Two restaurant equipment giants have come together in a new partnership that promises to make automated pickup easier.

Welbilt will license the automated shelving platform Flow-Thru 10,000 from Apex and manufacture and distribute it via its robust restaurant-equipment supply chain under the Merco brand name.

Apex, the developer of the Little Caesar’s Pizza Portal, has been focused on efficient pickup solutions and automated shelving for the restaurant space and other industries. Tapping into the Welbilt ecosystem will allow the company to reach a much broader market, said Apex CEO Mike Wells.

“This partnership combines our expertise in self-serve automation with Merco’s deep understanding of the industry. We will be able to offer innovative products to a broader global market by leveraging Merco’s industry-leading, global distribution network,” said Wells. “Our companies’ dedication to providing the best solutions to the industry comes at a time when restaurant operators require innovative ways to safely deliver product without sacrificing quality.”

Welbilt is known most for kitchen equipment , such as hoodless ovens, fryers and other restaurant essentials. The Welbilt-owned Merco brand is known for holding shelves that keep food fresh for plating and packing. Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Welbilt, said the partnership allows his company to respond to new restaurant demands for low-friction handoffs.

“Partnering with Apex gives us new ways to respond to changing demands brought on by the long-term trends towards takeout and delivery, which have accelerated during the pandemic,” said Johnson.

Essentially, the Flow-Thru system is a rear-loading automated shelf by which consumers can enter a code or scan a QR code to unlock their food. Apex currently makes three- and seven-cubby versions.