How Many Sensors Does it Take to Make a Big Mac?

Ever wonder what kind of technology goes into the food you eat? It's quite a bit if you really think about it. In fact, guess how many sensors it takes just to make a Big Mac at McDonald's.


5 sensors?

6 sensors?

7 sensors?


It takes over 7 different machines, and 30 different sensors to make a McDonald's Big Mac.

30 seems excessive, but it's true - and in fact it can be more if McDonald's wanted.


Let's look at the production process to really understand where these sensors fit in. To keep it simple, we'll only look at what happens in the restaurant, and ignore all the shipping, storage, etc. If you're really keen on how to make a Big Mac, check out this video.


Buns Up!

Step one requires a cold hamburger bun which needs to first be stored in a refrigerator. The fridge has two sensors: one for temperature, and one for humidity (both of these are hooked up to a control panel which makes sure the temperature and moisture in the air is at optimal conditions for the food inside!).


Next up, the toaster. Here, the temperature needs to be set at just the right number to allow for a golden bun. Again, a series of temperature sensors are needed to optimize and standardize the process.


Getting Saucy with Sensors

At McDonald's, they use squeeze guns to put the mac sauce on the burger. Although there are no sensors required here, there is definitely room for sensors. For example, a count could be detected to see how many squeezes are used from the gun. Or, a weight sensor could ensure the right amount of sauce is on each burger, every time.


Following the sauces, the rest of the condiments go on: cheese, lettuce, pickles, all of these are stored in an open fridge to keep them cool and fresh. Again, a temperature sensor is needed here to make sure the food stays fresh.

big mac sauce sensor gun

The ultimate burger sauce


The Meat of it All

When you have the golden bun, and the perfect condiments, all that's left is the burger patty itself. At McDonald's, they use a machine called HC Oven/Trays which allows for the burgers to be kept at the same precise temperature worldwide, 24/7. This ensures that the patties remain moist and fresh, as though they just came off the grill.


After the patties meet the buns, and you put it all together, you gently place it into the Big Mac Box and send it off to the salivating customer.


As you can see, the majority of sensors used in food preparation are for temperature and humidity, however there are quite a few places where motion could be used to help out as well. Whether that's increasing efficiency, limiting food waste, or ensuring a standardized condiment ratio down to the microgram.


In fact, maybe there'll be the McDonalds Olympics to see which employee can make the perfect Big Mac the quickest, simply by using a motion wristband!


A man can dream... a man can dream.


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