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June 22, 2017

Soon, the days of placing your Junior Bacon Cheeseburger order with a real person could be over. Fast food chain Wendy's is moving to replace a portion of its labor force with kiosks, which could take customers' orders at more than 1,000 restaurants across the country by the end of this year, according to a recent report.

Wendy's says franchises are clamoring for the new tech, which costs about $5,000 per kiosk, so that they can scale back on the number of employees they have taking orders. David Trimm, Wendy's chief information officer, told The Columbus Dispatch that the kiosks could pay for themselves in labor savings and increased sales in two years. It's just one way the company is looking to reduce costs.

"Last year was tough—five percent wage inflation," said Bob Wright, Wendy's chief operating officer. "But the real question is what are we doing about it?"

In addition to the kiosks, Wendy's has eliminated 31 hours of labor per week from its restaurants, the newspaper reports. But the chain won't fire workers—at least not right away—when the kiosks are installed. Industry insiders suspect the kiosks will mean workers can shift to other roles, like those in the kitchen, which will help increase output during lunch and dinner rushes. That's good news for customers who want their fast food, well, fast.

Another kiosk perk customers might like? Wendy's says the kiosks will increase order accuracy, meaning you won't risk finding mayo on your no-mayo burger.

Of course, you will still be able to order with a human being for the foreseeable future, if that's your preference. But Wendy's is definitely moving toward a more digital experience, with Trimm promising the kiosks are just the first step in a line of changes to come, such as mobile ordering and payment replacing cash registers.

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