A SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur is among the first in the country to introduce revolutionary new robots to the hard-hit hospitality sector.
As the industry battles with staff shortages and a recruitment crisis post-pandemic, restaurant chains, hoteliers, holiday parks and tourism operators are turning to technology for support.
To help meet demand, Gareth Jones launched AI Global Robotics Ltd – based in Deeside, Mochdre and St Asaph – in partnership with Pudu Robotics, a leader in manufacturing robots for a range of sectors and solutions.
The Autonomous Indoor Delivery (AID) ‘Bellabots’ can carry up to 40kg on four trays, have human interaction capabilities and feature an innovative bionic design language, plus other state-of-the-art functions, and personalised modelling.
He says the robots are not designed to replace workers but to support services in hospitality and other arenas including medical, cleaning, and industrial.
“As the hospitality sector is in dire straits from a recruitment perspective due to the challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, this is an innovative way of alleviating some of that pressure,” said Gareth, who plans to open a new headquarters in Old Colwyn this summer.
“The last thing anyone wants is for robots to take people’s jobs and I want to make that very clear, but for the simpler, time-consuming tasks they can support table service while employees take care of more skilled tasks and deal with customers and focus on customer service.
“It’s a win-win for them at a time when more than 10% of vacancies in hospitality remain unfilled.”
Gareth, who also owns Carbon Zero and UK Leisure Living, has held exploratory talks with business owners in North Wales and further afield, and says interest is growing in hi-tech alternatives.
“We’ve received very positive responses already and feedback from those who have purchased the robots – there are less than 200 of them in the country at present – points to a rise in footfall and customer satisfaction,” he said.
“From our side we have an incredible team of in-house engineers, installers and sales staff so we are currently in training and redeploying those skills where needed.
“The most exciting thing is that we are in the infancy of this, they’re only going to get better and better and later this year we will be introducing a new cleaning robot, which we’re very excited about as the technology is astounding.
“They’re something different and unique and can help with what is a global issue, so we are hopeful the concept will go some way to providing much-needed support for hospitality, tourism and other industries.”
Gareth added: “Our long-term goal is to create new skilled jobs in the local area, from installers to technical engineers to management staff which support this new business.
“Just like we have done in the leisure and energy sector, where we support upwards of 50 jobs on a regular basis via a mix of directly employed and contracted support companies and individuals.”
Jim Jones, CEO of North Wales Tourism congratulated AI Global Robotics on introducing the robots to the market and said: “It’s great to see Gareth bringing new technology to the tourism and hospitality sector.
“The Bellabots are a nice addition to hospitality businesses and add to the experience.
“I have witnessed first-hand robotics in action, and they are definitely a talking point, effective and a lot of fun to interact with – we wish him the best of luck with this venture.”
The company is offering free trials to businesses wanting to trial this new innovative solution.