SPRING Singapore Announces $75 million Food Services Productivity Plan
The food services sector in Singapore will get a boost in productivity with the latest industry plan driven by SPRING Singapore. The $75 million productivity plan was announced by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, at a visit to PUTIEN Restaurant at nex Shopping Mall today. By 2015, the sector-wide nominal value-added (VA) per worker is expected to increase by about 20 per cent.
The food services sector plays a vital role in Singapore’s economy. In 2009, the sector contributed $5.6 billion in operating receipts and $1.9 billion in value-added. However, its VA per worker stood only at $22,300, less than one third of the national average of $89,800.
“The food services productivity plan was developed in close consultation with food services companies, industry consultants and partner associations,” said Mr Png Cheong Boon, Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore. “The plan addresses productivity challenges specific to this sector. It will equip companies with the necessary knowledge, support and tools to build upon its own capabilities to improve productivity and competitiveness.”
The food services sector faces challenges that include low adoption of technology, poor human resource practices, a mismatch between manpower supply and market demands, and the lack of productivity measurement tools.
Re-designing processes to optimise workflow and improve service delivery
A prevalent issue in this sector is the heavy reliance on manual operations. SPRING’s productivity plan encourages companies to adopt new technology such as the use of wireless infrastructure. These applications will cut down processing time, reduce customer waiting time and improve service. Another tool is the procurement portal that can help collate demand and enhance integration with suppliers. With IT adoption, these transactions can be made online, improving supply chain efficiency and reducing human error and manpower. Companies can also explore the use of automation in areas such as placing orders, payment, food preparation, and cleaning.
For example, Sakae Sushi was the first to use Radio Frequency Identification technology to track the freshness of sushi on conveyor belts at its outlets. The company estimates a 20 per cent increase in productivity. Precious manpower resources are then channeled to core operations, and employees can better focus on providing excellent customer experiences.
An emerging trend for this sector is the use of central kitchens that emulate the food manufacturing facility to achieve economies of scale. Setting up such facilities is a viable method for streamlining processes at companies with several food outlets. PUTIEN’s central kitchen prepares the ingredients and sauces before delivering them to its outlets for the final preparation of dishes. This approach trims work processes at the outlets without having to prepare everything from scratch, leading to a speedier service. It ensures consistency in taste within the chain. The re-designed workflow has also reduced kitchen space for food preparation so that more space can be allocated for dining.
Upgrading manpower and HR capabilities for a more productive workforce
To develop a more productive workforce, SPRING will be providing support to help companies better manage, develop, and retain their employees. The use of professional and customised manpower scheduling will enable companies to optimise employee schedules and resources in line with the needs of business growth and future plans.
Given the sector’s inherent nature of highly fluctuating customer traffic, companies can maximise productivity by tapping on part-time employees during peak periods to complement their existing staff strength. SPRING will be helping companies to aggregate demand, as well as recruit and train a pool of professional part-timers for deployment at outlets.
Companies can also tap SPRING’s HR capability programme to improve their HR functions. JUMBO and Suki Group are some restaurants that have benefited from the programme.
Suki Group, for example, has developed a structured appraisal system to ensure that employees are appraised based on their competencies and contribution to the company. The company can now match the potential and skill sets of its employees with its growth needs, leading to improvements in productivity. An employee handbook was also produced for new employees to ensure a common understanding of the company’s mission, vision, philosophy and guidelines.
Innovation is critical to sustaining competitiveness
Innovation is a key factor in sustaining productivity and competitiveness. SPRING will facilitate the development of innovative food products and dining concepts to help companies grow their customer base, optimise capacities, and raise vibrancy in the sector.
At the Spa Esprit Group, innovation has been a key driver of productivity. With SPRING's support, the development of creative food concepts, such as Skinny Pizza and Tippling Club, has increased the group's topline. At the same time, its ability to continuously innovate has also propelled the group forward as a brand leader in the local lifestyle industry.
Working with partners to boost outreach efforts on productivity
SPRING will also continue to work closely with strategic partners to broaden its outreach to companies and roll out broad-based initiatives under the productivity plan. For instance, its ongoing partnership with the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) has helped the industry become more aware of the benefits of the 5S methodology (5S is a housekeeping tool predominantly implemented in manufacturing companies. 5S refers to Structure, System, Sanitise, Standardise and Self-discipline and is a first step to Total Quality Management as a house-keeping foundation). The 5S system simplifies the workspace, optimises space utilisation, reduces waste and non value-added activities, and improves safety and efficiency. So far, RAS has helped 10 companies with the 5S including PUTIEN, Sakae Sushi, Tung Lok and Palm Beach Seafood.
SPRING’s plan also includes seminars, workshops, study missions and talks to help raise awareness on the various initiatives and how companies can benefit from the implementation of such projects. In September 2011, SPRING will hold the Retail and Food Services Productivity Conference to educate and share on productivity for both the food services and retail sectors.
Infrastructure support and expertise on productivity to be developed
SPRING has embarked on a benchmarking study to establish a set of productivity metrics relevant to the food services industry. The metrics will serve as indicators that the sector can use to identify areas for improvement. This study will be concluded by end 2011. It will also track the success of the productivity plan over the next five years. A productivity framework, performance metrics, diagnostic toolkit and methodologies adapted for the food services sector will also be developed. This information will then be distilled into self-help toolkits for easy adoption by the companies. Besides providing the know-how, SPRING will work with partners to equip managers with the necessary skills to champion productivity in their own organisations, leading to a sustained productivity journey.
For more information visit the website of SPRING Singapore.
Source: SPRING Singapore press release