McDonald's Kitchen Lab Puts New Products to Test

From something as simple as adding a second drink mixing machine to installing more efficient bun toasters, every little bit helps. For example, switching over to new bun steamers will save an employee 12 seconds, which may not seem like a lot, but over the course of a work day, those seconds become minutes of extra time. More time means more products to the consumer.

"Seconds always matter. Seconds beget volume. The faster we go, the greater the volume," Stratton explained. "That's very, very important to us."

He acknowledges that caring about every precious second might come off as a little strange to some people, but at the end of the day it's about churning out as many products as possible.

"Our focus is execution. We have to be able to execute every day." Stratton said. "We serve 60 million customers a day around the globe in 117 countries. That's a big responsibility."

A Global Enterprise

That responsibility also includes catering to and tailoring various dishes to meet other cultures' food standards. McDonald's restaurant owners and managers from around the world can train and experiment with the franchise's new equipment and new products at this Innovation Center.

Isabelle Kuster and her staff came from France to see how they will manage rolling out a new burger product they call the "McFarmer."

"It's a product made with salad, tomatoes, and we're looking into the kitchen to see if we have the capacity to do that on top of existing products," Kuster explained.

Just like in McDonald's in the United States, timing is everything at their French restaurants. Kuster and her staff have to make sure this new burger product won't interfere with the process of making everything else on the menu so they came to the Innovation Center in Illinois to test it out.

The mock restaurant was built to exactly mirror a French McDonald's, which have larger kitchens because they often have huge lunch crowds come in with larger orders.

"In [the] U.S., they have three producers per order. In France, we have between 10 and 12," Kuster said.

To meet the demand, French McDonald's also use self-ordering kiosks and extra drive-through lanes -- all which have to be tested first in the mock setup. Kuster has to make sure that the McFarmer will be able to be successfully added to the menu before she can sign off on it.

"We have more than a thousand restaurants in France, so we don't want to take the risk. That's impossible," she said.

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