[Notice] Conveyor Belt Sushi & DX Press Tour (Dec. 2022)
Conveyor Belt Sushi & DX Press Tour
Sushi Evolving with the Latest Technology
Tour Date: Thursday, December 15, 2022
The conveyor belt sushi (kaiten sushi) concept was first created in Osaka in 1958, and after the 1970 Osaka Expo spread throughout not only Japan, but the world. It is now a common type of restaurant in Japan, with domestic sales of 740 billion yen (FY2021).
The conveyor belt sushi industry started by placing plates of sushi on a conveyor belt in order to serve it more efficiently. Since then businesses in the industry have continued to develop automated technology in order to reduce the labor and manpower required for their operations. The conveyor belt sushi industry is said to be the furthest along with DX (digital transformation) in the restaurant industry, and with many restaurants struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the automation and labor-saving technology of the major conveyor belt sushi chains proved helpful, and profits increased thanks to being contactless. Conveyor belt sushi chains have also been accelerating their expansion overseas, with Sushiro, the largest chain, now having 87 locations overseas including in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
This press tour will visit a kitchen, which normally you would not be able to enter, at the industry leader Sushiro, as well as visiting Sushiro’s center for systems development, and cover the latest in the conveyor belt sushi industry, a frontrunner in digital technology. There will also be an interview with the head of Sushiro’s parent company about their strategy for digitalization and overseas expansion.
1. Sushiro Namba Amza Store
・Kaiten Sushi Management System
In 2002, Sushiro introduced this system, which manages how sushi is selling on the conveyor lanes. Some in the company call it the “kitchen’s prophet.” By attaching IC tags to the plates, it is possible to determine in real time what products are selling well and provide customers with sushi that is in demand, as well as making definitive freshness management possible by calculating how far the plate has traveled (how long it was on the conveyor). Every day Sushiro collects more data on what kind of sushi sold how many plates, at what time of day, and analyzing this data of over one billion plates annually makes precise predictions of demand possible. The display in each kitchen shows the predicted demand in one minute and in fifteen minutes, based on statistics from past data and the real time situation in that location, and staff use that information when putting products on the conveyor. Previously, predictions of what type of sushi would sell were done by the manager at each location based on instinct, but with DX, the movements of each plate can be recorded, allowing for standardized management of the products on the conveyor. This data-based, high-precision prediction of demand also helps reduce food loss.
The Auto Waiter system, which is available in the urban locations that Sushiro has been focusing on in recent years, is separate from the standard conveyor lane which sushi normally comes on, and quickly delivers via an express lane orders customers make using a touch panel. Previously, the kitchen staff would have to bring the order to the lane serving the customer that made the order and place it on the lane themselves, but now staff can place it on the express lane in front of them and it will automatically be brought to the customer, greatly increasing the efficiency of kitchen operations and reducing the burden on staff.
・Automatic Plate Billing System Using Image Recognition
This system uses a camera placed above the conveyor lane to film the plates customers take, with AI image recognition determining the color and number of plates taken to calculate the bill automatically. With staff no longer needing to count the number of plates, there is less of a wait when paying the bill. Sushiro has also begun introducing an automated seating system for customers, and self-service registers are already available at all locations, so a fully contactless experience is now possible, from seating to payment.
【Photo left: self-service registers / Photo right: an automated seating system for customers】
◆ The tour will visit Sushiro Namba Amza, an urban location which opened in June 2020, and see the latest technology supporting operations. In addition to the above systems, the tour will see a sushi robot that can make 3,600 rice logs in an hour, and an automated takeaway locker that makes it easy to pick up items at the store which customers have ordered in advance.
【photo left: a sushi robot / photo right: an automated takeaway locker】
2. Interview with System Developer
At a “studio” in Osaka, the center for Sushiro’s systems development, an actual Sushiro location is reproduced, with everything from the customer seats to the kitchen and conveyor lanes, and systems in development are tested and adjusted here.
◆ In this studio, the tour will hear from the Information System Office’s Mr. Masato Sugihara, who was involved in the development of the Kaiten Sushi Management System, helping build the core system used in nearly 600 locations around the world.
3. Interview with FOOD & LIFE COMPANIES, LTD. President and CEO Koichi Mizutome
Akindo Sushiro, Sushiro’s operating company and a subsidiary of FOOD & LIFE COMPANIES, has had the highest sales in the conveyor belt sushi industry for ten years in a row, and is expected to have one hundred overseas locations within the year. The company also plants to establish a subsidiary in Indonesia this December, and expand the number of overseas locations to 200 by September 2024.
◆ In this interview with Mr. Mizutome, he will speak about the reasons behind investing in automated equipment, and the results of its introduction, as well as discussing expanding the business overseas and the outlook for incorporating DX systems at overseas locations.
【Photo provided by FOOD & LIFE COMPANIES, LTD.】
Thursday, December 15, 2022
*The schedule may change without notice due to weather or other reasons. Please be aware that depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour may be delayed or cancelled.
07:00-09:27 Tokyo Station→Shin-Osaka Station
10:45-13:40 Sushiro Namba Amza store (including lunch)
14:20-15:20 Systems Development Center
17:00-18:00 Interview with President Koichi Mizutome
19:09-21:36 Shin-Osaka Station→Tokyo Station
3. Qualification: Bearer of Gaimusho Press Registration Card
4. Cost: 5,000 yen per person, including transportation and lunch
*Information on payment and cancellation fee will be provided to participants.
*Participants will be required to pay their own transportation costs to the meeting place before the tour, and after the tour ends.
5. Participants: Limited to 10 applicants.
(Only one reporter or one photographer from each company, but two participants from each TV team will be acceptable.)
*If the number of applicants exceeds ten, an upper limit may be set on the number of participants from each country/region.
6. Measures to prevent spread of COVID-19:
Please follow the directions of the staff, such as taking temperatures before the tour, wearing masks during the tour, washing hands, and using disinfectant.
(1) This tour is sponsored by FOOD & LIFE COMPANIES, LTD. and operated by the FPCJ.
(2) This tour will require participants to bear a part of the cost, but is not a profit-making venture.
(3) FOOD & LIFE COMPANIES, LTD. and the FPCJ take no responsibility for any accidents, injuries, illness, or other problems which occur during the tour.
(4) There are some restrictions on photographing and filming in the kitchen. Please follow the instructions of the staff in charge.
(5) Please be aware that videos and photos of the tour, and articles about it, may be posted by FOOD & LIFE COMPANIES, LTD. and the FPCJ on their websites or social media.
8. FPCJ Contacts: