McDonald's Is Testing A Conveyor Belt Drive-Thru For Quicker Service

Ever sit in the McDonald's drive-thru wishing the line would move faster so you could just get to enjoying your Big Mac and fries? Apparently you are not alone — and McDonald's is trying to do something about it. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a new, small-concept McDonald's restaurant has just opened in White Settlement, Texas outside Fort Worth as a way for the fast food giant to test out ideas for getting your food to you faster.

According to a statement by McDonald's, the new restaurant is "considerably smaller" than other free-standing U.S. locations because it has done away with the dine-in space and is focused on to-go customers who would rather eat at home or in the car. The smaller interior features new, updated kiosks that customers can use to order their food and a pick-up shelf for customers who ordered ahead. The building also features a designated entrance and room exclusively for delivery drivers from services like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats to keep traffic flowing smoothly between the customers and drivers, and special parking spaces for delivery drivers and customers using curbside pick-up.

Conveyor belt drive-thru

While the restaurant's interior has been streamlined, the most innovative and eye-catching feature of the new concept is its drive-thru. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the franchise store is equipped with multiple drive-thru lanes, including a special "order ahead lane" that is designated for people who have already placed their orders on the McDonald's mobile app. Customers who have placed their order online can drive through the new express lane and pick up their prepaid food from a conveyor belt.

"At McDonald's, we've been setting the standard for Drive Thrus for more than 45 years," Max Carmona, McDonald's Senior Director of Global Design & Restaurant Development, said in the company's statement. "As our customers' needs continue to change, we are committed to finding new ways to serve them faster and easier than ever before."

The company reached the decision to update its drive-thru technology as mobile ordering has increased and drive-thru lines have slowed. CNN reports that on average, drive-thru wait times have gotten about 45 seconds longer since 2019, time the burger chain — and its competitors who have also been expanding drive-thrus — fear their customers do not want to lose.

Although this is the first McDonald's store to use a conveyor belt in its drive-thru, it is not the first one to utilize any form of conveyor technology. The McDonald's at Sydney International Airport debuted a novelty, vertical conveyor-based delivery system in 2020 (per NZ Herald).