll learn the most correct, scientific methods for the perfect cup of coffee, find out how they go about finding the very best beans in countries you forgot existed, how to roast them correctly and – most importantly – you’ll get all the freshly-brewed coffee you can drink.

Nearest airport: Chicago. Click here for cheap flights.

Boeing, Everett, WA

Go inside the world’s largest building by volume – 472,000,000 cubic feet – for the chance to glimpse Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner in production, then head to the Future of Flight Aviation Center and get strapped into The Innovator, a seven-seat simulator that puts you in the cockpit for the ride of your life. Tip: The weak-stomached may want to sit this one out.

Nearest airport: Seattle. Click here for cheap flights.

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Louisville, KY

You’ve seen them in the hands of countless baseball greats, here’s your chance to get right on the factory floor and see how the official bat of Major League Baseball is made. Each tour participant gets a mini-Slugger to take home as a souvenir; afterwards, stick around for the museum, a fun and informative look at the history of America’s best-known bat.

Harley-Davidson, Menomonee Falls, WI

It may not be the sexiest bit of the hog, but you can’t have a Harley without a proper powertrain, right? Visitors are welcomed in to observe operations at the 849,000 square-foot plant northwest of downtown Milwaukee, but that’s just one stop on the grand tour here in the hometown of the Harley. Make sure to pay a visit to the company’s fun and interactive downtown museum; also consider checking into the handsome, museum-adjacent Iron Horse Hotel, which has been the coolest place to stay in town ever since it opened a few years back.

Dogfish Head, Milton, DE

What was once a small Delaware brewery has grown to become one of the best on the East Coast. At heart, though, Dogfish Head is still the fun-loving little guy it was when it started out, so tours are casual and cool, samples are (but of course) offered. Make sure to check out the curious, on-premises Steampunk Treehouse, rescued from a recent Burning Man festival; this rather curious piece of functional sculpture is where the brewers are said to do their most creative thinking. If you didn’t get enough to drink on the tour, check out their popular brewpub and restaurant in nearby Rehoboth Beach.

Tabasco Factory, Avery Island, LA

That familiar smell fills the air as you drive on to 2,200-acre Avery Island; there’s no mistaking that you’ve arrived in the home of America’s favorite hot sauce. (Tip: A visit is highly recommended for those with blocked sinuses.) But a tour through Tabasco’s factory operation is just part of the experience here; the company-owned Jungle Gardens and Bird City – a beautiful, company-owned botanical garden and bird sanctuary, respectively – make a visit to the island a fun day out from either New Orleans or Cajun Country.

Mack Trucks, Macungie, PA

Are you an admirer of the mighty Mack? Put on your comfortable shoes and embark on a 1.5 mile walking tour of the famed truck’s mighty manufacturing plant.(At this location, you’ll see mostly construction vehicles being produced). Visitors to the site are also invited to visit the Mack Museum, featuring a wide range of vintage vehicles dating from the early 1900s up to 1979.

Airstream Factory, Jackson Center, OH

A tiny town set amid the central Ohio farmfields is the setting for the factory that produces those iconic silver travel trailers. It’s a pilgrimage site for owners, who bring their houses on wheels here to be serviced, camping out at the on-site RV park. Whether you’re curious about joining this elite group of nomads or not, the free, daily factory tour is good fun, even if just to see one of the country’s most stubbornly unchanged companies in action.

George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.

George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2012/06/01/america-10-greatest-factory-tours.html

Carl’s Jr CEO toys with idea of more automated restaurants

Looks like the little guy can teach a global fast food conglomerate a thing or two about running a restaurant

Eatsa, the mostly automated healthy, fast food bowl shop based in San Francisco, has inspired the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to rethink the traditional workforce with the idea of adding more automation to its restaurants.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

While the CEO didn’t say he’d replace all workers with robots, an employee-free dining room and ordering system could help the fast food giant cope with rising minimum wages across the country.  Even at Eatsa, live workers are needed behind the scenes to assemble bowls. 

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says, predicting the automation trend will likely extend beyond the restaurant industry.  “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

The outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage has said it could lead to reduced employment opportunities across the board and stagnated growth for his industry.

If the minimum wage is raised, argues Puzder, more companies like CKE foods which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr will look to automate faster– which could further decimate jobs.  

“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Puzder.

The CEO acknowledges that it may be some time before Carl’s Jr’s dining room is people-free, and the chain would have to start small and test a more automated food system first before a larger roll-out. 

But Puzder says he sees automation fulfilling “rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order”–areas in which a robot would probably be more precise than a human.

And while older customers may take some time to adapt to interacting with a faceless platform, Puzder says the coveted millennial market actually prefers as little social interaction as possible when it comes to ordering food.

“Millennials like not seeing people,” said the CEO. “I’ve been inside restaurants where we’ve installed ordering kiosks … and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2016/03/17/carl-s-jr-ceo-toys-with-idea-more-automated-restaurants.html